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Topnews, Statements

18. October 2021

STATEMENT DELIVERED BY AMBASSADOR RAPULANE MOLEKANE, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, AT THE SIXTIETH SESSION OF THE CTBTO WORKING GROUP A, 18 OCTOBER 2021, VIENNA, AUSTRIA

Madame Chairperson,

My delegation associates itself with the statements delivered on behalf of the G77 and China, as well as, the African Group.

I would like to make the following remarks in our national capacity.

South Africa would like to thank you Ambassador Nada Kruger, Permanent Representative of Namibia, for convening the 60th Session of Working Group A and we assure you of our full cooperation and support throughout these proceedings. Since this is your last session as Chair of Working Group A, my delegation expresses its profound appreciation for your exceptional leadership and guidance of this Working Group through these challenging times.

We also thank the Executive Secretary, Dr Robert Floyd, for his opening remarks, as well as his reports to this Session. We extend our appreciation to the Advisory Group and the Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS) for preparing the necessary documentation for this meeting.

Madame Chairperson,

This Session takes place shortly after the 12th Article XIV Conference which took place on 23 and 24 September 2021. On behalf of my delegation and the Co-President Italy, we express our appreciation to the Office of the Secretary-General, the President of the General Assembly, the Under-Secretary for Disarmament, the outgoing Co-Presidents Algeria and Germany, the Executive Secretary of the CTBTO, all State Signatories and the PTS for their support and cooperation which made the Conference a success.

We are committed to make all necessary efforts towards the entry into force of this important instrument of the global non-proliferation architecture, with a specific focus on the signing and ratification of the Treaty by the remaining Annex II States. We are encouraged by the entry into Force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and trust that the CTBT will soon follow suite.

Similarly, this Session precedes the 5th Conference of State Parties to the Pelindaba Treaty which will take place on 21 and 22 October 2021 in Johannesburg. We look forward to welcoming the Executive Secretary, fellow African State Parties and all participants to the Conference. We will also seize the opportunity of the presence of the Executive Secretary in South Africa to deepen our cooperation with the CTBTO.

Additionally, South Africa is honoured to have nominated the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Alvin Botes to the Group of Eminent Members (GEM). We remain fully supportive of the Group of Eminent Members and are committed to ensuring its success.

Madame Chairperson,

South Africa notes the progress that the PTS has made in implementing the non-verification related activities encapsulated in Major Programmes four through seven in the period April to August 2021, as contained in the Executive Secretary’s report (CTBT/ES/2021/3). My delegation is pleased with the overall achievement of performance targets and the adaptability of the PTS in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

My delegation attaches great importance to the International Monitoring System and the International Data Centre as essential instruments in meeting the verification requirements of the Treaty once it comes into force. In this regard, South Africa appreciates the good work undertaken by the PTS in maintaining the functionality of the IMS facilities throughout the world, in spite of the limitations caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We note with satisfaction the increase in the collection rate of assessed contributions for the 2020 and 2021 financial years respectively. We urge those State Signatories that have not paid their respective contributions, to honour their obligations under the Treaty. By doing so, we give practical expression to our political commitment to the CTBTO.

While acknowledging the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are highly concerned by the low implementation rate of the Capacity Building Fund which stood at 0.7% as at 31 August 2021. As technical capacity and knowledge are key enablers for State Signatories to utilise the verification instruments once the Treaty comes into force, we reiterate our call for the Secretariat to implement all necessary measures to improve capacity building, including by increasing the number of participants in capacity building programmes scheduled the for 2022 and 2023 financial years.

Madame Chairperson,

South Africa places great importance on the advancement and empowerment of women and the youth in science, including in the nuclear sciences. As of 31 August 2021, women representation at Professional and higher levels in the Secretariat stands only at 35.2%, which is marginally higher than the previous reporting period. This shows that the CTBTO is still trailing behind other international organisations in terms of gender equality and mainstreaming.

We encourage the Secretariat to engage in focused recruitment processes, aimed at improving gender representation. We also encourage the utilisation of youth engagement platforms to identify potential candidates for the CTBTO. In this regard, it is necessary to point out that gender and youth mainstreaming should be mindful of the principle of equitable geographic representation and should not only focus on recruitment from developed States. 

Turning to financial matters, my delegation notes that the PTS has taken due regard of the prevailing economic challenges as well as the views of States Signatories in its preparation and revision of the 2022-2023 Programme and Budget Proposals. In this regard, we appreciate the less than zero real growth in the proposed appropriation, as well as, the allocation of more than 80% of resources to verification related expenses. South Africa looks forward to further consideration of these proposals by the PrepCom. We also take note of the recommendations of the Advisory Group on financial matters.

Finally, my delegation commends the PTS’ successful hosting of the Science and Technology Conference 2021 which set a new record of 1 600 participants from 150 countries. The Conference, amongst others provides an opportunity for young scientists to participate, with two South African women scientists having delivered presentations. We look forward to the compilation of lessons learned from this conference and their application to the day-to-day activities of the CTBTO.

With these few words, I thank you Chairperson.

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