Statement by H.E. the Ambassador Mrs. Samantha Jayasuriya on International Day against Nuclear Tests, 29 August 2019, in Bangkok

International Day against Nuclear Test
29th August 2019

Organized by the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan
At Conference Room 4, United Nations Conference Centre, Bangkok

Statement by
H.E Samantha K. Jayasuriya
Ambassador of Sri Lanka

Madam Armida SalsiahAlisjahbana, Executive Secretary of the UN ESCAP,
MadamRaushanYesbulatova, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Thailand,
Distinguished Ambassadors and presenters,

It isindeed a great pleasure and an honour to join the commemoration of the ‘International Day against Nuclear Test 2019’- another commendable initiative of the Government of Kazakhstan towards achieving our common commitment for global nuclear disarmament. We salute the Republic of Kazakhstan for beena strong proponent of nuclear disarmament and global nuclear security,advocating a world free of nuclear weapons.

Kazakhstan’s initiative in the United Nations to declare the ‘International Day against Nuclear Tests’,in commemoration of the closure of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test site on 29 August 1991 been unanimously adopted by the 64th UNGA in 2009 marks a watershed moment in the collective efforts of making a nuclear safe world, and it reinforced the continued action spearheaded by the Government of Kazakhstan, inter aliathe launch of ATOM Project in 2012 to build global support for a permanent end to nuclear weapons testing, initiating a Universal Declaration for a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World adopted by the United Nations in 2015, and advancing a Manifesto ‘The World, The 21st Century’ to end the scourge of war.”

While congratulating Kazakhstan for these very progressive steps in addressing concerns of non nuclear weapon states like my own, Sri Lanka wishes to reiterate its steadfast commitment for comprehensive nuclear disarmament.It has been the consistent policy throughout Sri Lanka’s diplomatic history to support nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament,while promoting and safe guarding the economic development prospects for all, through equal access to the technology advancing peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Madam Chair
Sri Lanka’s contribution to ensuring international peace and security through general and complete disarmament is well known, as it ranges from the 1978proposal 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, to re-establishing the UN Department of Disarmament by eminent Sri Lankan diplomat, former USG JayanthaDhanapala.From Presiding the historic NPT Review Conference in 1995 by Mr. Dhanapala to providing the 1996 ICJ Advisory Opinion onthe humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons,by C.J. Weeramantry, esteemed Sri Lankan jurist and Vice President of the ICJ, who stated that and I quote, “the useor threat of use of nuclear weapons is incompatible with international law and with the veryfoundations on which that system rests”, end of quote. The most recent example 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 callsfor a balanced and non-discriminatory approach to building international peace and security. We join in efforts towards achieving the universalization of the NPT, and highlightsthat stopping nuclear testing is an important precursor for taking forward the non-proliferation treaty regime, particularly at a time preparations are underway for the 2020 Review Conference.

Madam Chair,
Sri Lanka was one of the earliest supporters of Nuclear Weapon Free Zones (NWFZs). 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 which is devoted to enhancing public awareness and education on humanitarian as well as health and environmental consequences of nuclear weapon testing , Sri Lankaunderpins the need for education and training in the disarmament and non-proliferation, where once again Kazakhstan has played an exemplary role in supporting the Disarmament Fellowship programme of the UNODA in Geneva.

So, we are hopeful that these efforts will send out positive signals particularly in strengthening UNSG’s Disarmament Agenda priority on: ‘Disarmament to save humanity’, where we prevent an unprecedented catastrophe; which experts warn that the ‘Dooms Day clock is only 2 minutes away from mid night’. The video just aired spoke volumes on what it could be to continue with nuclear testing. It’s a strong call and we should not fail in our responsibility.

Sri Lanka thanks Kazakhstan for its leadership in bringing out an inclusive dialogue to reach common understanding and commitments for effective measures leading to nuclear disarmament, and we are very pleased to join hands in partnership of your efforts in this regards.

Thank You.