GENEVA – Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Erlan Idrissov urged greater global efforts in nuclear disarmament at the plenary session of the Conference on Disarmament and addressed the High Level Segment of the 28th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on March 4.“Today, the world is experiencing a major transformation. We have witnessed growing friction between major powers over perceived zones of influence, markets, control over energy resources and the movement of commercial minerals. This growing instability can lead to conflicts and foster a dangerous trend where states use power rather than diplomacy in world politics. As a result, this can lead to an arms race, as well as to the use of military force and other forms of coercion when protecting national interests,” Idrissov said at the March 4 conference, emphasising that the forum had the potential to make a major contribution to the disarmament process.
Elaborating on Kazakhstan’s position and vision on the agenda’s urgent issues, he called on member states to demonstrate their political will and overcome their differences to start the practical work of the conference.
The conference’s most notable achievement to date has been the elaboration of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) back in 1996 which has since been signed by 183 and ratified by 163 states. It has still not entered into force because of the lack of signature and ratification by eight specific countries. Since 1996, however, the Conference on Disarmament, which unites 65 states as members and has 40 states as observers has been unable to find common ground enough to move forward on any substantive issues.
Stressing the need to preserve the principle of consensus and the inadmissibility of undermining the general rules and procedures of the conference, the foreign minister advocated for the expansion of the conference’s member states and the balanced participation in the conference of civil society.
Idrissov listed Kazakhstan’s key issues for the conference as nuclear disarmament through the adoption of a legally binding, nondiscriminatory and universal instrument; the development and signing of the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT); the prevention of an arms race in outer space; and negative security assurances to states that do not possess nuclear weapons.
On nuclear disarmament, Idrissov highlighted the initiative of President Nursultan Nazarbayev to adopt, at the UN, a Universal Declaration of a World Free of Nuclear Weapons, saying, “This would be an important step towards adopting the convention on a complete and comprehensive ban of nuclear weapons – an initiative that was drafted by Costa Rica and Malaysia. It is time to stop talking and start acting by taking measures to remove nuclear stockpiles from every country, including those that are not part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).”
In this respect, the minister underlined the significance of The ATOM Project, initiated by Kazakhstan, which aims to generate global public support for the final abolition of nuclear weapons tests through the entry into force of CTBT and for the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons by all countries. He stressed that already 100,000 people from all over the world signed an online petition to global leaders to achieve the early entry into force of CTBT and move the world forward along the nuclear disarmament road.
Idrissov also highlighted the importance of the co-chairmanship of Japan and Kazakhstan in the Conference on Article 14 of the CTBT this year.
“A few days ago, Kazakhstan and Japan became co-chairs of the Conference on Article 14 of the CTBT. It will be a symbolic moment. This year, the world will mark the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in 1945, an immensely sad day in our human history. Kazakhstan has also suffered terribly from the impact of nuclear weapons [testing]. … Due to our shared history, Kazakhstan and Japan have a moral right to demand progress on a comprehensive nuclear test ban. We are determined to work together during our co-chairmanship to push for the ratification of this treaty,” he said, expressing the hope that the activities of the two countries affected by the application and testing of nuclear weapons would give a powerful impetus to the CTBT’s entry into force.
Addressing the High Level Segment of the 28th session of the UN Human Rights Council on the same day, Idrissov emphasised that since gaining independence, Kazakhstan has pursued a policy to adhere to all major international instruments in the field of human rights protection. Thus, in February, Kazakhstan ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“In Kazakhstan, human rights and their protection is something we understand needs constant refreshing. We do not believe we have yet made all the progress that is needed to provide the right safeguards for our citizens. To further strengthen the legal framework and take practical steps, we have developed and implemented the Concept of Legal Policy for 2010–2020,” Idrissov stated. He added that in the near future, Kazakhstan plans to create a new draft National Plan of Action on Human Rights to 2020 and establish an Ombudsman for Children’s Rights.
He stressed the active cooperation of Kazakhstan with the Special Procedures of the UNHCR, confirming Kazakhstan’s interest in expanding the open dialogue with Special Procedures mandate holders.
The foreign minister also touched upon the Dialogue Platform on the Human Dimension, established under the Foreign Ministry in January 2013.
“This is unprecedented in establishing an open and direct dialogue between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government and civil society regarding further steps along the road of the political modernisation of the country,” he said.
During his visit to Geneva, Idrissov also met with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein and Acting Director General of the UN Office in Geneva and Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament Michael Möller.