EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Conference 2016
Keynote Speech and Introductory Remarks

Provisional Transcript

Mark Fitzpatrick, Director, Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Policy Programme, IISS; Executive Director, IISS Americas; Co-Founder, EU Non-Proliferation Consortium

Thank you, High Representative Kim. You’ve graciously agreed to engage in some give and take with the givers, for the drivers on both sides of the disarmament debate and other issues. Maybe I could start off the questioning and comments with a question about North Korea. As you have said, the United Nations wants to leave the door open; last year in November, the Secretary-General wanted to visit North Korea, and there was news that he might be going there, but I guess there was not receptivity, or something fell through. But do you see any prospects for the door actually being open, for somebody else being at the other side of a conversation?

Kim Won-soo, Under Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, UN

Of course, as High Representative Mogherini said, resolving non-proliferation challenges through diplomacy is the best way forward. And we hope that will be and can be emulated in addressing the challenges we have on DPRK. And when the Secretary-General has been saying he is willing to play any role if it is helpful to resolve this challenge, he always says that his role is complementary to the roles played by the directly concerned parties, in this case, Six Parties. But he always emphasises his willingness to play any role if his personal engagement can help the Six Parties’ efforts to resolve these challenges. But unfortunately, such conditions did not prove to exist, and that prevented him even proceeding with the visit. And unless such conditions are right, such a visit will not be productive.

So those are the parameters in which he has considered his role very carefully, but although he repeatedly made it clear that, for him, all options are open and he is ready to play any role. And I hope that same spirit also will be taken over by his successor as well, because that is the role the UN Secretary-General must play: trying to help the directly concerned parties resolve their differences through diplomacy.

Mark Fitzpatrick, Director, Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Policy Programme, IISS; Executive Director, IISS Americas; Co-Founder, EU Non-Proliferation Consortium

Thank you very much, Mr Kim. I recognise we cannot see everybody in the audience, so now I see a bunch of hands. Tariq Rauf, first of all.

Tariq Rauf, Director, Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Programme, SIPRI

Thank you very much. Tariq Rauf from SIPRI. High Representative Kim Won-soo, thank you very much for your very interesting statement. Recently, the Director of National Intelligence in the United States, James Clapper, said that denuclearisation in North Korea is a lost cause. And I was wondering whether you might have some comments on that, and what might be the way forward?

And I was wondering whether Ambassador Jacek Bylica might also wish to comment on that. Thank you.

Mark Fitzpatrick, Director, Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Policy Programme, IISS; Executive Director, IISS Americas; Co-Founder, EU Non-Proliferation Consortium

We’re getting the difficult questions up first. Please.

Kim Won-soo, Under Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, UN

Well, I would interpret what is said as kind of a disappointment. But to me and also to all of us in disarmament community, and I am sure that most Koreans share this view, that the denuclearisation should be the ultimate path towards peace and security on the Korean peninsula, because if the denuclearisation is doubted then we will have a strategic nightmare scenario developing in East Asia, and then it may be the beginning of real weakening of the NPT regime worldwide.

So, in realistic terms, whether it is achievable any time soon, I share his assessment. But as a goal, from peace and security on the Korean peninsula and in the region, and also from global non-proliferation regime, denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula should remain as the priority for the region but also for the whole world.

Jacek Bylica, Principal Adviser and Special Envoy for Non-proliferation and Disarmament, EEAS

Yes, answering there the question directly, I do not believe it is a lost cause. It might be a much more challenging cause than before, it might be a more longer-term cause, but I think, you know, as we are here in this room, we have seen, or most of us have seen, amazing changes in international security environment – here in Europe, in other continents. So things which we do not imagine possible now can happen.

The EU’s approach is to deal with the root causes of insecurity which feed into that demand for more weapons and so on. So it is challenging, but I don’t think we should give up. And the EU’s approach is exactly, as has been mentioned already by the High Representative, is that we combine sanctions with an offer of dialogue. And this is how other issues have been resolved, and, you know, at one point I am confident that this issue can also be resolved.

Mark Fitzpatrick, Director, Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Policy Programme, IISS; Executive Director, IISS Americas; Co-Founder, EU Non-Proliferation Consortium

Thank you, Jacek. Rizwana Abbasi?

