29 October 2013
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3489

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

Sixty-eighth General Assembly

First Committee

19th Meeting (PM)


First Committee Speakers Greet Arms Trade Treaty as ‘Epoch-Making’ Achievement


Capable of Restraining Proliferation If Backed by Strict Export Controls

 


Delegates Troubled by Trend towards Autonomy in Robotic Weapons


After seven years of hard work, the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty signified “the first time in a generation” that nations from every corner of the world had shown what could be achieved with strong vision and a clear sense of purpose, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard today as it continued its thematic debate on conventional weapons.


However, the representative of the United Kingdom said that task was “far from over”, as the Treaty would not achieve its aims without being implemented. The world needed to take action against illicit and poorly regulated conventional arms, as a result of which every region of the world bore the scars of conflict.


The representative of the United States said the Arms Trade Treaty made the world a safer place by requiring countries that joined it to create and enforce the kind of strict national export controls that the United States already had in place.  As such, the Treaty strengthened security without undermining legitimate international trade in conventional arms that allowed countries to provide for their defence, and its implementation would ensure it lived up to the expectations of all.


Japan’s representative said that the Arms Trade Treaty was an “epoch-making achievement” in the history of conventional arms control, as well as a “strong and robust” instrument that meant the global arms trade was no longer unrestricted or hidden.  With that, he introduced the draft resolution, entitled The Arms Trade Treaty (document A/C.1/68/L.4), which welcomes the adoption and calls on all States to sign and ratify it. 


Yet some delegations expressed concern over perceived gaps in the Treaty and other mechanisms overseeing the arms trade.   Costa Rica’s delegate said it was imperative to widen the scope of categories currently included in the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms to include small arms and light weapons, as recommended by the Group of Governmental Experts in its July report. 


Further, her delegation was gravely concerned about the increasing use of drones for military purposes, as well as their growing international trade.  While unmanned aerial vehicles were covered in the United Nations Register under “combat aircraft” and “attack helicopters”, the country sought clarification on the coverage of unmanned ground vehicles and surface vessels.  Costa Rica worried that many problems identified with the use of armed drones would be exacerbated by the trend towards increasing autonomy in robotic weapons and felt an international dialogue should begin soon on the issue. 


Much attention had been focused on small arms and light weapons, said Cuba’s representative, but the effects of conventional weapons overall were particularly devastating, as their development had increased in destructive capacity.  She noted an imbalance between industrialized and developing countries with regard to the production of and trade in conventional weapons and said that in order to eradicate the illicit trafficking, it was necessary to tackle the root causes, such as poverty and lack of opportunity, which gave rise to that phenomenon.


Slovenia’s representative said that by adopting the Arms Trade Treaty, the international community had attained robust and effective common international standards for regulating international trade in conventional arms.  However, she stressed that non-State actors still used mines, and there were still mined areas to be cleared and many stocks to be destroyed.  In that light, she introduced a draft entitled Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on their Destruction (document A/C.1/68/L.3), which renews the call for collective efforts to advance the care, rehabilitation and social and economic reintegration of mine victims. 


The delegate from Iraq said that because of the practices of its former regime, his country was one of the most “polluted” with landmines, cluster munitions and explosive remnants of war.  Three decades of that pollution threatened inhabitants and livelihoods.  Regions affected by landmines were difficult to develop, and returning refugees and displaced persons were at risk. Iraq had become party to the Mine-Ban Convention in 2007, however, the country suffered from a lack of technical resources, and remained in need of the international community’s assistance to bring its infrastructure up to date.


Also speaking were the representatives of Egypt, Norway, Greece, Lesotho, Netherlands, Colombia, Algeria, Thailand, Ireland, Switzerland, Lithuania, Spain, Pakistan, Finland, Ecuador, Paraguay, Croatia, Israel and China.


The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 30 October, to continue its thematic debate on regional disarmament measures.


Background


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to continue its thematic debate segment and hear the introduction of draft resolutions and decisions across the spectrum of agenda items before it.


