Address of Mr. Antti Satuli, Secretary of State of the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, at the Geneva Conference on Disarmament

21 March 2002

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, Distinguished Delegates.

I am grateful for this opportunity to address the Conference on Disarmament. I wish to congratulate Ambassador Markku Reimaa on his appointment as the President of the CD. Finland is taking over the Presidency of this Conference for the first time, at a very challenging moment. Today, more than ever, disarmament and non-proliferation should be our common endeavours.

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The terrorist attacks of September 11 in the United States have changed the world in many ways.

The impact of the acts of terror continues to be assessed but many analyses show that we are living in a different environment - which is more insecure than it used to be.

Since the end of the Cold War, it has become increasingly clear that the military threats are diminishing in comparison to other kind of threats which do not originate from national governments but are born for various reasons - such as economic or social exclusion.

The new security challenges may include a long-term, continuing deterioration of the environment and sudden environmental crises, the spread of HIV/AIDS and other contagious diseases, international crime, drugs, disintegration of societies and refugee movements.

While the prospect of major military conflicts has become less likely, new threats include terror and violence in varying forms. They may come from quarters which have failed to build up a society with respect for human rights and democratic principles.

Therefore, it is a frightening prospect to see the spread of weapons ending up into irresponsible hands. One of the most terrifying threats is the possibility that weapons of mass destruction could be used by terrorist organisations.

After the horrible events of last autumn, work has to be continued - more intensively than before - to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, missile technology, and biological and chemical weapons. The capacity of the existing storage facilities of dangerous material should be better controlled - gradually limited, reduced and finally destroyed.

The new security challenges call for increasing international commitment and multilateral cooperation at all levels. We need to step up efforts to find common responses to global challenges.

Every state sharing our common goals has a vital role to play in the fight against terrorism.

The European Union’s response after the terrorist attacks of September has been strong and united, guided by the principles of the United Nations. Commitment to multilateral approach and action will cover also arms control and non-proliferation. Fifteen Member States have been working within the international coalition against terrorism. We are continuing to build on this.

Mr. President,

This Geneva Conference on Disarmament has reasons to be proud of its achievements:

- the Chemical Weapons Convention opened a new era in international disarmament and non-proliferation efforts. It was the first multilaterally negotiated legal instrument to ban an entire category of weapons of mass destruction in an effectively verifiable manner.

- the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was also welcomed as a historic step toward the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons.

The CD plays a valuable and central role in the treatment of security and arms control issues. But for many years, the CD has not been able to pursue its true mission or potential of negotiating arms-reduction or arms-control agreements.

The CD continues to be the only multilateral forum for disarmament negotiations. It has an indispensable role as an existing forum, ready for use. If the CD did not exist, the international community should, when necessary, have access to a corresponding resource.

The state of affairs of the CD does not give the whole picture of the disarmament process.

An overall assessment is positive. Arms control has been one of the major achievements of international cooperation during the last decades.

Only today multilateral disarmament diplomacy seems to encounter setbacks. One visible weakness is that not all states have acceded to the arms reduction agreements or adhere to their obligations. Non-compliance is one of the problems.

We still think that it is particularly important to reinforce international norms and fortify the international legal system.

Mr. President,

Compliance with agreements to which states have voluntarily acceded is a prerequisite for the credibility of the entire arms control regime.

Therefore, verification continues to be a real challenge of modern arms control treaties. It is essential to strengthen the monitoring and enforcement provisions of the various treaties. The monitoring needs to be reliable and efficient.

Knowledge of methods of verification is a key to a globally effective arms control. Verification arrangements often require good scientific knowledge and technical capability from national authorities.

We attach great importance to cooperative measures in building capacity that is needed to implement the obligations under different arms control treaties. Since 1989, Finland has trained chemical analysts from developing countries in the field of chemical warfare agents verification. Finland also supports the training activities in the framework of the CTBT.

Mr. President,

Finland subscribes to the views expressed by the Presidency of the European Union, the Ambassador of Spain, also on our behalf at the beginning of this session. I try not to repeat what has already been said by the EU. I would like to make remarks on some issues on the disarmament agenda and the work that lies ahead.

