|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-sixth General Assembly
9th Meeting (PM)
‘Mantra’ of Nuclear-Armed States that Fissile Material Ban Ripe for Negotiation
Follows Dictates of Convenience, Not Security, First Committee Told
Pakistan Says Clinging to Strategic Nuclear Advantages Makes
Call of Nuclear Powers for Disarmament ‘Hollow, If Not Insincere’
The nuclear Powers had no moral authority to call for strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime when they themselves were responsible for undermining it, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard today upon the conclusion of its general debate.
The cold war, said Pakistan’s representative, should have ushered in an era in which efforts by major nuclear-weapon States led to nuclear disarmament. “What we witnessed instead was their continued adherence to the doctrines of nuclear use and the never-ending pursuit of the modernization of nuclear weapons,” he said. “Not only did they choose to cling to their strategic nuclear advantages, they also undermined any chance of progress in the field of disarmament by pursuing discriminatory policies that destabilize the military balance in regions of conflict. Their call for progress in disarmament is hollow, if not insincere.”
The Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament had been singled out for its inactivity, alongside the reality that nuclear disarmament, the raison d’etre of the Conference, remained unfulfilled after 32 years, he said. The reasons behind the deadlock were multifarious, rooted in the continued lack of political will of States and not related to procedural rules. That situation reflected prevailing political realities as the Conference did not operate in a vacuum. Any solution should be comprehensive and applicable to all of the disarmament machinery’s aspects, and not just to issues that were a priority to some delegations.
Moreover, he said, during the Conference’s stalemate, the major Powers had not allowed any consideration of a fissile material cut-off treaty, and now, with sufficient stocks available, that material had become cost-free for some of the major Powers, hence, the “mantra” about such a treaty being “the next logical step” and an issue “ripe” for negotiation, he said. Their logic followed the dictates of convenience and not the needs of global peace and security.
“If the time is any measure of judgement for ripeness or importance, we must be aware that the issue of nuclear disarmament and negative security assurances are facing a stalemate for over two decades,” he said. The Conference was not created to negotiate a fissile material treaty, and if there was no consensus on one issue due to security concerns of States, other issues should be taken up.
However, lamented the Permanent Observer of the Holy See, there seemed to have been little progress in the area of disarmament, arms control and reduction or redirection of military spending in favour of the peaceful development of peoples in 2010 or so far this year. Emblematic of that worrying situation, he said, was the fact that, for too many years, the Conference on Disarmament seemed to have undergone a crisis that hindered its activity and effectiveness.
He urged work to recommence on the fissile material cut-off treaty, while the non-entering into force of the CTBT should be remedied: the obligation to refrain from conducting tests, as well as nuclear disarmament itself, were the necessary condition for persuading States that did not yet have nuclear weapons to respect the rules of non-proliferation, he declared.
“Weapons are simply too easily available,” said the Permanent Observer of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). As the tragic consequences of the spread of weapons was grim, an effective arms trade treaty would not only reduce the “pure cruelty” of weapons and protect individual livelihoods, but also curb the social and economic disruption that accompanied armed insecurity in large parts of the world, and have important health benefits for entire populations.
Indeed, said Liechtenstein’s representative, since the main motivation for disarmament was to prevent armed conflict and the human suffering it caused, initiatives should be integrated within the context of humanitarian law to ensure far-reaching compliance by all actors, State and non-State. As illegally acquired arms fuelled conflicts and human catastrophes, especially for least developed countries, he encouraged the United Nations to develop a consolidated reporting tool to align different initiatives and to make it easier to comply with various disarmament resolutions adequately and in due time.
Also addressing the Committee today was the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Sergio Duarte, who informed delegations that the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs had remained actively engaged in activities to promote the implementation of resolutions coming from the First Committee. A report on the subject showed that more States had submitted reports to the Secretary-General for this General Assembly session than the last.
The representative of Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia, Moldova, Eritrea, Costa Rica, Spain, Ethiopia and Botswana all delivered statements.
Also speaking was the Secretary General of the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL).
The representatives of Syria, the Russian Federation and Georgia exercised their rights of reply.