Statements


Mohamed Refaat Farghal (Egypt), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, the African and the Arab Groups, said he looked forward to the convening of the Fifth Biennial Meeting on Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.  Egypt stressed the Programme’s obligations on Member States, as well as agreed proposals.  Expressing gratitude for the efforts made by the Arms Trade Treaty Conference Chairman, he called upon all States to implement the text in a fair and balanced manner and to avoid “manipulation” in that regard. His country was aware of the consequences of the illicit trade in conventional weapons, but nonetheless emphasized the legitimate right of States to use those weapons for self-defence and security. At the same time, the international community should address the excessive use and stockpiling of conventional weapons, which had been exacerbated owing to technical advances. The report of the Group of Governmental Experts on the Register of Conventional Arms had stressed the importance of enhancing African representation at the Group’s next meeting, as well as increasing the number of experts to 20. Egypt was willing to assist with the provision of those experts.


KNUT LANGELAND ( Norway) said that improved security for all could be achieved with considerably lower levels of armaments. Arms control, conventional disarmament and non-proliferation were integral elements of Norway’s security and foreign policy.  Efforts to reduce armed violence and human suffering caused by both conventional and other weapons were essential for improving the national and global security environment, as well as for development.  A global and regional instrument was needed to help make the humanitarian dimension of disarmament and arms control the key element in discussions. T he Arms Trade Treaty had the potential to become such an instrument.  It should, in principle, cover all conventional weapons, and he urged all States parties to apply the Treaty’s provisions to the broadest range possible of conventional arms.


He said he was pleased that the Treaty prohibited conventional arms transfers when violated relevant international treaty obligations, including those set out in human rights treaties, or used in the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.  The most important task ahead was to ensure the Treaty’s rapid entry into force and to lay the ground for thorough and effective implementation.  The Mine-Ban Convention and the Convention on Cluster Munitions were examples that it was indeed possible to negotiate multilateral instruments in disarmament, which strengthened civilian protection and had an immediate humanitarian effect on the ground.


TOSHIO SANO ( Japan) said that the Arms Trade Treaty was an “epoch-making achievement” in the history of conventional arms control, as well as a “strong and robust” instrument that meant the global arms trade was no longer unrestricted or hidden.  With that, he introduced the draft resolution, entitled The Arms Trade Treaty (document A/C.1/68/L.4).  The Treaty’s adoption, he went on, also provided impetus to the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons political commitments had now evolved into legal ones, but the Programme of Action remained an important tool to address the illicit trade since, together with the Tracing Instrument, it covered a wide range of issues, including marking and stockpile management.  The Second Review Conference had yielded a strong outcome document.  At the same time, preparations should begin for the next step, according to that road map.  Those should include efforts to develop concrete measures.


He said his country was deeply concerned at recent reports of the use of anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions.  It was essential that the relevant conventions became universal to ensure that those weapons were never again used.  Japan had provided approximately $530 million since 1998 for mine‑action assistance.  A discussion on fully autonomous weapons, including on their definition, would be useful.


Alexandros Andreas Yennimatas ( Greece), associating himself with the European Union, said that his country had supported the Arms Trade Treaty from the beginning of the seven-year negotiation process.  It would act as a “concrete platform” for legal trade in weapons, as well as a tool curtailing unregulated trade.  The Programme of Action was another tool in the “conventional disarmament armoury”.  The illicit trade in small arms was a “scourge”, and Greece was thus encouraged by the outcome of the 2012 Review Conference on the Programme of Action as well as the adoption of Security Council resolution 2117 (2013).  The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, as its parties included the most significant producers and users of cluster munitions, remained the most appropriate forum for discussions on a protocol for those weapons.  The Convention could strike the delicate balance between military utility and humanitarian concerns.  Also, its unique position in terms of gathering competent expertise meant the “emerging issue” of lethal autonomous robotics should similarly be discussed in that context.  As a State party to the Mine-Ban Convention, Greece attached great importance to fulfilling its obligations with regard to mine clearance and stockpile destruction.


