|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
14th Meeting (AM)
Full-Spectrum Dominance of Outer Space Can Turn Frontier into ‘Military Theatre’,
Build Walls of Suspicion, Breach Global Security, First Committee Told
Two Draft Resolutions, One Decision Introduced,
As Thematic Debate Begins on Conventional Weapons
Achieving space security and defusing the need for countries to weaponize outer space were issues of urgent priority, as an ever increasing number of space actors had made that environment vulnerable, and progress to fill in the gaps in space law was fragmented and only a prelude to what was needed, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard today as it concluded its thematic debate on outer space and began its round on conventional weapons.
Presently, more than 130 countries possessed sophisticated space programmes or were developing them, using information from space assets for their own defence, the representative of Kazakhstan said. Past experience had shown that the “theatre of military action” could be concealed, which could become a major breach of international security. The international community must ensure that dangerous weapons systems did not undermine the existing structure of agreements on arms limitation, particularly in the nuclear missile sphere.
Placing weapons in outer space would result in an advantage for the few, and build walls of distrust and suspicion, he warned. What was more dangerous was that action by some countries with advanced space warfare technology could result in proliferation by others also wanting to acquire it. Repeating the nuclear arms race history had to be prevented at all costs when it came to outer space.
Similarly, Brazil’s speaker said placing weapons in outer space would deepen global insecurity. An estimated 3,000 satellites were operational, and the interruption of satellite services as a result of weapons in space would cause a “major global collapse”. Few issues were as “ripe” for immediate action as preventing an outer space arms race.
The weaponization of space was under way on the pretext of so-called national defence, said the delegate from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. His country opposed that weaponization, emphasizing that missile defence systems were “a very dangerous attempt” that would undermine geopolitical stability and accelerate an arms race.
He said that some countries had alleged that, under various Security Council resolutions, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea could not conduct any launch using ballistic missile technology or even launch a satellite. However, excluding only that country from such activities would be “a double standard and an intolerable infringement” on its sovereignty.
Also decrying what he considered to be the growing weaponization of outer space, China’s representative called on States to ensure the peaceful use of space for the common interests of all. His country was the co-sponsor of the resolutions on preventing an outer space arms race and the delegation, together with that of the Russian Federation, had in 2008 jointly submitted to the Conference on Disarmament a draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, the threat or use of force against outer space objects, as well as a working paper to further clarify the text.
Various countries drew attention to the draft international code of conduct for outer space activities, proposed by the European Union in 2008, which aimed, said that delegation, to establish voluntary international norms for the peaceful use of the space domain. Japan’s speaker said that his country considered the code to be a constructive and realistic multilateral measure. Australia’s delegate also declared the need for such a code. While it would not be a “silver bullet” to solve all issues relating to space security, it could make an important contribution to addressing issues, including the problem of space debris.
During debate on the cluster on conventional weapons, delegates deplored the grave humanitarian consequences of those weapons and urged action to curb their illicit trade, prevent their spread, and lend assistance to victims. Costa Rica’s representative said that small arms and light weapons were not just an “abstract problem” but rather a “searing reality”, especially for developing countries. He said that illicit arms traders had successfully concealed their activities and masked their transactions beneath a cloak of secrecy for too long, due to the absence of controls and regulations. Several States today urged conclusion of a robust, universal and legally binding arms trade treaty to counter those threats.
Also speaking on the thematic debate topic on outer space were the representatives of the Republic of Korea, Iran and Belarus.
The representative of Iran introduced a draft decision on missiles (document A/C.1/67/L.7).
Statements were made in exercise of the right of reply following that discussion by the representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea.
In the thematic debate cluster on conventional weapons, the Vice President of the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, and the Vice President of the United Nations Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects, delivered statements.
The representative of Belarus, addressed the Committee in his capacity as President of the Fifth review Conference of the States Parties of the Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons).
During the thematic debate on that cluster, the representatives of Indonesia (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement) Egypt (on behalf of the Arab Group), Mali, Peru (on behalf of the Union of South American Nations), Trinidad and Tobago (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Côte d’Ivoire (on behalf of the Economic Community of West African States), Germany, Norway and France also delivered statements.
The European Union’s representative also delivered a statement on that topic.
Costa Rica’s representative introduced a draft on an arms trade treaty (document A/C.1/67/L.11). The representative from Mali introduced a draft resolution on assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them (document A/C.1/67/L.21).
