Topnews, Statements

25. June 2020


Madam Chair,

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

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

The COVID – 19 pandemic presented unprecedented challenges to which we all have had to adjust. South Africa would like to thank you Madam Chair, for your extensive consultations that made the convening of this virtual meeting and the continued function of Preparatory Commission possible. We also thank the Chairs of Working Group A, Working Group B and the Advisory Group for their leadership and reports. We assure you all of our full cooperation and support.

We thank the Executive Secretary, Dr Lassina Zerbo, for his opening remarks and the Provisional Secretariat for ensuring that the CTBTO continues to discharge its mandate in spite of limitation created by the outbreak of the pandemic. We also extend our appreciation to the Provisional Technical Secretariat for preparing the necessary documentation for the meeting and reiterate our request for the timely delivery of documents in preparations for all sessions of the Commission and its subsidiary bodies.

Madam Chair,

My delegation has taken note of the Report of the 57th Session Working Group B, as contained in document CTBT/PC-54/WGB/1.

Cooperation between my country and the PTS remains strong. In this regard, we congratulate the PTS for achieving a milestone of certifying the 300th IMS facility, which includes amongst others the certification of the Pelindaba Radionuclide Laboratory located in Pretoria, South Africa. We are also pleased that the data availability of certified International Monitoring System (IMS) stations remained high at 99% and meets the threshold required when the Treaty comes to force.

The South African delegation notes the good work undertaken by the PTS in supporting monitoring facilities throughout its global network.  Efforts to preserve these major investments, especially through empowering station operators are commendable. For example,  South  Africa  has  also  benefited from the  completion  of the  maintenance  work  and  upgrade  at  the  Infrasound  Station  (IS47)  in  Boshoff  in  the Free  State  Province.  We look forward to continuous collaboration with the PTS in ensuring uninterrupted functioning of all IMS facilities that South Africa hosts.

Madam Chair,

The importance of maintaining and expanding the preparedness of the CTBTO to implement the Treaty once it comes into force can never be overstated. Capacity building is an essential element to this end. We therefore welcome all efforts of the PTS to mainstream capacity building in all its projects. The focus on gender equality is commendable, and we believe that through its continuing efforts, the CTBTO will make significant strides in this regard.  We  urge the  Executive  Secretary  to  continue  working  with the  State  Signatories  to explore  ways of  advancing  gender  equality  at  all  levels  of employment in the PTS. We encourage the PTS to expand its focus on youth, especially in the African context wherein the youth is a significantly higher proportion of the population.

Turning to the Report of Working Group A, South Africa takes notes of the Report of the 54th Session of Working Group A contained in document CTBT/PC-54/WGA/1. My delegation appreciates that the CTBTO ended the 2019 financial year with a net surplus and an unqualified audit report. The cost saving measures and efficiencies adopted by the Provisional Technical Secretariat are commendable. We encourage the Secretariat to continue seeking sustainable efficiencies in its operations without compromising delivery on the mandate of the Preparatory Commission. We thank the State Audit Office of the Kingdom of Thailand for its professional service and exploring all avenues to complete the audit even during the times of travel restrictions. We have noted the recommendations that have been made by the External Auditors, especially, the need for updating and the communication of the Business Continuity Plan 2019 to all staff. We encourage the Secretariat to implement this and other outstanding recommendations from previous audits.

Madam Chair,

South Africa takes note of the 2021 Budget Update which proposes a less than zero real growth and an overall 1.6 percent price adjustment. We once again appreciate efficiencies and savings that have made these cost containments possible. Acknowledging the slight decline in the budget performance from 91.6 percent in 2018 to 90.8 percent in 2019 and the uncertainty caused by the outbreak of COVID-19, we call upon the Secretariat to ensure that the 2020 - 2021 Programme and Budget is implemented as far as practical possible, prioritizing capacity building, especially the empowerment of women and youth.

On the process of the appointment of the Executive Secretary, South Africa has taken note of the Draft Procedure as circulated by the Chair and welcomes the response of Dr Lassina Zerbo to the Chair’s letter indicating his availability to serve another term.  We look forward to constructive engagements on this matter with a view to reach consensus.

In conclusion Madam Chair, while we commend the work of the PTS and the progress made in the implementation of the work of the CTBTO, we remain concerned with the very slow progress in bringing the Treaty into force. Our concerns are further heightened by reports that some states are considering conducting nuclear weapon tests. We condemn such considerations in the strongest of terms. It is South Africa’s principled position that nuclear weapons tests and these weapons of mass destruction should be wiped out in the interest of humanity and the globe. We  reiterate our  strongly  and urgent call for  Annex  II  States  whose  signature  and/or  ratification  is necessary  for  the  CTBT  to  enter  into  force  to  sign  and/or  ratify  the  Treaty. 

With these few words, I thank you Madam Chair.

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