MAFIROANE EDMOND MOTANYANE ( Lesotho), associating himself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said that, as for many developing countries, the issue of conventional weapons was a priority.  Those killed countless people on a daily basis, with women and children often the primary victims. The path towards their regulation had always been fraught with difficulties, and, in that connection, Lesotho welcomed the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty. A strong desire by all to put humanity first had ultimately prevailed.  However, its adoption was not an in itself; the real test was yet to be passed. Ratification and implementation were “critical” next steps.  Neither was the Treaty a “panacea” for all the problems associated with conventional weapons.  Elsewhere, Lesotho emphasized the urgent need for implementation of the Programme of Action at international, regional and national levels. Lesotho was committed to its implementation, and he outlined efforts taken in that regard, including improving the capacity to control small arms and light weapons.


YADIRA LEDESMA Hernández ( Cuba) said that much attention had been focused on small arms and light weapons, but the effects of conventional weapons overall were particularly devastating, as their development had increased in destructive capacity.  The Non-Aligned Movement had repeatedly drawn attention to the imbalance between industrialized countries and developing countries with regard to the production and trade of those weapons.  The international community must strive to achieve general and complete disarmament, and in order to eradicate the illicit arms trade, the root causes of that phenomenon must be tackled.  Yet instead of addressing root causes such as poverty and lack of opportunities, the focus was on other issues.  More tangible progress was needed to strengthen international cooperation and assistance to all States in order to further compliance with the Programme of Action.  It was regrettable that, in March, the international community had shown its lack of agreement at the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty.  That had been a historic opportunity to provide strong consensus on that issue, but that chance had not been seized.


MATTHEW ROWLAND ( United Kingdom) said that, after seven years of hard work, the Arms Trade Treaty had been agreed.  It was the first time in a generation that the international community had shown what could be achieved when there was strong vision and clear sense of purpose binding together nations from every corner of the world.  However, the task was far from over. The Treaty would not achieve its aims without being implemented.  That was why his country had pledged £350,000 to support States in implementation.  The Treaty was a great achievement for the United Nations, but it was by no means the only one in the past year.


Notable among those, he said, was Security Council resolution 2117 (2013), which was an important reminder of the need to act on illicit and poorly regulated conventional arms. Every region of the world bore the scars of conflict.  His country was on track to destroy its last stocks of cluster munitions by the end of the year.  Similarly, it had supported the poorest countries around the world through its £30 million global mine-action programme.  Looking ahead, the United Kingdom looked forward to the Geneva meeting of States parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, and, in particular, to discussion on lethal autonomous robotics.


HENK COR VAN DER KWAST (Netherlands), associating himself with the European Union, said that while war was a constant reality, increasing regulation of the use of and trade in conventional arms showed that progress could and was being made.  International law was strengthened every year in that regard “through little steps or even by rather big leaps”.  One such leap had been the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, which would make the world a safer place.  The Netherlands welcomed that development, particularly the inclusion of a specific provision on gender-based violence. The country supported the Treaty’s implementation and had committed €500,000 to assist countries to that end.  The Netherlands would introduce two resolutions on the United Nations Register for Conventional Arms, as well as on the Database on National Legislation on Arms Transfers. Those two instruments retained “enormous value” to the international community.  On anti‑personnel mines, his country had made €45 million available for the clearance of mines and cluster munitions and hoped that the issue could be “crossed off the global to-do list” within a decade.


CAMILO LOUIS ( Colombia) said his country was aware of the negative impact of the lack of international regulations covering the international trade in conventional weapons.  Accordingly, it welcomed the Arms Trade Treaty, which was a necessary instrument that would have a positive impact on the lives of millions of people.  He noted that five ratifying countries were from his region. That Treaty was proof that it was possible to further texts pertaining to disarmament and non‑proliferation, and it could stimulate the broader disarmament machinery.  As was traditional, Colombia would present draft resolution “L.38” on the small arms and light weapons illicit trade, which that underscored the need to strengthen national efforts to implement the Programme of Action. Colombia had undertaken efforts with regard to the “scourge” of anti-personnel mines, and he outlined several of those initiatives.


