SPEAKERS IN SECURITY COUNCIL DEBATE ON WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION EXPRESS DOUBTS OVER CONTENT OF PROPOSED NON-PROLIFERATION TEXT
SPEAKERS IN SECURITY COUNCIL DEBATE ON WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION EXPRESS DOUBTS OVER CONTENT OF PROPOSED NON-PROLIFERATION TEXT
4950th Meeting (AM & PM)
SPEAKERS IN SECURITY COUNCIL DEBATE ON WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
EXPRESS DOUBTS OVER CONTENT OF PROPOSED NON-PROLIFERATION TEXT
Concerns over Draft’s Implications Balanced by Widespread Agreement with Intent
Delegates in today’s open Security Council debate expressed doubts about the content and implications of a draft resolution seeking to prevent the proliferation of mass destruction weapons to non-State actors, despite widespread support for its intent.
Among the many speakers voicing support for the draft, ahead of anticipated Council action on it, was the representative of the United States, who said that terrorist groups, such as Al Qaeda, had shown a readiness to kill thousands and had not hidden their desire to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMD). If they did acquire the weapons, they could bring destruction and suffering on a scale the world could scarcely imagine. The threat being addressed by the Council was both “clear and present”, and the proposed resolution was the fastest way to address it. The text was forward-looking and set the standard for future behaviour by States.
France’s representative said that in the present era of “wholesale terrorism”, with the most dangerous technology becoming easily available through trafficking, the international community could not remain passive. Faced with a serious threat, the Council had a role to play and was doing so through the proposed resolution. Measures to counter proliferation fell upon States and, while the Council could not take their place, it could decide that they must undertake their responsibilities. It was setting the goals, but leaving each State to determine what penalties and measures to adopt.
The representative of the Russian Federation said terrorists would stop at nothing in their desire to acquire WMD components or even produce them. Most dangerous was the black markets for those weapons. The draft resolution highlighted the evolution of international cooperation in the non-proliferation field, and its co-sponsors, which included the Russian delegation, were not seeking to supersede global disarmament and non-proliferation treaties. The Security Council was not only entitled to take appropriate measures to counter the threat of WMD proliferation, but was obligated to do so and needed full support.
Among the divergent views expressed, however, were those of Council member Pakistan, whose representative acknowledged that his country had recently detected and dismantled a proliferation network involving its own nationals and those of several other countries. He said the existing treaty regime could address most of the threats. As a nuclear-weapon State, Pakistan had established effective command and control and physical security of its nuclear assets and sites. But the draft raised some doubts, questions and concerns, first among which was whether the Security Council had the right to assume the role of prescribing legislative action by Member States.
The debate continued among the wider United Nationsmembership, as India’s delegate voiced similar concerns over the Council’s increasing tendency in recent years to assume new and wider powers of legislation on behalf of the international community. The Council was seeking both to define the non-proliferation regime and monitor its implementation. Its exercise of legislative functions, combined with recourse to Chapter VII mandates, under which the present text would be voted, could disrupt the balance of power between itself and the General Assembly. Further, the exclusive focus on non-proliferation did a disservice to the principle of the mutually reinforcing link between disarmament and non-proliferation, he added.
South Africa’s representative, whose delegation had requested the debate together with those of Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland, said that any far-reaching assumption of authority by the Council to enact global legislation requiring each MemberState to modify its national legal system and policies would be unjust and unsustainable. It was a cause for concern that the draft contained only a passing reference to disarmament, despite the fact that chemical and biological weapons had been banned by international law and despite the unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon States to eliminate their nuclear arsenals. Also, the draft only addressed non-State actors, while ignoring the international security threat posed by State proliferation.
Also speaking today were representatives of Council members the Philippines, Brazil, Algeria, China, Spain, Angola, Chile, United Kingdom, Benin, Romania and Germany.
The Council also heard from the representatives of Canada, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore, Ireland (on behalf of the European Union), Sweden, Japan, Switzerland, Israel, Cuba, Indonesia, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Malaysia (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Mexico, Belarus, Norway, Australia, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Argentina, Austria, Jordan, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Nicaragua, Nepal, Nigeria, Tajikistan, Albania, Namibia, Kuwait and Thailand.
Beginning at 9:47 a.m., the meeting was suspended at 1:05 p.m. It resumed at 3:06 p.m. and adjourned at 4:46 p.m.
LAURO BAJA (Philippines) said his country viewed the proposed action on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) through the prism of measures to combat terrorism. The reason for the consensus among members of the Security Council and in the general membership of the United Nations was the serious threat of such weapons falling into the hands of non-State actors and their use for terrorism. There was also general acceptance of the gap in existing non-proliferation regimes. The clear and present danger that non-State players would take advantage of that gap required exceptional responses.
He said that while the draft resolution before the Council deviated from time-tested modes of creating multilateral obligations, it was an exceptional measure to address a new and urgent potential threat that was not covered by existing treaty regimes. The Council was moving to a new phase of combating terrorism. Thus, if it was to play a crucial role in combating that threat to international peace and security, its members needed to demonstrate more flexibility and realism. To that end, the Philippines hoped the draft resolution would be adopted by consensus to signify the Council’s seriousness and desire, as well as that of the international community, to counter the threat posed by WMD in the hands of non-State actors.
RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil) said that his position regarding the current draft resolution was based on two clear underlying premises. First, that the Council was dealing with the potential threat posed by non-State actors, especially terrorists, having access to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as to their means of delivery, to close a gap in international law. Secondly, that a sense of urgency was needed, given the gravity of the matter.
With the aim of safeguarding the integrity of existing international treaties and conventions, he said, Brazil had circulated to Council members on 8 April a non-paper suggesting an alternative way of addressing the subject of WMD and non-State actors. Such an approach provided a satisfactory, expeditions manner to pursue shared objectives, in a way consistent with international law. The co-sponsors of the draft resolution had not really been responsive to the non-paper, and on 20 April the Brazilian delegation had circulated small amendments expressing its concerns. Regrettably, only a few proposals had so far been incorporated into the revised text.
Stating Brazil’s core positions regarding the draft resolution, he said that it should, among other things, emphasize the primary responsibility of the Council to act against any potential threat to international peace and security, as provided for by the United Nations Charter. Also, the resolution should not need to invoke Chapter VII, as Article 25 of the Charter provided that all decisions of the Council should be accepted and carried out by Member States. In addition, better language should be sought regarding the obligation contained in operative paragraph 2 to the effect that all States should adopt specified laws. The text should take into account the independence of national congresses in the exercise of their law-making power.
He added that the committee envisaged in operative paragraph 9 should not carry out activities that might undercut attributions of multilateral organizations established by international instruments. Brazil was awaiting further clarification by the co-sponsors on aspects related to the possible mandate, functions and composition of the committee.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said the issue involved all Member States, as it had to do with addressing the threat of acquisition of WMD by non-State actors. The possibility of terrorist networks acquiring WMD constituted a serious threat to all, which was why Algeria supported the goal of the co-sponsors on addressing the fearsome threat and in filling the gaps, as there was nothing in international treaties that would protect against WMD falling into the hands of terrorist groups.
He said the Council needed to articulate a response, given that in shouldering its reasonability, it was acting in an exceptional manner. According to Article 25 of the Charter, Member States would apply the Council’s decisions in that area. It did not seem necessary for the Council to take action under Chapter VII. It would be desirable that, in tandem with the implementation of the resolution that the Council would adopt, an intergovernmental process to produce an international legal instrument be rapidly concluded, in the Disarmament Committee or elsewhere.
Regarding the relationship between States and WMD, he noted that existing treaties enjoyed broad universality, and there was a need to reaffirm their validity. The draft resolution needed to limit itself to covering the gaps in international law and the relationship between WMD and non-State actors. It should establish obligations that would be additional to the existing treaties, or that could modify international regimes.
Noting that the most effective way to counter WMD was to fully eliminate them, he said that was the primary aim of the three basic treaties and their protocols. The five nuclear Powers had committed at the 2000 NPT Review Conference to eliminate their nuclear stockpiles. The upcoming session would offer an opportunity to assess progress made since 2000.
Proliferation and disarmament were two dimensions of the same equation, he added. It was necessary, therefore, to have the resolution reaffirm the need to work for disarmament. The emergence of zones free of WMD would be an ideal contribution to non-proliferation. However, the draft should reaffirm the legitimate right of States to the peaceful use of such technologies.
WANG GUANGYA (China) said that today’s meeting would help improve the draft resolution under consideration. Preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of was conducive to the preservation of international peace and security. For years, Member States had made important efforts in that regard. In the new security environment, it was pivotal to strengthen international cooperation and improve the non-proliferation regime to effectively respond to the threat of terrorism. China opposed the proliferation of WMD and their means of delivery. The role of the existing international non-proliferation regime should be brought into full play. To effectively put forward non-proliferation efforts, it was necessary to recognize the legitimate right of countries to use such technology for peaceful purposes.
