Sending Six Drafts to General Assembly, First Committee Calls for International Day for World Free of Nuclear Weapons, Conference on Arms Trade Treaty in 2012

30 October 2009
GA/DIS/3402

Sending Six Drafts to General Assembly, First Committee Calls for International Day for World Free of Nuclear Weapons, Conference on Arms Trade Treaty in 2012

30 October 2009
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3402
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fourth General Assembly

First Committee

22nd Meeting (AM)

Sending Six Drafts to General Assembly, First Committee Calls for International

Day for World Free of Nuclear Weapons, Conference on Arms Trade Treaty in 2012

Committee Seeks Urgent Ratification of Test-Ban Treaty, Early Implementation

Of Security Council Resolutions 1874 (2009), 1718 (2006), Resumed Six-Party Talks

The Disarmament Committee today recommended that the General Assembly convene a United Nations conference on an arms trade treaty in 2012 to elaborate a legally binding instrument on the highest possible common international standards for conventional arms transfers, recognizing that the absence of commonly agreed international standards for those transfers to address the problems relating to unregulated trade and their diversion to the illicit market contributed to armed conflict, the displacement of people, organized crime and terrorism.

Under the terms of one of six draft resolutions it sent to the Assembly today as it neared the conclusion of its work for the session, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) would have the Assembly decide to consider the remaining sessions of the open-ended working group on that treaty in 2010 and 2011 as a preparatory committee for that conference, and requestthat preparatory committee, at its four sessions in 2010 and 2011, to make recommendations to the conference on the elements that would be needed to attain an effective and balanced legally binding instrument on the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms.

The Assembly, acknowledging the right of all States to manufacture, import, export, transfer and retain conventional arms for self-defence and security needs and in order to participate in peace support operations, would call upon States to implement on a national basis the relevant recommendations contained in Section VII of the Secretary-General’s report and commend all States to carefully consider how to achieve such implementation to ensure their national import and export control systems have the highest possible standards.

The text was approved by a recorded vote of 153 in favour to oneagainst ( Zimbabwe), with 19 abstentions.  (For details of the vote, see Annex IV).

Acting without a vote, the Assembly would welcome the recent positive momentum in the international community and declare 29 August as the International Day for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons, convinced that every effort should be made to prevent nuclear war and catastrophes to avert devastating effects on humankind, the environment and the planet.

Laying down the next stepping stone on the path towards harnessing the threat of nuclear weapons, the Assembly would call urgently upon all States to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), stressing that a universal and effectively verifiable Treaty constituted a fundamental instrument in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and that, after more than twelve years, its entry into force is more urgent than ever before.

The Assembly would also urge all States not to carry out nuclear-weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions, to maintain their moratoriums in that regard and to refrain from acts that would defeat the object and purpose of the Treaty and to refrain from acts that would defeat the Treaty’s object and purpose, while stressing that those measures did not have the same permanent and legally binding effect as the Treaty’s entry into force. 

That revised draft resolution was approved by a vote of 175 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 3 abstentions ( India, Mauritius, Syria).  (see Annex II).

Prior to that vote, the Committee approved the fifth operative paragraph of the draft resolution, which recalled Security Council resolutions 1874 (2009) and 1718 (2006), calls for their early implementation, and calls for early resumption of the six-party talks, by a separate vote of 166 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 5 abstentions (Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, Syria, Venezuela).  (see Annex I). 

By a vote of 126 in favour to 29 against, with 22 abstentions, the Committee approved a draft resolution by which the Assembly, stressing the importance of strengthening all existing nuclear-related disarmament and arms control and reduction measures, would underline the unanimous conclusion of the International Court of Justice that there existed an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control (see Annex III).

Also by that text, the Assembly would call upon all States to immediately fulfil that obligation by commencing multilateral negotiations leading to an early conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention prohibiting the development, production, testing, deployment, stockpiling, transfer, threat or use of nuclear weapons and providing for their elimination.

Acting without votes, the Committee approved two more texts, on the Report of the Conference on Disarmament, and on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa. 

General statements/draft introductions or revisions, amendments concerning Cluster 1, on nuclear weapons, were made by the representatives of Morocco (on behalf of Morocco and France), Australia, Kazakhstan, Nigeria (on behalf of the African Group) and India; and on Cluster 4, on conventional weapons, by the representatives of United Kingdom, Sweden (on behalf of the European Union), Nigeria (on behalf of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) group); and on Cluster 7, on disarmament machinery, by the representative of Nigeria.

