Fifty-sixth General Assembly
23rd Meeting (PM)
‘PRACTICAL STEPS’ ON PATH TO NUCLEAR-WEAPON ELIMINATION
STRESSED IN DRAFT TEXT APPROVED BY FIRST COMMITTEE
Resolutions Also Approved on Depleted Uranium,
Certain Conventional Weapons, Central Africa Advisory Committee
The General Assembly would stress the central importance of several practical steps for systematic and progressive efforts towards the elimination of nuclear weapons, including further deep reductions by the Russian Federation and the United States in their strategic offensive arsenals, according to one of four draft resolutions approved this afternoon by the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security).
The draft resolution, submitted by Japan, on a path to the total elimination of nuclear weapons, also contained a provision calling on all States to maintain the highest possible standards of security, safe custody, effective control and physical protection of all materials that could contribute to the proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in order, among others, to prevent those materials from falling into the hands of terrorists.
The text was approved, as orally revised, by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 2 against (India, United States), with 20 abstentions. (For details, see Annex I.)
Action was also taken on texts concerning the effects of the use of depleted uranium; the 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 (Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons); and security in Central Africa.
A new draft resolution submitted by Iraq on the effects of the use of depleted uranium in armaments -- requesting a report on the subject to the next session of the Assembly -– was approved by a vote of 49 in favour to 45 against, with 39 abstentions. (See Annex II.)
In a general statement made before the Committee proceeded to take action on that text, the representative of Iraq urged understanding of the effects of the use of depleted uranium in weapons. Indeed, the international community had been shocked by the use and effects of munitions of depleted uranium, which were a “kind of nuclear weapon”. Efforts to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction must also include the use of depleted uranium in military equipment, he said.
Acting without a vote, the Committee approved two draft resolutions. By the first, the Assembly wouldnote the proposals put forward by States parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for consideration of, among others, the issues of the explosive remnants of war and extension of the scope of the Convention to non-international armed conflicts.
By the second text, approved as orally revised, the Assembly would emphasize the need to make the early-warning mechanism in Central Africa operational so that it would serve as an instrument for analysing and monitoring the political situations, with a view to preventing the outbreak of future armed conflicts.
In other business, a Department for Disarmament Affairs representative informed the Committee about the physical operation of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific in Kathmandu. The post for the Centre’s Director was to be funded from the regular United Nations budget, while the host Government would finance the operational costs.
The representative of Nepal clarified some points made by the Department’s representative.
At the request of the representative of Sierra Leone, action was deferred until a meeting tomorrow on an initiative submitted by the Committee Chairman -- a draft resolution entitled "Global efforts against terrorism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation". The representatives of the following countries participated in that discussion: Côte d’Ivoire, Lebanon, and Papua New Guinea.
Representatives of Japan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo introduced revisions to draft resolutions.
Explanations of vote were made by the representatives of: South Africa on behalf of “New Agenda” partners -- Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Mexico and Sweden; China; India; Germany; Chile; Italy; Pakistan; Austria; United States; France; Cuba; Belgium, on behalf of the European Union; New Zealand; Algeria; Indonesia; Malaysia; Syria; Oman; and the Republic of Korea.
The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. Tuesday, 6 November, to conclude its third and final phase of work.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to conclude its third phase of work, namely decisions on all security- and disarmament-related items.
Action was expected today on texts concerning the following issues: multilateral cooperation in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation and global efforts against terrorism; the effects of the use of depleted uranium; a path to the total elimination of nuclear weapons; the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW); and the Standing Advisory Committee on security questions in Central Africa.
A new draft resolution submitted by Iraq on the effects of the use of depleted uranium in armaments (document A/C.1/56/L.8) would request the Secretary-General to seek the views of States and relevant organizations on all aspects of the effects of the use of depleted uranium in weapons and to submit a report thereon to the Assembly at its next session. It would have the Assembly decide to include the item in the provisional agenda of that session.
A revised draft resolution introduced by Japan entitled, "A path to the total elimination of nuclear weapons" (document A/C.1/56/ L.35/Rev.1), would have the Assembly stress the central importance of several "practical steps" for "systematic and progressive" efforts towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Those include further deep reductions by Russia and the United States in their strategic offensive arsenals and steps by all nuclear-weapon States leading to nuclear disarmament, the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and an unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish their total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament.
