|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
8th Meetings (PM)
New Brand of Nuclear Arms Race, Ballooning Defence Budgets, Still-Full Nuclear
Arsenals Challenge Renewal of Non-Proliferation Regime, First Committee Hears
Terrorism Alarming in Context of Mass Destruction Weapons Spread;
Global Action Needed Since Some Networks Better-Resourced Than Small States
The national defence budgets of the major Powers had ballooned, regional disputes had festered, particularly in South Asia and the Middle East, new conflicts had emerged and a new kind of arms race threatened the progressive disarmament and non-proliferation landscape, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard today as it concluded its general debate.
“The nuclear arms race is taking place in a new manner, while we see no nuclear disarmament,” the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said. During the cold war era, the nuclear arms race had been confined to two super-Powers, but now it was taking place among all nuclear Powers, in a more competitive way, aiming at the modernization of nuclear weapons. Worse still, the modernization of those weapons had reached a dangerous stage.
That stage had set the scene for the possibility of a pre-emptive nuclear strike, he warned. “The United States calls for a world without nuclear weapons deserves to be welcomed if it presupposes disarmament of nuclear weapons in those countries with the largest nuclear arsenals,” he said. “When States with the largest nuclear arsenals take the lead in nuclear disarmament, it will positively influence the newly emerged nuclear-weapon States in various parts of the world and also contribute to total elimination of nuclear weapons.”
Total elimination was the whole point, said Lebanon’s representative. The coming 2010 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was the ideal legal framework in which to resolve non-proliferation issues. The opportunity should also be seized to meet expectations and shed the apathy that had given rise to new nuclear threats. “We must not waste this opportunity,” he implored. “This is not about simply reducing nuclear arsenals, but about total elimination.”
It was clear that the modernization of new types of nuclear weapons was taking place, tests were being conducted and nuclear arsenals were still full, said the representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Strategic defence arguments might have reflected the justification of States to possess these weapons, but right now, there appeared to be a new arms race. States attempting to improve nuclear weapons should opt for a more constructive approach. “We need to return to a denuclearized world,” he said, adding: “We need to limit the expansion and development of nuclear weapons.”
For arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation measures to succeed, the causes of the arms race and threats to peace must be reduced by effective actions for the peaceful settlement of disputes, Pakistan’s speaker asserted. To restore and reinvigorate the non-proliferation regime, a new global non-proliferation and disarmament construct was required, based on the principles of non-discrimination and universally applicable criteria. There was also need to equitably mainstream in the nuclear order those States that had never been parties to the NPT.
Maldives’ representative said that the continued scourge of terrorism was particularly alarming in the context of the spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. With collective efforts, the international community must ensure that such a frightening and very real possibility did not materialize, especially since some terrorist or organized crime networks had more resources than small States.
Stressing that the nuclear proliferation threat was real, the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations said “turning a blind eye to States that are stockpiling and developing nuclear weapons while refusing to submit to international inspection is gravely dangerous”. International efforts in the region should start with concerted pressure on Israel, a declared nuclear-weapon State, to accede to the NPT. It was also vital to push for the implementation of the 1995 package deal on the Treaty’s indefinite extension, in particular the resolution on the Middle East. “Anything else will prove devastating and could trigger a nuclear arms race in the region,” he said.
Statements in the general debate were also made by the representatives of Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Tunisia, Trinidad and Tobago, Togo and the Permanent Observer of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
The representative of the Republic of Korea spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 13 October, to consider follow-up of resolutions and decisions it adopted at its past session, to have an exchange with the United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Sergio Duarte, and other high-level officials in the field of arms control and disarmament, and to begin its thematic debate on nuclear weapons.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to conclude its general debate on all disarmament and international security agenda items before the General Assembly. (For background on the Committee’s session and a summary of reports before it, see Press Release GA/DIS/3384).
NHAMO MATAMBO ( Zimbabwe) stressed the urgent need for the universality of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and called upon States that had not yet joined the treaty to do so without delay. Encouraged by the positive atmosphere in the field of disarmament, he noted key developments, including a successful NPT preparatory meeting for the 2010 Review Conference, the broken Conference on Disarmament deadlock and the Security Council’s summit. He encouraged Member States to fully exploit the prevailing positive atmosphere, in order to resolve the security challenges that had dogged the international community in recent decades.
