8 October 2012
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3453

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

Sixty-seventh General Assembly

First Committee

2nd Meeting (AM)


Opening Day in First Committee Spotlights Strategic Uncertainty, Political


Stasis, as Speakers Urge ‘Save Ourselves from Ourselves’

 


Regional Groups, Individual States Outline Priorities, Pathways to Security


Absent global consensus on a new security architecture for disarmament, regional groups and individual countries opened debate in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today with statements both affirming the global political stasis and strategic uncertainty while putting forth ideas on how to correct their course.


The New Agenda Coalition — Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden — felt strongly, said Sweden’s delegate, that all States should work towards the construction of a comprehensive, legally binding framework of mutually reinforcing instruments with clearly defined benchmarks, timelines and a strong verification system for achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world. 


Given the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, whether by accident or design, by State or non-State actors, he said their total elimination was the only guarantee of safety.  As long as some States possessed such weapons, citing security reasons, others would aspire to acquire them.  “What does not exist cannot proliferate,” he said.


Australia, said its speaker, was always willing to do its share of the work to elevate the “game” and make the world more stable and secure, in order to “save ourselves from ourselves”.  However the international community — supported by the cornerstone Nuclear-Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime — must take credible and definite steps to address the fact that the nuclear weapons still in existence had a combined destructive power of more than 150,000 Hiroshima bombs. 


Trafficking in arms, high-powered weaponry in densely populated areas, and weapons of mass destruction dotted the landscape, said Mexico’s representative, lamenting that despite opportunities for disarmament glimpsed in 2009 and 2010, more than 40 years after the entry into force of the NPT, and two decades after the end of the cold war, there were still 20,000 nuclear warheads in existence, with 2,000 in high-alert status and there were economic crises in places where resources were directed at the upkeep of weapons arsenals, instead of development.  The use of just one nuclear weapon would be “a crime against humanity”.


As the Committee shouldered its responsibility to move forward, Iran’s representative on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement underscored the “absolute validity” of multilateral diplomacy in the field of disarmament, non-proliferation and international security.  “In today’s increasingly interconnected world, multilateralism is not an option, but an imperative,” he said.


He stressed that the total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only absolute guarantee against their use or threat of use.  Until then, he urged that all non-nuclear-armed States must be given unconditional and legally binding negative security assurances.  At the same time, he reaffirmed the right of States to develop, research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and stressed that any attack or threat of attack against peaceful nuclear facilities – be they operational or under construction – posed a great danger to human beings and the environment, and was a grave violation of international law, the United Nations Charter and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regulations.


Proliferation underpinned much of the European Union’s intervention today, as its representative expressed deep concern over the persistent impasse in the Conference on Disarmament and its failure to start negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, since launching negotiations on that treaty was now more important than ever.  The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and the risk of access by non-State actors remained a major threat to international peace and security, while the unregulated trade in conventional arms adversely affected regional and international security and stability.


Speaking to specific circumstances, he said that Iran’s nuclear and missile programmes and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s testing of a nuclear explosive device and delivery mechanisms, and recent information on a uranium enrichment programme, were the most worrying examples of the major proliferation challenges facing the international community today.


He said Syria’s non-compliance with its Safeguards Agreement and continued non-cooperation with the IAEA was also troubling.  He noted that international concerns about the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear programme had resulted in the adoption by the IAEA Board of Governors of another resolution on Iran on 13 September, and he urged Iran to comply fully with its obligations.


Speaking on behalf of the African Group, Nigeria’s representative expressed regret that the diplomatic conference on an arms trade treaty did not achieve its stated objective due to a lack of consensus.  He said that the instrument should recognize the sovereign right of States to acquire, manufacture, export, import and retain conventional arms, while also recognizing that an unregulated conventional arms transfer system might lead to unfettered access by unauthorized, non-State actors and groups – a danger to which no country appeared immune. 


He called on States to forge an acceptable treaty that would address the gaps created by the unregulated transfer in conventional arms, while not restricting the sovereign right of States of self-defence.  He recalled that no member of the African Group was a nuclear-armed State, and reiterated the Group’s appeal for complete nuclear disarmament by all States as the “utmost prerequisite” for world peace. 


Also speaking were the representatives of Chile on behalf of Community of Latin-American and Caribbean States, Haiti on behalf of the Caribbean Community, and Egypt on behalf of the Arab Group, as well as the representatives of Switzerland, Serbia, and New Zealand also delivered statements.


The Committee will meet again tomorrow, 9 October at 10 a.m. to continue its general debate.


Background


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to begin its annual general debate, scheduled to run through 11 October, on all disarmament and international security agenda items entrusted to it.


Among the documents before the Committee will be the report of the Conference on Disarmament (document A/67/27).


Also on file is the report of the Disarmament Commission for 2012 (document A/67/42).  It recalls General Assembly resolution 66/60, which, among other things, reaffirms the Commission’s mandate as the specialized, deliberative body within the United Nations multilateral disarmament machinery that allows for in-depth deliberations on specific disarmament issues, leading to the submission of concrete recommendations on those issues.  The resolution asks the Commission to meet for up to three weeks in 2012, from 2 to 20 April, and it recommends that the Commission intensify consultations with a view to reaching agreement on the items on its agenda before the start of its substantive session of 2012.


On 3 April, the Commission adopted the provisional agenda for its session, and on 5 April, it decided to hold two informal meetings during the general debate, one on its working methods and another on elements for a draft declaration of the 2010s as the fourth Disarmament Decade.  Also on 5 April, it decided to include the following items in the agenda:  Recommendations for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons; and practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons.  Deliberations on those items were entrusted to two working groups.  At the conclusion of its session on 20 April, the Commission adopted by consensus the reports of its subsidiary bodies, stating “There were no recommendations put forward by the Commission”.  It also adopted by consensus its report to the General Assembly.


