Statement by Mr Timo Soini, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland at the Conference of Disarmament 

Statement by Mr Timo Soini, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland at the Conference of Disarmament, Geneva 12 September 2017.

Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to address the Conference of Disarmament today. Yesterday I had the honor to participate in the High Level Segment of the Third Conference of State Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty.

As you might know, Finland is celebrating her hundred years of independence this year. Seventy years ago our society was a poor agricultural society, heavily in debt after two devastating wars. Progress has required tough decisions, painful sacrifices and a lot of diplomacy and creative thinking. Today, we are lucky to live in an open, stable and prosperous society.

Finland's success was made possible by our veterans of war. Today, their message is clear: We must find ways to avoid war.

Mr President,

Arms control and disarmament have returned to the core of the foreign and security policy. The international community has to stand up to defend the international security architecture. It is the result of many years of hard negotiations. At the same time, new kind of threats are evolving and need to be addressed. Your work at this Conference is extremely important. Much depends on the political will and activity of the Member States.

Constructive ideas and concrete actions are needed. My own country is ready to consider possible ways forward with an open mind. We also need to pay constant attention to the implementation of the existing Treaties. At the same time, we should ensure compliance and stay responsive to possible needs for improvement.      

Mr President,

Let me mention some of the most pressing issues. The nuclear and ballistic missile programmes of the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea constitute a major threat to international peace and security. The use of chemical weapons in Syria, a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, has shocked the world. Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea and the situation in eastern Ukraine remains a major concern. Respecting international law and commitments is of utmost importance.

In this security environment we need dialogue, risk reduction and confidence-building mechanisms more than ever. We also need to increase transparency and predictability in order to enhance stability and security. Arms control plays a key role. Also export controls are increasingly important in preventing the proliferation of arms – smaller and bigger.

Mr. President,

Conventional arms and explosives kill over half a million people every year. We need to pay more attention to small arms and other conventional weapons in order to reduce the tragic consequences of their use.

In recent years, one of the bright spots has been the Arms Trade Treaty. The Treaty will step up regulation of international flows of conventional arms. As the current President of the ATT, Finland has done its best to strengthen the implementation of the Treaty.

Mr President,

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty remains the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation regime. It is the essential foundation for nuclear disarmament in accordance with Article VI of the Treaty. For half a century, the NPT has contributed to the international peace, security and stability.

Finland stresses all three pillars of the NPT. Our approach to nuclear disarmament is pragmatic.

A world free of nuclear weapons must be our objective. In order to achieve that, we have to proceed in a unified and inclusive way. All the countries possessing nuclear weapons have to be on board. We reiterate our call on all nuclear weapon states and countries possessing these weapons to promptly take concrete actions in nuclear disarmament and confidence building.

One more point: our efforts concerning non-strategic or tactical nuclear weapons should be increased. Today these weapons are completely uncovered by any binding, verifiable agreement. This gap has to be fixed. There should also be a clear division between these and conventional weapons – in military doctrines and if ever exercising their use. And finally, we need practical confidence-building measures in this field as well.

Mr President,

Non-state actors and terrorist groups getting hold of biological, chemical, nuclear or radiological weapons constitutes a real threat to society.

As a consequence, the implementation of the UN Security Council resolution 1540 has become increasingly relevant.

In order to prevent terrorism, it is also important to build prevention capacity on a global level. Finnish experts have been training chemists from over 130  developing countries, in building bio- and health security capacity as well as in enhancing nuclear security and safety worldwide. Currently, we are investing in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, which is a practical cooperation initiative chaired by the Russian Federation and the United States with over 80 countries participating.

Mr President, Excellencies,

I would like to conclude by a reminder of how new technology is changing the global political environment.

We need to look seriously into how science and technology, internet, social media, space and cyber technology, and artificial intelligence affect this field.

The development of lethal autonomous weapons opens up a totally new perspective on warfare. This poses difficult questions about ethics, regulation and international rules.

We also need to be sufficiently prepared for new kind of hybrid threats. Legislation, regulation and rules of the game are urgently needed. We have to engage not only governments and the political leadership but also the private sector and academia. It is crucial to create a safe and secure environment where we can profit from the advancing technology – without putting ourselves or our societies at risk. The Conference of Disarmament has a crucial role to fill also in this field.

I wish you all the best in your important work.

Thank you, Mr. President.