Dr Rizwana Karim Abbasi, Assistant Professor, Department of Strategic Studies, National Defence University

Thank you very much, Mark, for giving me this opportunity. I would say that I very strongly agree with Federica Mogherini and Mr Kim’s very strong message on a multilateral approach. I would say that it proves that Professor Woodrow Wilson’s approach prevails and holds sustainable ground in the contemporary international world order.

I would actually endorse a similar kind of spirit in our part of the world, in South Asia. I would say that this multilateral approach can help us addressing and understanding issues between India and Pakistan, the two nuclear-weapon states, and mitigate emerging risk. For example, number one, to understand and stabilise deterrence. Deterrence works in South Asia but it is unstable, and peace remains immensely fragile. Number two, to address and constrain arms race, and actually extensive arms build-up in blue waters and blue seas. And thirdly, to understand and manage conflict between these two nuclear-weapon states. And fourth, to facilitate bilateral constructive dialogue between two countries. And finally, instituting an arms-control mechanism, thereby linking it with the international paradigm.

Another question, very precisely, would relate to cyber threats. Would, Mr Kim, you like to demonstrate on understanding cyber threats, are we ready to institute a new mechanism like NSS after its successful conclusion to probably generate awareness, understand such kind of threats, and then prepare states to get ready to bounce back? Thank you.

Kim Won-soo, Under Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, UN

On cyber, ITU and UNESCO are leading the international debate as regards to peaceful uses of cyberspace. My office, the Office for Disarmament Affairs, is leading the effort to deal with the potentially non-peaceful aspects of cyberspace use, and this debate has not been easy.

We have spent the last ten years by forming a small group of governmental experts. We started from 15, and now we increased to 25, and I wanted to go even higher because the cyber security, I believe, now almost all member states recognise as the issue of today, and issue of tomorrow, because we are increasingly connected, and if anything goes wrong in cyberspace, it will disrupt human lives very seriously on a wide scale. So it is recognised as one of the asymmetrical threats the entire of humanity is facing.

But still, we have divides in how to deal with this threat, whether privacy, freedom of expression should be given priority over state control for security reasons, but still we are able to move forward in identifying what should be the minimum normative denominator. But it is still too low, because terrorists, violent extremists are exploiting the advancing technology. So unless we catch up and move a little ahead of the technological curve, we will never be able to beat violent extremists who are misusing or abusing cyberspace.

And we hope that the last and the current, the fifth Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) that is starting their discussion last August, I hope it will be the last, so that they can make a recommendation to the whole 193 member states, to start a real debate by all member states. So, we hope this group of governmental experts will find a way to enhance the least common denominator of normative standards to a higher level, and then put it for consideration by all member states so that we can find a common way forward to address this crucial challenge. Thank you so much.

Jacek Bylica, Principal Adviser and Special Envoy for Non-proliferation and Disarmament, EEAS

Two brief points to add. Firstly, one of the important conclusions of the previous GGE, which was mentioned by Mr Kim, is that international law applies to cyberspace. This opens a lot of avenues for further work, further considerations, especially for the EU, which very much stresses the widening of international norms.

And second point, some important work, specifically on confidence-building measures in cyberspace, has also been done in a major regional organisation, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the OSCE, which is very much, I believe, worth watching also as progressing on this track. Thank you.

Mark Fitzpatrick, Director, Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Policy Programme, IISS; Executive Director, IISS Americas; Co-Founder, EU Non-Proliferation Consortium

Thank you. I realise I’m going to run into difficulty getting to all 12 of the people who I’ve nodded to, recognising your desire to speak. I will take about four right now, and then we’ll see where we go, starting with Bob Einhorn.

Robert Einhorn, Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution

Thank you, Mark. Bob Einhorn from The Brookings Institution. In the Syria conflict, clearly the norm against the use of chemical weapons has seriously eroded. And I’m wondering about the adequacy of international mechanisms for enforcing that norm. It took a UN Security Council resolution to establish this joint investigative mechanism, the OPCW and the UN, with the authority to investigate and to assign blame. They investigated; blame has been assigned; the question is, what will happen now, when any enforcement action is subject to a veto in the Security Council?