Also before the Committee is the Secretary-General’s report on the work of the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters (document A/67/203), which summarizes the Board’s activities in 2012 during its fifty-seventh and fifty-eighth sessions, held respectively in New York, from 22 to 24 February, and in Geneva, from 4 to 6 July.  The focus during these sessions was on ways to improve the work of the Advisory Board; conventional arms regulation; the future United Nations architecture; and follow-up discussions on the issue of the revitalization of the Conference on Disarmament.


According to the report, the item on improving the Board’s work was discussed at the fifty-seventh session, during which agreement emerged on the importance of maintaining a suitable balance in its composition — between governmental and non-governmental members, equitable regional representation, generational and gender balance.  In particular, some Board members pointed to the absence of members from the Middle East and the underrepresentation of certain other regions.  An eventual membership increase was mentioned.


Members raised concerns that striving for consensus should not hamper the Board’s work and should not be an absolute necessity or be an obstacle to new ideas.  It would be useful, members concurred, to engage in online intersessional dialogue, and proposals were made to create subgroups or small working groups to tackle specific items, either during the intersessional period or during the Board’s regular session.


On conventional arms regulation, the Board recommended that the Secretary-General stress the need for a consistent and non-redundant architecture for conventional arms on the basis of the centrality of such United Nations tools as the Register of Conventional Arms and negotiations mandated, conducted or endorsed by the General Assembly.  It was felt overall that Member States should work together to make the Organization’s conventional arms regulation as coherent and effective as possible.  The problem of conventional arms went beyond disarmament, the Board noted, to touch on areas such as development, good governance, public health, human rights and trade.


Among its recommendations, the Board said the Secretary-General could request the appropriate structure, such as the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), as a possible future arms trade treaty support unit, or a technical working group, to consider and report on overlaps between existing instruments.  The Secretary-General should continue to promote awareness of circumstances in which there could be negative consequences of the arms trade.


On revitalizing the Conference on Disarmament, members underlined the need to maintain the status of that body as a uniquely important forum for the negotiation of multilateral disarmament agreements and treaties, despite the prolonged impasse.  Nonetheless, the need was mentioned to consider reforming its decision-making processes to allow for an “institutional normative structure that facilitated the advancement of negotiations”.  Views were also expressed that if the stalemate persisted, alternative solutions would be “unavoidable”.  Several members reiterated support for an incremental approach to break the deadlock, suggesting the establishment of informal scientific and technical groups within the Conference to explore and clarify issues related to a future fissile material cut-off treaty. 


Suggestions were also made, according to the report, for the General Assembly to establish a negotiating body parallel to the Conference.  In that vein, some members said, the Assembly could be used as another venue to engage in negotiations, including on a fissile material cut-off treaty, by establishing a subordinate negotiating body and deciding what kind of issues it should negotiate.  Such proposals were countered by some members, who asserted that that would not work, since several or all nuclear-weapon States and nuclear-weapon-capable States might not participate in such an initiative.  The possible establishment of a high-level panel of eminent persons was raised again by some members, but it did not find strong support. 


A suggestion was also made, the report states, for an approach to adoption of a fissile material cut-off treaty that was similar to that of the six-party talks on the Korean peninsula — in this case, the convening of five-party talks between China, India, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, and the United States.  However, doubts were voiced over the proposal’s feasibility.  It was generally felt that there was a decreased interest in revisiting the issue of changing the Conference’s rules of procedure. 


The Board recommended that the Secretary-General continue to encourage the Conference to pursue all efforts to achieve a breakthrough in the stalemate and consider initiating consultations with all concerned States.  This should be done in order to build consensus to commence substantive work on negotiations in respect of a fissile material cut-off treaty under a balanced programme of work.


The Secretary-General could take other measures as well, members said, such as appoint a special envoy or coordinator to assist him in those efforts, encourage Conference members to establish groups of scientific experts, and continue efforts to raise public awareness so that civil society groups and others can provide input on how to break the stalemate.  Steps could also be taken by Member States to restore the credibility and legitimacy of the United Nations disarmament machinery.  That could be accomplished by inviting Member States to promote the cause of disarmament in the General Assembly and other relevant bodies, so that it remains on the agenda.


The Committee will consider a report on follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, Reducing nuclear danger, and Nuclear disarmament (documents A/67/133, Corr.1 and Add.1).  In it, the Secretary-General finds that the international community sought to take stock of the progress made in implementing existing disarmament and related commitments and addressed those undertakings at several major international meetings and conferences.  Progress was noted, for example, to operationalize the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and note was taken of Indonesia’s ratification on 6 February.  The country is one of 44 required for the treaty’s entry into force.


Despite those and other efforts, the report notes that the number of nuclear weapons in national arsenals remains high, with thousands maintained on high-alert status and available for launch within a short period of time.  Moreover, several States remain committed to the doctrine of nuclear deterrence based on the contemplated first use of nuclear weapons.  Nuclear-weapon States have reportedly continued to modernize their nuclear arsenals and nuclear-weapon delivery systems, including through qualitative and quantitative improvements. 


In addition, the report finds, disagreements over the issue of missile defence have increasingly emerged as possible impediments to progress in global nuclear disarmament efforts.  In March 2011 the United States announced the deployment of an Aegis missile cruiser to the Mediterranean as an initial component of the European Phased Adaptive Approach to ballistic missile defence.  Despite efforts made to address concerns of the Russian Federation about the plans to place anti-missile interceptors in Europe, that country announced its decision to, among other things, deploy short-range and conventionally armed Iskander missiles in the region of Kaliningrad. 


In light of the ongoing stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament, the report finds, an increasing number of States have expressed interest in exploring alternatives for advancing multilateral disarmament negotiations, and many will look to the present session of the General Assembly for action in this regard. 


The document also contains information submitted by the following Governments to a request by the Secretary-General on measures taken to implement the resolution on follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice concerning nuclear-weapon use:  Austria, Cuba, Turkmenistan and Portugal.


The Secretary-General’s report on measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction (document A/67/135) recalls that the General Assembly, in resolution 66/50, had urged all Member States to take and strengthen national measures to prevent terrorists’ acquisition of mass destruction weapons, their delivery systems and related technology.  It requested the Secretary-General to report on measures taken by international organizations in that fight and to seek the views of Member States.  The report contains replies from four Member States, the European Union and twelve international organizations.