The Committee will meet again tomorrow, 24 October at 10 a.m. to continue their thematic debates on conventional weapons.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its thematic debate segment, hearing first additional statements on its cluster on the disarmament aspects of outer space cluster, followed by statements on the conventional weapons cluster.
Outer Space Cluster
MARI AMANO (Japan) said the importance of outer space activities had never been greater than it was today, when everyone was now directly dependent on many space-based technologies, which provided services such as telecommunication, Earth observation and navigation services. In Japan especially, the devastating earthquake and tsunami of last year was a reminder of the immense value of those technologies in the field of disaster management. Thus, assuring the security of outer space activities was a growing concern to Japan. Long-lived space debris was a threat to space activity, and Japan called on all countries to refrain from any action that could lead to the creation of more, such as through “ASAT” (anti-satellite) tests.
He said that his country, as a major space-faring nation, considered the strengthening of outer space governance a matter of urgency. Turning to recent positive developments, he said Japan hoped that the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence Building Measures in Outer Space Activities would evolve forward-looking outcomes in the near future. Japan also considered that the draft Code of Conduct on Outer Space Activities proposed by the European Union was a constructive and realistic multilateral measure, and his delegation was contributing to the deliberations on it.
Supporting, in principle, the idea of preventing an arms race in outer space, Japan had always maintained that space activities should be peaceful in nature, he said. It had taken part in discussions on the issue within the Conference on Disarmament and considered that there were several aspects that needed to be carefully examined in the draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, which had had been presented by China and the Russian Federation in 2008. Regarding national developments, Japan had recently conducted an administrative restructuring of its space policy by establishing an inter-agency body in the Cabinet Office, as well as a national committee consisting of influential experts, which should allow the country to enhance the formulation of its strategic space policy.
ISRAIL TILEGEN (Kazakhstan) said that an ever-increasing number of space actors and stakeholders were making that environment more fragile and vulnerable. Thus, achieving space security was an issue of urgent priority. He called for a combination of non-binding transparency and confidence-building measures. The challenge before the international community was to establish norms of responsible behaviour in space and, at the same time, address national security concerns of space-faring nations. The crux of the international community’s efforts should be to defuse the need for countries to attempt the possibility of weaponizing that fragile environment.
Putting weapons in space, he said, would result in an advantage for the few, thus building walls of distrust and suspicion. Repeating the history of a nuclear arms race must be prevented at all costs when it came to outer space. Past experience had shown that such “theatre of military action” could be concealed, which could become a major breach of international security. Presently, more than 130 countries possessed sophisticated space programmes or were in the process of developing them. Kazakhstan did not intend to pursue the development of space weapons, or to deploy them in outer space, now or at any point in the future. The country stood ready to work with Member States to ensure that space remained a sphere of cooperation, free from weapons, and for humankind’s use for its peaceful development and advancement.
SHEN JIAN (China) said the enduring peace of outer space was closely related to the security, development and prosperity of all countries. At the same time, the risks of weaponization of an arms race in outer space were on the rise. Ensuring peaceful use of outer space served the common interests of all countries, and China firmly opposed its militarization and was dedicated to maintaining peace there. It was the co-sponsor of the General Assembly resolutions on preventing an outer space arms race and was actively promoting the implementation of the resolutions in the Conference on Disarmament. China and the Russian Federation had jointly submitted to the Conference a draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, the threat or use of force against outer space objects, in 2008, as well as a working paper to further clarify the draft.
He said his country attached importance to transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space, as those were complementary to legally binding international instruments on preventing the realm’s weaponization. Additionally, those did not conflict with the prevention in outer space initiative. As the transparency and confidence-building measures were voluntary, they were no substitute for negotiations on a treaty. China also supported the role of the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on the matter and welcomed its first discussions.
KANG MYONG CHOL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that space development was every country’s sought-after dream. It had become a recent trend, opening a promising prospect for advancement of human welfare and civilization. In the past, space exploration was regarded as the exclusive privilege of developed countries. Today however, developing countries were also actively taking part in space development programs as soon as their financial and technological resources allowed. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had embarked on independent research and development of space satellites from the 1980s on, in accordance with the National Outer Space Development Prospective Plan, and had launched a number of satellites manufactured with its own resources.
He said that as his country had experienced successes and lessons in the course of those experiences, it had been able to develop its space science technology to a higher level, taking a big stride towards building a powerful economic nation. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s efforts to access and use outer space was an exercise in sovereignty and its legitimate right as a State party to the 1967 Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (Outer Space Treaty) and the 1975 Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space (the Registration Convention).