DJAMEL MOKTEFI ( Algeria), associating himself with the African and Arab Groups, said that the illicit small arms and light weapons trade was a dangerous threat to peace and stability in some regions of the world, particularly in Africa.  Algeria, which was directly harmed by criminal activities that used those weapons, was intensifying efforts to prevent illicit flows through its borders.  It was also seeking to staunch acts committed by unlawful networks, which stoked the fires of conflict in the Sahel region.  In line with existing regulations, Algeria had recently intensified efforts to combat criminal and terrorist networks, and he welcomed the renewed commitments by States to the Programme of Action.  Creating a mechanism to assist in the efficiency of international cooperation and assistance was important in its implementation.


He said that national reports were an important element in improving the Action Programme’s implementation and increasing its effectiveness. Algeria was submitting its report on a regular basis and had been fully committed to implementing the international tracing instrument for small arms and light weapons since its adoption in 2005.  His delegation reaffirmed the importance of a protocol to combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, their ammunition and all parts and components that could be used for their manufacture, repair and assembly. Algeria was directly harmed by landmines and attached great importance to that issue.  He sought full support for the draft resolution, entitled Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (document A/C.1/68/L.3).


KARAVIKAR SVETASRENI (Thailand), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that accumulated efforts had accomplished a major breakthrough this year with the “landmark” Arms Trade Treaty agreement, giving “overdue” recognition to the global attention that matter required.  The illicit small arms trade was inextricably linked to transnational crime, drug trafficking, terrorism and human rights violations, and it had devastating humanitarian and socioeconomic consequences.  Acknowledging the guidelines to aid domestic control provided by the Programme of Action and the Tracing Instrument, full implementation remained a challenge.   Thailand fully supported the humanitarian principles that lay at the core of international efforts to tackle inhumane weapons such as landmines and cluster munitions. Outlining several efforts in that regard, she highlighted in particular her country’s hosting of a symposium on implementation of the Mine-Ban Convention, voicing her country’s commitment to achieve further progress on mine clearance, specifically through the “land release method”.


BREIFNE O’REILLY (Ireland), associating with the European Union, said that activity in relation to conventional weapons was “extraordinarily dynamic”, involving issues related to a significant number of weapons types and systems. The illicit trade in conventional weapons could have devastating consequences, and there was a shared responsibility in that regard.  The Arms Trade Treaty was, in that respect, profoundly welcome, and he noted that his country’s ratification procedure was at an advanced stage.  Security Council 2117 (2013) on small arms and light weapons was another positive development.  Focus on the debate on conventional weapons should always aim to ensure respect for international humanitarian law and human rights, including women’s rights. Those same principles must also apply to any future weapons, including fully autonomous weapon systems.


BOŠTJAN JERMAN (Slovenia), speaking also on behalf of Algeria and Cambodia, introduced the draft resolution, entitled Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on their Destruction (document A/C.1/68/L.3).  That was a traditional resolution on the Convention, having been introduced annually, since 1997. Non‑State actors still used mines, and there were still mined areas to be cleared and many stocks to be destroyed.  Though the text presented today was based on previous ones, the resolution was paving the way to the Third Review Conference next year in Maputo, Mozambique.


Next, associating himself with the European Union, he said that Slovenia was pleased that the Arms Trade Treaty had finally been adopted and opened for signature.  By doing so, the international community had attained robust and effective common international standards for regulating international trade in conventional arms.  Transparency in armaments was very important to his country, which had supported the treaty from the outset, as well as the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and the relevant First Committee resolution proposed by the Netherlands.  The scope of the Register, however, should be widened to include new categories of conventional arms, such as small arms and light weapons.