Also before the Committee are reports of the Secretary-General on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East (document A/67/139 (Part I)); the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/67/139 (Part II)); Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (A/67/137 and Add.1); and strengthening security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region (document A/67/134 and Add.1).


A report of the Secretary-General on Mongolia’s international security and nuclear-weapon-free status (document A/67/166) was also before the Committee.  It contains an account of new developments and the assistance accorded to Mongolia by the Secretariat and relevant United Nations bodies since the issuance of the previous report on the subject (document A/65/136).


Also before the Committee was a report of the Secretary-General on Effects of the use of armaments and ammunitions containing depleted uranium (document A/67/177 and Add.1), containing the views of Colombia, Ethiopia, Netherlands and Serbia, as well the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).  An addendum contains responses from Japan and Qatar.


The Secretary-General’s report on conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels (documents A/67/129 and Add.1) contains information outlining regional and subregional efforts gathered pursuant to resolution 66/37, from Armenia, Burkina Faso, Colombia, Germany, Panama, Spain, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan.


The Committee will also consider the Secretary-General’s report on objective information on military matters, including transparency of military expenditures (document A/67/128 and Add.1).  It contains information received from Member States on their military expenditures for the latest fiscal year for which data are available.  It details reports received from 30 Governments.  The addendum contains the report of an additional six Governments.


The Secretary-General’s report on confidence-building measures in the regional and subregional context (document A/67/114 and Add.1) contains the views of Armenia, Germany, Mexico, Qatar, Spain, Turkey, Viet Nam, Azerbaijan and Portugal.  The report was prepared consequent to a request to the Secretary-General contained in General Assembly resolution 66/38, in which the Assembly reaffirmed the ways and means regarding confidence - and security-building measures set out in the report of the Disarmament Commission at its 1993 session.  It called on Member States to pursue those ways and means through sustained consultations and dialogue, while at the same time, avoiding actions that may hinder or impair such a dialogue.


Furthermore, the General Assembly urged Member States to comply strictly with all bilateral, regional and international agreements, including arms control and disarmament agreements to which they are a party.  The Assembly also emphasized that the objective of confidence-building measures should be to help strengthen international peace and security and be consistent with the principle of undiminished security at the lowest level of armaments.  It encouraged the promotion of bilateral and regional confidence-building measures, with the consent and participation of the parties concerned, to avoid conflict and prevent the unintended and accidental outbreak of hostilities.


Three items, Consolidation of peace through practical disarmament measures, Assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them, and the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all aspects, were contained in another report of the Secretary-General (document A/67/176).  An overview is provided of the activities undertaken by Member States, the United Nations system and other intergovernmental organizations on the implementation of General Assembly resolutions 65/67, 66/34, and 66/47.


Before the Committee will also be the Secretary-General’s report on the Progress made in implementing the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, 10 years after its adoption (document A/67/113).  The following countries submitted information:  Germany, Iraq, Japan, Norway, Qatar, Romania, and Thailand.


In his report on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security (document A/67/167), the Secretary-General details the responses received from Colombia, Cuba, Panama, Qatar, Turkey and Ukraine on their views and assessments of the  general appreciation of the issues of information security; domestic efforts to strengthen information security and promote international cooperation in this field; the content of the concepts mentioned in paragraph two of resolution 66/24; and possible measures that could be taken by the international community to strengthen information security at the global level. 


The Secretary-General’s report, Promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation (document A/67/131 and Add.1), contains replies on the issue from Cuba, Norway, Panama, Qatar, Spain and Turkmenistan, as requested by the General Assembly in resolution 66/32.  The addendum includes a reply from Mexico.


A report on the Relationship between disarmament and development (document A/67/186 and Add.1) discusses recent trends in the further strengthening within the United Nations of that relationship.  Replies were received from the Governments of Colombia, Cuba and Panama.  The addendum contains a reply from Qatar.


A report on Observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control (document A/67/130 and Add.1) contains replies from Colombia, Cuba, Iraq, Qatar, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey).  The addendum contains Spain’s reply. 


The Committee will also consider the Secretary-General’s report on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (document A/67/132); the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (document A/67/112); and the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (document A/67/117).

A report of the Secretary-General on Disarmament and non-proliferation education (document A/67/138) reviews the results of the recommendations of the United Nations study on disarmament and non-proliferation education, and contains information from Member States, international, regional and non-governmental organizations and academic institutions on the implementation of the study’s 34 recommendations.


Also to be taken up by the Committee is the Secretary-General’s report on the United Nations Disarmament Information Programme (document A/67/202), which provides an overview of activities carried out by the Office for Disarmament Affairs in the priority areas of weapons of mass destruction and conventional weapons, in particular small arms and light weapons.  The report also gives details of the many contributions of the Department of Public Information to the dissemination of information on disarmament.


The report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations disarmament fellowship, training and advisory services programme (document A/67/160) describes 25 fellowships that were awarded in both 2011 and 2012 to promote expertise in disarmament in Member States, particularly in developing countries.


The Committee also had before it a note by the Secretary-General, Measures to uphold the authority of the 1925 Geneva Protocol (document A/67/115).  A series of letters was also before the Committee:  dated 4 June 2012 from the Permanent Representative of Mongolia (document A/67/90), giving an account of new developments and the assistance accorded to Mongolia by the Secretariat and relevant United Nations bodies; dated 13 March, from the Permanent Representative of the Central African Republic (document A/67/72-S/2012/159) transmitting the report of the thirty-third ministerial meeting of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa; and dated 13 August, from the Permanent Representative of Burundi (document A/67/309-S/2012/630), transmitting the report of the thirty-fourth ministerial meeting of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa.


Opening Remarks


Opening the meeting, First Committee Chair DESRA PERCAYA of Indonesia said that the issues before the Committee were critical to achieving peace and security.  He was confident that by working together, by cooperating and exercising each Member State’s respective political capital, the globally-agreed agendas on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation could be meaningfully advanced.