Explanations of vote on Cluster 1 were made by the representatives of Sweden (on behalf of the European Union), Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Syria, Pakistan, Israel, Japan, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, Switzerland, and Norway; and on Cluster 4, by the representatives of Indonesia, Sudan, Russian Federation, India, Belarus, Liechtenstein, Germany, Switzerland, Venezuela, Mexico, Ireland and Portugal; and on Cluster 7, by the representatives of Bangladesh, Turkey and Iran.

The representative of Denmark spoke on a procedural matter.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 2 November, to continue to take action on remaining disarmament and security related draft resolutions.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue action on all draft texts submitted under the disarmament and international security agenda items.

Action on Drafts

The Committee first took up draft texts in Cluster 7, on disarmament machinery, beginning with a draft resolution on the Report of the Conference on Disarmament (document A/C.1/64/L.41).

By its terms, the General Assembly would welcome the consensus adoption of a programme of work for the 2009 session, including the establishment of four working groups and three special coordinators.  It would also welcome the decision of the Conference to request the current and incoming Presidents to conduct consultations during the intersessional period and, if possible, make recommendations taking into account all relevant proposals.

The draft resolution, as orally amended, was approved without a vote.

Speaking after the vote, the representative of Bangladesh said that his country was committed to general and complete disarmament and was a member of all major disarmament conventions, including the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).  It had been among the first 20 States whose ratification had brought the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (Mine-Ban Convention) into force.  It believed strongly that the Conference on Disarmament should play its mandated role as the sole multilateral negotiating body on disarmament.  As the next President of the Conference, it was taking all preparations, as advised in the resolution, to conduct consultations during the intersessional period to get recommendations, taking into account all relevant proposals.   Bangladesh would try its best to reach consensus on the work programme during the first few weeks of the 2010 session.

The representative of Turkey, also speaking on L.41, said that his country attached great importance to the work of the Conference, and hoped that it would resume its role.   Turkey expected that the remaining obstacles to the implementation of its work programme would be removed so that it could embark on substantive work on the fissile material cut-off treaty, among other items before it.  The Committee’s draft resolution contained a reference to expanding the Conference’s membership, but Turkey was convinced that such expansion was not a priority at present.  The Conference had several urgent issues before it for negotiation, and expansion was not one of them, in particular, at time that it had not overcome the existing stalemate.   Turkey’s position should not be interpreted as a categorical opposition to expansion, but that such expansion should be considered on a case-by-case basis.  In that regard, Turkey hoped that its vote for the draft resolution was not interpreted as a change in its position.

The representative of Iran said that his country supported the reactivation of the Conference, based on a comprehensive and balanced programme of work.  The existence of thousands of nuclear weapons was the greatest threat to the security of all nations.  Dealing with that issue remained the highest priority in the Conference’s work.  It was important that the rules of procedure of the Conference be respected.   Iran commended the sponsors of the draft resolution for their effort to accommodate the views of all delegations.

General Statements, Draft Introductions on Cluster 1, Nuclear Weapons

MOHAMMED LOULICHKI (Morocco), speaking also on behalf of France, as Co‑Chairmen of the sixth article 17 conference of the CTBT, held from 24 to 25 September, said that the high-level participation by States parties at that Conference had attested to the favourable climate for the treatment of questions of disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation as one of the key priorities of the international community.  The two countries welcomed, in particular, the declarations by the President and Secretary of State of the United States reiterating that country’s engagement to ratify the Test-Ban Treaty and the positive impact which that ratification would have on the policies of other countries to become State parties to that Treaty, thereby enabling it to enter into force.

Morocco and France reaffirmed the urgency for the nine countries, among the 44 in annex II of the CTBT, to ratify it, thus opening the way to the making it a universal system, he said.  That system had advantages in other areas, especially natural disasters.  The entry into force of the CTBT would strengthen the international non-proliferation regime and the effort of the international community on disarmament, reinforcement of which was being sought.  The cessation of nuclear tests would contribute to the reduction of regional tensions.