Among its other provisions, the text would have the Assembly call upon all States to maintain the highest possible standards of security, safe custody, effective control and physical protection of all materials that could contribute to the proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in order, among others, to prevent those materials from falling into the hands of terrorists.
[For details of the revisions, see Press Release GA/DIS/3216 of 2 November].
According to a draft resolution on the 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 (document A/C.1/56/L.43), the Assembly would call upon all States that had not yet done so to become parties to the Convention and its Protocols, particularly to the Amended Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby Traps and Other Devices (Protocol II), with a view to achieving its widest possible adherence at an early date.
The Assembly would call on all States party to the Convention to express their consensus to be bound by that Protocol, and also call upon successor States to take appropriate measures to ensure universal adherence to those instruments. It welcomed the proposal contained in the Final Declaration of the First Review Conference that the next Review Conference consider further measures in relation to other conventional weapons, which may be deemed to cause unnecessary suffering.
It would note the proposals put forward by states Parties and the International Committee of the Red Cross for consideration of, among others, the issues of: explosive remnants of war; extension of the scope of the Convention to non-international armed conflicts; landmines other than anti-personnel mines; and small-calibre ammunitions. It would request the Secretary-General to continue to periodically inform the Assembly of ratifications, acceptances of, and accession to the Convention and its Protocols.
The draft resolution is sponsored by Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay and Yugoslavia.
By the terms of a draft resolution on the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa (document A/C.1/56/L.2), the Assembly would emphasize the need to make the early-warning mechanism in Central Africa operational, so that it would serve as an instrument for analyzing and monitoring the political situations in the States members of the Committee with a view to preventing the outbreak of future armed conflicts, and as a technical body through which the Member States would carry out the Committee's 1992 programme of work.
In a related provision, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to continue to provide increased assistance to the countries of Central Africa for coping with the problems of refugees and displaced persons in their territories.
The Assembly would further request the Secretary-General to support the establishment of network of parliamentarians with a view to the creation of a subregional parliament in Central Africa. It would appeal to Member States and to governmental and non-governmental organizations to contribute to the Advisory Committee's trust fund.
The draft resolution is sponsored by Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe, and Zambia.
Under a new draft resolution submitted by the Committee Chairman, entitled "Global efforts against terrorism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation" (document A/C.1/56/L.49/Rev.1), the Assembly, determined to build a common response to global threats in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation, would emphasize the progress is urgently needed in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation in order to help maintain international peace and security and to contribute to global efforts against terrorism.
The Assembly would reaffirm multilateralism as a core principle in that regard, with a view to maintaining and strengthening universal norms and enlarging their scope.
In a related provision, it would call upon Member States to renew and fulfil their individual and collective commitments to multilateral cooperation as important means of pursuing and achieving their common objectives in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation. It would emphasize that progress towards the achievement of disarmament and non-proliferation objectives was urgently essential to maintaining peace and security and contributed to global efforts against terrorism.
The Assembly would reaffirm multilateralism as an enduring principle in negotiations in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation with a view to maintaining and strengthening universal norms and enlarging their scope. It would call upon Member States to renew their individual and collective commitments to multilateral cooperation as an important means of pursuing and achieving their common objectives in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation.
EVGENIY GORKOVSKIY, Director, Department for Disarmament Affairs and Deputy to the Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, spoke concerning the physical operation of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific in Kathmandu.
He said that the Regional Centre was established by the General Assembly in 1987 “on the basis of existing resources and of voluntary contributions that Member States and interested organizations may make to that end”. The post for the Director of the Regional Centre was funded from the regular United Nations budget, while the operational costs were to be financed by the host government. Over the years, the director had been successful in securing voluntary contributions from Member States. Those States stipulated that the funds be used for specific activities and not for covering the operation and maintenance costs of the Centre.