Acknowledging the NPT as the cornerstone of disarmament and non-proliferation, he said that in order to achieve nuclear disarmament, States should fully comply with their obligations. Nuclear-weapon States in particular must commit to the implementation of the 13 practical steps agreed to at the 2000 NPT Review Conference. Zimbabwe supported the call for the negotiation and conclusion of a universal, unconditional and legally binding instrument on security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.
Zimbabwe also supported the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and encouraged reinvigorated efforts to bring it into force. Nuclear-weapon-free zones were also an effective contribution to efforts to strengthen regional peace and security, and in that regard, the entry into force of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba) had been an important achievement. He called upon nuclear-weapon States that had not ratified its relevant annexes to do so and to respect their provisions. He also called for the early establishment of such a zone in the Middle East, in compliance with the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference resolution.
He regretted that the Conference on Disarmament had been unable to reach consensus on procedural issues and appealed to all Member States to demonstrate flexibility and political will to achieve tangible results in the forthcoming session. Likewise, the United Nations Disarmament Commission needed strengthening. He also called on States that had not ratified or signed the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention) and Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention).
Small arms and light weapons also seriously threatened peace, security and economic development, and it was imperative for the international community to mobilize financial and technical assistance to support African countries to implement the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects.
Zimbabwe had signed and ratified the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Mine-Ban Convention), he said, adding his hope that the second Review Conference next month would prioritize action on the provision of financial, technical and material resources to landmine clearance programmes in affected countries in order to create a world free of landmines.
He stressed that all States had the right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, especially in developing countries facing energy challenges. Renewed commitment towards disarmament should spill over into the area of military spending, and more funds should be diverted from arms to development.
JOSÉ IKONGO ISEKOTOKO, Director of the Ministry of the Interior and Security, Democratic Republic of the Congo, said that the existence of nuclear weapons was a great concern for everyone, but that the reality was that modernization of new types of nuclear weapons was taking place. Tests were being conducted. Nuclear arsenals were still full. Strategic defence arguments reflected States’ justification to possess those weapons. The inflexibility and the intransigence of certain nuclear-weapon States were evident and, among other things, had blocked decisions on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, including in the United Nations Disarmament Commission.
Against that backdrop was a new arms race, he said, calling on States that were attempting to improve nuclear weapons to opt for a more constructive approach to peace and security, aimed at establishing collective security. “We need to return to a denuclearized world,” he said. “We need to limit the expansion and development of nuclear weapons.” He asked the Security Council to undertake collective and binding action to achieve the disarmament and non-proliferation. There was a close relationship between peace, democracy and non-proliferation.
Following a recent workshop in Botswana on Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), concerning the possible acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by non-State actors, his country had established a coordinating committee to combat terrorism, he said. Nuclear activity in his country was limited solely to peaceful purposes and agricultural research. A national disarmament committee had been created to oversee the country’s peace and security sector.
He said that the Democratic Republic of the Congo was committed to the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. After years of war that killed 4 million people, his country had destroyed 97,661 weapons and 472 tons of munitions between 2007 and 2008. That was a small step. It needed the international community to achieve its disarmament obligations. His country had also destroyed thousands of landmines, but further work was needed, as no province had been spared from their effects. He emphasized the need for an arms trade treaty to control the weapons that were destabilizing countries in Africa.
FERDINAND NGOH NGOH ( Cameroon) said that the signs of progress that had been made in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation should not make the international community forget the remaining challenges. According to a recent study, there were 23,000 nuclear weapons and thousands of delivery systems still in existence. Global weapons production had risen to $34 billion dollars per annum and military expenditures had reached $1.4 trillion dollars, representing a 45 per cent increase since 1999. Those numbers pointed to the urgent need to move beyond the proclamation of good intentions and put in place concrete actions for a more secure world.