GARY QUINLAN ( Australia), speaking also on behalf of New Zealand, said that the resolution on the CTBT (document A/C.1/64/L.47.Rev.1), for the first time, enjoyed the affirmation of the five permanent members of the Security Council.  This year had been an encouraging year.  For instance, the Security Council had met on 24 September to focus on disarmament for the first time.  The entry into force of the CTBT and progress on a fissile material cut-off treaty were two important steps towards reaching the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.  Australia was pleased to present the draft resolution on behalf of the five permanent members of the Security Council and the co–authors.  The sponsors were grateful for the overwhelming support for the draft.

BYRGANYM AITIMOVA (Kazakhstan) said that her country had presented draft resolution on an International Day against Nuclear Tests (document A/C.1/64/L.14/Rev.1), but that based on consultations with other delegations, she would make a revision to operative paragraph 1, by replacing the words “nuclear tests” with “nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions”.

She said that the revised text would now read:  “Declares 29 August as the International Day against Nuclear Tests, devoted to enhancing public awareness and education about the effects of nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions and the need for their cessation”. 

That revision served specifications purposes, she said, adding her hope that the draft resolution would be approved without a vote.

LAWRENCE OBISAKIN (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group, expressed appreciation for all the congratulatory messages on the entry into force of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (Pelindaba Treaty), which had made the whole of Africa nuclear-weapon-free and which entered into force on 15 July.  He invited delegations to a celebration of the entry into force with the African Group.

He then presented a draft resolution on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (document A/C/1/64/L.32/Rev.2), noting that the resolution had been passed by consensus the last time.  There had only been a few technical details added, including about the revitalization of the Centre, which had enabled it to cover all of Africa.  The sponsors hoped that it would be passed on a consensus basis.

HAMID ALI RAO ( India), speaking on draft resolution L.14/Rev.1, noted the revisions that had been proposed today by Kazakhstan, and said that they had modified the focus of the draft resolution.  That change had taken it farther away from the original focus on nuclear disarmament.  India suggested an amendment to the resolution, with an insertion at the end of operative paragraph 1, after the amendment by Kazakhstan, of the words:  “as a means of achieving the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world”.

Thus, the paragraph would now read:  “Declares 29 August as the International Day against Nuclear Tests, devoted to enhancing public awareness and education about the effects of nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions and the need for their cessation as a means of achieving the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world”.

She said that the new language was based on language that already existed in the preamble of the draft resolution and was consistent with the policies of a vast majority of countries.

Action on Drafts

Speaking before the vote on L.14/Rev.1, the representative of Sweden, on behalf of the European Union, clarified that the Union understood “nuclear test” in the sense laid out in the more precise terminology of the CTBT, which referred to “nuclear explosions or any other nuclear explosions”.  That was also reflected in operative paragraph 1 of the orally-amended draft resolution.

He said that the Union had recently underscored its dedication to the CTBT at the Sixth Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT, in New York from 24 to 25 September.  The high profile accorded to that meeting had been a further testament to the universally-recognized importance of the Treaty to nuclear disbarment and non-proliferation.  Its entry into force would significantly strengthen the international security architecture, built upon the foundation of the NPT.  The near universality of the Treaty, although it was not yet in force, had resulted in its establishment of a strong global norm against nuclear test explosions.  The Union continued to appeal to the States that had not yet signed and ratified the Treaty to do without further delay, and in particular, the nine States listed in annex II, whose ratification was necessary for the Treaty’s entry into force.  The Union, although hesitant regarding the creation of international days, hoped that the creation of an international day against nuclear tests would increase the attention given to the CTBT’s entry into force and speed up the achievement of that crucial goal.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, explaining his delegation’s vote on L.47/Rev.1, stated that more than 2,000 tests had been conducted and that the number of nuclear-weapon States had increased to nine.  Among those States, the United States had recorded the greatest number of nuclear tests, amounting to more than 1,000.  Yet, the United States tests had never been made an issue in the Security Council.

He said that the United States had divided Korea into two parts, inflicting immeasurable suffering of national division on the Korean people for more than half a century and blackmailing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with nuclear weapons.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s second nuclear test was a self-defensive reaction to extremely hostile acts by the United States.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had never recognized Security Council resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009), he said.  Nor had his country pursued a nuclear arms race.  Denuclearizing the world, including the Korean peninsula, was its consistent stand.  While possessing the nuclear weapons, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would act in a responsible manner in the management, use, non-proliferation and disarmament of nuclear weapons.  For those reasons, his delegation suggested that L.47/Rev.1 should be put to a vote, and it would vote against it.