Some countries had alleged that under various Security Council resolutions, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea could not conduct any launch using ballistic missile technology, or even launch a satellite, he said. But excluding only his country from such activities would be “a double standard and an intolerable infringement” on its sovereignty. Anyone with a fair and objective viewpoint would see the rocket launch of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as a peaceful satellite, but those who were driven by a confrontational policy towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would see it as a long-range missile. The weaponization of space was “overtly under way on the pretext of so-called national defence”. He opposed that weaponization, and emphasized that missile defence systems were a “very dangerous attempt” that would undermine geopolitical stability and accelerate an arms race.
PAUL WILSON (Australia) said his country shared an interest in a rules-based approach to the use of space that promoted peaceful activities and protected access to space for future generations. Development of practical and achievable international norms for that purpose was not a simple matter. The space arms control treaty proposal tabled in the Conference on Disarmament illustrated that point. The draft highlighted the challenges relating to the definition of a space weapon, difficulties in agreeing to the scope of a treaty and the need for stipulated action to be accompanied by effective verification.
He said there was genuine merit in focusing on the development of effective transparency and confidence-building measures, which could provide the foundation for the future development of new international space norms. Australia placed importance on the work of the Group of Governmental Experts and was contributing to its work through a substantive submission on the application of the broad range of existing international law to space domain. Greater clarity on the interpretation of international law with respect to space security issues would be a useful basis on which to develop new transparency and confidence-building measures.
Australia accorded high priority to international action to prevent the proliferation of long-lived orbital space debris, he said. The development and testing in space of kinetic anti-satellite weapons was a pressing space security challenge. Australia had declared support for an international code of conduct for outer space activities, along the lines proposed by the European Union, and had engaged in deliberations to develop it. The code could make an important contribution to addressing the issue of space debris, but it would not be a “silver bullet” to solve all space security issues. The number of countries with direct interest in the security of space had expanded enormously, and for that reason, Australia was holding a Space Security Workshop under the auspices of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum in Viet Nam in December. The workshop would make a practical contribution to strengthening the international community’s effort to meet space security challenges.
WEE JOONSEOK (Republic of Korea) said that since the first launch of a space object in 1957, the exploration and use of outer space had driven technological innovation in numerous fields such as medicine, agriculture, aviation and energy, with scientific and practical applications relevant to social and economic objectives. The Republic of Korea, as a State party to all major conventions on outer space, carried out all of its outer space activities in a peaceful, transparent and safe manner in accordance with the relevant international norms. His country believed that the full implementation and universalization of the existing international regimes and the strengthening of transparency and confidence-building measures were essential.
He supported efforts of the international community to develop an international code of conduct on outer space activities, and stressed that such a code should be universal, pragmatic and flexible, with a view to ensuring greater safety of outer space for all States. His delegation highly valued the launch of the Group of Governing Experts on Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space Activities and its work conducted during its first session in July 2012. He emphasized the importance of close cooperation and enhanced dialogue among such forums as the Conference on Disarmament, the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, the First and Fourth Committees of the United Nations and the International Telecommunications Unions. Given the discussions taking place in various arenas, the international community should be able to realize maximum synergies by sharing their respective expertise and experience.
ANTONIO GUERREIRO (Brazil) said it was in the best interest of the international community to start negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prevent the placing of any kind of weapons in outer space. There was widespread recognition of the impending danger resulting from the insufficiency of legal coverage to deal with the problem of weapons in space. The placement of weapons in outer space would deepen global insecurity. An estimated 3,000 satellites were operational, and the interruption of such satellite services as a result of weapons in space would cause a major global collapse. Brazil believed that the proposal of the draft treaty tabled in 2008 by the Russian Federation and China was an excellent basis on which start negotiations on a legally binding instrument. Transparency and confidence-building measures, although not legally binding, could foster mutual understanding, political dialogue and cooperation among States.
Noting that an alternative under consideration was the European Union’s draft code of conduct, also not legally binding, he said that did not fully cover the complexities of space security and required a specific instrument. The draft also contained one element that presented difficulties, namely, the reference to self-defence, which could be interpreted in a way that justified the use of force in outer space. That scenario was one which the international community could not afford to contemplate. The international community must aim for a legally binding instrument, and Brazil expected the Conference on Disarmament to adopt its Programme of Work early next year, with the inclusion of a Working Group on preventing an outer space arms race. Discussions on that issue had shown that the use of outer space for military purposes was firmly under way. Thus, the international community must work hard to prevent the next step: the placement of weapons. Few issues were as ripe for immediate action.
