4 October 2010
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3406

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

Sixty-fifth General Assembly

First Committee

2nd Meeting (AM)


‘May the Momentum Be with Us,’ Urges Disarmament Chief in First Committee, Warning


against Indefinite Delays, Chronic Compliance Questions, Military Spending Trends


“If major steps forward in disarmament are postponed indefinitely, if questions persist of compliance with non-proliferation commitments, and if military spending continues to rise while Millennium Development Goals continue to be unmet, then our potential contributions will be correspondingly limited,” the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Sergio Duarte, warned the Disarmament Committee today, as it began its general debate.


To sustain or increase the positive diplomatic momentum, he pointed to several factors, the first of which was determined leadership from States with the largest investments in weaponry to further reduce their arsenals, limit their exports and reduce military spending.  The second was the equally determined pursuit of disarmament and non-proliferation goals by the rest of the diplomatic community, especially the “middle-power” States.  The third was the persistent efforts by civil society to advance multilateral disarmament goals.


“The greatest momentum will be achieved through a combination of all three factors working for common ends,” Mr. Duarte said.  To the members of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), he said “may the momentum be with us”.


First Committee Chairman, Miloš Koterec ( Slovakia) said the definition of a “safer world” and the whole concept of international security had been brought to the centre of a new heightened philosophical scrutiny.  The concept of international security had become a multifaceted notion, a combination of military, political, economic, social, environmental and other security concepts.  Progress in one area would determine success in another. 


He urged the First Committee to step up to the plate and work in concerted effort towards a more secure world.  It had been presented with a historical opportunity to garner political will and determination to build on recent achievements.  He urged States to work closely and cooperatively on the more than 50 draft resolutions the Committee would be considering.


To build on the present momentum, Ireland’s representative on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition (non-nuclear-weapon States of Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden) urged all nuclear-weapon States to take concrete, transparent, verifiable and irreversible steps to eliminate all types of nuclear weapons.  As long as several States deemed that possession of nuclear weapons was essential for their security, others would aspire to acquire them.  “We see no justification for the acquisition or the indefinite possession of nuclear weapons and we do not subscribe to the view that nuclear weapons – or the quest to develop them – contribute to international peace and security.”


Speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, Indonesia’s representative expressed concern about the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, stressing that efforts aimed at nuclear non-proliferation should be in parallel to nuclear disarmament efforts.  Imbalances should also be righted in terms of access to nuclear technologies.  He noted with concern persistent undue restrictions on exports to developing countries of materials, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes.  Non-proliferation control arrangements should be transparent and should not impose restrictions on access to material, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes required by developing countries for their development, he said.


The European Union was committed to ensuring a responsible development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy, in the best safety, security and non-proliferation conditions, the representative of Belgium said on its behalf.  It urged States to stop producing critical bomb-building ingredients.  Long attaching priority to the negotiation of a ban on fissile material for nuclear weapons to contribute to the climate of security, he said that pending its conclusion, States should adopt and uphold a moratorium on the production of fissile material.  


Several non-nuclear-weapon State delegations today reiterated their call for legally binding security assurances that nuclear-weapon States would never use or threaten to use those weapons against their countries.  For example, Nigeria’s representative, on behalf of the African Group, said that would give non-nuclear-weapon States peace of mind, as would ratification by the nuclear Powers of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Pelindaba Treaty).  She called for greater focus on developing countries’ need to address the illicit small arms and light weapons scourge. 


While deep reductions in strategic offensive arms undertaken by Russia and the United States had led to a qualitative change in the situation in the nuclear disarmament field, said the representative of the Russian Federation, the narrowing numeric gap between stockpiles the of the P-5 (permanent five members of the Security Council) created an urgent need for other States possessing nuclear weapons to gradually join Russian and American disarmament efforts.


However, he cautioned that the lowering of nuclear capabilities made deeper reductions impossible without due regard to all other processes in the area of international security, including factors shaping strategic stability: the development of regional missile-defence systems without consideration of neighbouring States’ security; the possible weaponization of outer space, development of strategic delivery vehicles in non-nuclear configurations, the unilateral build-up in strategic missile-defence capabilities, a growing imbalance of forces in the area of conventional arms, or deployment of nuclear weapons in the territories of non-nuclear-weapon States.


Norway’s delegation approached the need to build on current momentum by asserting that it was the United Nations disarmament apparatus that would have to step up to the plate and re-energize its working methods.  If not, the principal multilateral forums, which had been put in place to deal with the crucially important area of disarmament, would simply be relegated to a secondary role.  Both the Conference on Disarmament and the United Nations Disarmament Commission were “highly dysfunctional” bodies today, and it was up to the Member States to make the choice between renewed relevance or oblivion.


Also participating in today’s debate were the representatives of Turkmenistan (on behalf of Central Asian States), Haiti (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Mexico, Colombia and the United Arab Emirates.


The representative of Iran spoke in exercise of the right of reply.


The Committee will meet again to continue its general debate at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 5 October.


Background


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to begin its general debate, scheduled through 12 October, on all disarmament and international security agenda items before the General Assembly.  Discussion focused on several reports of the Secretary-General:


Before the Committee will be the report of the Conference on Disarmament (document CD/1900), which contains updates on its 2010 session.  The report notes that the Conference met from 18 January to 26 March, 31 May to 16 July, and from 9 August to 24 September.  (The closing meeting on 24 September was in the form of a High-level Summit at Headquarters in New York convened by the Secretary-General, with the aim of revitalizing the Conference which had been unable to agree on a work programme for the year.  According to the Conference’s rules of procedure, the programme must be agreed each year, by consensus).