The representative of Egypt addressed a comment made earlier by the representative of India regarding the overall package of the resolution.  The Egyptian delegate said the proposal for altering that operative paragraph would not be the best way.  In the spirit of cooperation, perhaps the words “as a means” could be replaced.  There were many steps to be taken, beyond nuclear testing, to have a nuclear-free world, he said.

In response, the representative of India said that the language had been taken from preambular paragraph 3.

The representative of Egypt said he had proposed the change of “as a means” to “steps to achieving” a nuclear-weapon-free world.

The Chair indicated that it was his understanding that the delegate of India wanted to submit the proposed changes.  He suggested that both proposals would be put to a vote.

The representative of Egypt said he wanted to ensure that the language was clear.  He had no problem putting the India proposal to a vote.

The representative of India, responding to the representative of Egypt, said he would have no problem taking the Egyptian’s proposal to a vote.

Given the two proposals, the Chair then suggested that the language could be “one of the means”.

Action on Texts

The Committee then approved by consensus, as orally amended to reflect the latter proposal, the draft resolution on an International Day for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons (document A/C.1/64/L.14/Rev.1), which would have the Assembly, convinced that every effort should be made to prevent nuclear war and catastrophes to avert devastating effects on humankind, the environment and the planet, welcome the recent positive momentum in the international community to work towards that goal and declare 29 August as the International Day against Nuclear Tests.

Further to that text, the Assembly, convinced that every effort should be made to end nuclear tests in order to avert their devastating and harmful effects on the lives and health of people and the environment, would invite Member States, main bodies, relevant agencies, fund and programmes of the United Nations, regional commissions, intergovernmental and inter-parliamentary, non-governmental organizations and individuals to commemorate the day.  It would propose the use of thematic conferences, round tables, educational and teaming programmes and other activities designed for and/or by youth, as well as innovative technologies of social networking and media on an ongoing basis.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (document A/C.1/64/L.47/Rev.1), which would have the Assembly, stressing that a universal and effectively verifiable Test-Ban Treaty constituted a fundamental instrument in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and that, after more than 12 years, its entry into force was more urgent than ever before, stress the vital importance and urgency of signature and ratification, without delay and without conditions, to achieve the earliest entry into force of that Treaty.

The Assembly would welcome the contributions by the States signatories to the work of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, in particular its efforts to ensure that the Treaty’s verification regime will be capable of meeting the verification requirements of the Treaty upon its entry into force, in accordance with article IV of the Treaty.

It would urge all States not to carry out nuclear-weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions, to maintain their moratoriums in that regard and to refrain from acts that would defeat the object and purpose of the Treaty, while stressing that these measures do not have the same permanent and legally binding effect as the entry into force of the Treaty

The Assembly would further urge all States that had not yet signed the Treaty to sign and ratify it as soon as possible and those that had signed but not yet ratified it, in particular those whose ratification is needed for its entry into force, to accelerate their ratification processes, with a view to ensuring their earliest successful conclusion.

The Committee first voted on operative paragraph 5, which recalled Security Council resolutions and called for the early resumption of the six-party talks.

The Committee decided to retain that paragraph by a vote of 166 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 5 abstentions ( Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, Syria, Venezuela).  (For details of the vote, see Annex I.)

Then the Committee approved the draft resolution as a whole by a vote of 175 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 3 abstentions ( India, Mauritius, Syria).  (See Annex II.)

The Committee next took up a draft text on follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legality of the Threat of Use of Nuclear Weapons (document A/C.1/64/L.51), which would have the Assembly, stressing the importance of strengthening all existing nuclear-related disarmament and arms control and reduction measures, underline the unanimous conclusion of the International Court of Justice that there existed an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control. 

The text would also have the Assembly call upon all States to immediately fulfil that obligation by commencing multilateral negotiations leading to an early conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention prohibiting the development, production, testing, deployment, stockpiling transfer, threat or use of nuclear weapons and providing for their elimination.

The draft resolution was approved by a vote of 126 in favour to 29 against, with 22 abstentions (Annex III).

The representative of Syria explained that his country had abstained on L.47/Rev.1 because a treaty of that importance, along with the future commitments that flowed from it, should in no way disregard the legitimate concerns of non-nuclear-weapon States, which had not received guarantees of the non-use of nuclear weapons, nor had been able to access nuclear energy.  The text contained no language on the elimination of nuclear arsenals of nuclear-weapon States, nor did it reaffirm the need for the universality of the NPT. 

