On behalf of the Signatory States of the Group of 77 and China, I would like to congratulate you on your Chairmanship of the 20th session of the preparatory commission of the CTBTO. I am confident that your outstanding diplomatic skills and broad experience will steer this session to a successful conclusion.
The Group wishes to thank the Executive Secretary, Ambassador Wolfgang Hoffmann, for his comprehensive written and oral reports and we would like to express our appreciation for the diligent efforts of the PTS in implementing the mandates of the Preparatory Commission for the establishment of the verification system at the Entry Into Force of the Treaty.
We are pleased to note that since the last Prep Com, the Gambia has signed and three other Member States of the G-77 and China, namely the Côte d'Ivoire, Kuwait and Mauritania, have ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). This is a clear manifestation of our support to the Treaty. We would also like to welcome the ratification by Albania, bringing the total number of ratifications to 101.
The Group attaches great importance to and supports the convening of the Article 14 Conference for facilitating of the Entry into Force (EIF) of the Treaty in September 2003 in Vienna, and in this regard the Group wishes to thank the efforts of H.E. Ambassador Grönberg of Finland for convening the informal consultations in that regard.
The G-77 and China wishes to express its appreciation for the workshop which has been held in Jamaica in December 2002 with the aim to promote International Cooperation and National Implementation of CTBT in the Caribbean and Central American Region. The Group would like to thank the PTS for organizing this seminar, and reiterate its support for organizing such workshops in other regions and sub-regions. However, the Group believes that a clear policy indicating the exact goals and objectives for convening this kind of workshops and seminars is necessary, with a view to promoting the EIF of the Treaty. Towards this end, more coordination within the PTS is useful.
We welcome the signing of the agreement between the Prep Com and the Organization for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL). While emphasizing the importance of Nuclear Weapons Free Zones, the Group calls on the PTS to start a negotiation process with a view to reaching similar agreements with other nuclear weapon free zones.
The Group welcomes the fact that the examination of the External Auditor has revealed no weaknesses or errors which he considered material to the accuracy, completeness and validity of the financial statements as a whole, and that the External Auditor had therefore placed an unqualified opinion on the Commission's financial statements for 2002.
On the issue of the terms of office of Prep Com officers, in order to enhance the level of continuity in their activities, we support amending Rule 8 of the Rules of Procedure of the Prep Com in a way that enables the terms of office of the Chairperson and Vice-Chairpersons of the Commission to be extended to one year.
We appreciate the activities undertaken by the PTS during 2002 in implementation of the 7 Major Programmes. We would like to ask the PTS to continue assisting in the promotion of cooperation among States Signatories to facilitate the exchange of technologies used in the verification of the Treaty. The Group believes that training courses of the PTS are useful elements for the dissemination of information about different technologies of the international monitoring system facilities of the Treaty. Those activities should be further coordinated and should involve wider representation.
As regards the programme and budget for 2004, the Group would like to reiterate the views expressed in its previous statements, in particular that any proposal for the programme and budget for 2004 and thereafter should be guided by the following main principles: First: the actual prospect of the Entry Into Force of the Treaty (EIF), Second: the capabilities of the Member States to pay their assessed contributions, Third: the capability of the PTS to consolidate the budget.
In this regard the Group would like to emphasize the Gentlemen's Agreement contained in the report of the nineteenth session of the Prep Com, document CTBT/PC-19/1 para 33, which was approved by all members of the Prep Com, and clearly reads as follows: "The Provisional Technical Secretariat should do its utmost to keep the draft 2004 budget at the level of the 2003 Budget and that the required resources will be evaluated carefully in order to approach the level of the 2003 Programme and Budget".
With regard to the initial draft Program and Budget for 2004 (CTBT/PTS/INF.586), we take note with appreciation of the efforts of the PTS in the implementation of a realistic approach towards the program and budget for 2004 by trying to keep the 2004 budget at the same level of 2003, with no programmatic increases over the 2003 funding level, or in PTS staffing levels. The PTS should prioritize and reallocate its resources between Major Programmes within under the principle of no overall programmatic increases.