The report notes that the Conference, during its three parts, held 35 formal plenary meetings, at which member States as well as non-member States invited to participate in the discussions outlined their views and recommendations on the various questions before the Conference.


Subjects on the Conference’s agenda, adopted for the 2010 session, were:  cessation of the  nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament; prevention of nuclear war, including all related matters; prevention of an arms race in outer space; effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons; new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons; radiological weapons; comprehensive programme of disarmament; transparency in armaments; consideration and adoption of the annual report and any other report, as appropriate, to the General Assembly of the United Nations.  The question of expanding the Conference’s membership was also addressed in plenary.


The report states that, with the growing importance of multilateral disarmament, and building on the focused efforts in the Conference on Disarmament to establish a programme of work for the 2010 session, and with a view to early commencement of substantive work during its 2011 session, the Conference requested the current President and the incoming President to conduct consultations during the intersessional period and, if possible, make recommendations taking into account all relevant proposals, past, present and future, including those submitted as documents of the Conference on Disarmament, views presented and discussions held, and to endeavour to keep the membership of the Conference informed, as appropriate, of their consultations.


The Conference decided that the dates for its 2011 session would be:

first part: 24 January to 1 April; second part: 16 May to 1 July; and third part: 2 August to 16 September.


The report of the Disarmament Commission for 2010 (document A/65/42) recalls the resolution from the General Assembly’s sixty-fourth session (document 64/65), which, among other things, reaffirms the Commission’s mandate as the specialized, deliberative body within the United Nations multilateral disarmament machinery that allows for in-depth deliberations on specific disarmament issues, leading to the submission of concrete recommendations on those issues.  The report also reaffirms the importance of further enhancing the dialogue and cooperation among the First Committee, the Disarmament Commission and the Conference on Disarmament.


The Commission met at United Nations Headquarters from 29 March to 16 April, during which it considered, for the second year of a typically three-year cycle of deliberations: recommendations for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation; elements of a draft declaration of the 2010s as the fourth disarmament decade; and practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons — which would be taken up upon the conclusion of the elements of a draft declaration on the fourth disarmament decade, preferably by 2010, and in any case, no later than 2011.  On 16 April, the Commissionadopted by consensus the reports of its subsidiary bodies and the conclusions andrecommendations contained therein, as well as its report as a whole, agreeing to submit those to the General Assembly at its sixty-fifth session.  (For details on the closing meeting, see Press Release DC/3220 of 16 April).


Also before the Committee is the Secretary-General’s report on Work of the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters (document A/65/228), which summarizes the Board’s activities in 2010 during its fifty-third and fifty-fourth sessions, held respectively in New York 24 to 26 February and in Geneva 7 to 9 July.


The Board continued its deliberations on the item entitled “Conceptual issues leading up to the 2010 NPT Review Conference”, during its fifty-third session.  It recommended that the Secretary-General continue to provide his strong support for the political momentum in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, leading up to the Review Conference, and encourage States to ensure high-level political commitment to, and participation at, the Review Conference.


It also urged the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to send positive messages prior to the Review Conference and encourage States to propose concrete steps for a multilateral process in nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy and for implementation of existing norms.


The Board also urged the Secretary-General to stress to both nuclear— and non-nuclear-weapon States their common responsibility in having zero tolerance for proliferation by either States or non-State actors, as well as in advancing nuclear disarmament.  It was also felt that the Secretary-General should acknowledge the progress already achieved, especially in the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones and in States reversing their nuclear status.


At its fifty-fourth session in Geneva, the Board took time to exchange views on the outcome of the 2010 Review Conference.  The Board praised the Secretary-General for his efforts, and mentioned, among other things, that, as the voice of the international community, he should help to maintain the consensus attained at the Review Conference, given his unique position to appeal to all States, at the highest political level, to pay more attention to the issue of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, as well as to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It was suggested that the Secretary-General also act the preserver of the spirit of the Review Conference and the bridge-builder between nuclear— and non-nuclear-weapon States.


In connection with the tasks assigned to the Secretary-General in the follow-on actions in the Final Document of the Review Conference, the Board stressed his special responsibility in convening the high-level meeting in September 2010 in support of the work of the Conference on Disarmament (For details of that meeting, see Press Release DCF/457, of 24 September).  It was emphasized that efforts should be made to avoid confrontations.  It was also suggested that the Secretary-General encourage States to preserve the delicate consensus and to implement the recommendations agreed at the Review Conference.


The Board stated, among other things, that priority should also be given to the implementation of the 1995 resolution of the Review Conference on the Middle East and the convening of a conference in 2012, to be attended by all States of the Middle East, on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.


In addition, the Committee will consider a report on reducing nuclear danger — nuclear disarmament - follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons (document A/65/137).  In it, the Secretary-General finds, among other things, that the past year signified an important turning point in international efforts to achieve the universal objective of a world free of nuclear weapons.  There has been some progress, he says, related to reducing the total number of deployed nuclear weapons, increased transparency, an endeavour to diminish the role and significance of nuclear weapons in security policies and the building of political support for a process leading to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, including by means of a nuclear weapons convention or a framework of separate mutually reinforcing instruments, backed by a strong system of verification. 


