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28. Oktober 2014

STATEMENT BY THE PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF SOUTH AFRICA, AMBASSADOR TEBOGO SEOKOLO, TO THE FORTY-THIRD (43RD) SESSION OF THE PREPARATORY COMMISSION FOR THE CTBTO ON 28 OCTOBER 2014

Chairperson,

My delegation extends warmest gratitude to you esteemed colleague, Ambassador Das of Malaysia, for presiding over the 43rd Session of the Preparatory Commission. We particularly applaud Ambassador Das for the balanced manner in which he conducted the affairs of the PrepCom since he took over few months ago.

My delegation associates itself with the statements respectively delivered by the Permanent Representative of the Philippines, on behalf of the G77 and China and the Permanent Representative of Nigeria, on behalf of the African Group.

We also wish to thank the Executive Secretary, Dr. Lassina Zerbo, for his introductory remarks this morning and his reports on Verification and Non-Verification Related Activities, and to his colleagues in the Secretariat for their efficient preparation for this meeting. My delegation also thanks the Chairpersons of the Working Groups and the Advisory Group for their sterling efforts in supporting the programme of the Commission.

Chairperson,

South Africa welcomes the ratification by the Republic of Congo, bringing the total number of ratifications to 163. My delegation notes with appreciation the positive progress of ratification in the African continent. This trend highlights the commitment of our continent to the non-proliferation and disarmament as expressed through the Pelindaba Treaty.

We therefore call upon all states that have not signed and or ratified the Treaty, particularly the Annex 2 States to expedite this process.

Chairperson,

The entry-into-force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) remains an important outstanding issue where progress is urgently required. The Treaty is a core element of the international non-proliferation and disarmament regime - raising the threshold for the acquisition of nuclear weapons, preventing a qualitative arms race and reducing the reliance on nuclear weapons in national security strategies. The entry into force of the Treaty would also strengthen confidence in the international security system through the establishment of an effective verification mechanism.

This session of the PrepCom takes place at a particularly significant era. In less than a year from now we will all convene in New York for the 2015 NPT Review Conference.  The outcome of the NPT PrepCom that was held earlier this year in New York was not particularly inspiring.  No progress towards disarmament was reported at the NPT PrepCom. My delegation has on several occasions made a point that as long as some states continue to possess nuclear weapons, a temptation and desire by others to acquire them will remain.

My delegation firmly believes that the early entry into force of the CTBT is indeed one of the practical steps for the systematic and progressive efforts to implement Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and paragraphs 3 and 4(c) of the 1995 Decision on "Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament", which aim at the complete, irreversible and verifiable disarmament.

Chairperson,

With regards to the agenda before this session of the PrepCom, my delegation is pleased with the work of the Secretariat under the leadership of Dr Zerbo.  In his report on the Verification Related Activities the Secretariat highlights some of the milestones achieved during the first term of this year.  Notably, we welcome the positive trend in the availability of data of certified International Monitoring System (IMS) stations. We note the Executive Secretary’s warning that most of the IMS network is aging, and would like to amplify a call for more resources. Equally, the functioning of the International Data Centre (IDC) is germane to ensure operational readiness of the Treaty upon its entry into force.

My delegation notes with appreciation the voluntary initiative undertaken by private companies to help mitigate the effects of radioxenon emission for the production of medical isotopes. We are also mindful that this initiative would improve the quality of data collected by CTBTO.  However, South Africa would like to reiterate that the discussion on the production and emissions of medical isotopes are not within the purview of the CTBTO mandate.

Further South Africa welcomes the efforts undertaken by the Secretariat in the area of capacity building and training.  The creation of the CTBT Fellowships following the Academic Forum that was held in May 2014 will go a long way, as correctly stated in the report, in promoting advanced research on the Treaty and its verification regime. We trust that the Secretariat will continue to focus on the regions where assistance and support is much needed.

 Mr Chairperson,

In its report to this PrepCom, the Working Group A recommends that the issue of multi-year funding needs to be referred back to the Advisory Group for further discussion. As the Executive Secretary explained this morning, my delegation is concerned that this issue has been with us for some time, following the recommendation of the External Auditor who advised in his good judgement, that the Secretariat should consider this funding modality. When this matter was first raised we noted that several Member States were in agreement with the recommendations of the External Auditor. It is my delegation’s view that the multi-year funding would contribute to the smooth functioning of the Secretariat and implementation of the programme of the Commission. My delegation believes that there is a need to set a deadline for this matter to be finalised.

Chairperson,

As we may all recall in June 2014, the PrepCom requested the Chairperson of the Commission to continue with informal consultations with State Signatories regarding the proposal on the procedures for the elections of the Chairpersons and Vice Chairpersons of its subsidiary bodies and report to this session of the PrepCom.

Accordingly, since he assumed office, the Chairperson of the Commission, Ambassador Das, convened several informal consultations and even tabled a proposal which we believe was sensible and constituted a good basis for further discussions. In essence, the proposal contained at least for my delegation this important element amongst others: the Chairpersons should both be appointed by the Commission for a fixed period. It is the view of my delegation that the current arrangement where there are no procedures for the elections of the Chairpersons of Working Groups is untenable and does not reflect positively on our commitment to stabilize the governance of the Commission.

My delegation regrets that State Signatories could not find a compromise during the informal consultations to bring closure on this matter which has been with us for almost 2 years. We are looking forward to the PrepCom to provide guidance and leadership on this important issue and stand ready to engage other delegations on the proposal submitted by the Chairperson of the PrepCom.

I thank you.

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