U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday acknowledged his staff’s pessimism about landing a breakthrough in a long-deadlocked disarmament forum.
“When I considered addressing you once again today, some of our senior advisers counseled against it. They said there are little prospects for progress this year,” the U.N. chief said in opening remarks to this year’s first gathering of the Conference on Disarmament in Switzerland.
Ban said, though, that he remains convinced the Geneva venue could achieve new strides.
“I decided to come and meet you. Why?” he said. “Because I am a strong believer in multilateralism.
“I want you to know that I have not given up hope for this noble body,” the U.N. head said. “I want to encourage you to live up to the international community’s expectations.”
The 65-nation conference was established as the primary global forum for negotiation of arms control accords. However, a proposal for an international prohibition on new nuclear-weapon fuel production has held the consensus-driven body at a standstill for more than 15 years.
The Conference on Disarmament and its predecessors have produced some key arms-control agreements in the past, including the Nonproliferation Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention, and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.
Ban referred, as well, to its critical role in crafting the treaty under which Syria is now working to dismantle its chemical arsenal.
“The Chemical Weapons Convention is your legacy. The CD brought it to life,” Ban said. “The presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize to the [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] is a recognition of the importance of disarmament and nonproliferation for world peace. I hope you will be inspired by this.”
States’ delegates voiced differing ideas on how to pursue substantive movement in the conference.
The United States noted that it was open to re-establishing an informal working group to support discussions on moving forward, but said it would do so only if an agreed agenda remains “elusive” over the course of 2014.
Germany, though, said the mechanism should be re-launched “without further delay.”
“A substantive schedule of activities should be agreed upon for 2014,” German Ambassador Michael Biontino said in a prepared statement. “We believe that the approach developed in the informal working group [last year] provides a valid basis.”
What We're Following See More »
"FBI Director Chris Wray will change his chief of staff in the coming weeks, multiple sources told CNN Tuesday. James Rybicki, who served Wray's predecessor, James Comey, in the same role, will soon leave, the sources said. Zachary Harmon, a white-collar lawyer, will take on the role." Rybicki played a "role in crafting a statement that exonerated Hillary Clinton in her email server investigation." In related news, the Washington Post reports that "Dana Boente, the U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia who is acting head of the Justice Department’s national security division, has been selected to be the FBI’s next general counsel."
"Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is seeking to question President Trump in the coming weeks about his decisions to oust national security adviser Michael Flynn and FBI Director James B. Comey, according to two people familiar with his plans. ... The president’s legal team hopes to provide Trump’s testimony in a hybrid form — answering some questions in a face-to-face interview and others in a written statement."