Statement by Minister Toivakka at the Conference on Disarmament

Statement by Ms Lenita Toivakka, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development of Finland, Conference on Disarmament, 1 March 2016, Geneva.

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Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am truly delighted to be able to address the Conference on Disarmament today.
The past year has reminded us that we live in an increasingly interdependent world. We share the responsibility to respond to old and new security challenges. Inaction is not an option.

Today, the situation is far from ideal in many parts of the world. Millions of young people are unemployed and lack future perspectives. The key word is inclusiveness. I firmly believe that equal participation of both men and women is needed to reach sustainable society. Integrating gender dimension also in the domain of “hard security" is important, as gender equality has a decisive role to play in making our world more secure for everyone, men and women alike.

In the current security context the need to uphold and strengthen the rule of law in international affairs is more important than ever. Arms control treaties are especially important as they provide stability, predictability, build confidence and lead us to disarmament. Finland underlines the importance of respecting international commitments as well as addressing arms control and proliferation challenges in a concrete manner. Finland is active in many arms control related initiatives that complement the normative framework.

Despite increased tensions in many parts of the world, including ours, we have also seen positive developments in the field of arms control and disarmament.

Mr President,

The Arms Trade Treaty is a significant achievement for the international community. It contributes to stability and security, and provides a more equal level playing field for companies, as more countries apply similar export control policies and principles. It also provides us with a new tool to address unregulated and illicit trade in conventional arms. 

Now we need to work towards universalization of the treaty and ensure its effective implementation. It is also vital to continue dialogue with civil society and industry in achieving more responsible international trade of defense material.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have recently seen some significant progress in non-proliferation efforts.
Finland welcomes the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program. The process that led to this achievement demonstrates that when there is political will the international community is able to overcome differences and reach a diplomatic outcome. Finland underlines that the full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is crucial to achieve international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program.

Mr President,

The international mission to remove and destruct Syria’s declared chemical weapons program was unprecedented. Finland was strongly involved in this international effort. We however remain deeply concerned about the use of chlorine as a weapon as well as alleged use of mustard gas. Any use of sulfur mustard or other chemical-warfare agent in a conflict is against Chemical Weapons Convention and customary humanitarian law. Our work is not finished until the Syrian chemical weapons programme is completely and irreversibly eliminated. 

Mr President,

The Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention is an important instrument of multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation regime. The convention has done its part in preventing the use of biological weapons. But in the light of the new technological advances, rapid exchange of information and also the emergence of non-state-parties we need to make sure that the convention and its implementation will live up to the expectations also in the future. This year's review conference is a timely occasion to address these challenges. Let's use this opportunity wisely.

Mr. President,

The Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention is working effectively. With persistent, hard work and significant efforts, the international community is step by step moving towards a world free of anti-personnel mines. I am pleased to inform you that Finland has been able to take a step on this road by completing the destruction of our anti-personnel landmine stockpiles as of August last year. We will also remain active in the field of humanitarian mine action.

Mr President, Dear colleagues,

Past year did not pass without challenges. The failure to reach a consensus outcome in the NPT Review Conference was of course disappointing.  Despite this set back, the NPT remains the best way forward, and the cornerstone of international non-proliferation regime. The commitments in all three pillars of the NPT remain valid and those related to disarmament are more urgent than ever. We should think that all states will abide by these commitments in years to come. 

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) was opened for signatures 20 years ago. While we cannot be satisfied as long as the Treaty is not in force, we should commend the progress made over the years.  We have a near universal understanding that the time of nuclear test explosions is over and we have a comprehensive verification regime. Finland is proud to host one of the primary stations of the International Monitoring System. This system has proved to be very useful in practice not only by detecting nuclear tests but also in disaster alerts.

The timeliness of the Treaty was highlighted by the recent nuclear test by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Finland condemns in strongest possible terms the nuclear test and the following launch using ballistic missile technology. They represent serious violations of North Korea's international obligations, as set out in various UN Security Council Resolutions.

As one of the “Friends of the CTBT” my country is fully committed in promoting the entry into force of the Treaty. I urge all those States that have not yet ratified the Treaty. Let's close the door on nuclear testing completely.

Mr President,

Let me now turn to the work of the CD. With pressing urgency, it is our responsibility to search every avenue that could lead into substantive work in the CD. A balanced and comprehensive Programme of Work, with a negotiation mandate on a Treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons is our priority.

Finland welcomes the report of the Group of Governmental Experts on this topic and trusts that its elements can be utilized in the work of the CD. We warmly welcome the efforts to end the production of fissile material for nuclear weapon purposes.
It is important to review and update the working methods of the CD. The expansion of the membership of the CD contributes to the inclusiveness of this body as would the recognition of the beneficial contribution of civil society and academia in its work.
Finland stands ready to support the President in vitalizing the work of the CD and encourages other partners to do the same. Current proposals to initiate the work of the CD are all considered positively by Finland.

Ladies and Gentlemen, to conclude,

The Open Ended Working Group on Nuclear Disarmament started its work in February. Finland has participated in this work as we welcome all the efforts that contribute to the goal of a peaceful and secure world free of nuclear weapons. Working towards achieving a world free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction is a responsibility of every state. We also find important to address the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons as it highlights the grave consequences of any use of nuclear weapons.

I am afraid there is no fast track to nuclear disarmament. What is important is to see further progress and concrete steps, including further restrictions and reductions, in warheads, and in their delivery systems. For this we need the involvement of those states that possess nuclear weapons. The continued implementation of the new START Treaty is a positive example, and we encourage to go even further.

Any process will also need to be an inclusive one, bringing together nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states. We need practical mechanisms and to try to build bridges - which is easier said than done. But it is not a reason to give up.
I call on the nuclear weapon states to continue cooperation, build and re-build confidence, and negotiate deeper cuts in their nuclear arsenals – be they deployed or non-deployed, strategic or tactical nuclear weapons. I look forward to continue working together with you all to achieve these goals.

I thank you, Mr President.