|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6017th Meeting (AM & PM)
SECURITY COUNCIL STRESSES CONCERN AT INCREASING GLOBAL MILITARY EXPENDITURES,
URGES STATES TO DEVOTE ‘AS MANY RESOURCES AS POSSIBLE’ TO DEVELOPMENT
Costa Rica’s President Says Debate Convened to Examine Charter Article 26,
On Council’s Duty to Promote Peace with Least Diversion of Resources for Armaments
The Security Council, stressing its concern at increasing global military expenditures, today urged all States to devote as many resources as possible to economic and social development, in particular in the fight against poverty and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
Concluding today’s Council meeting on “Strengthening collective security through general regulation and reduction of armaments”, Council President Jorge Urbina (Costa Rica) read a statement by which the Council stated that the regulation and reduction of armaments and armed forces constituted one of the most important measures to promote international peace and security with the least diversion of the world’s human and economic resources.
Recognizing that development, peace and security and human rights were interlinked and mutually reinforcing, the Council stressed the importance of an effective multilateral system to better address the challenges and threats confronting the world. The Council expressed support for national, bilateral, regional and multilateral measures aimed at reducing military expenditures.
By the presidential statement, the Council reiterated that cooperation with regional and subregional organizations in matters relating to the maintenance of peace and security and consistent with Chapter VIII of the Charter could improve collective security.
Recalling the obligation of all States to accept and carry out its decisions, the Council affirmed its commitment to continue monitoring and promoting the effective implementation of its decisions, in order to avoid conflict, promote and maintain international peace and security, and further confidence in collective security.
The Council called on Member States, regional and subregional organizations, the Secretariat and the competent United Nations funds and programmes, as appropriate, to make further efforts to preserve, facilitate, develop and strengthen international and regional cooperation in the areas of arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament.
At the outset of the meeting, Oscar Arias Sánchez, President of Costa Rica, said his country had convened today’s debate in order to examine Article 26 of the United Nations Carter, which gave the Council the duty to promote peace and security with the least diversion of resources for armaments, by developing plans for a system to regulate armaments. The time had come to recognize the link between the waste of resources devoted to arms and the need for resources for development.
Speaking in his national capacity, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate said alternatives to excessive military spending must be found that did not damage security. One of those alternatives was to strengthen multilateralism. “As long as nations do not feel protected by strong regional organizations with real powers to act, they will continue to arm themselves at the expense of their peoples’ development -- particularly in the poorest countries -- and at the expense of international security.”
Costa Rica was an unarmed nation, he said, but it was not a naïve nation. He had not come to lobby for the abolition of all armies or to urge the drastic reduction of the “outrageous” $3.3 billion daily spending on the military, but called for support for the “Costa Rica Consensus”, an initiative to create mechanisms to forgive debts and provide international financial resources for developing countries that spent increasingly more on environmental protection, education, health care and housing, and increasingly less on weapons and soldiers. He also asked for support for the arms trade treaty that sought to prohibit the sale of arms to States, groups or individuals when there was sufficient reason to believe that they would be used to violate human rights or international law.
He said, “We seek to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; yet armed conflicts are the largest single cause of world hunger, and a major cause of food emergencies. We seek to reduce child mortality; yet thousands of child soldiers are fighting as we speak. The strengthening of multilateralism, the reduction of military spending in favour of human development, and the regulation of the international arms trade are steps in the right direction -- the same direction signalled 63 years ago by those who, having survived atrocities, were nonetheless able to hope.”
Sergio Duarte, United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, read a statement by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. In that statement, the Secretary-General said that the strengthening of collective security could build trust between States and could pave the way for agreements and cooperation in other fields, steadily tying countries together in a web of shared interest, better understanding and mutual support.
No serious discussion on the limitation or elimination of armaments could avoid the topic of improving transparency, he said. If States behaved in a predictable and transparent way, it could build confidence. Transparency was only one of several criteria in the fields of disarmament and arms regulation. Others included irreversibility, verification, and the degree to which signatories were bound by an agreement. “Security is a common good. And as such, it has value only when it is shared with others”, he said.
Echoed by many speakers in the ensuing debate, Samuel Lewis Navarro, Vice-President and Foreign Minister of Panama, said one of the main international security concerns was the continued illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, which fuelled conflicts and worsened social problems. The production and trade of weapons must be monitored, and information must be exchanged between regulatory mechanisms. Speakers welcomed, in that regard, the approval by the General Assembly’s First Committee of a draft resolution entitled “Towards an arms trade treaty: establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms”.
Other speakers drew attention to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which Norway’s representative said was under growing strain. Non-proliferation should go together with nuclear disarmament. While applauding the significant reductions in nuclear arsenals, she called for significantly deeper reductions on the basis of irreversibility, verification and transparency. She also regretted that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty had not entered into force.
Many speakers, including Belgium’s representative, stated that peace and security could be built by other means than military ones to defend sovereignty. Tools that could lead to a lesser use of armaments included: multilateral and bilateral cooperation; prevention of conflict; mediation; peacebuilding; and social and economic development. Regional and subregional organizations had a role to play in that regard, said the representative of Burkina Faso, who drew attention to the Economic Community of West African States’ convention on small arms and light weapons. However, “Regionalization should not weaken non-proliferation, arms control or disarmament agreements, which affect several areas simultaneously”, said the representative of France, speaking on behalf of the European Union.
The representative of the United States drew attention to voluntary associations, such as the 2003 Proliferation Security Initiative. Initiated by his country, it was a dynamic, active approach to the global proliferation problem. Today, over 90 States were working voluntarily to employ their national capabilities to develop a broad range of legal, diplomatic, economic, military and other tools to interdict threatening shipments of weapons of mass destruction and missile-related equipment and technologies. The Wassenaar Arrangement, in which the United States participated, was a voluntary export control regime for Conventional Arms and Dual Use Goods and Technologies.
Although many participants called for an end to the illicit trade of arms, Bolivia’s representative wondered if the legal arms trade was less deadly. Many of the armed conflict were the result of the actions of those countries that promoted the industry of war, he said. The production of arms was the true cause of conflicts.
The representatives of Viet Nam, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Indonesia, Italy, China, South Africa, Croatia, Libya, Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Nigeria, Ecuador, Australia, Switzerland, Argentina, Guatemala, Spain, Pakistan, Colombia, Austria, Morocco, Canada, Armenia, United Republic of Tanzania, Qatar, Benin, Algeria and Japan also made statements, as did the Permanent Observer of the Holy See.
The meeting was called to order at 10:20 a.m. and was suspended at 12:50 p.m. It reconvened at 3:10 p.m. and adjourned at 5:30 p.m.
Presidential statement S/PRST/2008/43 reads, as follows:
“The Security Council recalls its primary responsibility under the Charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security.
“The Security Council remains convinced of the necessity to strengthen international peace and security through, inter alia, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control. It considers that the regulation and reduction of armaments and armed forces, as appropriate, constitutes one of the most important measures to promote international peace and security with the least diversion of the world’s human and economic resources.
“The Security Council notes the importance of collective security and its impact on disarmament and development, and stresses its concern at increasing global military expenditure.
“The Security Council stresses the importance of appropriate levels of military expenditure, in order to achieve undiminished security for all at the lowest appropriate level of armaments. It urges all States to devote as many resources as possible to economic and social development, in particular in the fight against poverty and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
“The Security Council affirms the 2005 World Summit Outcome in which Heads of State and Government recognized that development, peace and security and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing.
