|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-eighth General Assembly
23rd Meeting (PM)
First Committee Approves 18 Texts Covering Dual-Use Goods Transfers, Transparency
in Armaments, Arms Trade Treaty, Five Requiring 21 Separate Recorded Votes
Forwarding 18 drafts to the General Assembly addressing conventional weapons, other disarmament measures, regional disarmament and the disarmament machinery, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today took action on a raft of texts covering, among others items, preventing the spread of illicit small arms and light weapons, transparency of armaments, and on revitalizing the Conference on Disarmament and taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations.
While 13 of those texts were approved without a vote, including on regional confidence-building measures, two Regional Centres for Peace and Disarmament, and the role of science and technology in international security, a total of 21 recorded votes were required on five drafts and their separate provisions. Those resolutions spanned such topics as the implementation of the Mine-Ban Treaty, the Arms Trade Treaty, transparency in armaments, transfers of military equipment and dual-use goods, and regional and subregional arms control.
Prompting vigorous debate was the subject of the Arms Trade Treaty, which many delegations lauded as having the potential to curb the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons and to alleviate the suffering of their victims. However, other delegations were of the view that the Treaty “fell short” of meeting the security needs of some States and favoured arms-exporting nations to the detriment of the importing countries.
The resolution on that Treatywas approved as a whole by a recorded vote of 141 in favour to none against, with 28 abstentions. Prior to that, recorded votes were taken on operative paragraph 1, which welcomed the Treaty’s adoption in April. That provision was retained by a recorded vote of 137 in favour to none against, with 27 abstentions. A further provision, operative paragraph 3, which would have the Assembly call on States to sign and ratify the Treaty, was retained by a recorded vote of 136 in favour to none against, with 28 abstentions.
Especially contentious was the resolution on transparency in armaments, which required nine separate recorded votes on individual provisions, before the Committee approved that draft as a whole by a recorded vote of 145 in favour to none against, with 28 abstentions.
By its terms, the Assembly would welcome the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, as well as its signatures and ratifications so far, as well as the “increase in transparency in armaments”, which it would provide. By further terms of the text, the Assembly would call upon Member States to provide reports on armaments, including the transfer of small arms and light weapons, to the Secretary-General and to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms.
Also requiring recorded votes were resolutions on: implementing the Mine-Ban Treaty; national legislation on arms transfers; and conventional arms control in the regional and subregional context.
Acting without a vote, the Committee approved drafts on: assistance to States for collecting illicit small arms and light weapons traffick; the illicit trade of those arms in all its aspects; problems arising from conventional ammunitions stockpiles; the role of science and technology in security and disarmament; objective information on military matters; strengthening cooperation and security in the Mediterranean region; regional disarmament; confidence-building measures in the regional and subregional context; report of the Disarmament Commission; revitalizing the work of the Conference on Disarmament; the Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific; report of the Conference on Disarmament; and the Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa.
During action on Cluster 4, Conventional Weapons, the following delegations spoke in explanation of vote: Ecuador; Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; Iran; Belarus; Morocco; Sudan; Egypt; India; Cuba; Tunisia; Republic of Korea; China; Mexico; Ecuador; Singapore; Pakistan; Canada; and Venezuela.
During action on Cluster 5, Other Disarmament Measures and International Security, the representative of Cuba delivered a general statement.
Also during that cluster, the following delegations spoke in explanation of vote: Ecuador; Sudan; India; Russian Federation; and Pakistan.
During action on Cluster 6, regional Disarmament and Security, the following delegations spoke in explanation of vote: Iran; Mexico; India; and the Russian Federation.
During action on Cluster 7, Disarmament Machinery, the representatives of the Netherlands and Iran made general statements.
Also during that cluster, the representative of Iran spoke in explanation of vote.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 4 November, to continue taking action on its draft texts.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to begin its consideration of all draft resolutions and decisions before it, across the whole spectrum of its agenda items.
