20 October 2006
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3332

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-first General Assembly

First Committee

18th Meeting (AM)


DISARMAMENT FAILURES REVEAL SERIOUS EROSION IN CONSENSUS ON MOST CRITICAL


ISSUES –- NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT, NON-PROLIFERATION -– FIRST COMMITTEE TOLD


15 Draft Resolutions Introduced; Disarmament and Development,

Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones, Nuclear-Weapon-Free World among Issues Addressed


Current weaknesses in the field of disarmament stemmed not from the basic architecture of the disarmament machinery, which remained sound, but from political malaise, the representative of Pakistan told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today, as it held a thematic debate and heard the introduction of 15 draft resolutions.


If Member States had deep divergences, they could not shift the blame to the machinery, he said.  Well-publicized failures, such as the 2005 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference and World Summit, were symptomatic of the serious erosion of the existing consensus on the most critical issues:  nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  Pakistan had, therefore, proposed convening an international conference to revisit the old consensus.


In recent years, the existing multilateral disarmament machinery was not functioning as intended, the representative of Canada said.  He asked whether the concerned parties were seriously committed to the process or merely going through the motions.  A proper “tune-up” could help get the machinery going again.  With two upcoming Review Conferences, the Non-Proliferation Preparatory Committee meeting in the first part of 2007, and the Conference on Disarmament, there would be ample opportunity in the coming months to demonstrate that the machinery could work better.  If, however, events next year suggested that it might be beyond repair, there should not be a fear of new ideas.


Nuclear-weapon-free zones were an important contribution to strengthening the non-proliferation machinery, the representative of Uzbekistan told the Committee.  He introduced a draft resolution on the “establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia”, adding that nuclear-weapon-free zones were the real way to global disarmament and non-proliferation.  One of the most important events in recent years in that field was the signing on 8 September in Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan, of a treaty creating such a zone, he said. 


Introducing a draft resolution on “ Mongolia’s international security and nuclear-weapon-free status”, the representative of Mongolia noted that the resolution came at a time of heightened tension in North-East Asia.  The nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea once again reaffirmed Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status as an important initiative for confidence and trust building in the wider regional context and as a good role-model for other countries in the subregion.


The representative of Qatar said that every year resolutions were adopted on creating a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and on Middle East nuclear proliferation, which required Israel to adhere to the Non-Proliferation Treaty without delay.  Machinery was needed to make sure those resolutions were implemented. There was clear selectivity on the part of the great powers, which only encouraged further proliferation.


Introducing a draft resolution on “towards a nuclear-weapon-free world: accelerating the implementation of nuclear disarmament commitments”, the representative of Mexico, speaking on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition, said that the mere possibility of nuclear weapon use was a grave threat to international security and stability.  The need to eliminate such weapons was more urgent than ever, given the current disarmament machinery and actions by several countries.  He noted that the draft had been updated to include a new paragraph condemning all nuclear tests by States parties and non-States parties of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, including the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s announced test.  Any nuclear test was a deplorable action, undermining the achievements of decades of work. 


Introducing a draft on the “role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament”, the representative of India said that access to science and technology was vital to developing countries.  Even more so than before, a transparent system to achieve the objective of non-proliferation while ensuring access to technology for peaceful applications was needed.  The dual use character of many advances was a potential cause of concern, but multilateral negotiations and non-discriminatory agreements would be the best way to address proliferation concerns. 


Introducing a draft resolution on the “relationship between disarmament and development”, the representative of Indonesia expressed concern about rising military expenditures that could otherwise be spent on development.  It was important to exercise restraint in military expenditures, so that such resources could be used for ongoing efforts to eradicate poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals, he said.


Drafts were also introduced on “developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security (Russian Federation), “strengthening of security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region” (Algeria), “verification in all its aspects, including the role of the United Nations in the field of verification (Canada), “confidence-building measure activities of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa” (Rwanda) and the “maintenance of international security -— good-neighbourliness, stability and development in South-Eastern Europe” (former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). 


Pakistan introduced drafts on “confidence-building measures in the regional and subregional context”, “international arms control at the regional and subregional levels”, and “conclusion of effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons”.  Indonesia introduced drafts on the “promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation” and the “observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control.”