REZA NAJAFI (Iran), associating his statement with that of the Non-Aligned Movement, affirmed that outer space was the common heritage and province of all mankind, which must be used exclusory for peaceful purposes for the benefit of all peoples. He underlined the principle of non-ownership of outer space and said that there should be no exploration for the utilization of outer space other than for peaceful purposes, or for using space-related technology. Access to outer space through technology and sciences should be available to all countries. He opposed any measures that would turn space or space technology into the territory of just a few countries. By launching the second Iranian-made satellite and carrying out the first ever home-made telecommunications satellites, Iran now was among the countries able to launch satellites into orbit. The latest achievement in that regard was a satellite manufactured jointly by the Iranian Space Agency and young university scientists. That satellite had been launched into elliptic orbit in February to help with meteorology and natural disaster early warning.
He said developing peaceful space technologies was a priority, and Iran had constantly made constructive contributions to United Nations-based space regulation efforts. He then introduced, on behalf of Egypt, Indonesia and his own delegation, a draft decision, entitled “Missiles” (document A/C.1/67/L.7). In line with the position of the Non-Aligned Movement for addressing the important issue of missiles in all its aspects within the framework if the United Nations, Iran had initiated the resolution, which had regularly been adopted by the General Assembly since 1999. His delegation would continue to initiate that draft, and it hoped it would again be adopted by consensus.
ALEKSANDR PONOMAREV (Belarus) said that his country, having launched its first artificial satellite a few months ago and joined the ranks of countries utilizing outer space, emphasized the need for guarantees to prevent an outer space arms race. Belarus called upon all States to join a moratorium against placing weapons in space, and believed that developing a code of conduct for that purpose was important. Belarus welcomed the activities of the Group of Governmental Experts, which would contribute to increasing accountability in space. Those strides were positive, but they were fragmented and preliminary. Belarus would accept a treaty on preventing weapons in outer space on the basis of the text presented by the Russian Federation and China. Its adoption would be an important step in ensuring the peaceful use of outer space, and Belarus was ready to join such negotiations at the Geneva-based Conference.
Right of Reply
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected the baseless allegations of the “South Korean” delegation with regard to the launch of a space satellite by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in April. That launch had not been a test of a ballistic missile, as the South Korean delegate had said, but of a practical satellite. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was a State party to 1967 Outer Space Treaty and 1975 Registration Convention and had a legitimate right to the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. Additionally, his country had shown transparency at the time of that satellite launch, by inviting international mass media to the site as well as by notifying the relevant United Nations organizations, such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
It was a shame, he said, for South Korea to talk about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s launch of a space satellite, when only last week, South Korea had begged the United States to extend its missile range to 800 kilometres, therefore covering the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In so doing, South Korea had once again pursued a path of confrontation and disclosed its treacherous nature – intent to harm its fellow compatriots.
As for the United States, it undermined the integrity of the Missile Control Technology Regime by instigating worldwide proliferation of ballistic missiles, he said. The United States has no moral qualifications to talk about the missile capability of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, let alone its launch of satellites, because it was none other than the United States that had sparked a new missile arms race in North-East Asia. This year, South Korea was sponsoring the draft resolution titled “the Hague Code of Conduct against the Proliferation of Ballistic Missiles”, which was “sheer hypocrisy”.
Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Republic of Korea said, in response to the remarks made by the delegation of “North Korea”, that his delegation wished to stress again that United Nations Security Council resolution 1874 (2009) clearly banned North Korea from conducting any launch using ballistic missile technology. North Korea should comply with that Council resolution.
He said that, under the United Nations Charter and relevant Security Council resolutions, North Korea could not claim the right of peaceful outer-space activity. Article 103 of the Charter stipulated that “in the event of a conflict between the obligations of the Members of the United Nations under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail”.
With regard to the missile guidelines raised by the North Korean delegate, the Republic of Korea's Revised Missile Guidelines intended to ensure its minimum self-defence capability against the North Korean nuclear and missile threats. He reaffirmed that the revised guidelines would in no way affect his country’s strong commitment to international non-proliferation regimes, such as The Hague Code of Conduct and the Missile Technology Control Regime.