THOMAS GUERBER ( Switzerland) said that the conclusion of the Arms Trade Treaty was a great success for the United Nations; it was strong, robust and balanced, and had the potential to reinforce both international and regional security.  It comprehensively addressed the security, social, economic and humanitarian consequences of the unregulated and illicit trade in conventional arms, and Switzerland would contribute actively to its universalization.  In 1991, the General Assembly had established the Register on Conventional Arms, recognizing that an increased level of openness and transparency in that field would enhance confidence, promote stability, help States exercise restraint, ease tensions and strengthen international and regional peace and security.  It remained the main transparency mechanism at the global level and therefore, a key tool.  The illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons threatened peace, security and stability in numerous regions.  The secure management of national small arms and munitions stockpiles was instrumental in curbing proliferation and misuse.  New technologies were changing warfare, and challenges loomed on the horizon.  One emerging issue was that of “fully autonomous weapons systems”.  The potential challenges associated with those weapons needed to be understood and clarified.


Raimonda Murmokaitė (Lithuania), associating himself with the European Union, said the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty was a truly remarkable achievement, proving the United Nations was capable in delivering in an area in which international regulation was desperately needed.  Throughout the negotiation process and beyond, Lithuania supported transparency in the arms trade through the dissemination of national reports to the general public and academia, and it welcomed the initiatives of non-governmental organizations to establish a civil‑society monitoring mechanism, which included gender-based violence criterion, into the Arms Trade Treaty.  The illicit trade in small arms and their ammunition destabilized all aspects of human life, including security; it disrupted development and devastated livelihoods.  More than 700,000 people were killed by armed violence every year.  The inclusion of those weapons in the Arms Trade Treaty had been an important accomplishment.


Also crucial, he said, was for Member States to immediately implement the small arms Programme of Action and adapt it to today’s realities.  Lithuania also supported universality and full implementation of the Mine-Ban Convention, with a focus on assisting States in complying with their obligations, particularly in the area of stockpile destruction.  His country was also fully committed to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.  Among the 76 Member States not yet party to it, half were affected by mines or explosive remnants of war.


Maria Victoria González Román ( Spain), associating herself with the European Union, said that conventional weapons were the main weapons of mass destruction, creating more victims annually than any other category of arms. It was the international community’s duty to pay particular attention to that matter. From the outset, Spain had actively supported the process leading to the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, whose entry into force was urgent. Aware of the implementation challenges posed by the Treaty, Spain could assist any country that needed it.  It was also ready to cooperate with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs.  She attached great importance to the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons and was committed as well to the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition.  She stressed the value of confidence- and transparency-building measures and supported the Register of Conventional Arms.


Sarmad Muwafaq Mohammed Al-Taie (Iraq), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said that his country had suffered from three wars, because of the practices of its former regime, with disastrous consequences.  Iraq was one of the “most polluted” with landmines, cluster munitions and explosive remnants of war; three decades of that “pollution” threatened inhabitants and livelihoods.  Moreover, the regions affected were difficult to develop in terms of arable land or oil, and as such, there was a risk to returning refugees and displaced persons.   Iraq had become party to the Mine-Ban Convention in 2007, one year before it went into effect, and it was committed to clean up its mines entirely, in line with the treaty’s article 5, despite a lack of technical resources.


In that light, he said efforts were being undertaken to modernize Government institutions to allow them to clean up affected territory.  Since its accession to the Convention, his Government had done everything possible to dismantle stockpiles and assist victims. However, it remained in need of the international community’s assistance to bring its infrastructure up to date safely. He thanked Member States for their support thus far, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s mine clearance team, as well as non-governmental organizations.


CHRISTOPHER L. BUCK ( United States) said the Arms Trade Treaty made the world a safer place. It required countries that joined it to create and enforce the kind of strict national export controls that the United States already had in place.  As such, it strengthened security without undermining legitimate global trade in conventional arms, which allowed countries to provide for their defence. Its implementation would ensure that it lived up to “all our expectations”.  It was unfortunate, by contrast, that the 2013 Group of Experts on the Register of Conventional Arms had been unable to bring to an end its 13-year discussion and include small arms and light weapons on the register.  The United States supported the destruction of conventional weapons and, among other things, had provided $2.1 billion in aid to more than 90 countries for their destruction programmes.