He said that the esteemed political leaders of United Nations Member States had spoken recently at the annual debate on the imperative of attaining global well-being.  The interconnected world would achieve sustained progress only if peace, security and stability were visible to all people in all regions. That meant fulfilment by the international community of the First Committee’s unfulfilled agenda.  Efforts in the Committee must be redoubled to try to achieve agreement.  By working closely and constructively, its members could yield befitting progress on disarmament and international security.  In the field of mass destruction weapons, implementation of relevant instruments must be intensified.


Despite the recent failure of the arms trade treaty to agree on the text of a treaty to set a common standard to regulate the international trade in conventional weapons, he was encouraged that efforts were continuing to pursue the attainment of a treaty, and urged that those be supported.


It was necessary to be politically bold, and for delegations to inspire each other to overcome existing hurdles that have impeded the Committee, he said.  There were no obstacles that could not be overcome if the international community joined hands to work with sincerity to realize solutions.  He hoped this year’s session would be launched with a renewed zeal, and that members could be proud of the outcome when the session ended.


Statements


MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE (Iran), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated the Movement’s position on the entire range of disarmament and international security issues, as contained in NAM summit and ministerial documents, including the Tehran Summit held in August 2012.  Highlighting some of the Movement’s views, he underscored the “absolute validity” of multilateral diplomacy in the field of disarmament, non-proliferation and international security.  In today’s increasingly interconnected world, multilateralism was not an option, but an imperative.  The Movement stood ready to cooperate with other partners for promoting it as a core principle of negotiations.


However, he said, the Movement was concerned by the continuous erosion of multilateralism in the arms regulation, non-proliferation and disarmament.  Resort to unilateral actions by any member State in resolving security concerns jeopardized international peace and security, contravened international law and undermined confidence in the international security system and in the United Nations itself.  Multilateralism and multilaterally agreed upon solutions that were in accordance with the United Nations Charter provided the only sustainable method for addressing disarmament and international security issues.


The Movement’s principled position on nuclear disarmament remained its highest priority, he said.  It was deeply concerned by the threat to humanity posed by the existence of nuclear weapons and of their possible use or threat of use.  Progress towards nuclear disarmament was too slow, and the total elimination of the nuclear arsenals of the nuclear-weapon States, as required by their multilateral legal obligations and undertakings in 2000 and 2010, lacked progress.  The total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only absolute guarantee against their use or threat of use, and all non-nuclear-weapon States should be effectively assured against that.  Pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons, an unconditional and legally binding instrument on negative security assurances to all non-nuclear-weapon States was a matter of high priority.


The Movement remained deeply concerned by the strategic defence doctrines of the nuclear-weapon States, as well as by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Deterrence and Defence Posture Review, which set out the rationale for the use of nuclear weapons.  The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons should be completely excluded from the military doctrines of those States.  He called on nuclear-weapon States to comply fully with their legal obligations to accomplish the total elimination of nuclear weapons without further delay.


While welcoming the successful conclusion of the first session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 NPT Review Conference, the Movement’s States parties to the Treaty called for the full implementation of the 2010 Action Plan on nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation, peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and the implementation of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East.  He also stressed the significance of achieving adherence to the Test-Ban Treaty.


He reaffirmed the importance of the Conference on Disarmament as the sole multilateral negotiating body on disarmament, and reiterated the call for the Conference to agree on a balanced and comprehensive program of work.  He recognized the need to enhance the effectiveness of the United Nations disarmament machinery, and noted that the main difficulty lay in the lack of genuine political will by some States.  For its part, the Movement stood ready to engage constructively.


Establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones was an important measure towards achieving global disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, he said, urging States to arrive at agreements in that regard.  However the establishment of such zones did not substitute legal for the obligation of the nuclear-weapon States for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  The Movement continued its strong support for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and, in the interim, demanded that Israel renounce any possession of nuclear weapons, accede to the NPT without precondition, and promptly place all its nuclear facilities under full-scope IAEA safeguards.


He strongly called for the full implementation of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East, and urged the co-sponsors of that resolution to exert utmost efforts to ensure the success of the conference to be convened this year.  The delay in implementing that resolution was of deep concern, and he urged the Secretary-General and the resolution’s three co-sponsors to implement the relevant measures contained in the Action Plan, without further delay.


The Movement reaffirmed the inalienable right of States to the development, research, production and use of nuclear energy, including the sovereign right to develop full national nuclear fuel cycles, for peaceful purposes without discrimination, he said.  The Movement firmly believed that non-proliferation policies should not undermine the inalienable right of States to acquire and access nuclear material, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes.  Peaceful nuclear activities were inviolable, and any attack or threat of attack against peaceful nuclear facilities – be they operational or under construction – posed a great danger to human beings and the environment, and constituted a grave violation of international law, principles of the United Nations Charter and IAEA regulations.  Measures aimed at strengthening nuclear safety and nuclear security must not be used as a pretext or leverage to violate, deny or restrict the inalienable right of developing countries to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.


He further said that new outer space initiatives should be pursued within the United Nations and decisions must be made by consensus.  Also, any initiatives to address issues related to delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction should be conducted through inclusive negotiations in a forum where all States participated as equals.  The Movement remained concerned over the negative implications of the development and deployment of anti-ballistic missile defence systems and the threat of weaponization and militarization of outer space, and the Conference must commence substantive work to prevent an outer space arms race.

Regarding the Biological Weapons Convention, he called for balanced, effective and non-discriminatory implementation of all its provisions, and stressed the importance of a legally binding protocol.  Concerning the Chemical Weapons Convention, he strongly called on all concerned possessor States to take every necessary measure to ensure strict compliance with their treaty obligations, including the destruction of remaining chemical weapons in the shortest time possible.  Finally, he stressed the importance of a symbiotic relationship between disarmament and development, adding that reducing military expenditures, in accordance with the principles of undiminished security, could allow States to devote those resources to economic and social development, particularly to combat poverty.  


