Thank you, Mr. Chairman,
I am pleased to take the floor on behalf of the United States for the twenty-second joint meeting of Working Groups A and B. As always, our delegation looks forward to working under the able leadership of the Chairs of Working Groups A and B.
My delegation welcomes these joint meetings. We do not view this as an extraneous plenary session that has a long list of speakers. This is where both Working Groups think about the bigger picture. In collaboration with the Provisional Technical Secretariat, Working Group B has a mountain of verification-related work on its plate. Working Group A must ensure that the Organization’s financial, personnel, and legal policies allow the work to come to completion efficiently and in line with the Treaty. If we don’t properly align the work of these three bodies — Working Groups A and B and the PTS — we will not be successful as an organization.
The Mid-Term Strategy could provide a framework to accomplish the goal of success. While I’m sure anyone can find something to disagree with in the MTS, overall it presents a view of the way forward for the Organization. Working Groups A and B must endeavor to support it in the most appropriate way, consistent with our policy guidance and oversight functions.
Although you have all heard it many times, I will take a moment here to interject again my government’s policy on the budget for the PTS: we support a program-driven budget for this Organization. The CTBTO is still building up as an institution and the verification system is not yet complete. Unlike other established organizations, the CTBTO needs capital inputs in order to further strengthen the verification regime and improve prospects for entry into force of the Treaty. Flat or declining budgets for the CTBTO could therefore threaten the viability of the Treaty. Already, my delegation has noticed a chronic staffing shortage in the PTS that is beginning to threaten the work of the Organization. Working Group A must address this issue at the earliest opportunity.
Let’s face it: this is an expensive Treaty, but it’s worth it. We have committed ourselves to an appreciating asset that adds a key contribution to international security in both deterring and detecting nuclear explosions.
In this context, my delegation believes Working Group A will have a greater role to play over the next several years. For example, the Mid-Term Strategy identifies enhanced management coordination as a key strategic enabler. Working Group A could play a positive role in supporting this enabler, mindful that we do not want to micro-manage the PTS. Other topics Working Group A might fruitfully explore include devising a multi-year budget, improving the budgeting process, conforming the scale of assessments to other UN bodies, and improving and streamlining the procurement and contracting processes. These are suggestions my delegation has made many times before to urge cost effectiveness and efficiency, both for the PTS and the States Signatories. We recognize that these are not simple tasks easily disposed of, and they will require efforts by Working Group A similar to those required when WGA was working to establish the basic financial rules and regulations. In addition, the improved functioning of the MESA Group could also be a goal worthy of all of our efforts.
These issues are probably more than the ablest leader can address during a chairmanship. Therefore, my delegation would also be interested in exploring a multi-year plan of work for Working Group A. I know indicative work plans were done in the past for Working Group A, but my delegation would like to renew emphasis on a methodical and more strategic manner of operating for this Working Group. We should also review the results of the implementation of the last work plan.
I have focused on Working Group A only because we are in the middle of Working Group B, and at this moment the work of that group tends to hold our attention. U.S. support of Working Group B is well known. But Working Group B’s important work will not be accomplished without smart legal, personnel, and financial policies. Working Group A has a new, able, and energetic Chair. My delegation pledges to support his crucial work.
In closing, I would like to add my voice of support to those calling for a conceptual budget document this spring that is related to the goals of the Mid-Term Strategy. Such a document could help us to understand CTBTO priorities and begin to inform our capitals. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.