Action on Cluster 4: Conventional Weapons
Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, the representative of Ecuador said that his delegation had voted in favour of all resolutions for the Arms Trade Treaty, but the treaty text that was ultimately adopted by a recorded vote in April contained some deficiencies, in particular concerning the balance between the rights and obligations between exporter and importer States. He also deplored that there was a last-minute attempt to redefine the practice and use of consensus. For those reasons, Ecuador had abstained in the vote on the Treaty. His Government intended to continue to study the Treaty text, with regard to signing or adhering to it. Concerning the Committee’s draft resolution “L.4”, on the Arms Trade Treaty, his delegation would abstain on that draft, as it should be up to Governments to decide whether or not they were able to sign.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that although his delegation was aware of the humanitarian effects of anti-personnel mines, his country was not in a position to renounce their possession, under the circumstances prevailing in the Korean peninsula and the need to protect itself from the threat to its existence by the United States. The military exercises by the United States every year in the Korean peninsula, where the tension and threat concerned daily bread for the people of his country, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was not in a position to accede to the Mine-Ban Convention, and, as in previous years, would abstain in the vote on that text.
The representative of Iran said that, with regard to “L.3” on the Mine-Ban Convention, his delegation shared the humanitarian concerns expressed in the Convention, adding that landmines had been used irresponsibly by military and armed groups and consequently had claimed a great number of innocent lives, particularly those of women and children. He welcomed every effort to stop that trend, but the resolution focused mainly on humanitarian concerns and did not adequately take into account the legitimate military requirements of many countries, particularly those with long land borders, which needed to use mines to defend their territories. Unfortunately, landmines remained the effective means for those countries to ensure the minimum security requirement of their borders. That defensive device should be used under only the strictest circumstances, and more efforts should be made to explore new alternatives. His delegation would therefore abstain on “L.3”.
Regarding “L.30” on transparency in armaments, he said that, as in recent years wherein his delegation had advocated for a more comprehensive approach on that item, it would abstain on the vote. Transparency in conventional arms, without corresponding transparency in weapons of mass destruction, was imbalanced and lacked comprehensiveness, particularly in the volatile region of the Middle East where the Israeli regime — the only non-party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferaton Treaty (NPT) in the region — continued to develop nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. The United Nations Register of Conventional Arms was supposed to be the first step towards initiating such transparency, and he hoped that a true and comprehensive transparency in armaments, which should include all kinds, would be pursued by the General Assembly as recommended by the Group of Governmental Experts.
The representative of Belarus , speaking before the vote on “L.3” and “L.4”, said that the uncontrolled spread of conventional weapons threatened peace and security, leading to armed conflict and international terrorism. Drafting a document to control that trade, the Arms Trade Treaty, was adopted by the General Assembly and was a step in the right direction. His delegation had abstained from voting on the Treaty, as it felt it did not fully resolve the issue of the illicit trade in weapons. Belarus, however, would consider acceding to it.
The Committee then took action on “L.3”, formally titled 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), approving it by a vote of 154 in favour to none against, with 18 abstentions.
By its terms, the General Assembly would reaffirm its determination to put an end to the suffering and casualties caused by anti-personnel mines, which killed or injured thousands of innocent people every year, and invite all States that had not signed the Convention to accede to it without delay.
Turning to draft resolution “L.4”, a recorded vote was requested on operative paragraph 1, which would have the Assembly welcome the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty.
That provision was retained by a recorded vote of 137 in favour to none against, with 27 abstentions.
A recorded vote was also requested on operative paragraph 3, which would call on States that had not yet done so to sign, ratify, accept or approve the Treaty at the earliest possible date.
That paragraph was retained by a recorded vote of 136 in favour to none against, with 28 abstentions.
The Committee approved the draft resolution as a whole on the Arms Trade Treaty (document A/C.1/68/L.4) by a recorded vote of 141 in favour to none against, with 28 abstentions.
By the terms of that text, sponsored by Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Finland, Japan, Kenya and the United Kingdom, the General Assembly would welcome the adoption of the Treaty and call upon States that had not yet done so to sign and ratify, accept or approve the Treaty at the earliest possible date.
Next, the Committee turned to draft resolution “L.9/Rev.1” on assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them, approving it without a vote.
By its terms, the General Assembly, deeply concerned by the magnitude of human casualty and suffering, especially among children, caused by the illicit proliferation and use of small arms and light weapons, would encourage cooperation among State organs, international organizations and civil society in support of combating the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons, and call on the international community to provide technical and financial support towards that goal.
The Committee then turned to draft resolution “L.30”, on which several separate recorded votes were requested.
The first, preambular paragraph 6, would welcome the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, as well as its signatures and ratifications up to the present date, and the increase in transparency in armaments that would be provided by it. That paragraph was retained by 134 in favour to none against, with 36 abstentions.
Next, preambular paragraph 7, which would express the Assembly’s hope that the Arms Trade Treaty would soon enter into force, was retained by a recorded vote of 135 in favour to none against, with 34 abstentions.