ANDRAS KOS, delegation of the European Union, welcomed the progress made towards disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, particularly events such as the entry into force of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) last year, the successful NPT Review Conference in 2010, and this year’s first session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 NPT review.  At the same time, however, it was deeply concerned about the persistent impasse in the Conference on Disarmament and its failure to start negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.  The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and the risk of access by non-State actors remained a major threat to international peace and security.  Similarly, the unregulated trade in conventional arms adversely affected regional and international security and stability.


He said effective multilateralism, prevention and international cooperation were the main goals of the Union’s strategy against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The Union promoted full implementation of all non-proliferation and disarmament treaties and conventions.  It assisted that process through diplomatic means and practical training, and it was a major donor to international organizations, which provided support in that field.  Also crucial were verification mechanisms to ensure full compliance with international obligations.  The NPT remained the cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation system, and universalizing it was imperative.  The Union welcomed the Action Plan stemming from the 2010 review, and follow-up meeting by the nuclear-weapon States, as well as initiatives of non-nuclear weapon States.  Additionally, it welcomed the reaffirmation at that review of the 1995 NPT resolution on the Middle East and the endorsement of practical steps leading to nuclear disarmament.


The international community continued to be faced with major proliferation challenges, which must be addressed in a resolute way, he said, noting that Iran’s nuclear and missile programmes and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s testing of a nuclear explosive device and delivery mechanisms and recent information on a uranium enrichment programme were the most worrying examples.  The same could be said regarding Syria’s non-compliance with its Safeguards Agreement and continued non-cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  International concerns about the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear programme has resulted in the adoption by the IAEA Board of Governors of another resolution on Iran on 13 September.  The Union urged Iran to comply fully with its obligations.


Reiterating the Union’s calls for revitalizing the disarmament machinery and its concern about the ongoing stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament, he stated that launching negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty was more important than ever.  Pending that, the Union called on States that had not yet done so to declare an immediate moratorium on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.  While the Conference on Disarmament should be the place to forge multilateral treaties, given the stalemate, the international community should reflect on options and identify other ways to ensure progress.


He welcomed the outcome of the ministerial meeting on the Chemical Weapons Convention on 1 October, as well as the outcomes of the Seventh Review Conference of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.  The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) was also of crucial importance, and the Union called on all States that had not yet done so to ratify it.  Everything possible must be done to prevent the risk of weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorists.  He emphasized the role of the IAEA in that context, particularly the Nuclear Security Fund, to which the Union contributed.  The Union’s member countries also called for improved nuclear security for highly radioactive sources.


As strengthening the security of outer space activities was another priority, the Union had officially launched, on 5 June in Vienna, a multilateral diplomatic process to discuss its initiative for an International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities, he noted.  The Union was also concerned about the ongoing missile programmes in the Middle East, North-East Asia and South Asia, and its proposal to start consultations on a treaty banning short- and intermediate-range ground-to-ground ballistic missiles capable of delivering mass destruction weapons remained valid.  The Union was disappointed that negotiations on the arms trade treaty in July had been inconclusive, as its aim was an effective legally binding standards-setting instrument for the regulation of the global arms trade.  At the same time, it was pleased that the 2012 review of the 2001 Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons had been able to agree on an outcome.


USMAN SARKI (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group and associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that 2012 had been described appropriately as a ‘Disarmament Year’, as there had been renewed efforts towards addressing a wide spectrum of disarmament and global security issues.  Multilateral diplomacy remained the most appropriate way to address such issues, and both political will and transparency were critical.  He recalled that no member of the African Group was a nuclear-weapon State, and reiterated that the Group called for complete nuclear disarmament by all States as the “utmost prerequisite” for world peace.  The continued existence of nuclear weapons did not necessarily guarantee security, but rather affirmed the probability and risks of their future use.  Indeed, nuclear weapons remained an “existential threat”.


He called on all Member States to support the goal of the total elimination of nuclear arsenals, in fulfillment of the relevant multilateral obligations and agreed global norms.  Nuclear-weapon States should cease plans to further modernize, upgrade, refurbish or extend the lives of their nuclear weapons and related facilities.  Furthermore, pending those weapons’ total elimination, he called for a universal, unconditional, and legally binding instrument on negative security assurances for all non-nuclear-weapon States.  The African Group recognized the contribution this year of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 NPT Review Conference, but reiterated the need for full implementation of the action plans adopted at previous reviews.  The Group also stressed the importance of achieving universal adherence to the CTBT, bearing in mind the special responsibilities of non-nuclear-weapon States.


The African Group, at its sixty-sixth session, had joined other Member States in reaffirming the importance of the Conference on Disarmament and in “unlocking the impasse” in nuclear disarmament negotiations, he noted.  An agreeable programme of work could be realized, but it must be based on a balanced approach.  The Group also strongly supported the efforts to achieve a Middle East free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, which it considered an integral part of the implementation of the NPT 2010 Review Conference final outcome and the 1995 resolution on the Middle East.  The Group also welcomed the upcoming conference in Helsinki on that subject.


He said that the diplomatic conference on an arms trade treaty did not achieve its stated objective, although there was general support among Member States on the need to establish a common international standard for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms.  The Group regretted the lack of consensus on the draft text and held that the treaty would be achievable if there was full cooperation by all.  The instrument should recognize the sovereign right of States to acquire, manufacture, export, import and retain conventional arms, while also recognizing that an unregulated conventional arms transfer system might lead to unfettered access by unauthorized, non-State actors and groups – a danger to which no country appeared immune.  He called on States to forge an acceptable treaty that would address the gaps created by the unregulated transfer in conventional arms, while not restricting the sovereign right of States of self-defence. 


The Group meanwhile welcomed the outcome document of the recent review on the 2001 Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons, which signalled a renewed commitment by Member States to rid the world of that scourge.  He stressed that international cooperation and assistance was essential to the full implementation of the Programme.  The Group, he added, would submit two resolutions, on the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty and on United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa.


