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Topnews, Statements

24. August 2020

STATEMENT DELIVERED BY DR JOHNNY PITSWANE, CHARGÉ D’AFFAIRES A.I. SOUTH AFRICAN PERMANENT MISSION, AT THE FIFTY – FIFTH SESSION OF WORKING GROUP B (WGB) OF THE COMPREHENSIVE TEST-BAN TREATY ORGANISATION (CTBTO), 24 AUGUST 2020, VIENNA, AUSTRIA

Chairperson,

The South African delegation wishes to congratulate you, Dr Joachim Schulze on your appointment as Chair of the 55th Session of Working Group B (WGB). As this is your last Session as the Chair of this Working Group, South Africa expresses her sincere appreciation of your leadership in your tenure and wishes you well in your future endeavours. We further assure you, the Vice Chairs and the Task Leaders of our full cooperation and support during this Session. 

We also wish to thank the Executive Secretary, Dr Zerbo, for his opening statement and the Provisional Technical  Secretariat  (PTS)  for  the  work  they  have  done  in  compiling  the  Verification  Related Activities  Report  for  the  period  January to June  2020  as  well  as  the  preparatory arrangements for this Session.

We convene this Session in unprecedented times characterised by the outbreak of the COVID – 19 pandemic, which has negatively affected all nations. We pledge solidarity with all nations in these trying times as we collectively strive to recover and restore some degree of normalcy. In this regard we are pleased with all efforts that you Mr Chair, the Executive Secretary and the PTS have undertaken to ensure business continuity. 

The South African delegation associates itself with the statements delivered on behalf of the African  Group  and  the  Group  of  77  and  China, and  would  like  to  add  a  few remarks in our national capacity.

Chairperson,

My  delegation  welcomes  the  report  of  the  Executive  Secretary  on verification related matters for the period January to June 2020 and  is  pleased  to  note that data  availability  of  certified  International  Monitoring  System  (IMS)  stations remained  high  and has surpassed the level reported in the period July to December 2019. South Africa commends the Secretariat for implementing measures to increase the resilience of the IMS Stations, which included enhanced technical guidance to station operators, more reliance on local procurement and the increased use of local and regional support services. The investment made in capacitating station operators has now yielded positive results especially in the lockdown period. South Africa also commends the Secretariat for continuation of its work on the installation, revalidation and major upgrades of IMS Stations. In this regard, negotiations between the PTS and the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation for the installation of the radionuclide station RN62 located in Cape Town South Africa are underway and should be concluded soon.

We are also pleased to note that the International Data Centre products continue to meet the timelines required by the Treaty 99%  of the time.

Chairperson,

South Africa reiterates its belief in the importance of maintaining and expanding the preparedness of the CTBTO to implement the Treaty once it comes into force. In this regard, we are of the view that capacity building projects should continue and expand as they are key to  achieving  and  maintaining  the  organisation’s  and  State  Signatories  preparedness. South Africa notes that due to restrictive measures aimed at containing the outbreak of COVID – 19, a number of training initiatives had to be postponed. South Africa join others in appreciating efforts made to conduct through virtual means capacity building interventions where possible and joins others in requesting the Secretariat to reschedule expeditiously those capacity building projects which were not feasible to hold in the reporting period.

My delegation believes that advancing gender equality must remain a focal point for all activities of the Secretariat, and we believe that through its continuing efforts, the CTBTO will soon be on par with other international organisations in this regard.  We  therefore  call  on  the  Executive  Secretary  to  continue  working  with the  State  Signatories  to continue to find  ways  of  advancing  gender  equality  at  all  levels  of employment in the PTS.

Another major  priority  for  my  delegation  is  the  advancement  of  youth,  and  we  look forward  to  the 2021 Science and Technology Conference, building on the recommendations  of  the  2019  Science  and Technology Conference, especially those that focused on the need to build capacity and expand the inclusion of young people in the activities of the PTS as well as in the fields of science and technology. We commend the Executive Secretary and the PTS for their work in advancing the role of the youth in the activities of the organisation.

Chairperson, in conclusion

While we commend the work of the PTS and the progress made in the implementation of  the  work  of  the  CTBTO  in  the  four  major  programmes,  we  remain  concerned  with the lack of progress in bringing the Treaty into force. We  once  again  strongly  urge  Annex  II  States  whose  signature  and/or  ratification  is necessary  for  the  CTBT  to  enter  into  force  to  sign  and/or  ratify  the  Treaty as soon as possible.

With these few remarks, I thank you Mr Chair.

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