He supported the United Nations in playing its due role, he stated. He was also in favour of adopting a Security Council resolution on the basis of broad consultations. He had taken an active part in the consultations on the draft and his proposals had been reflected in the current version. In particular, the reference to interdiction had been deleted, at his delegation’s request. Non-proliferation was closely related to the interests of all countries, and it required the joint effort of the international community. It was necessary to ensure a fair non-proliferation regime and both improvement of the existing regime and establishment of a new regime must be based on the participation of all countries. The opinions of all Council members and the majority of United Nations Member States should be heeded regarding the text. He hoped a more comprehensive resolution could be adopted by consensus.
INOCENCIO F. ARIAS (Spain) said his country had decided to co-sponsor the draft, as urgent action in the field of non-proliferation of WMD was needed. The context of the resolution was none other than the global struggle against terrorism. It was clear that the international community was confronting a grave and imminent threat to international peace and security, and the Council was competent to act in that regard. Since the Council was legislating for the entire international community, the resolution should be adopted by consensus. The subject of the resolution was clear and limited, and in no way attempted to change international disarmament and non-proliferation objectives, he said.
He said it was a fact that the various existing treaties were disarmament, rather than non-proliferation treaties. They were interrelated concepts in international practice. The resolution would not speed implementation of the provisions of treaties by States. If there were too many disarmament paragraphs in the text, the objective of the resolution would be diluted. It was not appropriate to introduce too many references to disarmament, as they were not appropriate in the resolution. He was pleased, though, that a reference had been made to disarmament in a preambular paragraph.
The resolution left it up to States to decide how to interpret the resolution’s implementation, he said. There were two reasons to use Chapter VII, including that it sent a clear political message. The exercise was part of the struggle against terrorism and a continuation of the work begun under resolution 1373, which had been adopted under Chapter VII. It would be hard to understand why Chapter VII would not apply under the current situation. On the follow-up mechanism, he supported the establishment of a Council committee to monitor the implementation of the resolution. That committee must have enough time to fulfil its functions -- six months would not be enough –- and it should set its terms of reference. It would be a standard committee, in other words, whose functions would be similar to that of the Counter-Terrorism Committee. Technical assistance to States would be an essential component, and the committee must have experts to assist it in its task.
JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIERE (France) noted that whereas agreement had not been reached on all the details of the draft resolution, everyone was clearly talking about the same thing –- the non-proliferation of WMD and the means of their delivery. The aim of the text was to fill a gap and strengthen the non-proliferation regime. Everyone was aware of the seriousness of the problem. The world was now in an “era of wholesale terrorism”, when the most dangerous technology was becoming available and easily trafficked. The international community could not remain passive, and Europe was resolutely committed to strengthening the current regime by adopting a strategy in that regard.
Faced with a serious threat, the Council had a role to play and was doing so via the draft resolution, he said. Measures to counter proliferation activities fell upon States. The Council could not take their place, but it could decide that they must undertake their responsibilities. The Council was setting forth the goals, but left each State to determine the penalties and practical measures to be adopted.
The co-sponsors had realized that the text would have greater impact if it was understood by Member States outside the Council, he said. That was why it had pursued wide consultations, reaching broad agreement on the threat and identifying various concerns. There was a clear desire by States to incorporate a reference to disarmament, and France supported incorporation in the preamble to the text of a reference to disarmament obligations. Also, many States had wished for clarifications on the monitoring mechanism. There were also widespread misgivings relating to the reference to Chapter VII in the text and the possible use of force to implement the draft resolution. That particular concern could be addressed by enhancing the monitoring mechanism.
The reference to Chapter VII was important for two reasons, he said. The first was a legal one, providing a foundation for the Council. The second was a political one, which reflected the seriousness of the situation and the determination of Member States. It was necessary to reconcile two messages, namely, that there was a serious threat that must be faced, and the determination to promote cooperation based on the sovereignty of States. The text did meet that, specifically by virtue of the monitoring committee, which could offer “due process”.
ISMAEL ABRAAO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said the participation of the entire United Nations membership ensured the needed collective vision to address the existing gap in the current NPT regime, and represented a great value added to the Council’s current work. The threat posed by terrorist organizations to international peace and security was an undisputed reality. To prevent their access to WMD was a new challenge to non-proliferation efforts and a recognized priority to be addressed by the international community. The Council’s presidential statement in 1992, resolution 1373 (2001) and the various General Assembly resolutions demonstrated the international community’s awareness of the need to address the threat posed by the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Strengthening the effectiveness of IAEA safeguard systems was another matter.
He said the draft took account of disarmament concerns and the need for all Member States to reaffirm their obligations. The 11 September terrorist attacks had conferred a greater sense of urgency on efforts to prevent terrorist organizations from acquiring WMD. Angola welcomed the Council’s decision to consider the adoption of a resolution in the context of the widely felt urgency to fill the gap in international law regarding current international regimes.
By adopting resolution 1373 (2001), the Council had taken an unprecedented step towards bringing into force binding legislation on the issue of combating terrorism, he said. The draft resolution was in direct line with the objectives stated in that resolution. Its adoption would be a new landmark in the global fight against terrorism and the ability of the Council to lead that fight. Open debate was necessary and timely, contributing to mutual understanding on subjects of great importance to international life. The fundamental outcome of the resolution’s adoption would be the international community’s common vision and a strong consensus in the Council on its provisions.
HERALDO MUÑOZ (Chile) said he supported all universal and regional instruments for weapons control and non-proliferation, as well as efforts by the United Nations to ensure and strengthen their implementation. Chile attached special importance to the legitimacy of negotiations conducted in a multilateral framework, but regretted that the obstructionist use of the need for consensus had impeded the adoption of important instruments, including a treaty prohibiting the production of fissile materials for military purposes. The draft resolution before the Council, of a binding nature regarding non-State actors, would support other international instruments on WMD and constitute appropriate measures for their implementation.
He reiterated that, in spite of the limited, restricted nature of the draft’s objective, it was related to aspects of non-proliferation and disarmament. The existence and proliferation of WMD and the means for their delivery were together a source of danger. Nuclear, chemical and biological weapons constituted a threat to international peace and security, which was the premise on which treaties such as the NPT rested. It was also the most important premise for the reasoning behind the current draft. In the face of the gravity of acts of terrorism, the Council must act without delay, taking timely measures within its scope. Chile felt it was proper to act under Chapter VII and appropriate to make clear that Chapter VII would only be applied to certain paragraphs of further resolutions.
There was also a need to create a follow-up committee, taking into account the attributes of bodies in the field of non-proliferation, he said. The powers of the committee must be made clear and should have a duration of two years, including realistic periods for States to adopt internal legislation. It was important to study the draft carefully to arrive at a text that could command universal acceptance by the international community.
ADAM THOMSON (United Kingdom) said the open debate marked a further stage in an unprecedented effort to consult with the international community on a critical issue. The recognition that the threat must be rapidly dealt with could not be more justified. Indeed, Osama Bin Laden had called it a duty to obtain WMD, and Al Qaeda trained its recruits in the use of chemicals, widely distributing manuals for their use. The chemical attacks in Japan, for example, had shown the seriousness of even a relatively small attack. In the face of that urgent threat, only the Council could act with the necessary speed and authority, he said. Not only was it appropriate for the Council to act, it was imperative.
The draft resolution did not negate the importance of disarmament or of the multilateral treaty framework, he said. It made clear the importance of arms control and disarmament obligations. Progress on those issues should be pursued in the appropriate forums. At the same time, the co-sponsors had been clear that the focus of the text must remain the problem it was trying to tackle, namely, the non-proliferation of WMD. Bringing in other issues would risk deadlock and treading on the toes of other disarmament bodies. Disarmament was not the draft’s primary focus. It promoted the strengthening of multilateral treaties and did not rule out future arrangements to deal with the current gap in the international framework. The text should not be held hostage over how long such negations would take, or whether agreement would be reached at all.
He said the draft was not about coercion or enforcement. The legal base of Chapter VII reflected the fact that the Council was dealing with a threat to international peace and security. It would send an odd message if the Council were to act on any other basis. It also underlined the binding nature of the requirement to establish sensible WMD controls. The Council would leave it up to Member States to decide what steps they needed to take. The draft did not authorize enforcement action against State or non-State actors in the territory of another country. Any enforcement action would require a new Council decision.
The draft was about a cooperative approach to tackling non-State actors, he stressed. It also encouraged technical assistance to countries that might need help. It was not necessary for Member States to have completed legislation before they first reported. Member States with strong laws and controls might not need to take additional measures.
JOEL W. ADECHI (Benin) said that the risk posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery by non-State actors was a vacuum that needed to be filled. The Council, through the co-sponsors of text, had moved into the forefront and begun negotiations to mobilize the international community. He was convinced that the Council must do all it could to eliminate that danger. The sad events, such as the chemical attack in Japan and the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, showed that the worst was possible and that it could take forms unimaginable in the past. It was necessary to reach agreement on the proper equation, so that rational means could be found under the framework of collective security.
