Statement to the Conference on Disarmament

United Nations, Geneva 2 mars 2015
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Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, Excellencies.

I am glad to be here in Geneva today, to address the Conference on Disarmament on issues of top priority for Sweden.

Setsuko Thurlow, one of the survivors of the Hiroshima bombing, visited the Swedish Parliament a few months ago. She gave voice to the great concern that she and other hibakushas feel: that the bomb, also today, affects her children and grandchildren, and will affect her future great-grandchildren and also their children.

Compared to the nuclear weapons of today, the bombs that were dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki were simple and crude; still, they killed 200 000 people outright or in the aftermath, maimed many more, and brought complete devastation on two cities.

Today, more than 16 000 nuclear weapons remain. This is unacceptable. The call from the men and women of Hiroshima and Nagasaki rings clear: We need to move further and faster on nuclear disarmament. All nuclear weapons must be abolished.

There are positive developments. Three international conferences have been held, highlighting the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons for men, women and children. Human beings have once again been put at the heart of our discussions.

A humanitarian perspective on nuclear weapons helps us bring disarmament forward. Sweden will work actively with all stakeholders, at the upcoming NPT Review Conference and beyond, to pursue effective measures to eliminate all nuclear weapons.

Today, I am pleased to announce that Sweden is returning to the de-alerting group. There is widespread agreement that hair-trigger alert multiplies the risks associated with nuclear weapons. De-alerting is an important risk reduction measure on which real progress can be achieved in the short term. We look forward to working with our partners Chile, Malaysia, Nigeria, New Zeeland and Switzerland on advancing this issue.

Mr. President,

Important work is done here in Geneva in the wider field of disarmament.

Questions of life and death must never be delegated to machines. We welcome the continued discussions on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems at the CCW (Convention for Certain Conventional Weapons). We are actively preparing for these discussions and have asked SIPRI, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, to study possible ways forward on central issues, such as definitions and transparency.

The Ottawa Convention that bans anti-personnel landmines is one of the most successful conventions in disarmament. Mine clearance and assistance to survivors have brought relief to affected people, countries and regions everywhere. But much remains to be done. Sweden will do its share and continue its longstanding and active engagement in mine action worldwide.

I am glad to announce that Sweden will soon have decommissioned all its cluster munitions, in accordance with our obligations in the Convention that bans this inhuman weapon. For the ban to become effective, it is important that also the world's largest manufacturers and users of cluster munitions join the Convention.

We are deeply concerned about reports of the use of cluster munitions against civilian populations in South Sudan and in Syria. The use of cluster munitions is unacceptable, and Sweden calls on all actors to strictly observe International Humanitarian Law.

Mr. President,

Contagious disease used as a weapon continues to be a major global security threat. To understand the potential dangers we need only to look at the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Sweden is a major contributor to the fight against Ebola, and will continue to help strengthen states’ capacity to prevent, detect and respond to epidemic outbreaks in Africa and elsewhere.

Sweden will do its part in promoting a constructive and tangible outcome at next year’s Review Conference for the Biological Weapons Convention. The universal adherence to the Convention is of particular importance, as well as the strengthening of confidence-building measures.

Mr. President,

The peaceful uses of outer space have contributed immensely to the welfare of people around the globe. This has to be safeguarded and strengthened so that more countries – and people – can benefit from space services.

Sweden welcomes that discussions are moving forward on how to update the international rules on outer space. I would especially like to highlight the International Code of Conduct for Activities in Outer Space, which will provide voluntary ”rules of the road” to counter the pressing issue of space debris and help prevent conflicts in outer space. The Code will also be a complement to and help achieve a legally binding instrument to prevent an arms race in outer space.

Mr. President,

I warmly welcome the initiative to hold a CD Civil Society Forum. Civil society organisations represent our people and contribute with expert knowledge, and should be allowed to participate in all non-negotiating sessions.

I regret that no new negotiations have been undertaken by the CD despite many vigorous efforts. A Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty, an FMCT, should have been concluded many years ago. We call on countries to remedy the blockages and stop linking items. If the Conference remains unable to fulfil its mandate, we will need to consider other possible avenues for bringing disarmament work forward, including the UN General Assembly. The key word is progress – not process.

This year, it is 70 years since nuclear weapons were used in armed conflict for the first and, I very much hope, the last time. In light of the worsened security situation in Europe, the abolition of nuclear weapons is more important than ever. It is only through their total elimination that we will have a real guarantee that nuclear weapons will never be used again. We owe it to Setsuko Thurlow, to all hibakushas, to their and our children and grand-children, to pursue and conclude this work with vigilance.

Thank you.