Speaking in a second right of reply, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected the words of the South Korean delegation because they did not deserve any attention. South Korea was “a mouthpiece, a puppet of the United States” and had no jurisdiction or control of its own affairs. Its military was in the hands of the United States army deployed in South Korea. It had no wartime operational control but was at the beck and call of the United States. If South Korea was truly concerned about the security situation on the Korean peninsula, it should stop following blindly in the footsteps of the United States hostile policy towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and come out from under the United States military umbrella. “After that, we’ll talk,” he said.
Also exercising his second right of reply, the representative of the Republic of Korea said that it was indeed regrettable that the North Korean Government pushed forward with the launch last April, disregarding the international community’s unified call for its withdrawal. He urged North Korea once again not to use the right of peaceful outer-space activity as a disguise for development of the ballistic missile, which posed a serious threat to the Republic of Korea, North-East Asia and beyond. Regrettably, North Korea was spending enormous resources on developing nuclear and missile capabilities, while urgent welfare issues, such as chronic food shortage, persisted and continually threatened the North Korean people.
Conventional Weapons Cluster
PAUL VAN DEN IJSSEL (Netherlands), Vice-President of the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, said that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had opened the Conference by urging the development of a legally binding instrument, following which delegations had said that they shared his concerns. Civil society had also contributed to the Conference, which had established two main committees: one focused on such aspects as the treaty’s preamble, principles, and goals; and the other focused on the scope, implementation, international cooperation, and other matters concerning the text.
He recalled that negotiations had been intense, and delegates had worked hard. The President of the Conference had tabled a text; however, the Conference had concluded its work without adoption of a treaty. He was disappointed, but he did not view the conference as a failure, as no one had concluded that the differences were irreconcilable. The participants had been able to cover a lot of ground, and he was convinced that they were close to consensus on content.
JOSEPHINE OJIAMBO (Kenya), Vice-President of the United Nations Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects, spoke about the review conference held from 27 August to 7 September. After two days of the exchange of views, the Conference had devoted itself to negotiating the outcome document. On 7 September, it had adopted by consensus the final report with the outcome document.
Detailing the outcome texts, he said those included a declaration and plan to strengthen implementation of the Action Programme, as well as follow-up steps for the period 2012 to 2018 leading up to the second review, and an implementation plan for an international tracing instrument. The points were made in the document that the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons undermined respect for human rights law. It also drew attention to the link between the implementation of a plan of action and the promotion of sustainable development, and to the value of measuring the effectiveness of international cooperation. There was a focus on regional cooperation, and a stated commitment by States to cooperate on the weapons tracing. States also committed to provide reports on the technology transfer, and to link national cycles of work to those of the United Nations.
ALEKSANDR PONOMAREV (Belarus), spoke in his capacity as the President of the Fifth review Conference of the States Parties of the Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons). He said that explosive remnants of war were the devices that caused the greatest number of casualties around the world each year. Protocol V worked to both prevent and minimize the humanitarian impact of those weapons. It committed High Contracting Parties to record the use and abandonment of explosive ordnance and release that information, which was essential for clearance efforts, as soon as possible after the cessation of active hostilities. He welcomed this year’s four new High Contracting Parties to Protocol V, which were Burundi, Lao People’s Republic, South Africa and Turkmenistan, but said that much still remained to be done to address the challenges of clearing explosive remnants, assisting victims and providing cooperation and assistance.
FIKRY CASSIDY (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, recognized the need to promote international peace with the diversion of armaments to the world’s human and economic resources. The Movement recognized the significant imbalance in the production, possession and trade in conventional weapons between the industrialized and the Non-Aligned countries, and called for a significant reduction in the production, possession and trade of conventional weapons by the developed world. The Movement remained deeply concerned over the illicit transfer of small arms and light weapons and called on all States to ensure that the supply of those weapons was limited only to Governments or entities authorized by them, as well as to apply legal restrictions preventing their illicit trade. The Movement also recognized the need to establish controls over private ownership of small arms.
He welcomed the successful conclusion of the Second Review Conference of the small arms and light weapons Programme of Action and emphasized the importance of a balanced blueprint on those weapons. The Movement stressed the need for open, transparent, non-discriminatory and inclusive negotiations in order to adopt, by consensus, the text of an arms trade treaty that fully took into account the security rights and interests of States. In that regard, the Movement reaffirmed the right of States to acquire, manufacture, export, import and retain conventional arms for their self-defence and security. It deplored the use of anti-personnel mines in conflict situations aimed at innocent civilians and called on all States in a position to do so to provide assistance to landmine clearance operations and victim rehabilitation. It also called on States responsible for laying those weapons during the Second World War to provide mine action support to the affected countries.