To find good solutions, it was important that action to prevent access by non-State actors to WMD be part of broader disarmament efforts, he said. The problem of access by non-State actors to WMD resided in the unacceptable accumulation of such weapons. The draft had been placed under the provisions of Chapter VII, which contained a range of articles that provided ways of countering threats to one or more States when the rules under Chapter VI had been exhausted. Some concerns on that issue remained, particularly concerning self-defence. The resolution would also gain from underscoring the need for treaty organizations to negotiate additional protocols as soon as possible to fill the legal vacuum regarding non-State actors.
He also said it was important to establish a follow-up committee, with consideration of its mandate and its duration. Negotiations on the draft thus far had been conducted in an open spirit, to make it inclusive as possible, and he hoped that spirit would continue.
MIHNEA MOTOC (Romania) said the proliferation threat had gained a new, gloomier dimension, namely, the prospect of non-State actors seeking to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction. Present-day security and stability were seriously challenged, both globally and regionally, by the risk associated with WMD proliferation. The international community was confronted today with a consolidated network of proliferators established between States and/or entities located in regions marked by instability and armed conflicts. The possibility of terrorist organizations acquiring elements or systems of WMD was largely recognized.
He said there was no “one size fits all” policy to counter the threat posed by WMD proliferation. The spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons had been successfully limited by international disarmament and non-proliferation multilateral agreements. But, the new phenomenon, intimately connected with terrorism, was not covered by those treaties. The Council had the primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security. It was timely for the Council to address the new threat by filling in the existing gap in the international treaties.
He said the resolution would bring a fundamental contribution to the efforts of all responsible members of the international community in countering threats from weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles proliferation. For that reason, Romania had decided to co-sponsor the resolution. It asked Member States, without discrimination, to enact and enforce appropriate legislation to prevent proliferation of WMD, including criminal and civil penalties for violations of export-control regulations. For such a preventive approach to work, the international community’s cooperation was crucial.
While addressing a very specific issue, the resolution reaffirmed the need for all Member States to fulfil their obligations in relation to arms control and disarmament, and upheld multilateral treaties. The resolution’s implementation would not affect the obligations undertaken by State parties to international treaties, nor the statutory responsibilities of the IAEA and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that, historically, the proliferation of WMD had occurred when States sought to obtain them. But non-State actors had often been the instruments used for proliferation by States seeking WMD. Recently, Pakistan had dismantled such a proliferation network involving its own nationals and others. The fear that non-State actors might themselves acquire and use WMD was a recent phenomenon. That danger was present, but must be viewed in perspective. States could acquire such weapons capabilities, but the acquisition and use of nuclear weapons by non-State actors was much more difficult and much less likely. The example of Osama Bin Laden underlined the danger, as well as the fact that weapons of mass destruction were difficult for terrorist organizations to acquire, especially nuclear weapons.
The existing treaty regime could address most of the concerns regarding the proliferation of WMD, he said. Pakistan, a nuclear-weapon State, had established effective command and control of its assets, sites and materials. It could readily fulfil the actions sought in operative paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of the draft. But seen in a historical, legal and political perspective, the draft raised a number of doubts, questions and concerns. The first question was whether the Council had the right to assume the role of prescribing legislative action by Member States. The existing treaties already prescribed most of the legislation that would cover States and non-State actors. They could be improved, where necessary, through negotiation. The Council, where five States retained nuclear weapons and had the right of veto, was not the appropriate body to be entrusted with oversight responsibilities over non-proliferation or disarmament.
Secondly, there were discrepancies between the draft’s stated objective and its provisions, he said. Although it was designed to address proliferation by non-State actors, it sought to impose obligations on States. There were grave implications for efforts to impose obligations on States that their legislatures had not accepted, especially as they related to national security and self-defence. Thirdly, there was no justification for adopting the text under Chapter VII. The threat posed by the proliferation of WMD among non-State actors was not imminent, and it was not a threat to peace within Article 39 of the Charter. Legitimate fears arose as to the use of authority under Chapter VII to justify coercive actions, including the use of force.
That fear was exacerbated by the open-ended nature of the draft, providing for further decisions, he said. Thus, the scope of the resolution could be enlarged beyond non-State actors, among other things. Fifth, the creation of the Council committee mentioned in operative paragraph 9 was unnecessary. Its functions were unclear, and Pakistan could also not ignore the non-papers circulated by some that projected that the committee could be used to harass States. In addition, the definitions provided in the draft were entirely unclear. Were missiles and rockets the only means for the delivery of WMD? Who would judge whether or not they were designed for that purpose?
During informal consultations, he said, the co-sponsors had assured members that the scope of the text was restricted to stopping proliferation by non-State actors, that no enforcement measures were envisaged and that the proposed committee would be set up temporarily and would only collect and submit reports by States. However, in the negotiations, the sponsors had been reluctant to reflect most of those assurances in the text. Recent remarks had seemed to retract some of those assurances.
GENNADY GATILOV (Russian Federation) said the Russian Federation was an initiator in tabling the draft resolution. The problem of the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was immerging as one of the primary threats to international peace and security, and the world community was called upon to address that challenge. The tragedy of 11 September and the terrorist acts in Moscow, Madrid and Tokyo had demonstrated the primary threat of the time -- terrorism. The Security Council had taken a proactive role in countering that threat, by adopting resolution 1373. In that decision, the Council had highlighted the close relationship between international terrorism, organized crime and illegal trafficking in chemical, biological and other materials, and begun coordinating efforts to strengthen the global response to such challenges.
The existence of WMD black markets was most dangerous, he said. Terrorists would stop at nothing in their desire to acquire components to produce weapons of mass destruction. The draft resolution highlighted the development of international cooperation to combat that phenomenon. All efforts should be based on international law and national legislation, without impeding legitimate peaceful cooperation. The sponsors did not seek to supersede international treaties in the area of non-proliferation and disarmament. For that reason, the draft contained provisions pointing out that its adoption in no way undermined or ran counter to obligations that States had under those international treaties. The Council was not only entitled, but also obligated, to take appropriate measures.
Nine years ago, the Council adopted resolution 984, which provided for security safeguards in the case of an attack on States, including by nuclear weapons, he said. Monitoring implementation of the resolution required establishing an ad hoc mechanism. He supported the establishment of a Council committee on the issue. The committee would need to work closely with the IAEA, OPCW and the United Nations Secretariat. The duration of its work would depend on how it implemented the goals set for it. The minimum would be one year. He called on all States to support the resolution.
JAMES CUNNINGHAM (United States) said that the use of WMD by terrorists would punish strong and weak alike. The draft to be adopted in the coming days responded to a growing threat to global security -- the proliferation of WMD, the means of delivery and the means to produce them, with special relevance to non-State actors. If non-State actors possessed such weapons, they could blackmail and threaten entire regions. Organizations such as Al-Qaeda did not hide their desire to acquire such weapons, and if they acquired them, they could bring destruction and suffering on an unimaginable scale. The international community had become aware of blackmarket efforts to buy and sell the technology to build such weapons, making them available to the highest bidder.
The threat the Council was addressing was both clear and present, he stated. The draft’s focus was forward-looking and set the standard for further behaviour by States. It was necessary to act now to stem the threat, and the resolution was the fastest means to address it. The text asked Member States, among other things, to take precautions, to review domestic controls, review domestic legislation and adopt legislation to keep dangerous items out of the hands of non-State actors. Its aim was to make illegal the unauthorized trade in such weapons by strengthening national controls and physical protection of materials within their borders. Hopefully, the desirability of taking those steps would be self-apparent. They were not meant to weaken existing treaties or regimes.
The text was placed under Chapter VII to send an important political message regarding how the Council viewed the threat to international peace and security, he noted. The text was not about enforcement. As others had noted, the text had been revised and the current text, dated 15 April, reflected useful discussions in the Council and exchanges with the wider United Nations membership. The revised text included recognition of disarmament obligations and made clear that parties that were not party to treaties or regimes would not be forced to adopt them as a result of the current text.
The envisaged committee would establish its own programme of work, as did all Council committees, and would comprise all Council members, operating by consensus. Also, operative paragraphs 4 and 5 had been included to make clear that States that needed assistance to implement the resolution could request it. The United States and the other co-sponsors welcomed the views received, and valued today’s meeting as part of ongoing consultations.
GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany), speaking in his national capacity, said he hoped that the new resolution would provide a useful tool to prevent access by non-State actors to weapons of mass destruction and hazardous materials. He supported it, therefore, and hoped it could be adopted soon. With all Council members, however, he was trying to further improve it, in order to increase its acceptance and contribute to its full and global implementation. Meanwhile, the multilateral treaty regime provided the normative basis for all non-proliferation efforts. He had suggested the inclusion of meaningful references to disarmament, as disarmament and non-proliferation were “two sides of the same coin”.
He said he strongly believed that everything must be done to ensure effective verification of compliance with the multilateral treaty regime. Everything should also be done to ensure effective security assurances, which were an important part of the NPT regime. As the resolution would be binding for all Member States, the Council must remain the final arbiter of compliance. Any enforcement action must be subjected to a specific decision by the Council as a whole, without interfering with the mandates of relevant institutions and other bodies established under existing arrangements.
