We appreciate the manner in which you have been chairing this Subsidiary Body and thank you and your team for all the hard work that has gone into it. We are grateful for your letter dated 23 July 2018, outlining a structure along with some guiding questions. We also found very useful the excellent interim summary report circulated by you, while taking note that it is an informal non-paper subject to further modifications and additions based on the views expressed during the second round of deliberations this week.
I will limit my remarks in this intervention to the topic of nuclear disarmament verification.
It goes without saying that verification would be an essential and extremely vital element for ensuring adherence and compliance with any future agreement on nuclear disarmament. Verification would be indispensable for building confidence regarding both the achievement and the maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons. Its credibility would rest to a large degree on an effective multilateral mechanism, to be agreed to the satisfaction of all parties through negotiations, and implemented by an independent and representative international treaty body under adequate oversight of States parties in a transparent, non-discriminatory, objective and technically sound manner, while protecting information that is of national security concern and/or proliferation sensitive.
The consensus Final Document of the 1978 first special session of the UN General Assembly devoted to Disarmament, SSOD-I, provides the overarching framework to pursue disarmament. It notes that “the adoption of disarmament measures should take place in such an equitable and balanced manner as to ensure the right of each State to security and to ensure that no individual State or group of States may obtain advantages over others at any stage. At each stage the objective should be undiminished security at the lowest possible level of armaments and military forces.”
The SSOD-I Final Document also provides some guidance regarding verification. It states that “Disarmament and arms limitation agreements should provide for adequate measures of verification satisfactory to all parties concerned in order to create the necessary confidence and ensure that they are being observed by all parties. The form and modalities of the verification to be provided for in any specific agreement depend upon and should be determined by the purposes, scope and nature of the agreement. Agreements should provide for the participation of parties directly or through the United Nations system in the verification process. Where appropriate, a combination of several methods of verification as well as other compliance procedures should be employed.”
The United Nations Disarmament Commission (UNDC), in 1988, agreed on 16 Principles of Verification. Two GGEs were subsequently established, in 1990 and 1993, on “Verification in all its aspects”. In 2006, building on the reports of the two GGEs, a UN Panel of Experts published a report highlighting recent trends and developments in the field of verification. However, all of this work was of a general, and with the exception of the UNDC, of a non-universal nature. This recently established GGE to consider the role of verification in advancing nuclear disarmament is the first forum that has been exclusively mandated within the UN framework to specifically consider nuclear disarmament verification, and not verification in a general sense. Pakistan is participating in that GGE and contributing substantively to its work.
We are of the view that nuclear disarmament verification can be best addressed in the context of a specific treaty regime, and not in an abstract manner, or as an end in itself. The negotiations on nuclear disarmament should be undertaken holistically with verification as an integral element and not pursued piecemeal. Verification has to be rooted in specific treaties.
As noted in Principle no. 12 agreed by UNDC in 1988, the “Determinations about the adequacy, effectiveness and acceptability of specific methods and arrangements intended to verify compliance with the provisions of an arms limitation and disarmament agreement can only be made within the context of that agreement”.
Nonetheless, we see value in expert-led technical work on the issue of verification in a representative forum that includes all the relevant stakeholders. While the most suitable forum for this work remains the Conference on Disarmament (CD), the GGE can contribute towards advancing understanding of the challenges associated with nuclear disarmament verification and monitoring, and in identifying the principles as well as capacity-building issues to address those challenges.
The GGE could provide States with a compendium of principles as well as important considerations that would need to be taken into account when discussing and negotiating verification measures under specific multilateral treaties dealing with nuclear disarmament and arms control in the future. The GGE would likely only be able to focus on general concepts and principles, rather than on specific techniques, methods, technologies and possible toolboxes, etc – which in any case would have to be determined through appropriate negotiations under a treaty framework.
Lastly, let me emphasize that while multilateral work on nuclear disarmament verification can make an important technical contribution towards the verification aspects of an international instrument on nuclear disarmament, it should not be a precondition for the commencement of negotiations on nuclear disarmament in the CD.
I thank you, Mr. Coordinator.