OSAMA ABDELHALEK (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group and associating with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, welcomed the success of the 2001 Programme of Action. An acceptable outcome of the arms trade treaty process could only be reached through the multilateral framework of the United Nations. The draft must be consistent with the content and principles of the Charter, especially the legitimate right to produce, export, import and transfer conventional arms. It must also take into account the balance of responsibilities between the arms exporting and importing States.
He reaffirmed the sovereign right of States to acquire, manufacture, export, import and retain conventional arms and their parts and components for their self-defence and security needs, stressing that no undue restriction should be placed on the transfer of such arms. He called on the international community to deal with the significant imbalance in the production, possession and trade in conventional weapons between the industrialized and developing countries, including Arab States. Expressing concern about explosive remnant of war, including from the Second World War, he called on States primarily responsible for leaving those remnants outside their territories to cooperate with the affected countries, including through information exchange, maps indicating the locations of mines and explosives, technical assistance for mine clearance, defrayal of costs of clearance and compensation for any losses caused by mines that were laid.
ELHADJI ALHOUSSEINI TRAORE (Mali), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that everyone agreed that international peace and security faced multiple challenges and threats. The stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament was a source of concern. Also, failure to have adopted an arms trade treaty was a missed opportunity. However, remarkable work had been conducted and Mali hoped that States would adopt a treaty in March 2013. Mali, meanwhile, was pleased with the progress achieved at the Second Review Conference on small arms and light weapons Programme of Action.
Then, on behalf of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo and Mali, he presented the draft resolution, titled “Assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them” (document A/C.1/67/L.21). The trade and illicit trafficking of those weapons violated international law and fuelled terrorism and organized crime. That was a reality for the people of Mali. Combating the proliferation of those weapons and eradicating their trade required synergy and cooperation. As such, Mali was once again presenting this resolution. In addition to its technical updates, the text contained the same language as the one adopted last year by consensus. It called on States to provide technical assistance to combat the small arms and light weapons trade. The list remained open for additional co-sponsors, he added.
EDUARDO ULIBARRI (Costa Rica) said he was honoured to present the draft resolution, entitled “The Arms Trade Treaty” (document A/C.1/67/L.11), on behalf of its co-authors: Argentina, Australia, Finland, Japan, Kenya, United Kingdom and Costa Rica. The resolution sought to convene a final Conference that would enable the international community to achieve consensus on a strong and effective treaty. “Humanity needs and demands it,” he stressed. The draft treaty presented by the President of the Conference on 26 July reflected important advances towards that goal and should be the basis for all future negotiations.
Speaking in his national capacity, he reiterated Costa Rica’s commitment to the United Nations disarmament machinery and, in particular, to that concerned with regulating conventional arms, including small arms and light weapons. The latter did not present an “abstract problem, but rather a “searing reality”, especially for developing countries. Even though the final outcome document of the Second Review Conference of the Action Programme did not include everything Costa Rica had hoped for, it constituted an important achievement. The Programme remained the only global framework of practical measures to combat that illicit trade and deal with its humanitarian consequences. Special attention should be paid to its implementation over the course of the second six-year cycle.
Reaffirming his country’s strong support for obtaining a robust, universal and legally binding arms trade treaty, he said that for a long time various actors involved principally in the illicit trade of arms and ammunition had successfully concealed their activities and masked their transactions beneath a cloak of secrecy and the absence of controls and regulations. Despite the inability to achieve consensus in July, it had been a true achievement that the majority of States recognized that certain transfers should never be authorized, that the arms trade should be consistent with human rights and international humanitarian law, and that States honour the value of transparency by reporting their transactions and taking responsibility for them.
He went on to defend the Chair’s paper of 26 July, saying it reflected that recognition and should serve as the basis for new negotiations. However, while he applauded the inclusion of small arms and light weapons in the scope of the document, among other elements, he felt the text should be strengthened by the inclusion of ammunition, as well as parts and components, within the scope of regulated items. Greater clarity was also needed in defining the obligations of future States parties with respect to national risk assessment. Finally, he called for the application of the treaty’s terms to contracts under defence cooperation agreements.
However, he said, it was not enough to adopt an arms trade treaty. An environment for its successful implementation must also be cultivated, on the basis of the rule of law. He recalled the words of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who had said “the world is overarmed. And peace is underfunded.” The speaker added that that there was now an opportunity to transform that “stark and terrifying reality”.
