24 October 2011
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3444

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

Sixty-sixth General Assembly

First Committee

19th Meeting (PM)


Seven Draft Resolutions Introduced in First Committee, Two Reflecting Divergent


Views on Solving Impasse in Multilateral Disarmament Forum

 


Other Texts on Nuclear-Weapon-Free Middle East, Nuclear Proliferation Risk,

Regional Disarmament in Africa, Latin America and Caribbean, Asia and Pacific


Building confidence and meeting disarmament and non-proliferation goals via measures unique to regions would have a broader impact on international peace and security, delegates told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) during thematic debates on regional disarmament and on the disarmament machinery, which heard the introduction of seven draft resolutions, including divergent texts concerning the Conference on Disarmament.


Drafts were tabled on a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East; the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East; the United Nations Regional Centres in Latin American and the Caribbean, and in Asia and the Pacific; the Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa; revitalizing the Conference on Disarmament; and taking forward multilateral negotiations.


Stressing that the disarmament machinery could not continue with a “business as usual” approach in light of the general sense of frustration over deadlocked negotiations, South Africa’s delegate, together with the Netherlands and Switzerland, tabled the draft resolution, entitled “Revitalizing the work of the Conference on Disarmament and taking forward multilateral negotiations”.


By its terms, the General Assembly would reiterate its grave concern about the current status of the disarmament machinery, including the lack of substantive progress in the Conference on Disarmament for more than a decade, and stress the need for greater efforts and flexibility to advance multilateral disarmament negotiations.


It would recognize the need to take stock, during the current session, of all relevant efforts to take forward multilateral disarmament negotiations, and at its next session, to review progress made in the implementation of the present resolution and, if necessary, to further explore options for taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations. 


A draft resolution, entitled “Taking forward multilateral negotiations”, was introduced by Austria’s delegate, together with Mexico and Norway, who said the text was an attempt to encourage innovative thinking and, by no means was aimed at undermining the Conference on Disarmament.  However, if a breakthrough remained elusive, Austria was convinced that new approaches must be seriously considered.


Concerned at the continuing impasse in the Conference, that text would have the Assembly urge member States of that body to do their utmost to overcome their differences regarding the work programme in order to immediately commence negotiations, in 2012, but should such a decision not be reached, the Assembly would resolve to consider in its sixty-seventh session alternative ways of taking forward multilateral negotiations, including through the establishment of open-ended working groups on issues of nuclear disarmament.  The groups’ work, according to the text, would take place in Geneva.


“Our draft resolution is intended as a constructive contribution,” the South African speaker said.  “We already achieved one goal — to stimulate our debate and the dynamics necessary to revitalize the disarmament machinery.  We realize that some delegations are at this stage sceptical of the ideas that we have outlined.”  So his delegation consulted broadly and transparently, listening to comments made, he said, and thus adapted the text revising the draft.


The Conference would not negotiate by “cherry picking” issues that some States considered to be “ripe”, said Pakistan’s representative.  All components of the disarmament machinery that were developed with consensus should be preserved.  “Any effort to bypass or weaken this machinery would undermine consensus and legitimacy,” he said, adding, “ Pakistan would never be part of any such efforts.”


Instead of selective and partial solutions, Pakistan called for evolving a new and balanced consensus to deal with the present stalemate.  A fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament would contribute positively towards finding ways to achieve the goals of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in a balanced and non-discriminatory manner, keeping in mind security interests of all States.


Nuclear weapons should have no place in the Middle East, said Egypt’s delegate, introducing the draft resolution on a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  He said the text, which urges all parties directly concerned seriously to consider taking the practical and urgent steps required for the implementation of the proposal to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East, was one of the most important regional aspirations since it was first adopted many years ago. 


Concerned also about the threats posed by the proliferation of nuclear weapons to the security and stability of the Middle East region, he also tabled a draft resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the region, which would have the Assembly call upon Israel to accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) without further delay, not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons, to renounce possession of nuclear weapons and to place all its unsafeguarded nuclear facilities under full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.


The Chairman of the Open-ended Meeting of Government Experts on the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Their Aspects addressed the Committee prior to the continuing debate on regional disarmament.


In the course of the regional disarmament debate, the representatives of Peru, Nepal and the Congo introduced draft resolutions. 


Also speaking during that debate were the representatives of Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Cuba, Armenia, Myanmar, Cameroon, Austria and Iran.


Delivering statements during the thematic debate on the disarmament machinery were the representatives of the Philippines, Netherlands, Czech Republic, France, Algeria, India, Cuba and Uruguay.


The right of reply was exercised by the representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan.


The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 25 October, to conclude its thematic debate on the disarmament machinery and to hear statements from representatives of several non-governmental organizations.


Background


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to continue its thematic discussions on regional disarmament and security and on disarmament machinery, hearing introductions of drafts on those topics.  (For background on the Committee’s session and a summary of reports before it, see Press Release GA/DIS/3429).


Summaries of Drafts


According to a draft resolution sponsored by Egypt on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East (document A/C.1/66/L.1), the General Assembly would urge all parties directly concerned seriously to consider taking the practical and urgent steps required for the implementation of the proposal to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly, and, as a means of promoting this objective, invite them to adhere to the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).


The Assembly would also invite those countries, pending the establishment of the zone, not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or permit the stationing on their territories, or territories under their control, of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices.