Welcoming the Security Council’s first standalone resolution on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, he urged Member States to implement the Programme of Action as well as the International Tracing Instrument.  Much more needed to be done to implement existing commitments under those instruments.  As a High Contracting Party to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, the United States attached importance to that instrument, which had brought together States with diverse national security concerns.  Furthermore, that Convention was the appropriate forum for discussion of the legal, policy and technological implications associated with lethal fully autonomous weapons.  A broad range of High Contracting Parties had incorporated or were considering incorporating such capabilities into weapons systems.  The United States looked forward to formulating with those parties an appropriate mandate for informal, exploratory discussions.


KHALIL HASHMI ( Pakistan) said that while nuclear weapons were retained mainly for deterrence purposes, conventional weapons were “actually used on a daily basis to kill human beings”. They fuelled conflicts, destabilized States and caused pain and suffering to humanity worldwide. World military expenditure fell in 2012 for the first time since 1998, but that small decline in spending was no reason to celebrate. Collectively, the international community spent close to 3 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) on military expenditure. Ironically, weapons that propelled and sustained conflicts came from areas that enjoyed peace.  Only four countries accounted for two thirds of global exports in arms, while major importers were the developing countries, mostly in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.


Another disturbing trend was the development of new types of conventional weapons such as lethal autonomous robots, he said, as well as the use of armed drones, which killed indiscriminately, including civilians. The use of drones, especially outside the zone of conflict or the battlefield, not only posed legal challenges, but also had serious human rights and humanitarian implications. Similarly, lethal autonomous robots, which would choose and fire on pre-programmed targets on their own without human intervention, posed a fundamental challenge to the protection of civilians and the notion of affixation of responsibility and could alter traditional warfare in unimaginable ways.


MARKKU VIRRI ( Finland) welcomed the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty as reflective of a successful year in the field of conventional weapons.  That instrument strengthened the United Nations credibility in delivering disarmament and arms control treaties, he said, adding that the threshold for its entry into force of 50 ratifications could be reached by mid-2014.  Noting the significant part played by human rights and international humanitarian law in the Treaty, he said Finland was convinced it had the potential to reduce gender-based violence and enhance the lives of all living under the threat of armed violence around the world.  The outcome document of the 2012 Review Conference on the Programme of Action provided concrete measures and steps to achieve the Programme’s full implementation.  Likewise, the United Nations International Small Arms Control Standards were valuable in that they provided “practical and comprehensive guidance” to practitioners and policymakers.  Welcoming the adoption of Security Council resolution 2117 (2013), he noted his country’s continuing support for mine action, with its annual contribution of approximately €6 million.


MARITZA CHAN ( Costa Rica) said it was imperative to widen the scope of categories currently included in the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms.  Small arms and light weapons should be included, as recommended by the Group of Governmental Experts in its July report.  Costa Rica was gravely concerned about the increasing use of drones for military purposes, as well as their growing international trade.  While unmanned aerial vehicles were covered in the United Nations Register under “combat aircraft” and “attack helicopters”, the country sought clarification on the coverage of unmanned ground vehicles and surface vessels.  Costa Rica worried that many problems identified with the use of armed drones would be exacerbated by the trend towards increasing autonomy in robotic weapons and felt an international dialogue should begin soon on the issue.  Additionally, States should consider national moratoriums on the development, production and use of lethal autonomous robotics, and discussions should begin on their eventual prohibition.  On other matters, she noted that there were few obligations on States to assess the toxicity and environmental behaviour of materials used in weapons or to monitor their impact after their use.  Greater attention must be paid to the links between civilian health, environmental health and sustainable development, she said.