ENRIQUE ROMAN-MORAY (Peru), speaking on behalf of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), said he remained concerned about the effects of the illicit production, transfer and circulation of firearms and ammunition, and their proliferation in the hands of civilians. In many regions, that had various consequences and challenged the sustainable development of societies. He reiterated the Group’s concern at the close link between the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and organized crime. In that regard, he highlighted the work conducted in the framework of the United Nations Conference on the arms trade treaty and said he looked forward to a strong, effective, balanced and legally binding instrument, negotiated in a non-discriminatory, transparent and multilateral manner, agreed on the basis of consensus. That instrument should establish international common norms for the conventional arms trade, with the highest possible standards.
He reiterated the importance of promoting an enabling environment for arms control and limitation of conventional weapons, which would allow Member States to devote more resources to their economic and social development, taking into consideration the compliance with international commitments and their legitimate defence and security needs. The Union was committed to strengthening the fight against terrorism and transnational crime and the related crimes of drug trafficking and the illicit arms trade. He reaffirmed that the presence of foreign military forces could not threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of any South American nation and, consequently, the peace and security of the region.
EDEN CHARLES (Trinidad and Tobago), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the conclusion of a robust and legally binding arms trade treaty was an important foreign policy objective. CARICOM remained strongly convinced that the adoption of a treaty establishing commonly agreed international standards to regulate the trade in conventional weapons would prevent their diversion to the illicit market. That illegal trade was linked to other trans-boundary crimes such as the illegal narcotics trade and organized crime. The lack of common standards was adversely affecting the social and economic well-being of countries in their region. Adherence to non-binding initiatives had not alleviated the negative effects of that illegal trade. CARICOM lamented the failure of the July conference to agree on the treaty text. It was eager to support a binding instrument that provided transparency and accountability. The United Nations should seize the opportunity to put the necessary measures in place to reconvene the conference before the end of the first quarter of 2013.
He added that the Conference must be a continuation of the process and not a commencement of new negotiations. The President’s draft treaty provided at least a platform upon which the international community could make further progress. The international community should aim to adopt an instrument that would require States parties to conduct a risk assessment of the international transfer of weapons and prevent a transfer if it would exacerbate conflict or be used to commit grave violations of international law. In that regard, the treaty would have to define what was meant by “transfer”. CARICOM also expected a reconvened conference to amend the draft instrument to include ammunition in its scope and subject that to a comprehensive risk assessment, record-keeping and reporting requirements. CARICOM reiterated its call for the treaty to require ratification by a fewer number of States in order for it to enter into force. The rules of procedure of the next conference concerning decision-making must not be used by any State as a veto, as that could prevent consensus agreement on a treaty text.
It was CARICOM’s expectation that negotiators at the reconvened conference would ensure that the treaty establish an implementation support unit tasked with the responsibility to assist States in verifying compliance with the instrument, he said. A provision safeguarding the primacy of the arms trade treaty in relation to other instruments should also be provided. Additionally, there should be strong provisions regarding the issue of international cooperation. Effective implementation of an arms trade treaty would help to eradicate the illegal conventional weapons trade and reduce the incidence of trans-boundary crimes.
YOUSSOUFOU BAMBA (Côte d'Ivoire), speaking on behalf of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), said that the optimism that had inspired the diplomatic conference for the arms trade treaty had given way to great disappointment. Still, the international community must not give up, and he called for an early resumption of negotiations to reach a consensus on a text that covered all types of transfers and all types of conventional weapons, including light weapons and small arms, ammunition and related equipment. A future such treaty should prohibit arms transfers to non-State actors and especially refuse any transfers if there was a risk that they could be used to commit or facilitate violence, violate international humanitarian law, human rights or hinder socio-economic development. His country would co-author a draft resolution on the subject.
He welcomed the outcome of the Programme of Action’s Review Conference, reaffirming the commitment of ECOWAS to strengthen the implementation of the Programme and the International Tracing Instrument. Turning to the situation in the north of Mali, he said he regretted that it had led to an influx of conventional arms in the Sahel region, and he welcomed the support expressed by the international community to resolve the crisis. ECOWAS supported the draft resolution submitted by Mali, entitled “Assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them” (document A/C.1/67/L.21).