“Consensus agreements, however, continued to elude forums for the development of new international law relating to the constraint and elimination of nuclear weapons, potentially limiting the opportunities of the international community to consolidate and carry forward the prevailing political momentum for nuclear disarmament,” he states.  However, political impetus continues to exist for the achievement of interim measures, including de-alerting, reducing and eliminating non-strategic nuclear weapons; consolidating legal norms against the threat or use of nuclear weapons including by means of further articulating the norms of international humanitarian law; establishing universal legally binding commitments against the threat or use of nuclear weapons in all circumstances; and a legally binding commitment to end the production of fissile materials for use in nuclear materials.


The Committee will also have before it the Secretary-General’sreport on Mongolia’s international security and nuclear weapon-free status (document A/65/ 136), which gives an account of new developments and the assistance accorded to Mongolia by the Secretariat and relevant United Nations bodies since the issuance of the previous report on this subject (A/63/122), including a series of consultations held by the Office for Disarmament Affairs with Mongolia and relevant United Nations bodies on ways and means to consolidate Mongolia’s international security and nuclear-weapon-free status.


The report finds that Mongolia has continued to receive international recognition for its nuclear-weapon-free status and efforts to promote other nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation objectives.  It has also continued to seek the institutionalization of its nuclear-weapon-free status and, in that regard, has undertaken discussions with its two immediate neighbours, China and the Russian Federation, towards the conclusion of a legal instrument, which would contain a separate draft protocol to be signed by the other nuclear-weapon States.


The Committee will also consider the Secretary-General’s report on measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction (document A/65/99), which was submitted in response to a request by the Assembly to provide information on measures taken by international organizations on issues relating to the linkage between the fight against terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  The Secretary-General was asked to seek the views of Member States on additional relevant measures, including national measures, for tackling the global threat posed by the acquisition by terrorists of weapons of mass destruction.  The report contains replies from 11 Member States: Australia, Finland, Georgia, Hungary, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Thailand, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine, as well as from 14 international organizations.


On the subject of general and complete disarmament, the Committee will consider the Secretary-General’s report on further measures in the field of disarmament for the prevention of an arms race on the seabed and the ocean floor and in the subsoil thereof (document A/65/128), which presents information received from States parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of the Emplacement of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction on the Sea-Bed and the Ocean Floor and in the Subsoil Thereof. Information was received from Bulgaria and Qatar.


In this report, the Secretary-General points out that the information submitted to him did not provide sufficient official material for him to report on the subject matter, on the basis indicated in paragraph 8 of the resolution 44/116 O of 15 December 1989 on the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty.  That provisionrequeststhe Secretary-General to report by 1992, and every three years thereafter until the fourth Review Conference is convened, on technological developments relevant to the Treaty and to the verification of compliance with the Treaty, including dual-purpose technologies for peaceful and specified military ends.  In carrying out this task, it says, he should draw from official sources and from contributions by States parties to the Treaty and may use the assistance of appropriate expertise.


The Committee will also consider the Secretary-General’s note on measures to uphold the authority of the 1925 Geneva Protocol (document A/65/95), which takes note that the sixty-third session of the General Assembly adopted resolution 63/53, which calls upon those States that continue to maintain reservations to the 1925 Geneva Protocol to withdraw them.  It requests the Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly at its sixty-fifth session a report on the implementation of the present resolution.


Also before the Committee is the Secretary-General’s report on effects of the use of armaments and ammunitions containing depleted uranium (document A/65/129), which contains the views from 13 Governments, in addition to responses from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) on the issue.


The Committee will also consider the report of the Secretary-General on missiles (document A/65/127), submitted in response to General Assembly resolution 63/55, in which the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to seek the views of Member States on the report on the issue of missiles in all its aspects and to submit those views to it at its sixty-fifth session.  In a note verbale dated 26 February 2010, Member States were invited to submit their views on the report. Replies had been received from Mexico, Qatar and Serbia.


Also before the Committee is the Secretary-General report on consolidation of peace through practical disarmament measures (document A/65/153), which describes activities undertaken by States and regional and subregional organizations to consolidate peace through practical disarmament measures.  It also summarizes the activities undertaken, at the national, regional and subregional levels by the United Nations and by States and organizations that are in a position to provide assistance to States in their efforts to curb the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, and in collecting and disposing of them.


In addition, the report provides an overview of the implementation, by the United Nations system and Member States, of General Assembly resolution 64/50, on the illicit small arms and light weapons trade, including the work of the Fourth Biennial Meeting of States to Consider 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, adopted by the 2001 United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.


Also to be considered is a report by the Secretary-General on the relationship between disarmament and development (document A/65/132), which discusses recent trends in the further strengthening within the United Nations of the relationship between disarmament and development.  In addition, the report contains information received from Governments on the subject.


Under consideration by the Committee as well is the Secretary-General’s report on the promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation (document A/65/124), which contains replies from five Governments (Brazil, Cuba, Georgia, Mexico, Qatar) in response to a request sent to Member States to provide their views on the issue.  The report was submitted pursuant to requests contained in General Assembly resolution 64/34.


Also to be taken up is the Secretary-General’s report on observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control (document A/65/125).  It contains replies from Member States gathered pursuant to General Assembly resolution 64/33.  Information on the subject was submitted by Cameroon, Cuba and Spain, and includes detailed updates on recent drafting and implementation of these agreements.


In addition, the Committee has before it the Secretary-General’s report on transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities (document A/65/123), which contains information from Member States gathered pursuant to requests contained in General Assembly resolutions 64/49, 63/68, 62/43 and 61/75.  The report includes concrete proposals on transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities in the interest of maintaining international peace and security and promoting international cooperation and the prevention of an outer space arms race.  Proposals include updating the principles of satellite-based remote sensing of the Earth; legally binding bans on weapons in outer space; and the creation of a specially designed system for the detection and management of space debris.