He said that, regrettably, the CTBT had still not entered into force 13 years after its opening for signature. Nuclear weapons still posed the greatest threat to human survival, and every day, the world lived with the risk of those weapons falling into the hands of terrorists or other non-State actors. In that regard, his country welcomed the decision by United States President Barack Obama to convene a summit on nuclear security in April 2010 in Washington, D.C. to deal with the risks of nuclear terrorism and encourage States to secure their nuclear materials. Cameroon, however, felt that the only guarantee against the proliferation and use of atomic weapons was their complete destruction.
That was why it would not cease to fight in support of the achievement of a world free of nuclear weapons, he said. Efforts in support of non-proliferation must be implemented in parallel and simultaneously with disarmament. Cameroon encouraged all States with nuclear weapons to take concrete measures for their reduction and, in time, the complete elimination of their arsenals. Cameroon also supported the appeal for the start, without delay, of multilateral negotiations for a fissile material cut-off treaty. Cameroon placed great hope in the 2010 NPT Review Conference, which should mark significant progress in strengthening the international non-proliferation regime.
Chemical, bacteriological and toxin weapons were a grave preoccupation of his country, he went on. He called on all countries that had not yet done so to adhere to the judicial instruments prohibiting those weapons, in order to universalize those treaties. With regard to chemical weapons, in particular, Cameroon commended the progress since the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention, given the permanent danger to the environment and to populations of chemical weapons stocks. He called on all States still in possession of those weapons to proceed with their destruction, without delay.
He added that small arms and light weapons were the true weapons of mass destruction. Those weapons were responsible for the death or the mutilation of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children. They were also a factor in prolonging armed conflicts and hindering reconstruction and development. Concrete measures should be put in place to ensure that implementation of the United Nations Action Programme. It was urgent to achieve vigorous international action against the illicit traffic in those weapons, which killed 300,000 people yearly.
GHAZI JOMAA ( Tunisia) said that his country had always deemed it wise to redirect the resources devoted to the military to development and economic growth. Such a course would be more beneficial in meeting the needs of the civilian populations. Relaunching the disarmament process at the multilateral level was a major challenge, which the international community should tackle in a collective manner. The Conference on Disarmament must now focus attention on the format and content of its work programme. It would also be wise to convene a special session of the General Assembly on disarmament, and Tunisia hoped that the open-ended working group of on that subject would renew its work and succeed in formulating a recommendation towards that goal.
Turning to the 2010 NPT Review Conference, he welcomed the progress achieved at the third preparatory meeting held in New York in May. However, he noted the lack of significant progress overall so far and said that the international community was still very far from achieving the nuclear disarmament objectives set forth in the NPT. The country called on the nuclear-weapon States to proceed towards the total elimination of their nuclear weapons arsenals. The non-nuclear- weapon States had the right to benefit from effective guarantees against the use or threat of use of those weapons against them. In the same spirit, one of the principal measures aimed at giving effect to the NPT was the CTBT. In that regard, Tunisia welcomed the organisation of the recent Security Council summit and the adoption of resolution 1887 (2009), as well as the holding of the meeting to promote the CTBT’s entry into force.
Tunisia saw the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones on the basis of agreements freely reached by the countries concerned, as well as creation of zones free of all weapons of mass destruction, as a significant means of promoting nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, he continued. In that regard, it had taken note of the entry into force of the Pelindaba Treaty. The Middle East remained one of the most deeply affected regions by the “non-creation” of such a zone, primarily because of the failure of certain parties there to join the NPT and place their installations under IAEA safeguards. The international community and influential Powers should take measures to create such a zone in the region.
EDEN CHARLES ( Trinidad and Tobago) said that all States had a responsibility to ensure that people lived in a world that was free from nuclear weapons. That conviction had led his country to become party to the NPT and other international treaties aimed at the institution of effective safeguards against proliferation, as well as the destruction of certain types of weapons. Only recently, his country had joined the 182 states which had signed the CTBT. It expected to ratify it in the near future. Signing the Test-Ban Treaty was not only another step in promoting disarmament, but also provided an opportunity to profit from the civilian benefits provided under that instrument in areas such as seismography.
