Continuing CHAPTER III Conventional weapons issues


General Assembly, 2004

The General Assembly considered eight draft resolutions dealing with conventional weapons issues.

Small arms and light weapons

59/74
Assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and collecting them. The revised draft resolution was introduced by Mali, on behalf of the sponsors (see page 8 for the sponsors) on 22 October. It was adopted without a vote by the First Committee on 1 November and by the General Assembly on 3 December. For the text of the resolution see page 29.
The resolution encouraged the international community to support the implementation of the ECOWAS Moratorium; and also called upon the international community to provide technical and financial support to strengthen the capacity of civil organizations to take action to combat the illicit trade in small arms. It invited the Secretary-General and those States and organizations that were in a position to do so to provide assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and collecting them; and requested him to continue to consider the matter and to report to the Assembly at its sixtieth session on the implementation of the present resolution.
59/86
The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects. The draft resolution was introduced by Colombia, on behalf of the sponsors (see page 9 for the sponsors) on 22 October. A revised text was adopted without a vote by the First Committee on 1 November, and by the General Assembly on 3 December. For the text of the resolution see page 59.
The resolution requested the Secretary-General, while seeking the views of States, to continue to hold broad-based consultations with all Member States and interested regional and subregional organizations, on further steps to enhance international cooperation in preventing, combating and eradicating illicit brokering in SALW, with a view to establishing, after the 2006 review conference and no later than 2007, and after the conclusion of the (OEWG), a group of governmental experts, appointed by him on the basis of equitable geographical representation, to consider further steps to enhance international cooperation in preventing, combating and eradicating illicit brokering in SALW, and report to the General Assembly at its sixtieth session on the outcome of his consultations. It also requested him to report on the implementation of the resolution, including any outcome of the open-ended working group on tracing illicit SALW.
First Committee
Speaking before the vote, Egypt, said that it would join the consensus, but had concerns about the request in operative paragraph 5 for an expert group in 2006/2007 to consider brokering in SALW. It believed that the proposed group on brokering should be postponed until the Open-ended Working Group on tracing had dealt with the matter effectively.
Two States which joined the consensus spoke after the vote. Cuba supported the consultations on new measures to enhance international cooperation in illicit brokering in SALW, but clarified that those consultations should be transparent and non-discriminatory and that the subject must be examined carefully, comprehensively and on the basis of strict respect for the principles regarding respect for sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of States. It reiterated that preventing, combating and eliminating brokering in SALW should not be seen in isolation but as part of the full implementation of the PoA at the national, regional and international levels. For its part, Iran noted that the request in operative paragraph 5 for a panel of governmental experts on brokering had not yet been agreed upon.

Practical disarmament measures

59/82
Consolidation of peace through practical disarmament measures. The draft resolution was introduced by Germany, on behalf of the sponsors (see page 7 for the sponsors) on 22 October. It was adopted without a vote by the First Committee on 1 November, and by the General Assembly on 3 December. For the text of the resolution see page 49.
The resolution encouraged Member States, including the Group of Interested States, to lend their support to the Secretary-General, relevant international, regional and subregional organizations, in accordance with Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, and non-governmental organizations in responding to requests by Member States to collect and destroy small arms and light weapons in post-conflict situations. It then requested the Secretary-General to submit to the Assembly's sixty-first session a report on the implementation of practical disarmament measures, taking into consideration of the activities of the Group of Interested States in that regard.

Conventional arms transfers, transparency and ammunition

59/90
Prevention of the illicit transfer and unauthorized access to and use of man-portable air defence systems. The draft resolution was introduced by Australia, on behalf of the sponsors (see page 10 for the sponsors) on 22 October. The revised text was adopted without a vote by the First Committee on 3 November and by the General Assembly on 3 December. For the text of the resolution see page 65.
The new resolution encouraged Member States to enact or improve legislation, regulation, procedures and stockpile management practices to exercise effective control over access to and transfer of man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS) to prevent the illicit trade in and unauthorized access to and use of such weapons. Member States were also encouraged to ban the transfer of those weapons to non-State end-users and ensure their export only to Governments or agents authorized by a Government. The resolution also encouraged initiatives to exchange information and to mobilize resources and technical expertise to assist States, at their request, in enhancing national controls and stockpile management practices to prevent unauthorized access to and use and transfer of MANPADS and to destroy excess or obsolete stockpiles of such weapons, as appropriate.
First Committee
Speaking after the vote, Cuba stated that it was inopportune for the Committee to introduce and adopt resolutions on specific SALW issues such as MANPADS when it was moving towards adopting an international instrument to prevent the illicit trade in those weapons. It also pointed out that the introduction of specific draft resolutions as this one ran counter to the Committee's efforts to streamline its work.