Representatives of Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Japan, Sri Lanka, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Brazil (speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market), Azerbaijan, Iraq, Burkina Faso, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Cuba, Rwanda, Finland (on behalf of the European Union), Poland, and Romania also spoke as part of the thematic debate.


The Committee will next meet at 3 p.m. on Monday, 23 October, to conclude its thematic debate on disarmament machinery, hear further introduction of drafts and begin taking action on draft resolutions and decisions.


Background


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met today to begin a thematic discussion on other disarmament measures and international security, regional disarmament and security, and the disarmament machinery, as well as to hear the further introduction of draft resolutions and decisions.


Introducing a draft resolution on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia (document A/C.1/61/L.54), ALISHER VOHIDOV ( Uzbekistan) said that nuclear-weapon-free zones were the real way to global disarmament and non-proliferation.  One of the most important events in recent years in that field was the signing in Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan on 8 September of a treaty creating such a zone.  He expressed gratitude to all Member States, international organizations and non-governmental organizations that had offered their commendations on the signing, along with the United Nations Secretary-General and the Department of Disarmament Affairs, among others.  Nuclear-weapon-free zones were an important contribution to strengthening the non-proliferation machinery to prevent nuclear terrorism.  On behalf of all five members of the nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia, he expressed the hope that the creation of that zone would again be supported by all delegations.


KASSYMZHOMART TOKAEV (Kazakhstan), aligning itself with the statement made by Uzbekistan on behalf of the five Central Asian states, said that the signature of the Treaty creating a Central Asian nuclear-weapon-free zone marked a critical step in the evolution of those zones.  It was the first such zone to be created entirely north of the Equator and covered a large area -- where many nuclear weapons were once deployed. 


He said that each party to the Semipalatinsk Treaty undertook the following: not to conduct research on, develop, manufacture, stockpile or otherwise acquire, possess or have control over any other nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive device by any means anywhere; not to seek or receive any assistance in research on, development, manufacture, stockpiling, acquisition, possession or obtaining control over any nuclear weapon or device; and not to take any action to assist or encourage the above mentioned conduct.


The Treaty also served as an effective contribution to combating the most acute threats to peace and security -- particularly international terrorism and preventing nuclear materials and technologies from falling into the hands of non-State actors -- he added.  Furthermore, the Treaty would be an important step in promoting regional confidence-building and cooperation, since it was the first multilateral agreement in the security area that brought all five Central Asian countries together.


Introducing a draft resolution on Mongolia ’s international security and nuclear-weapon-free status (document A/C.1/61/L.53), CHOISUREN BAATAR ( Mongolia) said that the resolution came at a time of heightened tension in North-East Asia.  The nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea once again reaffirmed Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status as an important initiative for confidence and trust building in the wider regional context and as a good role-model for other countries in the subregion.


He said he wished to draw attention to the draft report prepared by the governmental working group on the implementation of the law of Mongolia on its nuclear-weapon-free status.  That report found, among other things, that Mongolia’s endeavours to implement its law on the prohibition of the transportation through its territory of nuclear weapons or parts thereof, as well as nuclear waste or any other nuclear material designed for weapons purposes, had been hampered by a shortage of trained personnel and necessary equipment.  The report, therefore, advised that the international community provide assistance for: up-to-date high sensitive detection equipment; upgrading the database on cross-border movements; and training customs and border patrol officers in areas such as export controls, biological security and prosecution of groups and individuals engaged in terrorist activities involving weapons of mass destruction.


QAZI KHALILULLAH (Pakistan), introducing a draft resolution on the conclusion of effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons (document A/C.1/61/L.45), said that an agreement needed to be reached for an international instrument offering binding and credible negative security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States.  The demand for negative security assurances had been raised by non-nuclear-weapon States in the 1960s, but had crystallised in 1968. 


He noted that, unfortunately, the situation had become more complex.  The right to self defence was not unrestricted; there was a need to have proportional responses to threats.  The assurances given so far were both conditional and non-binding.  The issue of negative security assurances was, therefore, unfinished business and needed to be finished sooner or later.


The Non-Aligned Movement had also expressed concern over the development of new nuclear weapons.  Low-yield nuclear weapons would not remain localized.  In fact, geographical spread of nuclear weapons had only increased.  Furthermore, he said that the issue of negative security assurances had gained greater urgency.  It was imperative that further intensification of efforts to find a common formula on the issue take place.  In conclusion, negative security assurances would constitute a major confidence-building measure between non- and nuclear-weapon States.  They would also contribute to reducing the nuclear danger, while easing the threat of new doctrines.


Introducing a draft resolution on towards a nuclear-weapon-free world: accelerating the implementation of nuclear disarmament commitments (document A/C.1/61/L.13), J. JUAREZ (Mexico), speaking on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition, said that the mere possibility of nuclear weapon use was a grave threat to international security and stability.  The need to eliminate them was more urgent than ever, given the current disarmament machinery and actions by several countries.  Certain technical updates had been made to the draft, which also included a new paragraph condemning all nuclear tests by States parties and non-States parties of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, including the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s announced test.  Any nuclear test was a deplorable action, undermining the achievements of decades of work. 


YOSHIKI MINE ( Japan) said that he wished to comment on the statements made yesterday by the Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Nobuaki Tanaka, on response to resolutions, particularly on requests from the Department for Disarmament Affairs to Member States, so that the Secretary-General could report to the General Assembly.  Less than 10 per cent of Member States had responded, which was a serious disappointment.  That was a problem for Member States, which were responsible for providing national statistics to the Department.  The First Committee should create an automatic mechanism, if such a poor response continued, so that next year the resolution, or at least one paragraph, could be dropped.


ANTON VASILIEV ( Russian Federation), introducing a draft resolution on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security (document A/C.1/61/L.35), said that a breakthrough in information technologies posed new challenges and threats in ensuring international security.  The specific nature of the threats was related to not talking about the use of weaponry in the traditional sense.  Further, the consequences of their hostile use were comparable to the harm done by weapons of mass destruction or conventional weapons.


He said information technologies could be used by terrorists, extremist organizations and States with hostile military objectives.  They shared the following features: universal access; a random impact; ability to be disguised in the form of peaceful activities; and low cost and overall effectiveness.


The global nature of today’s threats showed that the fight must be collective, he continued, Russia had put forward the draft in 1998, and for eight years since, it had been adopted.  Useful work had been conducted already -- notably that of the Group of Governmental Experts in 2004-2005.  Yet, because of limited time and the sensitive nature of the problems involved, progress was stilted. It was imperative to continue the work.


Introducing a draft on the role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament (document A/C.1/61/L.50), Mr. BASU ( India) said that access to such science and technology was vital to developing countries.  The dual-use character of many advances was a potential cause of concern.  The draft’s co-sponsors maintained that multilateral negotiations and non-discriminatory agreements would be the best way to address proliferation concerns.  Even more so than before, a transparent system to achieve the objective of non-proliferation while ensuring access to technology for peaceful applications was needed. 


ANDY RACHMIANTO ( Indonesia), on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, first read a statement from the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement.  It expressed concern about the nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, while recognizing complexities arising from that test and called upon concerned parties in the region to exercise restraint, discontinue nuclear tests and not transfer nuclear equipment and technology.  The statement expressed a desire for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and supported resumption of the six-party talks.  Complete nuclear disarmament was needed, and efforts on non-proliferation should parallel those on disarmament.  The statement expressed concern over a lack of progress in that area and underscored the need for nuclear weapon States to implement unequivocal efforts and commence negotiations without delay. 


Introducing a draft on promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation (document A/C.1/61/L.6), he said that the States of the Non-Aligned Movement had agreed that multilateralism was the only way.  Adoption of the resolution would show continued conviction in its effectiveness.  Multilateralism was the core principle of disarmament and non-proliferation. 


Introducing a draft resolution on observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control (document A/C.1/61/L.7), he said that continued sustenance of the environment was of utmost importance, particularly for succeeding generations.  Measures were needed to protect the environment in the formulation of agreements on disarmament and arms control.  The draft called on all Member States to ensure the application of scientific and technological progress within the framework of international security, disarmament and other related spheres, without detriment to the environment or to its effective contribution to attaining sustainable development.


Introducing a draft resolution on the relationship between disarmament and development (document A/C.1/61/L.8), he said that the importance of that relationship could not be denied.  He expressed concern about increasing military expenditures that could otherwise be spent on development.  It was important to exercise restraint in military expenditures, so that such resources could be used for ongoing efforts to eradicate poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals.


SARALA FERNANDO ( Sri Lanka) said that reporting had become a difficult problem among Member States and asked the Under-Secretary-General how the Committee could address it.  One way was through the simplification of reporting formats, for sure, but were they at the end of the road on that matter?  She pointed out that a previous United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research report had shown evidence that reporting had increased.  Some of the reports could still benefit from building awareness, however.


In response to the representative of Sri Lanka’s query, the Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Nobuaki Tanaka, said that they were exhausting all means, and that the Secretariat regularly sent out reminders on filing to Member States.  The result was the report in front of the Representative.


KIM KWANG IL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said he wished to address the resolution introduced by Mexico and its statement regarding his country’s nuclear test.  That test was attributable to the nuclear threat by the United States, as well as its sanctions and blockade.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea remained unchanged in its view that the Korean Peninsula should be denuclearized through dialogue and negotiations.  His country would not need a single nuclear weapon once it was no longer exposed to the threat of the United States and after the United States dropped its hostile policies and confidence was built between the two countries. 


He said that if any delegation wished to resolve the situation on the Korean Peninsula, the resolution should include a concept specifying abandonment of the nuclear threat and the hostile policy of the United States against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as a critical element.  His country categorically objected to unjust resolutions that did not help solve the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.


CARLOS ANTONIO DA ROCHA PARANHOS (Brazil), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), said that confidence-building measures were an important tool in the establishment of international peace and security.  They complemented disarmament and non-proliferation.  The goal remained to reduce uncertainties and misperceptions, thereby reducing the risk of military confrontation.


Implementation of confidence-building measures allowed for conflict prevention and was also an effective tool for fostering greater integration in the political, economic and cultural spheres.  He also believed that the exchange of information among countries led to greater confidence-building.  MERCOSUR was part of the Inter-American Convention of Transparency.  Moreover, he said it had adopted a memorandum of understanding on the illicit trade of small arms, believing it facilitated tracing efforts of those weapons.  He added that there was a high degree of compliance, among MERCOSUR countries, in the submission of information to the United Nations Register.  Furthermore, it was important to remember that confidence-building measures were a dynamic concept and could be further strengthened through practice.


OGTAY ISMAYILZADA ( Azerbaijan) said that there were unfortunately many unresolved conflicts in the world and in his region.  Such conflicts were at the centre of the concentration of uncontrolled arms, including the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and in the territories around it that were under Armenian occupation.  That area had become a key transit point for the trade in arms, which threatened his country.  During the last five years, Armenia had been arming its forces, and its quantities of treaty-limited equipment had been increasing.


He said that the increase in Azerbaijan’s military budget was a matter of the overall economic development of the country and a general increase in the State budget.  Azerbaijan was not able to exert the usual budget norms that it would during a time of peace.  Also, a considerable part of the expenditures went to housing and other social needs.  In proportion to its population, Armenia was much more militarized in terms of number of personnel.  The Armenian budget was also financed by its diaspora.  As long as Armenia followed its aggressive policy, all talks were irrelevant.  Azerbaijan today was in a situation of war, despite fulfilling its treaty declarations and doing its best to implement all commitments under the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe.


SASWAN IBRAHIM ( Iraq) said that nuclear weapons were the gravest threat to people because of their devastating capacity and the destruction they caused.  Iraq was fully committed to the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and honoured all its international commitments made in the field of non-proliferation and on chemical and biological weapons.


She said that the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons guaranteed the right of States to invest in nuclear energy for peaceful means, but there were double standards, and States sometimes claimed to be using nuclear energy for peaceful means, but were not.  Despite that, initiatives would not succeed if countries were deprived of the development of nuclear energy.  Striking a balance was vital.  While countries must have the right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful means, measures were needed so that those countries did not divert that development for weapons manufacture. 


Her Government supported the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free-zone in the Middle East and would cooperate with all States in that respect.  She urged all countries to adhere to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, while calling for the implementation of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards in the Middle East.  She appealed to Israel to adhere to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.


DIEUDONNE SOUGOURI ( Burkina Faso) said that, on the issue of regional disarmament and security, the Committee needed to pay special attention to the Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa.  That lonely Centre had particular importance for the continent –- one affected by all types of conflicts and crises.  The illegal circulation of small arms was a veritable scourge and had an impact on development.  Furthermore, ongoing conflicts were all the more grave and more measures were needed to strengthen the disarmament machinery.


He was deeply concerned at the difficulties facing the Centre.  There was a need for candid analysis of that instrument in order to foster a culture of peace.  He hoped that adequate resources -– human, financial and material -- would be given.  He added that the Centre had reached a crossroads.  The future looked bleak as operational sustainability could not be ensured.  The diagnosis was crystal-clear and the situation required urgent redress.


GHANIM AL-MA’ADHEED ( Qatar) said that every year a resolution was adopted on creating a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Also adopted was a measure on Middle East nuclear proliferation, which required Israel to adhere to the Non-Proliferation Treaty without delay.  Multilateralism had lost momentum and resolutions could not be implemented.  There was clear selectivity on the basis of what the great powers wanted and did not want.  Machinery was needed to make sure that resolutions of the First Committee were adopted and implemented.  The principle of two yardsticks in getting rid of weapons of mass destruction was not workable. 


He invited all States to work towards a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East to ensure security and stability and prosperity for all peoples.  Possession of such weapons by States of the region would be a menace to its people.  He urged all influential States to show their good intentions to the region and make it free of weapons of mass destruction.  Selectivity was not appropriate, with everyone’s focus on one country while others were ignored.  That encouraged the proliferation of nuclear weapons.  He urged all States to work in a serious manner to implement resolutions to make the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction. 


ABDULLA HASSAN ALSHAMSI ( United Arab Emirates) said that the Middle East and Arabian Gulf region was one of the most tense regions worldwide because of Israel’s position and arsenal of weapons of mass destruction -- especially nuclear weapons -- and efforts of other States in the region to build nuclear reactors.  That was a great source of danger and concern to all. 


The United Arab Emirates strongly condemned the continued unilateral policy of Israel and appealed to the international community to put pressure on that Government to implement the Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.  All called for Israel to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as all other States in the region had done.  Furthermore, Israel must cooperate with the IAEA by declaring all its nuclear facilities and accepting the principle of verification.  Israel was also called upon to cease the stockpiling and production of fissile material and all nuclear testing.


He said that serious and vigorous efforts were needed to achieve the alleviation of tension and instability in the region.  It was imperative to pave the way for renewing dialogue and returning to the peaceful negotiations process, which could ultimately resolve the question of Palestine and the Middle East.  He also supported the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free-zone in the Middle East.


Mr. AL-OQAAB ( Kuwait) said that his region continued to face threats from the proliferation of nuclear weapons and it was important to make the region free from weapons of mass destruction.  The lack of progress was primarily due to Israel’s lack of accession to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  As it was the only State in the Middle East that possessed nuclear weapons and the only State that had not acceded to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Israel must forthwith accede to the Treaty; not develop, produce, test or acquire nuclear weapons; abandon the pursuit of such weapons; and accede to IAEA safeguards.  He called on the international community to stop selling nuclear technology to Israel or to any other State that was trying to develop weapons of mass destruction. 


Mr. BENITEZ-VEASON ( Cuba) said that regional and global disarmament efforts were complementary.  The United Nations must play a lead role in achieving complementarity between such efforts.  Any regional machinery for disarmament or arms limitation, to be effective, must recognize the features of every region by achieving the lowest level of arms and forces without diminishing the security of Member States.  Regional strategies must be a priority, as should efforts at addressing imbalances through eliminating the capacity to undertake large-scale offensive attacks and operations. 


