Conference on disarmament - Statement by Ambassador M. Yann HWANG in plenary session (Geneva, 31 March, 2022) [fr]
My delegation welcomes the organization of this plenary meeting, which allows us to take stock of the work of the subsidiary bodies. It thanks the coordinators for the professional way in which they conduct our work.
The first meetings within the subsidiary bodies have been useful and have revealed points of convergence between the delegations. These points should be reflected in the final reports that we will adopt. We agree with the coordinators on the lack of interaction. For our delegation, interaction is not related to the question of the formal or informal status of the work.
The FMCT has emerged in Subsidiary Bodies 1 and 2 as the most mature disarmament project. We hope that our discussions on the FMCT will pave the way for negotiations as soon as possible on the basis of document CD/1299 and the mandate it contains. Subsidiary Body 3 also stressed the importance of reducing risks and threats in outer space. The promotion of norms, rules and principles of responsible behavior was seen as the most promising way to achieve this goal.
A great many delegations chose to present their priorities taking into account the strategic context. This confirms that this forum does not work in a vacuum and that any serious and credible disarmament process can only be based on trust. For trust is being undermined by Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military invasion of Ukraine. Our work in plenary and in the subsidiary bodies cannot be disconnected from the security context. This was recalled by a large number of delegations from all regional groups. In our view, it is not a matter of politicization or the establishment of double standards to do so.
After more than a month of conflict, the war in Ukraine is a turning point in the history of Europe. Our forum, which is mandated to deal with international security issues, must continue to debate it and measure its impact on its work, or else lose all credibility.
I listened carefully to the Russian Ambassador before me. I would like to react to what he said:
Russia is mounting an irresponsible disinformation campaign about alleged secret military biological activities in laboratories in Ukraine. To date, Russia has not substantiated its allegations with any credible information. The reason is very simple: this disinformation campaign is not based on any proven facts and we will explain why with our experts at the preparatory committee of the BWC review conference.
Ukraine has no biological weapons programs. It is in compliance with its obligations under the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. The United Nations, through the High Representative for Disarmament, Mrs. Nakamitsu, has twice clearly indicated at UNSC meetings that it has no knowledge of the existence of such programs.
France is very concerned about the possibility that this disinformation campaign is the prelude to the use of a biological weapon in Ukraine under a false flag. If such a use were to occur, there would be only one party responsible, and that would be Russia.
The use of these weapons, banned by international law, would be an intolerable escalation of this conflict. The Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, has stated unambiguously that such attacks would lead to even more massive economic sanctions in response.
In reality, this irresponsible campaign of disinformation about biological weapons in the context of an illicit armed aggression against a sovereign state is a striking demonstration of Russia’s double talk on the issue of biological disarmament.
Indeed, for the past two years the international community has sent a very clear message to Russia by clearly rejecting its draft resolution on the UN Secretary General’s investigation mechanism. We have shown Russia that we are not fooled by its objective in seeking to weaken this mechanism.
With this vote, we have reiterated our commitment to ensuring that the instruments for shedding light on a potential biological attack remain independent and robust.
We will not accept that the independence, flexibility and effectiveness of the Secretary-General’s mechanism be called into question. And we will remain vigilant to respond to any initiative that seeks to lock down the international mechanisms for investigating alleged use of biological weapons, whether in the framework of the UNGA, the UNSC or the BTWC.
I thank you, Mr. President./.