A follow-up mechanism, in the form of a Security Council committee, based on a clear two-year mandate, should be created, he said. That should work in cooperation with other competent bodies, such as the IAEA, the OPCW and the Counter-Terrorism Committee. Through the adoption of certain counter-terrorism texts, the Council had already dealt with some key aspects of the present draft. The text now before the Council would be an important step in the common endeavour to prevent non-State actors and terrorists from gaining access to mass destruction weapons and hazardous materials. It should complement the existing international system in the field, for the multilateral treaty regime was the core instrument for the preservation of global peace and security.
GILBERT LAURIN (Canada) said the Council had shown its leadership in addressing new challenges in the new international security environment, namely, the threat from non-State actors who would seek to acquire, develop, transfer or use weapons of mass destruction. Canada strongly supported a resolution that would give impetus to important efforts by States to criminalize the trafficking of such weapons. It was equally important that a resolution contain clarity and balance. The Council should ensure that definitions and concepts were clear, that Member States fully understood the measures they were being called upon to undertake, and that the Council’s role, as well as the role of other international bodies, were well understood.
Canada supported the establishment of a committee to monitor implementation of the resolution, he said. Given the gravity of the challenge, the committee’s duration should be long enough to allow it to effectively carry out its mandate. A six-month limit could unduly disadvantage the committee by imposing impractical deadlines. The aims of the international treaties were, first and foremost, to achieve effective progress towards general and complete disarmament. The resolution should recognize that important balance with equal emphasis on non-proliferation and disarmament obligations.
He strongly supported a resolution that would help confront the proliferation challenge, that respect the rights and obligations of States under current international treaties, and that encouraged the international community to improve the complex structure of non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament regimes and mechanisms.
OSWALDO DE RIVERO (Peru) said he shared the concern of all countries that WMD could fall into the hands of non-State actors and recognized the gap in the current international regime, which was only binding on States. Peru knew full well what it meant to be the victim of terrorist attacks and understood fears about the use of WMD by terrorists. However, that did not serve as a basis for forgetting the “quid pro quo” between the current non-proliferation regime and disarmament. There were gaps in the current non-proliferation regime regarding non-State actors, which should be filled by establishing a stricter non-proliferation regime, but not to the detriment of disarmament. A regime intended to be stricter and to apply to non-State actors must not be to the detriment of the ability of countries to legislate on that through an international treaty.
The current text was still ambiguous in a number of areas, he said. First, it was not clear regarding sanctions or enforcement measures in cases of non-compliance. Also, it opened up questions on follow-up and monitoring mechanisms, concerns that were shared by other States. Consultations must continue to arrive at a well balanced solution. It should be clear that Peru was not against the need to take concrete actions in the face of the threat, but believed that adoption of the text should be subjected to further consultations, so that there could be a critical mass of countries supporting it in order to give it legitimacy.
DON MACKAY (New Zealand), supporting the resolution’s aim of controlling the horizontal proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to non-State actors, said it was unfortunate that to date there had not been sufficient will to see the existing multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation regimes significantly strengthened. The result was that the Security Council was now being asked to step forward to fill a gap, with urgency. But the draft resolution would not succeed in its aim without the support and acceptance of Member States. Such acceptance required the Council to dispel any impression of negotiations behind closed doors, or that a small group of States were drafting laws for the broader membership without the opportunity for all Member States to express their views.
He reaffirmed New Zealand’s view that the draft resolution was no substitute for the development of strong and effective multilateral disarmament instruments, and that his country saw it as part of a wider debate that covered disarmament and proliferation of all types, both horizontal and vertical. In his view, the only way to guarantee that weapons of mass destruction did not fall into the hands of others was to eliminate them totally through a transparent and verifiable process of disarmament. His country placed importance on the fact that the draft resolution would also impose restraints on those States that had deliberately chosen to stand outside the major disarmament and non-proliferation treaties to which most States, including New Zealand, had committed themselves.
If the resolution was to have value, he went on, it needed to be more than simply a political statement. By placing it under Chapter VII, members of the Council were sending a signal of the importance they placed on the obligations it contained. Anything less than plugging that gap tightly would undermine the credibility of the Council’s actions, and the fight against non-proliferation itself, by providing a false sense that the problem had been solved. It was his view that the draft resolution represented a critical stopgap measure, rather than an optimal solution. He added it was important that issues of process and substance did not become confused, noting that it was no secret that there was some disquiet within and without the Council over the process by which the draft before the Council had been produced.
DUMISANI S. KUMALO (South Africa) said his and other delegations had requested the debate to provide an opportunity for the wider membership to contribute to the proposed draft. He trusted that the recommendations made during the debate would be reflected in further adjustments to the draft. South Africa shared the concern regarding the threat that weapons of mass destruction posed not only to individual countries, but also to the international community as a whole. The threat was exacerbated by the possibility of such weapons falling into the hands of terrorist groups.
South Africa was concerned, however, that the draft resolution only addressed the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and in an incomplete manner. There was a passing reference to disarmament, despite the fact that chemical and biological weapons had been prohibited by international law and despite the unequivocal undertaking of the nuclear-weapon States to eliminate their nuclear arsenals. On the issue of non-proliferation, the resolution only addressed non-State actors, while ignoring the threat to international peace and security posed by proliferation by States. If the Council does not act in a comprehensive manner, there was a danger that loopholes could be exploited by those who sought financial or political gain.
The threat posed by WMD could only be addressed if all the available instruments were used, he said. The attempt to establish a mechanism in the Council that was isolated from the Biological Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the Non-Proliferation Treaty was weakness that might impact on the effectiveness of measures being considered in the resolution. Universal adherence to international agreements on WMD calling for the complete elimination of those weapons provided the international community with the only guarantee against their use.
He said the resolution should be drafted in a way that made it practical and easy to implement. The current draft imposed obligations on Member States and attempted to legislate on behalf of States by prescribing the nature and type of measures that would have to be implemented by States. The resolution could have far-reaching legal and practical implications for Member States, especially for those that had a capacity in nuclear, chemical and biological matters. All Member States would be opposed to the prospect of WMD falling into the hands of non-State actors. The challenge for the Council was to ensure that the already existing systems were implemented more effectively and improved. It was through the sharing of intelligence information that the gap in non-proliferation controls could be bridged.
VIJAY K. NAMBIAR (India) said that as a victim of terrorism for nearly two decades, his country understood the dangers that the transfer of unconventional weapons to non-State actors could entail. It was that realization that had prompted it to pilot a resolution on measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring WMD, which had been adopted by consensus at the last two General Assembly sessions. The focus of the present text on non-State actors in no way diminished State accountability in combating terrorism and in eliminating its support infrastructure or linkages with WMD. In the case of terrorism, State accountability could not be absolved on the grounds that proliferation was the result of private enterprise.
He noted that the co-sponsors of the draft had stated that the intention was to fill a gap in the non-proliferation regime, which, if negotiated through the multilateral framework, could take years. That issue should ideally have been addressed through existing international instruments and by building on them. The Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention, as the only two non-discriminatory disarmament treaties, provided for international cooperative efforts for assistance and protection against those mass destruction weapons. India had also supported addressing the issue of radiological weapons at the Conference on Disarmament, in view of the growing concern about radiation dispersal devices.
The recognition of the time imperative in seeking recourse through the Council did not, however, obscure India’s more basic concerns over that body’s increasing tendency, in recent years, to assume new and wider powers of legislation on behalf of the international community, and binding on all States, he said. Presently, the Council sought to both define the non-proliferation regime and monitor its implementation. India was concerned that the exercise of legislative functions by the Council, combined with recourse to Chapter VII mandates, could disrupt the balance of power between the General Assembly and the Council, as enshrined in the Charter.
In addition, he said, the limitations in implementation of certain resolutions, such as 1373, underscored the need for caution regarding the Council being used as a route to short-circuit the process of creating an international consensus. Moreover, exclusive focus on non-proliferation did a disservice to the essential principle of the mutually reinforcing linkage between disarmament and non-proliferation. Also, export controls were not an issue on which the Council should prescribe norms. The flip side of export controls was indiscriminate technology, or denial to States with legitimate socio-economic needs. India had noted the observations of the co-sponsors that the text did not prescribe adherence to treaties to which a State was not a party. India would not accept any interpretation of the resolution that imposed obligations arising from treaties that it had not signed or ratified.
He cautioned that applying traditionally understood categories of arms control in novel areas in which definitions were not well established might create differing interpretations. That problem could be compounded by different national capacities of States to carry out their obligations. A “one-size-fits-all” approach would not work. Also, the draft referred to non-State actors as those identified in the United Nations list, which might not be exhaustive. In addition, while action was being taken under Chapter VII, the resolution should steer clear of any coercive or punitive approach or follow-up mechanism, which would defeat its very purpose. India had noted the sponsors’ assurance that the use of force was not envisaged or authorized by the text.
