Statement delivered in the Conference on Disarmament on Tuesday 5 September 2023 on behalf of the Kingdom of the Netherlands by H.E. Robert in den Bosch.

Madam President,

The Kingdom of the Netherlands welcomes your approach towards drafting a factual report of the work of the Conference on Disarmament in 2023. In particular, it is helpful that the draft is in the established format last used in 2021. I am optimistic that with this draft we have an excellent basis for reaching swift agreement on our report to the General Assembly and avoiding the painful discussion we had last year.

Madam President,

It seems fair to conclude that the CD has not fulfilled its core mandate in 2023. But then again, I think nobody expected us to reach consensus on a comprehensive and balanced programme of work. Exactly for that reason the Netherlands tabled in 2019 the working paper ‘back to basics’, which remains relevant today. This working paper proposes concrete steps to help the CD return to working on the basis of a programme of work, as intended in the Rules of Procedure and as used in the first one and a half decade from 1979 onwards.

Having said that and taking into account the extraordinary circumstances of the moment, I do believe we can say we had serious deliberations on a number of important issues throughout the year and it is worth mentioning so in the report.

Madame President,

In 2023, under the various agenda items, the CD explored nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control in interesting and new directions. We listened to experts and exchanged views on Artificial Intelligence, transparency & verification, and the functioning of the CD itself, among many other relevant topics. 

The Netherlands considers these thematic discussions as substantive and of relevance not only to the CD, but also to those in the outside world who take an interest in the CD. For that reason, we would like to see a factual final report that reflects these interactions. In particular, I would like to emphasize the importance of a clear reference to the following elements  in our report to the General Assembly.

On informal sessions

Several of the 2023 sessions of the CD took place in an informal mode. This allowed for an open discussion among members. As we all know, no official records are kept with regard to informal sessions. However, we should be careful not to equate informal with secret.

Therefore, I would like to underline the importance of retaining in the report explicit and factual references to all the sessions that took place in the CD in 2023, including the informal ones.

On revitalization

In late June, with the indispensable help of UNIDIR, the CD members participated in a productive high-level retreat in Montreux, which resulted in an in-depth and open discussion  about the functioning of the CD.

Without prejudice to how we will address the functioning of the CD in the future, the Netherlands therefore considers it of great importance that the final report of the CD retains a reference to the existence of both the compendium and the report that UNIDIR produced with regard to the discussions that took place in Montreux.

On observers

The Netherlands regrets that in 2023 the CD was not able to reach consensus regarding the requests received to participate in the Conference as an observer. In order to remain factual, the Netherlands therefore suggests to include in the report the full list of States non members of the Conference that requested to participate in the Conference as observers.

Madam President,

I think there is consensus in this room that this year we should do better than in 2022. Your draft 2023 report is based on the template that was used in 2021 and earlier years. We appreciate the level of substance of the current draft with some additional text with regard to the requests received regarding Member States non-members of the CD wishing to participate as an observer.

We strongly favour a report that depicts the full picture not only of what did not happen – i.e. negotiating disarmament treaties – but also what did happen, i.e. in-depth informal discussions on relevant topics related to the established agenda items.

Madam President,

I thank you for giving me the floor and please rest assured that my delegation stands ready to work with you with the aim of reaching consensus on the basis of the draft reported tabled by you.

Thank you, Madam President.