He said that Trinidad and Tobago, as a producer of petrochemicals, was cognizant of the potential for abuse of those products. His country was committed to the peaceful uses of chemistry and, therefore, had become a State party to the Chemical Weapons Convention several years ago. It continued to implement its obligations under that convention. Its petrochemical production facilities had been inspected on several occasions by teams from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). It also met its other obligations by making annual declarations pursuant to article X, paragraph 4 of the Chemical Weapons Convention’s verification regime and was in the process of finalising the implementing legislation to give effect to that Convention. Similarly, work was ongoing on legislation to give domestic legal effect to the provisions of the Biological Weapons Convention.
Trinidad and Tobago was convinced that all actions aimed at disarmament should be tackled primarily through multilateral initiatives, with the United Nations at the fore, he said. It was deeply concerned, however, about the reticence of some Member States to address other priority issues on the disarmament agenda, specifically the challenges posed by small arms and light weapons. For his country and other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) States, that category of conventional weapons represented a clear and present danger to the well-being of the citizenry of the region. The illegal trade in those weapons had contributed significantly to an increase in criminal activity, with illegal trade in narcotics a core aspect of that activity in the region. The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was also linked to terrorism and armed conflict.
It was widely acknowledged that the illegal arms trade was cross-border in character and therefore required multilateral action to stem its proliferation, he said. Prime Minister Patrick Manning of Trinidad and Tobago had called on all States which had not been supportive of concluding a legally binding arms trade treaty to “join the fold”. Those included large States, which were major manufacturers and exporters of small arms and light weapons. Those countries had a moral responsibility to assist in that struggle. An arms trade treaty, which provided globally-acceptable standards governing the import, export and transfer of conventional weapons, was the only viable option to address an issue which threatened the peace and security of many States, especially small island developing States, such as Trinidad and Tobago.
ABDUL GHAFOOR MOHAMED ( Maldives) welcomed recent positive momentum in the field of disarmament, including the United States-Russian Federation talks and the Conference on Disarmament’s progress. As a small island State, Maldives faced vulnerabilities. Small States often did not have the resources or means to defend themselves from the emerging threats, including the many and varied forms of international terrorism and organized crime. The continued scourge of terrorism was particularly alarming in the context of the spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. With collective efforts, the international community must ensure that such a frightening and very real possibility did not materialize.
He said that some terrorists and crime networks had more resources than small States. Small arms and light weapons provided those non-State actors with the lethality they required to cause chaos in countries and destabilize whole regions. He called upon the international community to step up efforts to strengthen effective arms control mechanisms to ensure a halt to the spread of those weapons. Maldives supported nuclear-weapon-free zones and underlined that confidence-building measures, at regional and subregional levels, were fundamental to the creation of such zones.
Since Maldives had adopted a new Constitution last year, policies and statues governing the control and movement of arms were being put in place to ensure that the country met its international obligations. New legislation strengthened the domestic counter-terrorism machinery. Maldives remained committed to a vision of nuclear-weapon-free world, and was now party to major disarmament treaties and conventions.
FADI ZIADEH ( Lebanon) said that this pivotal time in the history of disarmament had been marked by recent positive developments, including the Security Council summit. The momentum should continue, and the CTBT progress should be followed by the treaty’s entry into force. The September conference to facilitate the treaty’s operation had highlighted the need to dissipate threats of weapons of mass destruction. Against the backdrop of significant developments in 2009, flowing from the financial crisis and various regional conflicts and disputes, there was a renewed focus on disarmament. Lebanon wished to underscore the positive signals and call for a world free of nuclear weapons.
He said that Lebanon welcomed the recent progress of the Conference on Disarmament. Also welcome had been the adoption by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of two resolutions related to the Middle East and Israel. Lebanon underlined the importance of creating a nuclear-weapon-free zone in that region. The coming 2010 NPT Review Conference served as the ideal legal framework in which to resolve non-proliferation issues. The opportunity should also be seized to meet expectations. The lack of a universal character to that convention demonstrated a degree of apathy, resulting in the appearance of new nuclear threats. “We must not waste this opportunity,” he implored. “This is not about simply reducing nuclear arsenals, but about total elimination.”
Small arms and light weapons also wreaked havoc, with the current count of half a billion of those weapons causing deaths and injuries, with 90 per cent of victims being civilians, he said. Lebanon had always abided by international law, choosing the path of peace and security. It did not possess nuclear weapons. It had also signed the NPT and other treaties, and was in the process of adopting a resolution regarding ballistic weapons.
