1 November 2012
General Assembly

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

First Committee, Seeking to Catch Up in Hurricane’s Wake, Speeds through Thematic

Debates, Hearing Calls to Translate Arms Trade Concerns into Durable Treaty


Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Change Implementation in 2012

Discusses Future Role of United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research

The First Committee today, seeking to catch up in the wake of the hurricane that paralysed the host city and shut down the United Nations for three days, agreed to streamline debate by limiting statements to just a few minutes and encouraging delegations to have the full text posted on its “Quick First” website, in line with a proposal by the Chair — the so-called “Sandy formula”.

Discussion picked up where it left off last week, on conventional weapons.  Stymied by the inability in July to coalesce around a final text of an arms trade treaty, some delegations decried what they perceived as the chronic failure to adopt a robust and binding instrument and reiterated the imperative of doing so even amid prevailing political and security conditions or maybe because of them.

Contributing to that debate was the representative of New Zealand, who said that a successful arms trade treaty would be one with strong and comprehensive standards, and not one with “clever loopholes”.  Rather, such a treaty should offer a real prospect for contributing meaningfully to global as well as regional peace, security and stability.

Pakistan’s representative said that, notwithstanding the massive destructive potential of nuclear weapons, conventional weapons wreaked havoc across the globe.  However, he noted that many such weapons were produced in countries that enjoyed peace.  As the international community looked to convene further arms trade treaty negotiations, it must address the demand and the supply sides of conventional weapons.  The Republic of Korea’s representative stressed that adequate attention was needed to address illicit arms brokering.

The representative of the Philippines’ called on States with the capacity to do so to prevent illicit arms transfers, and reiterated the call to arms-producing States to apply the relevant legal instruments to curb the illegal trade.  Hoping that negotiations could resume on an arms trade treaty, he said the international community could not afford another failure to conclude such a treaty.

The representative from Portugal condemned the use of cluster munitions, which affected military and civilian targets “indiscriminately”, and Senegal’s representative stressed that reopening negotiations on an arms trade treaty should integrate all conventional weapons categories, including small arms and light weapons, munitions and related technologies.

When the Committee turned its attention to its cluster on other disarmament measures and international security, new technologies were at the heart of the discussion.  China’s representative said the international community was confronted by the “abusive use” of information and communications technologies, and must work to prevent the information space from becoming a “new battlefield”.

India’s representative stressed that science and technology in general were an important subject that affected all States.  Thus, the international community needed dialogue and cooperation to find a viable, forward-looking approach.

Speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, on regional disarmament, Egypt’s representative said that the Middle East was one of the most pressing hotspots, and that group wished to see a disarmed Middle East.  Kuwait’s representative called on all States in the region to participate in the 2012 conference, and called on Israel to adhere to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and place its installations under control.

Also making brief statements on conventional weapons were the representatives of Australia, Papua New Guinea, Finland, Denmark, India, Belarus, Iraq, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya and Malawi.

Representatives from Slovenia, Spain, Slovakia, Ethiopia, Austria, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Myanmar, Republic of Tanzania and Eritrea chose not to read their statements on the conventional weapons cluster during the meeting, noting that their texts would be available in the room or online.

Also making brief statements on the cluster on other disarmament measures and international security were the representatives of Egypt on behalf of the Arab Group, Russian Federation, Trinidad and Tobago and Japan.

The representatives of Singapore and Indonesia chose not to read out their statements on that cluster, noting that the texts would be available in the room or online.

Also delivering brief statements on the regional disarmament and security cluster were the representatives of Algeria and Iran.

Choosing not to read out their statements on that cluster were the representatives of Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Peru on behalf of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), Cuba, Azerbaijan, Myanmar, Morocco and Peru on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group.

Participating in the debate on disarmament machinery, to be continued tomorrow, were the representatives of Egypt, the European Union and Norway.

The representative of Peru on behalf of UNASUR noted that his statement would be available online.

Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Change Implementation in 2012 briefed the Committee on disarmament issues as they pertained to the restructuring of the Secretariat, as well as on the future role of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR).

Canada’s representative introduced a draft resolution, L.41, on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

Germany’s representative introduced draft resolutions L.37, on consolidation of peace through practical disarmament measures, and L.33 on the report of the Conference on Disarmament.

Indonesia’s representative introduced the following drafts on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement:  L.16 on effects of the use of armaments and ammunitions containing depleted uranium; L.17 on observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control; L.18 on promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation; L.20 on the relationship between disarmament and development; L.58 on an Open-ended Working Group on the Fourth Special Session of the General Assembly Devoted to Disarmament; and L.14 on United Nations regional centres for peace and disarmament.

India’s representative introduced draft decision L.54 on the role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament.

Algeria’s representative introduced draft L.6 on Strengthening of security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region.

The First Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. tomorrow, 2 November, to continue its thematic debate on disarmament machinery.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record