Due to the unavailability of premises to house the Centre in Kathmandu and clear assurances on the financing of local operation costs, the Centre has been operating from United Nations Headquarters in New York, he continued. On the basis of that agreement, a host country agreement and a letter of understanding between the Government of Nepal and the United Nations had been signed in June 1988. In General Assembly resolutions 55/45 C and 55/34 H, the Secretary-General had been requested to conduct consultations with Nepal, other Member States and interested organizations to assess the possibility of enabling the Centre to operate from Kathmandu.
Pursuant to those requests, protracted consultation by the Secretariat resulted in the following positive outcomes. In March 2001, the Secretary-General had discussed the relocation of the Centre with the host country and had been assured that Nepal was committed to hosting the Centre in Kathmandu as soon as possible. In March of this year, the Department for Disarmament Affairs had identified a building appropriate for housing the Centre. Subsequently, the Department for Disarmament Affairs prepared a draft host country agreement and a letter of understanding and forwarded both, in March, on the host Government for consideration.
In August of this year, the Department was informed by telephone that the permanent representative of Nepal had been authorized to sign the letter of understanding, with minor amendments, to be exchanged between the host Government and the United Nations. The Department was also informed that the letter of understanding should refer to the 1988 host country agreement, pending conclusion of a new agreement, since it bore no substantive difference from the host country agreement presented by the Department in March 2001. The same information later was conveyed in writing on 28 August by the Permanent Mission of Nepal.
The advice of the Office of Legal Affairs was sought because there had been a lapse of 13 years since the 1988 host country agreement was signed. The Department for Disarmament Affairs wanted to know whether the proposal of the host Government would be acceptable. The Office of Legal Affairs responded that the proposal of the host Government to refer to the 1998 host country agreement would be acceptable, pending the conclusion of a new agreement, if it were changed to reflect current practice. In a note verbale on 2 October, Nepal informed the Department that it was ready to sign the host country agreement and letter of understanding, as presented in March 2001. The Department then forwarded the agreement to the Office of Legal Affairs for clearance.
On 17 October, he added, the Department submitted the host country agreement, as revised by the Office of Legal Affairs to the Permanent Mission of Nepal. The next day, the Department was informed that, since approval of the revisions had to be sought from its Government, Nepal’s representative was not in a position to sign the revised 2001 agreement in time for action on the draft resolution on the Regional Centre.
He said that with regard to the objection raised by the host country about the provision of immunities and privileges to United Nations officials, regardless of their nationality, the Secretariat noted that that provision was contained in article V, Section 18 (a) of the Convention of the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, adopted by the General Assembly in 1946. Mr. Gorkovskiy reminded delegates that Nepal was party to that text and that the agreement had been revised to conform strictly to that Convention.
He stressed that the Secretary-General remained committed to relocating the Regional Centre to Kathmandu as soon as possible. The Department was ready to dispatch the Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific to Kathmandu upon signing of the host country agreement and letter of understanding, an integral part of the agreement that covered the issue of financial responsibility for the Centre. The Department sincerely hoped that the process of finalizing the host country agreement and letter of understanding by the host Government would be completed expeditiously, so that the relocation of the Director could take place very soon thereafter.
Introduction of Revised Text
SEIICHIRO NOBURO (Japan) said he had submitted to the Secretariat another revision to his text on nuclear disarmament (document A/C.1/56/L.35/Rev.1) just two and one-half hours ago, but since it would take some time for that revision to be printed, he wished to orally revise it to give delegates time to consider it for action during the upcoming brief suspension of the meeting. Following consultations with certain delegations, he decided to revise operative paragraph 9 by adding a short phrase at the very end of the sentence, as follows: “while ensuring that such policies are consistent with States’ obligations under the NPT;”.
He said that he had used almost the same language as contained the section of the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference dealing with article 33 of the Convention, in particular, paragraph 33 of the Final Document. That small revision was for clarification purposes and should not create any problems for anyone. Hopefully, the text, as orally revised, would be acted upon when the Chairman deemed it appropriate to do so.
[Operative paragraph 9 would read, as follows:
“Calls upon all States to redouble their efforts to prevent and curb the proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, including their means of delivery, confirming and strengthening, if necessary, their policies not to transfer equipment, materials or technology that could contribute to the proliferation of those weapons while ensuring that such policies are consistent with States’ obligations under the NPT;”].