Furthermore, he said that the text was limited to banning nuclear explosions, and not laboratory experiments or the production of new types of nuclear weapons.  The text also made it possible for signatories to take measures against non-signatory States.  That was disturbing, as Israel was the only State in the region that possessed nuclear weapons and it continuously refused to submit its nuclear programme to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  That reality made a nuclear-weapon free region in the Middle East an unlikely prospect.

The representative of Pakistan said that his country had long supported the goals of the CTBT and had voted in favour of L.47/Rev.1 this year as well.  Pakistan had taken measures, including imposing a moratorium on nuclear testing.  Acceptance of the CTBT obligations in South Asia would facilitate the Treaty’s entry into force.

Also concerning L.47/Rev.1, the representative of Israel said that recent years had demonstrated the severity of nuclear challenges, including non-compliance cases in the Middle East.  Israel had signed the CTBT, reflecting the country’s commitment to non-proliferation.  Since the CTBT preparatory conference in 1996, Israel had participated actively in training workshops and other on-site inspection meetings.  The Treaty should be immune to abuse and allow each State signatory to protect its national security.  Sovereign equality must be ensured.  Given the regional state of affairs regarding compliance, Israel continued to vote in favour of the CTBT draft. 

The representative of Japan said the delegation had abstained from voting on L.51 because the use of nuclear weapons was clearly contrary to human rights.  Nuclear weapons should never be used again, he said, noting also that the subject covered by the draft was complex.  He supported the decision of the International Court of Justice judge and the need to conclude the matter in good faith.

The representative of Iran voted in favour of L.47/Rev.1, but his country had abstained in the vote on operative paragraph 5.  That was the first time in the history of the First Committee that there had been no inclusive consultations on the CTBT resolution.  Iran had conveyed its concerns, but the sponsor had not paid attention, which was why Iran had abstained.

The representative of Cuba, speaking about L.47/Rev.1, said that Cuba had maintained a clear position about the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and its opposition to nuclear tests.  Cuba had always voted in favour of the CTBT resolution, as it did today.  However, regarding operative paragraph 5, the text did not address the complexity of the issues.  A selective double standard had led the Security Council to adopt coercive measures, flouting reality.  He rejected an attempt to impose a narrow focus on the Committee.  Diplomacy and dialogue should continue, in order to reach long-term solutions to the nuclear situation on the Korean peninsula.  Nuclear-weapon States should also reduce and eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

The representative of Venezuela said her delegation had voted for L.47/Rev.1 and operative paragraph 5, as her country was a party to the CTBT and the NPT.  Based on its commitments to those instruments, Venezuela believed that efforts towards eliminating nuclear weapons should occur under the aegis of the United Nations.  The only true guarantee of the non-use of nuclear weapons was to eliminate them and for all States to join the multilateral agreements.

The representative of Switzerland, turning to L.14/Rev.1, said that his country had joined the consensus, despite its scepticism about its usefulness and value.  Switzerland believed the project should be looked at in the First Committee.  He called on all countries to sign the CTBT.

The representative of Norway maintained its vote in favour on L.51, and was committed to the NPT’s goal of eliminating nuclear weapons.  For the time being, the focus should be on achieving a positive outcome of the upcoming NPT Review Conference.  Norway questioned the functionality of the Conference on Disarmament, which represented a limited number of countries.

The representative of Denmark corrected mistake on his vote on L.51, which should be recorded as a vote against the draft.

General Statements

When the Committee turned its attention to Cluster 7, on disarmament machinery, Mr. OBISAKIN ( Nigeria) requested the Committee to approve by consensus the draft text on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (document A/C.1/64/L.32/Rev.2).

Action on Texts

The Committee then approved that draft without a vote.

By its terms, the Assembly would welcome efforts made by the Centre to revitalize its activities and extend its operations to cover all of Africa in order to respond to the evolving needs of the continent in the areas of peace, security and disarmament.

The Assembly would urge all States, as well as international governmental and non-governmental organizations and foundations, to make voluntary contributions to support the programmes and activities of the Centre and to facilitate their implementation.

Under further terms of the draft resolution, the Assembly would also urge, in particular, State members of the African Union to make voluntary contributions to the Regional Centre’s trust funds in conformity with the decision taken by the Executive Council of the African Union, in Khartoum in January 2006, and would request the Secretary-General to facilitate closer cooperation between the Regional Centre and the African Union, in particular in the areas of peace, security and development.  It would ask the Secretary-General to continue to provide the necessary support to the Regional Centre for greater results.