He said that United Nations regional centres could improve understanding.  Cuba firmly supported the resolution on such centres, which had been presented by the Non-Aligned Movement.  Regional Centres must continue to receive all necessary support.  Funds for the centre in Latin America must be used for making progress on disarmament priorities that might not match those in the United Nations as a whole. 


Ms. TUFAIL ( Pakistan) said that on the regional disarmament theme, it was evident that regional and subregional organs had made important contributions to peace and stability worldwide.  Disarmament could be pursued and only achieve success if regional and collective efforts moved in tandem.


Nuclear weapons often blurred the focus away from conventional weapons.  The Conventional Forces in Europe had made progress and seven confidence-building measures were recently initiated.  Nuclear-weapon-free zones also contributed to global peace and security and there had been overwhelming support for such a zone in the Middle East.  She added that the approach towards disarmament must not be fragmented. 


QAZI KHALILULLAH ( Pakistan), introducing a draft resolution on confidence-building measures in the regional and subregional context (document A/C.1/61/L.42), said that tensions at the regional and subregional levels were the main source of instability.  A spiralling arms race in regions of tension obstructed peaceful settlement of disputes, and further widened poverty.  He was also encouraged by a wide body of evidence that showed that confidence-building measures had paid tangible dividends for peace.  He said that a regional arms race was, indeed, the bane of development.  There was a symbiotic link between conflict and underdevelopment -- war and poverty. 


The draft called for the renunciation of the use or threat of use of force.  It called for confidence-building measures that encouraged a military balance among regional States and the elaboration of such measures to strengthen peace along the borders, and particularly in nuclearized theatres. 


Introducing a draft resolution on international arms control at the regional and subregional levels (document A/C.1/61/L.43), he said that it aimed to promote disarmament endeavours in the area of conventional disarmament.  Though important, that issue had not received the necessary attention.  A sharp focus was now needed. 


In the draft, several principles were outlined, including the crucial role of arms control to international peace and security.  Another was the preservation of a balance in the defence capabilities of States at the lowest levels of armament.  There was a special responsibility assigned to militarily-significant States to avoid aggression.  He also requested that the Conference on Disarmament formulate principles that would serve as a framework on regional agreements.


Introducing a draft on the strengthening of security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region (document A/C.1/61/L.34), LARBI EL HADJ ALI ( Algeria) said that his country and those that co-sponsored the draft wanted to make the Mediterranean a space of peace and stability and to take an active part in similar international efforts.  The Mediterranean countries had seen the necessity for dialogue, more so in recent years.  Initiatives had shown an awareness of the close link between security in Europe and security in the Mediterranean.  Countries on the south bank of the Mediterranean had committed themselves since Barcelona to dialogue and partnership. 


He said that the draft covered a broad range of topics, emphasized the individual nature of Mediterranean security and called for a series of initiatives to consolidate peace, security and cooperation.  It reaffirmed the duty of all States to help build prosperity and stability in the Mediterranean and dealt with ways that countries there were working to solve tensions in the region.  It called for the elimination of economic and social discrepancies and for a better understanding among peoples and cultures.  The draft called upon Member States of the region that had not yet done so to adhere to all multilaterally negotiated legal instruments related to the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.  It also encouraged those States to favour the necessary conditions for strengthening confidence-building measures.  It encouraged States to strengthen further their cooperation in combating terrorism, international crime, illicit arms transfers, and illicit drug production, consumption and trafficking.


JOSEPH NSENGIMANA (Rwanda), speaking as Chairman of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa, introduced a draft resolution on confidence-building measure activities of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa (document A/c.1/61/L.33).  He said that for more than 15 years, African subregions had faced severe conflicts, massive uprooting of populations and endemic insecurity.  States needed to urgently recognize the need to take measures to help counter tension and misunderstanding.  The draft recognized the effectiveness of confidence-building measures in continuing to promote regional stability and thus, in contributing to international peace and security.


He said that confidence-building measures were shown to have significant impact in Central Africa.  States were already undertaking efforts to improve bilateral relations, there was considerable improvement in security and there was a return to economic activity in previous conflict areas.  However, several challenges remained.  It was, thus, imperative that the Secretary-General provide members of the Standing Advisory Committee with the necessary support for the smooth functioning of the Council for Peace and Security in Central Africa and the Subregional Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa.