Owing to the reality that anti-personnel mines and cluster bombs used by Israel -- killing children on their way to school -- Lebanon had participated in the work on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and called on States, including Israel, to sign and ratify that Convention. He also called on Israel to comply with IAEA resolutions. Conflicts should be resolved by tackling the root causes. For Lebanon, that meant addressing occupation and exploitation. “The history of humankind was replete with war and human suffering,” he said. “It was time to work towards eliminating nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction.”
SIN SON HO (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that nuclear disarmament was the most pressing issue in ensuring world peace and security, and added that the brutal devastating affects of nuclear weapons, as seen in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were a reminder of the damage that could be done. The first ever nuclear weapon had been manufactured by the State with the largest nuclear arsenals. “The nuclear arms race is taking place in a new manner, while we see no nuclear disarmament,” he said, noting that during the cold war era, the nuclear arms race was confined to two super-Powers. “Now, after the end of the cold war, it is taking place among all nuclear Powers, in a more competitive way, aiming at modernization of nuclear weapons. Worse still, the modernization of nuclear weapons has reached such a dangerous stage.”
That stage, he warned, had set the scene for the possibility of a pre-emptive nuclear strike. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea demanded total and complete elimination of nuclear weapons.
“The United States’ call for a world without nuclear weapons deserves to be welcomed if it presupposes disarmament of nuclear weapons in those countries with the largest nuclear arsenals,” he said. “When States with the largest nuclear arsenals take the lead in nuclear disarmament, it will positively influence the newly-emerged nuclear-weapon States in various parts of the world and also contribute to total elimination of nuclear weapons.”
He pointed to the current situation of the Korean peninsula as a clear example proving why nuclear disarmament remained “stalemated” in the international arena. Due attention should be paid to issues, including that “the United States nuclear threat is the main factor of acute confrontation in the Korean peninsula. Having designated the DPRK as one of the targets for pre-emptive nuclear strikes in 2002, the United States continues conducting large-scale nuclear war exercises on a regular basis on the Korea peninsula and around its vicinity.” In March and August, multiple tests involving different weapons of mass destruction had been conducted.
The NPT had been unable to foil nuclear-weapon deployment on the peninsula by a State that possessed the largest nuclear arsenals, or to stop its nuclear threat, he said. “The NPT has stipulated that the nuclear-weapon States are obliged to dismantle nuclear weapons, nevertheless, the offender, who introduced nuclear weapons into the Korean peninsula while resorting to nuclear blackmail, is now attempting to label the DPRK as an unlawful State by abusing international law. Unfortunately, this is today’s reality in international relations.”
The recent satellite launch conducted by his nation was in accordance with all international procedures, he said.
“If the United States continues to threaten the DPRK with nuclear weapons, there will be no other way but to strengthen the self-defensive deterrence for the safeguard of national sovereignty and dignity,” he continued. “This is the final conclusion we have reached after half a century-long DPRK-United States confrontation. If the Korean peninsula is to be denuclearized, the United States should terminate its nuclear threat and hostile policy for a ‘regime change’ in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”
The role of the disarmament machinery was more important than ever before, and this Committee should enhance its role in nuclear disarmament as an organ dealing with disarmament issues, he urged. The Conference on Disarmament was the most useful United Nations body to promote global disarmament.
ZAMIR AKRAM ( Pakistan) said that the objective of disarmament and global peace and stability could not be effectively pursued in isolation from certain realities that marked the contemporary global and regional security situation. Those realities included regional and global imbalances and asymmetries in defence spending, which were counterproductive to arms control objectives and undermined attempts to establish peace and security. Despite the end of the cold war, the national defence budgets of the major Powers had continued to increase. Another reality was the regional disputes, which continued to fester around the globe, particularly in South Asia and the Middle East. New conflicts had also emerged. For arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation measures to succeed, the causes of the arms race and threats to peace must be reduced by effective actions for the peaceful settlement of disputes.