MÅRTEN GRUNDITZ (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition (Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden), said that advancing nuclear disarmament remained the raison d’être and the enduring focus of the Coalition.  The NPT was the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and essential to global security, but only modest gains had been made and the objectives of the Treaty’s Article VI were far from being met.  Its “grand bargain”, whereby nuclear-weapon States committed to disarmament while non-nuclear-armed States agreed not to develop nuclear weapons, was not being evenly upheld.  Progress had been made in limiting the horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons, but the nuclear disarmament side of the equation had yet to be fully realized.


He said that while the Coalition welcomed the renewed and growing interest in nuclear disarmament in recent years, it was also deeply concerned about the longstanding deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament, which continued to hamper efforts to advance disarmament.  Priorities included, among others, the commencement of substantive work on nuclear disarmament, including the conclusion of a non-discriminatory, multilateral and verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices.  There was also a need to address the legitimate interest of non-nuclear weapon States in receiving unequivocal and legally binding security assurances from the nuclear-weapon States.


The Action Plan agreed at the 2010 NPT Review Conference, in which nuclear-weapon States reaffirmed their unequivocal intent to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals, held the potential to put the process towards a nuclear-weapon-free world “back on track”.  He called for continued and enhanced transparency, and suggested that nuclear-weapon States could contribute to this by reporting on their disarmament plans.


Regarding the 1995 NPT resolution on the Middle East, he said the Coalition looked forward to the 2012 Conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction, which would be an essential part of the 2015 NPT Review Cycle.  The Coalition felt strongly that all States should work towards the construction of a comprehensive, legally binding framework of mutually reinforcing instruments with clearly defined benchmarks, timelines and a strong verification system for the achievement and maintenance of a nuclear-weapon-free world.  Given the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, whether by accident or design, by State or non-State actors, their total elimination was the only guarantee of safety.  As long as some States possessed such weapons, citing security reasons, others would aspire to acquire them.  “What does not exist cannot proliferate,” he said.


OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ (Chile), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin-American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said disarmament was a priority and essential component in international peace and security efforts.  The Community’s Heads of State and Government had adopted a Special Communiqué on the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, reaffirming the importance of complete nuclear disarmament and its long-standing position in support of a world free from nuclear weapons.  The mere existence of those weapons threatened humankind, and their total elimination was the only absolute guarantee against that.  The Community welcomed positive signals regarding nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, which were mutually reinforcing process, such as the entry into force of the New START, but emphasized the need for the total elimination of nuclear weapons and a legally binding prohibition against them within a specified timeframe.


He reaffirmed the NPT’s importance and urged its universalization.  He also urged nuclear-weapon States to fully comply with their nuclear disarmament obligations, particularly through the implementation of the 13 practical steps agreed at the 2000 NPT Review Conference and the Action Plan adopted at the 2010 review.  He meanwhile reiterated the inalienable right of developing countries to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, without discrimination.  He urged nuclear-weapon States to respond to the urgent call contained in Action 5 of the 2010 Action Plan and to report on progress.  He welcomed the successful conclusion of the first session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 NPT Review Conference, and called for continuing engagement in the process and the full implementation of the previous outcomes, including the 1995 resolution on the Middle East.


At the time of the setting up of CELAC, its member countries declared that Latin America and the Caribbean would be a zone free from nuclear weapons, the first densely populated area in the world to do so.  The Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco) strengthened international and regional peace and security, as well as the non-proliferation regime, which was an important contribution to achieving nuclear disarmament.  The Community urged the nuclear-weapon States to withdraw all reservations to the Treaty’s Protocols, thus helping to eliminate the risk of use of nuclear weapons against the countries of the region.  It also renewed its commitment to the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in other parts of the world and hoped for success of the Conference to be convened in 2012 on the establishment of a zone free of all mass destruction weapons in the Middle East.


Turning to the Conference on Disarmament, he said the main difficulty lay in the lack of political will by some States to achieve actual progress.  The Community meanwhile welcomed the adoption of a work programme by the 2012 Disarmament Commission session, and called on Member States to exhaust all efforts to allow that deliberative body to make substantive recommendations on the disarmament issues before it.  On IAEA safeguards, he stressed the importance of achieving greater international support for the regime through the signature and subsequent ratification of the Additional Safeguards agreement.  The Community  reiterated its support for the complete cessation of any kind of nuclear testing and emphasized the importance of the early entry into force of the CTBT.


Emphasizing that the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons profoundly affected the stability and exacerbated violence within many countries, the Ambassador reaffirmed the importance of the 2001 Programme of Action as the global framework to prevent that trade.  He also welcomed the adoption of the Final Document of the Programmes second review, but he was disappointed that the conference on an arms trade treaty had not reached a successful conclusion.  The issue of anti-personnel mines was another important focus of attention, as the Community celebrated Nicaragua’s completion of its mine-clearance activities, ushering in the declaration of Central America as a mine-free zone.  The Community  considered that confidence-building measures were important for international peace and security and should, therefore, be strengthened at all levels.


JEAN WESLEY CAZEAU (Haiti), speaking on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said that the work of the Disarmament Commission opened in a context of deadlock on negotiations on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  Much had been invested in the arms trade treaty Conference in July, and the international community, including CARICOM, had invested great hopes in a robust and legally binding treaty that would mitigate the suffering of millions who faced armed violence, insecurity, deprivation and fear.  In the end, however, it was a wasted opportunity.  In a positive vein, States had agreed to work towards the treaty’s adoption, and he called for the resumption of negotiations and for the General Assembly to take decisions during this session to re-launch them.  He also called for munitions to be considered in the text of the treaty.


Turning to the Conference on Disarmament, he said he was concerned that it had been unable to reach consensus on new agreements or even on a work programme.  CARICOM’s member countries were part of the first nuclear-weapon-free zone, as per the 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco, and it supported the creation of other such zones.  The use of nuclear weapons by non-State actors remained a source of great concern, and the Community had welcomed the convening by the Secretary-General in September of a high-level meeting on nuclear terrorism.  That summit had been a step in the right direction for enhancing the legal arsenal against those weapons and preventing nuclear terrorism.  It was urgent to focus more on nuclear security:  the accident at the Fukushima plant in Japan in 2011 was still high on everyone’s  minds.  He commended the Japanese Government for the speed with which it managed and contained the crisis, and he supported the decisive role played by the IAEA in nuclear safety and security, including in emergency situations.