The crisis underlying the non-proliferation order was a matter of deep concern to India, he said, since the infirmities of the present order had adversely impacted its security. It would be a precarious paradox if individual State actions, despite the resolution, condoned instances of proliferation or rewarded proliferant States by other means. Meeting new proliferation challenges required fresh approaches, pooling together the efforts and resources of the international community. India renewed the call made at the 1992 Security Council Summit on Non-Proliferation for a new international consensus on non-proliferation, with the hope that the world’s endeavours in that regard would spur common efforts for mutual benefit, in the interests of a safe and secure world.
KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said that the nexus between weapons of mass destruction proliferation and terrorism was of particular concern to a small, densely populated country like his. Last year, SARS gave several countries a small foretaste of what a biological or chemical attack might be like. The threat was real. A WMD terrorist attack on a small State could mean the physical end of the country. International terrorist networks were deeply embedded in South-East Asia. It would take many years to root them out and, until they were rooted out, the risk remained.
It was necessary to close the gap in current national, regional and international regimes, which today dealt primarily with States, and face up to the new challenges posed by non-State actors. He understood many of the concerns expressed by some of the other delegations today. He agreed that a multilateral treaty regime would be ideal. But multilateral negotiations could take years. “Time is not on our side.” Urgent action was needed. Therefore, he supported the draft resolution. He agreed that some of the details, such as the follow-up mechanisms and the reporting mechanisms, needed to be ironed out. The draft was only the first step. But it was necessary to take that first step and tighten the current non-proliferation regime. “The longer we take to act, the more time the terrorists have to plot against us.” He believed the text would help make the world a safer place and urged all countries to support it.
RICHARD RYAN (Ireland), on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the Council’s readiness to respond to requests for an open debate on the draft resolution on the proliferation of mass destruction weapons, noting that it was important that the wider United Nations membership be given an opportunity to have their views heard in advance of action. The Union also strongly supported the Council’s initiative to address the problem of the potential acquisition of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons or materials by non-State actors.
He recalled that at their Thessaloniki meeting in June 2003, European Union heads of State and government had agreed that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, such as ballistic missiles, was a “growing threat” to international peace and security. They had also recognized that the risk that terrorists would acquire chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear materials added a critical new dimension to that threat. Participants had also resolved to take action to address that threat, using all instruments and policies at the Union’s disposal, with the objective being to prevent, deter, halt and, where possible, eliminate proliferation programmes worldwide.
Integral to its Strategy against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, adopted in December 2003, he said, was the Union’s conviction that a mutlilateralist approach to security, including disarmament and non-proliferation, was the best way to maintain international order. Convinced that non-proliferation and disarmament were mutually reinforcing, the Union welcomed the most recent draft’s reference to the role of disarmament. Meanwhile, all States should be asked to promote the universal adoption and full implementation of multilateral treaties, and not only those States that were party to them. Accordingly, the Union was working independently to strengthen the main treaties and enhancing support of verification regimes. It was already working to strengthen export control policies.
PIERRE SCHORI (Sweden) said his country had a long tradition of strong engagement in issues of disarmament and non-proliferation. Sweden’s late Foreign Minister, Anna Lindh, initiated the work that led to the adoption last December of a European Union strategy against the proliferation of mass destruction weapons. Addressing the threats posed by those weapons was an urgent task, which needed to be undertaken collectively by the international community. Sweden had consistently advocated that a strong and central role should be given to the Council in addressing those issues. He was pleased, therefore, to support the draft resolution. It was both timely and proper that the international body, in a comprehensive way, now address questions related to the proliferation of unconventional weapons.
Noting that the resolution would affect all Member States, he emphasized the need for transparency in drafting it. There were two points on which the wording needed to be “unequivocally clear”. First, an individual who claimed that his or her right had been violated as a consequence of the implementation of the text should be guaranteed access to a court at the national level, and States had a duty to ensure that that happened. Second, when States and individuals took measures to implement the resolution, all such action should be consistent with international law and the United Nations Charter. The resolution was a most welcome step in fulfilling the Council’s responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.
KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) said his delegation shared the concern over the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, and believed that the Council and the United Nations as a whole had to play a more effective role in addressing the issue. It was urgent to ensure that WMD did not fall into the hands of terrorist and other non-State actors. His Government supported the adoption of a resolution by the Council, as long as it was acceptable to Member States after further discussion. To ensure the resolution’s effectiveness, the committee mentioned in the draft should offer advice to countries concerned, so as to enable them to correct their specific, concrete violations. The committee should, moreover, be staffed by persons with sufficient expertise, recruited also from non-Council members. Japan was prepared to make a contribution in that respect.
To counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, it was essential to secure active, not passive, and willing cooperation of a large number of countries, especially developing countries. The Council should also play an important role in encouraging the provision of technical assistance to developing countries, so that they were able to enact necessary domestic laws in implementing effective non-proliferation measures. By adopting a binding Council resolution under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Council fulfilled a law-making function. The Council must be cautious, therefore, not to undermine the stability of the international legal framework.
JENO C.A. STAEHELIN (Switzerland) said the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the risk that non-State actors could gain access to them was one of the most serious threats today. There was an urgent need to contain the threat. In principle, obligations of a legislative nature should be established through multilateral treaties. A legislative role by the Council was only acceptable in exceptional circumstances and in response to a particular urgent need. The resolution must be drafted with the greatest possible transparency.
Given the nature and scope of the resolution, the planned measures should be understood as a provisional regime and reviewed after a certain time, he said. From the start, there should clarity regarding the scope of obligations imposed on Member States. A number of elements in the draft were not sufficiently precise. Monitoring the implementation of the resolution must also be clearly defined. The fact that the resolution was based on Chapter VII could not be understood as a pre-authorization for States to resort to unilateral sanctions. The monitoring of the resolution’s implementation must be carried out within a multilateral framework. In that respect, he welcomed the establishment of a Council committee. It was important, however, that the committee and the Council work closely with the existing competent organizations in the field.
In the future, efforts to combat the proliferation of WMD must also focus more closely on strengthening the verification procedures and instruments, he said. Switzerland welcomed the fact that the preambular part of the draft reminded Member States of their obligations concerning arms control and disarmament. The long-term aim must remain the complete elimination of weapons of mass destruction.
ARYE MEKEL (Israel) said that beyond the threat of proliferation by States, there was a growing danger that terrorists might be able to obtain sensitive materials, technologies and know-how. As one of the countries that faced those threats, Israel welcomed the international effort to identify concrete and effective steps aimed at preventing WMD proliferation, particularly the growing threat of WMD terrorism. Israel had recently adopted legislative measures to control the export of dual-use material, technologies and know-how and the development of WMD.
The way to prevent the spread of WMD, in particular to terrorists, was, first and foremost, to increase national controls and improve national protection of sensitive facilities, he said. Israel supported the draft resolution and would offer suggestions to improve the text. Regarding operative paragraph 5, there should be a distinction between legitimate cooperation for purposes of promoting peace, and cooperation that only served as a veil to hide illegitimate plans. Therefore, it was desirable to add the word “legitimate” between the words “hamper” and “international”, so that cooperation was limited to legitimate cooperation. Also, the words “legislative measures” should substitute the word “laws” in operative paragraph 2.
ORLANDO REQUEIJO GUAL (Cuba) said international legal obligations, including those related to the field of non proliferation, must not be created for Member States without their full participation and sovereign acceptance. The possibility of terrorist attacks with WMD could not be eliminated through a selective approach. The only guarantee that WMD would not fall into the hands of terrorist was the prohibition and total elimination of those types of weapons, especially nuclear weapons. Cuba also had concerns regarding definitions contained in the draft resolution, the scope of its applications and its possible negative impact on existing treaty regimes.
He also expressed concern that some Powers might interpret the text to be a pre-authorization or justification for the unilateral use of force. That was of particular concern to Cuba, given that high United States officials had levelled false and unfounded accusations that Cuba possessed a limited capacity for research and development of biological weapons. The draft was ambiguous enough for some States to proclaim that the Council legitimized the interception of ships and aircraft in the framework of a “proliferation security initiative”. That initiative was already operational. A unilateral and non-discriminatory approach was the only way to counter the use of WMD by terrorists.
The draft’s main promoter was the one that had the largest military expenditures in the world. It not only had many nuclear weapons, but was also in the process of producing new ones. Such a double standard posed a threat to all.
REZLAN ISHAR JENIE (Indonesia), noting that the nuclear proliferation threat was on the rise, said there were ominous signs that non-State actors remained interested in the illicit acquisition of WMD. Illegal networks could deliver weapons-usable nuclear materials and technology, and the lack of a legal framework to thwart non-State actors, particularly terrorists, from such acquisition or transfer exacerbated a potentially dangerous situation. Although rules and regulations had been promulgated by several arms control regimes, those were by no means uniform and were susceptible to varying interpretations. Also, owing to their restrictive nature, those rules did not enjoy universal support. Most importantly, there were no internationally acceptable provisions penalizing illegal proliferation by individuals or non-State actors.
He said there was clearly an urgent need to prevent nuclear proliferation involving non-State actors, as demonstrated by recent revelations, but the draft resolution was unbalanced and raised serious concerns about infringements on the sovereign rights of Member States. Because of its wide-ranging ramifications, the issues contained in it should be further deliberated and clarified prior to its adoption. Legal obligations could only be created and assumed on a voluntary basis. Any far-reaching assumption of authority by the Council to enact global legislation, requiring each MemberState to modify its national legal system and policies, would be unjust and unsustainable.
The Council was being asked to play a role in enforcing non-proliferation, contrary to the letter and spirit of various international instruments and treaties on that subject, he said. The draft was one-sided and adopted a one-dimensional approach, dealing with prevention based on punitive measures on States, but not the elimination of mass destruction weapons. Nuclear non-proliferation could not be promoted in the absence of corresponding progress towards nuclear disarmament. The expanded scope contemplated in the text went far beyond the stated objective.
In addition, he said, the text sought jurisdiction over treaty-implementing mechanisms. Further compounding that situation were the “definitional” problems relating to “non-State actors”, “responsibility of States”, and others, contained in the body of the text and in the footnotes. Also, invoking Chapter VII might give rise to the unilateral use of force in implementing the resolution. Further, the establishment of a committee under the auspices of the Council would constitute a separate regime for non-proliferation and might well undermine the functions and the proven role of existing treaty regimes, such as the IAEA. By excluding an overwhelming majority of Member States, such a body would be unrepresentative and serve no useful function.
DANESH-YAZDI (Iran) said that the prospect of non-State actors acquiring WMD was threatening the entire international community. Iran supported all efforts to deal with the potential menace, within the parameters of international law. The United Nations, as the sole universal body, had an important role in addressing the serious threat, and the Council, in taking the initiative, intended to fill the gap in the non-proliferation regime through a binding resolution. However, a number of serious questions arose as to whether the resolution’s content fairly and adequately addressed the issue at hand.
While the United Nations Charter entrusted the Council with a huge responsibility to maintain international peace and security, he said, it had not conferred authority on it to act as a global legislature imposing obligations upon States in a non-participatory fashion. The draft was a clear manifestation of the Council’s departure from its Charter-based mandate. The Council’s success in securing an environment of non-proliferation depended greatly on its own practice to inspire States’ cooperation. A major deficiency in the proposed resolution was its silence on the imperative of disarmament and its failure to acknowledge the linkage between non-proliferation and disarmament. The cosmetic reference to disarmament in the preamble should not be interpreted as substantive provisions. The draft, by ignoring the question of disarmament, not only undermined its significance but also weakened its effective implementation.
The prevention of WMD proliferation should not hamper international cooperation in materials, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes, he said. That key provision had not been incorporated in the draft resolution’s operative portion. The text contained certain concepts and definitions that were either inadequately elaborated or inconsistent with definitions embodied in international instruments on nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. The enforcement clauses were subject to different interpretation and the proposed monitoring mechanism also needed to be clarified. The follow-up and monitoring of the resolution should not be left to the discretion of individual States.
He said the draft also failed to make references to initiatives on zones free of WMD, and the need to establish the Middle East as a WMD-free zone should be incorporated. On the question of urgency, the text must not be fast-tracked. Comprehensive consultations were not only desirable, but also imperative.
FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said the international community had agreed that the best way to end the dangers posed by mass destruction weapons lay in their total elimination. There was no doubt that the possibility of WMD falling into the hands of terrorists was a matter of grave concern. Syria was keen on sparing its own region and the rest of the world the dangers posed by WMD proliferation. That had prompted the country to take a decision on accession to the NPT and on concluding safeguards agreements with the IAEA.
Israel, he pointed out, had not acceded to the NPT and had prevented the declaration of the Middle East as a zone free of all WMD. The Council had before it a draft tabled by Syria, on behalf of all Arab Member States, stressing the need to stand up to the danger posed by the acquisition of WMD by terrorist groups. It was regrettable that the Council had not yet adopted that important resolution. Instead, some had tried to exert misplaced pressures, ignoring the fact that Israel had all types of WMD.
The draft resolution being discussed today confirmed that the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons posed a threat to international peace and security, he said. However, Syria shared the concern of the Non-aligned Movement regarding other aspects of the text and would welcome the convening of more consultations prior to its adoption. Also, there was a need to clarify some of the terms in the draft, such as “means of delivery”.
The debate continued following a suspension of the meeting
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said that the proliferation of WMD had always been a threat to international peace and security and the international community’s recognition of that had led it to conclude a group of conventions and agreements related to counter it. The threat that could result from some individuals or groups acquiring such weapons called for an in-depth consideration of how to deal with such a threat. While appreciating the initiative to hold today’s debate, Egypt hoped the draft would determine the relationship between the Council, the proposed committee and the current system of conventions. The consideration of the issue should be on a temporary basis, until an internationally agreed agreement could be concluded.
Secondly, he continued, it would be suitable in the context of the draft to re-emphasize the need for nuclear weapons-free zones, especially in the Middle East. The proposed committee required more clarification regarding its mandate and proposed mechanisms, as well as its relation to the Counter-Terrorism Committee and the 1267 Committee. In addition, it would be useful to re-emphasize the need to provide assistance to those States requiring assistance to implement the resolution.
He said that issues such as legislation, export and border controls should lead to cooperation and not tension. It was surprising that the co-sponsors of the text wanted it adopted before the end of the month. There was a growing trend to give the Council new legislative authority. When the Charter had determined the role of the Council to maintain international peace and security and compliance of States with international law, it had not given the organ the authority to legislate, but to protect the Charter and compliance with it.
RASTAM MOHD ISA (Malaysia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, welcomed international efforts to prevent terrorists and other non-State actors from acquiring weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. While not disputing its intent, he did have questions, doubts and comments regarding its content. He would welcome further consultations on the issue and hoped that the sponsors and Council members would continue to take the Movement’s views into consideration. It was important to ensure that the final product was realistic, generally acceptable and implementable. The Council must give ample time and opportunity for governments to cooperate fully in ensuring the resolution’s implementation. While fully recognizing the importance and urgency of dealing with the threat of use of weapons of mass destruction by non-State actors, he also felt the manner in which the international community responded to the threat should be equally important. The Council should not rush into a decision.
Highlighting several specific points, he said non-proliferation should be addressed together with disarmament. The continued possession of any type of weapons of mass destruction was a threat to international peace and security. To provide adequate balance in the text, that should be adequately reflected in the draft, not only in the preamble, but also in other parts of the text. There could also be references to the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, in line with relevant resolutions already adopted by the Council.
He hoped the definitions of terms, including “means of delivery” and “related materials”, could be made clear, as a clearer definition of terms could help avoid unnecessary difficulty in implementing the resolution’s provisions, once adopted. Lack of clarity and vague definitions could result in time-consuming and painstaking interpretation at the national level, especially when legislation and national action were required.
The text of the resolution, he said, should conform to Article 25 of the Charter. While he agreed that preventing non-State actors from acquiring weapons of mass destruction was of paramount importance, that objective could still be achieved without resort to Chapter VII. In view of the importance of all provisions stipulated in the draft resolution, the proposed follow-up mechanism to monitor the resolution’s implementation should be provided with a clearly defined mandate and terms of reference, including its time frame. The substance of the resolution, once adopted, should form a useful basis for Member States to consider formulating, in due course, a comprehensive, multilaterally negotiated legal instrument to address the specific question of preventing the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by non-State actors.
The draft resolution could help to fill the gaps currently existing in international non-proliferation regimes, he said. Given the decision’s far-reaching and wide-ranging implications, he urged the Council to take the Non-Aligned Movement’s concerns into consideration.
ENRIQUE BERRUGA (Mexico) expressed the hope that the co-sponsors would receive positively the comments made today, as well as the proposals submitted. There was no doubt about the urgent need to tackle actors not covered by current international instruments. It was a matter of grave concern for all mankind that extremists might have access to nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Terrorists were attacking with greater brutality and on a more random basis. That required concerted resolution and action on the part of the international community. Up to now, only governments had had the capability to build WMD. If terrorist groups had access to such weapons, it was because some State had provided them.
That was why stricter controls were needed, he said. Defence today could not be effective without resoluteness on the part of all States. Through the proposed resolution, the Council would rely on Chapter VII and impose on all States an obligation to adopt measures to ensure that non-State actors did not build, acquire or use WMD. When the need to define the mandate of the proposed committee arose, it would be necessary to avoid duplicating the work of other committees, such as the Counter-Terrorism Committee. Mexico was concerned about the precedent the draft might set for handling other emerging issues on the international agenda. It was also concerned at the growing trend for the Council to legislate, especially on issues that were already covered by a set of international instruments.
ALEG IVANOU (Belarus), welcoming the initiative of the co-sponsors, noted that his country was an active participant in the disarmament process. Belarus reaffirmed its readiness to cooperate with other States and hoped that the Security Council’s efforts would not lead to a weakening of existing regimes, but rather promote their strengthening and development. Only collective action and political will could promote a solution to the problems posed by weapons of mass destruction. Any new initiatives would need the understanding and cooperation of all members of the international community.
