Statement of the President of the Republic of Poland Mr. Andrzej Duda High Level Debate of the UN Security Council
Non-proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD): Confidence-Building Measures
New York, 18 January, 2018
Mr. Secretary General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
let me start by thanking the Kazakh Presidency for organizing this high-level debate on such an important and relevant topic. It shows your long-lasting commitment to the non-proliferation efforts. Kazakhstan’s credibility in this matter is reinforced by the fact that it is one of a very few countries, which has “abandoned” the nuclear path. I remember reading remarks by President Nazarbayev, in which he stressed “it was the best decision I had ever done for my young country”. And Kazakhstan’s continued engagement in this regard has been demonstrated many times ever since. Let me only mention recent establishment of Low-Enriched Uranium bank. Not only does it constitute a major step towards promotion of nuclear safety, but it promotes transparency and builds confidence among peace-loving nations.
I also want to thank President Nazarbayev personally for inviting me to this debate. It is my first, and most definitely not the last, visit to the UN Security Council as President of the Republic of Poland.
I am here because the issue under consideration is very much connected to Poland’s priorities in the Security Council – that is: supporting the existing, and building new international law instruments to mitigate unlawful and aggressive behavior of some members of the international community. Let me stress: not only aggression, but also any attempt to build aggressive capabilities, should always be treated as a violation of international norms, because in the end it leads to the erosion of the noble idea of peaceful coexistence of states.
The very essence of solidarity and lawfulness at the international level is the peaceful cooperation between all states. That is why it is so important to further develop legal instruments in international relations, as well as the ability to enforce them. It also applies to the issue of nuclear non-proliferation. As members of the Security Council, we are committed to treating it with all the seriousness it deserves.
Non-proliferation and disarmament, despite having a developed and established legal and treaty architecture, still remains an unfinished project. At its core, the Non-Proliferation Treaty can be seen as having a mixed record. I see three problems here. Firstly, there is no requirement for a country to join the Treaty, and those which do join have a potentially easy way-out: they can withdraw from it with no more than three months’ notice. Secondly, within the Treaty, there is no framework of sanctions regime to guard against the treaty violations. And thirdly, though the Treaty allows for its signatories to pursue a nuclear strategy for peaceful purposes, the inspections procedure is based on voluntary co-operation and mutual trust. But, as we have seen throughout history, the world is not run by the gentlemen’s agreement rule. In fact, world affairs are too often run by people, who are anything but gentlemen.
Recent developments in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, broken assurances provided for Ukraine by the Budapest Memorandum, controversies over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran, as well as threats posed by non-state actors, have all shown that non-proliferation agenda is today even more topical than ever. And it does not only apply to military nuclear capabilities. Chemical and biological weapons, or ballistic missile proliferation, are just as important.
With reference to chemical weapons, Poland finds it unacceptable that we are still confronted with continued use of this type of arms. It is the responsibility of the Security Council to continue conveying a strong message to the world on this matter. Chemical weapons were used on a number of occasions since the 1960s (by Egypt in Yemen), in the 1980s (by Iraq against Iran), and recently in Syria, but with no serious consequences for the side, which used them.
Mr. Secretary General,
Currently, however, the most worrisome situation seems to be the one in the Korean Peninsula, where provocative actions taken by the North Korean regime not only destabilize the whole region, but undermine the whole non-proliferation effort. Stockpiling of chemical weapons, the development of military nuclear capabilities and ballistic missile programs, as well as provocative tests of those weapons are a clear violation of international law in general, and of the respective UN Security Council resolutions in particular. Such actions show that the policy of aggression and confrontation overshadows the policy of open dialogue and trust. What is worse, they also show – creating a dangerous precedence – that running a policy based on the law of force, and not the force of law, sadly can be effective and can go unpunished.
The way in which we solve this crisis will have a significant impact on the future of the entire global non-proliferation architecture. I believe that the intensified efforts undertaken together by the international community will bring about a political solution, and will result in the stabilization of the situation in the region.
It is especially crucial today, as the 2018 Winter Olympics will soon begin in South Korea. This event should be celebrated in safe surroundings and allow for spectacular sport competition in the atmosphere of peace and friendship between all nations.
Poland has been a long-standing and active supporter of strengthening non-proliferation and disarmament norms and principles. We are now chairing two important initiatives: the Second Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, as well as the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation – a chairmanship we inherited from Kazakhstan in 2017.
Despite the concerns raised over the NPT, we believe it is the only real instrument, which brings us closer to the world without nuclear weapons. The implementation of the Treaty is subject to review every five years. Poland, as its current “guardian”, has the intention to focus on maintaining its credibility, as well as creating the environment for a mutually respectful, transparent and all-inclusive dialogue. Bearing in mind that the 2020 Review Conference will mark the 50th anniversary of NPT’s entry into force, we would very much appreciate the support of the Security Council and the United Nations in efforts to making it our common success.
Equally significant to global and regional security and stability is the proliferation of ballistic missiles, including those capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction. Unfortunately, the record of efforts aimed at curbing it is short. This is why the importance of control mechanisms has become even greater.
For 15 years since its establishment, the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation has been promoting transparency and confidence-building measures. As its Chair, Poland wishes to follow up by supporting the full implementation of the Code and strengthening its relationship with the United Nations, as reflected in the UN General Assembly resolution 59/91 of 3 December 2004.
Mr. Secretary General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In closing, I would like again to express my gratitude for the Kazakh Presidency for selecting such an important issue as the focus of today’s debate. Poland will continue its commitment to making our world safe from nuclear threats. As we are all aware, the devastating aftermath of the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction would transgress all borders. That is why we should work closely within the UN community to make sure it never happens.