He commended the adoption of an outcome document at the second review conference of the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons on 7 September.  The role of peacekeeping missions in tracing illicit small arms and light weapons, tracking developments in design and production technologies for making and tracing such weapons, registration, and involving women in those processes, were all themes that underscored the international community’s commitment to curb that illicit trade.  All must work towards the comprehensive implementation of the Action Programme. Further, the trans-shipment of nuclear and toxic waste created the danger of an accident that would have far-reaching implications on populations and the environment in his region, and he called on countries that produced such waste to put an end to its dangerous transport.


LUIS-ALFONSO DE ALBA (Mexico), aligning with CELAC and the New Agenda Coalition, said the Committee was beginning its work in a worrisome climate after the euphoria of 2009 and 2010, when its members glimpsed an opportunity for disarmament.  Trafficking in arms, high-powered weaponry in densely populated areas, and weapons of mass destruction remained concerns.  Economic crises existed in places where resources were directed at the upkeep of weapons arsenals versus development.  The great challenges to peace and security must be addressed, the first of which was nuclear disarmament.  More than 40 years after the entry into force of the NPT, and two decades after the end of the cold war, approximately 20,000 nuclear warheads existed worldwide, with 2,000 in high-alert status.  The use of these weapons would have disastrous consequences; the use of just one would be a crime against humanity.  Thus, without further delay, nuclear-weapon States must work to eliminate them. 


He warned that the lack of such negotiation was unacceptable, as the only guarantee against the use of those weapons was their total elimination. The only way to strengthen non-proliferation was through disarmament, since what did not exist could not be used.  Mexico would continue with multilateral negotiation, certain that States concerned about the current paralysis would participate.


The challenge posed by conventional weapons was another concern, he said, adding that easy access to those weapons and the lack of adequate regulation had resulted in devastating consequences.  Small arms and light weapons, as well as ammunition, were an obstacle to peace, security and development and fuelled transnational crime.  Mexico regretted the lack of agreement at the arms trade treaty conference, for it believed that such a treaty that ensured that those weapons were not diverted to the illicit market or criminal groups could no longer be postponed.  Mexico would spare no effort to make that treaty a reality.  The First Committee must build on the achievements made and ensure their follow-up.  Great decisions lay ahead in the field of disarmament, requiring the Committee to shoulder its responsibilities.


MOOTAZ AHMADEIN KHALIL (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group and associating his remarks with those of the Non-Aligned Movement, said it was important that all parties responsible for convening the 2012 Conference commit to hold it on the date set by the 2010 NPT Action Plan, including through taking practical steps, conveying invitations in a timely manner, and encouraging all countries of the region to participate.  Parties must maintain parallel progress in the process leading to achieving total and complete elimination of all weapons of mass destruction – be they nuclear, biological or chemical — in the Middle East, in accordance with paragraph 8 of the Action Plan.  The Conference must agree on concrete results in order to achieve that aim. 


He added that the current situation in the Middle East did not adversely affect the unified Arab position concerning the convening of the Conference on the date set for it.  In fact, it believed its convening would contribute to the region’s stability.  The Group decided for the second year not to table the resolution entitled “Israeli nuclear capabilities” at the last IAEA General Conference, in order to create favourable conditions for the success of the nuclear-weapon-free zone conference.  The attempt to link the peace process in the Middle East with the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone there did not conform to sound logic.  The establishment of such a zone was an essential prerequisite for the achievement of security, stability and peace, and was an important confidence-building base.  Its establishment was also in accordance with several General Assembly and Security Council resolutions.


Any delay in implementing commitments to hold the 2012 Conference, as decided by the 2010 Review Conference, would be a setback, he said, to the efforts of nuclear disarmament and would impede progress to prevent nuclear proliferation, especially in the Middle East.  This could lead the Arab League member States to review their policies.  All nuclear facilities in the region must be placed under IAEA safeguards, and Israel must join the NPT as a non-nuclear- armed State.  At the same time, the Conference on Disarmament must fulfil its role; efforts must not be dispersed through the establishment of parallel mechanisms.


As for the arms trade treaty, he welcomed the adoption of the Rules of Procedure, particularly on the need for consensus in all substantive decisions of the Conference.  An acceptable outcome could only be reached through the multilateral framework of the United Nations and the draft treaty must be consistent with the content and principles of the Charter, especially the legitimate right of States to self-defence and territorial integrity, the right of self-determination, and inadmissibility of foreign occupation, as well as the rights to produce, export, import and transfer conventional arms.


URS SCHMID ( Switzerland) welcomed the positive atmosphere at the first  session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 NPT Review Conference, but expressed concern about the slow pace of progress and the outstanding challenges in the implementation of the various NPT commitments.  Nuclear weapons continued to threaten humanity, and significant progress was necessary in both nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation as those two processes were closely linked.  It was important, therefore, that the positive momentum achieved with the adoption of the 2010 Action Plan be maintained.  That required moving decisively towards an overall reduction in the global stockpile of all types of nuclear weapons.  Switzerland, therefore, called on those States with the largest nuclear arsenals to launch new disarmament negotiations as a priority and for all that had not yet done so to ratify the Test-Ban Treaty.


He said that implementing the decision to convene a conference in 2012 on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons was equally important, as was the reduction of the operational readiness of nuclear weapons.  That would also help sustain disarmament dynamics, and Switzerland had pressed for progress in that area for several years.  The Final Document adopted at the NPT review in 2010 introduced new paths to advance nuclear disarmament.  Clearly, no State would be immune from the catastrophic consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, and Switzerland intended to promote that debate within this forum.