The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. Wednesday, 12 October, to commence its thematic debate on nuclear weapons, with a panel of high-level representatives of related organizations.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to conclude its general debate for the session, on all disarmament and international security agenda items before it. (For background on the Committee’s session and a summary of reports before it, see Press Release GA/DIS/3429.)
RAZA BASHIR TARAR ( Pakistan) said while various Member States were quick to appreciate positive trends in the international environment, the fact remained that a genuine “conducive international environment” in the disarmament field emanated from “actions” rather than “words” and through sincere efforts, and not opportunism. The cold war should have ushered in an era in which efforts by major nuclear-weapon States would lead to nuclear disarmament. “What we witnessed instead was their continued adherence to the doctrines of nuclear use and the never-ending pursuit of the modernization of nuclear weapons,” he said. “Not only did they choose to cling to their strategic nuclear advantages, they also undermined any chance of progress in the field of disarmament by pursuing discriminatory policies that destabilize the military balance in regions of conflict. Their call for progress in disarmament is hollow, if not insincere.”
Turning to the stalemate of the Conference on Disarmament and the Disarmament Commission, he said it was interesting to note that the Conference had been singled out for its inactivity, alongside the reality that nuclear disarmament, the raison d’etre of the Conference, remained unfulfilled after 32 years. The reasons behind the deadlock in the Conference were multifarious, rooted in the continued lack of political will of States and not related to procedural rules. That situation reflected prevailing political realities as the Conference did not operate in a vacuum. Any solution should be comprehensive and applicable to all of the disarmament machinery’s aspects, and not just to issues that were a priority to some delegations.
During the Conference’s stalemate, the major Powers had not allowed any consideration of a fissile material cut-off treaty, and now, with sufficient stocks available, that material had become cost-free for some of the major Powers, hence, the mantra about such a treaty being “the next logical step” and an issue “ripe” for negotiation, he said. Their logic followed the dictates of “convenience” and not the needs of global peace and security. “If the time is any measure of judgement for ripeness or importance, we must be aware that the issue of nuclear disarmament and negative security assurances are facing a stalemate for over two decades,” he said. The Conference was not created to negotiate a fissile material treaty, and if there was no consensus on one issue due to security concerns of States, other issues would and should be taken up.
Pakistan’s opposition to negotiations on such a treaty was not out of choice, but compulsion, he said. No country could be expected to compromise on its fundamental security interests, he added, noting that over the last few years, the discriminatory policies of some major Powers had accentuated the asymmetry in fissile material stocks in his region. Despite loud voices of concern and grandstanding in the international media, and fully cognizant of the impact of those policies on the regional security situation, those Powers had continued their policies of “exceptionalism” for their pursuit of power and profit. They had no moral authority in calling for strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime when they themselves were responsible for undermining it. He asked members of the nuclear suppliers group if, when they endorsed those discriminatory policies, they were not aware of the adverse consequences to Pakistan’s region and to the disarmament and non-proliferation regime.
Unfortunately, he said, in the absence of good faith, confidence and mutual trust, his country was compelled to take a stand against nuclear selectivity and discrimination. Pakistan, along with the 120 members of the Non-Aligned Movement, supported commencement of negotiations on nuclear disarmament. It also supported negotiating a legal instrument on negative security assurances. Likewise, his country was committed to theConvention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention) and 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). The Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects should be strengthened, and Pakistan favoured a step-by-step approach to an arms trade treaty with due regard to every State’s right to self-defence.
STEFAN BARRIGA ( Liechtenstein) said the main motivation for disarmament was to prevent armed conflict and the human suffering caused, while guarding international stability and striking a balance between visionary goals and feasible, long-term measures. Initiatives should be integrated within the context of humanitarian law to ensure far-reaching compliance by all actors, State and non-State. The current Conference on Disarmament stalemate must not continue, as it could not simply be cast aside as an ineffective procedural tool that would only operate when the world was conflict-free. Disarmament must be achieved in a lawful manner and should be embedded in an international law framework, he said.