Recognizing the importance of credible regional security, including the establishment of such a mutually verifiable zone and emphasizing the essential role of the United Nations in its establishment, the Assembly would, by the draft, call upon all countries of the region that have not yet done so, pending the establishment of the zone, agree to place all their nuclear activities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.


In that connection, the Assembly would take note of the resolution adopted on 23 September by IAEA’s General Conference concerning the application of Agency safeguards in the Middle East.


Further to the text, the Assembly would note the importance of the ongoing bilateral Middle East peace negotiations and the activities of the multilateral Working Group on Arms Control and Regional Security in promoting mutual confidence and security in the region, including the establishment of the zone.


Concerned about the threats posed by the proliferation of nuclear weapons to the security and stability of the Middle East region, a draft resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/66/L.2) would have the Assembly reaffirm the importance of Israel’s accession to the Treaty on NPT and placement of all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards, in realizing the goal of universal adherence to the Treaty in the Middle East.


The Assembly would call upon that State to accede to the Treaty without further delay, not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons, to renounce possession of nuclear weapons and to place all its unsafeguarded nuclear facilities under full-scope Agency safeguards as an important confidence-building measure among all States of the region, and as a step towards enhancing peace and security.


A draft resolution on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (document A/C.1/L.16), submitted by Peru on behalf of United Nations Member States that were also members of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, would have the General Assembly express appreciation for the importantassistance provided by the Centre to many countries in the region, including through capacity-building and technical assistance programmes, as well as outreach activities,for the development of plans to reduce and prevent armed violence from an arms control perspective, for promoting the implementation of relevant agreements and treaties, and for capacity-building initiatives aimed at bolstering the efforts of the law enforcement community to combatillicitfirearms trafficking.

The Assembly would recognizethat the Regional Centre has an important role in the promotion and development of regional and subregionalinitiatives agreed upon by the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean in the field of weapons of mass destruction, in particular nuclear weapons, and conventional arms, including small arms and light weapons, as well as in the relationship between disarmament and development.

It would appeal to Member States, in particular those within the region, and to international governmental and non-governmental organizations and foundations, to make and to increase voluntary contributions to strengthen the Regional Centre, its programme of activities and the implementation thereof.

According to a draft resolution, entitled “Taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations” (document A/C.1/66/L.21), tabled by Austria, Mexico and Norway, the General Assembly would reaffirm multilateralism as a core and fundamental principle in negotiations in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation with a view to maintaining and strengthening universal norms and enlarging their scope, and, recalling the contribution made in the past by the Conference on Disarmament and concerned at the continuing impasse therein, would urge all member States of the Conference to do their utmost during the 2011/2012 intersessional period to overcome outstanding differences and call upon the Conference to adopt and implement a programme of work during its 2012 session, to enable the immediate commencement of negotiations.


Should the decision on a programme of work not have been reached and such a programme of work not have been implemented, the draft would have the Assembly resolve to consider in its sixty-seventh session alternative ways of taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations, including through the establishment of open-ended working groups on issues of nuclear disarmament to deal with:  nuclear disarmament; effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons; and the elaboration of elements of a non-discriminatory multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable treat banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices; as well as on the prevention of an arms race in outer space.


The work of such open-ended working groups, according to the draft, would take place in Geneva and take into consideration all relevant views and proposals past, present and future, not excluding the possibility of initiating negotiations on legally binding instruments on any of those issues, as deemed appropriate.


In addition, such working groups would seek to develop recommendations and submit a consolidated report on their work to the sixty-eighth General Assembly session, which would assess their progress and decide on extending their mandates, taking into consideration progress on the adoption and implementation of a programme of work in the Conference on Disarmament.


A draft resolution on regional confidence-building measures:  activities of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa (document A/C.1/66/L.23), sponsored by Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Rwanda, and Sao Tome and Principe, would have the General Assembly reaffirm its support for efforts aimed at promoting confidence-building measures at the regional and subregional levels in order to ease tensions in Central Africa and to further sustainable peace, stability and development in the subregion.


The Assembly would reaffirm the importance of disarmament and arms limitation programmes in Central Africa carried out by the States of the subregion with the support of the United Nations, the African Union and other international partners.  It would renew its encouragement to States members of the Standing Advisory Committee to provide financial support for the implementation of the Central African Convention for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunition and All Parts and Components That Can Be Used for Their Manufacture, Repair and Assembly, called the Kinshasa Convention, adopted on 30 April 2010.


In that connection, it would welcome the signing of that Convention by all 11 States members of the Advisory Committee and appeal to them to ratify the Convention in a timely manner in order to facilitate its early entry into force.


The Assembly would appear to the international community to support the efforts undertaken by the States concerned to implement disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes.  It would urge States members and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to support the activities of that Committee effectively through voluntary contributions to the Trust Fund.


By the terms of a draft resolution sponsored by Nepal on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (document A/C.1/66/L.34), the General Assembly would underline the importance of the Kathmandu process for the development of the practice of region-wide security and disarmament dialogues.  It would reaffirm its strong support for the role of the Regional Centre in the promotion of United Nations activities at the regional level to strengthen peace, stability and security among its Member States.


The Assembly would appeal to Member States, in particular those within the Asia-Pacific region, as well as to international governmental and non-governmental organizations and foundations, to make voluntary contributions, the only resources of the Regional Centre, to strengthen the programme of activities of the Centre and the implementation thereof.


