65th plenary meeting
6 December 1991
Transparency in armaments
The General Assembly,
Realizing that excessive and destabilizing arms build-ups pose a threat to national, regional and international peace and security, particularly by aggravating tensions and conflict situations, giving rise to serious and urgent concerns,
Noting with satisfaction that the current international environment and recent agreements and measures in the field of arms limitation and disarmament make it a propitious time to work towards easing tensions and a just resolution of conflict situations, as well as more openness and transparency in military matters,
Recalling the consensus among Member States on implementing confidence-building measures, including transparency and exchange of relevant information on armaments, likely to reduce the occurrence of dangerous misperceptions about the intentions of States and to promote trust among States,
Considering that increased openness and transparency in the field of armaments could enhance confidence, ease tensions, strengthen regional and international peace and security and contribute to restraint in military production and the transfer of arms,
Realizing the urgent need to resolve underlying conflicts, to diminish tensions and to accelerate efforts towards general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control with a view to maintaining regional and international peace and security in a world free from the scourge of war and the burden of armaments,
Recalling also that in paragraph 85 of the Final Document of the Tenth Special Session of the General Assembly it urged major arms supplier and recipient countries to consult on the limitation of all types of international transfer of conventional arms,
Disturbed by the destabilizing and destructive effects of the illicit arms trade, particularly for the internal situation of affected States and the violation of human rights,
Bearing in mind that, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, Member States have undertaken to promote the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security with the least diversion for armaments of the world's human and economic resources, and that the reduction of world military expenditures could have a significant positive impact for the social and economic development of all peoples,
Reaffirming the important role of the United Nations in the field of disarmament and the commitment of Member States to take concrete steps in order to strengthen that role,
Recalling its resolution 43/75 I of 7 December 1988,
Welcoming the study submitted by the Secretary-General, pursuant to paragraph 5 of resolution 43/75 I and prepared with the assistance of governmental experts, on ways and means of promoting transparency in international transfers of conventional arms, as well as the problem of the illicit arms trade, taking into account views of Member States and other relevant information,
Recognizing the major contribution of an enhanced level of transparency in armaments to confidence-building and security among States, and also recognizing the urgent need to establish, under the auspices of the United Nations, as a first step in this direction, a universal and non-discriminatory register to include data on international arms transfers as well as other interrelated information provided to the Secretary-General,
Stressing the importance of greater transparency in the interest of promoting readiness to exercise restraint in accumulation of armaments,
Considering that the standardized reporting of international arms transfers together with the provision of other interrelated information to a United Nations register will constitute further important steps forward in the promotion of transparency in military matters and, as such, will enhance the role and effectiveness of the United Nations in promoting arms limitation and disarmament, as well as in maintaining international peace and security;
Recognizing also the importance of the prevention of the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction,
1. Recognizes that an increased level of openness and transparency in the field of armaments would enhance confidence, promote stability, help States to exercise restraint, ease tensions and strengthen regional and international peace and security;
2. Declares its determination to prevent the excessive and destabilizing accumulation of arms, including conventional arms, in order to promote stability and strengthen regional or international peace and security, taking into account the legitimate security needs of States and the principle of undiminished security at the lowest possible level of armaments;
3. Reaffirms the inherent right to individual or collective self-defence recognized in Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, which implies that States also have the right to acquire arms with which to defend themselves;
4. Reiterates its conviction, as expressed in its resolution 43/75 I, that arms transfers in all their aspects deserve serious consideration by the international community, inter alia, because of:
(a) Their potential effects in further destabilizing areas where tension and regional conflict threaten international peace and security and national security;
(b) Their potentially negative effects on the progress of the peaceful social and economic development of all peoples;
(c) The danger of increasing illicit and covert arms trafficking;
5. Calls upon all Member States to exercise due restraint in exports and imports of conventional arms, particularly in situations of tension or conflict, and to ensure that they have in place an adequate body of laws and administrative procedures regarding the transfer of arms and to adopt strict measures for their enforcement;