JOHAN L. LOVALD (Norway), stressing that the Council should adopt a resolution addressing the most pressing proliferation challenges, said a clear message was needed that taking part in WMD proliferation constituted a serious criminal offence. The draft placed far-reaching and legally binding demands on all Member States, and it was vital that all States take the necessary steps to ensure that they could live up to their multilateral non-proliferation obligations. Those steps could cover national legislation, law enforcement, export controls, border controls and protection of sensitive materials.
In addition, the draft emphasized the role and relevance of the global disarmament and non-proliferation treaties, he said. The international community must preserve the integrity and authority of the global treaties and work to further strengthen them. The upcoming NPT Review Conference must be used to further strengthen that Treaty. Furthermore, there was a need for further dialogue and cooperation on non-proliferation issues, as well as cooperation to prevent illicit trafficking in WMD and their delivery systems. The Proliferation Initiative, in which Norway was a participant, represented a useful response to the new proliferation challenges.
Non-proliferation and disarmament were two sides of the same coin, he said. The irreversible destruction of WMD stockpiles was the best guarantee that such weapons would not fall into the wrong hands. Disarmament must remain an integral component of an effective non-proliferation strategy, and that element must be duly reflected in the resolution to be adopted by the Council.
JOHN DAUTH (Australia) said that weapons of mass destruction proliferation, as a clear threat to international peace and security, fell “squarely” within the Council’s mandate. It had been too long since the Council had dealt substantively with the issue of nuclear non-proliferation. It was entirely appropriate that it should do so now, consistent with its mandate to maintain international peace and security. Recent proliferation cases had demonstrated the critical importance of effective domestic measures, including export controls, in preventing the misuse of sensitive materials and technology at the State or sub-State level.
He said that the draft resolution responded to a clear need for Member States to strengthen their domestic controls and legislation and ensure that proliferators did not exploit legislative and enforcement loopholes. The “nuclear black market”, coupled with known terrorist interest in acquiring mass destruction weapons, underscored the need for quick action from the international community. Unless it acted with conviction and unity, terrorist groups could one day acquire those weapons, with “consequences none of us wishes to contemplate”. The obligations on Member States imposed by the draft in no way conflicted with rights and obligations under existing “WMD-related” treaties. Nor did it impose treaty obligations on non-State parties.
YERZHAN KH. KAZYKHANOV (Kazakhstan) said the draft resolution was an essential instrument designed to reinforce the WMD non-proliferation regime in the new international security environment. Its main objective was the adoption by all States at the national level of measures to prevent non-State actors from acquiring mass destruction weapons and their components. If adopted, the text would help countries achieve the declared goal. At the same time, it was the responsibility of each State to decide for itself which specific steps it should take to secure its borders, sensitive military assets and scientific and research capabilities, thereby eliminating any possibility of their use by terrorists.
Yet, he continued, in order to be able to fully and effectively implement the provisions of the proposed resolution, many countries with extended sea and land boundaries would require assistance in equipping their borders with modern technical means of detection. Effective border controls and well coordinated law enforcement efforts were an important reinforcement of non-proliferation regimes. For its own part, Kazakhstan had voluntarily renounced its “nuclear inheritance”, shut down the Smipalatinsk nuclear-testing ground, and acceded to the NPT, Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and all other similar agreements.
Since 1992, Kazakhstan had adopted an export control law and introduced a comprehensive control list of dual-use products and sensitive materials, he said. It had also been actively involved in the negotiations to draft a treaty on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia. That initiative of the Central Asian States would be an important milestone in the efforts to strengthen non-proliferation. Weakened international control was the main reason for the threat of possible acquisition of unconventional weapons by non-State actors. There was only one solution: tighter controls, increased transparency, and improved global agreements adapted to present realities. Kazakhstan would exert every effort to reinforce them.
KIM SAM-HOON (Republic of Korea) said the recent revelation of the existence of an extensive clandestine international network for the procurement of nuclear equipment and technology, and the thriving illicit traffic in WMD-related materials through that network, demonstrated the danger of terrorists acquiring such weapons. Yet, such emerging threats to international peace and security had not been adequately addressed by the existing non-proliferation regimes. The Republic of Korea, therefore, welcomed the Security Council’s initiative as a milestone in efforts to close the gap between the new realities of the twenty-first century and the existing international non-proliferation regimes.
The normal and most appropriate way to establish new non-proliferation obligations or to supplement the existing non-proliferation regimes was to negotiate new treaties or to amend the existing ones within the framework of treaty-specific bodies, he said. Yet, given the urgency of the challenge and the amount of time for a negotiating process involving all Member States, it was fitting and timely for the Council to address important loopholes in the existing non-proliferation regimes.
But he cautioned the Council to exercise its legislative authority with care and only in exceptional circumstances. The adoption of a new resolution would strengthen existing export-control regimes and contribute to a universal system of export controls to govern the illicit trafficking in sensitive items and technologies. To that end, it was hoped that the guidelines and standards implemented under the present export-control regimes would provide useful references for the committee proposed by the draft resolution. As the new resolution would obligate all States to take domestic measures, including the adoption of national laws, it was important to clarify the language of the text in order to avoid any misinterpretation or discrepancy in implementation.
CESAR MAYORAL (Argentina), noting that the Council had reinforced its role in combating the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, said the draft intended to provide an answer to the link between terrorism and WMD. The new and real challenge posed by terrorism had introduced a new dimension into disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control. A new dimension did not, however, imply a gap in the system of multilateral agreements, as they were clear regarding the responsibilities of States parties.
The new dimension demanded concrete actions by the international community, he said. At stake was the need to assure the full implementation of all disarmament and non-proliferation instruments, their strengthening and universalization. The concrete measures contained in the draft created the basis for that and would give the necessary political push to reach those objectives. Cooperation with the United Nations and regional organizations was vital for effective international efforts against terrorism and to enable Member States to fulfil their obligations under existing legal instruments and relevant resolutions.
As the United Nations played a main role in preparing legal instruments, the Organization might provide assistance in that regard, he said. Argentina shared the spirit of the draft and would continue advocating the need for all States to renounce the nuclear option. It would also continue working for the strict fulfilment of obligations contained in existing treaties and conventions, including the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the CTBT.
GERHARD PFANZELTER (Austria) said he was pleased that the latest draft of the resolution reflected, in its preambular section, the mutual reinforcement of non-proliferation and disarmament, although he would have preferred such a reference in the operative section. It was important to promote a transparent process of non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control that covered the whole spectrum of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, as well as their means of delivery. It was also important that all States fulfilled their obligations under international disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control treaties and arrangements.
The relationship between weapons of mass destruction and the increasing number and variety of means of delivery merited particular attention, he said. His country’s experience as Immediate Central Contact for The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation –- a confidence-building and security-enhancing instrument to which 113 States had so far subscribed -- had convinced it of the need to emphasize that aspect in the resolution. Also, operative paragraph 6(a) should not only refer to international treaties, but also to non-proliferation arrangements. In addition, should the Council decide to establish a “non-proliferation committee”, close coordination with the Counter-Terrorism Committee, the IAEA and the OPCW would be conducive to achieving the aim of the resolution.
BISHER AL-KHASAWNEH (Jordan) said that acquisition of weapons of mass destruction and related materials by non-State actors was a “clear and present danger” and an imminent threat to international peace and security. There was a gap in the existing treaty regime that regulated the issue of non-proliferation. That must be addressed, in order to devise effective means and measures to bring non-State actors under the umbrella of that multilateral non-proliferation regime and ensure that the multilateral effort aimed at achieving non-proliferation was effectively extended.
He said that the best approach to addressing the matter was to exert efforts to engage in an intensive multilateral negotiation, aimed at developing an international instrument that regulated and addressed the problem. But, owing to the urgency of the threat posed by the current gap, a measured intervention by the Security Council was both necessary and appropriate. Such an intervention should take into consideration that the most effective “watertight” measure capable of fully fending off the possibility of the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by non-State actors was to achieve the long-awaited objective of total nuclear disarmament. At the same time, the value, validity and binding nature of any anticipated resolution by the Council would not be compromised if it was not adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter, since all Council texts were binding.
SAMI KRONFOL (Lebanon) underlined the importance of taking into account all opinions and views expressed in order to put an end to all weapons of mass destruction and protect the world from such weapons, especially in the Middle East region. Lebanon, like other Arab States, was a party to the NPT and was concerned that Israel was the only State in the region that stayed outside international endeavours to make the Middle East a nuclear-weapon-free zone. It had a full nuclear arsenal and delivery systems that were not subject to any controls or inspection, as well as advanced chemical and biological weapons.
It was necessary to ensure that the non-proliferation of WMD began with strict monitoring of their manufacture, he noted. In order for the draft to be more precise and implementable, the Council should establish definitions of the terms used in the text. It was important to use more precise terms.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said that non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament were complementary elements of the overall comprehensive effort that the international community should undertake to effectively tackle the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction. Thus, the draft resolution under consideration would benefit from the inclusion of a stronger reference to disarmament.