“The Security Council stresses the vital importance of an effective multilateral system, to better address, in accordance with international law, the multifaceted and interconnected challenges and threats confronting our world and to achieve progress in the areas of peace and security, development and human rights, which are the pillars of the United Nations system and the foundations for collective security and well-being. It also expresses its support for multilateralism as one of the most important means for resolving security concerns in accordance with international law.
“The Security Council expresses support for national, bilateral, regional and multilateral measures adopted by Governments aimed at reducing military expenditures, where appropriate, thereby contributing to strengthening regional and international peace and security.
“The Security Council underlines the importance of promoting norms setting in accordance with international law, as part of the efforts to strengthen non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control measures, as well as the importance of compliance with and reinforcing of the existing agreements, conventions, and treaties which relate to these matters and international peace and security.
“The Security Council reiterates that cooperation with regional and subregional organizations in matters relating to the maintenance of peace and security and consistent with Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations can improve collective security and, therefore, should be continuously strengthened. In this regard, it underlines the importance of strengthening the capacity of such organizations in conflict prevention, crisis management, armaments control and in supporting States recovering from conflict and laying the foundation for sustainable peace and development.
“The Security Council recalls the obligation of all States to accept and carry out its decisions in accordance with Article 25 of the United Nations Charter and affirms its commitment to continue monitoring and promoting the effective implementation of its decisions, in order to avoid conflict, promote and maintain international peace and security, and further confidence in collective security.
“The Security Council calls on Member States, regional and subregional organizations, the Secretariat and the competent United Nations funds and programmes, as appropriate, to make further efforts to preserve, facilitate, develop and strengthen international and regional cooperation in the areas of arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament, through, inter alia, further implementation, development and strengthening of relevant agreements and instruments.
“The Security Council intends to continue following this issue.”
On the proposal of this month’s President, Costa Rica, the Security Council met in an open debate on strengthening collective security and armament regulation.
In a background paper annexed to a 10 November letter to the President of the Security Council (document S/2008/697), Costa Rica’s Permanent Representative Jorge Urbina notes that the Council not only has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, according to Article 24 of the United Nations Charter, but is also mandated to formulate plans to be considered by the General Assembly for the establishment of a system for the regulation of armaments (Article 26).
According to Assembly resolution 41 (I) and Council resolution 18 (1947), both Assembly and Council have recognized the necessity of a general regulation and reduction of armaments and armed forces, Mr. Urbina writes. The situation that confronted the Council in the 40 years following those resolutions, however, made it not propitious for the Council to take up those mandates. Now that that situation has changed, it is entirely appropriate and indeed necessary for the Council to revisit those fundamental responsibilities. In the twenty-first century, the regulation on limitation of armaments should be seen as part of the toolkit the Organization has at its disposal to enhance the stability of international relations, development and the peaceful settlement of disputes.
Mr. Urbina writes that acting on the 1947 recommendations of the Assembly, the Council should start considering, with the support of the Secretariat and the all too obscure Military Staff Committee, concrete proposals on the issue as, in the absence of international coordination, military spending is liable to be excessive. It is also an opportunity to comply with the 2005 World Summit Outcome that requested the Organization to consider the composition, mandate and working methods of the Military Staff Committee. “Since peace and security, development and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing, only an effective multilateral system of collective security, based on a new security consensus, can achieve the lofty goal of saving future generations from the scourge of war”, Mr. Urbina says.
Noting that collective security today depends on effective cooperation among the United Nations and regional organization and that regional arrangements and organizations play a pivotal role in the promotion and maintenance of international peace and security, Mr. Urbina urges further development of a constructive and proactive interaction between such regional arrangements and the Council.
An enhanced system of regional arrangements, duly coordinated, mandated and supported by the United Nations, in particular by the Council, can help prevent and positively address conflict, including its root causes and triggers, Mr. Urbina states. If the “neighbourhood” could credibly commit to respecting the security of each country by maintaining collectively agreed levels of military spending, with the Council serving as guarantor of compliance, national security would be enhanced relative to the more precarious peace of mutual deterrence, and substantial resources would be spared for other uses, including for development.
In conclusion, Mr. Urbina writes, “The responsibility and mandate of the Security Council goes beyond the mere maintenance of international peace and security. It also includes the obligation to actively promote its establishment and maintenance with the least diversion for armaments of the world’s human and economic resources. Current development and circumstances require that we urgently build consensus on major threats and challenges and translate that consensus into concrete action, including addressing the root causes of those threats and challenges with resolve and determination.”
Council President OSCAR ARIAS SANCHEZ, President of Costa Rica, said his country had convened today’s debate in order to examine what was contained in Article 26 of the United Nations Charter, which gave the Council the duty to promote peace and security by developing plans for the least diversion of resources for armaments. Today, the role of the Council should be considered in promoting international peace and security.
He said instruments to be used included the strengthening of multilateral regional and worldwide mechanisms and measures regarding the control and regulations of arms. The dialogue today should not be an isolated effort. Actions should be established that should allow for a more rational use of resources for development. Arms races that were developing around the world, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the crises confronting the world, in the environment, energy and the economic sectors made improving the lives of the poor difficult. The time had come to recognize the link between the waste of resources devoted to arms and the need for resources for development. Peace and security, development and human rights were the basis for collective security.
SERGIO DUARTE, United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, reading a statement by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said that achieving a sense of collective security was a vital step towards preventing conflict. Conflict prevention was very high on his agenda, and the international community must strengthen its ability to minimize the potential for conflict. The strengthening of collective security could build trust between States, and it could pave the way for agreements and cooperation in other fields, steadily tying countries together in a web of shared interest, better understanding and mutual support.
He said that, when the United Nations had been established, the issue of minimizing the diversion of the world’s human and economic resources for armaments had been given a place in the Charter, along with disarmament. No serious discussion on the limitation or elimination of armaments could avoid the topic of improving transparency. If States behaved in a predictable and transparent way, that could build confidence. Member States had developed two transparency instruments within the framework of the United Nations: the Standardized Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditures, which would be reviewed in 2010 for the first time; and the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms. Over the years, Member States had agreed to steadily widen the scope of the Register. In 2003, States had decided that they could include their transfers of small arms. Far more than half of all Member States had participated in both instruments.
Transparency was only one of several criteria that the world community was seeking to enshrine in multilateral agreements in the fields of disarmament and arms regulation. Others included irreversibility, verification, and the degree to which signatories were bound by an agreement. To the extent that such criteria were accepted by States and implemented in good faith, prospects for achieving the full potential of collective security would grow. “Security is a common good”, he said. “And as such, it has value only when it is shared with others.”
SAMUEL LEWIS NAVARRO, Vice-President and Foreign Minister of Panama, said his country sought to strengthen the multilateral security system, linking human rights and development. Disarmament must be achieved to bring military spending into proportion. The main international security concern was the continued illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, which fuelled conflicts and worsened social problems. Several agreements had been reached on weapons of mass destruction, but in small arms there was only a non-binding plan of action.
Producing States must sign on to a binding plan of action in that area, he said. The production and trade of weapons must be monitored, and information must be exchanged between regulatory mechanisms. Such measures would not interfere with the legal trade in weapons and with the right of States to defend themselves. He hoped the current meeting and related efforts would bear fruit on that issue.
LE LUONG MINH ( Viet Nam) said that global military expenditure and the arms trade was worth over $1 trillion a year at the moment. At the same time, nearly 1 billion people lived in extreme poverty, because the funds needed to assist them were lacking. He then recalled what the then Secretary-General had said in 2004 about the negative impact of excessive armament and military spending, which he had warned as having the potential to divert financial, technological and human resources from development objectives. The Secretary-General had further said that the spread of arms could be destabilizing, thus, discouraging investment and contributing to a cycle of poverty, underdevelopment and distress. Intensifying hostilities in places like Africa and even Europe seemed to testify to that fact. In light of such intensification, it seemed more pertinent than ever to live up to the Charter principle of promoting “the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security with the least diversion of armament of the world’s human and economic resources”.
