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Speech: Minister for Foreign Affairs to the Australian institute of International Affairs



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Speech by the Hon, Tony Street MR, .Minister for Foreign

Affairs , to the Australian I nstitute of I nternational

Affairs on Monday 26 July 1 9 8 2 , Canberra ,.

Mr Chairman

I AM GLAD THAT THE FIRST OCCASION ON WHICH I HAVE AN

OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK ON THE SECOND UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL

Session on Disarmament is on a platform provided by the

I nstitute , The I nstitute enjoys a recognised position amongst

organisations in this country which seek to promote an

interest by Australians in international .-issues , I t is

natural , therefore , that members of the I nstitute should share

with other Australians the current interest in disarmament ,

M y first obligation as Leader of the Australian delegation is

to the Parliament , and I look forward to tabling the Report

of the Australian delegation and making a statement on the

Special Session early in the Budget Session . This report is

s t i l l being prepared ,

To d a y I w i l l p r o v i d e a b r o a d a c c o u n t o f t h e r e s u l t s o f t h e

Sp e c i a l Se s s i o n, a n d w h a t Au s t r a l i a s o u g h t t o a c h i e v e a t

U N S S O D II, I n d o i n g so I w ould l i k e : · - ■

- TO REMIND YOU AGAIN OF .AUSTRALIA'S APPROACH TO THE

INTERNATIONAL DISARMAMENT AGENDA AND, MORE

PARTICULARLY, TO U N S S O D I I ;

- TO RECALL THE PRIORITY ISSUES WE SAW FOR THE SESSION;

- TO OUTLINE THE DECISIONS TAKEN BY THE SESSION INCLUDING

t h e Fi n a l Do c u m e n t a d o p t e d on 10 Ju l y; . '

- TO ASSESS THE OVERALL RESULTS OF U N S S O D II, AND '

- TO COMMENT ON THE PROSPECTS FOR THE FUTURE AND IDENTIFY

THE DISARMAMENT TASKS REQUIRING IMMEDIATE ATTENTION,

I n my s t a t e m e n t i n t h e Ge n e r a l De b a t e i n New York on 2 3 Ju n e,

I NOTED THAT THE RATE OF PROGRESS .IN DISARMAMENT AND ARMS · .

CONTROL SINCE THE FlRST SPECIAL SESSION HELD IN 1 9 7 8 WAS FAR

FROM ENCOURAGING. ΪΗΕ EXPANSION OF NUCLEAR AND CONVENTIONAL

ARSENALS CONTINUED UNCHECKED AND PEOPLE WERE GROWING IMPATIENT

AT THE LACK OF PROGRESS. I SAID THAT THE SPECIAL SESSION

SHOULD THEREFORE TRY TO .FULFIL THE HOPES OF THE MILLIONS OF

PEOPLE SEEKING GENUINE DISARMAMENT.

2 .

3.

I STRESSED, HOWEVER, THAT PROGRESS IN DISARMAMENT WAS

DEPENDENT ON A NUMBER OF FACTORS. F l R S T , THERE WAS A NEED

FOR DISARMAMENT TO FOCUS ON REAL ISSUES AND PRACTICAL

s o l u t i o n s . D i s a r m a m e n t g oa l s s h o u l d not - a l t h o u g h t h e y

ALL TOO OFTEN ARE - BE OVERSI MPLI FIED. UNREALISTIC

SLOGANS AND PROPOSALS MERELY DISCREDITED THE DISARMAMENT

CAUSE AND ITS PROCESSES.

D i s a r m a m e n t i s not s o m e t h i n g w h i c h can b e a c h i e v e d b y

GESTURES AND BY POSTURING. PROPOSALS HAVE TO HELP BUI LD

c o n f i d e n c e . T h e y n e e d , i n t h e j a r g o n of t h e d i s a r m a m e n t

PROFESSION, TO BE "TRANSPARENT". Ϊ Η Α Τ I S , THEY HAVE TO BE

DEVISED IN SUCH A WAY THAT PARTICIPANTS COULD BE CONFIDENT

THAT THE COMMITMENT THAT THEY HAD ENTERED INTO WOULD ALSO

BE HONOURED BY TREATY PARTNERS. .