A draft resolution, entitled, Revitalizing the work of the Conference on Disarmament and taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations, (document A/C.1/66/L.39), sponsored by the Netherlands, South Africa and Switzerland, would reiterate the Assembly’s grave concern about the current status of the disarmament machinery, including the lack of substantive progress in the Conference on Disarmament for more than a decade, and stress the need for greater efforts and flexibility to advance multilateral disarmament negotiations.


Noting with concern that, despite all efforts, the Conference has not been able to adopt and implement a programme of work during its 2011 session, the Assembly would urge the Conference to do so to enable the resumption of substantive work on its agenda early in its 2012 Session and call upon States to intensify efforts aimed at creating an environment conducive to multilateral disarmament negotiations.  It would invite States to explore, consider and consolidate options, proposals and elements for a revitalization of the United Nations disarmament machinery as a whole, including the Conference on Disarmament.


By related provisions, the Assembly would recognize the need to take stock, during the current session, of all relevant efforts to take forward multilateral disarmament negotiations, and decide to include the item in the provisional agenda of its next session, as well as to review progress made in the implementation of the present resolution and, if necessary, to further explore options for taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations.


Briefing


JIM MCLAY, Chairman of the Open-ended Meeting of Government Experts on the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Their Aspects, noted that an open-ended, informal advisory process to support the Chair, used for the first time, was important for eliciting substantive input and dissolving any disagreements.  Most States stressed that to add value, it should be different in form and content and should focus on a small number of themes based on practical applications.  Those included marking, record-keeping, and tracing, with a focus on the international tracing instrument.  Regional cooperation and international assistance and capacity-building were also deemed important, and it was felt that national officials should be involved in those processes, as well as experts from States most affected by small arms-related violence.


He said that funds from generous donors had enabled the participation at the meeting of experts, which proved crucial.  However, several factors, including time constraints and funding, had resulted in an under-spending of those resources, and funding for some experts was not been confirmed in time.  Longer lead times and clearer criteria should be established to avoid a repeat of that.  Agreeing on a meeting format was also a top priority, and in the New York context, it was extremely challenging to organize such a meeting.  There were also reasons that a workshop format with breakout sessions could not be achieved.  At the conference, however, lengthy prepared statements had been discouraged, and delegates were asked to speak frankly and to respond to points raised by other speakers.  That had worked well, with participants becoming increasingly open as the week progressed.  At future meetings, even more could be done to encourage delegations to empower experts to participate freely and actively in discussions.  Several side events had considerably extended the breadth and quality of the formal discussions.


Thematic Debate, Introduction of Drafts on Regional Disarmament and Security


SAMEH ABOUL-ENEIN (Egypt) introduced two draft resolutions, which he said were of paramount importance to the region:  on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East (document A/C.1/66/L.1); and risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/66/L.2).


He said that L.1 was one of the most important regional aspirations since it was first adopted many years ago.  Nuclear weapons should have no place in the Middle East.  Urgent international action was needed in that area to ensure international security, and he hoped the draft text would be adopted by consensus.


According to the text, the General Assembly would urge all parties directly concerned seriously to consider taking the practical and urgent steps required for the implementation of the proposal to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly, and, as a means of promoting this objective, invite them to adhere to NPT.


Concerned about the threats posed by the proliferation of nuclear weapons to the security and stability of the Middle East region, the draft text L.2 would have the Assembly, reaffirm the importance of Israel’s accession to NPT and placement of all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards, in realizing the goal of universal adherence to the Treaty in the Middle East.


He said Egypt was confident of receiving support on both draft texts.


ALEXIS AQUINO (Peru) said that Governments required technical instruments and economic resources to address regional challenges on arms expenditures.  Tackling the situation would mean harnessing related activities.


He said that among activities undertaken by the countries of the region under the umbrella of the Regional Centre on Peace, Disarmament and Development for Latin America and the Caribbean were projects to help with the adoption of strict controls for firearms.  Improving the management of surplus stocks of firearms and munitions in the Caribbean region was the result of training programmes and action plans that set out short- and long-term targets, with the destruction of thousands of rounds of ammunition and firearms.  In the Andean region, training courses targeted the illicit trade in firearms.


However, those and other initiatives had been launched with scant resources.  More resources were needed to continue the Centre’s work, he said.


He then introduced a draft resolution on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (document A/C.1/L.16), on behalf of United Nations Member States that were also members of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, which would, among other things, have the General Assembly appeal to Member States, in particular those in the region, and to international governmental and non-governmental organizations and foundations, to make and to increase voluntary contributions to strengthen the Centre, its programme of activities and the implementation thereof.


BADER AL-ADWANI ( Kuwait) said that nuclear weapons possession contributed to tensions among nations and had the potential to transform many regions of the world into mass graves.  Member States should place greater focus on the issue of nuclear disarmament.  Concerned with regional and international security perils in that regard, Kuwait adhered to relevant international legal instruments and disarmament conventions, particularly NPT.  As the Middle East was one of the tensest regions in the world, it was especially imperative that the region be free of nuclear weapons.  He pointed out that all Middle Eastern States were currently party to NPT, except for Israel.  The international community must pressure Israel to join the Treaty and subject its nuclear facilities to the safeguards of IAEA.  In that respect, he looked forward to the 2012 international conference concerning the establishment of a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.


On the Iranian nuclear programme, he expressed his belief in the rights of States, including Iran, to conduct research and to produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  Cooperating with IAEA and resolving issues through dialogue and cooperation were integral to reassuring other countries of its compliance with the Agency and international resolutions.  If cooperation with IAEA was ensured, a stable environment would prevail in a region that had suffered over the past three decades from the attrition of its resources and potential.


