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Pacific Islands Society

PO Box 632 | Ebensburg, PA 15931 | USA


843.271.6891 ph pacificislandssociety.org web
Domestic Non-Profit Organization
Young Leader on Disarmament:
Statement to the U.N. Conference
on Disarmament
By Ms. Keiko Ono
Published: March 27, 2014

Papua New Guinea (PNG), which lies on one
half of the largest island in the region, is also
known to be one of most diverse countries in
the world.

With over 850 different languages, finding a
unified voice amongst a group as varied as the
representatives found within the CD assembly,
resonates with the myriad of benefits and
difficulties PNG faces in successfully
developing and pursuing a common agenda.

As it stands, none of the Pacific Island
Countries (PICs) are members of the CD and for
this reason have not been able to play an active
role in the field of disarmament during the
negotiations of the agenda and the main
treaties in this field, including treaties that deal
with non-proliferation and arms control.

Despite not having any direct influence in its
activities, the CDs agenda to secure a safer
future is evident in PNGs ratification of ten of
the fifteen main treaties within this field.

Furthermore, PNG is joined by Fiji, Marshall
Islands, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands, Tonga,
Samoa, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Niue, Tuvalu, and
Vanuatu as having also successfully ratified a
number of these treaties. Thus, this is thus
indicative of the regions understanding of the
need for a collective commitment to the work of
the CD.

While Pacific Island Countries remain
geographically distant from the workings of the
CD, this group of remote and relatively small
islands accounts for 30% of the world.

As a diverse and distinct region of 20,0000 -
30,000 islands scattered over an area larger
than Europe, we have in the decades since
colonialism borne witness to the effects of war,
particularly the nuclear disasters that have hit
Japan and the United States nuclear tests
which have since marred our waters and
destroyed the lives of people in the Marshall
Islands and Northern Polynesia.

With six of the nine nuclear armed states
situated in the Asia-Pacific region, we are no
strangers to the perilous dangers of nuclear
warfare, but we are indeed, too close for
comfort.

The growing military presence in the region
alongside brewing tension in the East China
Sea between emerging economies and
declining empires, puts the Pacific Islands at
the centre of a strategically antiquated tug of
war, one which displaces the regions ability to
adequately focus and address the immediate
dangers its people face, such as poverty and
climate change.

With 70% of the worlds natural disasters
affecting the Asia-Pacific region, countries such
as Kiribati and the Marshall Islands are literally
faced with becoming extinct by fault of the
carelessness and complacency to combat
climate change by all states sooner.



Keiko Ono is a 2013 2014 Young Pacific
Leader on Disarmament. She hails from Japan
and is of Papua New Guinean descent.
Horizons
Insights and Analysis from Next
Generation Leaders
Pacific Islands Society Horizons | March 27, 2014
Likewise, it is not our desire to be a victim of a
deliberate, accidental or sabotaged use of
nuclear weapons or other WMDs in our region.

Indeed, nuclear military accidents remain a real
possible threat. Between 1950 and 1990, there
were some 56 nuclear military accidents that
mostly involved the transportation of nuclear
weapons.

Given heightened military activity in the West
Pacific and China Sea, which involves
transportation of military armaments, how can
we deny the possible repetition of similar
incidents? Despite tremendous developments
in scientific military safety, we can never be
certain.

Our commitment to disarmament is such that its
prolonged paralysis under the CD is a direct
source of regional instability.

The stale mate that exists, despite the growing
need for new treaties and agreements on
nuclear disarmament; the prohibition of the
production of fissile material for military
purposes; and the prevention of an arms race in
outer space amongst others, is effectively
creating a hemorrhage of resources and time at
the expense of our people and our planet.

It calls both for a serious realignment of our
perspectives of power and restraint on our
competitive and misguided pursuit for it.

Much of the justifications behind the reluctance
to disarm and the continued proliferation lies in
political misperceptions and a lack of
confidence between states and other interest
groups.

In his 2009 keynote address as High
Representative for Disarmament Affairs,
Ambassador Sergio Duarte emphasised that
without real transparency, there can be no real
accountability and as such, no lasting
commitment to this agenda. The CD thus faces
a deadlock that threatens the legitimacy and
effectiveness of the multilateral disarmament
machinery.