The meeting suspended for consultations. When the meeting resumed, the Chairman opened the floor to general statements.
MATOOK MATOOK (Iraq) said that depleted uranium was a radiation material that had damaging effects when used for war purposes, through the emission of small particles transmitted through the air. Those entered into the soil and they lasted millions of years. The international community was immensely shocked by the use of depleted uranium, the results of which had been obvious on many members of the human family.
He said that that material had caused blood cancers and other dangerous diseases. The European Parliament had issued a resolution about the growing concern over the consequence of exposure resulting from the use of depleted uranium weapons, which had affected a number of soldiers who had participated in military operations, particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. The munitions of depleted uranium were a kind of nuclear weapon, because they had radiation effects and, indeed, poisonous effects against all living things. The international community was trying to rid humanity of all weapons of mass destruction, as well as all traditional weapons, and, therefore, the use of depleted uranium in military equipment must be prohibited.
Indeed, he continued, international organizations like the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), and others, had not denied the existence of radiation due to the use of depleted uranium and had, in fact, tried to reduce the effects of the use of those extremely dangerous weapons. The use of depleted uranium in large amounts would yield enormous results. If those international organizations worked only within their scientific mandates, he could be reassured, but they were subjected to well-known political pressures.
Humanity should push the Committee to study that very important and dangerous question, which had destructive results on future generations. He called for ending the use of those weapons against both military personnel and civilians. He also called for the approval of the present text and the discarding of those “narrow-minded” political positions.
ATOKI ILEKA (Democratic Republic of Congo) spoke next on behalf of the sponsors of the resolution on the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa (document A/C.1/56/L.2). After the discussions that had just taken place, he wished to add an oral amendment to the resolution, deleting operative paragraph 8. As a result of the deletion, he said, concerns over budget implications would disappear. He thanked delegations for their willingness to compromise and asked the resolution, as orally amended, be adopted without a vote.
[Operative paragraph 8 read as follows: "Requests the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue to lend all their support to the effective establishment and smooth functioning of the Subregional Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa."]
Action on Texts
Before the Committee took a decision on a path to the total elimination of nuclear weapons draft resolution (document A/C.1/56/L.35/Rev.1, as orally revised), the representative of South Africa spoke on behalf of his “New Agenda” partners: Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Mexico and Sweden. One of the most significant outcomes of the 2000 NPT Review Conference had been the unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals, leading to nuclear disarmament. Unfortunately, the draft resolution had “misappropriated” that outcome -- in operative paragraph 3 (e), the text suggests that that undertaking had not yet been “given”. It also created a contextual linkage with general and complete disarmament.
He said that the unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon States had been given -- that was not a step to be taken. The Foreign Ministers of the New Agenda partners had noted that important distinction on 8 October and had stressed that implementation of the other NPT steps was the imperative. The sponsor of the draft was well intentioned and committed to nuclear disarmament. He did not question that commitment. A return to the language of last year’s text, however, would have accommodated his concerns on the present text. For that reason, the partner countries of the New Agenda would be obliged to abstain in the vote.
The Committee Secretariat read out the additional co-sponsors to that draft: Australia, Lebanon, Papua New Guinea and Fiji.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution, as orally revised (document A/C.1/56/L.35/Rev.1), by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 2 against (India, United States), with 20 abstentions. (For details, see Annex I.)
Speaking after the vote, the representative of China said his country had always stood for the complete prohibition of nuclear weapons and supported global initiatives towards that objective. In that vein, he had agreed with the main theme of the draft just approved, but there were some major drawbacks in its content. Unlike last year’s text, the present one had not mentioned some of the important principles and steps indispensable to advancing progress in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, such as the special responsibility of the countries possessing the largest and most advanced nuclear arsenals. It had also excluded the renunciation of nuclear deterrence doctrines based on first-use and the continuation of policies and practices of nuclear umbrella and sharing.