The Committee retained operative paragraph 3 by a recorded vote of 143 in favour to none against, with 28 abstentions. That provision would call upon Member States to provide annual reports to the Secretary-General, with requested data and information for the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, including nil reports if appropriate.
A recorded vote was also requested on operative paragraph 4, which would have the Assembly invite Member States to provide additional information to the Register on procurement through national production and military holdings. That paragraph was retained by a recorded vote of 147 in favour to none against, with 23 abstentions.
A recorded vote was also requested on operative paragraph 5, which would have the Assembly invite Member States to provide additional information on transfers of small arms and light weapons to the Register. It was retained by a recorded vote of 148 in favour to none against, with 23 abstentions.
A recorded vote was also requested on operative paragraph 6, which would have the Assembly reaffirm its decision to keep the scope and participation of the register under review with a view to its further development. It was retained by a recorded vote of 145 in favour to none against, with 26 abstentions.
A recorded vote was also requested on operative paragraph 6a, which would have the Assembly recall its request to Member States to provide the Secretary-General with their views on the continuing operation and development of the Register, including on whether the absence of small arms and light weapons from it as a main category had limited its relevance and directly affected decisions on participation and transparency measures related to weapons of mass destruction.
That provision was retained by a recorded vote of 144 in favour to none against, with 27 abstentions.
A recorded vote was also requested on operative paragraph 6b, which would have the Assembly request the Secretary-General, with the assistance of a Group of Governmental Experts, to prepare a report on the continuing operation and relevance of the Register, taking into account the work of the Conference on Disarmament, among other relevant deliberations.
That paragraph was retained by a recorded vote of 146 in favour to none against, with 24 abstentions.
A recorded vote was also requested on operative paragraph 8, which would have the Assembly invite the Conference on Disarmament to consider continuing its work undertaken in the field of transparency in armaments. It was retained by a recorded vote of 150 in favour to none against, with 22 abstentions.
The Committee approved the draft resolution “L.30” as a whole on transparency in armaments by a recorded vote of 145 in favour to none against, with 28 abstentions. By its terms, the General Assembly would reaffirm its determination to ensure the effective operation of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms.
Next, the Committee approved the draft resolution on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects (document A/C.1/68/L.38).
By its terms, the General Assembly would encourage all relevant initiatives for the successful implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, and would call upon all States to implement the International Tracing Instrument.
Acting without a vote, the Committee approved draft resolution “L.44” on problems arising from the accumulation of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus (document A/C.1/68/L.44).
By its terms, the General Assembly would encourage interested States to voluntarily assess whether, in conformity with their legitimate security needs, parts of their stockpiles of conventional ammunition should be considered surplus, and recognize that the security of such stockpiles must be taken into consideration. The Assembly would further encourage States to implement the recommendations of the Group of Governmental Experts pursuant to resolution 61/72, and encourage States wishing to improve their stockpile management capacity to use the “SaferGuard” mechanism.
The representative of Morocco, speaking after the vote, said that his country supported transparency in armaments and considered the United Nations Register to be a very useful tool. He looked forward to its further development, including extension of its scope. In his region, clarity on capacities with regard to weapons of mass destruction were of particular importance, and in that context and spirit, his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.30”.
The representative of Sudansaid that, had his delegation been in the room during action on “L.3” and “L.4”, it would have voted in favour of “L.3” and abstained on “L.4”.
The representative of Egypt, also speaking after the vote, said that his delegation had abstained on “L.4” as well as its operative paragraphs welcoming the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty. He wished to highlight that that Treaty had been adopted by a vote, after a failure to achieve consensus on a fair and balanced text. The Treaty furthermore lacked a number of elements, including absence of definitions of terms and concepts, and of a mechanism to identify how arms exporters would determine its application.
International efforts should continue to fill in the remaining gaps that the Treaty had left unfulfilled, he said, calling for addressing, among other things, the over-production and stockpiling of weapons. Every effort must be made to bring such issues under international scrutiny. Egypt would continue to follow closely the process of accession to and entry into force of the Treaty.
Also speaking in explanation of the vote on “L.4”, Iran’s representative said that his country was affected by the illicit trafficking of arms by terrorist groups, and was always supportive of combating that illicit trade. Iran had participated in the Arms Trade Treaty Conference, and had expected a robust, balanced and non-discriminatory instrument. However, that process had been redirected towards narrow national agendas and the Treaty fell far short in meeting those expectations. His delegation had therefore been compelled to join those that objected to it.
