|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
13th & 14th Meetings (AM & PM)
First Committee Wraps Up Debate on Disarmament Aspects of Outer Space, Opens
Discussion on Conventional Weapons, Hearing Introduction of Six Draft Texts
New Moves Can Spark Outer Space Arms Race, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Says; United States Will Engage on Arms Trade Treaty, Not ‘Loophole-Infested’ Text
Rounding up its thematic debate on the disarmament aspects of outer space today, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard the introduction of two draft resolutions, on transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space, and on the prevention of an outer space arms race.
The Committee also heard the introduction of four draft resolutions, as it began its thematic debate on conventional weapons. Those texts deal with the Convention on Cluster Munitions; the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons; the arms trade treaty; and the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.
Many speakers in the thematic debate on outer space reiterated the importance of preventing an armed race in outer space, stressing the value of outer space as a joint heritage of humankind.
Introducing the draft resolution on prevention of an arms race in outer space was Sri Lanka’s representative, who warned that, beyond severe economic repercussions resulting from disrupted commercial satellite communications, hostile actions in space could result in grave security threats. The danger of overpopulating orbital paths would exponentially increase, should one or several countries actively pursue space weapons programmes. In addition to enormous debris, active anti-satellite systems would deter investment in peaceful uses of outer space and in the economic cooperation and competition that enhanced life on earth. The use of outer space by the global community should not be jeopardized by human action. All States should accept that as a common goal, she said.
The representative of the Russian Federation tabled the draft resolution on transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space, which, he said, had been “moved” by Russia and China in the Committee since 2005. While many of the draft’s elements remained the same as last year, there was qualitative improvement regarding support, with 58 countries now co-sponsoring it, including all of the European Union countries. Innovations in the draft now included the notion that the European Union had introduced the outer space activities code of conduct.
Warning that preventive measures were essential to preventing an arms race in outer space, China’s representative said that the existing legal system, due to “obvious defects”, could not keep weapons out of outer space or ensure long-term tranquillity in outer space. He stressed the important role of the international system in maintaining space security. He said it was the responsibility of mankind to ensure the security of outer space. The resolutions on preventing an outer space arms race adopted by the General Assembly with overwhelming support over the last two decades showed the strong consensus on that subject. With the Conference on Disarmament’s adoption of its programme of work, there was a new opportunity.
With nearly 10 countries now capable of independent satellite launches and more than 130 countries engaged in peaceful activities related to outer space, monopoly of outer space was no longer the case, asserted the speaker from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. However, he warned that some “new moves” could easily spark an outer space arms race. An example was the United States’ attempt to develop a missile defence shield, combined with space weapons, under the pretext of threats of ballistic missiles by so-called “rogue” States.
He asserted that the United States and Japan were moving towards practical deployment of a new missile defence initiative in North-East Asia, with a claim about a fictitious threat of a Democratic People’s Republic of Korea missile. By doing that, the United States was pursuing its ulterior intention to justify the establishment of a missile defence system for tripartite alliances with Japan and the Republic of Korea, “like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Asia”, and to contain China and Russia militarily.
The United States’ representative said that pragmatic multilateral transparency and confidence-building measures could help to increase transparency regarding governmental-space policies, strategies and potentially-hazardous activities, and to reduce uncertainty over intentions. That would also decrease the risk of misinterpretation or miscalculation. The Obama Administration was currently assessing the United States space policy, programmes and options for international cooperation in space, as part of a comprehensive review of space policy. That included a “blank slate” analysis of the feasibility and desirability of options for effectively verifiable arms‑control measures that enhanced the national‑security interests of the United States and its allies.
During the debate on conventional weapons, another delegate from the United States acknowledged that arms transfers, whether of small arms or multi-million-dollar combat aircraft, were matters of national decision and, in accordance with the United Nations Charter, a right of all responsible Governments for self-defence, but he warned that those transfers could also be primary sources of terrorist action, potentially deadly genocidal actions by despotic warlords and totalitarian oppressors, proliferation nightmares and destabilizing imbalances destroying the search for security and the safe existence of millions of people.
That was also why the United States believed that it was the responsibility of the entire international community to settle for no less than the highest possible standards in global agreements and reporting activities on conventional arms.
He said his country was prepared to vigorously support the resolution pending on proceeding to a conference on the arms trade. On an arms trade treaty, the United States was prepared to engage in the pursuit of a product that established high standards of expected conduct in international activity and in national enforcement, he said. However, it was not prepared to approve “a weak or loophole-infested product”, in order to get quick agreement from those States who would like to continue to support, however directly or indirectly, terrorists, pirates and genocidal warlords for a quick profit or short-term advantage.
Speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, Indonesia’s representative, concerned about unilateral coercive measures, stressed that no undue restriction should be placed on the transfer of such arms. He reaffirmed the sovereign right of States to acquire, manufacture, export, import and retain conventional arms for self-defence and security needs. Given the significant imbalance in the production, possession and trade in conventional weapons between industrialized countries and those of the Non-Aligned Movement, he called for a significant reduction in the producing, possessing and trading of those weapons by industrialized States, with a view to enhancing international and regional peace and security.
He said that the Movement remained deeply concerned over the illicit transfer, manufacture and circulation of small arms and light weapons and their excessive build-up and uncontrolled spread. Controls over private ownership should be established and maintained, and he called on all States, especially major producers, to ensure that the supply was limited to Governments or to entities authorized by Governments, and to implement legal restrictions and prohibitions preventing the illicit trade in those weapons.
Regarding the subject of a future arms trade treaty, he said that international action should be taken to address the problem and that respective responsibilities should exist for exporters and importers. In view of the complexity of conventional arms transfers issues, further consideration of efforts within the United Nations framework to address international trade in that area was required on a step-by-step basis in an open and transparent manner to achieve, on the basis of consensus, a balance that would provide benefits to all, with the United Nations Charter principles at the centre of such efforts.
Angola, as a country emerging from conflict, had as a priority in its Government’s peace and national reconciliation policy defeating the proliferation and illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, its speaker said today. In April 2008, the Government had adopted a programme of action for the disarmament of the civilian population, which defined the strategy of collecting illicit weapons. After one year of implementation, he reported that 55,064 weapons, 200,266 ammunition, 35,665 gun chargers and 15,781 explosives had been surrendered and collected, and 49 gun stockpiles had been found. The Government had also exchanged experiences with neighbouring countries that “live the same reality”. But there was a pressing need for greater commitment from the international community, culminating in the entry into force of a future arms trade treaty.
The launch of the process towards an arms trade treaty had garnered views from more than 100 States, culminating in a consensus report recommending international action to address the problems associated with the unregulated and irresponsible trade in arms, the United Kingdom’s representative noted. This year, he had submitted, with six co-authors, a new draft resolution on the arms trade treaty. The United Kingdom was at the forefront of efforts to update and broaden the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, but despite efforts by many in the expert group, one expert had been unable to agree to the creation of a new category for small arms and light weapons. That was a “missed opportunity” to improve the Register’s effectiveness.
Statements in the thematic debate on other outer space were also made by the representatives of Sweden (on behalf of the European Union), Cuba, Canada, Republic of Korea, Burkina Faso, Brazil, Iran and Belarus.
The representatives of Japan and China spoke in exercise of the right of reply during the thematic debate on outer space.
Statements in the thematic debate on conventional weapons were also made by the representatives of Pakistan, Sweden (also on behalf of the European Union), Australia, Japan, Norway, Mexico, Argentina, Mozambique, Chile, Turkey, Ireland, Laos People’s Democratic Republic, Venezuela, Finland, Cuba, Canada, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, South Africa, Thailand, Algeria, Pakistan, Indonesia (in national capacity), and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Also addressing the Committee during the thematic debate on conventional weapons was the Chairman of the Open-Ended Working Group towards an Arms Trade Treaty.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 20 October, to continue its thematic debate on conventional weapons.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met today to begin its thematic discussions on outer space (disarmament aspects) and conventional weapons, and to hear the introduction and consideration of related draft resolutions.
Statements on Outer Space
MAGNUS HELLGREN (Sweden), on behalf of the European Union, said that the growing number of actors and rapid development of activities in outer space reinforced the long-standing position of the Union and its Member States in favour of enhancing the multilateral framework for the preservation of a peaceful, safe and secure outer space environment. The prevention of an outer space arms race and the need to prevent outer space from becoming an area of conflict were essential conditions for strengthening strategic stability and for the promotion of the international cooperation and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. The Union was particularly sensitive to the issue of security of space objects, and urged all States to refrain from undertaking actions likely to undermine it, especially by creating additional debris.
He said that the Union promoted the elaboration of an international and voluntary set of guidelines, a short-term deliverable that would strengthen the safety, security and predictability of all space activities. Such guidelines would, among other things, limit or minimize harmful interference, collisions or accidents in outer space, as well as the creation of debris. Towards that goal, the Union had elaborated a draft code of conduct for outer space activities, which had been made public and presented both at the Conference on Disarmament and the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. It was based on the principles of freedom for all to use outer space for peaceful purposes, preservation of the security and integrity of space objects and orbits, and due consideration for the legitimate security and defence needs of States.