RAYMOND SERGE BALÉ (Congo) introduced a draft resolution on regional confidence-building measures:  activities of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa (document A/C.1/66/L.23), which would have the General Assembly urge States members and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to support the activities of the Standing Advisory Committee effectively through voluntary contributions to the Trust Fund.


He noted that a new preambular paragraph would be included in a revision of the draft text.  He highlighted operative paragraphs 8 and 10, which would welcome the signing by all 11 member States of the Standing Advisory Committee of the Kinshasa Convention and appeal to them to ratify it.  It would appeal to the international community to support the efforts undertaken by the States concerned to implement disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes.


HAMAD AL-KAABI (United Arab Emirates) said that despite confidence-building measures, the security climate in the Middle East remained a serious threat to international peace and security.  The United Arab Emirates was preparing an initiative to reflect its support for regional, multiregional and multilateral efforts to establish a world free from nuclear weapons.  However, Israel remained outside NPT and was not required to submit its facilities to IAEA controls.


It was necessary to rectify that serous imbalance in terms of security in the region, lest Israel be encouraged to continue developing its nuclear arsenal, the delegate said.  That, in turn, could encourage other States in the region to acquire their own nuclear weapons as part of a deterrence programme.  He called for the implementation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and for the international community to exert additional pressure at the political level to impel Israel to agree to the cause and accede to NPT, as well as to dismantle its nuclear arsenal and subject it to the Agency’s safeguards.


He, meanwhile, supported all international efforts to find a lasting solution in the near future to the Iranian nuclear dossier, in step with international resolutions and IAEA safeguards.  Those measures were vital for promoting peacebuilding measures between the States of the region.  He also supported the conference to be held in 2012 on the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  He hoped it would achieve its objectives ahead of the NPT Review Conference of 2015.


MARIA CARIDAD BALAGUER ( Cuba) said that multilateralism was critical for disarmament efforts, as those measures could contribute both to regional and international efforts.  Regional disarmament must take into account the specific features of each region; a “one-size-fits-all” approach did not work.


She said that bilateral and regional confidence-building measures could avoid conflicts and prevent the use of weapons.  In that context, respect for, and implementation of, regional decisions aimed at achieving peace and security were needed, and nuclear-weapon-free zones were an effective contribution to that end.  She reaffirmed that the United Nations activities at the regional level should be promoted in a sustained manner through the maintenance and development of regional centres.


AMRIT B. RAI ( Nepal) introduced the draft resolution, entitled “United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific” (document A/C.1/66/L.34).


He said that Promotion of regional peace and disarmament contributed to global peace and disarmament.  Sustained consultation, dialogue and sharing of good practices among Member States in the region were important steps in building positive environment for peace, stability, disarmament and non-proliferation.  As the principle United Nations regional entity to address disarmament and non-proliferation issues in the Asia-Pacific region, the Centre could also play a vital role towards this end by providing a shared platform for Member States.


As in previous years, he said the draft resolution aimed to promote an effective and sustained role for the Centre for promoting peace, disarmament and security in the region.  Nepal was confident that the Committee would adopt the draft resolution by consensus.


GAREN NAZARIAN (Armenia) said arms control and disarmament was an integral part of the international peace and security architecture.  The debate today was a good opportunity to identify the current challenges in the sphere of disarmament and further promote the disarmament process.  Armenia was a co-sponsor the draft resolution on transparency and armaments, and strongly supported the arms trade treaty process, in favour of establishing a legally binding instrument, as an important step towards controlling the import, export and transfer of conventional weapons.


He further supported the earliest possible resumption of work at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.  He expressed great expectations for the upcoming Second Review Conference of the Programme of Action on Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, and hoped that the spirit of cooperation would prevail.   Armenia regularly submitted annual information on transfers in the categories of conventional arms, and remained actively engaged according to United Nations General Assembly resolutions.


Presently, Azerbaijan was exceeding the established limitation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe in several categories, including in artillery and battle tanks.  In that regard, the arms race in that region had already become a reality, and the international community needed to react to that explicit breach of international norms and halt the arms race by Azerbaijan.

AUNG LWIN ( Myanmar) supported revitalization of the Regional Centres for Peace and Disarmament and their role in promoting confidence-building and arms limitation measures at the regional level, thus supporting durable peace and sustainable development regionally.  He noted that Myanmar had co-sponsored the resolution on the Centre in Asia and the Pacific, and lent support to resolutions for Centres in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa.


He said that the workshops, seminars and other forms of regional interactive dialogue organized by the Centres played an important role in disseminating ideas and action plans of the First Committee, the Conference on Disarmament and other international disarmament forums.  In that context, he recognized the role of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs in organizing, compiling and distributing papers, and commended the website the Office had established.  In closing, he welcomed initiatives by Member States, interested organizations and individuals to provide further funding to sustain the Regional Centres.


MR. AHIDJO (Cameroon) said the Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa had, since its establishment in 1992, succeeded in several initiatives, including the Kinshasa Convention and its adoption and implementation.  The rotating ministerial meetings had functioned by enhancing confidence among the countries that hosted them.  Budgetary constraints, however, could hamper those and other efforts, he said.


He added that Cameroon had proposed to host an international conference on piracy in Guinea.