6. Expresses its appreciation to the Secretary-General for his study on ways and means of promoting transparency in international transfers of conventional arms, which also addressed the problem of the illicit arms trade;
7. Requests the Secretary-General to establish and maintain at United Nations Headquarters in New York a universal and non-discriminatory Register of Conventional Arms, to include data on international arms transfers as well as information provided by Member States on military holdings, procurement through national production and relevant policies, as set out in paragraph 10 below and in accordance with procedures and input requirements initially comprising those set out in the annex to the present resolution and subsequently incorporating any adjustments to the annex decided upon by the General Assembly at its forty- seventh session in the light of the recommendations of the panel referred to in paragraph 8 below;
8. Also requests the Secretary-General, with the assistance of a panel of governmental technical experts to be nominated by him on the basis of equitable geographical representation, to elaborate the technical procedures and to make any adjustments to the annex to the present resolution necessary for the effective operation of the Register, and to prepare a report on the mDDAlities for early expansion of the scope of the Register by the addition of further categories of equipment and inclusion of data on military holdings and procurement through national production, and to report to the General Assembly at its forty-seventh session;
9. Calls upon all Member States to provide annually for the Register data on imports and exports of arms in accordance with the procedures established by paragraphs 7 and 8 above;
10. Invites Member States, pending the expansion of the Register, also to provide to the Secretary-General, with their annual report on imports and exports of arms, available background information regarding their military holdings, procurement through national production and relevant policies, and requests the Secretary-General to record this material and to make it available for consultation by Member States at their request;
11. Decides, with a view to future expansion, to keep the scope of and the participation in the Register under review, and, to this end:
(a) Invites Member States to provide the Secretary-General with their views, not later than 30 April 1994, on:
(i) The operation of the Register during its first two years;
(ii)The addition of further categories of equipment and the elaboration of the Register to include military holdings and procurement through national production;
(b) Requests the Secretary-General, with the assistance of a group of governmental experts convened in 1994 on the basis of equitable geographical representation, to prepare a report on the continuing operation of the Register and its further development, taking into account the work of the Conference on Disarmament as set forth in paragraphs 12 to 15 below and the views expressed by Member States, for submission to the General Assembly with a view to a decision at its forty-ninth session;
12. Requests the Conference on Disarmament to address, as soon as possible, the question of the interrelated aspects of the excessive and destabilizing accumulation of arms, including military holdings and procurement through national production, and to elaborate universal and non-discriminatory practical means to increase openness and transparency in this field;
13. Also requests the Conference on Disarmament to address the problems of, and the elaboration of practical means to increase, openness and transparency related to the transfer of high technology with military applications and to weapons of mass destruction, in accordance with existing legal instruments;
14. Invites the Secretary-General to provide to the Conference on Disarmament all relevant information, including, inter alia, views submitted to him by Member States and information provided under the United Nations system for the standardized reporting of military expenditures, as well as on the work of the Disarmament Commission under its agenda item entitled "Objective information on military matters";
15. Further requests the Conference on Disarmament to include in its annual report to the General Assembly a report on its work on this issue;
16. Invites all Member States, in the meantime, to take measures on a national, regional and global basis, including within the appropriate forums, to promote openness and transparency in armaments;
17. Calls upon all Member States to cooperate at a regional and subregional level, taking fully into account the specific conditions prevailing in the region or subregion, with a view to enhancing and coordinating international efforts aimed at increased openness and transparency in armaments;
18. Also invites all Member States to inform the Secretary-General of their national arms import and export policies, legislation and administrative procedures, both as regards authorization of arms transfers and prevention of illicit transfers;
19. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its forty-seventh session on progress made in implementing the present resolution, including relevant information provided by Member States;
20. Notes that effective implementation of the present resolution will require an up-to-date database system in the Department of Disarmament Affairs of the Secretariat;
21. Decides to include in the provisional agenda of its forty-seventh session an item entitled "Transparency in armaments".
