Statement of Germany in the general exchange of the UN Disarmament Commission 4 April 2023

04.04.2023 - Speech

The Statement was delivered by Elisabeth Jenschke, German Mission Expert on Disarmament

Germany fully aligns itself with the statement delivered yesterday by the European Union.

At the outset, I wish to congratulate you, Ambassador Rakhmetullin, on your election. Thank you for enabling us with your leadership to go ahead with this UN Disarmament Commission meeting.

I would also like to thank the outgoing chair, Ambassador Xolisa Mabhongo and the chairs of the Commission’s two working groups, Mr. Kurt Davis and Ms. Szilvia Balázs for their tireless work.

For the second time, the Disarmament Commission is taking place against the backdrop of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. We cannot but note with grave concern the blows Russia has dealt to the disarmament architecture, including its nuclear rhetoric and recent suspension of New START.

Like many others, we regret the outcome of the 10th Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Especially under the current circumstances, we need to recommit to a Treaty that has helped preserve peace and create a more stable global order for over 50 years.

As we enter into the next Review Cycle, our task has largely stayed the same, all the while become even more urgent: Reduce the risk of nuclear escalation and see how we can open up the diplomatic space for new steps on nuclear arms control measures.

The fraught security environment might have shrunk the space for bold initiatives. Germany will continue to advance concrete, pragmatic ideas to uphold and advance our disarmament commitments, including on transparency, risk reduction or nuclear disarmament verification. 

We also encourage NPT States Parties to support the proposals developed by the Stockholm Initiative and the Non Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative.

Let me join others in welcoming the 2022 ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) by six countries: Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Sao Tome and Principe, Timor-Leste and, last but not least, Tuvalu.

As a member of the “Friends of the CTBT” initiative, which aims at bringing forward speedy entry-into-force of the CTBT, we renew our call on all states that have not yet done so – in particular those listed under Annex II – to show leadership and ratify the Treaty.

Equally important is the immediate commencement of long-overdue negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut off Treaty. Until such a Treaty is negotiated, all states should declare and maintain a voluntary moratorium on fissile material production.

Addressing the security challenges in outer space is also highly urgent: The use of space underpins our way of life as well as the prosperity, safety and security of all States in an unprecedented manner.

Germany continues to promote the preservation of a safe, secure, sustainable and peaceful space environment and remains strongly committed to the prevention of an arms race in outer space.

One of the most pressing threats to security and sustainability of outer space is the testing of direct-ascent anti-satellite missiles. Germany commends all states who have committed not to conduct such tests, invites all others to follow suit, and advocates for a universal norm banning such testing.

Considering the characteristics of outer space, particularly the dual-use nature of many activities, the most realistic way to prevent misperceptions and miscalculations in outer space is to agree upon norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviors and to increase transparency and predictability.

To that end, Germany is very actively involved in the Open Ended Working Group dedicated to this approach. I encourage you to consider the Working Paper we recently co-authored with Republic of the Philippines as useful input to our discussions in UNDC WG II.

As we continue to deal with the fall-out of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine for our disarmament work, let us remember that arms control mechanism where not just designed for the good and peaceful times. They can diffuse tensions and prevents escalation under the most difficult of circumstances.

Therefore, we should not be discouraged, but see the current crisis as a call to intensify our work. Germany remains firmly committed to this task. 

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