He said that, among its shortcomings, the Treaty fell short of recognizing the legitimate rights of States to security, self-defence and territorial integrity. His delegation had therefore abstained in the vote on that resolution and two of its operative paragraphs, but that should not be interpreted as a departure from its greater position regarding the Treaty and its legal flaws and shortcomings. Further, all activities related to the Treaty should be financed by the countries advocating it, and not from the regular budget of the United Nations or the assets of that universal Organization.
India’s representative said that his delegation had abstained on “L.3”, although it supported a world free of landmines. The availability of alternative technologies would considerably facilitate the goal of eliminating anti-personnel landmines worldwide. India had fulfilled its obligations by rendering anti-personnel mines detectable, and had taken several measures to address humanitarian concerns arising from the use of those weapons. It was committed to increasing cooperation for mine clearance and willing to contribute technical expertise to that end. India would continue to be an observer of the Mine-Ban Convention.
On “L.4”, India had participated actively in negotiations for the Arms Trade Treaty. There was no conflict between national security objectives and the need for a strong and effective such Treaty, and his delegation expected that it would make a real impact on illicit trafficking, especially by terrorists and other unlawful non-State actors. India had stressed consistently that the Treaty should ensure a balance of obligations between importing and exporting States. However, the Treaty was weak on terrorism and non-State actors, which found no mention in the specific provisions of the Treaty. It could not be an instrument in the hands of exporting States to take unilateral actions against importing States. Since it did not meet requirements on that issue, India had abstained. That country was taking a full and thorough assessment of the instrument, and until that assessment was completed, it was not in a position to take a final view, and had abstained on “L.4”. It had supported “L.30”, but in preambular paragraphs 6 and 7, India’s vote was consistent with its actions on the Arms Trade Treaty, as mentioned.
Cuba’s representative said that, as in previous sessions, her delegation had abstained on “L.3”. Cuba shared the legitimate humanitarian concerns associated with the indiscriminate use of anti-personnel mines, and it was part of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and its protocol II, to which it strictly complied. As indicated previously, for over five decades Cuba had been subjected to a policy of aggression by a military super-Power. As a result, Cuba could not renounce the use of mines, in order to preserve its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Cuba would continue to support all efforts that maintained the balance between humanitarian and national security issues. Regarding draft resolution “L.4”, her delegation abstained on the text as a whole, as well as on operative paragraphs 1 and 3. Cuba had also abstained in the votes on preambular paragraphs 6 and 7 of “L.3” and would do the same for preambular paragraph 7 and 8 and operative 1 of “L.31” related to that issue of the arms trade. In March, the international community noted the lack of agreement and consensus at the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty. The Conference, in her opinion, had been a historic opportunity to effectively respond to the grave consequences of the illicit arms trade for many States and people throughout the world. However, that opportunity was squandered. Instead, a vote was forced on a text that did not rise to the expectations and needs of the international community. The result was a Treaty that was unbalanced and favoured arms-exporting States to the detriment of the rest of the States.
The representative of Tunisia, speaking after the vote on behalf of the League of Arab States, reaffirmed the League’s position on the United Nations Register on Conventional Weapons, confirming the need for transparency in armaments. The mechanism of that transparency, however, to be successful, must follow balanced and non-discriminatory guidelines. She noted that more than half the Member States were not providing information to the Register. The League would like to see the Register’s extension. The Middle East region was particularly “unbalanced” when it came to armaments, and confidence would only come about with an updated Register. In that context, Israel was the only one in the region not a member of the NPT; it disregarded calls to join the Treaty and place its installations under the safeguards regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Instead, it continued to accumulate a nuclear weapons arsenal. For those reasons, her delegation had abstained from the vote on “L.30”.
The representative of the Republic of Korea said that her country supported the spirit of the Mine-Ban Convention as well as draft resolution “L.3”. That Convention had a central role to play; however, due to the situation on the Korean peninsula, her country had had to abstain from the vote on the draft. Nonetheless, it had taken steps in the area of landmines, including contributing $8 million since 1993 for mine clearance programmes, and it would continue to contribute.
The representative of China, speaking after the vote on “L.4”, said the country placed top priority on regional stability problems arising from the illicit conventional arms trade. It had no difficulties with the provisions of the Arms Trade Treaty; however, it should have been agreed by consensus. China was currently seriously considering the possibility of signing the Treaty, and his delegation had voted in support of “L.4” to show support for its objectives. However, he would like to place on record China’s concerns at its adoption by a recorded vote.