He said that as States had agreed to an action plan on nuclear disarmament at the 2010 NPT Review Conference, its implementation should be a priority. He called in that regard on the remaining so-called “Annex 2” States to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) so it could enter into force, and he underlined the obligation of nuclear-weapon States to reduce the operational status of their nuclear weapons systems.
Turning to the weapons trade, an arms trade treaty was long overdue, he said. Illegally acquired arms fuelled conflicts and human catastrophes, especially for least developed countries. He encouraged the United Nations to develop a consolidated reporting tool to align different initiatives and to make it easier to comply with various disarmament resolutions, adequately and in due time.
JASSER JIMENEZ ( Nicaragua) said that the use of weapons of mass destruction contravened international humanitarian law and deprived the Earth’s 7 billion people of the opportunity to live in peace in a world where people could develop their capacities. Nicaragua, therefore, joined in the search for measures that could bring complete elimination of nuclear weapons. The Government respected the right of all States to use nuclear energy peacefully under the IAEA, which must strengthen its protection and emergency response mechanisms, he said, adding that that must include protection from radiation and must involve transparency.
He said his country wanted nuclear weapons tests to come to a stop forever. It was unjustifiable that in today’s world more resources are allocated to creating weapons than to developing people. Military expenditures had increased at dizzying rates, reaching $1.5 trillion per year. There were more than two munitions for every person on the planet. Those were responsible for violence, forced displacement, a drop in economic activity, and educational and social disruption.
Nicaragua has actively participated in United Nations and other international forums addressing weapons in outer space, on the sea floor, and it also supported the prohibition of bacteriological weapons, he said. The country also joined with regional leadership in mine clearance activities, and its territory was now free of anti-personnel mines. The Government had also joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions in 2008, and shared the vision for regional and subregional controls for disarmament.
He pointed to new security threats, highlighting drug trafficking, which had become a stigma and challenge for the region. Nicaragua continued to block drug trafficking movements. The Government had dismantled 63 drug trafficking cells, confiscated cash, seized firearms and vessels of all types, as well as buildings. But, it must have more resources to fight the narcotics trade. That was an international emergency, and Nicaragua needed the support of the developed countries. His Government was convinced that, with additional resources, it would be able to develop efforts to fight drug trafficking.
SAAD ABDULLAH ALSAAD (Saudi Arabia), associated himself with the statement of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that his country saw real challenges for global security and regional stability, owing to the weak credibility of international treaties and conventions. It was deeply concerned about the current disarmament and non-proliferation status at both international and regional levels, in particular, the reluctance of respect for the core terms of reference enshrined in the agendas of international treaties, United Nations resolutions and the respective decisions emanating from those. Despite the near-universality of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the common belief of many of concerned parties that that Treaty was a cornerstone in building the international disarmament and non-proliferation system, global efforts in the multilateral framework remained “under” the required level.
He said his country believed that the continuation of the current status would render the situation more dramatic. The lack of tangible progress in making the Middle East a nuclear-weapon-free zone could trigger a nuclear arms race. Israel, as a non-member of the NPT, and its refusal to subject its facilities to international inspection, represented an obstacle to achieving the goal of establishing such a zone in the region.
While Saudi Arabia recognized the right of States to use atomic energy for peaceful purposes, in accordance with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it seriously considered the commitments and respect of Iran to its obligations concerning the prevention of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the region, and hoped that such a commitment would be shown in concrete action that eliminated the doubts about its nuclear programme and contributed to resolving the crisis between Iran and the international community through peaceful means.
ALEXANDRU CUJBA ( Republic of Moldova) said recent progress in cooperation among Member States could be seen in the new Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START), the 2010 NPT Review Conference and the preparations for negotiations on an arms trade treaty. His country hoped for the successful realization of the 2010 Review Conference Action Plan and the early entry into force of the CTBT by remaining Annex 2 States.
That progress, he said, should be complemented by control and reductions in conventional arms. The Programme of Action on the illicit small arms and light weapons trade was an important framework, and, for its part, his country was taking tangible steps in that field. He also supported initiatives on preventing the trafficking of those weapons, and stood for the advancement of an arms trade treaty. His country was committed to further contributing to effective processes on arms regulations, reduction and disarmament. The United Nations role in that area was known, and the coordination by the organization of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation policies and activities as a nexus between global, regional, subregional and national levels should be enhanced.
