Geneva, 25th March 2004

Mr. President,
Distinguished delegates,

At the outset, allow me to congratulate you, Mr. President, on your assumption of the presidency. I trust the Conference will be guided most efficiently under your able leadership and diplomatic skill, and assure you of the full support of my delegation in your efforts to lead the Conference out of its current impasse.

I will shortly complete my appointment as disarmament ambassador in Geneva. During my term of two years in this capacity, the restoring of multilateral disarmament has been our standing challenge. In order to achieve peace and security, multilateral instruments, given their universality and broad time-frame, are of fundamental importance. Indeed, in some cases, multilateral disarmament fora are serving the common objectives of the international community well.

Small arms and light weapons is one area in which multilateralism in disarmament is indeed functioning. The 2003 United Nations First Biennial Meeting of States on Small Arms and Light Weapons, which I served as Chairperson, succeeded in the adoption by consensus of its final report, despite differences in the positions of respective States. It offered a landmark opportunity to strengthen partnerships for action and enhance our collective sense of ownership and responsibility in the lead up to the second Biennial Meeting in 2005 and the Review Conference in 2006.

Another area worth mentioning is that of certain conventional weapons. The Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons adopted the fifth protocol to this Convention on explosive remnants of war last November. This protocol is a significant measure to deal with the major humanitarian problems in post-conflict situations.

The Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines is yet to achieve universality, but it has made a significant impact worldwide. Mine actions, including mine clearance, have been truly strengthened though the momentum gathered by the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention process, and we are greatly anticipating the First Review Conference later this year.

Thus, multilateralism is working in some specific areas, particularly in the humanitarian field. However, the same cannot be said for comprehensive multilateral disarmament, which is being pursued by the Conference on Disarmament. The Conference is neither executing its agenda provided by the Special Session of the General Assembly in 1978, nor embarking on addressing those issues which have most recently emerged. Member States have been making a concerted effort to resolve the stalemate, with a strong commitment to multilateralism. A breath of fresh air is needed for the Conference, a new ray of light, a new way of thinking.

The cross-group effort initiated by the five ambassadors has introduced a new momentum. During my term of office, I too have tried a number of avenues for breathing fresh air into the Conference. Through plenary meetings, for example, I have endeavoured to deepen the debate on the substance of the fissile material cut-off treaty, and last August I submitted a working paper on the FMCT to further substantive discussions in the CD.

The most memorable experience I have of my time here is that of working on the annual report as the last president of the 2003 annual session, and I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to all delegations for their cooperation and assistance in this regard, which was essential for me in order to fulfill my mandate. This report, containing some substantial elements, is a subtle step toward finding a common ground concerning a programme of work. I believe that my statement at the informal open-ended consultations on 19th December last year was a further step to create a new direction, whereby the Conference will be able to comprehensively and effectively respond to current international security problems. In response to requests from colleagues here, and to facilitate reference to the document, I requested the Secretary-General to issue and circulate this statement as an official document of the CD.

This year's annual session has only just begun, and we are still at the anticipatory stage, waiting for the arrival of a critical turning point. I hope this moment will come soon, and that it will really mark the reinvigoration of multilateral disarmament.

Mr. President,

The CD is a prominent body, which has created a number of important disarmament treaties including the NPT and the CTBT. However, looking back the history of the CD, there have been times when ideas were exhausted and a new momentum was needed to spur the Conference into action. I believe the Conference is currently going through such a challenging period. At the same time, however, we should remember that we need to keep pace with the current world climate and not be defeated. As confirmed recently by several Foreign Ministers, including Japanese Foreign Minister Kawaguchi, the international community has high expectations for this body to overcome its current impasse and initiate substantive work. All of us here in this room are tasked with the responsibility to create such a breakthrough.

In the current world of globalism and interdependence, challenges are transnational. In order to address such challenges and increase security in such a modern world, multilateral efforts are indispensable. Multilateralism is not a matter of choice, but rather a matter of necessity.

Before concluding, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all my colleagues for having enriched my experience and knowledge during my term here. Geneva has provided me with an excellent and stimulating environment in which I have been able to benefit greatly from my many intellectual interactions. I have enjoyed friendships with each and every one of you, fostered through countless cordial occasions, and I will take with me many fond memories of this city.

Thank you very much.

Related Information (Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation)
Delegation of Japan to the Conference on Disarmament Official Web Siteother site

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