He said that he shared a common understanding with others that arms reduction and development were two distinct, yet mutually reinforcing, processes that were linked by security in all its aspects. Moreover, it was also his view that arms reduction should be carried out in the spirit of multilateralism and in accordance with international law and the principles of the United Nations Charter. In that connection, he stressed the central role to be played by the United Nations, especially the General Assembly and its disarmament-related bodies, such as the Disarmament Commission and the Conference on Disarmament, which had been “idle” for many years. He also pointed out that the United Nations had about $20 billion a year to spend on programmes in all areas. In resolution 1809 (2008), the Security Council had underlined the importance of strengthening the capacity of regional organizations in conflict prevention, some of which had played a role in establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones. However, in the changed international context with the emergence of terrorism, there had been a tendency to move away from seeking multilateral solutions to questions of disarmament and security. It was more important than ever to strengthen coordination between the Council, the Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Peacebuilding Commission, as well as various regional organizations in that area.
JOHN SAWERS ( United Kingdom) said that his country was working on many fronts on finding common ground in enhancing collective security through disarmament, which should be mainstreamed into development policy. He was committed to strengthening the non-proliferation regime, which should include progress in disarmament, as well. His country had reduced its nuclear arsenal and had discussed technical aspects towards further measures. On the other hand, proliferation concerns must be dealt with, not only in the area of nuclear weapons, but also in other areas of weapons of mass destruction. His country also planned to sign on to the Conventions against anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions, and had heavily restricted those weapons.
A conventional arms trade treaty also would have a significant role to play in furthering international peace and security, he said. Concerns about such a treaty must be dealt with openly. Such a treaty would provide many benefits, both in reducing conflict and lowering crime.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD ( United States) said the United States recognized the role of the United Nations in promoting the maintenance of international peace and security. His country had taken a leading role in arms reduction and fighting proliferation. Multilateral engagement was an important tool in that effort.
He said treaties, such as the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), could play a role, but so could voluntary associations. In 2003, the United States had launched the Proliferation Security Initiative, a dynamic, active approach to the global proliferation problem. Today, over 90 States were working voluntarily to employ their national capabilities to develop a broad range of legal, diplomatic, economic, military and other tools to interdict threatening shipments of weapons of mass destruction and missile-related equipment and technologies. The Wassenaar Arrangement, in which the United States participated, was a voluntary export control regime for Conventional Arms and Dual Use Goods and Technologies.
Action within the United Nations was also important, he said, describing his country’s activities regarding arms reductions and small arms. Resolution 1540 was a good example of the role the Council could play in promoting non-proliferation. It had been designed to fight proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including by non-State actors. Reduction of armaments was an important issue for many Member States, and, under the right circumstances, it could increase security and enhance development.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) advocated an equitable system of collective security, commenting that unilateral and block mechanisms were bankrupt. Numerous successes had been achieved by the collective security mechanisms of the United Nations, which were constantly adapted to new conditions. The Military Staff Committee should be strengthened to provide timely and relevant information to the Security Council, and the Russian proposal in that area must be considered seriously.
His country was sparing no effort in ensuring that disarmament processes bolstered international peace and security, by reducing its own arsenal by a factor of five and signing on to many treaties. He advocated a new version of the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START), for further progress. The elimination of intermediate and short-range weapons should, in other areas, be a global effort, and outer space must be kept free of militarization. His country had co-sponsored a treaty to that effect and advocated a moratorium, in the meantime. In regard to the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, he said that the continued flows of such weapons and the crisis in the Caucasus in August showed that further action was needed. He supported the draft presidential statement that had been proposed.
MICHEL KAFANDO ( Burkina Faso) said the untiring pursuit of security continued to be a concern of all. For collective security, it was necessary to have rules regarding control, regulation and reduction of armaments. The United Nations had greatly contributed to establishing the present disarmament architecture, including on the conclusion of the NPT, as well as of Conventions on biological and chemical weapons. However, weapons of mass destruction were accumulating, as were military budgets and the militarization of outer space. Cluster munitions and small arms continued to cause the suffering of civilians. He, therefore, deplored the lethargy of the Conference on Disarmament and the Disarmament Commission. The United Nations had not been able to carry out its mandate with the necessary effectiveness. There was a need to find a new consensus around collective security, with shared responsibility for all.
He drew attention to other actors in the areas of armament regulation, such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which had established a convention on small arms and light weapons in the region. In 2008, a convention to forbid cluster munitions had been established, which was open for signature. His country adhered to the programme of action to combat and eliminate the trade in small arms and light weapons in all aspects and was implementing its provisions nationally. He urged renewal of the disarmament architecture and proposed, in that regard, among other things: the strengthening of confidence-building measures among producer countries; the strengthening and support of regional and subregional organizations’ capacities; and the strengthening of international cooperation.
MARTY M. NATALEGAWA ( Indonesia) said it was regrettable that resources continued to be diverted into weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, especially in light of the global economic and social crises and the need to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The General Assembly’s very first resolution, adopted in January 1946, focused on the elimination of such weaponry. Yet, more than 60 years later, large stockpiles of those weapons still threatened the world’s existence. Countries continued to increase military spending, investing in even more armaments, and resources that should have been invested in peace and development were thrown into that effort, fuelled by the fear that disarmament would compromise security. A way must be found to end that trend and now was the opportune time for the Security Council to help find the solution.
Until now, he said, the Council had not performed its de jure function under Article 26 of the United Nations Charter to form concrete plans on the regulation of armaments for submission to Member States. Though the Council should in no way act as a legislative body, he said it should play its respective role, in cooperation with the General Assembly and other relevant bodies.
A regional approach to collective security and disarmament could also contribute to overall efforts towards arms reductions, and would complement multilateral arrangements, he said. For example, the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) had been formed in 1967, during a period when regional conflicts overshadowed the political scene. Today, the region was filled with vibrant economies, a feat attributable to regional peace, stability, and the spirit of dialogue and cooperation cultivated by the Association. In general, he said the Security Council could take a more active role in arms regulation and reduction, as other forums had done. At the same time, regardless of the forum, Member States should demonstrate the political will and a recognition of the “win-win potential” of the issue: strengthening peace and security while liberating resources for development.
GIULIO TERZI DI SANT’AGATA (Italy), aligning his statement with that to be made by France on behalf of the European Union, said that the link between peace and security, development and human rights was clear and undisputed. Disarmament could indeed free resources for development, while an effective collective security system could reduce the need for military expenditures by Member States. To allow that to happen, the Security Council must be able to address crises at an early stage and find solutions when conflicts broke out. Close cooperation with regional organizations was crucial.
Regional and global approaches to disarmament, he said, were complementary and should be pursued simultaneously. The toolbox of arms control and confidence-building measures developed in Europe, for example, could make a useful contribution to the global efforts of the United Nations. The General Assembly and its subsidiary disarmament bodies, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs and regional centres were also important in disarmament, as were the United Nations guidelines for the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones. Italy had always supported the norm-setting activities of the Disarmament Conference and was committed to the immediate start and early conclusion of negotiations on a non-discriminatory, universally-applicable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. Therefore, he fully supported efforts to make those bodies more effective.
ZHANG YESUI ( China) said that international security and arms control should be strengthened by addressing the root causes that endangered international security. The legitimate concern of other countries should be considered by each State. Nuclear disarmament must be pursued and the peaceful use of outer space should be assured, and international conventional arms control should be more actively pursued through the revitalization of multilateral mechanisms. The root causes of proliferation must be addressed in order to strengthen a non-proliferation regime. China was willing to work with all countries in those efforts.