CHRISTIAN STROHAL (Austria) supported the efforts of the Regional Centres, particularly those of the Centre in Africa, and all of its endeavours, including those involving the Kinshasa Convention.  His delegation had hosted a side event to promote that instrument, and he thanked all participants for their contribution to that interesting debate.


REZA NAJAFI, Director for Disarmament and International Security for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran, said that all nuclear-weapon States were legally committed to accord unconditional permanent negative security assurances to all States in nuclear-weapon-free zones.  Creating such a zone in the Middle East remained a strategic approach of Iran for promoting peace, security and stability in that volatile region.  Iran had been the first initiator of the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East in 1974.  The consensus of the final document of the First Special Session of the General Assembly devoted to Disarmament in 1978 reaffirmed that such a zone in that region would greatly enhance international peace and security.  It was a grave concern and disappointment that, despite those and other efforts, alongside repeated calls by the international community, the “Zionist regime” was the only non-NPT party in the region and no progress had been made so far in the establishment of such a zone there.


“Peace and stability cannot be achieved in the Middle East inasmuch as such an irresponsible regime is outside NPT and its nuclear arsenal continued to threaten the peace in the region and beyond,” he said.  As the initiator of the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East, his country had spared no effort in supporting meaningful steps aimed at making progress towards creating such a zone.  Immediate and unconditional implementation of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East was an essential element, on the basis of which NPT had been indefinitely extended.  An agreed plan of action and timetable for the universality of NPT in the Middle East should be the only top priority at the 2012 conference on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region.


Thematic Debate, Introduction of Drafts on Disarmament Machinery


RAPHAEL S.C. HERMOSO (Philippines), associating himself with the statement of the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed his country’s belief that multilateral diplomacy was the best way to achieve further progress in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  In that, he stressed the need for a fully functioning disarmament machinery.  The Conference on Disarmament remained an important part of that machinery and in that regard, drew attention to the question of membership.  If, indeed, the Conference functioned on the basis of the sovereign equality of States, then those Member States who wished to participate fully in that body’s work should be given the opportunity to do so.  The distinction between member and observer was an anachronism, rooted in the dynamics of the cold war, or the politics of the past century.


Additionally, he said, expanded membership was in the interest of promoting greater inclusivity and dynamism in the Conference.  Numerous countries, presently observers, possessed the legitimate aspiration to full membership.  To facilitate the necessary review, the Philippines called for the appointment by the Conference of a special rapporteur or coordinator on enlargement.


Finally, given the current situation of the Conference and the need to take a holistic diagnosis of the global disarmament architecture, he urged Conference members to overcome outstanding differences regarding the adoption and implementation of a programme of work, but failing to do so within a specified timeframe, his country saw no other option but to find alternative means in order to take forward multilateral disarmament negotiations.  For it was not just the disarmament process that was put into question, but the multilateral process as a whole that was at stake.


ZAMIR AKRAM, Ambassador of Pakistan to the Conference on Disarmament, said the disarmament machinery had been unable to create an environment conducive to norm-building, deliberations and negotiations, and hence, the growing mantra for revitalizing the machinery by convening two high-level meetings to promote that goal.  The leading critics of the Conference were themselves responsible for dragging their feet on the most important issue of nuclear disarmament:  negative security assurances and an outer space arms race.  The same countries had also played a major role in ensuring the Conference’s inactivity for decades and had stalled deliberations in the Disarmament Commission.


He said that to objectively evaluate causes of the Conference on Disarmament impasses, it was important to acknowledge that the inactivity was a reflection of prevailing political realities, that no treaty would be negotiated in the body that was contrary to security interests of any member State, and that the lack of progress could not be attributed to the rules of procedure.  “It was time for us to face the reality and recognize the true reasons due to which the [Conference on Disarmament] has been ‘dysfunctional’,” he said.


The Conference’s history demonstrated a pattern of negotiating only those agreements that did not undermine the security interests of powerful States, including the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions, which had been negotiated only when those weapons became redundant in terms of their operational utility, he said.  The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty had also been concluded one major Power had carried out sufficient testing.  The same model and approach was being pursued in the case of a fissile material cut-off treaty.  After producing sufficient nuclear weapons arsenals and fissile material stocks, especially weapons-grade plutonium, those Powers were ready to conclude a treaty that would only ban future production of fissile material, since those Powers no longer needed more of those materials.  That approach was “cost-free” for them, as that would not undermine or compromise their security.  In the last few years, the discriminatory nuclear cooperation policies, pursued by some major Powers, had created insecurities and imbalances and accentuated the asymmetry in fissile material stocks in his region.  Regrettably, those discriminatory policies continued, he said.


Challenges facing the disarmament agenda went beyond the Conference on Disarmament, as the components of the machinery were interlinked, including the Disarmament Commission and First Committee, he said, suggesting a series of measures to revitalize the entire machinery.  For one, the lack of progress on one issue due to security concerns should not lead to an impasse on other issues on the Conference on Disarmament agenda; the Non-Aligned Movement, with its 120 members, considered nuclear disarmament as the Conference’s highest priority.  A legal instrument on negative security assurances was another important issue.  The Conference would not negotiate by “cherry picking” issues that some States considered to be “ripe”.  Nuclear-weapon States needed to fulfil their obligations to undertake negotiations on effective measures leading to nuclear disarmament in the Conference on Disarmament.  Double standards and selectivity would have to be eliminated in non-proliferation and disarmament measures.