Transparency in conventional arms transfers and military expenditures

59/92
Information on confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms. The draft resolution was introduced by Argentina, on behalf of the sponsors (see page 11 for the sponsors) on 22 October. It was adopted without a vote by the First Committee on 27 October and by the General Assembly on 3 December. For the text of the resolution see page 68.
The new resolution encouraged Member States to continue to adopt confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms and to provide information in that regard; it also encouraged them to engage in a dialogue on confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms. It then requested the Secretary-General to establish, with the financial support of States in a position to do so, an electronic database containing information from Member States on confidence-building measures and assist them in organizing seminars, courses and workshops to enhance their knowledge of new developments in this field.
59/515
Problems arising from the accumulation of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus. The draft decision was introduced by Bulgaria, on behalf of the sponsors (see page 18 for the sponsors) on 22 October. It was adopted without a vote by the First Committee on 27 October and by the General Assembly on 3 December. For the text of the decision see page 101.
The decision stipulated that this item be included in the provisional agenda of the General Assembly's sixtieth session.

Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW)

59/107
Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects. The draft resolution was introduced by Sweden, on behalf of the sponsors (see page 16 for the sponsors) on 22 October. It was adopted without a vote by the First Committee on 1 November and by the General Assembly on 3 December. For the text of the resolution see page 93.
The resolution requested the Secretary-General to render the necessary assistance and to provide such services, including summary records, as may be required for the Meeting of the States Parties, as well as for any possible continuation of work after the Meeting, should the States parties deem it appropriate. It also requested him, in his capacity as depositary of the Convention and its Protocols, to continue to inform the General Assembly periodically, by electronic means, of ratifications and acceptances of and accessions to the Convention and its Protocols.
First Committee
In its explanation of vote, the United States remarked that while it joined the consensus, it had concerns about the language in operative paragraph 3 calling for ratification of Protocol V on ERW. It elaborated that while it was still in the initial stages of ratifying the Protocol, it was precluded from agreeing to language that would appear to prejudge, circumvent or undermine the constitutional processes that were fundamental to its system.

Anti-personnel mines

59/84
Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on Their Destruction. The draft resolution was introduced by Thailand, on behalf of the sponsors (see page 9 for the sponsors) on 22 October. The revised draft resolution was adopted by the First Committee on 1 November (140-1-18) and by the General Assembly on 3 December (157-0-22). For the text of the resolution and the voting see pages 54 and 15.
The resolution invited all States that did not sign the Convention to accede to it without delay and urged those that had signed but not ratified the Convention to do so. It also invited and encouraged all interested States, the United Nations, other relevant international organizations or institutions, regional organizations, the ICRC and relevant non-governmental organizations to attend the First Review Conference at the highest possible level and, pending a decision to be taken at that Conference, to maintain the high level of participation in the subsequent Meetings of the States parties, including their programme of intersessional work. It also requested the Secretary-General to undertake the preparations necessary to convene the next Meeting of States Parties.
First Committee
Before the vote, the Republic of Korea, said that while it supported the Convention's humanitarian objectives, it would abstain because the draft's provisions were inconsistent with its own legitimate security concerns.
Several States that were not Parties to the Ottawa Convention - the Russian Federation, China, India, Cuba, Libya and Myanmar - explained their abstentions. While committed to the humanitarian aspect of the landmine issue, many believed that the issue had to address both the humanitarian concerns and the legitimate self-defence of sovereign States. They were therefore unable to support the invitation to accede to the Treaty as called for in the draft resolution. The Russian Federation could not support the draft, but was prepared to accede to the Treaty when the necessary conditions were met for the actual implementation of its provisions through a stage-by-stage process. China was not in a position to accede to the Convention because of its self-defence needs, but would continue to contribute to international demining efforts, step up exchanges and cooperation with all interested countries and international organizations and participate as an observer in the First Review Conference of States Parties. India remained committed to a non-discriminatory global ban on anti-personnel landmines (APLs) through a phased process that addressed the legitimate defence requirements of States. It held that the complete elimination of APLs would be facilitated by addressing their legitimate defensive role through appropriate militarily effective and non-lethal alternative technologies that could perform that role cost-effectively. Cuba would continue to lend its full support to all efforts that would maintain the necessary balance between humanitarian and national security concerns. Libya abstained due to the Convention's failure to address its security interests, the issue of responsibility for previously placed for mines and compensation for its mine victims. Myanmar stated that a total ban on APLs was not a practical or effective solution. It added that the Conference on Disarmament was the most appropriate forum for dealing with the problem of illicit trafficking and indiscriminate use of those mines.
Three States that were not Parties to the Convention explained their positive votes. Singapore announced its efforts against the indiscriminate use of APLs: the expansion of its 1998 moratorium to include the export of all kinds of anti-personnel mines, indefinite extension of that moratorium and support for international efforts to resolve humanitarian concerns over APLs. Nepal stated that its positive vote reiterated its unwavering commitment to the elimination of APLs, however it was not currently in a position to sign the Convention owing to the issue of legitimate security concerns. Morocco stated that by its positive vote it had reaffirmed its support for and attachment to the objectives and humanitarian principles of the Ottawa Convention and its commitment to support the review process.