The Committee will also consider the report of the Secretary-General on United Nations Register of Conventional Arms (document A/65/133), containing information received from Member States on the export and import of conventional arms covered by the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, as well as additional background information on military holdings, procurement through national production and the international transfers of small arms and light weapons for the calendar year 2009.  It covers submissions received from 51 Governments.


The Committee will also consider the report of the Secretary-General on objective information on military matters, including transparency of military expenditures (document A/65/118) contains information received from Member States on their military expenditures for the latest fiscal year for which data are available.  It details reports received from 48 Governments.  An addendum (document A/65/118/Add.1) will also be considered.


Before the Committee was also the Secretary-General’s report on conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels (document A/65/131), which contains information gathered pursuant to General Assembly resolution 64/42.  Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Greece, Lebanon, Mexico, Panama, Serbia and Ukraine submitted replies, outlining regional and subregional efforts on the subject.


The Committee will also consider the Secretary-General’s report on confidence-building measures in the regional and subregional context(document A/65/135), which contains the views of Member States.  The report was prepared consequent to a request to the Secretary-General contained in General Assembly resolution 64/43, in which the Assembly reaffirmed the ways and means regarding confidence- and security-building measures set out in the report of the Disarmament Commission at its 1993 session.  It called upon Member States to pursue those ways and means through sustained consultations and dialogue, while at the same time, avoiding actions that may hinder or impair such a dialogue.


Further to that resolution, the General Assembly urged States to comply strictly with all bilateral, regional and international agreements, including arms control and disarmament agreements to which they were a party.  It also emphasized that the objective of confidence-building measures should be to help strengthen international peace and security.


A report of the Secretary-General on Regional confidence-building measures: activities of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa (document A/65/176) summarizes its activities, indicating that the Centre continued to contribute to peace and security in Central Africa by providing the 11 States of the subregion with a forum for consultation and for the negotiation of political and legal instruments specific to the subregionIn addition to the topics that it had traditionally considered, including a review of the geopolitical and security situation in Central Africa, the status of inter-State cooperation and the implementation of disarmament and arms limitation programmes, new topics consistent with the latest developments in the subregion were also addressed.  Among other things, short- and medium-term measures were adopted to facilitate those States’ contribution to the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the adoption of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace, and security, in New York, in October.


Also before the Committee are reports on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East (document A/65/121 (Part I)) and an addendum (document A/65/121 (Part I)/Add.1); a note of the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization covering the year 2009 (document A/65/98); a note transmits the annual report of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) (document A/65/97); and a reporton strengthening of security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region (document A/65/126), which contains information pursuant to the General Assembly requesting that the Secretary-General to submit a report on means to strengthen security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region.


The Committee will also consider the Secretary-General’s report on United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (document A/65/139).  It provides an overview of the activities of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean during the period from July 2009 to June 2010.  At the request of Member States, the Centre focused its activities on providing assistance in addressing illicit firearms trafficking, one of the major threats to public security and development in the region.  The Centre received funding for two staff members and for basic operational costs from the regular budget during the period but continued to rely solely on extra budgetary funds in order to implement programme activities requested by Member States.


The report on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (document A/65/120) contains an account of the activities undertaken by the Centre during the period from July 2009 to June 2010.  During the reporting period, the Regional Centre focused on assisting States in the region to address the issue of illicit small arms and light weapons through promoting the implementation of the 2001 Programme of Action on those weapons, and by enhancing international and regional cooperation to prevent, combat and eradicate illicit brokering in small arms and light weapons in the Asian and Pacific region.  It also continued to promote dialogue and confidence-building on issues related to global and regional disarmament and non-proliferation by organizing two United Nations conferences, in Japan and the Republic of Korea and it expanded its outreach and advocacy activities through close interaction with various stakeholders in and beyond the region.


In his report on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security (document A/65/154), the Secretary-General details the reports received from Governments in response to resolution 64/25, by which the General Assembly invited all Member States to continue to inform the Secretary-General of their views and assessments on the following:  general appreciation of the issues of information security; efforts taken at the national level to strengthen information security and promote international cooperation in this field;  the content of the concepts mentioned in paragraph two of the resolution, and; possible measures that could be taken by the international community to strengthen information security at the global level.  Replies were received from seven countries.


The Committee will also consider a note by the Secretary-Generalon theGroup of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security (document A/65/201) transmittingthe report of that Group which was established pursuant to paragraph four of General Assembly resolution 60/45.


It will also consider a report of the Secretary-General on disarmament and non-proliferation education (document A/65/160), which reviews theresults of the implementation of the recommendations of the United Nations study on disarmament and non-proliferation education and possible new opportunities for promoting disarmament and non-proliferation education.  It contains information from Member States, international and regional organizations, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions on the implementation of the 34 recommendations of the United Nations study.


The Secretary-General notes in this report that, compared to previous years, there was an overwhelming response from civil society on the implementation of the 34 recommendations.  That reflects the renewed interest in disarmament and non-proliferation education worldwide, and was highly encouraging at a time when the United Nations was promoting disarmament and non-proliferation education as an integral part of the education curriculum of the next generation.  He recommends that, in order to sustain the momentum, all stakeholders should continue their efforts to do more.  Some of the most effective past and current efforts had been based on partnerships among Governments, international, regional and non-governmental organizations.  The United Nations would continue to seek opportunities to promote and participate in that collaborative work.


