The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) continued its thematic discussion and introduction of draft resolutions this afternoon, with the submission of texts on the illicit traffic in small arms, practical disarmament measures, transparency in armaments, the Conference on Disarmament and Mediterranean security.
By the terms of the draft resolution on the illicit traffic in small arms, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to hold broad-based consultations with Member States, interested regional and subregional organizations, international agencies and experts on the magnitude and scope of the phenomenon, possible measures to combat it, and the role of the United Nations in collecting, sharing and disseminating information on the illicit trafficking.
Introducing the draft, the representative of South Africa said that the devastation wrought by the proliferation of conventional small arms on socio- economic development generally, and specifically in the reconstruction of post-conflict societies, could no longer be ignored. The draft resolution sought to provide Member States with a global picture of the magnitude and scope of the phenomenon.
According to the draft resolution on practical disarmament, introduced by the representative of Germany, the Assembly would encourage the Disarmament Commission to adopt guidelines on conventional arms control/limitation and disarmament in 1999. It would also invite the group of interested States, which was formed in New York in March, to analyze lessons learned from previous disarmament and peace-building projects and promote new practical disarmament measures to consolidate peace.
The Assembly would recognize the importance of further developing the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, by the terms of a text concerning transparency in armaments, introduced by the representative of
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Egypt. The Assembly would also urge Member States to submit their views to the Secretary-General on, among other things, the elaboration of practical means for the Register's further development in order to increase transparency related to weapons of mass destruction, in particular nuclear weapons.
Under the terms of a text introduced by the representative of the United Kingdom, the Assembly would reaffirm the role of the Conference on Disarmament as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community and welcome its determination to fulfil that role in the light of the evolving international situation, with a view to making early substantive progress on the priority items of its agenda.
Another draft text introduced this afternoon, by the representative of Algeria, would have the Assembly reaffirm that security in the Mediterranean was closely linked to European security, as well as to international peace and security. It would call on all States of the region to adhere to all the multilaterally negotiated instruments related to disarmament and non-proliferation, thus creating the necessary conditions for strengthening peace and cooperation in the region.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Romania, Portugal, Brazil, Ireland and Finland.
The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. Monday, 2 November, to continue its thematic discussion and the introduction of draft resolutions.
Committee Work Programme
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its thematic discussion and consideration of all disarmament and security-related draft resolutions.
The Committee is expected to hear the introduction of draft resolutions concerning: the report of the Conference on Disarmament; consolidation of peace through practical disarmament measures; strengthening security and cooperation in the Mediterranean; transparency in armaments; and illicit traffic in small arms.
By the terms of a text sponsored by the United Kingdom on the Report of the Conference on Disarmament (document A/C.1/53/L.12), the Assembly would reaffirm the role of the Conference as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community and welcome its determination to fulfil that role in the light of the evolving international situation, with a view to making early substantive progress on the priority items of its agenda.
The Assembly would also welcome the decision of the Conference to entrust its successive Presidents with the task of pursing intensive consultations and seeking its members views on approaches for dealing with the agenda item on the cessation of a nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament. The Conference would be encouraged to resume those consultations at the start of its 1999 session.
It would further welcome the decisions of the Conference to establish two ad hoc committees concerning: assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States against the threat of use or use of nuclear weapons; and a fissile material cut-off treaty. The Assembly would also encourage the Conference to intensity its consultations on the review of its membership with a view to reaching an early agreement on its further expansion.
By the terms of a draft resolution on the consolidation of peace through practical disarmament measures (document A/C.1/53/L.31/Rev.1) the Assembly would stress the particular relevance of the deliberations in the 1998 substantive session of the United Nations Disarmament Commission concerning guidelines on conventional arms control/limitation and disarmament, with particular emphasis on consolidation of peace as a useful basis for deliberations in that regard. The Assembly would encourage the Disarmament Commission to continue its efforts aimed at the adoption of such guidelines in 1999.
The Assembly would take note of the report of the Secretary-General of 19 August 1997 on consolidation of peace through practical disarmament and encourage, once again, Member States, as well as regional arrangements and
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agencies, to lend their support to the implementation of the recommendations contained therein.
The Assembly would invite the group of interested States, which was formed in New York in March, to analyze lessons learned from previous disarmament and peace-building projects, as well as to promote new practical disarmament measures to consolidate peace, especially as undertaken or designed by affected States themselves. It would encourage that group to support the Secretary-General in responding to requests by Member States to collect and destroy small arms and light weapons in post-conflict situations.
