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10. November 2021

STATEMENT DELIVERED BY AMBASSADOR RAPULANE MOLEKANE, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA DURING THE FIFTY SEVENTH SESSION OF THE CTBTO PREPARATORY COMMISSION, 10 NOVEMBER 2021, VIENNA, AUSTRIA

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 Ivor Sramék, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic, for convening the 57th Session of Preparatory Commission and we assure you of our full cooperation and support throughout the proceedings. Similarly, we would like to thank the Executive Secretary, the Chairpersons of Working Group A and Working Group B respectively, the Advisory Group and the Provisional Technical Secretariat for their reports and the preparations for this session.

Since this is the last session for Ambassador Ivor Sramék and Ambassador Nada Kruger as the Chairpersons of the PrepCom and Working Group A respectively, my delegation expresses its profound appreciation for your hard work in leading the PrepCom and Working Group A during these challenging times. To you, our dear Sister Ambassador Kruger, we are particularly proud of your exceptional work that has strongly illustrated the positive role of women leadership in the CTBTO.

Chairperson,

South Africa reiterates its call for the early entry into force and the universalisation of the CTBT. In this regard we continue to call for the remaining Annex II States to sign and ratify the Treaty. The successful 12th session of the Article XIV Conference which took place on 23 September 2021 and the adoption of the Ministerial Declaration reaffirmed our collective commitment to the ban on nuclear weapons testing. In our capacity as Co-President of the Conference with Italy, we thank the Office of the United Nations Secretary General, the President of the General Assembly, the Under Secretary-General for Disarmament, the outgoing Co-Presidents Algeria and Germany, the Executive Secretary, the Provisional Technical Secretariat and all State Signatories for their support and contribution that made the Conference a success. We look forward to working with all of you during this 25th anniversary of the opening for signature of the Treaty to rally for its entry into force.

Chairperson,

South Africa had the privilege of receiving Dr Robert Floyd during his first visit to the African continent in his capacity as the Executive Secretary, following his participation in the 5th Conference of States Parties to the Pelindaba Treaty that took place in Johannesburg. The bilateral engagements held with amongst others, our nominee to the Group Eminent Persons, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Alvin Botes, provided a platform for sharing views on collective activities we could undertake to pursue the entry into force of the Treaty. The outreach activities of the Executive Secretary also raised awareness of the activities of the CTBTO to the broader populace especially the youth. We look forward to building further on this good cooperation.

Chairperson,

South Africa notes the progress that the Provisional Technical Secretariat has made in the implementation of verification and non-verification related activities as presented in the respective reports. We attach great importance to the International Monitoring System, the International Data Centre and On-Site Inspections 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 of the PTS in maintaining the functionality of these verification instruments despite limitations caused by the outbreak of COVID-19. We also appreciate the completion of the upgrade of the Infrasound Station, IS47 located in Boshof, South Africa, which has improved its ability to continuously transmit data. We look forward to its validation in the 2021-2022 period.

My delegation also reiterates the importance of ensuring that all Provisional Technical Secretariat activities on verification instruments are in full conformity with the decisions of the United Nations and its General Assembly, in particular Resolution 73/295. In this regard we reiterate our call that all sustaining of, and repairs to, the Hydroacoustic Station HA08, located in the Chagos Archipelago must be undertaken in collaboration with the rightful owners of these islands, the government and the people of Mauritius. In this context, we also wish to encourage Mauritius to undertake efforts to ratify the Treaty.

Chairperson,

Capacity building is a key enabler for State Signatories to utilise the verifications instruments once the Treaty comes into force. We appreciate the positive contribution of the Pilot Project in facilitating the participation of experts from developing countries in the Policy Making Organs of the CTBTO, including young female scientists from South Africa. We have, however, noted with concern the low implementation rate of the Capacity Building Fund. While acknowledging the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we reiterated our call for the Provisional Technical Secretariat to implement all necessary measures to return capacity building activities to required levels.

Turning to financial matters, South Africa takes note of the 2022-2023 Programme and Budget Proposal. We are pleased that the proposals include a less than zero real growth proposal in terms of appropriations and that more than 80 % of resources are allocated to verification related activities. We commend the Provisional Technical Secretariat for taking due recognition of the prevailing economic challenges as well as comments by State Signatories in the revision of the Budget Proposal.

Chairperson

Women empowerment, youth and regional representation are matters of great importance for my delegation. We remain concerned that women representations at the professional and higher categories remain at 35.2%, which indicates that the CTBTO is still falling behind other international organisations on gender parity and mainstreaming. We encourage the Provisional Technical Secretariat to engage in focused recruitment processes aimed at improving gender representation and utilise youth engagement platforms to identify potential talent for the CTBTO. These efforts must be mindful of the principle of equitable geographical representation and thus not focused on recruitment solely from developed States. 

My delegation congratulates the Provisional Technical Secretariat for hosting a successful Science and Technology Conference 2021, which set new records in terms of the number of countries and participants that attended. The Conference provided opportunities for Scientists from developing countries to share their expertise and experience. South Africa was privileged to have two women scientists deliver presentations at the Conference.

In conclusion, Chairperson,

While we note the positive developments in the provision of COVID-19 vaccines in some parts of the world that will ultimately benefit the functioning of the CTBTO, South Africa remains concerned about the huge divide that continues to exist in terms of the availability of vaccines, and where the most vulnerable are disproportionately affected by the pandemic. We therefore continue to urge all countries to support our call for a limited waiver on intellectual property rights as a mechanism to promote rapid equitable access to vaccines. 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 Chairperson

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