ELSA HAILE, Director of International Organizations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Eritrea, said that it was important to reaffirm the collective commitment to maintain the sanctity of international treaties and agreements by recognizing collectively the need to pursue progress, on both fronts of disarmament and non-proliferation. The relationship between nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, on the one hand, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy, on the other, should be appropriately addressed. Dialogue, rather than sanctions or use of force, should be the central instrument in addressing nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
She added that Eritrea strongly believed it was the inalienable right of all States to develop all aspects of nuclear science and technology for peaceful use, without discrimination, as long as it was consistent with the NPT obligations. Like other delegations, hers was also concerned about the proliferation of conventional weapons, which had become the major instruments of destruction, especially in the developing world. The danger of nuclear materials falling into the hands of terrorists and other non-State actors was another area of great concern. The future arms trade treaty must be balanced and take into consideration the concern of all States and should be consistent with the United Nations Charter, in particular, Article 51, which enshrined States’ rights to self-defence.
Disarmament benefited mankind, she said, not only by eliminating threats to peace and security, but also by diverting resources to efforts that could improve the living standards of humanity. A fraction of the amount spent on global military expenditure could achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
EDUARDO ULIBARRI ( Costa Rica) said that his country wanted to revitalize multilateral disarmament negotiations. However, the primary tools for promoting and strengthening international security were not weapons. Instead, there needed to be strengthening and fine tuning of the rule of law, as well as a reduction of military expenditures and arms trafficking. Also essential was the patient development of democratic institutions. Civic and political cultures trusted the State without fear that their demands would be quashed by violence. Those practices could be moved to the international stage. The General Assembly, under Finland and Turkey, was considering that.
He said that peace and security were also essential. Costa Rica was a completely demilitarized nation, yet it recognized the need for many countries to undertake justifiable military expenditures. However, he called into question excessive military expenditure, especially now at a time of economic crisis. Those were distorted priorities, he said. Over the last 10 years, global military expenditures had jumped 45 per cent to $1.6 trillion in 2010. If 10 per cent of that money was allocated to multilateral development goals, the international community would be very close to achieving the international development goals in 2015. However, it was not moving in that direction, he noted.
The world must move from old security doctrines based in military goals towards those focused on human development, he said. His region was the most violent in the world and was also the one with the highest levels of inequality. Most countries with high homicide rates were in the Latin American and Caribbean region, and easy access to weapons made that a serious threat. Costa Rica lamented that the international response had not been comprehensive, and some countries had promoted repressive responses. A good amount of weapons that killed and mutilated were produced in developed countries and in countries that were the primary drug markets. Costa Rica was not seeking to lay blame. “Our success or failure lay in our hands.” For security to take root, it was vital to tackle development, create better legal instruments, and take more multilateral actions, he said.
The Cluster Munitions Convention would be model for the arms trade treaty, at its conference in 2012. Costa Rica hoped to evolve a strong and balanced treaty that was legally binding, internationally regarded and transparent. That would lead to a significant drop in arms flows. Human suffering must be reduced. That required a simple and universal treaty. “We should not lose this opportunity,” he urged.
ROMAN OYARZUN ( Spain) said that it was important to recognize the progress made in the nuclear field, such as the 2010 NPT conference and the entry into force of the new START. An efficient multilateralism, prevention and international cooperation were the key elements in the European Union strategy against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It was necessary to continue working in favour of the globalization of the NPT and to implement the Action Plan adopted by the successful 2010 Review Conference. Calling for a more decisive implementation of the resolution towards the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free-zone in the Middle East, Spain expressed concern about the nuclear programmes of Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as well as Syria’s failure to comply with the IAEA safeguards agreement.