The draft resolution is sponsored by Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic, Chile, Congo, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lesotho, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mali, Malta, Monaco, Mozambique, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Norway, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States and Uruguay.
Under a text sponsored by Algeria on strengthening security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region (document A/C.1/53/L.32/Rev.2), the Assembly would reaffirm that security in the Mediterranean was closely linked to European security as well as to international peace and security. It would call on all States of the region to adhere to all the multilaterally negotiated instruments related to disarmament and non-proliferation, thus creating the necessary conditions for strengthening peace and cooperation in the region.
The Assembly would encourage those States to promote genuine openness and transparency on all military matters by participating in, among other, the United Nations system for standardized reporting of military expenditures and by providing accurate data to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms.
It would also encourage those countries to further strengthen their cooperation in combating terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, which seriously threatened regional peace, security and stability. It would commend efforts by the Mediterranean countries in meeting common challenges and encourage them to strengthen such efforts through a lasting multilateral and action-oriented cooperative dialogue among States of the region.
The Assembly would express its satisfaction at the continuing efforts by those countries to eliminate the causes of regional tension and promote just and lasting solutions to the persistent regional problems through peaceful means, thus ensuring the withdrawal of foreign forces of occupation and
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respecting the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all Mediterranean countries and the right of peoples to self-determination. It would call for full adherence to the principles of non-interference, non-intervention, non-use of force or threat of use of force and the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, in accordance with the United Nations Charter and the relevant United Nations resolutions.
By the terms of a text on transparency in armaments (document A/C.1/53/L.39), the Assembly would recognize the importance of achieving greater progress in the further development of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, so that it might truly enhance confidence-building and security among States and accelerate efforts towards the attainment of the goal of complete and general disarmament.
Towards that goal, the Assembly would urge Member States to submit their views to the Secretary-General, for consideration by the group of governmental experts to be convened in the year 2000, on: the early expansion of the scope of the Register to include military holdings and procurement through national production; and the elaboration of practical means for the Register's further development in order to increase transparency related to weapons of mass destruction, in particular nuclear weapons, and to transfers of equipment and technology directly related to the development and manufacture of such weapons, as well as to high technology with military applications.
The draft resolution is sponsored by Egypt, Jordan, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan and Swaziland.
By the terms of a draft resolution on the illicit traffic in small arms (document A/C.1/53/L.41/Rev.1), the Assembly would decide to request the Secretary-General to hold broad-based consultations, within existing financial resources, taking into account the ongoing work of the Group of Governmental Experts on Small Arms, with Member States, interested regional and subregional organizations, international agencies and experts on the following: the magnitude and scope of the phenomenon; possible measures to combat it, including those suited to indigenous regional approaches; and the role of the United Nations in collecting, sharing and disseminating information on the illicit trafficking in small arms.
The Assembly would request the Secretary-General to report to the Assembly at its fifty-fourth session on the outcome of his consultations, and it would decide to include that item in that session's provisional agenda.
The draft resolution is sponsored by Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Botswana, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Germany, Ghana, Guinea, Hungary, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Mali, Mexico, Mozambique, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Senegal, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Sweden, Togo, United States and Uruguay.
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ALEXANDRU NICULESCU (Romania) spoke on the Committee's agenda item 73(d), concerning the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR). He said his government attached great importance to the activities of the Institute, because its work facilitated international negotiations on disarmament and international security. The studies undertaken by the Institute covered a large number of items on the disarmament agenda, which promoted a better understanding of the new disarmament challenges facing the international community.
Against that background, his Government believed that the international community should continue to support the activities of the Institute, through adequate material assistance. It was in the interest of all Member States that the Institute functioned properly. To conclude, he was officially refuting all the allegations made in the Committee by the Permanent Representative of the former Communist regime of his country, against Liviu Bota, a Romanian-born citizen, who was a former Director of UNIDIR and now the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Georgia. His Government would like to acknowledge the outstanding contributions that Mr. Bota had made in the service of the United Nations.
JEAN PHILIP DU PREEZ (South Africa) said that the devastation wrought by the proliferation of conventional small arms on socio-economic development generally, and specifically, in the reconstruction of post-conflict societies could no longer be ignored. The challenge was to marshall the necessary human and financial resources, encourage the sharing of reliable data among national departments and regional partners, coordinate action and raise the issue's profile. Since the problem was closely linked to other criminal activities, it must, therefore, be addressed within the context of initiatives aimed at reducing crime. The United Nations could play the central role in coordinating such national, regional and international initiatives.
