- Speeches & Published Materials
[Incumbent] Remarks by H.E. Kang, Kyung-wha Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea
Conference on Disarmament
Mr. President, Madame Secretary-General of the CD,
I am very honored to be back in the CD and speaking to you today. But I must say I do so with great concern that we face another challenging year in an increasingly complex global security environment.
Global tensions are on the rise. The nuclear arms control architecture seems to have given way, as we see in the unraveling of the INF Treaty (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty) and the uncertain future of the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty). New and emerging technologies, such as autonomous weapons systems and hypersonic weapons, and the expansion of human activities into cyber space and outer space have added complexity to these challenges. They are bringing about fundamental changes to the strategic balance and growing unpredictability in strategic planning.
There is a pressing need to reverse such troubling trends and regain international stability and strengthen global security. Much is at stake, not least the further erosion of the credibility of the CD as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum in the international community.
In the course of the last four decades, the Geneva negotiating body has produced several milestone instruments such as the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), but it has remained deadlocked without delivering any tangible outcomes for well over two decades.
We need to have a fresh review of this body, identify ways to revitalize its work, and move forward in disarmament negotiations. My government welcomes in this regard the initiative taken by this year’s six Presidents – the P6 – who have shown their strong commitment to working together toward this goal.
To break through the impasse and bring the CD back to its proper place, we need a practical, flexible and realistic approach. We could further narrow down the list of agenda items adopted each year, focusing on pressing items to promote the Conference’s effectiveness in addressing current security challenges. And, given the CD’s inability to move on to negotiation, the member states could try to reach consensus on non-binding measures first, such as rules, norms and codes of conduct, as a way of advancing substantive discussions on specific items. It would be also helpful to discuss how to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the CD’s current working method.
Mr. President, Distinguished delegates,
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the UN as well as the 50th anniversary of the NPT’s entry into force. The Non-Proliferation Treaty has been the cornerstone of the global disarmament and non-proliferation regime. And yet, we are witnessing a deterioration in the global security environment. While arms control is unraveling, global defense spending is on the rise.
The 2020 NPT Review Conference takes place under these sobering circumstances. And its failure to produce a meaningful outcome will be all the more crippling and certainly in nobody’s interest. The chances of its success will be enhanced if we are able to make progress in such areas as the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) negotiation. This would go a long way in restoring faith in the global disarmament and non-proliferation regime.
As for the Republic of Korea, we have been sparing no effort to actively contribute to strengthening the disarmament and non-proliferation regime. Last year, we proposed a new UN General Assembly resolution titled “Youth, Disarmament and Non-proliferation”. It was adopted by consensus, thanks to the general support of the UN membership. This resolution aims to empower, engage and educate the young generation in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation, and to enlist their fresh views and ideas into the disarmament discussions with a view to overcoming the long stand-still and polarization.
As you are well aware, my government has been pursuing the Korean Peninsula Peace Process and diplomatic engagement with the DPRK to achieve complete denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. The engagement has stalled in recent months, and we regret that the DPRK has not yet returned to the negotiating table, despite our steadfast and patient efforts to promote dialogue and cooperation.
My government nevertheless remains firmly committed to staying the course toward complete denuclearization and the establishment of lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. A speedy resumption of U.S.-DPRK negotiations is critical so that all stakeholders maintain and build upon the hard-won momentum for dialogue.
We stand ready to engage with the North in a way that facilitates and accelerates the U.S.-DPRK dialogue. At the beginning of this year, President Moon Jae-in proposed a number of inter-Korean projects and called upon the DPRK to join. Through these projects my government seeks to break through the stalemate, pave the way for the resumption of U.S.-DPRK talks, and strengthen the environment for sustained dialogue and cooperation. And we will do so adhering faithfully to the international sanctions regime on the DPRK.
In this long journey toward complete denuclearization and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula, we very much count on the steady and unwavering support of the international community.
No one can dispute the importance of disarmament in strengthening global security and promoting strategic stability. Given the current security environment and the challenges we face, we cannot afford to waste any more time nor effort in restoring the credibility of the CD.
The Republic of Korea stands ready to work with all other Member States committed to moving forward on disarmament and revitalizing the work of the CD. We hope that all the Membership will work together with a clear set of goals so that the CD can make real and meaningful progress this year. Together, we must provide much needed momentum for a successful outcome of the 2020 NPT Review Conference this coming April.