FERNANDO LUQUE Márquez ( Ecuador), associating himself with the Union of South American Nations, said his country closely followed the debate on conventional weapons.  It was party to the Cluster Munitions Convention as well as to the Mine‑Ban Convention.  As part of its efforts in that regard, he noted in particular a joint humanitarian mine clearance programme with Peru launched along its border. The international community must further debate the issue of unmanned aerial aircraft, as well as that of lethal autonomous robots, which raised serious ethical questions.  Ecuador had supported the convening process for the Arms Trade Treaty, but the Treaty’s effectiveness depended on universality as well as a degree of balance.  Its adoption should have been by consensus, and he regretted that had not been the case.  In that context, his delegation had observed many difficulties arising with resolutions in the First Committee that had previously been adopted without the need for a vote.  Despite Ecuador’s reservations regarding the adoption process for the Arms Trade Treaty, as well as certain elements in the text, it would consider the Treaty further before deciding whether to join it.


Marcelo Eliseo Scappini Ricciardi (Paraguay), associating himself with the Union of South American Nations, said that conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons, munitions and ammunitions, were as harmful as the use or threat of use as nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in that they shaped a world that was unsustainable and unpredictable.  What mattered was creating a global environment that was more secure, for which the international community’s commitment was paramount. Paraguay had signed and would soon ratify the Arms Trade Treaty; the lack of regulation of the arms market had prompted it to do so. However, implementation must be ensured, he said, adding that the Treaty’s entry into force would make delegations more responsible and their actions consistent with their speeches.


ZORAN Joković ( Croatia), associating himself with the European Union, said that his country was a “dedicated” State party to existing multilateral conventions and regimes on conventional weapon control.  Croatia was a signatory to the “historic” Arms Trade Treaty, which it would soon be in a position to ratify, thereby contributing to enhancing global safety and human security.  From a national perspective, Croatia was aware that the accumulation and trafficking in small arms and light weapons fuelled insecurity and slowed fragile peace-building processes.  Security Council resolution 2117 (2013) was welcomed, as in Croatia’s view, it strengthened the Arms Trade Treaty.  Croatia had gained significant experience in implementing successful national and regional arms control measures, and was in a position to offer its expertise on the global level.


EYAL PROPPER ( Israel) welcomed the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, which he said was an important step towards combating the transfer of arms to terrorists and non-State actors.  The Treaty could strengthen international arms control while taking into consideration national security concerns.  Israel had taken an active role in the negotiations and had voted in favour of the United Nations resolution in April.  His country was now in the final stage of an internal review process and was considering favourably signing the Treaty.  His delegation had been stressing that preventing terrorists from acquiring arms was a matter of priority.  He also reminded delegations that all could benefit from enhancing the tracing of small arms and light weapons as well as meeting the challenges of marking and record-keeping.  Effective implementation at the national, regional and global levels was more relevant than ever.


He said that turbulence in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, meant the international community needed to work together to prevent illicit trafficking of conventional weapons.  Weapons such as man-portable air defence systems, known as MANPADs, could cause serious harm if they fell into the wrong hands.  The international community must focus on concrete steps to prevent those weapons from reaching terrorists and non-State actors.


WU JIANJIAN ( China) said that his country attached great importance to humanitarian effects of conventional weapons use, and it supported efforts to improve relevant international legal mechanisms on the basis of striking a reasonable balance between alleviating humanitarian suffering and legitimate military and security needs of sovereign States.  The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons had been irreplaceable in tackling the humanitarian concerns caused by those weapons, and as a State party, China complied fully with it. Likewise, it had spared no efforts on humanitarian assistance in more than 40 countries, amounting to 70 million yuan.  The increasing exploitation of improvised explosive devices in recent years by terrorists, extremists and criminal organizations was a worrying trend that warranted international attention.


Turning to the issue of small arms and light weapons, he said that China was keenly aware of the concerns of victim countries and regions and had stepped up domestic efforts to combat the illicit trade in such weapons.  “Complicated causes” underpinned that trade, and thus China called for a holistic approach that addressed the problem’s root causes and symptoms.  It had taken a prudent and responsible attitude to arms exports and had observed principles not to undermine regional peace and security, nor to interfere in the internal affairs of the recipient country.  Furthermore, it had never exported arms to countries or individuals under Security Council-imposed arms embargoes and had established a comprehensive and effective arms export control system.  China supported the Arms Trade Treaty and had no substantive issues with its content. Accordingly, it would look seriously into the issue of signing it.


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