The Committee will consider the Secretary-General’s report on United Nations disarmament fellowship, training and advisory services programme (document A/65/151), in which it notes that fellowships on disarmament were awarded to 24 officials in 2009 and to 25 in 2010.


A report of the Secretary-General on United Nations Disarmament Information Programme (document A/65/159) provides an overview of the activities of the programme carried out by the Office for Disarmament Affairs in the priority areas of weapons of mass destruction and conventional weapons, in particular small arms and light weapons.  The Programme will continue to publish print and electronic versions of the newly redesigned two-part United Nations Disarmament Yearbook, available on its website, www.un.org/disarmament.


Also before the Committee was a note of Secretary-General on the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (document A/65/177), which transmits the Report of the Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research on the activities of the Institute for the period from August 2009 to July 2010, and the proposed programme of work and budget for 2010-2011. 


Statements


Chair of the First Committee Miloš Koterec (Slovakia) opened the session, reminding delegates that the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) played a crucial role in the pursuit of the ultimate goal: to make the world a safer place.  The definition of a “safer world” and the whole concept of international security had been brought to the centre of a new heightened philosophical scrutiny.  The concept of international security had become a multifaceted notion, a combination of military, political, economic, social, environmental and other security concepts.  Progress in one area would determine success in another, as disarmament was no longer regarded as a system-creating factor for peaceful, prosperous and economically sustainable existence.


He said that bold steps in bilateral and multilateral developments over the last 18 months should contribute to a constructive session.  The First Committee, as an important part of the disarmament machinery, should step up to the plate and work in concerted effort towards a more secure world.  It had been presented with a historical opportunity to garner political will and determination to build on recent achievements.  He urged States to work closely and cooperatively on the more than 50 draft resolutions the Committee would be considering.


SERGIO DUARTE, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said the term “momentum” was heard increasingly in disarmament circles.  Work in this Committee related to diplomatic momentum, which would occur against a backdrop of new developments in disarmament, including the United States and Russian Federation new Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START), and the announcement of new initiatives by China, France and the United Kingdom to limit their nuclear arsenals.


He said that renewed efforts included initiatives aimed at improving transparency, at bringing the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) into force and at starting talks on a fissile material cut-off treaty.  High-level meetings, debates and commitments would lead to further action.  Civil society had added to the momentum, as had new global norms against other types of weapons of mass destruction, and initiatives to strengthen rule of law regarding conventional armaments and their illicit trade, and the ban on cluster munitions.


The Office for Disarmament Affairs was working to improve transparency, in particular by maintaining the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and promoting the use of the Standardized Instrument to report military spending, which he hoped Member States would use more often in the future.


To sustain or increase the positive momentum, he pointed to several factors, the first of which was determined leadership from States with the largest investments in weaponry to further reduce their arsenals, limit their exports and reduce military spending.  The second was the equally determined pursuit of disarmament and non-proliferation goals by the rest of the diplomatic community, especially the middle-power States.  The third was the persistent efforts by individuals and groups in civil society to advance multilateral disarmament goals. 


“The greatest momentum will be achieved through a combination of all three factors working for common ends,” he said.  “Our potential contributions are greatest when momentum is increasing, yet the reverse is true.  If major steps forward in disarmament are postponed indefinitely, if questions persist of compliance with non-proliferation commitments, and if military spending continues to rise while Millennium Development Goals continue to be unmet, then our potential contributions will be correspondingly limited.”


But, as the momentum for disarmament increased, so too would it become increasingly difficult for its opposing forces to preserve a status quo, he said, adding, “at some point, this force becomes irresistible”.  “For this reason, let me say to the distinguished members of this Committee: may the momentum be with us”.


JEAN LINT (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the year had seen positive developments, including the new START between the United States and the Russian Federation and the entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.  The Union welcomed the momentum in global arms control and disarmament.  It had long stressed the need for a comprehensive approach to all disarmament issues, as that was in the joint security interest of all.  The Union was deeply committed to strengthening the multilateral system and, in that regard, had made considerable effort to support the United Nations.  It also provided practical training and assistance to Member States.


He said the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) remained the cornerstone of nuclear non-proliferation regime, and the Union, therefore, welcome the adoption by consensus of the final declaration from the treaty’s last Review Conference.  It had worked actively for that successful outcome and would work for its implementation.  It was also ready to contribute to the implementation of the 1995 resolution on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free-zone in the Middle East.   Iran’s nuclear programme and the tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were most worrying and raised grave concerns, which had led the Union to engage in sustained efforts to find a solution.  The Union believed that Member States should fully implement relevant Security Council resolutions.


He restated the Union’s calls for strengthening the multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation regime and for revitalising the relevant instruments.  It had been both encouraged and discouraged by developments in the Conference on Disarmament since 2009, which had finally adopted a programme of work but, at the same time, despite the best efforts of the members, had been dogged by problems in implementing it.  The Union, therefore, urged all States that had not joined the consensus to do so in order to allow the Conference to play its role.  It welcomed the high-level meeting convened by the Secretary-General and his call for action.


Continuing, he said that the Union had long attached priority to the negotiation of a ban on fissile material for nuclear weapons to contribute to the climate of security.  Pending the adoption of such a Treaty, it urged all States to adopt and uphold a moratorium on the production of fissile material.  He stressed the need to do everything to prevent the risk of nuclear terrorism, linked with possible terrorist access to nuclear weapons or materials that could be used in the manufacture of radiological dispersal devices.  In that context, he stressed the need for compliance with Security Council resolutions 1540 (2004) and 1887 (2009) and called for improved nuclear security for highly radioactive sources.


