World Faces Conundrum over Desire for Security through Outdated Machinery that Delivers Stalemates Instead of Progress, First Committee Hears

5 October 2010
GA/DIS/3407

World Faces Conundrum over Desire for Security through Outdated Machinery that Delivers Stalemates Instead of Progress, First Committee Hears

5 October 2010
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3407
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fifth General Assembly

First Committee

3rd Meeting (AM)

World Faces Conundrum over Desire for Security through Outdated Machinery

 

that Delivers Stalemates Instead of Progress, First Committee Hears

 

Reforming Conference on Disarmament Must Not Be Taboo in Fundamentally Changed

Landscape, Say Some; Others Say Political Solutions, Not Procedural Fixes, Needed

It was a conundrum that, while the international community professed a desire for greater progress on disarmament to secure a safer world, it allowed outdated mechanisms at the disposal of Member States to deliver stalemates instead of the advancement of that objective, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard today as it continued its general debate.

Referring to the paralysis in the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament, New Zealand’s representative respected and understood the right of Member States to protect their vital security interests, but she could not understand why those interests could not be taken into account in the negotiating processes rather than be used as a veto to even begin negotiations.  Despite the gains that had been made in nuclear disarmament, all was not well in the multilateral disarmament environment.  Calling the current situation untenable, she said it was inevitable that some delegations were weighing other options for advancing disarmament.

“Reforming the [Conference on Disarmament] should not be a taboo in a world which had fundamentally changed,” said Switzerland’s representative, suggesting that one way to break the deadlock was to launch simultaneous negotiations on treaties to ban fissile material and on security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States that the nuclear Powers would not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against them.  Holding onto the status quo in the disarmament machinery was no longer an option.  The time for change at the Conference was now; its mechanisms should be adapted to current and future challenges.

In a similar vein, the representative of the United Statesstressed her country’s deep disappointment over the Conference’s failure to act on the basis of the programme of work adopted by consensus in May 2009.  That Conference was directed to adopt a balanced work programme that included mandates for negotiations of a fissile material cut-off treaty and substantive discussions on nuclear disarmament, negative security assurances and the prevention of an arms race in outer space.  Unfortunately, the will of the majority had been frustrated by at least one State not willing to allow negotiations for a fissile material ban to proceed in the Conference.  If efforts to start those negotiations continued to stall, Governments that wished to negotiate such a treaty would consider other options for moving that process forward.  After well over one decade of inaction in Geneva, patience was running out for many States, including the United States.

Japan’s representative, while stressing the critical role of the Conference on Disarmament, also expressed deep regret at its current impasse.  He, too, warned that, if there was no emerging prospect for negotiations to start on a fissile material cut-off treaty within the Conference, Japan and other like-minded countries were ready to make alternative arrangements.

Sharing that frustration, France’s delegate urged the international community to reflect on the real reasons for the deadlock and, like the European Union, make constructive proposals to end it.  Work at the Conference had been suspended as a result of political animosity and thus, procedural improvements would not be enough to end it, he asserted.  Instead, it was necessary to show the countries that thought they could profit from the situation that they were now moving in the opposite direction of history.

Universalizing the NPT and strengthening the treaties banning possession and use of other weapons of mass destruction was also spotlighted.  Egypt’s delegate said that Israel’s refusal to join the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon State remained a significant obstacle to his country’s accession to the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions and to its ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), despite its support for the goals and principles of those three instruments.  Thus, the existing gap widened between the commitments of NPT States parties that had implemented all their Treaty obligations and the sole State outside the NPT in the region, which enjoyed unmatched freedom under unjustifiable international support.

There was no doubt, said the speaker, that the link between Israel’s disposal of its ambiguous nuclear capability on the one hand and the achievement of parallel progress in dealing with other weapons of mass destruction on the other, as provided for in the NPT plan of action on the implementation of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East, confirmed the international community’s conviction of the firm link, which Egypt and the Arab countries had always highlighted. 

Also participating in today’s debate were the representatives of Libya, Brazil, Liechtenstein, South Africa, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Venezuela, Canada, Thailand and Jordan.

The Committee will meet again to continue its general debate at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 6 October.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue 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/3406.)

ROSE E. GOTTEMOELLER, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance of the United States, said that since the last session of the Committee, much had taken place in the area of arms control and non-proliferation.  When United States President Barack Obama had spoken in Prague in April 2009 about his vision of a world without nuclear weapons, he had recognized the need to create the conditions to bring about such a world.  The United States Administration had been working diligently on that agenda, which included stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, reducing nuclear arsenals and securing nuclear materials.

In April 2010, he said, the United States had taken three bold steps in that direction.  It had released a nuclear posture review, which had reduced the role of nuclear weapons in its national security strategy and extended negative security assurances to all non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) that were in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations.  Secondly, it had signed the new Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START) with the Russian Federation, which further reduced and limited the number of strategic arms on both sides and renewed the United States-Russian leadership on nuclear issues.  The third step had been the Nuclear Security Summit that President Obama had hosted in Washington, D.C., at which world leaders had reached a consensus about the nature of the nuclear threat and agreed on a collective effort to secure nuclear material within four years.

Those events had been followed quickly by the successful NPT Review Conference in May, which, for the first time in 10 years, had reached consensus agreement on a final document, she went on.  That text and its comprehensive action plan — a first at an NPT review — would advance disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.  The final document endorsed a balanced approach to advance the three pillars of the regime:  nuclear non-proliferation, peaceful uses of nuclear energy and nuclear disarmament.  Regrettably, one area where there had been no progress was in the Conference on Disarmament, where deadlock persisted over a work programme that would launch negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, as well as substantive discussion on other disarmament topics.  Her Government regarded that delay as unwarranted and out of step with the expectations of the wide majority of States.  “If we are serious about realizing a world without nuclear weapons, then we must start now by working on a treaty to end the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons.”