ANDRAS KOR, representative of the European Union delegation, stated that the international community was witnessing a remarkable momentum in the field of conventional weapons. Although there had been no final agreement on the text of the arms trade treaty, the latest draft presented on 26 July represented tremendous progress in negotiations. That process was “ripe for conclusion”, he said, emphasizing the Union’s support for convening a final, shorter United Nations conference on the treaty early in 2013 to conclude the negotiations.
Further, he continued, in order to create a meaningful and legally binding treaty, the European Union would continue to stress the importance of including strong transfer criteria to ensure against transfers if there was a clear risk that the weapons could be used in serious violation of international human rights. The treaty should also cover all types of conventional arms, including small arms and light weapons and all types of munitions. The Union fully appreciated the importance of the widest participation in the treaty negotiating process, in order to ensure the instrument’s universality, its maximum “ownership” and the engagement of all stakeholders, in its future implementation.
Welcoming the progress achieved in the universalization and implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Mine-Ban Convention), he said that the financial and political support provided by the European Union and its members States individually to mine action in almost all affected countries and regions of the world had been substantial. Victim assistance was a core component of mine action, and there was also a clear commitment to strengthening care rehabilitation and socio-economic integration of victims. The Union also endorsed the humanitarian goal of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. In closing he stressed the need for transparency in the field of military expenditure as another key element in building trust between States and preventing conflict.
HELLMUT HOFFMAN (Germany), speaking on behalf of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom, recalled the disappointment experienced by those delegations and many others following the unsuccessful end of the arms trade treaty conference in July, but said that the quest for a strong and robust treaty would continue. In that regard, the Foreign Ministers of the group, as well as the Minister for Trade of Sweden, had issued a joint communiqué, which he distributed in the First Committee as an attachment to his statement today. It concerned the continuation and finalization of the arms trade treaty process on the occasion of the opening week of the current session of the General Assembly.
In that communiqué, he said, the Ministers maintained that the world still needed an arms trade treaty – one that had the strength and breadth to make a real impact on the problems caused by the poorly-regulated trade in conventional arms - and that there was a clear case for Governments to finish the job started six years ago. States had a responsibility to ensure that arms were not transferred if there was a clear risk that they could be used in serious violation of international humanitarian law and human rights. The treaty should be legally binding, but nationally enforced, and cover all types of conventional weapons. The best way to reach agreement was for the negotiation process to continue in the framework of the United Nations, include all relevant stakeholders, build on the progress achieved in July, and take the latest draft text as the basis.
He said that the delegations he spoke for today fully supported the draft resolution, entitled “The Arms Trade Treaty” (document A/C.1/67/L.11), which they believed set out a way forward that matched the vision expressed in their communiqué. He called for the support of all other delegations.
TERJE HAUGE (Norway) said that his Government was strongly committed to “humanitarian disarmament” as well as to developing strict measures to curb the irresponsible and illicit arms trade. Humanitarian disarmament and the prevention of armed violence were vital to improving the national global security environment and development. The international community could not allow those important issues to continue to be deferred by deadlocks and procedural snags – as its credibility was at stake.
Touching on the topic of depleted uranium in ammunition and armour, he said there were concerns caused by worrying signs of health and environmental implications in areas where depleted uranium ammunitions and armour had been deployed. While no clear conclusions could be drawn and further research was needed, those concerns nevertheless warranted serious attention. To be on the safe side, restraint should be used with regard to the use of depleted uranium in those applications, and he supported further research to bring more knowledge to that field.
JEAN-HUGUES SIMON-MICHEL (France), aligning with the statement made by the European Union, said that the past year of great progress in multilateral conventional disarmament had led to the hope that conventional weapons, which caused many deaths around the world, would be subjected to more effective controls or limitations. Efforts with humanitarian objectives had become increasingly important since the adoption in 1980 of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, as some of those weapons had particularly cruel effects on innocent civilians, which lasted for decades after a conflict ended. Civil society played a key driving role in that area, as it had spurred Governments to take action to prohibit anti-personnel landmines in 1997 and cluster munitions in 2008.
Regarding an arms trade treaty, he said that the scope of equipment covered must be as broad as possible. The criteria of the treaty should also consider compliance with States’ international obligations, preserving international peace and security, the risk of diversion, compliance with international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including, with regard, to gender issues. While creating an arms trade treaty was “a major challenge”, the world needed such an instrument that was ambitious enough to have a real impact. It would be the first arms control treaty adopted by the United Nations in more than 15 years, and that proved that the Organization could successfully carry out that type of work on the basis of consensus. By working together, the international community could deliver a victory for the multilateral system as a whole.
* *** *For information media • not an official record