So I ask Under Secretary Kim, what can be done? Are there new mechanisms, new procedures that can be established? Not only to ensure that investigations will be carried out, blame will be assigned if warranted, but then enforcement action actually taken as a deterrent to the future use of chemical weapons. Thank you.

Andrey Baklitskiy, Director, Russia and Nuclear Non-proliferation Program, PIR Center

Thank you. Your excellencies, this is Andrey Baklitskiy, PIR Center, Moscow. So, when we are talking about new technologies and new challenges to international security, there seems to be two main approaches how to deal with those. It’s either to try to prohibit those new weapons, or accept that they will be used anyway and try to regulate them.

And the two clearest examples are conventional weapons in space and cyber weapons, with on the one side we have the Treaty on Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, and the proposed idea of cyber treaty, and on the other hand we have Tallinn Manual which is sort of trying to make sure that if there is war in cyberspace, it will be according to some kind of norms and, to a lesser extent, a code of conduct in outer space. So in your view, which of those two approaches is more productive? Thank you.

Dr Mahmoud Karem, Board Member, Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs; Chairman, Middle East, Egypt Center, British University Cairo

Thank you. Under Secretary Kim, how would you advise the new Secretary-General on how to proceed on issues related to the Middle East, and particularly a call for a conference on weapons of mass destruction? There are significant changes, not only in New York but elsewhere, and your advice in this regard is extremely important.

And may I remind you that there is a specific role that has been designed and allocated to the United Nations and to the Secretary-General in a resolution in 2010.

So I think all the points that you have mentioned, including the dangers of proliferation of components of weapons of mass destruction, and what I fear most, which is the suitcase scenario, the fact that most of these threats have come closer and closer to Europe makes this issue more and more important. So I also recognise that my good friend Jacek Bylica has done a great deal of good work in this regard, so I do expect a very positive role from the EU. Thank you.

Dr Patricia Lewis, Research Director, International Security, Chatham House

Thank you very much indeed, Mark. And thanks to all the panellists. Patricia Lewis from Chatham House in London. I’m just intrigued, Mr Kim, with your very thoughtful analysis, I thought, on the negotiations that will take place next year, that are represented in Resolution L41.

And my question to you, which is a little bit cheeky perhaps, but I wondered if either of you would bet on how many states that voted against the resolution would actually show up to the negotiations starting in March? And I’ll take the bet.

And then a more serious question is, those countries that do so, how constructive do you think that they can be, and how do we prevent them being spoilers? And are there ways in which we can create the conditions to make this much more constructive going forward internationally and multilaterally, for example, ensuring that rules of consensus do not apply? I’ll just throw that one in.

Mark Fitzpatrick, Director, Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Policy Programme, IISS; Executive Director, IISS Americas; Co-Founder, EU Non-Proliferation Consortium

Okay, thank you, Patricia. You know we’re on the record here, so we might get some of those answers offline. But, Mr Kim, you’ve got four important questions. Which ones can you answer?

Kim Won-soo, Under Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, UN

I would answer in the order questions were asked. First, from Bob, I mean, you are absolutely right. Although OPCW has the mandate to investigate the use, whether chemical weapons or toxic chemicals as weapons have been used, so OPCW has done those jobs, but they don’t have the authority to attribute, to identify the perpetrators. So Security Council stepped in, to create a Joint Investigative Mechanism, and JIM has completed its one year of work and they submitted the reports identifying the perpetrators, but still not all Council members were convinced. So Council members are still discussing about what to do, and that follow-up action on the findings requires unity, in particular of the Permanent Five of the Security Council.

So they are still discussing how they will follow up on the findings. First, they bought time to extend the JIM for 18 days, and that resolution clarified that during those times still they continue to discuss. And we hope that, as you rightly said, the findings must be followed up with action. Otherwise, it may send the wrong message to the perpetrators that the international community condones the impunity. So, we hope Council members will continue to show unity in addressing this issue, because there are many challenges ongoing on the Syrian file. But the chemical file has been the only file all Council members, P5, could agree on. And we hope that unity will continue until the accountability of those perpetrators can be addressed. Otherwise, our efforts for the last several years to make sure that the taboo against chemical weapons has been upheld will not lead to a desired outcome.