The representative of Mexico , also speaking after the vote on “L.4”, said that she supported the Arms Trade Treaty as the first legally binding instrument with respect to the arms trade. It was a first step towards a responsible arms trade; however, it would have been desirable to have included a reference to the fact that the Treaty had not yet entered into force, and she deplored that that had not been possible. There was an urgent need for the effects of the Treaty to be felt in the lives of people. With regard to her delegation’s abstention on operative paragraph 8 of “L.30”, she wished to recall that the Conference on Disarmament was designed as a multilateral forum. Transparency in armaments has been on its agenda since 1979; however, it had not been able to make progress. Mexico deplored that situation, and, thus, the language of that provision does not reflect reality.
The representative of Ecuador said transparency in armaments was an important confidence-building measure between States. His country had voted, as it traditionally had, in favour of “L.30”. At the same time, he deplored preambular paragraphs 6 and 7 referring to the Arms Trade Treaty in a fashion that had little relevance to content of the draft resolution. Those paragraphs were contentious, since the Treaty had not been adopted by consensus. For that reason he had abstained in the vote on those two paragraphs.
The representative of Singapore said that his delegation had voted in favour of “L.3”. His country’s position on the matter had been clear and open: Singapore would continue to support all initiatives against the indiscriminate use of landmines. At the same time, legitimate security concerns and the right to self-defence of any State could not be disregarded. A blanket ban might therefore be “counter-productive”. Likewise, Singapore had voted in favour of “L.4”, believing that an arms trade treaty should be practical, effective and based on feasible and implementable obligations. However, his country would need more time to study the Treaty obligations.
Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote Pakistan’s representative said his delegation had abstained on “L.3”. Landmines continued to play a significant role in the defence needs of many States. Pakistan was committed to pursuing the objectives of a ban on mines, in a manner that took into account the legitimate defence requirements of States. Given the need to protect long borders not protected by any natural phenomenon, it was not possible to agree to the demands until viable alternatives were available. The objective of the total elimination of mines would be aided by making available cost-effective and non-lethal technologies as an alternative. Pakistan was among the largest troop-contributing countries and had actively contributed to mine clearance operations and enjoyed a unique record of clearing all mines after the three wars in its territory.
Pakistan, he said, had voted in favour of “L.4” on the Arms Trade Treaty to demonstrate solidarity with States negatively impacted by the illicit arms trade. Having said that, he shared the concerns articulated by other delegations about the decision to adopt multilateral treaties by vote, which had direct bearing on legitimate self-defence interests and needs of States. He also objected to attempts to reinterpret the issue of consensus. The Treaty ignored important elements and gave the impression that it was unfairly tilted towards arms exporting States.
On “L.30”, Pakistan supported the broader objectives as such measures had the potential to serve as early warning systems. However, there could hardly be a “one size fits” all approach for all regions and subregions, since recognition of the different political and security conditions of countries was essential. The international community needed to asses the downward trend in reporting and its potential correlation with perceived limited ability. On “L.44”, Pakistan agreed with the resolution’s key goal, but believed that militarily significant States should take the lead in assessing stockpiles and their disposal. While it was not possible to reach universal definitions relating to that issue, a general guideline could still be achieved.
Canada’s representative explained her delegation’s voting on “L.4” and “L.30”. Regarding “L.4”, she said that the noble goal of stopping illicit arms transfers was important, noting her country’s continued work to ensure that such weapons did not fall into the hands of terrorists, criminals, and other human rights violators. While continuing to attempt to stop the illicit flow of illegal weapons, it was also important that the Arms Trade Treaty not affect legal arms transfers or lawful and responsible firearms owners, including farmers, hunters, sport shooters and collectors.
Also speaking on “L.4”, the delegate from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said he had hoped that the Treaty would have been fair and balanced and greatly contribute to the world legal standards in arms trade. However, more intervention of large arms dealers would result in more chaos and would provide benefits to the major arms exporters. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was a peace-loving country “like no one else” and in the spirit of a fair and balanced Treaty, had abstained on the vote of the resolution.
