AGENDA ITEM 1: ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA Chairperson,
Concerning the adoption of the provisional agenda, I would like to make a brief comment on the issue of experts from developing countries attending WGB Sessions that was included under "any other business".
The Group is of the view that the attendance of experts at Working Group B is a very important issue for Group of 77 and China. The Group would like to have this issue discussed as Agenda item 7 bis on this provisional agenda.
Thank you Chairperson
At the outset, allow me once again to express the satisfaction of the State Signatories and Ratifiers of the Group of 77 and China in seeing you chairing the 29th Session of Working Group A of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty Organization in 2006. The Group believes that under your able guidance, discussions will lead to meaningful conclusions of our work. I assure you of our full cooperation.
The Group would like to welcome Viet Nam's ratification of the CTBT since the
Last session of the Preparatory Commission. We would like to reiterate and reaffirm our belief that the latest ratification of Viet Nam greatly contributes to the universalization of the Treaty. The Group would like to call on all countries that have not yet signed and ratified the Treaty to do so.
The Group of 77 and China would like to thank the Executive Secretary for his reports on Major Programmes 6 and 7, as well as his informative oral report.
The Group would like to commend the Executive Secretary and the PTS for participating as an observer at the 6th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) Summit from 16-20 January 2006. The Executive Secretary's outreach activities and meetings with so many prominent and important African leaders will help promote the universalization and the promotion of the entry into force of the Treaty.
The Group notes from the Executive Secretary's report that in March 2006, PTS staff from the IMS Division and the External Relations Section undertook a joint mission to Gabon. The Group would appreciate if the PTS could provide more information of the outcome of the visit. The Group also commends the Government of the Netherlands for its voluntary contribution in support of the PTS international co-operation and outreach activities which enhanced the understanding of the Treaty in Zambia and Malawi. The Group encourages the developed countries to follow the same example set by the Government of the Netherlands.
While the Group notes that the seven-year service limit for Professional and internationally recruited General Service staff members is generally being observed by the PTS, it is very important that the seven year limit be strictly adhered to in spirit and letter. The strict adherence to the seven year term limit will provide developing countries with an opportunity to fill the vacancies in the PTS.
The Group is of the view that extensions of contract should only be done under exceptional circumstances. In this regard, the Group requests the PTS to inform concerned State Signatories as early as possible should such situtations arise.
Thank you Chairperson
The Group would like to express its appreciation to Mr. Martin Sinclair for introducing the External Auditor's report for the accounts of the PTS. The Group has reviewed the accounts for 2005 as contained in document (CTBT/PTS/INF/800) and would like to make some preliminary comments. The Group welcomes the External Auditor's unqualified opinion on the PTS's financial statement.
The Group takes note of the recommendations made by the External Auditor on the finances of the PTS. The Group takes note of the recommendation that the PTS should follow the UN practice to call on State Signatories to ratify the adoption of improved financial reporting arrangements based on the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). The Group would appreciate it if the PTS could provide further information on the financial and administrative implications that IPASS could have for developing countries.
The Group could not consider the report of the Advisory Group's recommendations as contained in document CTBT.AG-26/1. The Group is of the view that the Advisory Group's report should be published earlier to enable State Signatories to comment on the important issues contained therein.
The Group requests the PTS to convene the Advisory Group meeting at least one month before the start of WGA.
Thank you Chairperson.
The Group recalls in our statement that it could not consider the report of the Advisory Group's recommendations as the report was not published earlier to enable States Signatories to comment on the important issues therein.
The Group in order to give enough time for consideration and in the spirit of compromise could accept that the report and related financial matters be discussed as sub-item under the agenda item: WGA report in the forthcoming PrepCom, and requests the PTS to act accordingly.
Having said that, the Group once again reiterates that the future draft schedule of Advisory Group and Working Group meetings should be arranged so that they do not overlap with other VIC meetings and at least to be one month apart from each other.
Thank you Chairperson.
The Group thanks the PTS for the revised draft 2007 Programme and Budget as contained in document CTBT/PTS/INF.802.