So, with the EU’s contribution, and many other countries’ contribution, we have made tremendous investment in the Joint Investigative Mechanism. We hope that mechanism will continue until we get to our desired destination of having the accountability right. So we are exactly on the same page, but I don’t have the answer. The answer is held by the five permanent members.

On Andrey’s question, you’re absolutely right. We are faced with now so many different challenges emerging from new technologies. But I’m afraid I can’t give you one size fits all answer. And every solution dealing with different kinds of new technologies must be thought through depending on the nature of that technology and the implication of that technology to the warfare.

So we hope, for example, the challenges we are now facing with killer robots, we call it lethal autonomous weapons, I don’t think we can stop technological advances, but we hope the international community can come up with a mechanism to ensure there will be appropriate and meaningful human control. So, in every area, we hope member states will start very serious discourse before it becomes too late.

And the unmanned vehicle, whether ground, air, also will pose huge challenges to us, because it will amplify the consequences, as shown at the last Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. If caesium, sarin or anthrax are used by terrorists, and using drones in urban areas, the consequences will be devastating. And also, we have to be prepared about growing challenges, because if terrorists use unmanned vehicles, aerial or ground, then they will not even need suicide bombers. And then, tracing and tracking them down will be even more difficult because of the deniability. So the international community must be better prepared to address all these potential consequences and negative implications.

About Mahmoud’s question, about the Middle East free zone, I think ‘a while’ is the best answer. But of course, it will remain very high on the agenda of the next Secretary General, because the international community cannot afford to allow this issue to bring the next NPT review cycle down again.

So we must act now, and recently we heard now positive signs coming from the League of Arab States. The League of Arab States are now planning to compose a ten-man/woman wise sages council, or something like that, and we hope that it will open the door for engagement of the parties in the region. That includes the League of Arab States, Israel and Iran. And solutions must come from them. As you said, the UN and the co-sponsors have a role to play, but our role is to help the parties in the region find the solution.

And until and unless the parties in the region are prepared to sit down with one another and talk about the substance of the problems, we cannot find a solution. So our job is to try to find the venue and modality which will allow the parties in the region to sit down together and start talking to find a real solution and addressing all the substantive differences. But still, I don’t think we are there yet, so we will need to make some extra efforts. So we may need talks about the talks.

We are not there for Secretary-General to send an invitation for the conference, because still there are remaining differences, and these differences must be addressed through the talks about the talks. We have done it when we try to deal with the challenges in the DPRK, when we discussed the four-party talks. We held a series of talks about the four-party talks, and talks about Six-Party Talks, so I think the same processes needed to address this very crucial challenge of a Middle East free zone of all kinds of weapons of mass destruction.

On Patricia’s question, and I’ll close, I don’t know. But if the number of yes votes, no votes, abstentions are any indicator, then that will be the guide of how many countries will actually participate. But still, I think very serious thought should be given to which of the two options is better, for those particularly sitting somewhere between the fences. Whether to participate first into the debate, try to influence the outcome to a more positive direction and then decide about how to embrace the outcome; or even before the negotiations starts, boycotting it and not participating, and then the negotiation may go even to an opposite direction than those in the middle want to see happen.

So that will be a very crucial question I think all states, particularly those states in the middle, must ask themselves seriously. Which of the two options will better serve their purpose? Because, at the end of the day, any solution to accelerate movement to our shared destination, which is a world free of nuclear weapons, so any effort should be judged whether it will contribute constructively towards that ultimate destination.

And I know it is a tough question for those, particularly not voting for or abstaining states should ask themselves very seriously. And again, here, I cannot offer an answer to each of those states, and those states must go through their domestic constituencies and also other roles they play on the international stage. And I hope … at the end of the day, any process of nuclear disarmament will not be really meaningful without inclusive participation of all states. So any efforts, we hope, can contribute toward restoring that spirit of inclusive engagement and participation by all states ultimately. And it is not easy. It is still a very complex and politically charged question.

Mark Fitzpatrick, Director, Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Policy Programme, IISS; Executive Director, IISS Americas; Co-Founder, EU Non-Proliferation Consortium

Thank you very much, Mr Kim Won-soo, for valiantly and frankly addressing those difficult questions.

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