He added that the recurrent deadlock in the Disarmament Conference and the inability to start negotiations on a treaty to prohibit the further production of fissile material were bringing the United Nations disarmament machinery to a standstill. Spain called on those States that had not ratified the CTBT to do so as soon as possible. Spain was fully committed to initiatives such as the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, the Washington Nuclear Security Summit, or the G8 Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Spain was also firmly committed to the success of the upcoming Conference on the arms trade treaty and believed that it was necessary to have a two-level approach — to regulate the legal commerce and to combat the illegal trade. As it discussed those varied issues, instead of updating adopted resolutions, the Committee should be a stage for motivated debates.
FORTUNA DIBACO ( Ethiopia) said nuclear-weapon-free zones were a key element to stem proliferation and promote disarmament. She also highlighted the critical link between stability and economic development.
She noted that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons was a grave concern to her country. For Ethiopia, it was necessary that the Programme of Action on the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons was implemented fully and as soon as possible. Conventional arms had to go hand-in-hand with nuclear disarmament efforts, she implored.
CHARLES NTWAAGAE ( Botswana) said the ability of States to maintain safety and stability were prerequisites for the achievement of sustainable economic and social development. Recognizing the relationship between disarmament and development, he said that while billions of dollars were spent annually on arms, funds for economic and social development remained inadequate. Disputes and conflicts needed to be resolved peacefully, and disarmament would result in the reduction of political tensions as well as the mitigation of conflicts.
He urged the international community to step up efforts to address the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons, as those posed the gravest threat to peace and security in Africa. Regarding the curtailment of those weapons, Botswana’s priorities included border control, marking and record-keeping in the fight against small arms proliferation and the need for international assistance and cooperation in those areas. As reflected in the outcome of the most recent meeting on the Programme of Action, he said cooperation and assistance measures remained critical in determining the success or failure of national efforts in implementing all aspects of the Programme.
One of the ways to ensure efficient use of available resources was to emphasize regional approaches, he said. States of different regions should harmonize their efforts in addressing critical issues such as border control, stockpile management, marking, tracing, specialized training, information sharing and the development of legislation. He expressed concern over the continued deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament, and supported efforts of the Secretary-General to revitalize its work. It was important to create nuclear-weapon-free zones as important catalysts for nuclear non-proliferation, and for its part, Botswana was committed to implementing the tenets of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone Treaty (Pelindaba Treaty), and it urged Member States that had not yet done so to take steps towards joining it end ensuring its full practical implementation.
ALEXANDER LOMAIA ( Georgia) began by congratulating Australia, New Zealand, France and Wales on their victories in the 2011 rugby world cup quarterfinals.
He then noted that the NPT lacked some significant elements to provide a comprehensive response to all current challenges, such as the entry into force of the CTBT, negotiations on fissile material and on negative security assurances. The Test-Ban Treaty should enter into force. In that, renewed political commitment to pursue its ratification was an optimistic sign. Unfortunately, if the current stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament was not overcome, then confidence in that body would dwindle fast. The First Committee should seriously consider how the work of the Conference should be pursued.
Turning to conventional weapons, he said the flow of illicit small arms and light weapons remained one of the most challenging security items on the international agenda. An arms trade treaty would be an effective instrument in the non-proliferation of conventional arms, and measures to prevent trafficking in those weapons could be effective when coupled with rigorous transfer controls on the legal arms trade.
New threats, including cyber-attacks, had emerged and were evolving rapidly, he said. The United Nations and the First Committee should contribute to scrutinising the problem and raising awareness and understanding of that challenge, by providing an essential platform for elaborating mechanisms and instruments aimed at diffusing that threat. Nuclear smuggling on the occupied Georgian territories of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region and South Ossetia further amplified a sense of danger, he said. In the absence of an international presence, those occupied territories had become completely “opaque”.
Georgia was deeply troubled that some countries continued to stand in the way of any real progress on international non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament efforts, he said. The only effective measure to counter that tendency was the international community’s strong and unequivocal response to those threats.
He said the foreign military build-up had magnified exponentially after the 2008 invasion, violating the six-point ceasefire agreement. That illegal build-up in the occupied territories included rocket systems, a multiple launch rocket artillery battalion and plans to deploy a missile launch system. Overall, there were 11,000 occupation troops in two regions, and six military bases were currently under construction. As long as international control mechanisms were totally absent in those territories, there were no guarantees that those arms would not be transferred to terrorists and criminal groups, posing threats to the region and the whole international community.