In this regard, the Group would like to make the following comments:
(a) The Group is of the view the 2006 Programme and Budget increase was an exception that included increases to cover the costs associated with the VIC Security Enhancement Costs. The 2007 budget should be compared to the 2005 programme and budget which reflected zero real growth.
(b) The Group notes that the PTS has made efforts to present a budget within a realistic and reasonable financial framework. The Group remains concerned that the budget proposal does not reflect the principle of zero real growth. Once again, the Group reiterates its principled position that future budget proposals should reflect zero real growth.
3. The Group takes note that the 2007 budget for the verification related programme is based on a number of factors, such as the PTS capacity to absorb new work, and the need to propose a budget that is realistic and reasonable to cover the cost of the build-up of the International Monitoring System. The Group appreciates the PTS efforts to engage State Signatories on any significant additional costs that the verification process may cause.
The Group reiterates its concern that the overall representation of developing countries in the Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS) remains unbalanced. It is critical that the PTS make a concerted effort to increase the presence of staff members from developing countries in the PTS. The Group calls upon the Secretariat to give due attention to this criterion in the recruitment process of new staff members who will replace those who have reached their service limit. In this regard, the Group requests the Executive Secretary to provide a separate report on the efforts made and the staff recruited from developing countries to every Prep Com meeting.
Equally important is the need to ensure that the representation of women from developing countries in the management structures of the PTS receive more attention.
The Group takes note of the Final Report of the External Evaluation Team, and extends its appreciation to the participants of the Team under the leadership of Ambassadors Rimdap and Starr for producing the document.
The Group recalls the decision of the Twenty-Fifth Session of the Commission in November 2005 which had adopted the final report of the external review team as a basis for proceeding with the restructuring of the PTS.? The Group reiterates its principled position that all recommendations of the External Evaluation Team's report must be thoroughly examined in WGA and WGB, and adopted by the Preparatory Commission, before they can be implemented. The Group thanks the PTS, the Review Team and States Signatories for the ongoing consultations which were conducted in a fruitful and transparent process. The Group reiterates its concern on the recommendation concerning the re-definition of the IDC and IMS Divisions in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty, as the Group has yet to be convinced of this proposal.
Thank you Chairperson,
The Group welcomes the mainstreaming of the discussions on the Status of On-Site Inspectors and Inspector Assistants and looks forward to further progress in this issue. In this regard, the G-77 and China agrees that the creation of an open-ended group of interested States Signatories to follow up on these discussions, as proposed during the joint WGA/WGB meeting last February, would be an appropriate way to move forward.
Thank you Chairperson.
The Group recalls the decision of the 25th Preparatory Commission as contained in document CTBT/PC-25/3 which recognized inter-alia the deficit in the participation by experts of developing countries, and decided, to request the WGA to examine the modalities, including financing, of this issue at its next session with a view to reaching a consensus on a recommendation to the Commission for a pilot project.
The Group notes that since the creation of the Prep Com, experts from developing countries have not been adequately represented in the sessions of WGB. Although the Group has accredited diplomatic representative to attend WGB sessions, it was done to achieve a quorum in the sessions. The Group is of the view that it is not a good practice for experts from developing countries to be excluded.
The Group is of the view that the participation of experts from developing countries would greatly facilitate and enhance the work in WGB and contribute to building capacity on these issues in developing countries.
The Group reiterates its calls that the best approach would be to make funds available in the budget to cover expenses for representatives of developing countries to participate in WGB meetings on the basis of three representatives each from the following regions: namely; Africa, Asia and the Group of Latin America and the Caribbean Countries.
While most IMS stations are located in territories of developing countries, the deficit of participation of these states in WBG deliberations would undermine the universalisation of decisions made by WGB and Preparatory meetings. The Group requests the session of WGA to make a recommendation on this issue, and to submit it for adoption to the 26th Prep Com. In this context the Group is of the view that the participation of experts from developing countries would greatly facilitate and enhance the work of WGB and contribute to promote the universalization of the decisions made by the PrepCom.
Thank you Chairperson.