We understand that some additional resources might be needed in 2004, due to the price increases, staff cost increases, the exchange rate fluctuation and the estimated cost of $1.6 million arising from the implementation of the seven year rule effective from 1997 as indicated in the March PTS analysis (CTBT/PTS/INF.542/Rev.1). However, we believe that the total amount of $ 95,796,100 for the 2004 budget is far beyond the capability of Member States to pay their contributions and is not in line with the Gentlemen's Agreement on keeping the budget of 2004 at the same level as the 2003 Programme and Budget.
In this regard we are of the opinion that by prioritization and reallocation of resources and programmes, further savings could be made in the following areas:
Since the PTS is at the stage of organizational transition, we believe that the funding for the Capital Investment Fund (CIF) should decrease substantially. For provisional operation and maintenance costs, we are of the view that Post Certification Costs should be reduced to the lowest level possible taking into account the estimation of the PTS in document CTBT/PTS/INF.536 para 24 and the already approved guidelines in the WGB (CTBT/WGB-19/1 para 15) and WGA (CTBT/WGA-22/1 para 15). The Group also believes that the budget for acquisition of hardware should decrease.
The Group believes that the Human Resources issues in the PTS should be treated in an open and transparent way, according to the existing staff rules and regulations. Therefore, the Group strongly supports the Commission's non-career policy, especially the seven-year limit on service with the PTS, as outlined in its staff rules and regulations and the administrative directive on recruitment, appointment, reappointment and tenure. Equitable geographical representation and full consultation with different regional groups and countries, as well as high level standards of expertise, competence, integrity and experience shall be the main criteria for appointment of the staff in the PTS.
We have studied very carefully the papers regarding the seven year service limit for the personnel of the PTS in documents CTBT/PTS/INF.542REV1, CTBT/PTS/INF.574, and CTBT/PTS/INF.588. Concerning the different options for the starting time of the seven year limit for the staff, we support a clear transparent and legal option with no future consequences which benefits the Prep Com of the CTBTO. We believe that the 1999 option, from the budgetary point of view is not a solution to the problem but is a postponement of the financial burden. The Group of 77 and China takes note of the elements which have emerged as a result of the deliberations on this issue in WGA as reflected in para 18 of its report (CTBT/WGA/23/1). We also take note of the intention of the Executive Secretary to extend the contract of affected staff members to allow time for their cases to be examined by the ILO Administrative Tribunal. We believe that this examination should be done within a limited timeframe.
The Group believes that all the elements of the verification regime of the treaty including IMS, IDC and OSI, are important and in this regard attaches great importance to a balanced approach dealing with all those elements. Due to the complexity of the OSI issues, active participation of all members is important. We therefore urge all the States Signatories to actively participate in the OSI discussion. From our point of view elaboration of the draft OSI Operational Manual, based on the Initial Draft Rolling Text (IDRT), remains a priority task for all members of the Commission. From our point of view, enough resources should be allocated to the OSI major program in order to enable the necessary preparations for the establishment of the OSI regime at Entry Into Force of the Treaty. In this regard we would like to express our appreciation for the external evaluation of major programme 4 and the report which has been prepared by the External Evaluation Team. We will express our views about the report in the next WGB.
The Group of 77 and China is concerned about insufficient attendance in some meetings of the subsidiary organs of the Preparatory Commission, especially during Working Group B meetings. With a view to overcome this problem, the Group proposes the creation of a voluntary fund that should provide the PTS with resources to finance the participation of technical experts from developing State Signatories in Working Group B gatherings. The Group firmly believes that a prompt decision to this effect will enhance the work carried out within that subsidiary organ.
The Group attaches great importance to the National Data Centers (NDCs) and believes that the PTS should play a more active role in promoting the NDCs of developing countries especially in providing hardware and software.
In accordance with the provisions of the Treaty and the Resolution on the establishment of the Prep Com, and taking into account the present stage in the work of the PTS, we believe that adopting a Confidentiality Policy for the PTS is a real and urgent need. A confidentiality policy should establish a strict regime for handling of all data and information available to the PTS.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.