Statement by Ambassador Li Song at the First CD Plenary Meeting in 2022
2022-01-25 19:10

January 25, 2022, Palais des Nations

Now, I would like to make a statement in my capacity as the President of the CD as well as the Chinese Ambassador for Disarmament Affairs. At the outset, I am most honoured to read out a message from his excellency, Mr. Wang Yi, the State Counsellor and Foreign Minister of China, to the Conference on Disarmament at the first part of its 2022 annual session.

As the Conference on Disarmament begins its 2022 session, I wish to extend my congratulations and best wishes on the opening of this plenary.

Message to the Plenary Session of the First Part of the 2022 Conference on Disarmament

The world today is experiencing the combined impacts of major changes and a pandemic both unseen in a century. The international relations and global strategic security situation are undergoing complex and profound adjustments. Traditional security threats and emerging security challenges are intertwined. The international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation system stands at a critical crossroads. Facing the new circumstances and challenges, the international community needs to vigorously advocate peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom, which are common values of humanity, commit to the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security at the global level, and resolutely uphold the authority and sanctity of the United Nations. It should advance steadily the reform of the global security governance system and the international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation processes, and jointly build a community with a shared future for mankind that enjoys lasting peace and universal security.

As the sole multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, the Conference has achieved important outcomes including the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention, making important historical contribution to global peace and security. In the new era, the status and role of the Conference as an important platform for global security governance have become more prominent, and the international community has high expectations on its work. China calls on all member states of the Conference to have in-depth discussions on the traditional agenda items and emerging challenges under the principle of mutual respect and consensus, and to make efforts to revitalize the Conference, seek proper solutions on the basis of undiminished security for all, and achieve universal, sustainable and common security.

China unswervingly follows the path of peaceful development, and is committed to be a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of international order. As the first rotating President of the Conference in 2022, China will actively fulfill its duties, play a constructive role, and enhance coordination with other rotating Presidents and member states to contribute its share to revitalizing the Conference.”

End of the message.

Dear colleagues,

Mr. Wang Yi’s message fully testifies to the confidence and support that China places on the CD. As its first President this year, I will do my utmost to cooperate with other P6+2 colleagues and bring our work forward. In this connection, I wish to share my thought on the following three aspects.

First of all, the work of our Conference should fully reflect the reality of international security landscape in all its dimensions. The CD should move with the times and innovate its work while remaining faithful to the historic mandate entrusted to it by the SSOD I. Over the past four decades, the international situation has undergone a series of major changes of profound significance, many of which have a close bearing on the work of our Conference. Facing such new realities, CD members must also keep pace with changing times and approach our work from a higher and broader strategic perspective so that what we are doing under the traditional agenda items can better match with the new realities and prospects in the international security scene.

At the same time, the CD also shoulders new tasks of our times. In the face of the fresh problems and challenges in the field of international security brought by new and emerging technologies, delegations need to explore preventive programmes and measures in arms-control diplomacy. In this regard, the present agenda of the Conference has sufficient room for such forward-looking, open-ended and innovative undertakings.

As the President, I would encourage all delegations to make the best use of our plenary as a platform for in-depth exchanges and discussions, including through open and frank debate and brainstorming, with the view to identifying common understandings and approaches which truly meet the general security interests of all members.

Secondly, the work of the Conference should be brought back to a healthy and professional track. The CD is not an arena for big power competition and confrontation, or a tool for big powers to bully smaller ones. Rather it should be a major platform for pursuing genuine multilateralism and advancing global security governance in the interests of common security. All CD members, irrespective of their sizes, are equals and should respect each other. The legitimate security concerns and interests of each and every state need to be fully taken into account and be accommodated reasonably. The principle of undiminished security for all must be made to work in practice.

In recent years, the Conference on Disarmament has been severely swayed and hampered by “politicization”, which has also seriously eroded the trust and cooperation among delegations. This is one of the important causes of our current stalemate. We sincerely hope that we will all contribute to a “depoliticization” of the work of the Conference so that it can return to a healthy and professional track and fulfil its duties in a harmonious working atmosphere and with fresh vigor.

Thirdly, the CD should continue its efforts to reach a balanced and comprehensive programme of work and embark on substantive work on all important agenda items. The failure of the Conference to start any treaty negotiations in recent years is caused in essence by the growing complication of the global strategic and security situation, which has had a deep impact on the Conference itself. One should not put the blame on CD’s rules of procedure or the work method. In fact, this has only underscored the value and importance of the principle of a “balance and comprehensive approach”, since it can ensure the respect of positions and security concerns and interests of all delegations. It is also the corner stone of CD’s work.

In 2018, the Conference successfully set up subsidiary bodies to carry out substantive work on its major agenda items. Over the past three years, at the start of each annual session, the CD Presidents have made their best efforts to work toward a programme of work. Their efforts deserves our appreciation and acknowledgment, since it has given us a crucial basis on which to build on our efforts this year.

I am looking forward to hearing the ideas of all delegations on issue facing us at the beginning of this year’s session, especially on the programme of work. I will also undertake active bilateral consultations with each and every delegation to further sound out your views. I will then proceed on that basis to jointly produce with other P6+2 colleagues a concrete plan for your discussion and eventual decision.

Dear colleagues,

Every new year heralds a new beginning. The same can be said of the situation on the ground, of the Conference and indeed of ourselves. At the beginning of the new year, the leaders of the five Nuclear-Weapon States, namely China, Russia, the US, the UK and France, simultaneously issued a Joint Statement on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Race. The leaders affirmed that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought and reaffirmed that none of their nuclear weapons are targeted at each other or at any other State. They committed themselves to preserving and complying with bilateral and multilateral arms control agreements, and emphasized that the five States should avoid military confrontations and prevent arms race. As the coordinator of the P5 regime, France will share with this plenary further information in this regard.

China has always been advocating the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. We actively led and promoted the P5 toward this joint action. The Joint Statement demonstrates the P5’s political will to prevent a nuclear war. Their shared voice of maintaining global strategic stability and reducing the risk of nuclear conflicts is also conducive to forging major-country relations featuring overall stability and balanced development. We hope that the P5 can continue to enhance strategic mutual trust and strengthen communication and cooperation, and play a positive role in building a world with lasting peace and universal security.

Dear colleagues,

Our endeavor is not to repeat the past but to open the future. The start of this year’s session also nearly coincides with the beginning of a new Chinese lunar year, which will be the Year of Tiger. It will be a propitious year, since a tiger is supposed to bring good fortune and guard against evil spirit. It also symbolizes courage and strength. It would be the common wish of the international community that in the coming year the humankind will join forces with greater courage and strength to overcome the Covid pandemic, safeguard world peace and promote common development.

The upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics will also bring new vitality and hope to the world. For my part, I wish and believe that the CD members can also demonstrate a greater sense of unity and display greater courage and strength in seeking to revive and revitalize the Conference, work to safeguard world peace, security and stability and move forward the processes of multilateral arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. I and my team will make fresh attempts to that end. I am counting on your full support in this process.

Thank you all.