Madam Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Executive Secretary of the UN ESCAP,
Madam Raushan Yesbulatova, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Thailand,
Distinguished Ambassadors and colleagues,
In the context of new global challenges that has immerged with the COVID 19, it is a great pleasure to join this virtual commemoration of the ‘International Day against Nuclear Test 2020’- marking the significance of efforts made by the Government of Kazakhstan towards achieving our common commitment for nuclear threat free world. We extend our appreciations to the Republic of Kazakhstan for been a strong advocate of nuclear disarmament.
While congratulating Kazakhstan for all its progressive steps in addressing concerns of non-nuclear weapon states, Sri Lanka wishes to join hands in partnership with Kazakhstan’s steadfast efforts, with its unwavering commitment for comprehensive nuclear disarmament.
Throughout its diplomatic history, Sri Lanka has constantly been supporting nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, while promoting and safeguarding the prospects for all, through equal access to technology, advancing peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
It was eminent former Sri Lankan diplomat and UN Under-Secretary General for Disarmament Affairs, Mr. Jayantha Dhanapala who contributed to the 1978 proposal for the first ever United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Disarmament (SSOD –I), which was against nuclear weapons, small arms and the arms race in outer space, and pioneering for re-establishing the UN Department of Disarmament.
The historic NPT Review Conference in 1995 was presided over by Mr. Dhanapala and moreover, C.J. Weeramantry, the esteemed Sri Lankan jurist and Vice President of the ICJ and provided the 1996 ICJ Advisory Opinion on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. The most recent example for Sri Lanka’s unwavering commitment to disarmament was the Decision 2119 adopted unanimously by the Conference on Disarmament during Sri Lanka’s Presidency in 2018.
Sri Lanka was one of the first States to sign both the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968 and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996. Sri Lanka perceives the importance of the NPT as the global regime for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament that calls for a balanced and non-discriminatory approach to building international peace and security. Sri Lanka joins in efforts towards achieving the universalization of the NPT, and highlights that ending nuclear testing is an important step for taking forward the non-proliferation treaty regime. We note the postponement of the 2020 NPT Review Conference, and as takes place at the earliest occasion before April 2021, and as soon as the circumstances permit, there will be positive momentum on fulfilling the commitments under NPT. It is also recalled that Sri Lanka was one of the earliest supporters of Nuclear Weapon Free Zones (NWFZs) and at the 1964 Non-Aligned Summit in Cairo, a comment made by Sri Lankan Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike led the summit to issue a declaration in favor of global “denuclearized zones.”
In the light of the International Day against Nuclear Tests, Sri Lanka underpins the need for education, public awareness and training in the disarmament and non-proliferation, and once again, commends Kazakhstan for the exemplary role in supporting the Disarmament Fellowship programme of the UNODA in Geneva.
While thanking Kazakhstan for its leadership in bringing out an inclusive dialogue to reach common understanding and commitments for effective measures towards nuclear disarmament, Sri Lanka reiterates its unwavering commitment in the spirit of partnership with the efforts of Kazakhstan and the community of UNESCAP as a whole.