Beyond reform and rationalization of the working methods, he said, the normative and deliberative roles and functions of the First Committee and the Disarmament Commission also needed to be revitalized.  All components of the disarmament machinery that were developed with consensus should be preserved.  “Any effort to bypass or weaken this machinery would undermine consensus and legitimacy,” he said, adding, “ Pakistan would never be part of any such efforts.”


Instead of selective and partial solutions, Pakistan called for evolving a new and balanced consensus to deal with the present stalemate. A fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament would contribute positively towards finding ways to achieve the goals of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in a balanced and non-discriminatory manner, keeping in mind security interests of all States.


MICHEL COMBRINK (South Africa) said the disarmament machinery could not continue with a “business as usual” approach in light of the general sense of frustration over deadlocked negotiations.  Decisions on the appropriate measures that were needed to break the deadlock continued to elude the international community.  Efforts to secure and advance international peace and security relied on the international community, and sustainable collective solutions were crucial, keeping in mind the security needs of States.  He acknowledged the need for reform and said the multilateral disarmament machinery must overcome its stalemate.


He said that despite efforts, it was regrettable that the Conference on Disarmament had failed to commence any work on any items on its agenda.  Neither the Conference nor the Disarmament Commission had produced any results.  He hoped the First Committee session would provide an impetus to revitalizing the disarmament machinery.  The Conference on Disarmament had the responsibility to conduct multilateral disarmament negotiations.  Due to its inability to fulfil that basic mandate, some questioned whether the body was capable of handling the issues before it.  South Africa believed the Conference was able to negotiate any item on its agenda and that disagreement over priorities should not prevent it body from dealing with the other issues before it.  It was time to take stock and engage in critical reflection on the situation.


As the Committee reflected on the work on the Conference, it was important to remember that disarmament was the first resolution adopted by the General Assembly in 1946.  The Conference on Disarmament was also the subject of part of the 2010 NPT Review Conference.  Some said nuclear disarmament was not ripe for negotiations.  However, South Africa was unwaveringly supportive of working towards a goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.  He supported the start of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty and regretted that the Conference on Disarmament was unable to start substantive work on that topic.


One of the disarmament machinery’s main contributions was developing norms in, among other areas, arms control, he said, voicing his country’s disappointment that no substantive results had emerged from the Disarmament Commission’s last three-year cycle.  What could be done to revitalize those institutions?, he asked.  Common views on that question had yet to emerge in the First Committee’s discussions.  South Africa was willing to work towards finding solutions.


He then introduced, with the Netherlands and Switzerland, a draft resolution on revitalizing the work of the Conference on Disarmament and taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations (document A/C.1/66/L.39).  The draft expressed concern over the status of disarmament machinery and urged the Conference on Disarmament to adopt a programme of work for its next session.


PAUL VAN DEN IJSSEL ( Netherlands) said that it was regrettable that for more than a decade, the multilateral disarmament machinery, and the Conference on Disarmament, in particular, had not met the expectations of the international community.  The Conference was failing to fulfil its mandate.  If the multilateral disarmament machinery, especially the Conference, was not able to overcome this crisis, the international community, and the First Committee in particular, would need to respond and give serious consideration to ways and means to overcome it.


It was in that context, he said, that the Netherlands, together with South Africa and Switzerland, had tabled a resolution on revitalizing the disarmament machinery and taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations.  That resolution aimed at consensus, at uniting all Member States around the need to revitalize the work of the Conference and take forward multilateral disarmament negotiations.  The text encouraged States to build on the work that had already been undertaken and to explore, consider and consolidate options, proposals and elements for revitalizing the disarmament machinery, including the Conference.


The resolution also recognized the need to take stock, during this session, of all relevant efforts to be well-prepared for the sixty-seventh session of the Assembly.  “We need to make sure that, if the [Conference on Disarmament] fails again, next year we do not find ourselves in the same place as this year, but that we had a basis to consider alternative options.”  He underlined that, “should we fail to make substantive progress, in the view of the Netherlands, all options should be up for discussion.”


KATERINA SEQUENSOVA (Czech Republic) said the First Committee was an important body and should improve its working methods to develop concrete measures to address the issues before it.  The functioning of the Disarmament Commission should be reviewed, as should that of the Conference on Disarmament, she said.  The Conference needed to improve its work, and she called on all its member States to adopt a programme of work.  She also asked for parallel consideration of the membership issue, including expansion.  The adoption of any new instrument was meaningful only if it reflected universal support, she said.


CHRISTIAN STROHAL (Austria) said revitalizing the disarmament machinery was imperative.  When addressing the General Assembly on 24 September, his Minister had mentioned a draft resolution to be introduced by Austria, which focused on revitalization of the Conference on Disarmament.  Last year, following a high-level meeting, Austria had introduced such a text.  This year, there was an overwhelming sense of urgency to tackling that challenge.


He then introduced a draft resolution on taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations (document A/C.1/66/L.21).  The Conference on Disarmament was the designated multilateral forum for disarmament negotiations, he said, adding that he would continue to do the utmost to break the current stalemate.  The Conference might not live up to its mandate, and many analyses had described the current impasses.  However, there was a difference between what was being told to the international community and was heard.


For example, he said, lack of political will had been named as the reason for the stalemate, but there was an abundance of political will by a vast majority to negotiate.  The international community had also been told that the consensus rule was indispensible to protect the security interests of a few members, however, what had been said was that the consensus rule should not serve to prevent the beginning of negotiations on what might eventually become legal instruments, he said.