He said that a third reality related to derogation from non-proliferation norms and discriminatory exceptions for political or strategic interest and disregard for equitably applicable criteria, which had undermined the credibility and legitimacy of the non-proliferation regime. In order to restore and reinvigorate the non-proliferation regime, a new global non-proliferation and disarmament construct was required, based on the principles of non-discrimination and universally-applicable criteria. There was also need for mainstreaming in the nuclear order, in an equitable manner, those States that had never been parties to the NPT. In that context, IAEA Director General Mohamed El Baradei had referred to the “complex security perception” of those States and had called for pragmatic steps.
A final reality was the growing trend of promoting the security of some States at the cost of others through measures adopted by a select group of States outside recognised multilateral negotiating forums, he said. That undermined the principle of equal and undiminished security for all States. Since the issues of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation affected the vital security interests of all States, all States should have the opportunity to fully participate and play an equal role in negotiations on those issues. Multilateralism and multilaterally-negotiated, universally-accepted and non-discriminatory agreements provided the best way forward for achieving the objective of disarmament and non-proliferation.
He noted that weapons of mass destruction were not the only threat to durable international peace and stability. In parallel with negotiations on nuclear disarmament, there was an urgent need for negotiations on the balanced reduction of armed forces and conventional armaments. As laid down in the final Document of the first special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament, those negotiations should be conducted with particular emphasis on militarily significant States. The disturbing trend of escalation in the number and sophistication of conventional weapons had to be arrested, as that had a causal relationship with the continuing reliance on nuclear weapons.
There was also a need to focus on conventional arms control, which was not limited to controls over only trade in conventional arms, but also included measures for arms reduction, limitation and restraint, he said. Any future arrangement on conventional arms that addressed their transfer, but not their development, production and deployment would be inequitable against countries that did not themselves produce such weapons. It would, therefore, prove difficult to conclude and implement.
He said that Pakistan’s vision of South Asia was anchored in a security architecture based on preventive diplomacy, confidence-building and conflict resolution. Its concerns arose from the growing strategic imbalance in that region, which included the recent introduction of nuclear submarines and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). Between 1974 and 1998, his country had made several proposals to keep South Asia free of nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, those proposals did not elicit a positive response. As a responsible nuclear-weapon State, Pakistan was pursuing a policy of credible minimum deterrence. Its proposals for a strategic restraint regime had three interlocking elements of conflict resolution, nuclear and missile restraint and conventional balance. That warranted serious consideration and the support of the international community. Extra-regional Powers should adopt even-handed policies in South Asia and avoid steps that undermined the regional strategic balance.
BATENGUE BANKOTINE ( Togo) said that the struggle against nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction was the duty of all members of the international community wishing to save the world from unspeakable suffering. His country had placed peace and security above all issues, making that its highest priority. That had been reflected by the passage of certain legislation and the implementation of laws giving effect to the relevant measures. A decree of January 1962 governed the import and manufacture of sophisticated weapons. A 2001 law established a national committee to combat small arms and light weapons. At the subregional level, the country had been a pioneer of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) moratorium on small arms and light weapons, and had been among the first to ratify the related ECOWAS Convention, which it was already implementing.
He noted that Togo, at the international level, was party to several conventions and treaties, including the Mine-Ban Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the NPT, the CTBT and many others aimed at ridding the world of the tragic effects of weapons of mass destruction. In the same spirit, Togo had requested and obtained the establishment of the United Nations Disarmament Centre on its territory. The Centre was doing valuable work, including providing advice to curb trafficking in small arms and light weapons. It had made important contributions to disarmament in the region. Togo stressed the need to increase financial and human resources support to the Centre, in order to allow it to accomplish its tasks. As for the call to convene a conference on the arms trade treaty, there was need for clarity to avoid any interpretation that might hinder the treaty’s establishment.
He paid tribute to United States President Obama and Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev for their decision to reduce their nuclear arsenals. He urged all other nuclear-weapon States to follow suit. Those intending to acquire or produce those weapons should desist. The future of the planet hinged on that.
AMMAR HIJAZI, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, said that disarmament efforts must uphold international humanitarian law principles. All Member States had the duty to stop the transfer of arms to States that seriously violated those laws, including States that committed grave breaches identified in the Geneva Conventions of 1949, particularly, belligerent occupying Powers that neglected their legal obligations and used indiscriminate and excessive force against civilian populations. Israel’s abhorrent conduct during the war on Gaza was a clear example. Member States should pay due attention to States that armed and formed militias that resided unlawfully in an occupied land. He pointed, as an example, to the routine Israeli settlers’ violence against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. States proven to continuously violate laws of war must not be allowed to use conventional weapons, such as cluster munitions, anti-personnel mines, flachette missiles, dense inert metal explosive munitions and ammunition containing depleted uranium, as well as those weapons, such as white phosphorous, not proscribed under international law.