He said that compared with last year’s draft, the present text had “backtracked” on some important issues, for instance, preserving and strengthening the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty), which had been deleted from the present text. Also, his delegation could not accept the reference to the report of the Tokyo Forum in the draft, as many of those elements were neither realistic, nor reasonable. Based on those reasons, his delegation had abstained in the voting.
The representative of India cited his country’s unwavering commitment to nuclear disarmament and the goal of the complete elimination of nuclear weapons globally. The instrument ostensibly designed to promote nuclear disarmament and genuine non-proliferation, namely, the NPT, had sadly proved to be ineffective. It was necessary to look beyond the old framework of the NPT and move towards the goal of “equal and legitimate” security for all through global nuclear disarmament. Basing the text exclusively on the NPT had rendered it “flawed” and, thus, “unacceptable”.
Also, he continued, the preambular portion of the draft resolution welcomed the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference, which, itself, was not balanced. Moreover, the call for a moratorium on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, cited in operative paragraph 3 (b), ignored political realities. The reference to nuclear tests in the sixth preambular paragraph and the call for universal adherence to the NPT in operative paragraph 1 were examples of “hollow rhetoric”. There were also recommendations of the Tokyo Forum report in the operative portion of the text that fell in the same category. While he had agreed with the basic objective of the text, namely, the global elimination of nuclear weapons, the draft contained numerous elements that remained unacceptable, and he had opposed it.
The representative of Germany said he fully shared Japan’s commitment to the cause of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and to the full implementation of commitments by States parties to the NPT. That Treaty had remained the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and an essential foundation for nuclear disarmament. He attached particular importance to the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference, whose consensus adoption had strengthened the NPT, as well as the nuclear non-proliferation regime, as a whole.
He said he had voted in favour of the text on the understanding that it enumerated only some of the practical steps for systematic and progressive efforts to implement article VI of the NPT, on nuclear disarmament. That vote, however, should not be interpreted as calling into question the comprehensive commitment by States parties to the NPT to implement the conclusions of the 2000 Final Document, including the practical steps in their entirety.
The representative of Chile said he had voted in favour of the draft, without prejudice to some of the new changes, because he had appreciated the spirit behind the text. For the record, however, he was not fully satisfied with one of the changes relating to the unequivocal commitment of the nuclear-weapon States to completely eliminate their nuclear arsenals. That had been one of the most important political outcomes of the recent NPT Review Conference, yet its meaning had been diluted in the present draft.
The representative of Italy said his favourable vote was intended to acknowledge the positive evolution of the revised document. He had especially appreciated the new clear wording on the CTBT, the expressed reference to the Strategic Arms Limitation and Reduction Treaty (START) process, and the language used to reaffirm the importance of a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Nevertheless, the draft resolution still featured a selective choice among all the important elements contained in the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference, with sometimes weakened language, including in the reference to the START process, which was highly valued by Italy.
He said he had appreciated the clarification by the Japanese representative that the reference to the “unequivocal undertaking” by the nuclear-weapon States had already been taken. Indeed, no element in the present resolution could possibly impair the successful outcome of the NPT review process.
The representative of Pakistan said that several provisions of the text were unacceptable, as those had emphasized non-proliferation rather than nuclear disarmament. He could not endorse the premise of the eighth and ninth preambular paragraphs, and he had entertained reservations on operative paragraph 11. As a non-party to the NPT, Pakistan was not under any obligation to implement operative paragraph 3 or its subparagraphs therein, nor was it bound by any provisions emanating from the NPT Review Conference, or others in which he was not represented. He, therefore, had abstained again in that vote.
[Preambular paragraphs 8 and 9 refer, respectively, to the implementation of the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference, and the strengthening the IAEA safeguards system. Operative paragraph 3 and its subparagraphs concern the central importance of following certain practical steps (detailed therein) for the systematic and progressive efforts to implement article VI of the NPT, on nuclear disarmament, and various decisions of its reviews.]
The representative of Cameroon said that if he had been present during the vote on the nuclear disarmament draft, he would have voted in favour.