He emphasized the Union‘s ongoing commitment to ensuring a responsible development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy, in the best safety, security and non-proliferation conditions, by countries wishing to develop their capacities in that field.  It stressed the key role of the IAEA in that regard.  The Union supported the development of multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle and appreciated the ongoing initiatives.  It also welcomed research into proliferation resistant technologies.


HASAN KLEIB (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, noted some positive developments, but emphasized that much remained to be done to attain a world free of nuclear weapons.  The movement was concerned about the threat to humanity posed by the continued existence of nuclear weapons and their possible use or threat of use.  It urged all States, particularly nuclear-weapon States, to accelerate efforts to fulfil their nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation obligations.  The movement upheld its positions on nuclear disarmament and on the related issue of non-proliferation in all its aspects that the ultimate aim of the disarmament process was general and complete disarmament, under strict and effective international control.  Efforts aimed at nuclear non-proliferation should be in parallel to nuclear disarmament efforts.  All States should fulfil their respective undertakings.


He said that the movement’s NPT States parties were concerned at the lack of concrete progress by nuclear-weapon States to implement their obligations under that Treaty, particularly the unequivocal undertaking by those States, under the 13 practical steps agreed at the 2000 Review Conference, to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to complete nuclear disarmament.  He called on the nuclear-weapon States to implement their obligations and undertakings as reaffirmed by successive NPT Review Conferences.  Reductions in strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, as envisaged in the new START, should be irreversible, verifiable and transparent, and could not substitute for multilateral negotiations for the ultimate goal of complete nuclear disarmament.


He reaffirmed the inalienable right of developing countries to develop research, produce and use nuclear energy, including the right to the nuclear fuel cycle, for peaceful purposes, without discrimination.  The movement continued to note with concern persistent undue restrictions on exports to developing countries of materials, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes.  Proliferation concerns were best addressed through multilaterally negotiated, universal, comprehensive and non-discriminatory agreements.  Non-proliferation control arrangements should be transparent and open to participation by all States.  They should not impose restrictions on access to material, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes required by developing countries for their development.


The movement was also concerned about the adverse humanitarian impact caused by the use of cluster munitions, he said, reiterating the central role of the United Nations in the area of disarmament and arms control.  The movement also remained deeply concerned at the illicit transfer, manufacture and circulation of small arms and light weapons in various regions.  Those weapons harmed the innocent and obstructed socio-economic progress.  The 2001 Programme of Action must be implemented, he stressed.


JOY OGWU (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group, emphasized its strong commitment to the achievement of general and complete disarmament under strict international control through multilateral negotiations.  The early ratification by the remaining nuclear-weapon States of the CTBT and that treaty’s entry into force would be a concrete and meaningful nuclear disarmament step.


She said that a legally binding international instrument of negative security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States should be concluded.  A fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament should be convened.  As the Disarmament Commission entered the final year of its three-year cycle, the African Group called upon States to show flexibility and adequate political will to create an atmosphere favourable to a consensus outcome.  She also called on the Conference on Disarmament to commence negotiations on the basis of its agreed programme of work, and on nuclear-weapon States to ratify the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Pelindaba Treaty), in order to ensure its effectiveness.


Regarding the outcome of the fourth Biennial Meeting of States on the implementation of the small arms Action Programme, she highlighted the need to focus more on developing countries’ need to address the illicit arms scourge.  While not being among the major producers and exporters of conventional weapons, many African States suffered disproportionately the pernicious effects of illicit arms transfers, which seriously destabilized socio-economic stability.  She noted the start of the arms trade treaty process, urging that such a treaty should be universal, balanced, fair and resistant to political abuse.  The African Group would introduce draft texts on the African nuclear-weapon-free zone and on prohibiting radioactive waste dumping. She hoped for a fruitful session.  “As we say in Africa, it is when the left hand washes the right and the right washes the left hand, then both hands will be clean.”


ALISON KELLY, Deputy Political Director and Director for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, Department of Foreign Affairs of Ireland, speaking on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition, said the group, consisting of the non-nuclear-weapon States of Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden, shared a common goal of ridding the world of nuclear weapons.  Fully committed to the NPT, disarmament and non-proliferation were intrinsically linked, and mutually reinforcing processes required continuous and irreversible progress.  The only absolute guarantee against the proliferation and use of nuclear weapons was those weapons complete and verifiable elimination.


She said that, as long as several States deemed that possession of nuclear weapons was essential for their security, others would aspire to acquire them.  “We see no justification for the acquisition or the indefinite possession of nuclear weapons and we do not subscribe to the view that nuclear weapons — or the quest to develop them - contribute to international peace and security.”  While the 2000 NPT Review Conference had agreed on 13 practical steps, in the decade that followed, little had been done to implement them.  Renewed interest in nuclear disarmament had been recently seen, but there was an urgency of the speedy implementation of the reviews outcomes.  She called on India, Israel and Pakistan to accede to the Treaty as non-nuclear-weapon States and urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to fulfil its commitments under the six-party talks.


The Conference on Disarmament remained unengaged in substantive work amid positive prospects for further key ratifications of the test-ban Treaty, as well as the new START between the United States and the Russian Federation, she noted.  All nuclear-weapon States must take concrete, transparent, verifiable and irreversible steps to eliminate all types of nuclear weapons.  Establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones needed support.  “We all have a responsibility to ensure that this momentum is converted into real progress and that promises are translated into reality,” she said.  The Coalition would introduce a draft resolution during the current session, reflecting its view of where the world stood on nuclear disarmament, which she hoped would receive broad support.


