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The Conference on Disarmament in Geneva opens its 2017 session. Amb. Mati: “ Multilateralism and international cooperation essential for disarmament and non-proliferation”

The 2017 session of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) opened on 24 January with a message from the UN Secretary General to the representatives of State Members and Observers.

Made up of 65 Member States, the CD was established in 1979 as a result of the first Special Session on Disarmament of the UN General Assembly and is still the first and most important multilateral forum available to the international community for negotiations on disarmament. Italy has been an active member of the Conference since its establishment. Some of the most important multilateral disarmament agreements negotiated in this forum include the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention – BTWC), the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention – CWC) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

The first meeting was chaired by Romania, that will hold the CD Presidency for the first four weeks of the session. It will be followed by the Russian Federation, Slovakia, South Africa and Spain. The debate focused on how to achieve progress in multilateral disarmament negotiations and on the need to re-launch the role of the Conference in the institutional multilateral framework in this field.

The Italian Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament, Ambassador Vinicio Mati, intervened to underlined the important commitments of the country in 2017 – as President of the G7, as non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and as a member of the so-called “troika” of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OCSE) of which Italy will assume the presidency in 2018. Amb. Mati reaffirmed Italy’s continued engagement in support of multilateralism and international cooperation as key elements of Italian foreign policy as well as fundamental tools for the achievement of positive and lasting results also with regard to disarmament and non- proliferation.

Amb. Mati recalled that last 16 January marked the 1st anniversary of the “Implementation day” of the historical nuclear agreement achieved in 2015 on the Iranian nuclear programme, underlining the importance of its effective implementation as an essential element of regional and international security. As he stated, a multilateral approach is fundamental to properly address current international challenges such as North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests, the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict, and the risk that weapons of mass destruction may fall in the hands of terrorist groups.

Amb. Mati also reaffirmed the central role of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation processes – starting from the regime established with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), whose next review cycle will begin later this year with the First Preparatory Committee to be held in Vienna. He also underlined the importance of UN General Assembly resolution 71/259 (11 January 2017), which decided on the establishment of a high-level group of experts on the prohibition of the production of fissile material production for military purposes (FMCT) and on Nuclear Disarmament Verification. Such initiatives are part of that progressive approach to nuclear disarmament grounded on concrete and effective measures that Italy has consistently supported.

Reiterating Italy’s firm commitment towards supporting the revitalization of the CD, the Permanent Representative stated that no effort will be spared by its country in favoring the emergence of areas of consensus among Member States. In such context, he expressed full support to the Romanian Presidency’s efforts.

To conclude, Amb. Mati expressed his great appreciation for the role played by civil society and research institutions in disarmament and non-proliferation, expressing Italy’s support for their greater involvement with the CD’s work as well as for continuing discussions on the equal participation of men and women in all disarmament processes.