8 October 2014 - UNGA / 1st Committee - General debate - Statement by Mr Jean-Hugues Simon-Michel Ambassador, Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament, Head of the French Delegation
My delegation would like to congratulate you on your appointment as Chairman of the
Mr Chairman, Dear Colleagues,
Two weeks ago, we surpassed the threshold of fifty ratifications, required for the Arms
Trade Treaty (ATT) to enter into force by the end of the year. Many of us in this room,
myself included, participated in the negotiations. This is an immense satisfaction for us
all. This is the best illustration of the effective multilateralism that France calls for.
Mr Chairman, dear colleagues, it has to be said that the number of crisis around the
world has grown worryingly over the last year. The existing crisis continue, and in some
cases are even breaking out anew, such as in the Middle East. New crisis have also
arisen, in the Central African Republic, Libya and Iraq. Their effects are felt even in
In many theatres, such as Mali last year, and this year in the Central African Republic and
Iraq, France has shouldered its responsibilities. These crisis are a reminder that we live
in the real world and that our approach to disarmament and arms control needs to be
realistic. It needs to guarantee the security of all States, under the very terms of the Final
Document of the 1st Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on
Alas, the latest developments in the Syrian crisis, as reported by the Fact-Finding
Mission, show that toxic chemicals have been used systematically and repeatedly as
weapons in 2014. The use of helicopters leaves no doubt as to the Damascus regime’s
responsibility. That naturally raises the question of Syria’s sincerity in fulfilling its
obligations under the 1925 Geneva Protocol, the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC),
and Security Council resolution 2118.
Nuclear proliferation crisis naturally remain a central concern for us. They are a clear
brake on the continuation of our nuclear disarmament efforts. We have observed no
progress in the case of North Korea, which has made the continued developments of its
ballistic and nuclear programmes a priority, in flagrant violation of UN Security Council
Concerning the Iranian nuclear proliferation crisis, the negotiating session in New York
last September gave the opportunity to hold useful and detailed discussions.
Nonetheless, the Iranian negotiators did not come with the gestures we hoped in order
to achieve decisive progress, while the Geneva Agreement will expire in two months.
Time is now short. We can still reach an agreement. France among the E3+3 Group is
committed with determination to negotiation. But, for that, Iran needs to make the
necessary decisions to prove the exclusively peaceful purposes of its nuclear
Lastly, Europe. Our continent, which we thought was to be permanently at peace, is once
again prey to tensions. The Ukrainian crisis and the violation of the 1994 Budapest
Memorandum, adopted in the framework of Ukraine’s accession to the NPT, naturally
have a very negative effect on international security.
Mr. Chairman, Dear Colleagues,
Yet despite the degradation of the international strategic context, disarmament and
arms control have made progress in 2014. I see in that the demonstration of our
commitment and the good will of the very vast majority of us.
A moment ago, I recalled the upcoming entry into force of the ATT, which will be a
historic step forward. But there is other great progress worthy of mention. In the
framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), we undertook a
forward-looking discussion on the issue of lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS).
That demonstrates the vitality and relevance of the CCW and its ability to tackle
emerging subjects. I am proud to have chaired the Meeting of Experts dedicated to the
issue in May. The discussions are making good progress and convergences are possible.
France would like this work to continue and I will advocate that in November during the
meeting of the High Contracting Parties. France also welcomes Iraq’s accession to the
CCW and all its Protocols. We hope that recent progress towards universalization of the
Convention will continue.
There are also emergency situations for which pragmatic solutions have been proposed.
Debris in space is an immediate threat for all States and the security of space activities is
vital for us all in today’s world. The European Union is proposing a code of conduct
which could be adopted very soon. In the biological area, the rapid development of
technologies requires innovative solutions.
Mr Chairman, Dear Colleagues,
The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is the cornerstone of the non-proliferation regime
and the basis for our nuclear disarmament efforts. The Action Plan adopted by
consensus in 2010 is our roadmap.
Naturally, the nuclear-weapon States need to be equal to their commitments and France
is aware of its responsibilities in that respect. Considerable progress was made in
several areas in 2014, including the submission of national reports based on a common
framework to the 5 nuclear-weapon States, under Actions 5, 20 and 21 of the
Action Plan, and the signing of the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing a Central Asian
Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone. France expects to ratify the Protocol by the end of the year –
in a few weeks. The work of the P5 to draw up a glossary of nuclear terms is continuing.
Lastly, we are ready to sign the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing a Southeast Asian
Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty.
The roadmap decided by the 2010 NPT Action Plan constitutes a common approach that
commits all States Parties: the "step-by-step" approach. It is a sequence for multilateral
action, with the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)
and the launch of negotiations on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT). It is a logical sequence. The sequence stems very clearly from the Action Plan, and particularly
Action 15, calling for the immediate launch of negotiations of the FMCT at the
Conference on Disarmament, in accordance with document CD/1299 and the mandate it
From this point of view too, we feel that we have made progress. The first two sessions
of the Governmental Group of Experts (GGE) created by resolution 67/53 were held in
March and August this year. At the Conference on Disarmament too, debates of
substance unprecedented in many years have taken place on each of these agenda
subjects, and particularly concerning the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT). Never
have we got so far.
To make progress, it is essential to better understand each other’s positions, minimize
divergences and identify possible avenues for compromise. Of course, that is not
enough. Our aim remains, more than ever, to move on to the next stage and begin
negotiations, in accordance with the priority set for us by Action 15 of the NPT Action
Plan and in line with document CD 1864, which was adopted by the Conference on
Disarmament in 2009. It is however true that the debates held this year at the
Conference on Disarmament are helping us move in that direction. It is important to
recognize that progress.
The NPT roadmap adopted by consensus in 2010 is based, as I have said, on a pragmatic,
"step-by-step" approach. It is important to implement this roadmap – and so to keep to
it – without deviating from the chosen path. Certain parties would like to push us into
taking another path, into an ideological approach which aims to stigmatize and not to
That is not how we can advance disarmament and international security. The “step-bystep”
approach is the only realistic one, and so the only one that will allow us to
progress. It is an effective approach, as we can see if we look back some 20 years to see
the progress that has been made. This is the path that we need to pursue determinedly,
to move towards a safer world.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman