Fifty-fifth General Assembly
2nd Meeting (AM)
11 SEPTEMBER TERRORIST ATTACK CREATES NEW CONCEPT OF SECURITY THREAT
FIRST COMMITTEE TOLD, AS IT ELECTS OFFICERS, ADOPTS WORK PROGRAMME
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) opened its fifty-sixth session by observing a minute of silence in honour of the memory of those who lost their lives in the 11 September terrorist attack against the United States. It then proceeded to elect three vice-chairmen and adopt its work programme, with subsequent speakers highlighting the changed security environment created as a result of the attack.
Andre Erdos (Hungary) was elected Committee Chairman by acclamation on 13 September. This morning Lee Kie-Cheon (Republic of Korea), Milos Alcalay (Venezuela), and Stephane De Loecker (Belgium) were elected vice-chairmen by acclamation. Sylvester E. Rowe was elected Rapporteur, also by acclamation
The Committee then approved the following programme of work (document A/C.1/56/CRP.1): general debate on all disarmament and international security agenda items, 8 to 19 October; thematic discussion on item subjects, as well as introduction and consideration of all draft resolutions submitted under all disarmament and international security agenda items, 22 to 30 October. Action will be taken on all draft resolutions from 31 October to 9 November.
The three incoming Vice-Chairmen thanked delegations for their elections and shared their thoughts about the current context for the Committee’s work.
Mr. Lee (Republic of Korea) said that, compared with other main Committees of the General Assembly, the First Committee remained the most substantive, effective and focused. In dealing with disarmament and security issues, the long-term should be kept in mind, due to the sensitive nature of those issues. The terrorist attacks on the United States a few weeks ago would lead to a new concept of security threat in the twenty-first century. In that light, the Committee should play its important role as a universal forum where Member States could contribute to promoting peace and security through the multilateral disarmament and arms control process.
Mr. Alcalay (Venezuela) drew attention to the international context in which the Committee was working. He said that now the eyes of the world were turned to the United Nations to see what it would do. It would receive from the Committee a
vision of the issues that were at the very epicentre of the political work of the Organization, as well as the legal vision the Committee could provide.
Similarly, Mr. De Loecker (Belgium) said that the Committee would have to take up many large challenges, given the new context created by the attacks of 11 September
The Rapporteur, Mr. Rowe (Sierra Leone), said the events of 11 September had highlighted the importance of the work of the Committee. Discussions of war and disarmament should not only focus on nuclear weapons, but also on conventional arms. It was significant that the events of 11 September had drawn attention to another type of weapon –- the “non-conventional” weapon. The Committee faced an uphill battle. No matter the military might of a single nation, all were interdependent, and cooperation and good will should guide future deliberations.
Committee Chairman, Mr. Erdos (Hungary), expressed his sincere condolences to the people of the United States for the terrible loss of human lives and property, suffered as a result of the senseless and barbaric terrorist attack in New York and Washington, D.C. and elsewhere, on 11 September. He also extended his deepest sympathy to the families of the victims and the people of New York. He welcomed the delegations participating in the deliberations of the Committee and congratulated his predecessor, U Mya Than (Myanmar), for the outstanding manner in which he presided over the deliberations of the last session.
The outgoing Committee Chairman, Mr. Than, congratulated the new Chairman and the newly formed “highly efficient team”. In the quest for peace and security, the importance of achieving complete and total disarmament was more urgent than ever. He also expressed gratitude to the delegations for their support at the last session.
Secretary of the Committee, Mohammad Sattar, drew the members’ attention to some procedural aspects of their work.
The first Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 8 October, to begin its general debate.
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