I f agreements do not CONTAIN PROPER VERIFICATION and

COMPLIANCE MEASURE, AND THUS BUILD UP CONFIDENCE, THEY WILL

BE INEFFECTIVE. ARMS CONTROL AND DISARMAMENT MEASURES MUST

ALWAYS TAKE FULL ACCOUNT OF THE NEED FOR STATES TO BE

CONFIDENT THAT THE AGREEMENTS DID NOT IMPAIR THEIR BASIC

NATIONAL SECURITY. No STATE WOULD EVER ENTER INTO A

DISARMAMENT AGREEMENT IF IT BELIEVED THAT BY SO DOING ITS

SECURITY COULD BE THREATENED.

Th i s clear l i n k between disarmament and security means that

ARMS CONTROL CANNOT BE DIVORCED FROM INTERNATIONAL CONFIDENCE

AND MUTUAL TRUST. FURTHER,· I T MEANS THAT HOWEVER WORTHWHILE

A PARTICULAR DISARMAMENT PROPOSAL MIGHT BE, I T WOULD NOT

SUCEED I F THE OVERALL INTERNATIONAL POLITIC AL CLIMATE WAS

UNFAVOURABLE.

I n m i d- 1 9 7 8 , when the f i r s t Sp e c ia l Session on Disarmament

met in New York, in ter n atio nal confidence was reasonably h i g h,

Since then events in many parts of the world including Cambodia,

Vietnam, North and South Af r ic a, Afghanistan, the Persian Gu lf,

Middle Ea s t, Poland and the South At l a n t i c, as well as the

UNRELENTING ARMS BUILD-UP BY THE SOVIET UNION HAVE BADLY

SHAKEN THAT CONFIDENCE.

I n REAFFIRMING AUSTRALIA'S COMMITMENT TO THE PROCESS OF

DISARMAMENT I SPECIFIED PRIORITIES WHICH WE HOPED WOULD BE

GIVEN CLOSE ATTENTION BY THE SPECIAL SESSION. THESE WERE:

- HALTING THE NUCLEAR ARMS RACE;

- R EVITALISIN G AND STRENGTHENING THE NUCLEAR NON"

PROLIFERATION REGIME; '

- A COMPREHENSIVE AND FULLY VERIFIABLE BAN ON NUCLEAR TESTS

- AN EFFECTIVE AND VERIFIABLE BAN ON THE PRODUCTION, USE

AND STOCKPILING OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS;

- THE DRAWING UP OF A COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAMME OF

DISARMAMENT;

5.

- MEASURES TO ENCOURAGE A REDUCTION IN THE CONVENTIONAL

ARMS RACE, AND

" DEVELOPING A FRAMEWORK FOR BUILDING CONFIDENCE AND TRUST.

T he r e s u l t s of t h e U N S S O D II f e l l far short of the e x p e c t a t io n s

OF MANY GOVERNMENTS AND INDIVIDUALS. STRENUOUS EFFORTS AND

LONG HOURS OF NEGOTIATIONS FAILED TO REACH AGREEMENT ON EITHER

OF THE ELEMENTS WHICH WERE TO HAVE CONSTITUTED THE BACKBONE

OF ITS FINAL DOCUMENTS, I REFER TO THE COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAMME

FOR DISARMAMENT (CRD) AND THE REVIEW OF PROGRESS IN DISARMAMENT

s in c e the F ir s t Sp e c i a l Se s s io n in 1978.

Fa i l u r e to agree on the review was to a c o n s id e r a b le extent due

to the refusal by the So v ie t Un io n and i t s a l l i e s to accept

any r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for the ero sion ' of in t e r n a t io n a l co nfide nc e

oI nce U N S S O D I . T h i s c o n t r ib u t e d s i g n i f i c a n t l y to the f a il u r e

to reach agreement on the r e v ie w . T he s p l i t between supporters

of East and West w i t h i n the non - a l ig n e d s t a t e s , and r i v a l r i e s

AND CONFLICTS WITHIN THE MOVEMENT ITSELF, ALSO UNDERMINED THE

CHANCES OF AGREEMENT.