What was being said was that security interests were at stake, as if the negotiation of disarmament treaties were a threat.  “It was particularly odd that this argument is used by States with nuclear weapons in their arsenals,” he said.  What was heard, however, was that the negotiation of disarmament treaties increased the security of the international community at large, especially of the vast majority of States not possessing nuclear weapons.


The continued paralysis with respect to multilateral disarmament negotiations must be overcome urgently, he said.  The issues were too important to remain idle on the agenda for much longer.  Fresh and innovative approaches, therefore, needed to be considered on how progress on substance could be achievable, he said.  That might require breaking with some of the “dogmas”, as well as a greater readiness to compromise.


The draft text he tabled, with Mexico and Norway, was an attempt to encourage innovative thinking, he said, and was by no means an attempt to undermine the Conference on Disarmament.  However, if a breakthrough remained elusive, Austria was convinced that new approaches must be seriously considered.


“Our draft resolution is intended as a constructive contribution,” he said.  “We already achieved one goal — to stimulate our debate and the dynamics necessary to revitalize the disarmament machinery.  We realize that some delegations are at this stage sceptical of the ideas that we have outlined.  There, we are consulting broadly and in a transparent manner.  We have listened carefully to comments made, especially during the two rounds of informal consultations held last week.  As a consequence, we have adapted the text and have prepared a revision of the draft resolution.”


He appreciated all comments, and asked all delegations to examine his proposal from a dynamic perspective to reach the objective.


ERIC DANON ( France) said that the disarmament machinery was in a mixed situation.  The countries participating in the 2012 conference on the Middle East would have to devise a specific forum with respect to the “long hard road” leading to a zone free of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems in that region.  While progress was being made on the nuclear issue under NPT, the Conference on Disarmament was in a deadlock, not due to procedural constraints, but because of conflicts of a political nature.  France believed that exporting the debate into another forum would not help resolve the political problems that underlay the deadlock.


He said that the Disarmament Commission, more than 30 years after its founding, had not lived up to its promises.  In the past, it had come up with useful elements, such as the 1999 guidelines for the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free-zones.  However, it was difficult to find agreements in that forum, even to establish confidence-building measures with respect to conventional weapons.


Three series of negotiations had been completed in 15 years:  the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Mine-Ban Convention), the protocol on explosive remnants of war, and the Convention on Cluster Munitions.  Conclusion of those treaties raised the question of the effectiveness of the “CCW (Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons) forum”.  At the same time, the conclusion of the Mine-Ban and Cluster Munitions Convention was not sufficient because they would not be adopted within a reasonable timeframe by the entire international community.  In order to achieve concrete results on the ground, it was necessary to continue negotiating a sixth protocol on cluster munitions in the context of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.  But that would be worth it only if it was legally binding, compatible with the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and had a decisive, immediate, and humanitarian impact.


Noting that resolutions had been presented to unblock the situation in the Conference on Disarmament and launch negotiations of a fissile material cut-off treaty, he concluded that France would determine its vote on the resolutions on the basis of several criteria, including consistency, clarity and relevance of the mandates, and the question of adherence of the Member States.


DJAMEL MOKTEFI (Algeria) stressed the interest of the communications briefings of the various members of the panel that had taken place on Friday in the First Committee, and said that interesting proposals had been suggested to revitalize certain elements of the United Nations disarmament machinery.  Algeria remained committed to the multilateral disarmament agenda and to strengthening the United Nations disarmament mechanisms.  Given the paralysis facing the Conference, it was vital for Member States to work together and invest political capital to revitalize the disarmament bodies in a constructive manner.


He said that no one could doubt the fact that the reason for the stalemate of the machinery was a lack of political will.  The Commission had been unable to adopt specific recommendations for a number of years.  He reiterated his delegation’s commitment to its mandate, and called on Member States to show political will and flexibility so that body could draw specific recommendations in the issues on its agenda during the next cycle.  He also reiterated the need to further strengthen dialogue and cooperation between the First committee, the Commission and the Conference on Disarmament.


The stalemate in the Conference could not be attributed to institutional mechanisms and was not inherent to its method of functioning, he said.  Nor could the impasses be attributed to the rules of procedure or the consensus rule, which was a way of protecting the national security interests of all States, and not just the most powerful among them.


The decision CD/1864, which had enjoyed consensus in May 2009, remained valid, he said.  That decision was far from perfect, but did constitute the result of a compromise that was moving in the right direction.  The decision sought to launch an interactive negotiation and discussion process that should see a climate of confidence prevail.  The Conference was still viable and had the capacity to break the limbo in which it found itself.


AMANDEEP SINGH GILL ( India) said there was a renewed interest in the issue of the revitalization of the disarmament machinery and the multilateral disarmament agenda.  India recognized the importance the First Committee and was committed to its work.  The Committee provided countries with diverse perspectives an opportunity to voice them and submit resolutions on issues of priority to them.  He also attached importance to the Disarmament Commission as the universal forum for building consensus on disarmament and international security issues.  It was the only universal forum that provided for in-depth consideration of specific disarmament issues.


The Conference on Disarmament, he said, was the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, and continued to have the mandate, membership, credibility, and the rules of procedure to discharge its responsibility.  He shared the widespread disappointment on the continuing impasse, but he did not believe that it stemmed from the forum or its rules.  Rather, it was up to Member States to make the Conference work, and proposals that questioned the viability or relevance of the Conference or put forth unrealistic alternatives would not lead to productive outcomes in taking forward the agreed multilateral agenda with the participation of all relevant countries.  The United Nations Secretariat, particularly the Office for Disarmament Affairs, had an important responsibility in assisting States in pursuing the multilateral disarmament agenda.