AKSOLTAN ATAEVA (Turkmenistan), speaking on behalf of the Central Asian States, said that the process of creating a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia had been part of efforts to guarantee peace and security in that region.  It had begun on 20 February 1997 in Almaty, with the adoption of a declaration.  That had been followed by a conference in Tashkent, with the Treaty’s formal signing in Palatinsk.  The parties to the Treaty made the voluntary commitment to outlaw nuclear weapons and other explosive devices in the region.  They were convinced that, in taking that action, they were making an important contribution towards preventing nuclear terrorism and stopping nuclear weapons from falling into terrorists’ hands.  They were determined to render comprehensive support to the goal of nuclear non-proliferation.


She noted that each State in the region had its own heritage, which underpinned its policies, but that, moving into the future, they had much in common.  The Central Asian region could become the richest and most prosperous in a secure world and the members were working to achieve that.  They needed assistance, however, to mitigate the consequences of past uranium mining and nuclear testing.  They believed that the creation of the Central Asian nuclear-weapon-free zone would have an impact outside the region, generating momentum and dispelling threats.  The States of the region sought negative assurances from the nuclear-weapon States.


Nuclear-weapon-free zones made a genuine contribution to the implementation of the NPT and to the global non-proliferation process, she said, adding that they also helped to overcome the stagnation of the multilateral negotiating process.  The States of the Central Asian region called for the strengthening of legal barriers to the proliferation process.  They believed that the NPT had become a one-sided agreement, stipulating penalties only for non-nuclear-weapon States.  The States of the region believed that both the nuclear-possessor States and non-nuclear-weapon States must play their part if success was to be achieved.  She welcomed the new START between the United States and the Russian Federation, as an important event at geared towards nuclear non-proliferation.


FRISNEL AZOR (Haiti), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that  the successful conclusion of the 2010 NPT Review Conference was an important step towards the ultimate goal of  the elimination of nuclear weapons.  He commended the NPT States parties for demonstrating the spirit of cooperation critical to achieving a consensual outcome.  Political will was key in ensuring that the conclusions and recommendations did not languish on paper.  All States parties, particularly, nuclear-weapon States, should ensure the full implementation of the agreed outcomes and recommendations.


Despite all unilateral and bilateral actions in the field of disarmament, CARICOM firmly believed that multilateralism was the only viable option for achieving the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction, and lasting peace and security.  The Community remained concerned that substantive discussion on a number of issues within the Conference on Disarmament, including on a fissile material treaty and on a nuclear weapons convention, had not yet begun, despite the adoption of a programme of work in 2009.  The convening of the high-level meeting on 24 September had been critical in moving the Conference towards the resumption of its work, and CARICOM sought its tangible action in the year ahead.


He said CARICOM shared the concern about the threat of non-State actors acquiring weapons of mass destruction.  It was essential to intensify efforts to promote and fully implement Security Council resolution 1540.  CARICOM stressed the need for increased assistance to countries of the region to implement their obligations under that resolution.


CARICOM countries continued to be plagued by high levels of gun-related violence, which resulted in loss of life, reduced productivity and inhibition of long term development prospects, he said.  The high level of gun violence had direct correlation to the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, and their ammunition.  CARICOM reaffirmed that the Programme of Action on those weapons was an important multilateral mechanism in the fight against their illicit trafficking.  The Group remained committed to its full implementation.


CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico) said advances in the disarmament arena had garnered important commitments, including at the last NPT Review Conference.  Now, words and promises must translate into action.  He urged India, Israel and Pakistan to accede to the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon States, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to work towards a nuclear-weapon-free Korean peninsula.  One action spoke more than a thousand words.  If the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes was pursued in Iran, then there should be no obstacles.  Iran should demonstrate transparency and cooperation as a model of diplomatic efforts.  Turning to the test-ban Treaty, he called upon nuclear-weapon States who had not yet done so to also become models to ensure the Treaty’s entry into force.


Heralding recent efforts towards transparency, he called on nuclear-weapon States to further reduce their arsenals, and said that other measures, including non-first-use declarations, should be taken.  The only guarantee against the threat or use of nuclear weapons was their total elimination.  There was no justification for those weapons, as no security measure could provide a rationale for the existence of those hideous, sinister and most harmful of weapons.


While disarmament and non-proliferation processes were complementary, disarmament should not be held hostage to non-proliferation progress, he said.  Mexico had worked hard on the preparation of the renewal of the 1540 Committee mandate, to be held next year.  Regarding the new impetus for multilateral disarmament at the high-level meeting held in New York last month, a deadline should be established for completion of tasks.  The continued impasse was unacceptable, especially since advances in the Conference on Disarmament had been so keenly awaited.  Mexico had chaired the Fourth Biennial Meeting of States on combating the illicit small arms and light weapons trade, which had adopted an action plan by consensus.  He hoped this process could be replicated in other arenas.


ANATOLY ANTONOV, Director, Department for Security Affairs and Disarmament, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said new realities dictated a united agenda in international relations.  Common challenges could only be counteracted through collective efforts, shared responsibility and indivisible security.  Strengthening the disarmament process was essential, he said, welcoming any initiative to overcome the stalemate in that area.  The Russian Federation, together with the United States, would submit a draft resolution at this session on bilateral strategic nuclear arms reduction.  While deep reductions in strategic offensive arms undertaken by Russia and the United States had led to a qualitative change in the situation in the nuclear disarmament field, the narrowing numeric gap between stockpiles the of the P-5 (permanent five members of the Security Council) created an urgent need for other States possessing nuclear weapons to gradually join Russian and American disarmament efforts.