The review it e m was further hampered by attempts to blame the

West for the lack of progress on disarm am ent and by

d e t e r m in a t io n in some quarters to p e r s is t w it h u n r e a l is t i c

and il l f o u n d e d n a t io n a l propaganda themes at the expense of

s erio us d is c u s s io n and n e g o t i a t io n .

6 ,

S i m i l a r l y , attempts to g ai n u n i l a t e r a l propaganda advantage . c

BY SEEKING TO DICTATE THE TERMS OF THE INTERNATIONAL DISARMAMENT

DEBATE WITH SUPERFICIAL, ONE-SIDED, AND UNVERIFIABLE PROPOSALS

ALSO HELPED FRUSTRATE WORK ON THE COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAMME ON

DISARMAMENT ( C P D ) . .

Another problem was the determination of the nuclear weapons

STATES TO HOLD TO THEIR ESTABLISHED DEFENCE POLICIES, SOME

NON-ALIGNED COUNTRIES:- INCLUDING A NUMBER WHICH ARE

THEMSELVES SIGNIFICANT MILITARY POWERS - SEEMED DETERMINED

TO. EMPHASIZE ONLY THE OBLIGATIONS OF THE NUCLEAR WEAPONS STATES.

AT THE SAME TIME THEY DISCLAIMED AMY OBLIGATION THEMSELVES TO

THE DISARMAMENT PROCESS THROUGH A REDUCTION IN THEIR

CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS ARSENALS, OR BY MAKING MORE BINDING f

COMMITMENTS TO THE INTERNATIONAL NON-PROLIFERATION EFFORT

THAN THEY HAVE DONE SO.FAR.

Nonetheless, the i n a b i l i t y to agree on a C P D was only a

LIMITED FAILURE, AND ONE WHICH IS NOT SURPRISING IN THE i

INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE IN WHICH THE SESSION TOOK PLACE,

I ndeed, i t was u n r e a l is t ic to have hoped that the Sp e c ia l

Session could achieve in f iv e weeks what had proved impossible

to resolve in two years' work by the Committee on Disarmament {

in Gen eva,

/ .

Wi t h o u t any s u b s t a n t i a l a c h ie v e m e n t on CPD or on the Review

OF THE LAST FIVE YEARS THERE WAS NO MOOD AT THE SPECIAL SESSION

FOR SERIOUS DISCUSSION ON MACHINERY MATTERS DESIGNED TO IMPROVE

THE WORKING OF THE MULTILATERAL DISARMAMENT PROCESS,

The Second Sp e c i a l Se s s io n d i d , however , succeed in launching

the World Disarmament Campaign d e s ig n e d to m o b i l i s e p u b l ic

OPINION WORLDWIDE. ΪΗΕ CAMPAIGN IS TO BE FUNDED FROM WITHIN

EXISTING UN RESOURCES AND FROM VOLUNTARY CONTRIBUTIONS,

THE GUIDELINES ADOPTED FOR THE CAMPAIGN ARE FLEXIBLE, THEY

TAKE CARE OF A PARTICULAR AUSTRALIAN CONCERN THAT THE IMPACT

OF ANY PROGRAMME OR ACTIVITIES UNDERTAKEN WITHIN THE CAMPAIGN

WILL BE EQUALLY FELT IN COUNTRIES WHOSE MEDIA AND PUBLIC

OPINION ARE SUBJECT TO STRICT GOVERNMENT CONTROLS.

Another l i m i t e d , but t i m e l y , d e c is io n taken a t the Se s s io n was

THAT THE NUMBER OF UN FELLOWSHIPS ON DISARMAMENT SHOULD BE

INCREASED. THE PROGRAMME PROVIDES FOR SPECIALISED TRAINING

IN DISARMAMENT FOR GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS FROM MEMBER STATES,

PARTICULARLY FROM THE DEVELOPING COUNTRIES,

Throughout the Sp e c i a l Sessio n the Au s t r a l ia n d e le g a tio n

MADE STRENUOUS EFFORTS TO GET A CONSENSUS FOR FURTHER PROGRESS,

Our De l e g a t io n p a r t i c i p a t e d fully in the formal proceedings of

the Se s s io n and was very a c t iv e in informal d is c u s s io n s and

DRAFTING GROUPS.

8 .

A c c e p t a n c e of A u s t r a l i a ' s c r e d e n t i a l s , a n d c r e d i b i l i t y - i n

THE AREA OF DISARMAMENT WAS, FOR EXAMPLE, REFLECTED IN THE '

e l e c t i o n of A u s t r a l i a t o t h e C h a i r m a n s h i p ' of one of t h e

THREE MAIN WORKING GROUPS AND TO V l C E CHAIRMANSHIP OF THE

C o m m i t t e e of t h e W h o l e . A u s t r a l i a as a c u r r e n t V i c e P r e s i d e n t

o f t h e G e n e r a l A s s e m b l y a l s o o c c u p i e d t h i s p o s i t i o n a t the

S e s s i o n . I t can be f a i r l y s a i d we made a s i g n i f i c a n t

c o n t r i b u t i o n to such ag r e e m e n t as the Sp e c i a l Se s s i o n managed

to a c h i e v e i n i t s Fi n a l Do c u m e n t .

Pu b l i c commentary i n the m e d i a , and e ls e w h e r e , have te n d e d to

d e s c r i b e the Sp e c i a l Se s s i o n as a d i s m a l f a i l u r e . Ce r t a i n l y ,

i t s recorded a c h ie v e m e n t s were very m o d e s t , p a r t i c u l a r l y when

majc.hed a g a i n s t the p o p u l a r l y h e l d e x p e c t a t i o n b e f o r e the

Se s s i o n of what was a c h i e v a b l e . I t should be n o t e d , however ,

t h a t the Se s s i o n was n e i t h e r a s k e d nor d e s i g n e d to be an

o c c a s io n for n e g o t i a t i n g c o n v e n t io n s or t r e a t i e s . Th a t i s the

r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of other b o d i e s .

The Co m m it t e e on Dis a r m a m e n t a t Geneva i s the sole m u l t i l a t e r a l

n e g o t i a t i n g body on d is a r m a m e n t m a t t e r s . But there are the

IMPORTANT BILATERAL TALKS WHICH ARE PRESENTLY GOING ON IN

Ge n eva between the Un i t e d St a t e s and the So v i e t Un i o n ,

NATO and the Warsaw Pa c t c o u n t r ie s are a l s o c o n t i n u i n g to

meet i n Vie n n a on m u t u a l and b a l a n c e d r e d u c t io n s of

c o n v e n t io n a l forces i n Europe ( the M B F R t a l k s ).,

Some of the hopes for the Sp e c ia l Session were

UNREALISTICALLY HIGH, AND TOOK TOO LITTLE ACCOUNT OF THE

FACT THAT DISARMAMENT CANNOT OPERATE IN A 'P O L IT IC A L VACUUM,

Further, the process of restoring confidence and turning our

HOPES FOR DISARMAMENT INTO ACTUAL MEASURES REQUIRES A '

CALCULATED AND PRACTICAL APPROACH, MANY DELEGATIONS

APPROACHED THEIR TASK ACUTELY AWARE OF THE WORLD SITUATION.

I ronic ally, t h is sapped rather than stimulated the w il l of

SOME DELEGATIONS TO NEGOTIATE, ’

What, then, d id the Sp ec ia l Session achieve?

Fi.rst, the Sp ec ia l Session helped to clear the a ir and to

establish among the community of nations a better understanding

OF THE ESSENTIAL BASIS FOR PROGRESS IN ARMS CONTROL AND

DISARMAMENT - THAT I S , MUTUAL CONFIDENCE BETWEEN STATES,

Th is is evident in the report of the session which states

THAT TENSION AND CONFLICT DURING THE LAST FOUR YEARS HAVE

RETARDED PROGRESS IN DISARMAMENT.

