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  • Position : Consultant
  • Affiliation : PIR Center
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"Success of the PrepCom is the collective and shared responsibility of all NPT States Parties"

Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob

In 2019, the third session of the 2020 NPT Review Conference Preparatory Committee will take place in New York. Malaysian diplomat, Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob, was chosen to serve as its Chair. In its interview to PIR Center Consultant Andrey Baklitsky for Yaderny Kontrol (Nuclear Control) bulletin, he talks about his goals as the PrepCom Chair and his take-away from the consultations with the NPT member-states delegations.

- What did you learn from two previous PrepComs and their chairs?

- From the two previous PrepComs and their Chairs, I learned that there are diverging views and disagreement among NPT States Parties on various issues. Despite that, what is more important is the underlying fact that there are areas of commonalities among States Parties across spectrum where we could establish agreement, develop progress and move forward.

Ahead of your Chairmanship, you have done a lot of consultations. Did your views on the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead change in the process?

Over the course of my consultations, I have discovered that delegations do have one important thing in common. Every delegation, regardless of its position or historical background, is hoping for a successful current NPT Cycle, both during the Third PrepCom in 2019 as well as the Review Conference in 2020. They all expressed strong hope for the success of the current NPT Review Cycle.

The Chair of the Third PrepCom is supposed to get a consensus report but seldom does. How do you plan to break this trend?

There is no doubt that the previous PrepCom Chair found it hard to produce consensus recommendations. The sense that I gathered towards the current NPT Review Cycle is the strong will and determination for the 2020 RevCon to be a success. One important way to help ensure the success of the 2020 RevCon is by having consensus-based substantive recommendations produced by the Third PrepCom in 2019. On this note, delegations should have the general sense that the recommendations from 2019 need not be very detailed in nature. Instead, the report can contain general perspectives of elements, which are agreed upon, that will be further discussed during the 2020 RevCon.

Is the importance of 2020 RevCon weighing on your shoulders?

The success of the 2020 RevCon does depend heavily on the success of the 2019 PrepCom. However, it should be highlighted that the success of the 2019 PrepCom is not the responsibility of the PrepCom Chair alone. On the contrary, the success of the PrepCom as well as NPT Review Cycle is the collective and shared responsibility of all NPT States Parties. At the same time, we have a candidate for the President of the 2020 RevCon who will lead the review conference once the appointment has been confirmed. The idea is for the candidate to be confirmed as soon as possible so that he could embark on early preparations of the RevCon.

What do you expect to contribute to the 2020 Review Conference?

It is hoped that the outcome produced by the 2019 PrepCom can serve as building blocks and foundations for negotiations to be conducted during the 2020 Review Conference. As part of established practice, the Chair of the Third PrepCom will serve as the Chair of the Main Committee 1. Though Main Committee 1 has traditionally been challenging, Malaysia hopes to be able to narrow the gaps between Nuclear-Weapon States and Non-Nuclear-Weapon States and allow the RevCon to achieve needed outcome.


Yaderny Kontrol, Issue 1 (507), January 2019