He said that a holistic approach was needed, which would take concurrent action at all levels, focusing both in licit and illicit transfers of those weapons. To reinforce national action, it was imperative that a regional approach be formulated. As each region of the world developed an indigenous approach, building blocks would be put in place to effectively deal with that issue globally. A cooperative partnership between governments, international and regional organizations and the non-governmental community was also needed to mobilize public and political support.
He introduced a draft resolution on the illicit traffic in small arms (document A/C.1/53/L.41/Rev.1). The draft resolution sought to strengthen the Secretary-General's efforts to provide Member States with a global picture of the magnitude and scope of the phenomenon. His consultations should focus on possible measures to combat the illicit trafficking in and circulation of small arms and provide an assessment of the role of the United Nations in
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collecting, collating, sharing and disseminating information on such trafficking, leading to the establishment of a database.
The information gleaned from that process would enable the General Assembly, at its fifty-fourth session, to make a decision on the objectives and scope of an international small arms conference and to decide what more should be done to address that problem, he said. It also invited Member States, in a position to do so, to provide the necessary assistance -- bilaterally, regionally and through multilateral channels -- in support of the implementation of measures to combating the problem.
He drew attention to a technical error in the eleventh preambular paragraph, whose first line should read:
"Underlining the importance of increased cooperation and coordination both among the relevant intergovernmental bodies of the United Nations,...". A corrigendum to that effect would be issued on Monday. His delegation believed that the draft could be adopted without a vote.
He said that an international conference on the illicit arms trade in all its aspects should be held after 1999 to enable governments and regional organizations to share their experiences and facilitate dialogue. The conference should aim to increase cooperation and avoid duplicating initiatives, to ensure that the scarce resources were utilized effectively. It should also formulate an action plan to combat the proliferation problem based on the experiences of indigenous regional approaches, in order to establish effective global measures as well.
In order for the conference to achieve practical results, preparation on national, regional and international levels was imperative, he went on. Any preparation should take into account the views of Member States, as well as of regional and subregional organizations and international agencies and experts in the field.
That preparatory process, he added, should commence only after a decision was taken at the fifty-fourth Assembly session concerning the objective, scope, agenda, dates and venue of such a meeting. That decision should also take into account the 1997 report of the Secretary-General on small arms, as well as the recommendations made by the group of governmental experts on small arms.
He said that the landmine problem in Africa -- a continent of limited resources and great development needs -- was of equal concern to his Government. The entry into force of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (Ottawa Convention), as well as its implementation, continued to be a priority. Moreover, his country had fully supported the offer made by
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Mozambique, one of the countries most afflicted by the landmine scourge, to host the first meeting of States parties. South Africa, together with 39 other African Member States, had already co-sponsored the draft resolution on the Ottawa Convention, and would work closely with Mozambique and other Treaty members to encourage further signatures and ratifications.
ANTONIO MONTEIRO (Portugal), commenting on the issue of small arms, said the unlawful and uncontrolled use of those weapons was a problem that affected almost every country. Small arms had become the primary instrument of violence in armed conflicts, accounting for the greatest percentage of deaths among non-combatants. Although they were legitimate weapons used by States for legitimate purposes, their excessive accumulation, dissemination and availability triggered and exacerbated violence and destabilized societies.
Therefore, he continued, their control and destruction was now a central issue in conflict resolution, peace-building and disarmament. The task ahead was demanding, because the control of small arms and light weapons went beyond the traditional instruments of disarmament and arms control. In that regard, he would stress the innovative nature of the European Union Code of Conduct on the issue, which set very high standards for arms export and also provided for consultation.
His Government welcomed the decision of the Secretary-General to establish a mechanism to coordinate all action on the problem within the United Nations system, he said. Indeed, it was in the interest of all States to have the United Nations play a pivotal role in containing the small arms scourge. His Government also supported the idea of convening an international conference on the issue. He reiterated his support for the two draft resolutions on small arms introduced by the representatives of Japan and South Africa.
