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28. Oktober 2015

STATEMENT DELIVERED BY MS. LYDIA GREYLING, MINISTER PLENIPOTENTIARY OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH, DURING THE FORTY-EIGHT (48TH) SESSION OF THE CTBTO WORKING GROUP A, 28 OCTOBER 2015

Chairperson,

Let me extend my sincere gratitude to you, Ambassador Azeez of Sri Lanka, for chairing the 48th Session of Working Group A and assure you of my delegation’s continued support.

My delegation associates itself with the statements respectively of the African Group and the Group of 77 and China.

 

We thank the Executive Secretary, Dr. Lassina Zerbo, for the opening remarks, and his report on Non-verification related activities, as well as the PTS for preparing the documentation for this session.

My delegation also thanks the Chairperson of the Advisory Group, Sir Michael Weston, for his leadership, and takes note of the Advisory Group’s report.

Chairperson,

1.         My delegation welcomes the convening of the 9th Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT, held in New York on 29 September 2015. In this regard, South Africa fully endorses the Final Declaration on Article XIV which is line with South Africa’s long held position that “a universal and effectively verifiable Treaty constitutes a fundamental instrument in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation”.

Chairperson,

2.         South Africa, as State Signatory of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (“Pelindaba Treaty”) which inter alia “prohibits testing of any nuclear explosive device, prohibits in its territory the testing of any nuclear explosive device, and not to assist or encourage the testing of any nuclear explosive device by any State anywhere” remains even more committed to the goal of entry into force of the CTBT, which is long overdue. In this context, my delegation calls on all States that have not yet done so, to complete their internal processes for signature and/or ratification without delay.

3.         Related to this process, South Africa notes the Draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Preparatory Commission and the African Union Commission. We therefore request the PTS to conduct consultations with State Signatories to provide more information related to the draft MoU.

Chairperson,

4.         South Africa notes that during the current reporting period, the report of the Executive Secretary highlights that the “Pilot Project” facilitated the participation of ten experts from developing countries, including Burkina Faso, Madagascar and Niger in the technical meetings of the Preparatory Commission. We support the proposed decision to be taken at the next session of the Preparatory Commission in November 2015 to continue this important project. It is our view that this initiative will continue to benefit experts from developing countries, in particular building capacity and technical expertise on the verification-related aspects of the Treaty. We call upon all States Signatories in a position to do so, to continue contributing financially to this project.

Chairperson,

5.         Turning to the final draft 2016-2017 Programme and Budget proposals, my delegation takes note of the document and its corrigendum, which contains additional information on the funds to be established under the multiyear funding modality. South Africa commends the efforts of the PTS to identify savings and efficiencies and notes that the proposed budget is slightly below zero real growth.  

6.         In the above-context, we would like to extend our gratitude to Ambassador Azeez for his able leadership in steering the informal consultations on the Programme and Budget Proposals 2016-2017 in a balanced and inclusive manner with a view to reach consensus on the proposals.

Chairperson,

7.         South Africa notes with concern that as of 31 August 2015, the collection rates of assessed contributions for 2015 has decreased in comparison with the collection rate in 2014 as highlighted in the report. We call upon all States Signatories to fulfil their financial commitments on time due to the negative impact on the full implementation of all Major Programmes.

8.         In relation to the outstanding question of vacancies within the PTS, my delegation takes note of the efforts undertaken by the PTS seeking to address the large number of vacancies in the senior professional positions. We further note that the Executive Secretary acts in accordance with paragraph 8(c) of the Treaty text, which inter alia sets out that “Due regard shall be paid to the importance of recruiting the staff on as wide a geographical basis as possible”, thereby creating opportunities for candidates from developing countries to be part of this organization.

9.         However, we also note that representation of Professional staff members according to geographical distribution has decreased from 80 in 2013 to 76 in 2014. In this context, my delegation encourages the PTS to continue its efforts to advance the objective of a more diverse staff complement of the PTS with due regard to those regions that are under-represented, as well as improving the gender balance.

Chairperson,

10.      South Africa notes that the Executive Secretary’s report referred to the need for the PTS to explore possible options with regard to the temporary and permanent Equipment Storage and Maintenance Facility (ESMF). It has been brought to our attention that the contract will expire on 01 March 2016 and the removal of the equipment must therefore start much earlier. In view of this, South Africa would like further clarity on the financial implications for State Signatories on undertaking such a process vis a vis the role of the policy-making organ?  

11.      In conclusion Chairperson, South Africa takes note of the Council Decision of the European Union (EU) of 12 October 2015 in which the EU will contribute 3 million Euros to strengthen the monitoring and verification capabilities of the Preparatory Commission. It is our strong view that voluntary contributions should be in line with the mandate of the PTS. However, we note with concern that the Annex to the Council Decision refers in paragraph 2 (e) to the intention to support nine projects including “Xenon Mitigation”. We would like to state this categorically that the issue of Xenon Mitigation does not fall within the mandate of the PTS.

I thank you.

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