General Statements, Draft Introductions

Concerning Cluster 4, on conventional weapons, JOHN DUNCAN ( United Kingdom) introduced L.38/Rev.1, saying it was the result of the serious discussion within the United Nations over the past three years.  The draft resolution aimed to establish a clear timetable and a framework to regulate trade in arms.  The sponsors had listened carefully to the Chairman’s opening remarks and had tried hard to produce a resolution that would pass without a vote.  They were grateful for the flexibility of many delegations in that process and believed that they had been able to strike a balance in the draft between those who saw the arms trade treaty as an urgent priority and those who had a different view.

MAGNUS HELLGREN (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union, explained that the group would vote in favour of L.38/Rev.1 partly because it attached great importance to an arms trade treaty.  Each day, everywhere in the world, people were affected by irresponsible arms transfers, with the unregulated transfers of conventional weapons and their diversion to the illicit market having a negative impact on peace, security, respect for human rights and sustainable development.  Despite that negative impacts were most severe in developing countries, the problem was global.  The European Union had consistently stressed that there must be a global solution to that global problem.  He welcomed that the report of the first two sessions of the open-ended working group had also recognized that.  A comprehensive arms trade treaty could prevent the unregulated transfer of conventional arms, and the Union was committed to its elaboration.

He said that following discussions in the General Assembly, in the group of governmental experts and the open-ended working group, there was now consensus that international action was necessary.  It was high time that real negotiations took place on the elements of a treaty.  The draft resolution paved the way for the launch of the negotiating process, setting a clear timeline for the work ahead.  It was crucial that the preparatory process leading to the 2012 Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty would be inclusive and able to make strong recommendations on the elements of a future treaty.

Mr. OBISAKIN (Nigeria), also addressing his remarks to L.38/Rev.1, on behalf of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), appealed to all Member States to adopt a strong effective legally binding arms trade treaty capable of regulating trade in conventional weapons and combating illicit circulation of those weapons, especially small arms and light weapons.  Those weapons represented a serious threat to human life and to the social economic development of West Africa.  A strong arms trade treaty would be in consonance with the spirit of the ECOWAS convention, which the 15 Heads of State and Government of that body had concluded in 2006.  ECOWAS hoped that delegations would adopt a strong effective legally binding global arms trade treaty.

Action on Draft

The representative of Indonesia said that his country had decided to support L.38/Rev.1, not only to avoid standing in the way of consensus, but out of its belief that it would bring on board important views.   Indonesia was disappointed, however, with the draft resolution as currently drafted.  It believed that the text should clearly reaffirm the right of all States to maintain their territorial integrity and political independence.  The text did not sufficiently represent that States had that right but, instead, relegated it to a mere principle.  It was a matter of serious concern to his country that that right had been diluted in the text.   Indonesia believed that that right must be on par with the other three rights of States mentioned in the draft resolution.  While supporting the draft, Indonesia remained firm in its position in that regard.  In the negotiations for an arms trade treaty, Indonesia would continue to pursue a clear and unequivocal reference to that position.

The representative of Sudan, speaking also on behalf of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Yemen, said that those countries would abstain from the vote on L.38/Rev.1 because the draft resolution intentionally ignored the lack of consensus within the open-ended working group and would turn that working group into a preparatory committee on the arms trade treaty.  They welcomed fact that the fifth operative paragraph calls for decisions by consensus, but the draft lacked a clear reference that the preparatory committee would adopt resolutions by consensus.  He advocated for the principle of comprehensiveness.

Moreover, he said, in the Middle East, a single country possessed nuclear weapons and continued to pursue illegitimate and ambiguous policies, while occupying Arab land in violation of international opinion.  The draft resolution did not strike a balance between the right to import and export arms and the right to sustainable development and human rights.  The countries saw the speeding up of the work to reach the treaty as capable of weakening the strength and universality of that instrument.  Such a move would weaken the principles of the treaty and harm developing countries.  The countries saw an effort to take away the competitive power of countries that imported arms for self-defence.  Indeed, importing countries would be targeted by the treaty.  That would compromise certain issues, such as human rights.  In light of those concerns, the countries would abstain, although that did not mean that they would not work with the working group.