ARCHBISHOP FRANCIS A. CHULLIKATT, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said the foundations of peace must be built by recognizing the value of dialogue and by strengthening friendly relations. Peace was the fruit of justice, solidarity and development. The Holy See firmly maintained its critique of the arms race and intended to develop its analysis in the sphere of international relations, according to the criterion that law should always prevail over violence. Unfortunately, world military spending continued to increase. That state of affairs clearly contradicted the Millennium Development Goals. The international community, therefore, was faced with the urgent need to put the brakes on that lamentable arms race and to promote a significant cut in military spending.
He said that those reflections assumed even greater importance if one noted that in 2010, as also in 2011, there seemed to have been little progress in the area of disarmament, arms control and reduction or redirection of military spending in favour of the peaceful development of peoples. Emblematic of that worrying situation was the fact that, for too many years, the Conference on Disarmament seemed to have undergone a crisis that hindered its activity and effectiveness.
There were a few glimmers of hope, including a real strategic reduction in nuclear arms, recorded in 2010, he said. But, that would have to be supported by a clear and positive political perspective. Work needed to recommence on the fissile material cut-off treaty, while the non-entering into force of the CTBT should be remedied: the obligation to refrain from conducting tests, as well as nuclear disarmament itself, were the necessary condition for persuading States that did not yet have nuclear weapons to respect the rules of non-proliferation.
Next year, he said, would be important for the arms trade treaty process, as the conference scheduled to take place then should lead to the drafting of a text. Every effort was required to prevent the proliferation of all types of weapons that encouraged local wars and urban violence and killed too many people in the world every day. The Holy See saw urgency in adopting a legal instrument with legally binding measures on trade control for conventional weapons and munitions on the global, regional and national levels.
The Holy See, therefore, attached great importance to the arms trade treaty process, particularly in light of the grave human cost resulting from the illicit trade in arms, he said. The outcome of the current process would test the political will of States to assume their moral and legal responsibility in order to strengthen further the international regime on the existing unregulated arms trade. The principle objective of the treaty was not merely regulating the trade in conventional weapons or curbing the black market in those arms, but also protecting human life and building a world more respectful of human dignity.
WALTER A. FULLEMANN, Permanent Observer of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said that the Red Cross strongly supported the adoption of a comprehensive and effective arms trade treaty next year. A very large proportion of the deaths, injuries and “pure cruelty” inflicted upon civilians each year occurred because “weapons were simply too easily available”, including to those who would use them to violate international humanitarian law. An effective arms trade treaty would not only protect individual livelihoods, but would also reduce the social and economic disruption that accompanied armed insecurity in large parts of the world and would have important health benefits for entire populations.
The Red Cross, he said, urged all States to commit themselves to working intensely over the coming year to help ensure the success of next July’s diplomatic conference on the arms trade treaty. The Red Cross commended the elements set out in the Chairman’s draft paper, which provided a solid basis for moving towards the type of treaty that was so desperately needed by individuals, families and communities in vast areas of the world where weapons were sometimes easier to obtain than food, health care or medicines.
Since last year’s Review Conference of the NPT, he said, little progress had been reported in fulfilment of the review’s many urgent commitments to reducing the role of nuclear weapons, further reducing their numbers and preventing their use. It was of crucial importance that the commitments undertaken at the Review Conference be fulfilled as a humanitarian, moral and political imperative.
One of the landmark advances in international humanitarian law in recent years had been the adoption in 2008 and entry into force in 2010 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, he said. The recent meeting of States parties to that Convention in Beirut had been an impressive demonstration of the effectiveness of the Convention in stimulating progress in clearance and stockpile destruction, attracting new States parties and mobilizing resources to assist the victims of those weapons and their communities.
He said that while the Red Cross appreciated efforts by States not yet able to join the Convention at the national level, it was concerned that their initiatives might contradict rather than complement the Convention. It would be the first time that States would have adopted weaker protections for civilians in an international humanitarian law treaty than those contained in a treaty already in force. The Red Cross urged parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, and especially those also party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, to carefully consider their responsibilities in that field as they prepared for the November Review Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.