Continuing, he said that the Union’s proposed draft foresaw that the draft code would be applicable to all outer space activities conducted by States and non-governmental entities. As the draft code would be voluntary and open to all States, it would lay down the basic rules to be observed by spacefaring nations, both in civil and military activities. The draft code did not include provisions concerning the placement of weapons in outer space. Its purpose was not to duplicate or compete with initiatives already dealing with that specific issue. As a transparency and confidence-building measure, it insisted on the importance of taking all measures to prevent space from becoming an area of conflict and called on all nations to resolve any conflict in outer space by peaceful means.
CAMILO GARCÍA LÓPEZ-TRIGO ( Cuba) said that heightened international attention on the topic of arms in outer space had resulted, over the years, in a partial test-ban treaty, a treaty on outer space and a treaty to govern activities on the moon and other celestial bodies. The Conference on Disarmament’s work to prevent an outer space arms race had been another forward step, as was China and the Russian Federation’s treaty project on the prohibition of arms in outer space.
He said that transparency and confidence-building measures were no substitute for control of those weapons, but they could facilitate actions aimed at verification. Additional actions should be taken, including the holding of an international conference to examine the activities of the peaceful use of outer space. Research should also be undertaken on the use of outer space, to which all countries should have the same access. Consultations to clarify information on the use of outer space should also be established.
Transparency and confidence-building measures could play an important role concerning a new treaty on the placement of arms in outer space, he said. Regarding the use of nuclear resources in outer space, Cuba believed that those activities should be restricted, pending further research and security assurances. Cuba had decided to co-sponsor the draft resolutions on activities in outer space, as both were important measures.
JIANG YING FENG ( China) said it was the responsibility of mankind to ensure the security of outer space. While recognizing the important role of the international system on maintaining space security, due to the obvious defects, the existing legal system could not keep weapons out of outer space, nor could it ensure long-term tranquillity in outer space. Taking preventive measures was essential to preventing an arms race in outer space.
He noted that the General Assembly had adopted, with overwhelming support over the last two decades, resolutions on preventing an outer space arms race. That showed a strong consensus. With the Conference on Disarmament’s adoption of its programme of work, there was a new opportunity. The international community should seize that opportunity to clarify international consensus on the topic.
China and the Russian Federation took an open and inclusive approach to a draft treaty on the prevention of an arms race in outer space. He hoped the Conference on Disarmament could begin early negotiations on such a treaty. Transparency and confidence-building measures should not replace a treaty, but they should play a complementary role to an international legal instrument on preventing arms from reaching outer space.
CANDACE MERGLE ( Canada) said that space applications in the fields of community, navigation, environmental monitoring, sustainable development and national security played critical roles in the daily lives of communities worldwide, with the number of stakeholders with satellites, or deriving benefits from them, growing. While she supported the Conference on Disarmament’s adoption of a work programme this year, Canada had been disappointed when a lack of agreement had halted the start of substantive work. She urged Members to initiate this work as soon as possible.
She said that Canada had supported several practical initiatives to increase transparency, on a range of space security issues. She also noted the growing importance of the renewed effects of United Nations institutions engaged in the governance structure of space, such as the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, to collaborate more effectively in addressing cross-cutting issues affecting the continued utilization of outer space for peaceful purposes.
There was a need to develop an increasingly encompassing approach to space security, which included not only addressing environmental, commercial and civil dimensions of space, but also its military and national security dimensions, she said. In response to the call by the Secretary-General to submit concrete proposals for transparency and confidence-building measures, Canada submitted a proposal that called for a ban on the placement of weapons in outer space, the prohibition of the testing and use of weapons on satellites, and the prohibition of the use of satellites themselves as weapons. She urged delegations to give thoughtful consideration to that proposal.
“Now more than ever, we should exercise preventive diplomacy to ensure that space will be secure from physical threats and that our good governance of it will secure its safe and sustainable access to and use by all nations,” she said. “This is a challenge which we should collectively grasp and should do so without further delay.”
KIM HAK-JO ( Republic of Korea) welcomed the various efforts by the international community to ensure the safety, security and sustainability of outer space. Strengthening transparency and confidence-building measures was an initiative in that direction, on which his Government had placed much emphasis. The country believed that voluntary actions could contribute to enhancing satellite safety, reducing uncertainties in the application of dual-use space technology and, in turn, increasing space security. His Government welcomed the European Union Council’s elaboration of a draft code of conduct on outer space activities, and the United Nations General Assembly’s endorsement of the Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines, as concrete efforts to enhance transparency and confidence-building measures.
He expressed the belief that the discussion on the prevention of arms race in outer space at the Conference on Disarmament would further contribute to international efforts to address any possible weakness in the existing legal framework for the security of outer space. The country noted that the interactive dialogues on the draft text of the Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat of Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects, submitted by the Russian Federation and China, provided an opportunity to get a clear picture of the various views on the prevention of an arms race in outer space agenda. Those efforts would serve to enhance the safety, security and sustainability of outer space activities. Those efforts should not be mutually exclusive, but be explored in a balanced and pragmatic way.
He said that his country had long pursued space programmes with the firm belief that peaceful uses of outer space would contribute to the advancement of human life. It was well aware of the dual-use nature of outer space technology and, therefore, had sincerely lived up to its commitments to international non-proliferation and had taken every measure to ensure transparency in space activities.
H.M. MUDITHA HALLIYADDE ( Sri Lanka) said that the broad support enjoyed by the draft resolution on prevention of an arms race in outer space from Member States reflected the affirmation that space was the common heritage of mankind and should be exploited for peaceful purposes. The existing legal instruments failed to unequivocally prevent testing, deployment and use of all kinds of weapons in outer space.
She said that outer space activities were accessible to an increasing number of States. Space no doubt was becoming an indispensable area of human endeavour, and mankind’s reliance on outer space was increasing with each passing day. Beyond severe economic repercussions resulting from disrupted commercial satellite communications, hostile actions in space could result in grave security threats. The danger of overpopulating orbital paths would exponentially increase, should one or several countries actively pursue space weapons programmes. In addition to enormous debris, active anti-satellite systems would deter investment in peaceful uses of outer space and in the economic cooperation and competition that enhanced life on earth. Thus, outer space should be maintained as the common property of mankind and its exploration and use for peaceful purposes must be for the common good of mankind. The use of outer space by the global community should not be jeopardized by human action. All States should accept that as a common goal.
Introducing the draft resolution on prevention of an arms race in outer space, she said that the text, as in previous years, reiterated the complementary nature of bilateral and multilateral efforts and highlighted the importance of greater transparency in sharing information on all bilateral efforts in that field. The sponsors expected that the draft would enjoy the widest support, reflecting the collective will of the international community.
VICTOR VASILIEV ( Russian Federation) said that growing interest in space issues included the Conference on Disarmament’s eventual establishment of a working group on preventing an arms race, the Committee’s draft resolution on the same topic, as well as the work of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. Last December, the Council of Ministers of the European Union countries elaborated a code of conduct for outer space activities, and work to finalize it had evolved. He hoped the code would strengthen security and confidence in outer space.
He then introduced a draft resolution on transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space (document A/C.1/64/L.40), a text that the Russian Federation and China had been moving in the Committee since 2005. While many of the draft’s elements remained the same as last year, there was qualitative improvement regarding support, with 58 countries now co-sponsoring it, including all of the European Union countries. Innovations in the draft now included the notion that the European Union had introduced the outer space activities code of conduct.
The draft also refers to the fact that 13 States and the European Union collectively, had forwarded their considerations to the Secretary-General. Taking into account that, since 2005, the topical issues of outer space had been considered in this Committee, the current draft foresaw the introduction of a final report at the sixty-fifth General Assembly session summarizing the results of the five years of work. He asked the United Nations Secretariat to prepare a compilation of thoughts voiced during that period, and encouraged all Member States to introduce their opinions by the sixty-fifth Assembly session regarding ways to enhance transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities.
CHOE IL YONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that the monopoly of outer space was no longer the case, with nearly 10 countries now capable of independent satellite launches and more than 130 countries engaged in peaceful activities related to outer space, including the use of satellites. However, some new moves could easily spark an outer space arms race. A typical example was the United States’ attempt to develop a missile defence shield, combined with space weapons, under the pretext of threats of ballistic missiles by so-called “rogue” States. The United States and Japan were moving towards practical deployment of a new missile defence initiative in North-East Asia, with a claim about a fictitious threat of a Democratic People’s Republic of Korea missile. By doing that, the United States was pursuing its ulterior intention to justify the establishment of a missile defence system for tripartite alliances with Japan and the Republic of Korea, “like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Asia”, and to contain China and the Russian Federation militarily.
He said that Japan was working to develop and deploy the missile defence system at the instigation of the United States, and had adopted in May 2008 the Main Law on Space at the House of Councillors to allow the use of space for military purposes by abrogating the former national law on space demilitarization, which had existed for more than 40 years. That law had opened the way for Japan towards space militarization, which was once blocked by the resolution on prohibition of the use of space for military purposes, adopted by parliament in 1969. Since 1990, Japan had launched four spy satellites to fly them over Asian countries and obtain intelligence information. Japan’s attempts to launch an early-warning satellite were more dangerous. If that was launched, Japan would be further capable of pre-emptively striking other countries by using outer space.
All of those facts proved that Japan was moving from a research stage “into practicality” in collaboration with the United States’ missile defence system, he said. Nevertheless, that country had taken the lead in criticizing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s peaceful satellite launch. Since the 1980s, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had commenced necessary research and development, in order to launch domestic satellites with its own technologies. In March 2009, with the goal of promoting international confidence and strengthening cooperation in the field of space research and satellite launches, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had acceded to the two major outer space treaties. It remained unchanged in its position to oppose space militarization. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would oppose the deployment of any kind of space weapons and welcomed and supported initiatives to prevent space militarization.
ANTOINE SOMDAH (Burkina Faso) said that outer space was a matter of high stakes for States and inter-governmental organizations, as well as the private sector, because of its many applications in various areas, including health, teaching, environmental management, meteorological forecasting and management. There were also other possibilities related to outer space that could lead to new experiments in fields such as the military. An outer space arms race would compromise activities in space, even though space was already endangered by space debris. Such an arms race would be a serious violation of the peaceful use of outer space and would endanger international peace and security. Thus, the prevention of an arms race in outer space should be a priority of the international community. It was incumbent upon Member States to propose measures conducive to the responsible management of outer space, so that it would leave it as a viable resource to future generations.
He said that Burkina Faso commended the creation of a working group at the Conference on Disarmament to deal with the issue of outer space. It also commended the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space for its unflagging effort to strengthen the arsenal of legal instruments governing the space field and its effort to reach responsible space management. The country, however, held the view that those efforts would not lead to the desired effect if everyone was not on an equal footing. In that regard, the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space should ensure the ratification of the treaties governing outer space and of States’ adherence to the peaceful uses of outer space. As a co-sponsor of the draft resolution on prevention of an arms race in outer space, Burkina Faso called for its adoption by consensus.
LUIZ FILIPE DE MACEDO SOARES ( Brazil) said that despite the non-existence of an ad hoc subsidiary body in the Conference on Disarmament during the last 15 years, an item on the prevention of an arms race in outer space had been kept on its agenda as one of the four core issues. Likewise, the General Assembly had continued to adopt, virtually by consensus, resolutions on several aspects of that question. Last year, resolution 63/40 (2009) had again invited the Conference on Disarmament to establish a subsidiary body for the fulfilment of its primary role in the negotiation of a multilateral agreement or agreements on the prevention of an arms race in outer space in all its aspects. On 29 May, the Conference on Disarmament, as part of its programme of work, had established a working group to discuss substantively, without limitations, all the issues related to that topic, taking into consideration all relevant views, and past, present and future proposals on that issue.
He said that Brazil supported the draft resolutions introduced in the First Committee concerning outer space and expected the Conference on Disarmament, early next year, to adopt its agenda and programme of work, which included the working group on the prevention of an arms race in outer space. That working group should start its discussion soon after its establishment. Those substantive discussions should open the way for the Conference to decide on the negotiation of legal texts to ensure that outer space would be free of any weapons and that activities and objects in outer space would be exempt from any threat and any use of force.
Arguments against the negotiation of legally binding commitments to avoid the placement of any weapons in outer space and prevent any acts involving threat or use of force in outer space, were not sustainable, he said. The international community could not accept the risk of disruption of space activities, which were increasingly vital for all.
GAROLD LARSON ( United States) said that international cooperation to ensure the peaceful use of outer space was more essential today than ever before, given the increasing congestion, complexity and potentially-contestable nature of the domain. The information collected and relayed by space systems made essential contributions to scientific discoveries, economic prosperity and the interests of maintaining international peace and security.
He said that the most telling illustration of the need for such cooperation had come in February when a privately-operated Iridium communications satellite had collided with an inactive Russian military satellite, which had caused a direct economic impact resulting from a loss of capabilities. That had highlighted the need to improve shared space-situational awareness. To prevent future collisions, the United States had expanded the number of satellites that it monitored for risk of collision with other satellites and space debris, and was providing notification to other Government and commercial satellite operators. The collision had emphasized the importance of cooperation and industry to improve space safety. Four months after the accident, the United States and the Russian Federation had met in Vienna to discuss it and begin talks on opportunities for new bilateral-space transparency and confidence-building measures. The United States had also provided a presentation to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space on the collision and its implications.
As the Russian Federation had noted, that unfortunate incidence demonstrated the importance of forecasting dangerous space incidents and providing early warning as a confidence-building measure, he said. The Russian Federation’s willingness to view the incident as a “teachable moment” had been welcome, and he said he looked forward to the beginning of diplomatic and military-space exchanges with that country in 2010. Concrete actions could help raise practical cooperation to a new level and deepen mutual understanding between armed forces.
He said that outer space was no longer just an issue for the first two spacefaring nations, as an increasing number of nations were pursuing defence and intelligence-related activities in outer space to support their national interests. He saw the “fresh start” in pragmatic discussions on space security with the Russian Federation as just one element of a broader framework of diplomatic, scientific, commercial and military-to-military engagements with a number of countries. The high-level military-to-military dialogues between the United States and China was a positive step, but expanding this relationship to include focused discussions on space activities would increase transparency and help to clarify China’s intentions, strategy and doctrine regarding the use of space for military purposes. Such clarification was one step towards reassuring the rest of the world that China’s development and growing global role would not come at the expense of well-being of others.
Pragmatic multilateral transparency and confidence-building measures could help to increase transparency regarding governmental-space policies, strategies and potentially-hazardous activities, and to reduce uncertainty over intentions. That would also decrease the risk of misinterpretation or miscalculation. The Obama Administration was currently assessing the United States space policy, programmes and options for international cooperation in space, as part of a comprehensive review of space policy. That included a “blank slate” analysis of the feasibility and desirability of options for effectively verifiable arms‑control measures that enhanced the national security interests of the United States and its allies.
This Committee could rest assured that the United States would continue to uphold the principles of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and continue to support the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence, as reflected in the United Nations Charter, he said, adding that the United States would seek opportunities to work with other like-minded nations at the United Nations and other forums in furthering international norms and standards that could help advance the common good and enhance stability and security in outer space. The United States stood ready to begin a new chapter of international cooperation in outer space, which recognized the rights and responsibilities of all nations. “Together we can build the future in outer space, which all people that on Earth do dwell, so richly deserve,” he said.
REZA NAJAFI ( Iran) said that outer space was a common heritage of mankind and must be used, explored and utilized for peaceful purposes and for the benefit and interest of mankind in a sprit of cooperation. Any attempt aimed at turning space and space technology into a monopoly of a few countries was incompatible with the nature of that common heritage. His country, being under discriminatory restriction and faced with the possibility of disruption of commercial space transport services that could prevent it from sending its own satellite into space, had been forced to seek self-sufficiency. It had developed indigenous space technology by its scientists and had launched its Omid (hope) satellite into space as a first step. Iran had a long-term plan to explore and utilize space for peaceful purposes. It continued to believe that given the required level of technology, international cooperation was an imperative in exploration of outer space. Monopolization of outer space was not an achievable option.
He said that Iran also attached high importance to the question of prevention of an arms race in outer space. The country was concerned over the negative implications of certain projects, designed under the pretext of defence systems, as well as the pursuit of advanced military technology capable of being deployed in outer space. It was also concerned about the weaponization of space, which contributed to the further erosion of an international climate conducive to the promotion of disarmament and the strengthening of international security. There was an attempt to seek military and strategic superiority in outer space, which could only lead to it weaponization in the future, endangering global peace and security. Negotiating a legally binding instrument on the prevention of an outer space arms race was an urgent task for the Conference on Disarmament.
ALEXANDER PONOMAREV ( Belarus) said that his country was one of the co-sponsors of the draft resolution on preventing an arms race in outer space. That draft had attracted additional co-sponsors this year. That wide support was grounds for Belarus to believe that it would enjoy consensus.
He said that Belarus believed that the European Union’s draft code of conduct would promote confidence in space. No unilateral regional initiatives could replace a legally binding international treaty. In that regard, there was a need for additional guarantees for the peaceful uses of outer space. The concerns of States related to the weaponization of outer space could only be allayed by a legally binding initiative. Belarus backed the Russian draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space. Despite the existence of differences on the scope and extent of such a treaty, it was urgent to promote the issue and to promote its launch at the Conference on Disarmament.
ROBERTO GARCIA MORITAN ( Argentina), Chairman of the Open-Ended Working Group towards an arms-trade treaty, said that the work accomplished by the Group had been an important step forward. During the General Assembly’s sixty-third session, he had addressed this Committee on the group of experts’ work on the topic. The Assembly then decided in resolution 63/240 to continue the work, the goal of which was to build a common understanding of the challenges arising within the framework of the matter. One of the Working Group’s aims was to understand all the concerns of States and to evaluate the report from the expert group.
He said that, at the Group’s meetings, there was recognition of the importance of using balances that would benefit all, and of using the United Nations Charter and other international obligations already in force. Delegations had expressed their different approaches on all substantive matters on a possible arms-trade treaty. That had built a climate of trust and had led to a dialogue among all delegations. With the deliberative nature of the Group’s mandate, it was deemed indispensable to reach an agreement and to submit a report to the General Assembly. The adopted agenda had helped the Group work towards agreement on the goals, scope, principles and parameters of a possible arms-trade treaty. Member States had participated actively in an exchange, which had allowed, for the first, an opportunity for all the countries to discuss in one forum all the issues considered by the expert group. To further transparency of work, there had been an unofficial meeting convened with non-governmental organizations.
The result had led to the adoption of a report, allowing for the construction of a foundation for a broader future understanding, he said, adding that the report highlighted the need to face the problems related to the illicit trade and markets that could exacerbate instability. The group underscored that exporters and importers had a shared responsibility regarding the current situation. It was necessary for the Group to continue to work in an atmosphere fuelled by dialogue and a positive climate, as had been seen this year.
Statements on Conventional Weapons
ZAMIR AKRAM ( Pakistan) said that, as Chair of the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons), said that the Convention created an interface between the use and constraints over the use of those weapons. Among its many achievements, the adoption of the protocol on explosive remnants of war was the first international instrument to address post-conflict and humanitarian problems caused by unexploded and abandoned ordnance.
Indeed, he said, the work accomplished on protocols of the Convention advanced the humanitarian impact of this instrument. Future work would include further development of aspects of the Convention, including its universalization. Support for the Convention had grown. In 2009, Kazakhstan and the United Arab Emirates had joined, bringing the total number of States parties to 110. In addition, 12 States parties had joined Protocol V, now bringing the total number of supporters to 60, and nine more States had ratified article I. Those efforts were consistent with the plan of action adopted by the 2006 Third Review Conference. He called upon those States that had not done so to ratify the Convention, without delay.
Mr. HELLGREN (Sweden), taking the floor again on behalf of the European Union, said that the illicit spread and accumulation of small arms and light weapons were key to fuelling armed conflicts, contributing to terrorism and organized crime, delaying post-conflict reconstruction and curbing development. The Union had adopted common actions to eradicate the accumulation of and illicit trade in small arms, including technical and financial assistance towards that goal, and it urged all States to join in those efforts. Given the close link between security and development, it also encouraged States to include actions on eliminating illicit small arms and light weapons and preventing armed violence in their national security, development and poverty reduction plans and strategies.
He said that the Union further sought to improve and strengthen the implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. It also participated in the multilateral effort towards implementation of an international instrument on the marking and tracing of small arms and light weapons, as well as for a legally binding instrument that would establish common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms. He called for quicker implementation of recommendations by the governmental expert group on illicit brokering in small arms and light weapons and expressed support for the convening of a United Nations conference on the arms trade treaty in 2012.
He supported efforts to prevent the illicit transfer and unauthorized use of man-portable air defence systems and welcomed progress in the universalization and implementation of the Convention on the Prohibitions of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Mine Ban Convention). He urged all States not party to the Convention to accede to it. The Union’s goal in that regard was a world free of anti-personnel mines. Over the past 10 years, it had provided almost half the world’s financial assistance to mine action. He also called for accession to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons by non-party States, and welcomed that Convention’s recent adoption of a plan of action on victim assistance.
He further welcomed the adoption and opening for signature of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, as that was a complementary and compatible agreement within the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which would help address the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions. The agreement should include an immediate prohibition on their use, production or transfer. He further urged the governmental expert group on the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms to include a separate category for small arms and light weapons. He was disappointed that consensus had not been reached on that issue. For the sake of transparency and to help States currently developing legislation on small arms transfers, he encouraged States to provide relevant information on national legislation to the Secretary-General for inclusion in the electronic database.
VALERIE GREY ( Australia) opened by noting the important developments in the world of conventional arms control this past year. Australia was proud to have played a role in developing and being the first to sign the first new arms control treaty in several years, the new Convention on Cluster Munitions, and called it a “significant humanitarian achievement”. Another development had been the consensus adoption of the report of the Open-ended Working Group towards an Arms Trade Treaty, as well as global and regional efforts to refocus international attention on small arms and light weapons. “These developments show us that it is indeed possible for the international community to make progress on difficult security issues,” she said.
She noted that the Convention on Cluster Munitions called for the following: prohibition of cluster munitions that randomly scattered tens of hundreds of sub-munitions, which had no self-deactivation feature; victim assistance; clearance and assistance. She urged all delegations to join and ensure swift operationalization of that arms control architecture, and welcomed the first meeting of States parties, to be held in the second half of 2010, thanking the Lao Government for its offer to host the meeting.
Moving on to issues of landmines, Australia looked forward to a productive Second Review Conference of the Mine Ban Convention, in November, she said. Some of the most pressing challenges faced by the Convention included failure of the parties to comply with their clearance and stockpile destruction obligations, and the need to provide more effective assistance to victims and survivors. However, she pointed to some positive achievements: vast tracts of land had been cleared and released for use; more than 40 million mines had been destroyed; and the number of new victims had continued to fall. She reiterated Australia’s support for international instruments that included victim assistance obligations, including the Mine Ban Convention and Protocol V of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, and the Cluster Munitions Convention. Australia was also a leading contributor to mine action around the world.
Australia remained strongly committed to ensuring that the objective of the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons was implemented, she said, urging the international community to deal with illicit transfers of conventional arms and their components. She also supported international action to achieve an arms trade treaty that would set common criteria and standards for the transfer of conventional weapons and prevent abuse of international human rights and humanitarian standards, transfers to terrorists and the destabilizing accumulation of arms. The progress and vision seen in some areas was needed across the arms control agenda. Australia had seen in its own region the humanitarian catastrophe of conventional arms proliferation. Those weapons hampered development and seriously threatened security and stability.
Rights of Reply
The representative of Japan, responding to a statement by the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said that the claims about Japan’s outer space policy were totally groundless. Under Japan’s Constitution, the country’s space activities were only for peaceful purposes. Also, Japan’s military activities were only of a defensive nature.
The representative of China, saying that he was speaking in response to statements by a certain country regarding scientific experiments in China, stated that he did not wish to dignify those statements with a rebuttal. China had reiterated its position before the First Committee and other bodies, and did not wish to repeat them. The question that needed to be asked was: which country, over the years, had threatened space security and prevented progress on a legal instrument preventing an arms race in space? The international community should then reach a conclusion.
Statements on Conventional Weapons, Resumed
AKIO SUDA ( Japan) said that Japan gave due consideration to the mutual relevance among the issues of disarmament, humanitarian concerns and development inclusively. Drawing attention to cluster munitions, Japan had been actively engaged in the work of the Oslo Process as well as the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons to address the problems associated with those weapons. Japan urged more countries to ratify the new Convention on Cluster Munitions, while also attaching importance to the creation of an effective legal instrument within the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, involving the major producers and possessors of cluster munitions. The two Conventions should be complementary, both promoting hand in hand the same objective of eliminating cluster munitions. In that respect, he was disappointed that the governmental expert group had not reached agreement in August. Reaching agreement was the duty of the responsible members of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.
He urged countries that had not done so to accede to the Mine Ban Convention. Japan had granted over $380 million in aid to mine and cluster munitions victims since 1998, contributing $32 million last year alone for projects ranging from clearing unexploded ordnance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Chad, to support for reviving the economy of areas affected by cluster munitions in Lebanon. It also consistently backed an arms trade treaty, which would ensure the responsible transfer of arms. Japan, along with other countries, had submitted a draft resolution on holding a United Nations conference on the matter in 2012.
Japan, together with South Africa and Colombia, had submitted a draft resolution on small arms and light weapons, he said. He invited all Member States to support it and further strengthen the implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action. Small and light arms should be included in the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, and he was disappointed that the governmental expert group had been unable to reach consensus on the matter in 2009. It had urged each country to submit their views on the categorization of small arms. He hoped that progress would be made on the issue ahead of the three-year review. He added that Japan had been taking a unique and strict policy of prohibiting the export of any arms, in principle.
ERLING SKJØNNSBERG ( Norway) said that he was committed to humanitarian disarmament, noting Norway’s engagement in the fields of landmines, cluster munitions and small arms. Norway hoped to work on those issues within ongoing processes in the multilateral system. It also supported civil society’s involvement in those processes, as engagement with civil society was crucial to overcoming challenges. To address the root causes of armed violence, the subject should be included in the United Nations agenda for the upcoming review process of the Millennium Development Goals. “We need to see more proactive and concerted initiatives in the field of disarmament,” he said. United Nations engagement was crucial in developing adequate multilateral responses to challenges of armed conflict, explosive violence and the flow of small arms and light weapons.
He said that the protection of civilians, on the Security Council’s agenda since the late 1990s, should be addressed in a comprehensive way, which included peacekeeping, the rule of law, security, development and disarmament. Further, the arms trade treaty should effectively contribute to improving the situation for those affected by armed violence, which, in the majority of instances, was caused by small arms and light weapons. He welcomed a decision to start negotiations next year. Norway was concerned that a consensus-based process could lead to an ineffective treaty. In addition to human suffering, armed violence had socio-economic costs, through loss of resources, increased health care costs and lack of security, among other effects. An arms trade treaty, therefore, was “a sound investment in humanitarian prosperity and development”.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions banned the use, production and transfer of cluster munitions and strengthened international humanitarian law, he said. Norway would work for its full implementation and universalization so that it could enter force next year. As the Mine Ban Convention had shown, a new legally binding instrument could become a global norm that went beyond the Convention’s membership. He urged all States to accede to that Convention as soon as possible. As President of the Second Review Conference of the Mine Ban Convention, Norway saw an opportunity to focus on the Convention’s humanitarian objectives, including victim assistance. He meanwhile expressed concern at the slow pace of progress in strengthening the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons. Multilateral efforts to fight their proliferation must be invigorated.
PABLO MACEDO ( Mexico) hoped the positive disarmament climate would carry over to the field of conventional weapons. Major concerns included cluster munitions and mines. Concrete action should be taken to address conventional weapons, including the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons. Mexico had made major efforts to combat that scourge and had achieved significant results, including the seizure over the last three years of 64,000 weapons and 5,000 munitions. The traffic in illicit arms could not be cured by the actions of individual States alone, however; shared responsibility should dominate a collective approach.
He said that the best way to achieve a successful biennial meeting was to conduct conclusive and transparent discussions with fruitful dialogue. Efforts of civil society on conventional weapons were indispensable. Mexico intended to include all of those actors in the process. Reducing illicit arms trafficking could also be aided by regulating transfers. An arms trade treaty would establish limits to the market, among other things, and he appealed for a spirit of flexibility to address the problem of irresponsible transfer of these weapons. Multilateralism was the path towards adoption of the strictest possible norms.
Regarding the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the Oslo Process had been a stellar example of consensus. He hoped the Convention would enter into force this year. Mexico fully supported the resolution presented by Lao People’s Democratic Republic to convene a conference within one year of its entry into force.
ROBERTO VILLAMBROSA ( Argentina) said the twentieth century had borne witness to the construction of a legal framework to limit conflicts and their consequences. Still, the arms production remained an area of concern, with excessive stockpiling and illicit trafficking, particularly of small arms. That caused tension, high crime rates and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Multilateralism must be the approach to solving specific problems that affected all, along with strict compliance with international legal instruments. Multilateralism was also the only way to achieve international peace and security. Agreement on mechanisms to achieve those goals was vital.
He said that Argentina had adopted a policy based on strengthening constructive dialogue between countries regarding limiting weapons, with a view to fostering a stable, peaceful and safe world. Among its contributions to those goals had been the process of developing transparency and mutual trust in his region. However, the arms race was spiralling out of control, partly due to a lack of effective regulation and controls. Proliferation and abuse of weapons weakened countries and regions. The threat of armed violence also hampered sustainable development and lowered the quality of life of affected populations.
There was a need for multilateral standards in conventional weapons transfers, especially to unauthorized entities, he said. The General Assembly resolution on the creation of an arms trade treaty had been adopted by an overwhelming majority, which demonstrated the will of the international community to regulate that trade. An open-ended working group to continue the work of the expert group had met throughout 2009 to discuss issues surrounding a treaty. The subsequent report reflected a constructive dialogue between countries. Argentina was committed to that process.
He said that although considerable numbers of States had controls, their application should be global in reach. A shared language was needed and should be created on an international level. He was convinced that the conclusion of an arms trade treaty was the best way to stop irresponsible trade and transfers and their damaging consequences, and he called on all delegations to join hands and rise to the challenge confronting today’s world.
JOHN DUNCAN (United Kingdom) said over the last year the United Kingdom had worked hard in the field of conventional weapons, including addressing its obligations to the Mine Ban Convention and starting a four-site clearance project in the Falkland Islands, signing national legislation to implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and supporting parallel negotiations taking place in the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. Unfortunately, the latter negotiations seemed to have made little substantive progress, and a new protocol could have supplemented the Cluster Munitions Convention and made more universal the prohibition and restrictions on the use of those weapons.
He said that the United Kingdom was at the forefront of efforts to update and broaden the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms. Despite efforts by many in the expert group, one expert had been unable to agree to the creation of a new category for small arms and light weapons. That was a “missed opportunity” to improve the Register’s effectiveness. There was still more work to be done to ensure that the Action Programme on those weapons had a real effect on the ground.
The launch of the process towards an arms trade treaty had garnered views from more than 100 States, culminating in a consensus report recommending international action to address the problems associated with the unregulated and irresponsible trade in arms, he said. This year, he had submitted, with six co-authors, a new draft resolution on the arms trade treaty (document A/C.1/64/L.38). “States are aware of the changes we are proposing to the process, the timeframe, and the rules that will govern the diplomatic conference,” he said. “With these changes we are setting out to establish a new framework for the ATT, giving us direction and purpose to achieve our overall goal.”
DANIEL ANTÓNIO ( Mozambique) welcomed the Secretary-General’s report on conventional arms and said that it reflected the positive results attained in curbing that illicit trade. During the period covered by the report, the United Nations had reinvigorated the coordinating action on the small arms mechanism, which would contribute to greater coherence on small arms issues. That coherence had a significant impact in strengthening regional ownership, focusing on concrete and time-bound goals, and aligning regional action plans.
He reiterated his country’s commitment to and engagement with the implementation of the Action Programme, and encouraged the international community to strengthen effective arms control mechanisms, in order to reduce demands for small arms and armed violence. Having experienced years of conflict and unrest, Mozambique continued to face the challenges of addressing threats to civilians posed by landmines and explosive remnants of war left from the conflict, the uncontrolled proliferation of firearms, and constraints on the management of Government stockpiles of weapons.
To ensure national ownership in response to the challenges, Mozambique had adopted an Arms and Ammunitions Act in 2007, as a first step towards harmonizing national legislation to control small arms and light weapons. The legislation was aimed at addressing the new challenges posed by those weapons to the country’s political and sociological economic development. With that act, efforts focused on civilian possession and use of small arms, record-keeping, marking and tracing, import, export and transit, trade, arms embargoes and the related penalties. Interventions under the Act were coordinated by an Inter-Ministerial Commission to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trafficking in Small Arms and Light Weapons. The Government also held public awareness campaigns, seminars and workshops where all relevant legislation and measures were explained and discussed.
His country believed that activities undertaken at the regional and subregional levels were crucial to strengthening efforts at the country level, he said. In that context, Mozambique was one of the 13 member countries of the Southern Africa Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization, in which it had been actively involved since its inception in 1995. It had been engaged in various other initiatives to curb the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and to promote a culture of peace in the region.
ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS ( Angola) said that as a country emerging from conflict, combating the proliferation and illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was one of the priorities of his Government’s peace and national reconciliation policy. The development of the national programme of action for the reduction, prevention and management of the problem of small arms and light weapons was based on an international commitment to address that scourge. By unanimously adopting the 2001 Programme of Action, Member States had committed themselves to collecting and destroying illegal weapons. That was an important decision to the control of conventional arms, but there was a pressing need for greater commitment from the international community, culminating in the negotiation, conclusion and entry into force of a future arms trade treaty.
He said that Angola had taken a set of measures to address that problem at the national level. In April 2008, the Government had adopted a programme of action for the disarmament of the civilian population, which defined the strategy of collecting illicit weapons. That plan focused on disarmament of civilians in possession of weapons of war, as well as the disarmament of delinquents, the military and police in illegal possession of weapons of war, the replacement of weapons of war used by private security and removal of weapons of war from hidden stockpiles. For its implementation, the programme was divided into four phases, namely organization of awareness, voluntary surrender of weapons, compulsory collection of weapons, and control and balance.
After one year of implementation, he reported that 55,064 weapons, 200,266 ammunition, 35,665 gun chargers and 15,781 explosives had been surrendered and collected, and 49 gun stockpiles had been found. The collected weapons that were in good condition had been forwarded to the armed forces and the police, while the obsolete ones were being destroyed. The results, though good, showed that there was still a long way to go. Unfortunately, Angola did not have an accurate estimate of the number of weapons in illegal possession of civilians. The Government, however, spared no efforts in the struggle to disarm the population and reinforce the responsibility of relevant law and order institutions to the urgency of that important task.
He added that Angola had organized seminars, with the help of the United Nations, to train instructors in the field of disarmament of the civilian population. It had also exchanged experiences with neighbouring countries that “live the same reality” and had signed a protocol with the Centre for Strategic Studies of Angola to carry out an inquiry on the impact of disarmament on the country, and with the non-governmental organization, Halo Trust, for the destruction of obsolete weapons.
ALFREDO LABBÉ ( Chile) said although his region was not rife with cluster munitions, his country was committed to the current climate of security marked by trust and cooperation, and it supported the Cluster Munitions Convention. At the fourth Regional Conference on Cluster Munitions, Chile’s defence minister had announced the destruction of all cluster weapons from military stocks and the introduction of a project to assist victims of those weapons. Chile would also hold the preparatory meeting of States parties to that Convention. Chile’s policy for conventional weapons was clear, and so it must be, because this was an area where countries could make a commitment to cooperation on bilateral, regional and international levels. The South American Defence Council created a climate of confidence in the region, partly achieved through transparency.
He said that Chile continued its efforts to perfect the regional security mechanisms. He highlighted the need to move towards the realization of a treaty on the arms trade. The General Assembly resolution to start work in that area had resulted in progressive steps. However, he was still concerned about the import, export and transfer and the prevention of those weapons from fostering crime and tensions. As civil society had indicated, the arms trade affected the quality of life. Illicit trade in arms increased the disruptive abilities of transnational organized crime and provided drug traffickers and terrorists with means to their goals. An arms trade treaty should raise legal and moral standards, which should govern the actions of the international community in that realm.
Multilateral regulation of small arms and light weapons also needed more attention, he said, and Chile supported an action plan towards strict regulation. He advocated a human security view, centred on the security and well-being of the individual. He applauded civil society, which had greatly assisted the work of disarmament. When professional diplomats and negotiators risked succumbing to the temptation to settle for minimum standards, the many non-governmental organizations active in the field had helped to keep the issues in the spotlight.
DONALD A. MAHLEY ( United States) said that poorly regulated transfers of arms posed very serious risks, deserving of urgent attention. Although arms transfers, whether of small arms or multi-million-dollar combat aircraft, were matters of national decision and, in accordance with the United Nations Charter, a right of all responsible Governments for self-defence, they could also be primary sources of terrorist action, potentially deadly genocidal actions by despotic warlords and totalitarian oppressors, proliferation nightmares and destabilizing imbalances destroying the search for security and the safe existence of millions of people. The United States controlled the transfer of arms through law and regulations to ensure that once transferred, those arms were retained and used for the legitimate purposes for which they had been acquired.
He said that the thousands of applications for weapons export that were reviewed monthly in the United States were measured against stringent standards, through an expensive process requiring enormous effort, which resulted in denying exports in questionable circumstances to the commercial disadvantage of United States’ firms. That was the price of stemming the flow of capabilities to terrorist groups, rogue States and others who would undermine the rule of international law. That was also why the United States believed that it was the responsibility of the entire international community to settle for no less than the highest possible standards in international agreements and reporting activities on conventional arms. The United States was prepared to vigorously support the resolution pending on proceeding to a conference on the arms trade.
That resolution allowed for little working time before the 2012 Conference, and so every day must be used to put forward substantive proposals on what to include to establish high standards and effective implementation, he said, pledging to offer substantive requirements, and to demonstrate their utility, at the next meeting. An arms trade treaty’s importance to national security and international stability called for decisions based on consensus, in order to command the widest possible participation. A document that failed to gain support from important international actors capable of acting outside its reach undercut the objectives and purposes of the framers and would be worse than having no document at all. Consensus –- although shunned by many in this room -– was a crucial concept for the United States; it was not an excuse for avoiding hard choices or real controls.
He said that there would no doubt be serious, lengthy deliberation over most of the elements of any arms trade treaty outcome. In fact, it had been his country’s experience –- sometimes painful -– over more than four decades of such deliberations, that there was an inevitable rush by many participants to seek simplified or shallow provisions because they “sound good” or are easily agreed to. The United States considered the subject of conventional arms transfers, with their pervasiveness, dual-use capabilities, and potential harm, too important to national security to be treated with less than the level of detail and engagement that they deserved. That would not make deliberations easier, but it would give them the greatest chance of being meaningful and of commanding both the attention and participation by the States necessary to its eventual success.
The United States was prepared to engage in the pursuit of a product that established high standards of expected conduct in international activity and in national enforcement, he said. However, it was not prepared to approve “a weak or loophole-infested product”, in order to get quick agreement from those States who would like to continue to support, however directly or indirectly, terrorists, pirates and genocidal warlords for a quick profit or short-term advantage.
VOLKAN ÖSKIPER ( Turkey) said there was a well-documented link between the illicit arms trade and terrorism. As a country that continued to suffer from terrorism, Turkey attached great importance to the prevention and eradication of the illicit small arms and light weapons trade. He favoured a comprehensive approach for developing the necessary tools and implementing certain practices to prevent and eradicate it. Measures should be taken, including a series of steps, from manufacturing to seizure and destruction. Transparency and information sharing would promote consistency in the implementation of agreed multilateral standards.
He said that despite the existence of many international instruments addressing transfer controls, a large amount of weapons was still being transferred illicitly, pointing to a need to focus more on effective implementation measures. Preventing the illicit trade in all its aspects should involve the implementation of regulations over the legal transfer of arms, weapons and ammunition, with a well-functioning control system based in law and supported by comprehensive enforcement mechanisms.
Turkey was committed to the effective implementation and further strengthening of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, and would continue to contribute to efforts within the United Nations system and other forums to foster international and regional cooperation and, when necessary, the adoption and implementation of additional norms and rules in that field. A conclusion to an arms trade treaty should halt unregulated and uncontrolled trade of conventional arms and establish common standards for their global trade.
With a vision of a world free of anti-personnel mines, Turkey supported the Mine Ban Convention and continued the destruction process of its stockpiled mines, he said. Turkey had already destroyed the fuses of all its stockpiled mines, rendering the weapons unusable. He urged States that had not done so to accede to the Convention and emphasized that the consent of the relevant States parties was necessary if and when engagement with armed non-State actors was contemplated within the instrument’s context. Such activities should in no way serve the purposes of terrorist organizations.
Turkey had been involved in the Oslo Process on cluster munitions and actively participated in the ongoing work in the meetings of the governmental experts group on cluster munitions, within the context of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. It shared the humanitarian concern behind the international efforts to limit the use of cluster munitions. It expected the governmental experts group to intensify its efforts for preparing a document, which should take into account the concerns of all parties. In that regard, it was cognizant of the possibly that such a document might not entirely overlap with the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.
He reiterated Turkey’s support for the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and the Standardized Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditures. Turkey regularly provided data to the Register, and called on States that had not made use of that instrument to do so without further delay.
FEBRIAN RUDDYARD (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed the sovereign right of States to acquire, manufacture, export, import and retain conventional arms for self-defence and security needs, but was concerned about unilateral coercive measures. He stressed that no undue restriction should be placed on the transfer of such arms. Given the significant imbalance in the production, possession and trade in conventional weapons between industrialized countries and those of the Non-Aligned Movement, he called for a significant reduction in the producing, possessing and trading of those weapons by industrialized States, with a view to enhancing international and regional peace and security.
He said that the Movement remained deeply concerned over the illicit transfer, manufacture and circulation of small arms and light weapons and their excessive build-up and uncontrolled spread. Controls over private ownership should be established and maintained, and he called on all States, especially major producers, to ensure that the supply was limited to Governments or to entities authorized by Governments, and to implement legal restrictions and prohibitions preventing the illicit trade in those weapons. Prompt and full implementation must be made of the Programme of Action, and he stressed that international assistance and cooperation was an essential in that regard. He called for the full implementation of the international instrument adopted by the General Assembly, which enabled States to identify and trace illicit small arms and light weapons in a timely and reliable manner.
To fight the scourge of anti-personnel mines, certain conventional weapons deemed to be excessively injurious and cluster munitions, he urged States to support the relevant conventions. Regarding the subject of a future arms trade treaty, the Movement believed that international action should be taken to address the problem and that respective responsibilities should exist for exporters and importers. In view of the complexity of conventional arms transfers issues, further consideration of efforts within the United Nations framework to address international trade in that area was required on a step-by-step basis in an open and transparent manner to achieve, on the basis of consensus, a balance that would provide benefits to all, with the United Nations Charter principles at the centre of such efforts.
ALISON KELLY ( Ireland) introduced a draft resolution on the Convention on Cluster Munitions (document A/C.1/64/L.16). To date, the Convention had been signed by 100 States and ratified by 23. It would enter into force six months after the thirtieth ratification.
She said that the Government of Lao People’s Democratic Republic had offered to hold the first meeting of States parties to the Convention, and was jointly presenting the draft to the Committee. It was particularly significant since the country was more affected by cluster munitions than any other in the world.
The draft was short and simple, she said. Its only purpose was to place on record that offer and to request the Secretary-General, under the Convention’s provisions, to undertake the necessary preparations for the convening of the first meeting following the Convention’s entry into force.
KANIKA PHOMMACHANH (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), speaking on the draft resolution on cluster munitions, just introduced by the representative of Ireland, said that those weapons continued to threaten the socio-economic development of many countries. Her country was among those most affected by cluster munitions. Some 37 per cent of the country remained contaminated by those weapons, years after the end of the conflict there. Their presence caused immeasurable burden to the nation’s social development and national growth. Consequently, the Lao People's Democratic Republic attached great importance to the Convention and fully supported the draft resolution. It would host the first meeting of the State parties to that Convention and requested the United Nations Secretary-General to undertake necessary preparations towards the holding of that meeting. Laos was greatly honoured to be hosting that meeting. It hoped that the First Committee would adopt the draft resolution by consensus.
ILENIA MEDINA-CARRASCO ( Venezuela) said that the international community must work towards a binding instrument to track and mark weapons, in order to fight the crimes linked to trafficking. Current proposals surrounding the arms trade treaty considerably weakened the climate of confidence that the General Assembly had attached to the establishment of a working group and the adoption of a gradual process of deliberations leading to a substantive session. There had been a climate of confidence during the group’s session this year, and, thus, it was completely unfounded to eliminate the sessions for 2010 and 2011. She urged all States to continue to discuss the viability, parameters, and objectives of a possible instrument of common international norms for the export, import and transfer of conventional arms. A future session should make progress in identifying the elements.
Venezuela was a country with peaceful traditions, she said, noting that the only time it had experienced any military contingency was when the military contributed to the war of independence. However, the country was threatened by the greatest military Power, which had also committed the greatest violations of international and humanitarian laws. That country was flouting trade agreements in the military arena. Latin America had suffered military interventions from foreign imperial Powers, with dire results. It continued to suffer from those interventions. Clear examples of those threats had been the establishment of seven United States military bases in Colombia, which had led to a climate of mistrust. A meeting of the Presidents of South American States had concluded that those threats were not only threats to Latin America, but also to South America.
PEKKE OJANEN (Finland) said that the illicit spread of small arms and light weapons did not respect State borders, but was a shared problem, affecting certain parts of the world more heavily than others. To find a solution to the problem, the international community must make a concerted effort. His own country had long been committed to staunch the spread of small arms and light weapons, in which the United Nations should play a central role.
He also underlined the importance of the Programme of Action, as the primary framework within which to discuss those issues, and he praised the outcome document from the Biennial Meeting of States in 2008, which gave Member States the tools to more effectively implement the Programme. Concerning the complexity and variety of problems in different regions of the world, he welcomed the role of regional and subregional organizations of augmenting United Nations efforts, and commended the work carried about by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other organizations.
Finally, he pointed out that the issue of small arms and light weapons could not be separated from the larger issue of development. He was encouraged by the progress in the open-ended working group on an arms trade treaty. “Time has come to take a decisive step forward,” he said. An arms trade treaty would provide the international regulatory framework and global rules to hinder the flow of arms into “irresponsible” hands, he said, adding that he hoped all delegations would work together for a resolution on a treaty, which would help pave the way for the 2012 United Nations conference on that topic.
Mr. LOPEZ-TRIGO ( Cuba) said a rise in arms use around the world had become more sophisticated and deadly. The Non-Aligned Movement had issued a warning about an imbalance between industrialized and developing countries in the production and trade of those weapons. There was indeed a marked imbalance in the attention given to different weapons. Illicit arms trafficking brought about significant humanitarian problems.
He said that Cuba supported the Programme of Action on combating those weapons. After eight years, that plan had yielded some results, but more needed to be done. More effective measures should be adopted to prevent the use of those weapons by terrorists and for organized crime. Over the year, the working group of the General Assembly had laid down the path to address and make progress towards consensus for an arms trade treaty. Consideration of that complex matter should continue to take place within the confines of the United Nations and on the basis of consensus. There were no easy answers or simplistic recipes for a cure.
Cuba shared the humanitarian concerns about anti-personnel mines, he said, adding that it had been the victim of hostilities and aggression on the part of a super-Power and was not in a position to sign the convention on those weapons.
SUNEETA MILLINGTON (Canada), stressing the urgency of the topic, voiced hope that the upcoming meeting on the 2001 Programme of Action on illicitly traded small arms and light weapons would help spur momentum towards implementation. Heartened by progress over the past three years towards an arms trade treaty, she joined the call for negotiations to begin on a legally binding agreement to prevent the misuse of conventional arms or their diversion to the illicit market while allowing for the defence and security needs of States and the legitimate sporting and collecting purposes of civilians. An arms trade treaty should not impose restrictions on how arms were acquired, held or used within a State’s territory.
She noted with pleasure that Canada had ratified all five Protocols of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and had been heavily engaged in the work of the governmental expert group on cluster munitions, but expressed disappointment that States remained “all but stalled” on several key issues in that area after lengthy negotiations. Fortunately, there was now a state-of-the-art, legally binding Convention on Cluster Munitions, which established the right balance between humanitarian and military considerations, and on which her country was proud to have worked actively. Canadian ratification was expected soon.
She urged all States that had not yet done so to become parties to that Convention, as well as to the Mine Ban Convention and the various Protocols of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. She said she looked forward eagerly to the upcoming Review Conference of the Mine Ban Convention, which had become one of the most successful disarmament treaties in history. It was a shared responsibility to do everything possible to end the devastating impact that mines, cluster munitions and other conventional weapons had on civilians worldwide.
IM HAN-TAEK ( Republic of Korea) said that small arms and light weapons were the weapons of choice in present-day conflicts. Their excessive accumulation prolonged armed violence and aggravated regional conflicts. Diverse socio-economic and human rights problems, such as child soldiers, refugees, food insecurity and the illegal exploitation of natural resources, were all associated with and aggravated by the proliferation of small arms. Their illicit trade was often closely linked with organized crime, terrorism and drug trafficking.
He said that in preventing and addressing small arms problems, the Republic of Korea supported the Programme of Action as the primary mechanism, while the international marking and tracing instrument was also useful. He strongly believed that small arms should be included as the eighth category of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms.
The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons could not be overemphasized in addressing the humanitarian concerns of conventional weapons and in realizing the principles of international humanitarian law, he said, and his country had implemented it, in letter and spirit. As a State party to the Amended Protocol II, it had also attached great importance to international efforts to mitigate the humanitarian suffering caused by landmines. The Republic of Korea had also fully recognized the need to reduce the suffering caused by cluster munitions. The Conventional on Certain Conventional Weapons, whose participation included the States most involved in that issue, should tackle the problems of cluster munitions and the challenges arising from conflicting positions on that topic.
He said it was regrettable that, despite two years of intensive negotiations, the group of governmental experts had been unable to reach consensus on the draft of a new protocol. If adopted and implemented, the protocol would have a significant impact on the ground. The Republic of Korea had been actively participating in the negotiations, with an aim to produce a result that struck a balance between humanitarian concerns and military needs. He also hoped the resolutions on an arms trade treaty would get wide support in the Committee.
MILOŠ KOTEREC ( Slovakia) added to remarks made by the representative of Sweden on behalf of the European Union on two important issues: national reporting under the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and the Mine Ban Convention; and the arms trade treaty. Regarding the first issue, he stressed that the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons had a political obligation to annually submit their national reports on implementation of the instrument as a whole, under the convention’s compliance mechanism, created by the Third Review Conference in 2006. Yet, despite those and other political and legal commitments, the submission of reports was relatively low and varied from 30 per cent to 60 per cent. That showed the respective States parties’ poor level of engagement in reaching the goals of the respective instruments.
He said that the factors behind that non-compliance could be a lack of awareness of the obligation, as well as the abundant resources available to States. Those resources included databases of all the submitted national reports and guides on national reporting, which were created to serve as handy tools. The databases provided an opportunity to study the approaches taken by other parties, and annual updates handed States an opportunity to enhance the quality of their submissions. So States should not shy away from their submissions because of concerns about the quality of the initial data.
Regarding the arms trade treaty, he said that the proliferation of conventional weapons, especially of small arms and light weapons, had risen to such dimensions that their effects were justifiably compared to those of weapons of mass destruction. The laying down of international standards for the transfers of conventional weapons and ammunition was becoming an increasingly pressing issue. It was time to move from general discussions into substantive negotiations that would develop a truly comprehensive, universal and legally binding instrument to prevent the diversion of legally-traded products made by defence industries to illicit markets and irresponsible users. Slovakia was convinced that the United Nations was the proper forum for negotiating such an instrument.
ROB WENSLEY ( South Africa) said that his country had been one of nearly 100 to have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions last December in Oslo and it was committed to full implementation of its provision. It was confident that the comprehensive ban set by the Convention on the vast majority of cluster munitions stockpiled around the world would swiftly lead to their stigmatization as weapons of armed conflict. South Africa was particularly pleased with the Convention’s groundbreaking provisions on victim assistance. South Africa had a fairly small number of obsolete cluster munitions in its stockpile that had been earmarked for destruction, and his Government was committed to destroying those stocks well in advance of the destruction deadline set by the Convention. South Africa had also embarked on the ratification process consistent with its Constitution.
He said that implementation of the Mine Ban Convention was also of great importance to his country. The Second Review in Cartagena later this year would be a welcome opportunity for States to provide input into the outcome document to be adopted by that conference. His country had hosted an Africa Union Conference on anti-personnel mines, from 9 to 11 September. The hope was for the Cartagena Conference to come out united on a world free of anti-personnel mines and recommitted to implementing the Convention provisions relating to assisting victims, clearing landmines and cooperating on stockpile destruction.
He said that discussions on the arms trade treaty had progressed to the next phase of preparatory work for the 2012 United Nations Conference. It was essential that the Conference take place within the United Nations framework to make it as broad and inclusive as possible. That was the only way to make the treaty truly effective and, in that way, make an impact on arms trade.
Finally, he said he attached great importance to the implementation of the Programme of Action related to small arms and light weapons. Since its adoption, an international tracing instrument had also been agreed. A governmental experts group had also elaborated a set of recommendations on illicit brokering. Those were substantive items relative to the Action Programme. The question of ammunition was an integral part of the illicit small arms trade. The separate work of the governmental experts on ammunition should complement the work being done to implement the Action Programme.
Along with Colombia and Japan, he introduced a draft resolution (document A/C.1/64/L.42) on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects. It was primarily a technical update of last year’s resolution. It merited consensus.
CHATVADEE ORRATTANACHAI ( Thailand) said that the international community continued to face risks posed by conventional weapons, and peace, stability and development were threatened by non-traditional threats, such as terrorism and transnational organized crime. Those scourges were made more deadly by the illicit transfer and abusive use of small arms and light weapons. It was an urgent and important task of this Committee to deal with those challenges in a concerted manner. The illicit arms trade was often linked with armed violence, transnational crime and terrorism.
She said that Thailand supported the Programme of Action as a key multilateral framework in coordinating the efforts of Member States to prevent the illicit manufacture, export, import and transfer of those weapons. Resources and capacity-building was needed to strengthen the Programme’s implementation. A regional approach should be explored. Last year’s Third Biennial Meeting of States reflected the collective will to tackle the illicit trade in those weapons. Diverting conventional weapons to unauthorized recipients could seriously threaten political stability. Thailand reaffirmed support for discussions on an arms trade treaty. An effective treaty would need a step-by-step process through multilateral exchanges, she said.
Concerted action was also needed concerning anti-personnel mines, she said. Thailand was working towards meeting its deadline for mines destruction. International cooperation, especially in terms of technical and financial assistance, would further enable affected States parties to overcome the challenges of mine action.
Mr. HELLGREN (Sweden) introduced a draft resolution on Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (document A/C.1/64/L.37), together with Pakistan, as the Chairman of the Meeting of States Parties in 2008, Switzerland, as the President of the Tenth Conference of Contracting Parties to Amended Protocol II, and Lithuania, as President of the Second Conference of Contracting Parties to Protocol V. He said the purpose of the Convention was to ban or restrict the use of specific types of weapons and was designed to provide a framework within which humanitarian concerns regarding conventional weapons would be dealt with.
Today, he noted, the Convention had some 110 States parties, falling short of achieving universal membership. He hoped countries that had not joined the treaty would do so. The draft’s purpose was to continue to express support for the Convention and its Protocols, reflecting the ongoing work within the instrument’s framework over the past year.
MOHAMMED BELAOURA ( Algeria) said that the efforts made within the United Nations structure to adopt standards regulating the trade in conventional weapons were signs of the importance the international community gave this issue. Algeria aligned itself with that international action. Regulating the arms trade must be within international law. Algeria was satisfied with developments flowing from the General Assembly’s adoption of a resolution on an arms trade treaty. Such a treaty would have a direct impact on the United Nations Programme of Action to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit arms trade.
He said that organized crime was a threat to the peace and stability of his community, his region and other regions of the world, leading to the deaths of hundreds of civilians every day. Similarly, anti-personnel mines were not only destructive on a personal level, but they also destroyed the economic and social fabric of communities. Algeria had ratified the convention banning those weapons. While he welcomed developments on that front since the treaty’s adoption, he called on States that had not ratified the instrument to do so as soon as possible. That would broaden collective efforts for mine clearance and victim assistance. He stressed the need to make progress and guarantee transparency when dealing with conventional weapons. The United Nations was the only forum where those issues should be considered. He called for the complete elimination of weapons, beginning with nuclear weapons, which were the biggest threat to international peace and security.
RAZA BASHIR TARAR ( Pakistan) noted that global military expenditure stood at a mind-boggling $1,465 billion today. That travesty was rendered all the more poignant by the fact that the rich and powerful countries of the world were not willing to match rhetoric with action by putting together a modest $150 billion to meet the much vaunted Millennium Development Goals, which had become a slogan that rose and floundered on the rocks of United Nations conference rooms. There was no denying the urgent need to address the challenge of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. However, that debate should not divert attention from the lucrative trade in combat aircraft, aircraft carriers, airborne and early warning and control systems, missile defence, nuclear submarines and warships, among others, as well as related technologies. By subverting regional stability to commercial considerations, such dealings disturbed regional balance and stability, contributing to further discord.
Continuing, he said that imbalance and tension created ideal marketing conditions for the sale of advanced weaponries. That state of affairs imparted a legal and moral imperative for promoting conventional arms control, at the lowest possible levels of armament and military forces, as sine qua non for an enabling environment for regional and international peace and security.
He said that the epoch making first special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament had spelled out the prescription for nuclear disarmament negotiations to be accompanied by an internationally-negotiated balanced reduction of armed forces and conventional armaments. Such a process should be founded on the principles of equal and undiminished security for all States, as well as promotion of or enhanced stability at a lower military level. For conventional arms control to succeed, it should be pursued on a regional and subregional basis. Disputes and conflicts between States in the same region or subregions generated most threats to peace and security. The major onus in that regard fell on militarily-significant States.
Egregious accumulation of conventional weapons, rooted in uncontrolled, commercially-motivated transfers was a bane of regional and global peace and stability, he went on. Conventional arms should diminish insecurity by promoting balance, especially in former and possible theatres of conflict. Greater transparency could greatly aid conventional arms control. The Conventional Arms Register should be used, not only for reporting, but also as a means to develop global norms related to transparency in armaments. Data distilled from those instruments by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs could serve as meaningful early warning mechanism with regard to conflict prevention and rationalization of arms acquisitions.
He said that Pakistan had participated in the process to examine the feasibility of the arms trade treaty and to establish its parameters and scope. The country was convinced that any proposal with regard to conventional arms trade had to take into account the right of all States to manufacture, import, export, transfer and retain conventional weapons for self-defence and security. The destabilizing impacts of conventional weapons could not be mitigated by mere regulation of arms transfer and trade.
ANDY RACHMIANTO ( Indonesia) said small arms and light weapons had wreaked havoc on societies around the world. The Programme of Action and the International Instrument on Marking and Tracing should be strengthened to stamp out that deadly trend. Efforts should include accelerated national, regional and international solutions for effectively addressing the arms brokerage, marking, tracing, transfer control and collection and destruction of illicit small arms and light weapons. International support was critical for the Programme’s proper implementation.
He said that an arms trade treaty should respects States’ rights to acquire and possess conventional arms. To move forward towards the creation of a treaty, deliberations should include the notion that the instrument should be a legally binding document, with the highest possible common and non-discriminatory global standards.
JOSE IKONGO ISEKOTOKO BOYOO, Director, Ministry of the Interior and Security, Democratic Republic of the Congo, said that conventional weapons affected the Great Lakes region and his country, and remained the driving force behind human violence. Regarding border insecurity and the process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, the various treaties on many types of conventional weapons had led his country to fight against the scourge of those weapons. Small arms and light weapons, the reduction of anti-personnel mines and of armed violence were all pressing issues for his nation.
He said that the Democratic Republic of the Congo had created a national control commission, backed by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence, to address the problems of small arms and light weapons, and to reduce armed violence. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had provided material support to implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action. Regarding destruction and clean-up, more than 97,000 weapons and tons of ammunition had been destroyed. Violence continued today in the east of the country, where 2.2 million were internally displaced, owing to actions by the Lord’s Resistance Army.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo had been working with a regional control centre in border regions. It had also adhered to the Brazzaville declaration. After ratification of the Mine-Ban Convention, his country had taken action, including the creation of an anti-mines focal point, which had, among other things, cleared more than 4 million square metres of land. He thanked international organizations and United Nations agencies for their assistance. An arms trade treaty should be an instrument that was binding on all States, leading to the collective goal of security and peace.
* *** *For information media • not an official record