JAN GRAULS ( Belgium) said the topic of regulation of reduction of armaments was a sensitive one. The Secretary-General had recently denounced the vast resources consumed by the endless pursuits of militarization. There had been an increase in resources consumed by arms. Arms and the military were a traditional tool for defending sovereignty and providing security. The decision to invest in armed forces was a sovereign decision, and investments would always be necessary to improve the peacekeeping potential. Peace and security could, however, also be built by other means. The more one invested in those other means, the less one needed to invest in armaments.
He said tools that could lead to a lesser use of armaments included: multilateral and bilateral cooperation; prevention of conflict; mediation; peacebuilding; and social and economic development. Belgium intended, through its activities in the Peacebuilding Commission, to contribute to programmes that were designed to permanently silence arms. A great step towards disarmament would be taken if common international standards were adopted for exports, imports and transfers of conventional weapons. The First Committee had adopted a draft resolution called “Towards an arms trade treaty”. Belgium supported that approach, as such a treaty would bolster human security.
DUMISANI S. KUMALO ( South Africa) said today’s debate could focus attention on the need to regulate and reduce armaments, so that scarce resources could be more appropriately directed towards realizing a better life for all. His delegation recognized the right to produce, procure and possess arms for self-defence that did not go beyond what was required, and his country had a national defence force that was actively involved in peacekeeping operations on the African continent. Security was one of the most fundamental aspirations of humankind and a basic human right, as set out in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which was why the Security Council was thus entrusted with that primary responsibility. However, history had shown that, in many parts of the world, seeking security through acquiring advanced weapons and building up huge armies had led to arms races and devastating wars.
He said the advent of nuclear and other highly destructive weapons had brought the world to the point where collective security was threatened by the continued existence of the most destructive weapons. Resources consumed by arms races could be better used to address the plight of the world’s desperately poor. The Security Council’s most profound contribution could be found in its conflict resolution and prevention work, as well as its support for disarmament and non-proliferation. It could also help promote security sector reform in countries emerging from conflict. The Council could do far more -- and in particular through the example set by its own members -- to cut the flow of weapons to all conflict-afflicted regions.
The Council could also be more even-handed in carrying out its primary responsibility, he said. The current situation, where it only acted in some arenas and in the defence of certain peoples, did little to contribute to an environment that would be supportive of State efforts to fully implement disarmament and arms control obligations. One had only to look at the situation in Palestine and the wider Middle East to see the disparities in the Council’s actions. Finally, the Council could build on synergies between the United Nations and regional arrangements, in terms of the United Nations Charter Chapter VII, to achieve a more efficient collective security system. South Africa had promoted that theme throughout its tenure on the Council.
NEVEN JURICA ( Croatia) said that he saw today’s debate as a contribution to the fulfilment of the Council’s leading role in the maintenance of international peace and security. He also stressed the role of the General Assembly and other elements of the United Nations machinery in the field of disarmament, as well as ongoing efforts at the multilateral, regional, bilateral and national levels. As a European country, Croatia especially valued the contribution of such regional organizations as the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). At the subregional level, the implementation of Annex I-B of the General Framework for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina had contributed to collective security in South-East Europe through the establishment of limitations and ceilings on conventional arms and armaments. On the regional level, he mentioned the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, expressing hope that the difficulties in confirming that Treaty would soon be overcome, so that countries of South-East Europe would be given a chance to partake in that pan-European agreement.
In some countries, the reduction of armaments and armies did not necessarily translate into greater stability and security, he continued. In some areas of the world, there was an urgent need to rebuild armed and police forces in order to deal with a wide range of security challenges. In that context, he noted the importance of security sector reform in the process of post-conflict stabilization. At the same time, a reduction in military spending and expenditures could, where appropriate, contribute to committing more resources to development and could be important in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, although that idea should be coupled with the principle of responsible governance and should not have a negative effect on national or regional stability.
As for the promotion of development through the reduction and prevention of armed violence, he took particular note of the importance of the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development, which had been endorsed by over 100 countries. In that connection, he drew attention to the Sarajevo Declaration on Armed Violence and Development, which had been adopted at a regional meeting in Bosnia and Herzegovina a few days ago. Croatia supported the efforts for more effective arms control and stressed the importance of compliance with agreements already in place. Croatia also reiterated its support for existing international agreements in the field of non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control, as well as the recently-launched process aimed at the adoption of an arms trade treaty. He also supported the opening for signature of the Cluster Munitions Convention later this year in Oslo, Norway.
JEAN-MAURICE RIPERT (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, acknowledged the United Nations’ main responsibility in peacekeeping and international security in all its forms, and reaffirmed the European Union’s devotion to assisting the Organization, in particular the Security Council, in fulfilling its responsibilities and meeting challenges related to conflict prevention and crisis management as a means of strengthening multilateralism.
He said the Union was especially committed to conserving and fully complying with the existing non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control agreements and treaties, adding that in its relations with third parties, the European Union also represented a source of stability and support for non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control. As far as possible within the United Nations bodies at the General Assembly, the European Union spoke unanimously on those matters.
He pointed out that the European Union also played a moderating role against the indiscriminate spread of arms; fully supported an ambitious and robust draft treaty on the arms trade, as well as the United Nations Action Programme for Combating the Illicit Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons. Also, it supported transparency in conventional weapons and promoted further broadening the scope of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms. In addition to all those efforts, the European Union was also a key player with respect to development; and as the world’s largest donor of development aid, it particularly highly prized human rights, and worked unremittingly to further that cause.
He, however, stressed that it was difficult to adopt a rigid scenario across all region of the world, as not all regions had the same level of solidarity, the same threat perception or relationship with third parties as the European Union. “Regionalization should not weaken non-proliferation, arms control or disarmament agreements, which affect several areas simultaneously”, he said.
He concluded with a call to safeguard the achievements of the arms control agreements, in particular those of the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty), and urged for tirelessly working to reduce bloodshed caused each year by illicit trafficking and the excessive accumulation of small arms and light weapons. “We must also make the best possible use of the three years before us to arrive at a strong, binding and universal arms trade treaty”, he stated.
GIADALLA ETTALHI ( Libya) said collective security remained the ultimate objective of the Security Council, though it remained an elusive utopia, despite some successes towards that goal. The current international situation provided a more propitious environment than the cold war period had, but that was not enough, in itself, to bolster the effectiveness of the Security Council. Disarmament and arms control could promote collective security for all States and should be achieved through global negotiation. Multilateral treaties negotiated under the aegis of the United Nations were crucial.
Cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations should be strengthened, as well, he said, recognizing the role they played in preventive diplomacy and the resolution of conflicts. There was also a close link between disarmament and human rights, he maintained, as well as between development and international security. In addition, he said that excessive armament absorbed a far greater portion of resources than it should. That had led to the exacerbation of a climate of fear, and taken resources away from social and economic development, which would help achieve collective security in the broadest sense. He said that Costa Rica stood as an example to all other States. Geography helped, but it was the will of its people that shaped a country’s path.
OSCAR ARIAS SANCHEZ, President of Costa Rica, speaking in his national capacity, recounting a Scandinavian tale of two kings condemned to fight eternally, said that fantasy had become a painful premonition of the events that would mark with blood the history of the twentieth century: an escalation of weapons, enemies, threats and war that ended the lives of millions of people. Therein lay the reason for the creation of the Security Council.