The previous visitor from Helsinki to the CD, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, spoke here in 1996, one year before Finland became a full member of the Conference.

At that time, expectations of completing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty were high. The aim was to bring nuclear tests to an end, finally, and to draw up a world-wide norm and a universal Treaty. Today, we know what the situation is. The negotiations were completed in 1997, but the Treaty has still not come into force. As the EU has repeatedly emphasised, we consider explicitly that expediency and the need for genuine security call for fulfilment of the objectives expressed in 1996, and the entry into force of the Treaty - today perhaps more than ever before.

The Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear weapons and its associated safeguards regime are the key elements of the global effort to prevent spread of nuclear weapons. Finland calls for all states to conclude Additional Protocol Agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in order to strengthen the Agency's safeguards system.

In two weeks time, a new preparation process is going to start for the NPT Conference of 2005. Two years have passed since the previous Conference, which was successful.

The NPT is proceeding on the right track, and we hope that all parties adopt a responsible approach. The result achieved in 2000 is extremely challenging. We need a pragmatic and proactive approach in order to boost implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and reinforce the Review Process. We give our full support to the Swedish President of the Prepcom.

In the end, it is the results that count. In terms of actual nuclear reductions, bilaterally negotiated agreements and unilateral action have, so far, produced the results.

It is important that future bilateral and other arrangements will enhance the strategic stability and promote disarmament and non-proliferation, as a whole, leading to an internationally accepted regime. We hope that the ongoing bilateral efforts will lead towards these ends.

In this context, Finland holds the view that, following the commitments made at the 2000 NPT Review Conference, non-strategic nuclear weapons should become an integral part of arms limitation and disarmament negotiations.

ICOC, the International Code of Conduct, is one of the most important goals in spinning-off the positive effects of the efforts preventing the proliferation of missiles. Finland looks forward to the adoption of the Code by the end of this year.

Finland also hopes that the time provided by the suspension of the Biological Weapons Conference for a year will be used effectively in order to form new and fresh approaches. Parties to the BTWC can meanwhile reinforce the Convention by delivering full and transparent declarations and by making sure that their national legislations are in conformity with the obligations.

Mr. President,

Measures to reduce conventional weapons have joined the list of key disarmament efforts. For example, the issue of Small Arms and Light Weapons has now been placed firmly on the international agenda – something which was not at all self-evident only six years ago when the first UN panel of governmental experts began its work.

One of the ways to combat the destabilising accumulation of these weapons is to strengthen export controls at national level, regionally and in terms of international export control regimes. Stronger export controls also on these weapons are also necessary tools in the fight against terrorism.

The Ottawa Convention prohibiting the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel landmines is clearly one of the major successes in the field of disarmament. Even though Finland is not yet party to the Convention, it supports an effective and global ban on anti-personnel landmines.

Finland participates in the work of the EU to promote the objectives and global implementation of the Ottawa Convention. The Government of Finland has stated last year ( in its security and defence policy report) that the work is continuing with a view to Finland acceding to the Convention in 2006 and destroying the APLs by the 2010, without compromising Finland’s credible defence capability.

Finland does not produce or export anti-personnel landmines. During peacetime, anti-personnel landmines are kept in stockpiles. Even if Finland is not part of the humanitarian problem caused by irresponsible use of antipersonnel landmines, we are conscious that by agreeing to this international norm we are part of the solution.

The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons has acquired some fresh impetus. The process is advancing especially in the case of unexploded remnants of war and anti-vehicle mines.

Mr. President,

It seems to us that there is no better proposal than the one made by Ambassador Amorim of Brazil. A fresh look at this proposal is needed, just because of the new security environment. We consider that it reflects, in the best possible way, the interests of all CD parties - no country needs to give up its national positions in order to start work.

The content of the Amorim proposal would make it possible to negotiate a fissile material cut-off treaty, a subject about which we all agree. Discussions on the prevention of an arms race in outer space and nuclear disarmament would clear the air and enable the parties involved to jointly outline the measures needed in these issues in order to attain and strengthen the appropriate international security-producing arrangements.

I am sure that Finland tries to do its best in conducting the work of the CD towards the common goals of the international community. We rely on the good cooperation and common efforts of all partners.