The representative of Austria said he had voted in favour of the draft, since that contained many elements to which he fully subscribed. He wholeheartedly shared Japan’s commitment to the cause of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, in particular to the full implementation of all States parties to the NPT. He attached particular importance to the Final Document, which had been the result of a delicate balance between differing interests. Operative paragraph 11 on the IAEA safeguards systems and its additional protocols had fallen short of his expectations and was considerably weaker than last year’s text.
He said that the heinous attacks of 11 September had clearly shown that, among the many measures to be taken to address that new type of threat was the strengthening of the IAEA’s capabilities, notably through a strengthened safeguards system. Unfortunately, the language in operative paragraph 11 had not reflected the urgency with which those issues must be tackled.
The representative of the United States said he was compelled to vote no on the text, primarily because of the language it contained on the CTBT. Had that language been in line with that used elsewhere, then the United States “might have or would have” been prepared to recommend a different vote. The spirit of the resolution was something to which he could fully subscribe, and he had done so last year. At the same time, nuclear disarmament would not be achievable absent stronger non-proliferation controls to preclude the transfer of weapons of mass destruction and related technologies. His country had made clear its commitment to the NPT and its readiness to contribute to the implementation of the 2000 Final Document. His vote on today’s draft should in no way be seen as a repudiation of those parts of the text that supported those same principles.
The representative of France said that one year after the adoption of the Final Document, any resolution dealing with nuclear disarmament must faithfully reflect the delicate balances achieved. The resolution approved today had met that need. That was particularly true on two related issues, notably the unequivocal undertaking by nuclear-weapon States to eliminate nuclear arsenals and the reference to general and complete disarmament. So, his country, resolved to carry out all of its commitments in the field, had been able to vote in favour of the draft resolution.
The representative of Cuba said that the draft just approved, despite its title, actually dealt with selective issues related to non- proliferation and not really nuclear disarmament, itself. He could not believe that the path to nuclear disarmament had led simply through non-proliferation, which was actually what was called for in operative paragraph 1. The NPT had not achieved the elimination of nuclear weapons, despite its many years of existence. Everyone was now being told that an unequivocal commitment by nuclear-weapon States would help, when, in fact, those commitments were nothing new to the Treaty and should already have been fulfilled.
He said that achieving the elimination of nuclear weapons must begin with multilateral, non-discriminatory negotiations, which, in a clearly defined time frame, would lead to achievement of that goal. The draft lacked a clear statement to that effect. There was not even a recommendation in operative paragraph 3 for establishing the appropriate subsidiary body in the Conference on Disarmament to deal with nuclear disarmament. That clear role of the Conference in that regard, and the traditional position of the Non-Aligned Movement in that context, had not been reflected in the text. For those reasons, as in earlier years, he had abstained in the voting. He hoped the authors of that text would take account of those points in the future.
The Committee then took up the resolution concerning a sub-item on the effects of depleted uranium (document A/C.1/56/L.8).
Speaking before the vote, the representative of Cuba said that earlier this year the impact of the use of depleted uranium by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Kosovo had filled the world’s headlines. Some people had been suffering from the effect of the use of depleted uranium since 1991. Depleted uranium was an extremely dangerous weapon with incalculable effects for humankind. If concerned with the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, it was necessary to take action on the damages caused by depleted uranium.
The approach of the text was a wise one, and not confrontational. He would vote in favour.
The representative of Pakistan said he did not agree with the ideas contained in the second and third preambular paragraphs. [The second Preambular paragraph would have the General Assembly recall the provisions of the Final Document of the tenth special session of the General Assembly, which called for effective measures to avert the dangers of new types of weapons of mass destruction. The third preambular paragraph would have the Assembly recall previous resolutions on the prohibition of the development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction.] Depleted uranium was a conventional weapon. The use of depleted uranium was already under scrutiny by the World Health Organization and (WHO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The idea that depleted uranium weapons was nuclear weapons was not borne out by the facts. He would, therefore, abstain from voting on the resolution.
The representative of Belgium, on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, said he would vote against the resolution for two reasons. First, he could not support the second preambular paragraph, which referred to depleted uranium weapons as weapons of mass destruction. Second, organizations such as the IAEA had carefully studied the effects of depleted uranium in armaments and had not found that its use had any effect on human pathologies or the environment.