The representative of the Russian Federation, also speaking on L.38/Rev.1, said that his country shared the view that the time had come to bring order to the international arms trade.  It was necessary to cut off channels of diversion of arms from legal to illicit markets, and thus prevent arms from falling into the hands of terrorist, extremist, illegal armed groupings, organised crime and States that were under United Nations Security Council embargo.  Those entities acquired thousands of units of arms through illicit brokers and air carriers, non-State entities, unlicensed pirate manufacturing and illicit re-export.  It was an important step in the right direction that the international community had started to seriously address the very complex objective of controlling arms flow.  The logical step towards the practical elaboration of the idea of the treaty had yielded results.

He said, however, that it was counter-productive to discard the conclusions and recommendations of the group of governmental experts, the provisions of the Secretary-General’s report and General Assembly resolution 63/240, as no longer pertinent.  His country could not support the draft resolution in its present form and called on Member States to continue work, consistent with the step-by-step approach contained in the above-mentioned documents.  They should give the open-ended working group the opportunity to accomplish its work under its current status and should return to the issue of convening a United Nations conference when that group had completed its work.

Russia proposed that, in 2010, the open-ended working group should focus on determining and agreeing on the goals, scope and parameters of a prospective document, bearing in mind that those goals should be specific, clear and feasible, as well as arise from the key problems of international trade in arms.   Russia hoped that the scope and parameters would be reflected in the agreed goals.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution on arms trade treaty document A/C.1/64/L.38/Rev.1, approving it by a vote of 153 in favour to 1against( Zimbabwe), with 19 abstentions (Annex IV).

According to the text, the Assembly, acknowledging the right of all States to manufacture, import, export, transfer and retain conventional arms for self-defence and security needs and in order to participate in peace support operations, would call upon States to implement on a national basis the relevant recommendations contained in Section VII of the Secretary-General’s report and command all States to carefully consider how to achieve such implementation to ensure their national import and export control systems have the highest possible standards.

The Assembly would stress the need to address, inter alia, the problems relating to unregulated trade in conventional weapons and their diversion to the illicit market, considering that such risks can fuel instability, and transnational organized crime and terrorism, and that international action should be taken to address the problem. 

The Assembly would decide that the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty will be undertaken in an open and transparent manner, on the basis of consensus, to achieve a strong and robust treaty.

Speaking after the vote, the representative of India said that he shared the international community’s concern about the negative effects of the unregulated arms trade, particularly in view of the risk of diversion into the hands of terrorists and organized crime.  India had participated actively in the work of the working group on the arms trade treaty, which had agreed that respective responsibility existed for importers and exporters, and on the need to address unregulated trade in conventional weapons, since such groups could fuel organized crime, and so forth.

India was a responsible member of the international community, he said, adding that consideration of the arms trade treaty should be part of a step‑by‑step process.  It was vitally important that that process be consistent with the right of self-defence.  A United Nations meeting should have been a first step.  The draft resolution had not been able to fill the gaps and that was why India had abstained.

The representative of Belarus said that his country abstained from the vote, but had participated in the working group.  It considered the decision to expand the mandate of the working group as premature and inadequately prepared.  It was still necessary to define the goal and parameters of the treaty and Belarus supported the spirit of a number of elements of the draft resolution.  It hoped that the proposed United Nations conference would work on consensus, as the universality of the treaty would only be ensured if it was reached through consensus.  The introduction of new parameters and principles that went beyond the United Nations Charter and the principles of international law would hinder progress on the treaty and make it considerably more difficult to achieve its universality.

The representative of Liechtenstein said that his country had voted in favour of the draft resolution because of its support for a robust legally binding arms trade treaty.  It hoped that the interest in that treaty would translate into constructive engagement in the preparatory process.  However, the proposed United Nations conference could possibly impact negatively on the process.  It was unusual for a General Assembly resolution to try to shape the manner in which a treaty conference should take place.  But, he did not believe that operative paragraph 5 imposed an absolute requirement to take decisions by consensus.  Many treaties had been adopted by a vote.  The Conference on Disarmament, which worked on consensus, had been hindered in its work for many years.  His country would remain actively engaged to help achieve a robust treaty.

The representative of Germany, explaining his position on L.38/Rev.1, said that he supported the statement made by the Swedish delegate, on behalf of the European Union.  A robust treaty would make a real difference on the ground, and the draft’s adoption reflected a strong interest in such a treaty.  As to operative paragraph 5, he would have preferred to leave that issue to the rules of procedure, but he understood that the topic was important for some delegates.