It is for this reason that I would like put forward
three suggestions focused on Agenda Item 7,
Transparency in Armaments and the working
procedures of the CD so as to improve
measures on military constraint as well as the
exchange, observation and verification of
armaments between and within countries.

The recent progress with Irans agreement to
halt further enrichment of its uranium is
commendable, but greater transparency is
urgent, now more than ever, if we are to even
begin looking at the weapons that already exist.

According to the 2012 SIPRI Yearbook, there
are 19,000 nuclear arsenal held by NWS, 95%
of which remain concentrated between the
United States and Russia.

However justified its possession was in a
bipolar era, there is clear consensus that since
the Cold War, there has been a significant
diffusion of power.

Alongside the greater access to WMD as
technology exceeds our ability to regulate its
developments, this can only be met with a strict
monitoring and limitation of arms transfers as
well as its production.

The renewed agreement between Russia and
the United States in the New START treaty,
which entered into force in 2011, is a reassuring
promise of change to come. However, a greater
indication of this could be found in the
improvement of the records in the UN Register
and Transparency in Armaments initiative as
introduced in the UNGA Resolution 46/36 L.

Though the voluntary nature of this register has
successfully established the benchmark of a
global norm, it is its consistent participation that
would affirm its effectiveness.

Since its introduction, the record of imports and
exports of arms in seven categories has been
erratic and incomplete amongst key countries
and this, is the Achilles heel to the workings of
the CD if its effectiveness as a mechanism to
review progress is to be realized.

Pacific Islands Society Horizons | March 27, 2014
Pacific Islands Society
PO Box 632 | Ebensburg, PA 15931 | USA
843.271.6891 ph pacificislandssociety.org web
Domestic Non-Profit Organization
There is a call for strong leadership to commit
to these agreements.

As it is, we have been fortunate to see in the
past year various breakthroughs in
disarmament - the adoption of the Arms Trade
Treaty by the UN General Assembly in April; the
successful inspection and process of
destroying chemical weapons in Syria by the
Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical
Weapons (OPCW); the High Level Meeting at
the General Assembly on Nuclear Disarmament
in September and finally the adoption of
resolution 2117 by the Security Council, that for
the first time addressed the issue of Small Arms
and Light Weapons.

In recent years, it is more the changes to the
strategic environment than the rhetoric for
change that has prompted an increased
political will in the CD to act.

The gradual shift away from the perception of
nuclear weapons as being central to attaining
status and prestige in the international arena
has primarily been attributed to a growing
geopolitics based on mutually beneficial
economic power as opposed to the divisive
focus on the balance of military power.

The increase in bilateral and particularly
regional activities are indicative of this
necessary shift.

Examples of this can be seen in the talks that
have finally begun in the Middle East to
establish NWFZ as decided at the 2010 NPT
review; the Mongolian initiative to likewise
create a NWFZ in Northeast Asia; and the
capacity building measures being supported in
the Caribbean Community by the Regional
Centre for Peace and Disarmament and
Development in Latin America (UN-LiREC).

In order to strengthen transparency, similar
regional efforts to develop further mechanisms
such as an international auditing body to
monitor trading activity could also be a valuable
organ in achieving disarmament.

As seen in the workings of the UN Monitoring,
Verification and Inspection Committee in Iraq or
the effectiveness of the OPCW and the IAEA in
Syria and Iran respectively, we must capitalize
on our collective imagination to create some
process of verification and inspection to
improve transparency.

There is also a clear role for NWS in upholding
the legitimacy of non-proliferation by actively
disarming.

The two processes are mutually dependant. As
suggested again by Secretary General Ban Ki-
Moon in his 2008 five-point proposal for
disarmament, we must reinforce access to
records about the size of [NWS] arsenals,
stocks of fissile material, and specific
disarmament achievements.

We would also emphasize as highlighted by the
NAM in its address to the First Committee, the
need to ban the NWS ...plans to modernize,
upgrade, refurbish or extend the lives of nuclear
weapons and related facilities.

We strongly recommend the introduction of a
broader register and greater access to these
records so the expression of political will is met
with substantial action guided by public
scrutiny. Only then can the CD legitimately
boast of an effective mechanism for the review
and improvement of its work.

The views expressed are those of the author.