Renewed efforts were needed to address the lack of adequate regulation of the global trade in conventional arms and ammunition, he said.  While Switzerland was disappointed that the negotiating conference on the arms trade treaty had not come to a successful conclusion, it was nonetheless encouraged that progress had been made on key aspects.  Switzerland remained convinced that they were not far from reaching their common goal and that, with renewed joint efforts, an international arms trade treaty could soon become a reality.  An additional working session held in the months to come to ensure that momentum was not lost could be an appropriate framework to achieve a robust treaty, based on the presidential draft treaty text of 26 July.  Switzerland welcomed the consensus adoption of an outcome document at the second review of the small arms Programme of Action.  It underlined the steady progress made towards implementing the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-personnel Mines and the Convention on Cluster Munitions.  His country would become a State party to the latter treaty on January 2013.


FEODOR STARCEVIC (Serbia), aligning himself with the European Union, said in a world of increasing interdependence, common challenges required common solutions.  Serbia had acceded to all international agreements and initiatives related to non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control and was committed to a full and systematic implementation of the obligations it had assumed.  Towards that end, Serbia had taken various legislative measures.  For example, Serbia was the first country in the wider region to have adopted a national action plan for the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004).  In addition, Serbia was cooperating at regional and international levels, with entities such as the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the European Commission, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).


He said that the successful conclusion of the 2010 Review was a crucial contribution to strengthening the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.  The new NPT review cycle was an opportunity to take stock of progress made in the Action Plan and identify ways to address the remaining challenges.  Regarding the arms trade treaty, Serbia regretted that the process had not succeeded, but would continue to efforts towards the adoption of a comprehensive legally binding treaty with the highest possible common international standards.


Serbia had submitted its candidature for membership in the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament, he said, noting that General Assembly Resolution 66/59 recognized the importance of that body’s expansion.  Serbia supported the appointment of a Special Coordinator in this regard.  The Conference’s current stalemate had to be overcome by clear political will by all Member States to proceed, seriously, and without delay, with its substantive work.


GARY QUINLAN (Australia) said his country had historically placed disarmament and non-proliferation at the top of the agenda, and Australia’s parliament and people always insisted that the country do so.  The country was always willing to do its share of the work to elevate the “game” and make the world more stable and secure, in order to “save ourselves from ourselves.”  The cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime was the NPT, and the international community must take credible and definite steps to address the fact that the nuclear weapons still in existence had a combined destructive power of more than 150,000 Hiroshima bombs.


He said that, at the Preparatory Meeting of the NPT in Vienna in May, Member States had been able to collectively acknowledge that proceedings were on track.  States had pledged to stay the course on some of the most challenging elements of the Action Plan where progress was essential, such as concrete reductions in nuclear arsenals, strengthening adherence to the IAEA Additional Protocol, and the holding of the Middle East conference in 2012.  Entry into force of the CTBT must remain a priority.  It must never be forgotten that the current moratorium against nuclear tests was incredibly fragile and could, at any moment, slide easily back into a time of nuclear testing – which the international community must take all necessary steps to prevent.  The CTBT was more than a practical commitment not to test nuclear weapons; it was symbolic of a broader undertaking to prevent the further development of nuclear weapons, and said much about the commitment to nuclear disarmament.


There were clear gaps in the global disarmament and non-proliferation regime, and in that regard, regional efforts were of a crucial, complementary focus as they could strengthen global efforts and address specific regional concerns and insecurities.  However, as gains were made in disarmament, new challenges were presented, such as in cyberspace.  The Group of Governmental Experts on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security was an important opportunity to build consensus on norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviour by States and on measures to develop trust and confidence between States in cyberspace.  Australia was honoured to take on the role as Chair of the group and was committed to improve the collective capacity to deal with that threat “head-on”, while also ensuring that developing countries had enhanced access to the technologies they needed.


Lastly, he said that the international community was only too aware that armed violence, fuelled by the availability of illicit conventional weapons, fractured societies, displaced populations and undermined development.  Each day, 2,000 people were killed by illegally and irresponsibly traded weapons, mostly small arms, with the greatest impact falling on women and children.  While Member States failed to adopt the arms trade treaty in July, that goal was not far off.  Only a handful of States had asked for more time, and he urged the use of the 26 July text as a starting point so as not to lose momentum or progress made.  Seven co-authors would present a simple resolution to reconvene negotiations.  Strong participation from regions most affected by the senseless trade of such weapons - including Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Pacific - was crucial to achieving a treaty that made a difference on the ground.


DELL HIGGIE (New Zealand), aligning with the statement of the New Agenda Coalition, said his Government looked forward to promoting a number of resolutions of key significance to it, including on the Test-Ban Treaty; nuclear weapon-free zones in the Southern Hemisphere; the reduced operational readiness of nuclear weapons; and nuclear disarmament.  For New Zealand, the human and humanitarian dimension of security processes were paramount and underlay the country’s strong support for and commitment to an arms trade treaty.  New Zealand was disappointed that the July diplomatic conference had been unable to reach agreement to prevent irresponsible arms transfers and forestall their diversion to the illicit trade, and believed further work was necessary to strengthen the text on the table.  His country was pleased at the second review of the small arms Programme of Action and believed the scheduled meetings to follow would be an opportunity to discuss such issues as technological developments, border controls and stockpile management.  The challenge was translating the outcome into practical measures.


Concerning the Convention on Cluster Munitions, as the Coordinator for National Implementation, New Zealand was closely involved in efforts to assist with the development of implementing legislation and stood ready to assist any States on that, he said. 


The report card on the Conference on Disarmament this year could be termed “patchy”, he said, adding that despite a promising effort, it had “again drawn another blank”.  New Zealand, he asserted, was close to losing patience. As long as agreement on a mandate for one core issue was held hostage to agreement on mandates for each of the three others, the Conference would be unable “to get its wheel out of the rut”.  Yet, its members should not resign themselves to saying that the Conference was not working.  Where an obstacle blocked their path, it was necessary to detour around it, possibly by highlighting areas where collective action would break the impasse.


In closing, he said his country was encouraged by the explicit recognition at the 2010 NPT review that the consequences of any such use of nuclear weapons would be catastrophic and by its reaffirmation of the full applicability of international humanitarian law to all aspects of nuclear weapons.  The meeting being hosted next March by Norway to consider the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons was an instance of increasing focus on the humanitarian implications of States’ security policies and weapons holdings.


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For information media • not an official record