He said Article 26 of the Charter of the United Nations stated that: “In order to promote the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security with the least diversion of armaments of the world’s human and economic resources, the Security Council shall be responsible for formulating, with the assistance of the Military Staff Committee referred to in Article 47, plans to be submitted to the Members of the United Nations for the establishment of a system for the regulation of armaments.” Article 26 had, until now, been a dead letter in the vast cemetery of intentions for world peace. But, there was a possibility of reviving that intention.
“The least diversion of resources” meant finding alternatives to excessive military spending that did not damage security, he said. One of those alternatives was the strengthening of multilateralism. “As long as nations do not feel protected by strong regional organizations with real powers to act, they will continue to arm themselves at the expense of their peoples’ development -- particularly in the poorest countries -- and at the expense of international security.” The Security Council must support, as a guarantor of collective security, multilateral agreements adopted in various regional organisms.
Costa Rica was an unarmed nation, he said, but it was not a naïve nation. He had not come to lobby for the abolition of all armies or to urge the drastic reduction of the “outrageous” $3.3 billion daily spending on the military. “A gradual reduction is not only possible, but also imperative, particularly for developing nations.” Neither the Organization nor the Council could decide how much countries would spend on arms and soldiers. It could, however, decide how much international aid they would receive, and based on which principles. With the money a developing country spent on a single combat plane, 200,000 computers could be bought for students in need. “The perverse logic that leads a poor nation to spend excessive sums on its armies, and not on its people, is exactly the antithesis of human security, and a serious threat to international security.”
That was why his Government had put forward the “Costa Rica Consensus”, an initiative to create mechanisms to forgive debts and provide international financial resources for developing countries that spent increasingly more on environmental protection, education, health care and housing, and increasingly less on weapons and soldiers. “Today, I ask for your support to make the Consensus of Costa Rica a reality.”
He also asked for support for the Arms Trade Treaty that Costa Rica, along with other nations, had presented to the United Nations in 2006. That Treaty sought to prohibit the sale of arms to States, groups or individuals when there was sufficient reason to believe that they would be used to violate human rights or international law. The destructive power of the 640 million small arms and light weapons, 74 per cent in the hands of civilians, had proved to be more lethal than nuclear weapons.
He said that, if those measures did not succeed, “our pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals will become little more than the impossible dreams of a world that, like Sisyphus, works forever at a fool’s errand. We seek to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; yet armed conflicts are the largest single cause of world hunger, and a major cause of food emergencies. We seek to reduce child mortality; yet thousands of child soldiers are fighting as we speak”.
In conclusion, he said, “Humanity can break the chain that, until now, has forced us to spend our centuries in incessant and fratricidal struggles. That was the belief of those who founded this Organization. The difficult mission assigned to this Council is not a failed expectation, but it is a very rocky path. […] But I assure you that the strengthening of multilateralism, the reduction of military spending in favour of human development, and the regulation of the international arms trade are steps in the right direction -- the same direction laid out for us 63 years ago by those who, having survived atrocities, were nonetheless able to hope.”
RENAN FUENTEALBA, Special Envoy of the President of Chile, said that, to improve the current state of international peace and security, reform of the Security Council was needed and regional mechanisms should be strengthened to play a conflict-prevention role. The progress made in Latin America and the Caribbean should be studied, including the first nuclear-weapon-free zone of confidence in a densely populated region of the planet and the 1991 Mendoza commitment to ban biological and chemical weapons. In addition, a zone of peace and cooperation was established in 2002 and, in the framework of the Union of South American Nations, a subregional defence initiative was being currently discussed.
He said that it was essential to ensure transparency in the acquisition of legitimate means of defence. In that regard, his region took a decisive step with the Inter-American Convention on Transparency in Conventional Weapons Acquisitions, which elevated in the juridical hierarchy the standards previously established by the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms. His country had gone beyond the provisions of that Convention to pursue an open, prudent and sustainable defence policy. As a result, it had been possible to keep total defence spending at only 1.09 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). Mutual confidence-building was one of the central elements of Chile’s foreign policy through regional and bilateral cooperation agreements.
The international situation, he said, could shortly generate new opportunities for relaunching the multilateral disarmament agenda, as foreshadowed by promises of the United States President-elect. In any case, another failure of the most important forum in the nuclear non-proliferation regime could not be allowed. Negotiations should be resumed to progress towards gradual nuclear disarmament, which must be based on reduction of the operational status of the remaining nuclear weapons. A fourth special session on disarmament must be convened at the highest political level for that purpose.
CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico) said that strengthening collective security was closely related to the prevention of conflicts, as was the regulation and reduction of armaments and the promotion of development. Mexico had promoted initiatives that recognized the strong connection between security and development, such as the creation of the Peacebuilding Commission. Over the past 60 years, Mexico had also supported the total elimination of nuclear arms as the only rational path to collective security and had advocated the reduction of arsenals. Non-proliferation was the other side of the same coin as disarmament, and other weapons of mass destruction should be treated with equal seriousness.
Mexico, he said, was seriously affected by the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, which could only be controlled through collective efforts and the participation of both governmental and non-governmental entities. The related programme of action, the Palermo Protocol and regional conventions were necessary tools to reduce the harm that the illicit trade in small weapons posed. A future arms trade treaty should establish effective and equitable criteria for arms transfers. He announced that Mexico would sign the convention on cluster munitions and hoped to contribute significantly in strengthening international peace and security in other areas.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil) said the United Nations collective security framework established in the Charter had yet to be fully implemented. Insufficient progress had been made regarding arms regulation -- including arms control, arms transparency, non-proliferation and disarmament. Further, it was designed before nuclear weapons and knowledge about them were so widespread. The early efforts by the Security Council to plan a system for regulating armaments were thwarted by the cold war. The General Assembly had to continue consideration. The first General Assembly special session on disarmament was held 30 years ago. While some progress had been achieved, the goal of general and complete disarmament remained elusive. That had been compounded by other factors: the persistence of nuclear doctrines that admitted first use; the lack of binding negative security assurances; and the ongoing research in nuclear explosives, including “sub-critical” tests and maintenance of readiness to resume full-scale testing.
Another worrisome developments, she said, were new justifications for retaining nuclear arsenals. Given the current international situation, those justifications were increasingly inadequate, regardless of how well crafted. First, nuclear weapons were no deterrent to non-State actor threats. Second, holding on to nuclear arsenals only seemed to stimulate others to go down the same path. The cost of stalling on nuclear disarmament was all too clear. The sense of insufficient progress was even more alarming if measured against existing legal obligations. An advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice had determined that the non-proliferation Treaty carried an obligation to achieve results in disarmament. Despite significant unilateral reductions in nuclear arsenals, those had not been carried out within an international process that included a commitment to total elimination, verification and observance of principles. A new collective security framework should include substantial provisions on regulation of armaments and nuclear disarmament.
MONA JUUL ( Norway) said that, as global norms would have to be negotiated in relevant and broader multilateral bodies regarding arms control, multilateral arms control negotiations should be open to all Member States. The NPT was, regrettably, under growing strain. While applauding the significant reductions in nuclear arsenals, she called for significantly deeper reductions on the basis of irreversibility, verification and transparency. She expressed impatience with the lack of progress in multilateral efforts to cap a possible new arms race and regret at the fact that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty had not entered into force. It was also deplorable that, so far, it had been impossible to negotiate a treaty on banning the production of fissile materials for weapons purposes.