Venezuela’s representative said that his delegation had voted in favour of “L.44”, because it believed that stockpiling ammunition contributed to the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. The trade in ammunition was intrinsically linked to the illicit small arms and light weapons trade. Venezuela believed that marking ammunition before exporting or transferring it would make it possible for it not to be diverted to unlawful groups. Regarding “L.30”, his delegation had abstained on preambular paragraphs 6 and 7, which by no means put into question the need for transparency linked to confidence-building measures and security, which Venezuela supported. On the contrary, his vote was a rejection of the specific controversial element of the Arms Trade Treaty. If the draft’s co-authors had agreed to use a more moderate language and take into account the concerns of a major group of countries with regard to the Arms Trade Treaty, Venezuela would have been able to support it as in previous years.
Cluster 5: Other Disarmament Measures and International Security
YADIRA LEDESMA HERNANDEZ ( Cuba), making a general statement, said she wished to indicate a general concern at initiatives regarding creation of expert groups. Those, she said, should be the exception rather than the rule. Instead, there should be a process whereby all Member States could consider matters “on an equal footing”. On “L.45”, on objective information on military matters, including transparency of military expenditures, she said her delegation shared a concern about how there was a call on the international stage for a reduction in public spending, when military expenditures were increasing. Last year, military spending was estimated at $1.7 trillion. Cuba called for a United Nations fund comprising half of all military spending to be devoted to socioeconomic development. It was not necessary to establish an experts’ group on the issue of military expenditures as per the provisions of “L.45”, she said, adding that a “closed” experts group was an exceedingly costly measure.
The Committee then turned to a draft decision, “L.22”, on the role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament (document A/C.1/68/L.22), approving it without a vote.
By its terms, the General Assembly would decide to include the item in the provisional agenda of its sixty-ninth session.
Turning to draft resolution “L.31”, on national legislation on transfer of arms, military equipment and dual-use goods and technology, a recorded vote was requested on preambular paragraph 7, which would have the Assembly welcome the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty and note that it obliges States parties to provide an initial report on national laws and other regulations and measures taken to implement it.
That paragraph was retained by a recorded vote of 156 in favour to none against, with 17 abstentions.
A recorded vote was also requested on preambular paragraph 8, which would have the Assembly consider that as long as the Arms Trade Treaty had not yet entered into force, the electronic database established by the Office for Disarmament Affairs would retain its added value.
That paragraph was retained by a recorded vote of 158 in favour to none against, with 15 abstentions.
A recorded vote was also requested on operative paragraph 1, which would have the Assembly invite Member States to enact or improve national legislation, regulations and procedures to exercise effective control over the transfer of arms, military equipment and dual-use goods and technology, ensuring that such measures were consistent with States parties obligations under treaties such as the Arms Trade Treaty.
That paragraph was retained by a recorded vote of 157 in favour to none against, with 15 abstentions.
Acting on the text as a whole, the Committee approved the draft resolution, national legislation on transfer of arms, military equipment and dual-use goods and technology (document A/C.1/68/L.31) by a recorded vote of 171 in favour to none against, with 4 abstentions (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Syria and Uganda).
By its terms, the Assembly would invite Member States to enact or improve national legislation, regulations and procedures to exercise effective control over the transfer of arms, military equipment and dual-use goods and technology, as well as encourage Member States to voluntarily provide information to the Secretary-General on such measures.
The Committee, acting without a vote, then approved draft resolution “L.45” on objective information on military matters, including transparency of military expenditures (document A/C.1/68/L.45).
According to that text, the Assembly, noting with concern the downward trend in reporting to the United Nations Report on Military Expenditures over the past decade, would call upon Member States to provide annual reports to the Secretary-General on their military expenditure, including a “nil” report if appropriate. The Assembly would further invite Member States to supplement those reports with explanations of the data submitted
The representative of Ecuador, speaking after the vote, said that his delegation deplored preambular paragraphs 7 and 8 of “L.31”, which referenced the Arms Trade Treaty. Mentioning that the Treaty had not been adopted by consensus did little to encourage the draft’s adoption by consensus. Mention of the Treaty in the operative paragraph was at the very least strange, since it had not entered into force. Two years ago, during the sixty-sixth session, that resolution had been adopted by consensus. Now it was adopted by a vote. That was deplorable.
The representative of Sudan, also speaking after the vote on “L.31”, confirmed the importance of national legislation as a principle in the control of these kinds of materials and goods, as well as the importance of national laws to ensure that such means would not be given over to unauthorized parties. At the same time, his delegation did not support constraints that could be used by some people to prevent such material from being used in developing countries for other purposes. Furthermore, Sudan had reservations about the work of expert groups in the field of disarmament. The resolution included principles that he was not against per se, but there should be a condition of transparency and equality in international instruments. He expressed his delegation’s reservations regarding operative paragraph 1, as well as preambular paragraphs 7 and 8.