However, the process under START of lowering of nuclear capabilities made deeper reductions impossible without due regard to all other processes in the area of international security, he said.  Further disarmament steps should be considered and implemented in strict compliance with the principle of equal, indivisible security.  Consideration must also be given to the factors capable of affecting strategic stability.  Those included, in particular, the development of regional missile-defence systems without consideration of neighbouring States’ security; the possible weaponization of outer space, development of strategic delivery vehicles in non-nuclear configurations, the unilateral build-up in strategic missile-defence capabilities, a growing imbalance of forces in the area of conventional arms, or deployment of nuclear weapons in the territories of non-nuclear-weapon States.


Calling for broader international dialogue on missile-defence issues, he noted the satisfying outcome of the Third Panel of Governmental Experts on missiles.  The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation should be improved as a step towards a legally binding international agreement.


Regarding conventional weapons, he said an attempt to hasten the decision-making process on global arms trade regulations through adoption of a weak global instrument would undermine efforts to remedy the situation in that area.  That was fully true of the global arms trade treaty currently under consideration.  He said, meanwhile, that new areas of confrontation and military rivalry should be countered.  He also called on States to adopt by consensus a draft text to be introduced by his delegation on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security.


ESPEN BARTH EIDE, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Norway, said that recent developments meant that the United Nations disarmament apparatus would have to step up to the plate and re-energize its working methods.  If not, the principal multilateral forums, which had been put in place to deal with the crucially important area of disarmament, would simply be relegated to a secondary role.  That was a serious challenge. Both the Conference on Disarmament and the United Nations Disarmament Commission were “highly dysfunctional” bodies today, and it was up to the Member States to make the choice between renewed relevance or oblivion.


He said that Norway was a strong supporter of an effective arms trade treaty, as it could make a difference by establishing norms and regulations that could reduce the human suffering caused by illicit and poorly regulated arms trade.  Such a treaty would help prevent and reduce armed violence through improved regulation of international arms transfers.  Experience gained from the Mine-Ban Convention and the Convention on Cluster Munitions had shown the usefulness of effective cross-regional partnerships.  Combined with the will to work in innovative and creative ways, it was possible to achieve meaningful results.  Another important lesson was that more could be achieved by engaging relevant stakeholders in such processes.  Both those conventions prohibited weapons that were inherently indiscriminate.  They were comprehensive agreements that provided frameworks for implementation, including provisions for adequate assistance to survivors.  Weapons that caused unnecessary suffering and unacceptable harm had no place in today’s global security environment.  It was in the mutual interest of the international community to establish norms and legally binding rules for the elimination of such weapons.


CLAUDIA BLUM DE BARBERI ( Colombia) expressed concern about the new dimension of the proliferation of nuclear weapons, as made evident in the growing interest of terrorists and illegally armed non-State actors to acquire and possibly use such weapons.  That problem had been reflected in Security Council resolution 1540, and the international community must remain aware of the risk.  It was essential to ensure full compliance with all the provisions of the NPT as well as the cooperation among States in combating that threat.


She recalled that during the Fifth Ministerial Meeting of Parties to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, on 23 September, Colombia had reiterated its commitment to the provisions of that important instrument.  It had stressed the need for all States to refrain from any action contrary to its object and purpose.  Colombia was convinced that only the total elimination of nuclear weapons would ensure peace and security.  It would, therefore, continue to support all initiatives aimed at achieving a world free of those deadly weapons.


Colombia had actively participated in the discussion on the subject of an arms trade treaty since 2008, she went on.  The country was confident that the final text of that international instrument would incorporate an explicit prohibition of transfers of weapons to illegally armed non-State actors, as well as include small arms and light weapons as a category of conventional weapons.


AHMED AL-JARMAN ( United Arab Emirates) said his country had followed a clear national policy in its accession to the NPT and was concerned over the insistence of some parties to promote nuclear deterrence and other policies for developing weapons of mass destruction.  He looked forward to achieving a peaceful and permanent settlement for the nuclear programmes of Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to prevent further tensions and confrontations. 


He said that regional and international collective security required advancing negotiations among nuclear-weapon States and adopting comprehensive and balanced confidence-building policies.  He called for developing a binding international instrument that provided the necessary safeguards for the non-use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States.  The positive atmosphere that had revitalized the Conference on Disarmament should go forward, and he urged all States to exhibit flexibility to do so.


For its part, the United Arab Emirates would continue to take concrete steps towards developing a model programme for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy to meet its growing requirements under the guidance and supervision of the IAEA.


Right of Reply


The representative of Iran, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said two speakers had made allegations concerning his country’s peaceful nuclear programme.  Iran’s nuclear activities were, and always had been, for peaceful purposes.  According to the NPT, developing nuclear energy was an inalienable right of all States party to that Treaty.  His commitment to non-proliferation was in tact, and the IAEA had consistently confirmed Iran’s programme.  Some States were in non-compliance.  It was crystal clear that the allegations against his country had been meant to disguise and divert attention from non-compliant States.  Accordingly, instead of making unfounded claims about Iran’s nuclear programme, those delegations should comply with their NPT commitments.  Iran was ready to engage in serious negotiations, based on justice and mutual respect.


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For information media • not an official record