She said there was a need for new and deeper cuts beyond those provided for in existing arms control treaties. Ways must be explored to reduce the importance of nuclear arms in security policies, such as regional nuclear-weapon-free zones. There was also a need to lower the operational status of nuclear weapons that were deployed. Important results had been achieved in the elimination of categories of conventional weapons. The Convention on Cluster Munitions, adopted in Dublin in May by 107 States, was the outcome of the Oslo process, launched in 2006, that included States, civil society, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations. The result had strengthened international humanitarian law significantly. The lessons from a humanitarian and disarmament approach could be applied in other areas, such as regulating the international trade in conventional weapons. She reiterated her support for an arms trade treaty.
U JOY OGWU ( Nigeria) said that, despite daunting challenges, the United Nations remained the best forum for collective security, which was imperative in the current climate. The collective security system, however, must realistically take into account new threats and challenges, such as human trafficking, drug trafficking, genocide, human rights violations and terrorism, all of which defy geographical boundaries. A security system that successfully faced those threats must rest on committed partnership between States.
In Africa, she said, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons continued to fuel new conflicts, render the old ones intractable and reinforce criminal networks. Those weapons were Africa’s weapons of mass destruction. The situation had propelled ECOWAS into a moratorium on the import, export and manufacture of such weapons. Despite such efforts, the illicit trade continued. A legally binding global instrument was needed. She called on all Member States to demonstrate the necessary political will needed to establish international standards for the import, export and transfer of small weapons. She also supported the strengthening of regional mechanisms that were meant to prevent conflict.
MARIA FERNANDA ESPINOSA ( Ecuador) said the efforts of the international community to strengthen collective security should also deal with the underlying causes of conflict, such as extreme poverty and unequal distribution of resources. There was a need for a radical change in the structure of the current international order. The inability of the United Nations to prevent conflict, restore peace and protect the lives of civilians had often been criticized, but the United Nations was ruled by Member States. The relationship between the Council and the General Assembly was imperative for building peace and development. Ecuador had joined the various instruments adopted in the areas of disarmament and was implementing them. The country was also part of various international and regional organizations that addressed drug trafficking, arms trafficking and terrorism.
She said small arms and light weapons was an issue of special concern to her country, as they threatened the well-being of civilians in many countries, especially the most vulnerable groups, such as women and children. Her country would, therefore, actively work towards an arms trade treaty and had recently hosted a regional meeting on cluster munitions. A decade had gone by since the peace agreement between Ecuador and Peru and the border was now an area of peace and cooperation. It was a paradox that countries had not yet diminished spending on arms in the face of the many crises, including on the environment, finance, food and energy.
ROBERT HILL ( Australia) said the last 60 years had seen significant progress in collective security and armament regulation, including the NPT, conventions on biological and chemical weapons, universalization of the Geneva conventions, and the emergence of a number of regional security agreements. However, the international community stood at a crossroads. Anything other than a successful outcome to the 2010 NPT Review Conference was unacceptable.
He said Australia and Japan had joined together to establish the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, which aimed to help change the formulaic and unproductive nature of the current nuclear debate. It would work to help shape a global consensus in the lead-up to 2010 and beyond. He encouraged all States to support the Commission’s work.
He said progress on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation could not be discussed without acknowledging the need for a conventional armaments regulation. Many encouraging steps had been seen in that regard in recent years. He urged States to continue the momentum recently demonstrated in the First Committee towards an arms trade treaty. Such a treaty would bring much-needed transparency and accountability; codify existing best practices; and prevent human rights abuses and the destabilizing accumulation of arms.
PETER MAURER ( Switzerland) said it was essential that the various main organs of the United Nations respect their specific areas of competence. The General Assembly played a legislative role, which required the greatest possible transparency. The Security Council, for its part, focused its attention more on specific conflicts, intervening in the event of a crisis. Therefore, it was the Council’s duty to consider new security policy challenges and to analyse and act on lessons learned. In order to promote stability in specific contexts and in light of the current debate, the Council could analyse the impact of past and current efforts and propose specific plans for the regulation and the reduction of armament. Specific projects and concrete programmes, the supervision of illicit arms trafficking in the context of peacekeeping operations, the monitoring of regional agreements, and fact-finding missions could be crucial tools to reinforce the close link between disarmament, development and peace.
Turning to socio-economic development and its link to armed violence, he said the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development, launched in 2006, was based on the assumption that armed violence was a serious obstacle to development. Within the framework of that Declaration, a number of pilot countries had been identified, with a view to implementing policies and programmes to reduce armed violence and promote development. The Council, using that method, should encourage the implementation of specific projects and programmes. Such an approach offered a comprehensive view of the various layers of armed violence, such as violence generated in situations of conflict, post-conflict, and in cases of terrorism and crime. The Council was often confronted with the superposition of different forms of violence, which required more determined and systematic action.
In closing, he pointed out that reducing and regulating armament was not the only way forward, and that security sector reform, demilitarization, demobilization and reintegration could also contribute. While endorsing the basic idea in the concept paper, he noted that it would be essential to bear in mind the specific nature of each region, to create a sense of ownership by the main actors.
JORGE ARGUELLO ( Argentina) reaffirmed that his country joined the efforts of the international community to face the challenges of disarmament and non-proliferation; achieve multilateral consensus to secure international peace and security; and advance political, economic and social integration within regions. Unfortunately, it had been difficult to achieve meaningful results in disarmament and the regulation of armaments in the recent past, because of the interests of some players. Revitalizing the Military Staff Committee to address that problem did not seem to be a realistic strategy.
In addition, he said, it must be remembered that the Council’s consideration of issues not on its agenda should not replace the consideration of those issues by the General Assembly. That held true for disarmament issues. He added that all countries should abide by the treaties they have signed; nuclear-weapon States, in particular, should keep their commitments to reduce and ultimately eliminate, their stocks, in conformity with the NPT. In addition, any emphasis put on strengthening regional organizations should not diminish the role of the United Nations Security Council as the main referent with regards to the maintenance of international peace and security. In concluding, he spoke of the priority his country gave to international efforts to control conventional weapons.
GERT ROSENTHAL ( Guatemala) said that, for the vast majority of States, investments in armaments and disproportionately-sized military forces represented a poor allocation of resources. Costa Rica illustrated the positive effects of channelling the public resources used to maintain armed forces towards social expenditures, with tangible and notable results. Within the United Nations, there was no neat dividing line between what was attributed in the disarmament issue to the Assembly and the Council, between the Conference on Disarmament and the Disarmament Commission. Nor was there a neat dividing line between what was attributed to the Organization and the regional institutions.
His country’s priority was in the reduction and control of small and light armaments, as well as the prevention, combat and elimination of the illicit manufacturing and circulation of small and light arms. That priority originated from the peace accords of 1996. His country actively participated in the Central American small arms control projects. The lack of progress in establishing juridically-binding agreements to identify and pursue small and light arms traffic in an opportune and reliable manner was frustrating.
JUAN ANTONIO YAÑEZ-BARNUEVO ( Spain) fully supported France’s statement on behalf of the European Union. At the current time, it was important to strengthen collective security, as well as development and the respect for human rights under the aegis of the United Nations. Peace and security required different tasks from the Council and the General Assembly. Today’s meeting fit with the role that the Council should play, in coordination with the other organs of the United Nations and other organizations.
Spain, he said, as a member of the European Union, supported many peace initiatives and, as a Member of the United Nations, supported peacekeeping operations, as well as disarmament initiatives and actions to control small arms and light weapons. Spain also supported initiatives for sustainable security and the culture of peace, as well as United Nations regional disarmament centres, the programme of action to combat the illicit trade in small arms, and efforts to ban cluster munitions. In addition, he supported a binding arms trade treaty. Spain’s development cooperation policy, based on a multi-sector approach, was part of a genuine effort to move forward in disarmament and conflict settlement. He called for a reinvigorated system of collective security, the building of which was the duty of all.