In an interdependent world with complex security challenges, it was only inclusive multilateral processes that could balance the interests of important stakeholders, identify win-win situations and advance legally binding agreements that could be sustained over time and applied universally, he said.  The United Nations disarmament machinery could not be assessed in isolation from the larger international security architecture and the need for reform in the United Nations.


Ms. BALAGUER ( Cuba) said that tangible results were needed in disarmament and arms control.  It was deplorable that the Conference on Disarmament could not carry out substantive work.  It was a shared responsibility to preserve and strengthen the body.  The Conference must launch negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention.  While fissile material treaty negotiations were important, it was also insufficient.  Treaties to prohibit fissile material, prevent an outer space arms race, and ban nuclear weapons, were needed.


She also called for a gradual programme to eliminate nuclear weapons.  Highlighting the importance of the Disarmament Commission, Cuba supported its work and hoped all States would demonstrate the necessary political will to move issues forward in that body.  The establishment of expert groups should be an exception, and not a rule, as all such groups should represent all interested States.


The stalemate in the Conference continued, due to lack of political will, she said.  “If we truly wished to revitalize the United Nations disarmament machinery, we should convene the fourth special session on disarmament,” she said.


IMELDA SMOLCIC (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), urged all members of the Conference to show greater political will to ensure the commencement of substantive work in the adoption and implementation of a comprehensive and balanced work programme, in order to advance on the nuclear disarmament agenda.  MERCOSUR urged the Conference to overcome its long impasse and establish an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament in order to begin negotiations on a programme for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons within a timeframe, including a nuclear weapons convention.  In that context, MERCOSUR reiterated its support for the five-point proposal of the Secretary-General and his support to a nuclear weapons convention with a strengthened verification system.


He said that MERCOSUR was convinced that the total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only guarantee against the use or threat of those weapons.  Until that goal was met, the non-nuclear-armed States should receive unambiguous, unconditional and legally binding negative security assurances, from nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of those weapons.


MERCOSUR was also concerned about signs of an arms race in outer space, and it reaffirmed the importance of negotiating a binding instrument in that area, he said.  The Southern Common Market also reaffirmed the importance of strict compliance with the existing regime on the use of outer space that recognized the common interest of mankind in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.  MERCOSUR expressed its willingness to advance negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, including an international verification regime that promoted non-proliferation objectives and disarmament.


Rights of reply


The delegate of Azerbaijan, exercising his right of reply to the statement made by Armenia’s delegate, said that despite political efforts, the situation in his country was unacceptable.  Ethnic cleansing and serious obstructions existed.  Armenia had built up military arms, with recent accounts of increasing supplies.  The existing arms control measures were not effective.  Negotiating parties were not effective.  He was concerned that certain weapons present in the region posed a risk of falling into the hands of terrorists.


He said that the statements of Armenian officials were full of misinterpretations.  The purpose was to create a smokescreen and to win time.  Regarding military expenditures, Azerbaijan had a proportionally sized armed force.  Armenia’s military expenditures relative to the gross domestic product (GDP) was among the highest in the world.  As long as Armenia continued to follow its policies, any discussions of peace and security in the region was futile.


Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Armenia, addressing her statement to that made by the representative of Azerbaijan, said it was truly disappointing that the Committee was being used by Azerbaijan to falsely discredit Armenia.  She regretted the efforts of Azerbaijan to mislead the international community.  The allegations made by Azerbaijan were totally misleading, as Armenia had never begun a war or conducted military actions in Nagorno-Karabakh.  Those peoples had been forced to take up arms in order to protect their lives and dignity, and the international community was witnessing Azerbaijan increase its military assets.  Azerbaijan’s official defence budget had been growing since 2004 at least, with a 45 per cent increase in 2011.  By doing so, Azerbaijan was trying to fulfil a 2007 pledge by the Azerbaijani President to exceed the entire Armenian State budget.  That had a disastrous impact on regional security.  Armenia was alarmed by the growing wave of incursions across the Nagorno-Karabakh, resulting in a tragic and unnecessary loss of life for both Armenian and Azerbaijani soldiers.  The Azerbaijan side was brazenly trying to distract the attention of the international community by shifting the responsibility of its own militaristic actions onto others.  It was the practice of putting the blame on others in order to hide its own crimes, which had become a regular exercise of Azerbaijan.


The representative of Azerbaijan, exercising his right of reply, said the United Nations should not be misused by those violating international law and promoting dangerous ideas of racial superiority.  He considered Armenia’s irresponsible behaviour as an open challenge to the settlement process and international and regional peace and security, and said Armenia should cease its destructive policies.


The delegate of Armenia, using her right of reply, said again that Azerbaijan was again using the floor to make biased statements.  Azerbaijan was in breach of treaties.  Its holdings in battle tanks were 381, and that was way over the limit of around 200 battle tanks.  In 2011, Azerbaijan had made sizable purchases, including combat vehicles, despite arms embargoes.  Azerbaijan was pursuing an arms race, and it had made helicopters and artillery purchases.  In 2010, it had also acquired rocket launchers.  Azerbaijan was also developing weapons production initiatives, she said.


Azerbaijan was not being constructive, she said, while Armenia remained committed to the peaceful resolution of the conflict, with solutions based on international law.


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For information media • not an official record