ISMAIL KHAIRAT (Egypt) introduced another draft resolution on transparency in armaments (document A/C.1/53/L.39). His country had always supported transparency in armaments and considered transparency in all weapons fields to be a positive step and a solid confidence-building measure. In order to realize that objective, his country had participated in all panels of relevant governmental experts. It had chaired the first ad hoc committee on transparency in the Conference on Disarmament and coordinated the work on that issue by the Group of 21 in the Conference.
He said that transparency must apply to both conventional arms and weapons of mass destruction, as well as to military holdings and procurement of weapons through national production. His delegation had been stressing each year that the concept of transparency should not be limited only to conventional weapons, but to all nuclear, biological, chemical weapons and to the transfer of high technologies with military applications.
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The decision by Egypt and other co-sponsors to introduce the new transparency draft last year was not intended to undermine the traditional resolution presented by the Netherlands, he said. Rather, it sought to complement it by dealing with those aspects of transparency that had not been adequately reflected in past texts. Members were urged, in the present draft, to submit their views to the Secretary-General on the technical means for further developing the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, in order to increase its scope through the inclusion of weapons of mass destruction and high technology.
The support the draft received last year was tangible evidence that his country was not the only one concerned with the selective way in which the issue was being handled, he said. He hoped the current draft would earn even wider support.
HENRIQUE R. VALLE (Brazil), speaking on behalf of the Member States of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and the associated States of Chile and Bolivia, emphasized the importance of appropriate measures to govern the international maritime transportation and disposal of radioactive wastes and related nuclear technology by-products, such as spent fuel. His Government appreciated the concern of many States regarding the risks that the indiscriminate and uncontrolled dumping of such wastes posed to human health and to the marine environment.
He noted that well codified and recognized provisions of international law gave coastal States the primary responsibility for preserving the marine environment within the exclusive economic zone, including the responsibility for preventing the contamination of the area. Now, the international community must redouble its efforts in the regulation of the maritime transportation and dumping of all radioactive and related toxic wastes.
In the same context, he added that the international community should take up the commitment to recover all wastes accidentally dumped in an inappropriate and potentially damaging manner. Furthermore, affected States and regions must be compensated for injury in such cases. Also, the producers and transporters of such wastes should provide appropriate guarantees against inappropriate dumping in the maritime environment of third parties.
He recalled that the final document of the last meeting of the States members of the Zone of Peace and Cooperation of the South Atlantic, held earlier this month, had urged its members to adopt appropriate measures for the effective monitoring of the transportation of all toxic wastes through that maritime region, in accordance with the standards of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). An effective control mechanism would provide the necessary safeguards against accidents, he added.
ABDELKADER MESDOUA (Algeria) introduced the draft resolution on strengthening security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region (document
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A/C.1/53/L.32/Rev.2). The list of co-sponsors reflected the support and shared will of the States of the Mediterranean region to turn it into a zone of peace, security and cooperation -- a genuine lake of peace.
He said that in recent years, the Mediterranean countries of Europe had intensified joint efforts aimed at consolidating regional peace and security and building a basis for a partnership aimed at prosperity and stability. The dialogue between the two shores of the Mediterranean had further strengthened that complementary framework. The draft resolution was similar to the one submitted last year, except that it was more concise and less repetitive. Its substance and form did not differ at all. Thus, he looked forward to its adoption by consensus.
GUNTHER SEIBERT (Germany), introduced the draft text on the consolidation of peace through practical disarmament measures (document A/C.1/53/L.31/Rev.1), with Albania and Fiji joining the list of co-sponsors. He said his Government attached great importance to the fact that the list of co-sponsors "bridged the usual regional group lines" involving Member States from virtually all regions of the world.
He noted that his country first introduced a draft resolution on the subject in 1996, which was adopted by the General Assembly without a vote and was later included on the list of issues deliberated upon by the Disarmament Commission. This year's draft focused on the relevance of certain practical disarmament measures for the consolidation of peace in post-conflict situations. Those measures, including arms control, with particular regard to small arms, confidence-building, demobilization, reintegration of former combatants and demining, were prerequisites for maintaining and consolidating peace and security.
Such practical measures had particular relevance with regard to the growing problems arising from the excessive and destabilizing accumulation and proliferation of small arms and light weapons, he said. Those weapons posed a serious threat to national and regional peace and security, and also reduced the prospects for economic development in affected regions.
In that connection, he said the draft encouraged Member States to assist in collecting and destroying small arms that were not under control and were not needed for legitimate security purposes. There had been extensive consultations among the co-sponsors of the draft and with other interested delegations, aimed at securing consensus. He believed that the draft would again be adopted without a vote.