Register of Conventional Arms
1. The Register of Conventional Arms ("the Register") shall be established, with effect from 1 January 1992, and maintained at the Headquarters of the United Nations in New York.
2. Concerning international arms transfers:
(a) Member States are requested to provide data for the Register, addressed to the Secretary-General, on the number of items in the following categories of equipment imported into or exported from their territory:
I. Battle tanks
A tracked or wheeled self-propelled armoured fighting vehicle with high cross-country mobility and a high level of self-protection, weighing at least 16.5 metric tonnes unladen weight, with a high muzzle velocity direct fire main gun of at least 75 millimetres calibre.
II. Armoured combat vehicles
A tracked or wheeled self-propelled vehicle, with armoured protection and cross-country capability, either: (a) designed and equipped to transport a squad of four or more infantrymen, or (b) armed with an integral or organic weapon of at least 20 millimetres calibre or an anti- tank missile launcher.
III. Large calibre artillery systems
A gun, howitzer, artillery piece combining the characteristics of a gun and a howitzer, mortar or multiple-launch rocket system, capable of engaging surface targets by delivering primarily indirect fire, with a calibre of 100 millimetres and above.
IV. Combat aircraft
A fixed-wing or variable-geometry wing aircraft armed and equipped to engage targets by employing guided missiles, unguided rockets, bombs, guns, cannons, or other weapons of destruction.
V. Attack helicopters
A rotary-wing aircraft equipped to employ anti-armour, air-to-ground, or air-to-air guided weapons and equipped with an integrated fire control and aiming system for these weapons.
A vessel or submarine with a standard displacement of 850 metric tonnes or above, armed or equipped for military use.
VII. Missiles or missile systems
A guided rocket, ballistic or cruise missile capable of delivering a payload to a range of at least 25 kilometres, or a vehicle, apparatus or device designed or modified for launching such munitions.
(b) Data on imports provided under the present paragraph shall also specify the supplying State; data on exports shall also specify the recipient State and the State of origin if not the exporting State;
(c) Each Member State is requested to provide data on an annual basis by 30 April each year in respect of imports into and exports from their territory in the previous calendar year;
(d) The first such registration shall take place by 30 April 1993 in respect of the calendar year 1992;
(e) The data so provided shall be recorded in respect of each Member State;
(f) Arms "exports and imports" represent in the present resolution, including its annex, all forms of arms transfers under terms of grant, credit, barter or cash.
3. Concerning other interrelated information:
(a) Member States are invited also to provide to the Secretary-General available background information regarding their military holdings, procurement through national production, and relevant policies;
(b) The information so provided shall be recorded in respect of each Member State.
4. The Register shall be open for consultation by representatives of Member States at any time.
5. In addition, the Secretary-General shall provide annually a consolidated report to the General Assembly of the data registered, together with an index of the other interrelated information.
Sponsors of the resolution:
ALBANIA, AUSTRALIA, AUSTRIA, BELARUS, BELGIUM, BOLIVIA, BULGARIA, CANADA, COSTA RICA, CZECH REPUBLIC, DENMARK, FINLAND, FRANCE, GERMANY, GREECE, GUINEA, HUNGARY, ICELAND, IRELAND, ITALY, JAPAN, LUXEMBOURG, NETHERLANDS, NEW ZEALAND, NORWAY, PANAMA, PAPUA NEW GUINEA, POLAND, PORTUGAL, ROMANIA, RUSSIAN FEDERATION, RWANDA, SAMOA, SENEGAL, SPAIN, SWEDEN, TURKEY, UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, VENEZUELA
Action by the General Assembly:
In favour: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire. Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, PhilippineS. Poland, Portugal, Qatar. Republic of Korea, Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles. Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, USSR, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Abstaining: Cuba, Iraq.
Absent: Antigua and Barbuda, China, Djibouti. El Salvador*, Grenada, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Rwanda, Sudan*, Syria, Viet Nam, Zaire.
* Later advised the Secretariat that it had intended to vote in favour.