Stressing the need to maintain the multilateral character of measures taken with respect to non-proliferation, he said possible enforcement action should be based on a decision of the Security Council. In that regard, Liechtenstein supported the establishment of a monitoring committee, preferably with a clear time limit and review mechanism, to engage in a transparent and open dialogue with the membership. While endeavours in the area of non-proliferation and disarmament should be the result of multilateral negotiations, the resolution could make a valuable contribution to non-proliferation if drafted in a precise and balanced manner that reflected all aspects of that complex topic.
He said the international community, while addressing with resolve the threat posed by nuclear weapons, should not lose sight of the fact that most of the massive and large-scale human suffering and loss of life witnessed in the recent past was the result of the use of often unsophisticated and widely available weapons. The international community had an obligation to address that very concrete threat and sad reality with equal determination.
EDUARDO SEVILLA SOMOZA (Nicaragua) said the proliferation of WMD and their delivery systems had been a constant concern for the international community, which had been expressed for the first time during the First World War with the use of mustard gas. That had led to the 1925 drafting of the Geneva Protocol. The League of Nations had also attempted to achieve a complete prohibition of such weapons, but had failed. In 1992, agreement had been reached on the Chemical Weapons Convention, the first treaty to ban an entire category of WMD. The Non-Proliferation Treaty had established a system of safeguards to prevent the diversion of nuclear materials for military and other banned uses. Notwithstanding those and other instruments, transnational terrorist groups had found sophisticated means to circumvent those instruments.
He noted that the present draft resolution appealed to all States to cooperate in adopting measures and establishing domestic controls to prevent non-State actors from developing, transferring or using WMD. It also appealed to all States to cooperate in preventing illicit trafficking in such weapons. The draft urged Member States to promote the full compliance and strengthening of multilateral treaties. There was a need to enhance the coordination of efforts at all levels to prevent terrorist actions.
MURARI RAJ SHARMA (Nepal) highlighted some aspects of the text which posed difficulties for his delegation. First, the Council lacked competence in making treaties. Through the draft, it was seeking to establish something tantamount to a treaty by its own fiat. That undermined and even contravened the progress of the intergovernmental treaty. Secondly, the proposed text had no concrete measures that would bring terrorists and other non-State actors into compliance with the existing non-proliferation regime. However, it imposed tremendous new obligations on Member States, many of which might not have the necessary resources to meet those obligations. The best way to address the issue would have been to strengthen existing non-proliferation and disarmament regimes.
Thirdly, the opaque and exclusive decision-making process in the Council did not inspire much confidence among the wider United Nations membership, he said. It deprived the majority of Member States of the opportunity to participate in negotiations and decisions that would have wide ramifications for Member States. Fourthly, it was completely incomprehensible as to why the draft needed to be adopted under Chapter VII. Also, the text presented no concrete measures that would bring terrorists and other non-State actors into compliance with its provisions. In addition, it was riddled with ambiguities, and the proposed monitoring mechanism not only lacked transparency, but its time-frame was unrealistic. It was critical that all Member States feel comfortable with the draft before it came up for action by the Council. The Council should work within its mandate and should resist the temptation to play world legislature, world administration and world court bundled into one.
NDEKHEDEHE E. NDEKHEDEHE (Nigeria), while appreciating the reason behind the draft resolution and the urgent need for action, noted the existence of multilateral instruments on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, which were the same weapons of mass destruction the draft sought to address. The main aim of those instruments was the total elimination of WMD, to ensure their non-existence, which would guarantee their inaccessibility to terrorists or non-State actors. That objective could only be achieved through the commitment by all States parties to their obligations under those instruments. Nigeria was concerned that the draft sought to make non-proliferation its goal, rather than disarmament.
The apparent intention of the text was to fill any perceived gap in the existing instruments brought about by the activities of non-State actors or terrorists regarding WMD, he said. The aim and spirit of the Charter regarding international peace and security would be better promoted if matters of WMD proliferation were multilaterally negotiated, rather than imposed through Council mandates. By invoking Chapter VII, the draft appeared to express the readiness of the Council to apply enforcement action against Member States that might fail to comply. There were far-reaching implications when Chapter VII was invoked depending on the specific circumstances. A resolution with such grave implications, as the one under consideration, should be temporary in order to gain greater legitimacy and acceptability, and contain adequate safeguards. Consequently, there should be provisions for its replacement by a multilaterally negotiated instrument on the same subject on a permanent basis.
RASHID ALIMOV (Tajikistan) said that despite the international community’s vigorous measures after 11 September 2001, terrorism continued to pose a serious threat to international peace and security. The number of terrorist attacks and victims was growing, and there was a serious danger of WMD falling into terrorist hands. Today’s discussion was one more step in the Council’s efforts to strengthen unity and the international community’s will to combat international terrorism.
Tajikistan was on the front lines of the fight against terrorism, and its Government was cooperating in the battle against terrorism, in neighbouring countries, he said. Al Qaeda and other extremist groups were once again acting up, trying to plunge a country emerging from the ashes of war back into a climate of strife. The fact that terrorist groups and drug networks were coming together was even more serious.
He said the adoption of the draft resolution would make it possible to strengthen the mechanism of strict export controls. However, it was important that the text not replace existing international treaties in the areas of non-proliferation and disarmament. As a party to international treaties, Tajikistan would expand its cooperation with other States parties and with the IAEA. Adoption of the draft resolution and its implementation would become one more unified response to the challenge posed by the proliferation of WMD and terrorism.
LUBLIN DILJA (Albania) said that when terrorism threatened all countries and all peoples, the world had the duty of collective mobilization and vigorous action to fight it with clear goals and positive results. The draft resolution was the right step in that direction. Unfortunately, no region, country or border was immune from the barbarity of terrorism or from the danger of the proliferation of mass destruction weapons and their delivery systems. The prospect of those weapons falling into the hands of terrorists was a growing and paramount threat to international peace and security.
He said that 11 September 2001 and other horrible terrorist acts had taught the lesson that those who would direct attacks against innocent civilians with conventional weapons should be assumed to be equally willing to commit such atrocities with unconventional weapons. They must be challenged every day, on every front, and in an effective collective way. The sooner preventive actions were taken, the better. The draft before the Council was an entirely appropriate measure to counter that real, serious and growing threat, as the text appealed to every State to criminalize the proliferation of WMD.
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said his country shared the global and legitimate concern that non-State actors might acquire weapons of mass destruction and related technology. In today’s world, it was increasingly obvious that indefinite possession of those weapons was a threat to international peace and security. The only way to prevent non-State actors from acquiring them was their complete elimination. The problem was that those States that had such weapons were unwilling to eliminate them, but were, rather, preoccupied with preventing others from acquiring them. They also continued to modernize their weapons in the name of national security. Security could only be achieved by meeting commitments under multilateral treaties and related agreements.
The non-proliferation of WMD was a universal concern, requiring engagement by the United Nations entire membership, he said. Affected States should take part in the negotiation of measures seeking to impose obligations over and above existing treaties and conventions. That was why the issue being discussed today belonged in the General Assembly. While there were gaps in the existing multilateral legal instruments that needed filling, such gaps could be bridged by multilateral negotiated instruments and not by Council members, whose decisions would be unbalanced and selective as they represented only the views of those who drafted them. Namibia hoped the measures envisaged in the draft would be temporary, to be replaced by a legally negotiated instrument.
NABEELA ABDULLA AL-MULLA (Kuwait) said that it was of utmost importance to continue to strengthen multilateral institutions and fully implement international treaties dealing with issues of disarmament and non-proliferation, which were mutually reinforcing processes. All Council resolutions were legally binding on Member States in accordance with Article 25 of the Charter. There was a gap in the international treaty regime, which did not address the nexus between WMD and non-State actors. The draft could be an interim solution until that gap was addressed fully at a later stage.
She said that the nature of the draft, as well as possible future actions, should be based on a broad consensus in the international community. All regions had responsibilities and obligations regarding non-State actors and WMD. The issue was a collective responsibility that required cooperation and commitment by one and all. Kuwait would cooperate fully in the implementation of an eventual resolution.
LAXANACHANTORN LAOHAPHAN (Thailand) said the world had witnessed a surge in terrorist attacks, and no State could afford to remain placid. The possibility of terrorist wreaking havoc through the indiscriminate use of weapons of mass destruction was no longer far-fetched. As the world continued to wage war against terrorism on all fronts, it was vital to step up efforts to address the proliferation of WMD, their delivery systems and related materials, and to prevent them from falling into the hands of terrorists.
The draft resolution, she said, would help bridge the gap in the international law pertaining to non-State actors. As long as WMD continued to exist, however, the resolution could only partially counter the threats posed by those weapons to international peace and security. While Thailand continued to stress the importance of reinforced compliance and verification of key international WMD non-proliferation treaties and conventions, progress was also urgently needed in the area of disarmament. In order to contain and safeguard the world from the risks associated with WMD, non-proliferation and disarmament must go hand in hand.
She said Thailand welcomed the proposed establishment of a committee to report on the implementation of the resolution. While the Council recognized that some States might require assistance in implementing it, however, the implementation time-frame of 90 days was rather an arduous task. It would be helpful if the resolution would spell out in clear terms and in greater detail the scope of obligations required of Member States.
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