GORAN STEVCEVSKI ( Macedonia), introducing a draft resolution on the maintenance of international security -– good neighbourliness, stability and development in South-Eastern Europe (document A/C.1/61/L.46), said that the draft aimed to identify measures and efforts that would lead to further stabilization of the region.  It would, likewise, lead to the reduction and elimination of threats to its security and foster development in the region. 


He said that South-Eastern Europe had undergone many positive changes and that those were reflected in the text.  The cooperation among countries had been intensified -– especially economically -– and their rapprochement with the European Union and the Euro-Atlantic institutions had been furthered.  The United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Stability Pact, the South-East European Cooperation Process, and other regional initiatives, had all contributed to those positive changes.


He added, however, that the region was still experiencing challenges which could affect its overall security and stability.  Those included the issues of ant-personnel landmines and explosive remnants of war, the illicit trade of small arms, drug trafficking and organized crime.  Furthermore, as stability and development primarily rested with countries in the region, he was encouraged by increased efforts to overcome the culture of dependency and take ownership of enhanced regional cooperation. 


KARI KAHILUOTO ( Finland), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the European Union attached great importance to a working disarmament machinery.  It saw as mutually reinforcing the General Assembly and its First Committee, the Conference on Disarmament, the Disarmament Commission and the various international treaties with their bodies and review processes.  Each part of the machinery had its own role and tasks.


He said that the General Assembly with its Committees formed a universal decision-making forum and reflected the most pressing contemporary challenges in their work.  The Conference on Disarmament was the single multilateral forum at the disposal of the international community for disarmament negotiations.  He hoped that the focused structured debates the Conference had this year would create sufficient momentum to overcome the current deadlock.  Likewise, the Disarmament Commission played a vital role as a universal deliberative body on disarmament.  He wished to see the full potential of the Disarmament Commission put to use, now that it had resumed work and the effectiveness of its working methods were enhanced. 


In conclusion, he said that the machinery continued to have the basic potential to fulfil its potential, but that the Department of Disarmament Affairs needed to be resourced adequately to do the everyday practical work.  Finally, what was essential for any machinery of that kind to work was the political will to use it in good faith, and to comply fully with the obligations and commitments therein.


PAUL MEYER ( Canada) said that, in recent years, the existing multilateral disarmament machinery had not been functioning as intended.  He asked whether the concerned parties were seriously committed to the process or merely going through the motions.  There was the argument that those outcomes were not the fault of the machinery itself, but a reflection of lack of political will in the international community on disarmament issues.  Political will was not the only component of the equation, however.  Sometimes, it was the machinery that was not responding properly and, in those cases, a proper tune-up could help get it going again. 


He said that a new approach in the Conference on Disarmament had represented an important improvement over last year and created optimism that it was possible to do better.  The Conference had not yet resumed its expected level of work or produced any concrete results, and a mere repetition of the coordination of presidencies in 2007 could not be considered a success.  Rather, the Conference should make greater use of the time allocated to it, with more attention paid to issues that were ripe for negotiation, rather than equal treatment for all agenda items, and a mechanism should be established for the Conference to carry its work forward in a consistent fashion throughout the year. 


He said that the First Committee was another example where a recent tune-up had improved functioning.  There was more to be done, for example securing agreement in the General Committee to move formally to an agenda that reflected the current issue areas, rather than a mere enumeration of resolution titles, and further rationalization of resolutions to minimize the annual repetition and to emphasize follow-up.  Another way to tune up the machinery would be to convene a fourth special session on Disarmament. 


He said that minds should remain open on innovative ways to rejuvenate or augment the existing machinery when circumstances were deemed appropriate.  Such arrangements as the Ottawa Convention on anti-personnel landmines showed that norms could be established even when the instruments had less than universal adherence.  With two upcoming review conferences in the first part of 2007, the Conference on Disarmament and the Non-Proliferation Preparatory Committee, there would be ample opportunity in the coming months to demonstrate that the machinery could work better.  If, however, events next year suggested that the machine might be beyond repair, there should not be a fear to look into new ideas for making progress on disarmament.