GIOCONDA UBEDA, Secretary General of the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL), speaking on behalf of the member States of the Treaty of Tlatelco, said that 45 years after the creation of the first nuclear-weapon-free zone, there were now five such zones in the world, integrated by 114 States. For that reason, one of the purposes of OPANAL was to move forward in consolidating the cooperation and coordination agenda among those zones. The forum convened next month in Vienna by the General Director of the IAEA would give representatives of those zones a chance to share experiences of possible interest for the creation of such a zone in the Middle East.
In order to cement that agenda, he proposed the creation of a joint coordination among representatives of the zones. That could be accomplished only if the mutual knowledge among zones was promoted, along with realistic and effective work forms. At the global level, member countries of the zone in Latin America and the Caribbean reiterated their call to nuclear-armed States to give unequivocal legally binding guarantees not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against them. He urged the Conference of Disarmament to negotiate a legally binding universal instrument regarding negative security assurances.
OPANAL was also committed to implementing nuclear disarmament educational programmes, convinced that that was an effective way of contributing to the consolidating of international peace and security, he said. The Latin American and Caribbean States were convinced that only through concrete initiatives and sustained actions would the international community be able to move forward towards a global, total, irreversible and verifiable nuclear disarmament. Only with cooperation among the zones, States, international organizations and non-governmental organizations, would the world advance towards its final goal: a nuclear-weapon-free world.
Rights of Reply
The representative of Syria, exercising his right of reply, asked the delegates from Portugal and Spain to reread Syria’s statement made yesterday to clarify any uncertainties.
The representative of the Russian Federation, exercising his right of reply, was speaking in response to the statement made by the representative of Georgia. He did not hear any congratulations to Russia for ranking in the “F” group with a six to nothing win in soccer, and he noted that Georgia had not qualified. In soccer, as in life, someone wins, someone loses.
The incident the Georgian representative referred to in 2008 amounted to a war between its own people. There legally were no Russian military members on Georgia’s territory, he said. The military sub-unit on the border was there legally. He did not want to go into details about arms stockpiles.
The representative of Georgia, exercising his right of reply, said this and other Committees based their work on correct information. Russia had voted for the accession of Georgia within its borders, back in 1991. South Ossetia did not have a right to separate. Interventions by a third country were unlawful, he said, quoting a report from the independent fact finding mission on the conflict in Georgia.
He also asked his Russian colleague to note that Georgia had mentioned rugby and not soccer in his speech this afternoon. He noted that Russia had been able to do well in rugby, and he congratulated him, hoping they would do better next time. But the issue was really about being precise and legally objective.
Statement by High Representative
SERGIO DUARTE, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, addressing delegates on the subject of implementing resolutions, said efforts had been under way since the adoption of General Assembly Resolution 59/95 (2004) to improve the effectiveness of the First Committee’s work through, in part, the consolidation of resolutions or adopting them on a multi-year basis. Results had been mixed.
He said that last year, for instance, the Committee adopted 55 resolutions, six more than in 2009, yet the 26 reports requested of the Secretary-General were fewer than in several years, a change that reflected those consolidation reforms. It was clear, however, that Member States continued to view such reports as useful in producing some feedback on the implementation of the resolutions.
He presented four tables that provided a wealth of detail about those reports, including one table comparing responses received from States in the sixty-fifth and sixty-sixth General Assembly sessions for 13 annual resolutions. He noted an increase in responses for seven of those resolutions, and a decline for three of them — on measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, and two texts dealing with United Nations transparency tools.
Another table showed notable increases in the submission of views for five resolutions, he said, including the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, confidence-building measures in the regional and subregional context and conventional arms control.
The Office for Disarmament Affairs remained actively engaged in activities to promote the implementation of those resolutions, he said. “Our goal in all of this work remains the same — to be useful to Member States in advancing a robust multilateral disarmament agenda, and my summary today of these reports is very much provided with that same goal in mind.”
* *** *For information media • not an official record