Nuclear and non-conventional weapons represented the most serious threat to humanity’s survival, and he regretted the Middle East had not yet become a nuclear-weapon-free zone. Noting that Israel was the only State in the region that had neither become, nor stated its intention to become, a party to the NPT, he said that Israel had repeatedly and clearly declared it was a nuclear-weapon State and boasted of international immunity from accountability or oversight. He warned of selectivity in efforts to rid the Middle East of nuclear arms. “We maintain that turning a blind eye to States that are stockpiling and developing nuclear weapons while refusing to submit to international inspection is gravely dangerous,” he said, adding that non-proliferation efforts in the region should be comprehensive, and not selective “otherwise, the good will we agree on will be wasted and the credibility of our aims will be damaged.”
International efforts in the region should start with concerted pressure on Israel to accede to the NPT, he urged. Making the Middle East nuclear-weapon-free was an indispensable condition to stability and peace in the region for generations to come. Any attempt to pre-condition international accountability in that regard was a disingenuous pretext to escape adherence and at gaining yet more time to stockpile those weapons of mass destruction, without any oversight or accountability. It was vital to push for the implementation of the package deal on the indefinite extension of the NPT, in particular the resolution on the Middle East. “Anything else will prove devastating and could trigger a nuclear arms race in the region,” he said. The 13 practical steps must be respected to maintain the Treaty’s credibility.
Devastating and long-term effects of human rights violations, impunity, foreign occupation, underdevelopment and poverty were directly linked to disarmament efforts, he said. The Committee must address those and other issues, steeped in the reality that deadly conflicts and illicit arms trading would flourish as long as the root causes of conflicts remained unresolved.
“At a time when the world community is cooperating to overcome economic and environmental dangers, we must show equal determination to work collectively on stopping the scourges of needless and senseless wars,” he concluded. “Millions of defenceless civilians, who have long suffered senseless violence and grinding poverty, count on us to do that. Only then do our future generations stand a chance at living a prosperous life, free of the worst nightmare humanity can face: a nuclear arms race and unchecked violations of human rights.”
ANDA FILIP, Permanent Observer of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), said that the 2007 Parliamentary Hearing at the United Nations had dealt with the issue of rule of law in international relations, with one of the sessions dedicated to the implementation of key international commitments in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation. That panel had been addressed by the High representative for Disarmament, the Executive Secretary of the CTBT Organization (CTBTO), the President of the Global Security Initiative, the Chair of the Mexican Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Chairman of the Security Council 1540 Committee. Much of the discussion had focused on the nuclear predicament and the need to mobilize political leadership and commitment to effectively deal with it. Many parliamentarians felt that that could simply not wait much longer.
Based on the outcome of the annual hearing, IPU members decided that the issue of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation warranted more serious examination, including within parliaments themselves, she said. They, therefore, introduced the issue onto their formal agenda of work. The IPU Committee on Peace and International Security was mandated to look into the role of parliamentarians with regard to advancing nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament and securing the entry into force of the CTBT. After a rigorous process, a Parliamentary resolution had been adopted by consensus by the IPU member parliaments in April. That text carried a strong political message, and served as a call to action by parliaments and parliamentarians from around the world on those issues.
She subsequently presented examples brought forward by participating legislators where the resolution had been adopted, concerning their experiences in the adoption of national laws in the area of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. According to her, the international community had a unique window of opportunity to make real progress towards achieving the ideal for citizens around the globe of a nuclear-weapon-free-world. That opportunity should be seized. Parliaments and parliamentarians were part of that solution, and the IPU was committed to playing its role in moving that process forward.
Right of Reply
The representative of the Republic of Korea, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the military exercise undertaken by her country had been a purely defensive one. It had given notice of that exercise to “DPRK” through the United Nations command channel.
* *** *