Topnews, Statements

31. May 2021


Madame Chair,

My delegation associates itself with the statements delivered on behalf of the G77 and China as well as the African Group and would like to make the following additional comments.

South Africa would like to thank you Ambassador Nada Kruger, Permanent Representative of our dear neighbours, Namibia, for convening the 59th Session of Working Group A and we assure you of our full cooperation and support throughout the proceedings.

First of all, we thank Dr Zerbo for his opening remarks and the reports under consideration at this Session of Working Group A and we also extend our appreciation to the Provisional Technical Secretariat for preparing these documents.

South Africa joins others in  congratulating the incoming Executive Secretary, Dr Robert Floyd, with his election.  We look forward to working with him especially in advancing the universalisation and entry into force of the Treaty.  Moving forward it is important that all State Signatories work with the new Executive Secretary and the PTS in strengthening our unity and that the famed Vienna Spirit remains central to our engagement.

Furthermore, we join previous State Signatories, in thanking the current Executive Secretary, Dr Lassina Zerbo, a son of our beloved Continent, for his dedicated service and exemplary leadership over his two terms as Executive Secretary and we wish you all the best with your future endeavours.

Madame Chair,

South Africa welcomes Cuba and the Union of Comoros signing and ratification of the Treaty respectively, which moves the Treaty a step closer to universalisation. We commend the outreach efforts of the Executive Secretary, which continues to bring more State Signatoiries into the fold. However, this work would be for naught if the remaining Annex II States continue to refuse to sign and ratify the Treaty preventing its entry into force and we call on them to turn commitment into action and to ratify this crucial element of the global non-proliferation regime without further delay.

My delegation notes the progress that the Provisional Technical Secretariat has made in the implementation of non-verification related activities for the period January-March 2021, as contained in the Executive Secretary’s report document CTBT/ES/2021/1, and we are pleased with the overall achievement of performance targets.

Moreover, South Africa attaches great importance the International Monitoring System, the International Data Centre and On-Site Inspections these are essential instruments in meeting the verification requirements of the Treaty once it comes into force. In this regard, South Africa appreciates the good work of the PTS in maintaining the functionality of these verification instruments despite limitations caused by the outbreak of COVID – 19.

We reiterate the importance of ensuring that all PTS activities on the verification instruments are in full conformity to the decisions of the United Nations and its General Assembly, in particular Resolution 71/292 (and 73/295). In this regard we reiterate our call that all sustainment and repairs to the Hydroacoustic Station, HA08 located in Chagos Archipelago must be undertaken in collaboration with the rightful owners of these islands, the government and the people of Mauritius.

Capacity building is similarly a key enabler for State Signatories to utilise the verifications instruments once the Treaty comes into force. We welcome the continuous provision of capacity building activities including through virtual platform. Furthermore, we appreciate that although the 2020 budget has been underrun, the number of participants in training activities has reached a record high. We look forward to the report of the quality assessment of training provided as requested by the Advisory Group as well as measures that the PTS can undertake to support the participation of developing countries in virtual training courses. 

Turning to the 2020 Financial Statements, South Africa is pleased with the conclusion of the State Audit Office of the Kingdom of Thailand that the 2020 Financial Statements are a true reflection of the financial position of the CTBTO. We thank the external auditors for their hard work and determination in completing the audit despite travel restrictions occasioned by COVID – 19. We further note that the 2020 financial year ended with a net surplus and commend the Secretariat for continuously realising savings through efficiencies and reprioritisation. We also note the audit recommendations, and pleased with the findings of the Internal Audit as contained in CTBT/PTS/INF.1583 that some audit recommendations have been concluded and that the remaining recommendations are being implemented.

Madame Chair,

Women empowerment, youth and regional representation are matters of great importance for my delegation. In this regard the 2020 Human Resources Management Report reflects that the CTBTO is still lagging behind from other international organisations on these fields with women representation only accounting for 32% in the professional category. We have also noted with concern, that the internship programme which is one of the key initiatives that provides opportunities for young people from developing countries to gain experience in the CTBTO had a low intake in the reporting year. South Africa calls on the PTS to exert more efforts towards improving gender, youth and regional representation in all its activities. We look forward to amongst others a higher intake of interns as well as focused recruitment processes that will improve gender representation.

My delegation has noted that the PTS has taken due recognition of the prevailing economic challenges in its preparation for the 2022 – 2023 Programme and Budget Proposals. In this regard, we appreciation 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.

In conclusion while we note the positive developments in the provision of COVID – 19 vaccines that will ultimately benefit the functioning of the CTBTO, South Africa remains concerned about the huge divide in the provision of vaccines to the world, in which the most vulnerable, carry the disproportionate effects of the pandemic. We therefore urge all countries to support our call for a limited waiver on intellectual property rights as a mechanism to promote rapid equitable access to vaccinate. It is our hope that we can count on the commitment of all State Signatories present to support this call and address this moral imperative.

With these few words, I thank you Madame Chair.

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