The Committee approved the resolution by a recorded vote of 49 in favour to 45 against, with 39 abstentions (Annex II).
Speaking after the vote, the representative of the United States said he had voted against the text because the agenda of the General Assembly did not need such a sub-item. The IAEA and WHO had concluded that use of depleted uranium had no noticeable effect on human beings or the environment. The second and third preambular paragraphs, which implied depleted uranium weapons were weapons of mass destruction, should not be taken seriously.
The representative of New Zealand said depleted uranium weapons were not weapons of mass destruction. Radioactive particles did not spread over large areas. It was not a good use of the Department for Disarmament Affairs’ resources to consider the question, when other relevant organizations had already studied it. He welcomed further investigation on the long-term effects of the use of depleted uranium weapons.
The Committee then took action on the resolution Certain Conventional Weapons (document A/C.1/56/L.43*). In keeping with the wishes of the sponsors, the resolution was adopted without a vote.
The following wished to join the list of co-sponsors of the resolution: Bolivia, Cambodia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Georgia, Nicaragua, and Panama.
Speaking after the vote, the representative of Algeria said, in joining consensus on the resolution, he wished to indicate that he would have been more pleased if the resolution had taken into account all the suggestions that had been made during preliminary discussions. In operative paragraph 5, only some of the concerns of parties to the Convention were described. The paragraph mentioned only five proposals, which created a risk that those five suggestions would gain higher status than others suggested already, or further suggestions to come in the future.
The representative of Indonesia said Indonesia was not party to the Convention and had problems with some concepts in the resolution, but they had not gotten in the way and he had joined consensus.
The representative of Malaysia said he wanted the record to show Malaysia was not party to the Convention, but that it was not his intention to stand in the way of consensus.
The representative of Syria said he had joined the consensus on the resolution on the Convention. Though he had joined the consensus, he wished to register reservations to operative paragraph 5. The paragraph was selective, referring to a limited number of items, thus placing undue importance on these few items.
The representative of Oman said his country was not party to the Convention, though it believed the important Convention was a step in the right direction. The sponsors of the resolution had taken into account the concerns of States not party to the Convention. Operative paragraph 5 noted a small number of proposals. He hoped the draft resolution would receive the usual support and that a further level of cooperation would develop on the issue.
The Committee took up a resolution on the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa (document A/C.1/56/L.2).
JAYANTHA DHANAPALA, the Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, said that operative paragraph 8 in the resolution on United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa had been deleted. With the removal of that paragraph, the provisions in the corresponding Programme Budget Implications were no longer applicable.
The Committee then approved the orally amended text on the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa (document A/C.1/56/L.2) without a vote.
The Committee then took up the resolution on multilateral cooperation in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation and global efforts against terrorism (document A/C.1/56/L.49/Rev.1).
Speaking before the vote, the representative of the Republic of Korea said he supported the timely, forward-looking text that sought to promote multilateral approaches in the wake of terrorist attacks of 11 September. There was a clear need to strengthen conventional and unconventional approaches to non-proliferation and disarmament. He recognized the close link between terror and issues related to arms control. He saw a need to pursue not only law enforcement measures to combat terrorism, but multilateral approaches as well. For those reasons, he strongly supported the resolution.
The representative of Sierra Leone requested a 24-hour delay, in order to conduct consultations with other Member States of the African Group.
The CHAIRMAN reminded delegations of his wish to finish the Committee’s work at the end of today’s session. He had been in touch with the African Group already, and their inputs had been included in the resolution.
The representative of Côte d’Ivoire highlighted some of his concerns. In paragraph 4 of the resolution, the text referred to General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on terrorism, but did not refer to resolution 1314 approved by the Non-Aligned Movement. Preambular paragraph 5 established a link between terrorism on nuclear biological, chemical and conventional weapons. On the other hand, he said, the international community must define the meaning of the word terrorism before taking action. Terrorism was both action and thinking. He did not intend to play devil’s advocate, but psychoanalysis of terrorist acts showed that they stemmed from frustration, arrogance, and a lack of any other choice. The lack of choices, not trafficking in arms, was the root cause. He was not totally convinced by the language of the resolution and could not yet support it.