ABDULLAH HUSSAIN HAROON ( Pakistan) said there was a weakening of the consensus underpinning disarmament and non-proliferation. States differed widely in terms of perception, approach and modalities to promote peace and security through disarmament and non-proliferation. There was a need for a new consensus, based on the principles of the United Nations Charter, with full recognition of the role of the United Nations, reflecting the security interests of all States and guided by the principle of “equal security for all”. Such a consensus should encompass, among other things: a renewed commitment to general and complete disarmament under effective international control; pending general nuclear disarmament; a universal, non-discriminatory instrument on negative security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States; and an international agreement on universal criteria for international cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Also, the militarization of outer space should be prevented.
He said there was also an urgent need for negotiations on the balanced reduction of armed forces and conventional armaments. Armament regulations should not only be aimed at transfer controls, but should also take into account existing asymmetries and military imbalances, stockpiles, as well as production and manufacturing. Armament regulations should be pursued in parallel with efforts for the peaceful settlement of disputes and steps aimed at removing underlying security concerns of States. Entrusting the responsibility for collective security to the Council was bound to raise the security concerns of the overwhelming majority of the developing countries, who were not represented in the Council. The existing export control arrangements, such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime, were exclusive. Non-criteria-based civil nuclear cooperation based on commercial considerations did nothing to promote international non-proliferation objectives. There was a need to evolve multilaterally negotiated, non-discriminatory and universal regulations on armaments.
CLAUDIA BLUM ( Colombia) said her country’s democratic security policy, which offered equal protection to all citizens and created optimal conditions for the enjoyment of their rights, demanded great effort, but had already borne fruit. Colombia’s view was that military spending was an investment in the lives and the well-being of its citizens, though it shared concerns regarding the need to free up resources in such spending -– without impairing security or defence needs -- in order to allocate them to development programmes. Her Government was committed to the issue of disarmament and development and recognized the visionary nature of Article 26 of the United Nations Charter. However, any new initiative concerning control and regulation of armaments must be discussed and agreed upon within the General Assembly.
Today, security had a multidimensional reach and there were factors in play that went well beyond traditional threats, she said. Colombia’s point of view on cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations, aimed at preserving collective security, coincided with the view laid out in Costa Rica’s concept paper. In that regard, she highlighted the work of the Organization of American States in generating reciprocal measures of confidence among countries and in ensuring compliance with commitments to the Treaty of Tlatelolco and the NPT. While those treaties had created the first nuclear-weapon-free zone in Latin America and the Caribbean, the uncontrolled spread of small arms and light weapons continued to be a cause of great harm. The illicit trade in small arms tied up significant resources that could be invested in development, and establishing effective controls should, therefore, be a top international priority. The implementation of the Programme of Action to combat such trade was an essential requirement, as was the adoption of new commitments, with a view to concluding legally binding instruments in the field.
CELESTINO MIGLIORE, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said the illicit global arms trade had dramatic consequences, and the international community must redouble its commitment to create new control mechanisms. With the First Committee’s adoption of the resolution Towards an Arms Trade Treaty, which laid down the first important steps towards a legally binding instrument on arms trade and transfers, the debate was not only timely, but vital to reinvigorating efforts in global arms reduction. He said the Holy See fully supported those undertakings and stood ready to make its contribution. Furthermore, his delegation shared the grave concern of conflict-ridden countries that the accumulation and illicit production of arms hindered the peaceful settlement of disputes and turned tensions into armed conflicts. By dedicating even a portion of the $1.3 trillion spent on arms to programmes designed to promote the full, social, economic and spiritual growth of people, the international community would not only create a better and safer world, but also promote a new respect for life and one another.
He said his delegation echoed the voices of hundred of thousands in the Democratic Republic of the Congo “crying out for justice, peace and security” and strongly condemned the massacres being committed under the eyes of the international community. The entry into force of the Nairobi Protocol on Prevention, Control and Reduction of Small Arms and Light Weapons on 5 May 2006 marked an important step towards universal standards for protecting civilians in the Great Lakes region, the Horn of Africa and bordering States. He said his delegation realized that the very States where massacres were taking place had signed and ratified the Protocol. He urged those States to expedite its implementation. A new security consensus needed to be developed that would assist in achieving the internationally agreed upon development goals, security and respect for human rights. Greater efforts, political will, transparency, flexibility and openness were needed, in that regard.
GERHARD PFANZELTER ( Austria) said that, by their very nature, nuclear tests were a deliberate threat to peace and security. The entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty was long overdue. Since 2007, there had been a growing momentum towards the universalization of the Treaty, as demonstrated by recent ratifications of the Bahamas, Colombia, Malaysia, Barbados, Mozambique, and signatures by Iraq and Timor-Leste. The 24 September Ministerial Meeting in New York had demonstrated a widespread interest in bringing the Treaty into force. He called on all States that had not yet done so to ratify the Treaty as soon as possible.
He said that such success stories as the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions should not make people complacent. The regulation of trade in conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons, should be a matter of the utmost priority for all Member States. Irresponsible arms transfers fomented violent conflicts, perpetuated poverty and underdevelopment, and contributed to violations of human rights and humanitarian law. He fully supported the process towards an arms trade treaty and hoped the open-ended working group would succeed in creating the basis for a robust, legally binding instrument in 2009. The multilateral regulation of the nuclear fuel cycle could also be a way of increasing confidence among States. It was time to design a framework that would place the most dangerous technologies –- enrichment and reprocessing -- under control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
HAMID CHABAR ( Morocco) said threats to collective security included intra-State conflicts, internal conflicts, terrorism, organized crime, weapons of mass destruction, poverty, pandemics and climate change. The 2005 World Summit Outcome had put collective security at the heart of the interdependent “triptique” of development, security and human rights. One of the recurrent threats were conflicts between or within States that could threaten whole regions. The 2005 Summit had, therefore, established the Peacebuilding Commission, filling a gap in the institutional structure of the United Nations and aiming to help countries in their transition to a lasting, sustainable peace. All the work of peacebuilding, however, would not be complete without control of arms trafficking. Substantial efforts and real political will must be deployed to achieve consolidation and implementation of existing instruments and to setting up new rules to address the issue of weapons circulation.
He said weapons of mass destruction continued to threaten the world. The NPT served the objective of collective security, which required commitment to total and complete disarmament. Article 26 of the Charter required that the Council play a role in the promotion of peace and security through submitting plans for the regulation of armaments. No action by the Council had been taken in that regard, however, a fact that encouraged States to increase allocating resources to armaments at the cost of development. In 2006, a small group of countries, including Morocco, had issued the Geneva Declaration on armed violence and development. The States were reinforcing their efforts to reduce armed violence through their national, regional and international development strategies. Arms limitation alone was not enough. The key was to be found in economic development -- human development instead of arms.
JOHN MCNEE ( Canada) said that, at a time when existing multilateral disarmament institutions appeared unable to move forward on new multilateral arms control and disarmament treaties, his country would welcome actionable proposals from the Council relating to Article 26. Greater involvement and leadership by the Council on the disarmament issues could help to overcome serious challenges in the existing disarmament machinery. Leadership by the Council must be accompanied by more constructive engagement by all countries. Any decision regarding renewed activity of the Military Staff Committee, after a prolonged period of disuse, would require significant consultation and further study.
He said his country underlined the importance the concept paper ascribed to Member States abiding by the treaties to which they were parties. Increased transparency in military expenditures and arms transfers could also assist in building confidence between States and enhancing security. Regional organizations could play a valuable and cost-effective role in promoting international peace and security. He recognized the need for greater coordination and support in order for the many regional agreements to achieve greater effectiveness and realize potential synergies. Regular interaction between regional organizations and the Council would be beneficial in that regard.