RUI VINHAS (Portugal) said that since its introduction by former Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the concept of practical disarmament had won increased attention both by Member States and the international community, as well as by the Secretary-General in his reform programmes.
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He said that in most conflict and post-conflict environments, questions of control of small arms and light weapons, demining, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants were increasingly crucial for effective conflict resolution and post-conflict rehabilitation. The disarmament component of post-conflict had to be realistically addressed in the context of conflict resolution, in order for a durable peace to be achieved. The draft resolution before the Committee on the subject effectively linked the concept of disarmament with the concept of conflict resolution.
The group of interested States, established this year under the leadership of Germany, was designed to facilitate the process of assisting affected countries in their efforts to consolidate peace. Within the framework of the group, concrete projects were being jointly sponsored, upon the requests of affected countries. In that regard, the group was creating a real impact out of a mere concept. The group was encouraged to continue its valuable work, in order that it might move from the discussion of practical disarmament to more concrete and practical projects.
He said his country fully supported the draft resolution and particularly welcomed the reference to small arms and light weapons, thereby widening the conceptual scope of the mandate of the group of interested States, in order to undertake more ambitious objectives.
MICHAEL HOEY (Ireland) thanked the representative of Germany for introducing the draft text on consolidation of peace through practical disarmament measures (document A/C.1/53/L.31/Rev.1). Its adoption by consensus would send a clear signal of the importance attached to the problems posed by the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, namely the need for a comprehensive and integrated approach towards certain practical disarmament steps.
He also thanked the representative for bringing together a group of interested States in New York to discuss the implications of, and lessons learned from, disarmament and peace-building initiatives in areas of conflict. In that connection, his country had also financially contributed to a subregional seminar in training military and civilian officials from Central African States in practical disarmament measures. Allowing Member States to take a lead in the design and implementation of such practical disarmament and peace-building projects was the only way to guarantee the success of such projects.
There were an increasing number of regional and subregional initiatives, which were making an important contribution in addressing the uncontrolled accumulation of those weapons and helping to accurately measure their impact on countries trying to rebuild in the aftermath of conflict. The United Nations had an equally important role to play in that complex question. He looked forward to the adoption by the Disarmament Commission next year of
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practical guidelines on conventional arms control/limitation and disarmament, with particular emphasis on the consolidation of peace.
MARKKU REIMAA (Finland), while commenting on the small arms issue, noted that his country had co-sponsored the two related draft resolutions introduced by Japan and South Africa (documents A/C.1/53/L.13 and A/C.1/53/L.41/Rev.1). The adoption of those drafts would demonstrate the readiness and determination of United Nations Member States to address the danger posed by those weapons in a comprehensive and effective manner. The problem affected the lives of too many people, as those weapons were being used in conflicts and numerous criminal activities. Civilians, often women and children, were the victims in most cases.
He said the containment of the problem required practical disarmament measures, in addition to effective law enforcement and the recognition of the link between security and development. As was recommended by the draft, an international conference would be a step forward. His Government hoped that the recently established group of governmental experts would provide substantive recommendations regarding the scope and agenda for such a conference.
Tackling the small arms scourge required a multifaceted approach and the various international efforts should complement one another, he continued. In that regard, the key principles and rules of behaviour could be developed on a global basis, while other measures, such as information exchange and legally binding cooperation, would be best addressed at regional or subregional levels.
Concluding, he said an integrated approach was needed to place the problem into the wider context of sustainable development and conflict prevention. His Government welcomed the establishment of the mechanism within the United Nations Secretariat entitled Coordinating Action on Small Arms (CASA). The active involvement of the United Nations in combating the problem posed by those weapons was in the interest of all.
IAN SOUTAR (United Kingdom) said that, as President of the Conference on Disarmament, he was pleased to introduce the draft resolution on the Report of the Conference on its 1998 session (document A/C.1/53/L.12). That text was the traditional vehicle by which the General Assembly took note of the work of the Conference. For that reason, the text followed a well-tried formula.
He described the contents of the draft text and said that the report reflected the fact that, after a period of reflection, the Conference had re- embarked, in 1998, on substantive negotiations on two important issues. The draft before the Committee acknowledged that fact and looked forward to a resumption of productive work in 1999. Hopefully, as in previous years, the draft could be adopted without a vote. * *** *