Introducing a draft on verification in all its aspects, including the role of the United Nations in the field of verification (document A/C.1/61/L.22), he said that he was optimistic that the Panel of Government Experts on Verification would soon reach consensus.  Its important work should be put forth for the full endorsement of the General Assembly.  Its report would not be ready in time to be taken up by the First Committee at its current session.  For that reason, he was introducing the draft to defer that until next year. 


ZDZISLAW RAPACKI ( Poland), aligning himself with the statement made by Finland on behalf of the European Union, highlighted Poland’s active participation in the field of disarmament, including the Presidency of the Conference on Disarmament and their Vice-Chairmanship of the Disarmament Commission.  He said his Government was devoted to the cause of global disarmament. 


He said that the six presidents of the Conference on Disarmament had worked hard to fulfil promises and commitments and, in 2006, had deepened the understanding on all key items of the Conference on Disarmament agenda.  When thinking about negotiations in the Conference, it was important to keep in mind that not all the issues could be negotiated at once.  It was imperative to concentrate on those closest to being brought forward to the negotiating table.  The fissile material cut-off treaty was such an issue.  Furthermore, the “Friends of the Presidents” mechanism could be strengthened for searching for consensus on specific substantive issues, including possible mandates.  


Concluding, he said he hoped that, following years of stalemate, unadopted final documents and a general crisis in disarmament machinery, 2007 would prove to be a better year.  It was up to the Member States to bring the disarmament fora closer to the realities of today’s world and then able to deal with today’s problems.


DORU COSTEA (Romania), aligning himself with the statement made by Finland on behalf of the European Union, encouraged the Committee to devote some time to the matter of the Conference on Disarmament and highlighted that there was an unusual relationship between the contents of the Conference on Disarmament’s report and the reality of what was done.


In this year’s session, the Conference had come closer to the normal rhythm of work, as 49 formal meetings and 22 informal ones had been held.  Due to the structure and nature of the debates, the Conference had returned to the normal mixture of political and technical components in conducting its activity.  And lastly, because of the participation of experts, the Conference had acknowledged the high level of expertise that deliberations and decisions needed to rely on.


He added that the most obvious shortcoming was that there had been no negotiation.  Referring to calls in the past to pay attention to real life outside the Conference Chamber, he said that he hoped the Conference would heed those calls before they turned into the deafening rumblings of conflicts and destruction.


MASOOD KHAN ( Pakistan) said that the disarmament machinery’s basic architecture was sound, flexible and resilient.  Its current weaknesses stemmed from political malaise, not from structural or functional defects.  If Member States had deep divergences, they could not shift the blame to the machinery.  During the past three years, there had been an enhanced focus on disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, small arms and light weapons, and landmines.  The area that had been neglected was conventional weapons. 


He said that well-publicized failures, such as the 2005 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference and World Summit, were symptomatic of the serious erosion of the existing consensus on the most critical issues -- nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  Those were not faults of the disarmament machinery per se.  Pakistan had, therefore, proposed convening an international conference to revisit the old consensus.  The level of the conference had deliberately been kept vague.  It could be a special conference of the Disarmament Commission or the Conference on Disarmament, or a fourth special session on disarmament. 


He said that the First Committee had made highly commendable steps to streamline its conduct of meetings.  Rationalization of the agenda should not, however, be used to remove subjects of vital importance because some countries were not comfortable with them.  The Conference on Disarmament still lacked a programme of work, but there was nothing wrong with its rule of consensus.  The proposal to adopt its Programme of Work by a qualified majority of two thirds of the members present and voting would lead to interminable debate and deepen its impasse. 


He said that the new Secretary-General should give fresh impetus, strength and direction to the Department for Disarmament Affairs.  No attempt should be made to weaken the Department in any way.  It was also important to use the full potential of the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters.  The Board should not merely replicate what Member States were doing, but should advise on how existing disarmament and non-proliferation agreements could be revalidated or how a security consensus could be built.  It should keep itself above minutiae and address strategic questions.


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For information media • not an official record