[Preambular paragraph 4 would have the Assembly emphasize General Assembly and Security Council resolutions relating to terrorism, in particular General Assembly resolutions 46/60 and 56/1, as well as Security Council resolutions 1368 and 1373. Preambular Paragraph 5 would have the General Assembly recognize the close connection between terrorism and illicit arms trafficking and the illegal movement of nuclear, biological chemical and other potentially deadly materials.]
In response, the CHAIRMAN said that he had not included a reference to the Non-Aligned Movement resolution in preambular paragraph 5 at the request of the African Group. It was decided in consultations that a general reference to all General Assembly resolutions would be more practical, and only those that had a direct impact would be named. As regarded the links between arms and terrorism, that language came almost directly from Security Council resolution 1373. That language established a link between terrorism and the mandate of the First Committee. On the issue of injustice and frustration, this resolution did not consider them, because this resolution was intended for other purposes. He was sure an appropriate venue for discussion of that issue could be found.
The representative of Lebanon explained that the Arab Group supported the position of the African Group on a 24-hour delay.
The representative of Côte d’Ivoire spoke again, saying he had no intention to argue. All agreed that terrorism needed to be combated. The Chairman had read out the provision of the Security Council resolution, but had left out the words “inter alia”.
The CHAIRMAN explained that there had been good reasons to remove the words “inter alia”, which he would explain later. He said that the text reflected a common denominator. He had tried to balance divergent views to come up with a livable structure, though it might not be ideal. The text captured in essence all the various views and brought them into one resolution. We could break for
24 hours, but that was as far as he could go. He would not change the text. He was obliged to repeat that if delegations felt that the resolution could not be adopted without a vote, he would withdraw it. If delegations wanted to meet tomorrow, they could, but he would not change the wording of the resolution.
The representative of Mauritania took the floor to speak on a resolution concerning the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/56/L.25). He would have voted in favour had he been present.
The CHAIRMAN said that, in light of the request for a delay, he would convene to act, or not, on multilateral cooperation in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation and global efforts against terrorism (document A/C.1/56/L.49/Rev.1).
The representative of Nepal spoke on the physical operation of the Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Kathmandu. He wanted to repeat that the representative of the Department for Disarmament Affairs had left out some parts of the communications between the Department and Nepal on 18 October. He left out that the agreement with the host country needed to be reviewed by the host country before it could be approved. He had also said that they could go along with the 19 March text, but the Department had then started the revisions. He was still awaiting a response to his letter of 18 October 2001.
Next, the representative of Papua New Guinea took the floor. He said he did not take the floor often, but had to now. He felt that for the Committee to return in 24 hours was not the best use of United Nations resources. He asked countries to either take a 30-minute break to confer or adopt the resolution by consensus.
The CHAIRMAN said the request for deferral was maintained and he would have to reconvene the meeting tomorrow.
Vote on Path to Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons
The orally revised draft resolution on a path to the total elimination of nuclear weapons (document A/C.1/56/L.35/Rev.1) was approved by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 2 against, with 20 abstentions, as follows:
In favour: Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Saint Lucia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Against: India, United States.
Abstain: Belarus, Bhutan, Brazil, China, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Georgia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Mauritius, Mexico, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Russian Federation, San Marino, South Africa, Sweden.
Absent: Afghanistan, Albania, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Grenada, Honduras, Kiribati, Malawi, Namibia, Nauru, Palau, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu.
(END OF ANNEX I)
Vote on Depleted Uranium
The draft resolution on a sub-item on the effects of the use of depleted uranium in armaments (document A/C.1/56/L.8) was approved by a recorded vote of
49 in favour to 45 against, with 39 abstentions, as follows:
In favour: Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Jordan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Saint Lucia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Togo, Tunisia, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen.
Against: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Federated States of Micronesia, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States.
Abstain: Argentina, Armenia, Belarus, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Georgia, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lesotho, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Russian Federation, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Tonga, Ukraine, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Yugoslavia, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Absent: Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gambia, Grenada, Honduras, Iran, Kiribati, Malawi, Maldives, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Palau, Panama, Qatar, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Vanuatu.
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