Second, all member states of the United Nations reaffirmed

THEIR COMMITMENT TO THE FlNAL DOCUMENT OF THE FlRST SPECIAL

Se s s io n. I n so doing they also reaffirmed their commitment

TO THE DETAILED GOALS AND PRIORITIES OF THE DISARMAMENT

PROCESS TO WHICH THEY HAD SUBSCRIBED IN 1978,

9 .

10.

T h i r d , a c t u a l n e g o t i a t i o n s b e g a n b e t w e e n t h e U.S.A. and the

U.S.S.R. Ne g o t ia t io n s on key a spec ts of arms control and DISARMAMENT ARE NOW MORE ACTIVE THAN THEY "WERE A YEAR AGO.

La s t month the S T A R T n e g o t ia t io n s between the U.S.A. and the

U . S . S . R . T a l k s between the superpowers on INF began in November 1 9 S 1 a n d / re c o n t i n u i n g . The Co m m it te e on Disarmament

began work e a r l i e r t h i s year on a new and stronger co nventio n

TO BAN CHEMICAL WEAPONS. THE COMMITTEE ALSO ESTABLISHED IN

Ap r i l of t h i s year a Wo r k in g Group to d e a l w it h the nuclear

TEST BAN QUESTION. THIS GROUP WILL BEGIN NEXT MONTH TO

EXAMINE ISSUES RELATING TO VERIFICATION OF AND COMPLIANCE

WITH A TEST BAN. U N S S O D II EXPRESSED ITS STRONG SUPPORT

FOR THESE NEGOTIATIONS.

Fourth , the o b l i g a t i v e of a com preh ensive program of

DISARMAMENT WAS REAFFIRMED. I t WOULD HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE

for the Sp e c i a l Se s s io n to a c h ie v e agreement on some aspects

OF A PROGRAMME. I t WAS AGREED, HOWEVER, THAT I T WOULD BE

BETTER TO WORK FOR A COMPLETE DOCUMENT RATHER THAN SETTLE

ON A P A R T IA L ONE. ACCORDINGLY, THE SESSION AGREED TO REFER

THE DRAFT OF THE CPD BACK TO THE COMMITTEE ON DISARMAMENT

FOR FURTHER WORK. ΪΗΕ HOPE IS THAT A COMPLETE CPD MIGHT

BE ADOPTED BY THE 38TH ( l . E . 1 9 3 3 ) REGULAR SESSION OF THE

Ge n e r a l As s e m b l y .

;

11.

I n short , the S p e c i a l S ession n e it h e r damaged nor watered

DOWN THE EXISTING DISARMAMENT AGENDA, OR SET BACK THE

NEGOTIATIONS NOW IN TRAI N. INDEED, BY ENDORSING THE

CURRENT EFFORTS AND BY RECOGNISING THE INSEPARABLE L IN K

BETWEEN INTERNATIONAL CONFIDENCE a \ND DISARMAMENT THE SESSION

MAY WELL HAVE ESTABLISHED A MORE REAL ISTI C AND STRONGER

BASI S FOR FURTHER NEGOTIATIONS. I STRESS, HOWEVER, THAT WE

SHOULD NOT EXPECT IMMEDIATE RESULTS FROM THE NEGOTIATIONS

TO WHICH I HAVE DRAWN ATTENTION. THEY INVOLVE SENSITI VE

AND COMPLEX MATTERS GOING TO THE HEART OF THE NATIONAL

SECURITY OF STATES. THAT IS NOT TO SAY I AM PESSI MI STI C

ABOUT THE OUTCOME. I t IS SIMPLY THAT EFFECTIVE DISARMAMENT

MEASURES INEVITABLY TAKE TIME TO NEGOTIATE.

F or A u s t r a l i a ' s part , the G overnment w i l l continue to work

ACTIVELY IN THE UNITED NATIONS AND IN THE COMMITTEE ON

D isarmament to b ri ng about negotiated disarmament measures

WHICH ARE BALANCED, EFFECTIVE AND V E R I F I A B L E .