The representative of India, also speaking after the vote, supported “L.31” but had abstained from preambular paragraphs 7 and 8 and operative paragraph 1 because of references to the Arms Trade Treaty. During negotiations for that Treaty, the need for a balance between importing and exporting States had been stressed. The final text did not meet his country’s requirements in that regard and he was not ready to take a final position on the Arms Trade Treaty.
The representative of the Russian Federation, also speaking after the vote, said he supported “L.31” but would like to call the attention of the First Committee, as well as of the draft’s sponsors, to operative paragraph 1, which made reference to Security Council resolution 1540 (2004). That resolution dealt exclusively with weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. By contrast, “L.31” dealt with conventional weapons, and thus, did not deal with the categories of 1540. The reference to it, therefore, was inappropriate. His country had, in a timely manner, shared ideas with the authors of “L.31” regarding that issue, however, no conclusion as to why the reference was made was ever received. His delegation requested the drafters of the resolution to change operative paragraph 1 next year, or else provide a justification as to the reason for the reference.
The representative of Pakistan, speaking after the vote on “L.45”, said that he favoured efforts at transparency in armaments including reporting on military expenditures. However, transparency was a means to an end, and not an end in itself. The ultimate goal should be aligned with broader goals of confidence-building. Pakistan had supported the resolutions on the subject, including resolution 66/20. However, regarding the question of furnishing military expenditure information, the incentive to reduce such expenditure should be led by States with the largest arsenals, given the huge disparity in the amounts expended by different States.
Action on Cluster 6: Regional Disarmament and Security
Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, the representative of Iran said his delegation would not participate in the voting on draft resolution “L.19”, on strengthening of security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region. Due to the Israeli regime’s severe blockade on the people of the Gaza Strip, that resolution did not factually reflect the situation in the Occupied Territory and was therefore far from the reality in the region.
The Committee then approved, without a vote, that draft resolution, which would have the Assembly call upon all States of the Mediterranean region that had not yet done so to adhere to all the multilaterally negotiated legal instruments related to the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.
Also without a vote, the Committee approved a draft resolution on regional disarmament (document A/C.1/68/L.50), by which the Assembly would stress that sustained efforts were needed, within the framework of the Conference on Disarmament and under the umbrella of the United Nations, to make progress on the entire range of disarmament issues. It would call on States to conclude agreements, wherever possible, for nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament and confidence-building measures.
Also without a vote, the Committee then approved a draft resolution on confidence-building measures in the regional and subregional context (document A/C.1/68/L.51), by which the Assembly would urge States to comply strictly with all bilateral, regional and international agreements, including arms control and disarmament agreements. It would also emphasize that the objective of confidence-building measures should be to help to strengthen international peace and security and to be consistent with the principle of undiminished security at the lowest level of armaments.
Next, the Committee took action on the draft resolution on conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels (document A/C.1/68/L.52), which would have the Assembly express the belief that an important objective of conventional arms control in regions of tension should be to prevent the possibility of military attack launched by surprise and to avoid aggression.
A separate recorded vote was requested for operative paragraph 2, by which the Assembly would request the Conference on Disarmament to consider the formulation of principles that could serve as a framework for regional agreements on conventional arms control.
The provision was retained by a recorded vote of 140 in favour to 1 against ( India), with 34 abstentions.
The text as a whole was then approved by a recorded vote of 174 in favour to 1 against ( India), with 2 abstentions ( Bhutan, Russian Federation).
Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Mexico said her delegation had abstained on operative paragraph 2 of “L.52”. She reiterated her concern over that paragraph by saying that Mexico believed that principles for the control of conventional arms went beyond the Conference on Disarmament’s negotiations mandate. The Disarmament Commission should be the one to consider the issue because of its deliberative nature.
Also speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of India said his delegation had voted against “L.52” and its operative paragraph 2, which requested the Conference to consider the formulation of principles that could serve as a framework for regional arms control.
