|SRI LANKA CALLS FOR A FRESH LOOK AT THE MIDDLE EAST AT DISARMAMENT CONFERENCE|
|Thursday, 22 January 2009|
Speakers Raise Issues Relating to Israeli Aggression on the Gaza Strip
The Conference on Disarmament opened its 2009 session on 20th January 2009.
The session’s plenary meeting opened with a message from Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general of the United Nations. His message was read-out by Sergei Ordzhonikidze, secretary-general of the Conference on Disarmament and Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva. The secretary-general said in his statement that at a time of a global economic and financial crisis, advancing the disarmament agenda could produce a tangible peace dividend when the world needed it most.
The secretary-general’s statement was followed by the opening speech by the President of the Conference on Disarmament, Ambassador Le Hoai Trung of Viet Nam. Mr. Trung said that Viet Nam was very honoured to assume the presidency of the Conference and took the task seriously. He noted that progress in the work of the Conference was essential to the promotion of multilateralism and that the ongoing financial crisis and economic recess should only accentuate the pressing need to enhance efforts towards a safer world.
During the ensuing General discussion, a dozen countries made statements on the deadlock in the Conference and on the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip. States said that they attached great importance to the role of the Conference on Disarmament and hoped that it would be able to move beyond its stalemate this year, as significant progress had been made in 2008.
Turning to the situation in Gaza, Egyptian Ambassador Hisham Badr said the urgency for effective disarmament and arms control measures was felt clearly in the Middle East. The recent Israeli aggression on Gaza had to serve as an acute reminder of the ripple effect such wars had upon regional arms races. Reminding that Israel was the only state in the region that was not yet a party to the non-proliferation Treaty, Mr. Badr said that the destabilising influences of such actions were far reaching and should serve as a strong impetus to achieve positive results in the Conference on Disarmament. He added that global events and double standards risked destabilising the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.
Israel said that the recent conflict in Gaza had underlined clearly that the threat by terrorists was a problem the Conference had to face and they still expected that the proposals they had made in the past on the subject of terrorism would be considered by the Conference on Disarmament. Israel alleged that the Conference on Disarmament had been mute for several years to the suffering of Israelis in the south of Israel and to the nuclear proliferation in the region.
Speaking in Algeria’s national capacity, Ambassador Idriss Jazairy said that he had been shocked by the statements by Israel. It was true that every life had a value, but the work of the Conference was not just to prevent the trading of a few weapons, but also to protect the lives of half-a-million civilians in Gaza, civilians which, when they resisted occupation, were called terrorists.
Both Syria and Iran spoke at length about the great loss of life and damage to property in Gaza and condemned the indiscriminate attacks by Israel. Indonesia too said that the disproportionate use of force deserved attention.
Commenting further on this issue, Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka of Sri Lanka said that Israel had demonstrated on several occasions its capacity for fighting in cities and targeting specific individuals from the air. Therefore, what was witnessed recently had been completely unnecessary.
Russia said it welcomed the cease-fire declared by Israel and Hamas and that it would continue to do everything in its power in order to force a shift towards a political settlement between the two countries.
Algeria, on behalf of the Group of 21, the Czech Republic on behalf of the European Union, Australia, Belarus on behalf of the Eastern European Group, Turkey, the Netherlands, as well as the President of the Conference also made statements during the plenary session.
Given below is a summary of the statement that H.E. Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in Geneva, made at the plenary meeting of the Conference on Disarmament.
Dr. Jayatilleka said that Viet Nam was a symbol for the people in his region and congratulated the President. Turning to the remarks on terrorism and disarmament made on Gaza, he said that Sri Lanka had friendly relations with Israel and that they had also collaboration in the military field. Notwithstanding this, the bodies of children taken out of rubble and the use of white phosphorous brought him to critique the statement made today by Israel.
The terrorist enemy that Sri Lanka had been fighting had been called the most lethal and totalitarian terrorist organisation in Asia. Sri Lanka had been fighting and defeating its enemy and they had never complained that the Conference on Disarmament had not spoken up. They also knew that it was not necessary to use white phosphorous and that kind of force like Israel had done, which kept hitting schools, mosques and warehouses. This was not the way to resist terrorism. What was most cynical was that he knew that Israel had the power to fight in a populated area in a surgical manner, said Mr. Jayatilleka.
|Last Updated ( Friday, 14 August 2009 )|
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