The representative of Switzerland said he had voted for L.38/Rev.1, confirming the delegation’s sustained commitment to such a treaty.  He welcomed the marked interest of States and civil society in that process, which he hoped would be inclusive.  Regarding operative paragraph 5, he highlighted considerations on the consequences of that precondition to negotiations, saying it was unusual for a resolution of the General Assembly to prejudge a process.  While an agreement by consensus was beneficial, it should not be an obstacle that could jeopardize a process.

The representative of Venezuela, also concerning L.38/Rev.1, said her country had abstained because the draft hindered the climate of confidence that the General Assembly had wished to build by forming an open-ended working group on the issue, especially at a time when her region felt there was a great threat from a country that was establishing military bases.  She did not understand how the main proponent of the draft could ignore the progress already made.  It was important to establish confidence-building dialogue, and such a conference might weaken United Nations efforts to combat and eradicate illicit small arms and light weapons.

The representative of Mexico gave his support to an arms trade treaty and had voted in favour of L.38/Rev.1, in part to stop the flow of arms to illicit markets.  Unfortunately, the paralysis in the Conference on Disarmament and other bodies had been caused by the abuse of the consensus rules.  Multilateral work presupposed working towards chief consensus.  But the veto right should not be used to block the views held by the majority of the world.  Mexico was convinced that an arms trade treaty would result if negotiations were conducted in good faith.  Major treaties had been adopted by a vote.  If the world had awaited consensus, the NPT would not be a treaty today.

The representative of Ireland explained her country’s favourable vote for L.38/Rev.1, which reflected a strong unwavering support for negotiations of a robust, legally binding treaty.  The fifth operative paragraph of the resolution referred to a conference on the treaty being “undertaken in an open and transparent manner, on the basis of consensus, to achieve a strong and robust treaty”.   Ireland was concerned about its potential impact negotiations and the outcome.  It was unusual for a General Assembly resolution to attempt to shape in that way the manner in which a treaty-making conference would operate.

Ireland did not believe a requirement of consensus would facilitate the negotiation of a strong treaty and believed that every effort should be made to reach general agreement on matters of substance, she said.  Operative paragraph 5, as drafted, should not be interpreted as imposing a requirement to take decisions only by consensus.

The representative of Portugal, commenting on his favourable vote on L.38/Rev.1, aligned his country with the statement made by the Swedish delegate, on behalf of the European Union.  However, regarding operative paragraph 5, there should be more exhaustive discussions and a collective analysis of how to achieve a strong robust treaty.

The Chair announced that he had received an amendment to the draft text on the Second Conference of States parties and signatories to treaties by which nuclear-weapon-free zones have been established (document A/C.1/64/L.46/Rev.1), and that the amendment would be posted Monday.

ANNEX I

Vote on Comprehensive-Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, operative paragraph 5

Operative paragraph 5 of the draft resolution on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) (document A/C.1/64/L.47/REV.1*) was approved by a recorded vote of 166 in favour to 1 against, with 5 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:  Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Abstain:  Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, Syria, Venezuela.

Absent:  Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Kiribati, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tuvalu.

(END OF ANNEX I)

ANNEX II

Vote on Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty

The draft resolution as a whole on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) (document A/C.1/64/L.47/REV.1*) was approved by a recorded vote of 175 in favour to 1 against, with 3 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:  Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Abstain:  India, Mauritius, Syria.

Absent:  Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Kiribati, Nauru, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu.

(END OF ANNEX II)

ANNEX III

Vote on Advisory Opinion of International Court of Justice

The draft resolution on follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legality of the threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons (document A/C.1/64/L.51) was approved by a recorded vote of 126 in favour to 29 against, with 22 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:  Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Palau, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States.

Abstain:  Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Finland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Liechtenstein, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.

Absent:  Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Kiribati, Monaco, Nauru, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu.

(END OF ANNEX III)

ANNEX IV

Vote on Arms Trade Treaty

The draft resolution on arms trade treaty (document A/C.1/64/L.38/REV.1) was approved by a recorded vote of 153 in favour to 1 against, with 19 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Zambia.

Against:  Zimbabwe.

Abstain:  Bahrain, Belarus, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Iran, Kuwait, Libya, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Yemen.

Absent:  Cape Verde, Comoros, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.