The Russian Federation delegate also explained his delegation’s vote on “L.52”, noting that its position had not changed, since his country was not pleased with the ongoing and inappropriate reference to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. That Treaty was from the cold war era and, in the draft, was called the “cornerstone” of European security. However, the majority of interested States had, for some time, clearly understood the need to draw up new, non-discriminatory agreements to replace that Treaty. The Russian Federation consistently called for establishing authentic partnerships between all European States. He called on the drafters and supporters of “L.52” to not distort the true state of affairs regarding the nature of the “armed force in Europe”.
Cluster 7: Disarmament Machinery
HENK COR VAN DER KWAST (Netherlands), speaking on behalf of South Africa and Switzerland regarding “L.24” on revitalizing the work of the Conference on Disarmament, said that at the General Assembly’s sixty-sixth session, those delegations had tabled a resolution on revitalizing the work of the Conference and taking forward multilateral negotiations, which was adopted by the Assembly as resolution 66/66. That text had been informed by the range of concerns expressed by the international community regarding the lack of progress in the disarmament forums. Its main aim was to unite all United Nations Member States on the need to revitalize the work of the multilateral disarmament machinery, including the Conference on Disarmament, and to take forward multilateral disarmament negotiations. In the resolution, States were encouraged to build on the work that had already been undertaken and to explore, consider and consolidate options, proposals and elements for revitalization.
He said there had been encouraging developments this year regarding the revitalization of the Conference’s work; however, it was clear that much more remained to be done. There was an urgent need to intensify those efforts, which had long prevented the Conference from fulfilling its task of furthering nuclear disarmament, serving to undermine its credibility. The authors of 66/66 had decided not to submit a follow-up resolution at this year’s session, but to instead introduce a decision that would have the Assembly include that item at its sixty-ninth session.
KHODADAD SEIFI PARGOU ( Iran) said his delegation supported the principle of equality of all States. In that regard, groups of governmental experts should be appointed in a geographically equitable manner. Underrepresentation of developing countries still persisted in those groups. The resolution in this respect was not sufficient.
Action Cluster 7: Disarmament Machinery
The representative of Iran, speaking before the vote, said he would join the consensus on draft resolutions “L.33” and “L.47”, on the Regional Centres, and “L.53” on the activities of the Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa, based on the understanding that all measures contained in those texts were applicable only to countries in the regions concerned.
Next, acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft resolution on the Report of the Disarmament Commission (document A/C.1/68/L.5), by which the Assembly would reaffirm the importance of enhancing dialogue and cooperation among the First Committee, the Disarmament Commission and the Conference on Disarmament, and would request the Commission to continue its work in accordance with its mandate. It would further recommend that the Commission consider recommendations for achieving nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation at its substantive session in 2014, as well as practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons.
Also acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft decision on revitalizing the work of the Conference on Disarmament and taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations (document A/C.1/68/L.24). By its terms, the Assembly would decide to include that item in the provisional agenda of its sixty-ninth session.
Also acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft resolution on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (document A/C.1/68/L.25), by which the Assembly would appeal to Member States, in particular those in that region, as well as international governmental and non-governmental organizations and foundations, to make voluntary contributions, which were the Centre’s only resources, to strengthen its programme of activities.
Also acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft resolution on the Report of the Conference on Disarmament (document A/C.1/68/L.27), by which the Assembly would reaffirm the role of the Conference as the sole multilateral disarmament negotiating forum for the international community. It would further call upon the Conference to intensify consultations and explore possibilities for overcoming its ongoing deadlock.
Also acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft resolution on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (document A/C.1/68/L.47), by which the Assembly would urge all States, as well as international governmental and non-governmental organizations and foundations, to make voluntary contributions to enable the Regional Centre to carry out its programmes and activities and meet the needs of the African States. It would further urge States members of the African Union to make voluntary contributions to the Trust Fund for the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa.
The representative of Iran, speaking after the vote, said he had joined consensus on “L.27”, of the strong belief that the Conference should remain the sole multilateral negotiating body for disarmament and deserved full support. Based on existing methods of work and procedures, it had accomplished landmark achievements. In that regard, he highlighted, in particular, the importance of the consensus rule.
He was also of the view that the Conference should be responsive to the needs of all States, and not just some. During its presidency, Iran had consulted intensively to reach consensus on a balanced programme of work, in an approach that was based on trying to streamline and simplify it. In the end, while no delegation had opposed the proposal, Iran had refrained from tabling it to avoid another failure that might undermine the credibility of the Conference. He added that the Conference should consider negotiations on nuclear disarmament as its “highest priority”.
* *** *For information media • not an official record