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Statement by Ambassador Däuble, HCoC Annual Conference 2018

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Press release

The Hague Code of Conduct against
Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCoC) 


HCoC Annual Conference of States Signatories

28 to 29 May 2018

Statement by Ambassador Friedrich Däuble,

Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations Vienna and other International Organizations

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Ambassador Waldner,

Ambassador Szczygieł,

Mr. Gerschner,

Distinguished Colleagues and Friends,

At the outset, allow me to join my colleagues in thanking Ambassador Szczygieł for his excellent work during the Polish HCoC Presidency and for his tireless advocacy for the Code’s universality.

At the same time I congratulate you, Ambassador Waldner, on assuming the chair of this plenary meeting. I would like to assure you of my delegation’s full support.

Let me add my gratitude to Austria for serving as the Immediate Central Point of Contact (ICC), in particular to Mr. Gerschner and his team for their outstanding work without which the HCoC would not be possible.

Madam Chair,

Germany fully aligns itself with the Statement of the European Union, and I would like to echo in particular the concern expressed about the ballistic missile programmes of the DPRK, Iran and Syria.

The HCoC is – apart from export control regimes – the only multilateral instrument to address the proliferation of ballistic missiles and build trust and confidence amongst Subscribing States. While its benefits are clear, Germany also believes that the Code is still far from unfolding its full potential in providing security benefits.

As in many past annual meetings, Germany has presented an overview, based purely on open sources, of the number of starts of Ballistic Missiles, Space Launch Vehicles and Scientific Rockets in comparison to the Pre-launch Notifications (PLN) communicated via the ICC.

Our findings suggest a significant increase in launches of Ballistic Missiles, Space Launch Vehicles and Scientific Rockets: from 118 in 2016 to 158 in 2017. The PLN rate, on the other hand, has dropped, from 72.88% in 2016 to 65.19% last year. This is a worrying development and a setback after the increase we could observe from 2016 to 2017.

Distinguished Colleagues,

By sharing these statistics we do not intend to single out some of our fellow Subscribing States for weak implementation, we merely wish to highlight one of the Code’s inherent weaknesses: The lack of a definition or at least of a most rudimentary common understanding of which types of launches should be notified and which not.

We ask ourselves: How can any multilateral confidence-building measure serve its purpose if States adopt an à-la-carte approach to its implementation? Germany will continue to flag this, which we believe is detrimental to the Code’s effectiveness and credibility. We will also continue to compile and share PLN data.

Another serious shortcoming of the HCoC is the failure to include cruise missiles, which equal ballistic missiles in their capability to deliver WMD payloads. With the development of hyper-sonic cruise missiles, these means of delivery may just as well constitute a destabilizing, military threat.

Germany is convinced that these shortcomings are one of the main reasons why a substantial number of States with ballistic missile programmes still hesitates to subscribe to the Code.

Madam Chair,

We, the HCoC Subscribing States face a choice: are we satisfied with the Code’s stagnation regarding implementation and universalisation, amounting to little more than a forum to criticise certain States’ ballistic missile programmes? Or are we ambitious enough to develop it into an effective multilateral instrument to address the threat of ballistic missile proliferation and truly build trust and confidence? For Germany, the choice is clear.

I thank you for your attention.

Additional content

Apart from export control instruments, the Hague Code of Conduct adopted at a specially convened conference in 2002 is the only multilateral arms control mechanism to date aimed at creating an inventory of missile holdings.

Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCOC)

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