61st Session of the General Assembly
Open-ended Working Group to consider the objectives and agenda, including the possible establishment of the preparatory committee for the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament
Mr. Miguel Graça
Permanent Mission of Portugal to the United Nations
on behalf of the European Union
New York, 30 July 2007
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA country Iceland, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Armenia align themselves with this declaration.
The EU wishes to congratulate you on the positive and promising start of the deliberations of this working group during its first substantive session.
We appreciate your willingness to put at the service of our group your knowledge, your diplomatic skills and your energy at a particularly difficult moment in the sphere of disarmament and non-proliferation.
You set the right conditions for the discussions to take off and for the successful holding of a number of debates that attracted strong participation and provided a very interesting exchange of views.
While engaging in the informal interactive debates under your chairmanship, Member States have actually started to discharge the mandate entrusted to them in OP 1 of resolution A/RES/61/60.
We thank you for the presentation of a second paper with a new set of questions inviting us to focus our discussion, during this second week, on the agenda of the SSOD IV.
We support such an approach but, before doing so, allow us to offer our own “distillation” (if we may resort to your own terminology) of the work done so far and to put forward some EU ideas, in addition to what we have already stated during the first session.
In the first session, we analyzed, among other topics, the international security situation, how it has evolved in recent decades and how different States and groups of states have different perceptions in this realm.
I would like to recall that the EU has also made its own assessment of the current security situation, a process that led to the adoption by our Heads of State and Government, in December 2003, of the “European Security Strategy”.
We will be circulating this document as a conference room paper since we wish to share our own assessments and perceptions with the wider membership.
Thus, I will not elaborate in detail on its content but I would like to point that at the center of our strategy lies the concept of “effective multilateralism” which our support for SSOD IV stems from.
Important work has also been done recently in this area in the framework of the United Nations.
In 2004, the “High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change” appointed by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, which included eminent personalities from all regions, came up with very important conclusions and recommendations.
These concepts were endorsed by the SG’s own report “In larger freedom” who also put them into a larger perspective by highlightening the linkages between development, peace and security and human rights.
Member States may not agree with every single assertion of these previous reports, but we believe that dismissing them would be unwarranted as they can also serve as a contribution to our work.
We all know that, despite the quality of those reports, the 2005 World Summit outcome failed to agree on a chapter on disarmament and non-proliferation.
But the 2005 outcome document is not totally void on security considerations. For example, in paragraph 72, Heads of State and Government reaffirmed the commitment of member states “to work towards a security consensus”.
We believe that an SSOD IV offers an opportunity that should be seized to advance work in discharging this mandate. In our understanding the above referred provision constitutes an important guideline as to the setting up of the objectives of the SSOD IV.
We still believe that the incremental approach that you proposed at the beginning of our work remains the best option with regard to the way forward.
The more we find common ground on the objectives of an SSOD IV the closer we get to an agreement on an agenda and, eventually, to a successful outcome of the whole exercise.
With this in mind, we would like to offer some ideas that could substantiate further our work on the objectives of an SSOD IV:
- The objectives should be defined as a balanced, focused and streamlined set of goals;
- They need to be clear and precise, and easily understood by public opinion and the media.
- They should refer to the broad and general objectives of the special session, ones that everybody could rally to.
- They should neither prejudge the outcome of an SSOD IV nor force Member States to abandon from the outset (in particular, at this early stage) their original positions.
- They should be identifiable from the agenda and from envisaged outcome.
The EU supports your efforts and encourages you to pursue the methodology you proposed to us at the beginning of our work.
At this stage, it seems to be the only approach that is able to bear fruit.
The EU remains committed in a constructive and pragmatic manner. We will be listening carefully to positions of other delegations and we stand ready to work with them with a view to preparing the ground work for a successful SSOD IV.
Thank you, Mr. President.
* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.