ARMEN MARTIROSYAN ( Armenia) said that the debate was particularly timely, because Armenia and the South Caucasus as a whole were facing a number of challenges stemming from the lack of regional security arrangements and a deficiency of existing arms control and regulation mechanisms. It was not accidental that the idea to convene a summit to discuss the future of the European security system appeared during the discussions at the recent European Union-Russian Federation high-level meeting. Before convening such a summit and undertaking steps towards improving existing security mechanisms, members of the Euro-Atlantic community should refrain from any radical actions that might complicate the current security environment.
The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe had been playing an instrumental role in the maintenance of peace and security in the South Caucasus, but was now being challenged, he said, with the ceiling on conventional weapons being violated by one of the South Caucasus countries. A severe arms race, with an unprecedented growth of military expenditures, was taking place in the region, against a background of belligerent rhetoric. In that climate, before a comprehensive security arrangement was engineered, the countries of the region needed to commit themselves to non-use of force in the settlement of unresolved conflicts. The Joint Declaration on Nagorno-Karabakh could play a promising role in that context. He hoped that the recent proposal on the Caucasus Security Platform made by the Prime Minister of Turkey would also fare better than similar recent proposals. Commending the United Kingdom’s initiative on the arms trade treaty, he reiterated his country’s commitment to helping to strengthen international mechanisms on arms control and global security.
AUGUSTINE MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) said small arms and light weapons were wreaking havoc in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo even as he spoke. Thousands who had escaped death were now displaced and were faced with the war-related death of disease and hunger. The international humanitarian response left much to be desired. The Security Council must step up support for the Secretary-General’s initiatives, including by approving an increase in the number of peacekeepers.
He said the conflict in the Democratic Republic had originated in the original Great Lakes conflicts of the 1990s and had remained unabated, despite meetings and agreements between belligerents. Moreover, the countries of the region had been called upon to take the confidence-building measures essential to conflict resolution to ultimately curb the excessive demand for weapons. The United Nations effort had succeeded in keeping peace and maintaining security, insofar as the conflict had not spilled beyond the Democratic Republic’s borders. But, security could be beefed up and rules of engagement made more robust, so that both Governments and civilians had more confidence in the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).
Further, he said the Council’s arms monitoring mechanisms must intensify oversight on trafficking in the region. Also, negotiations must be supplemented with an international instrument on arms production and distribution to limit the business to State actors. That combination of legal instruments, political will and disarmament activity, carried out through the United Nations regional and subregional organizations, could go a long way in ensuring regulation of armaments.
NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER ( Qatar) said that he understood that the review of this theme by the Council was based on Article 26 of the United Nations Charter, which required the agreement of the General Assembly on any proposal made by the Council concerning arms regulation. He assumed it also took into account that United Nations bodies were mutually reinforcing, and that it aimed to preserve the existing multilateral disarmament machinery. Stressing the importance of regional organizations in cooperation on international peace and security, he said that the United Nations should provide the necessary support to the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Arab League and the African Union.
In that regard, he said, it would also be useful for Member States to implement the General Assembly resolution related to “the relation between disarmament and development”, which set out a practical approach for dealing with new challenges faced by humankind. In addition, he stressed that the foreign occupation of other people’s lands continued to be a serious threat to international peace and security. In the area of disarmament, the commitments of Member States to implement international agreements were paramount. At the same time, non-compliance with those agreements should not be used as a pretext to take unilateral measures. Otherwise, the international community could lose the benefits of its supreme agreement, namely, the Charter of the United Nations.
HUGO SILES ALVARADO ( Bolivia) said Bolivia, a pacific country, was convinced that the only path towards peace and security was the path of dialogue and a commitment to the culture of peace. His country had gone through periods of intense violence and aggression. It had been a victim of wars of aggression, as a result of which it had lost more than a million square kilometres. It had also been a victim of the terror and violence of military dictatorial Governments, under the umbrella of the cold war that had been sponsored by one of the most powerful countries in the region. Just two months ago, a massacre had been carried out, led by the opposition of the Government of President Morales, an opposition that felt hatred and racism against those people who had always been marginalized. That massacre had been condemned by most countries, except by the most powerful country in the region. Bolivia was on the verge of adopting a new constitution that declared his country to be a pacifist State.
He agreed with those who had said that non-proliferation should go in parallel with nuclear disarmament in those countries that possessed nuclear weapons. Those countries, namely, were the real threat to international peace and security. Internal conflicts were not a global threat to peace and security. Those were the international conflicts, such as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Much had been said about the illicit arms trade, but he wondered if the legal arms trade was less deadly. Many of the armed conflict were the result of the actions of those countries that promoted the industry of war. The production of arms was the true cause of conflicts. His country had experienced two wars not caused by hatred, but over the interests of transnational corporations. The United Nations must take measures aimed at eliminating the scandalous supplying of arms.
JEAN-FRANCIS ZINSOU ( Benin) reiterated his country’s grave concern at the considerable increase in military expenditures by Member States of the United Nations. At the end of the cold war, the world nurtured the hope that the major Powers would turn their attention to meeting global humanitarian challenges, but the current situation was of great concern. There was a spike in military expenditures, a rise in real or supposed risks of proliferation, and an impasse in the General Assembly’s disarmament machinery. It had gotten that way, in part, because the Council had only played a marginal role in the regulation and reduction of armaments under Article 26 of the Charter. The debate, however, provided a new opportunity for the Council to take the lead on those issues and stem the arms race throughout the world.
He fully agreed with the analysis presented by Costa Rica to guide consideration of today’s theme, saying that the Council must work seriously to make the collective security system agreed upon by the Charter fully operational, in all its dimensions. It must apply itself to taking control of the unacceptable distortions that characterized the current international situation, and assume its responsibilities under absolute respect for the principles of the equality and national sovereignty of all States, large or small. The Council should also become a major inspiration for multilateralism and regional cooperation in the area of the reduction of military expenditures and related issues. The African Union had had successes in that area and should be supported for it. At the same time, the Council should mobilize the international community to face the root causes of conflict.
MOURAD BENMEHIDI ( Algeria) said that 2008 marked the thirtieth anniversary of the first extraordinary session of the General Assembly on disarmament. The hope engendered by that occasion had diminished, however, and the risks posed by weapons remained strong. The task to establish a collective security system must be tackled. A multinational negotiating framework must be established and commitments made towards disarmament must be fulfilled to achieve those goals. His country was totally committed to fulfilling its own commitments in the area and shared the concern of other African delegations that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons would continue to threaten peace and security.
YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) said that, under its Constitution, Japan renounced the use of force as a means of settling international conflicts. The country had spared no effort in mobilizing resources for the peace and prosperity of its population domestically, and also for the world. Disarmament was one of the top priorities of Japan’s foreign policy, and it was leading international efforts for nuclear disarmament and control of conventional arms. It had adopted the “three non-nuclear principles” and a strict policy of the non-export of weapons. It had initiated the resolution on nuclear disarmament at the General Assembly every year since 1994 and actively promoted the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. It had also led in efforts to control small arms.
In peacekeeping and peacebuilding, he said, there was a need to focus on disarmament and arms regulation, as well as development, governance and security sector reform. The Peacebuilding Commission was uniquely placed to achieve those ends. In addition, he stressed that regional cooperation was indispensable for the effective control of arms, and the Security Council could cooperate with regional organizations for such purposes. Japan, through ECOWAS, had supported the establishment of national commissions to tackle the proliferation of small arms in several West African countries. He welcomed the contributions of the United Nations regional disarmament centres, in that light.
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