Ms. Gottemoeller stressed her country’s deep disappointment over the Conference on Disarmament’s failure to act on the basis of the programme of work adopted by consensus at the Conference in May 2009.  That mandate was repeated in the NPT Review Conference’s action plan, which called on the Conference on Disarmament to adopt a balanced work programme, which included mandates for negotiating a fissile material ban and for substantive discussions on nuclear disarmament, negative security assurances and the prevention of an outer space arms race.  That had been reinforced by the Secretary-General’s recent high-level meeting on revitalizing the Conference on Disarmament.  Unfortunately, the will of the majority had been frustrated by at least one State not willing to allow a fissile material cut-off treaty to proceed in the Conference.  It remained her country’s strong preference to negotiate it there; however, after well over a decade of inaction in Geneva, patience was running out for many States, including her own.  If efforts to start negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament continued to stall, those Governments that wished to negotiate a fissile material cut-off treaty would have to consider other options.

ABDURRAHMAN MOHAMED SHALGHAM ( Libya) affirmed the importance of disarmament to ensuring peace and security worldwide.  He was convinced the best way to do that was through full and complete elimination of all weapons of mass destruction, with nuclear weapons at the forefront.  Libya called on all States to fulfil their obligations under article VI of the NPT, the 1995 resolution flowing from the 1995 Review Conference, the 13 practical steps towards nuclear disarmament from the 2000 Review, as well as the outcome of the 2010 Review.

He said that the Treaty’s credibility would be strengthened only if the document was supported by all States, particularly all nuclear-weapon States.  The non-discriminatory safeguards system of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) must be accepted.  In order to universalize the Agency, its mandate should be applicable to all States, including Israel.  Libya had prepared a proposal to amend article VI and to convene an international conference on for that purpose.  Libya strongly supporting the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones, but lamented that there were no concrete steps being taken create one in the Middle East, with Israel barring the path.

The 1995 resolution on the Middle East was one of the major foundations for the NPT’s indefinite extension, he went on.  However, the international community had failed to implement it, which brought matters to the present, with Israel possessing military nuclear capabilities.  The 2010 NPT Review Conference plan to address the implementation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East at the 2012 Review Conference must move ahead.  Otherwise, it would amount to nothing more than a “rhetorical show”. 

He said that landmines, small arms and light weapons needed the United Nations attention.  States’ sovereignty must be considered alongside confidence-building measures and other actions to address disarmament.  He mentioned Palestine’s current situation, underlining the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (Mine-Ban Convention) and the need to include in that text, among other things, mine clearance and the ban on planting such weapons.  Libya still suffer from mines planted on its territories, so he called on States to help to compensate affected families, adding that the Libyan-Italian relationship should be a model for others in similar situations.

LUIZ FILIPE DE MACEDO SOARES ( Brazil) said that no priority was higher than nuclear disarmament.  Nuclear weapons remained the sole anthropogenic factor that could instantly destroy humanity and irreversibly change the Earth.  As stated by the Brazilian Minister of External relations, Celso Amorim, at the Conference on Disarmament last July: “Nuclear weapons have no role in the more peaceful, democratic and prosperous world we all want to build.”  It was understandable that the recent vows of the nuclear Powers to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons had been received with renewed hope.  However, it was still too soon to evaluate progress.  The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) still awaited indispensable ratifications, in order for it to enter into force, although there were positive attitudes on the part of key States.

He stressed that the implementation of the 2010 NPT plan of action would be a test to evaluate possibilities for progress on nuclear disarmament.  However, a more stringent timeline for nuclear disarmament was still essential.  For Brazil, it was rather disappointing that the final document of the NPT Review Conference only referred to a “sense of urgency”.  The New Agenda Coalition (non-nuclear-weapon States of Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden) would be presenting a draft resolution entitled “Towards a nuclear-weapon-free world:  accelerating the implementation of nuclear disarmament commitments”.  Unanimous support for that proposal would point in the direction of attaining the goal of increased security for all.  Brazil, together with New Zealand, would also present a draft resolution on a nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas, for which the sponsors hoped for continued widespread support.

Turning to conventional weapons, he said that while those might not threaten the survival of humanity, they created new victims every minute.  Many efforts had been undertaken to address that challenge, including the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons) and its five protocols.  Efforts must continue to universalize that Convention.  There had also been constant progress in banning landmines under the Mine-Ban Convention.  Much remained to be done in terms of mine clearance, destruction of stocks, universalization and other aspects of the treaty, but the reduction in the numbers of those weapons was a success story.

STEFAN BARRIGA ( Liechtenstein) said the United Nations disarmament community was faced with a choice:  change the way it did business or risk marginalization.  “If we are to avoid slipping over the precipice, we must make sure that we build on past successes,” he said.  Among those successes were the bans on landmines and on cluster munitions, which, although negotiated outside the United Nations context, had nevertheless become norm-setting disarmament agreements.

He said that while Liechtenstein supported a nuclear weapons convention, a lot of small practical measures needed to take place along the way, including the initiative on de-alerting nuclear weapons and in the context of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms.  It was clear that the United Nations current disarmament machinery was no longer fit for that purpose.  If the farcical failure of the Conference on Disarmament to conduct substantive negotiations since 1996 continued, the General Assembly should reconsider the Conference’s role alongside the whole of the United Nations-based disarmament machinery.

The First Committee should also rethink its work, he said.  Resolutions were annually presented without open consultations, only to be voted on strictly along bloc lines and in a strongly ritualized manner, he said, calling for open consultations whenever possible and more opportunities for civil society involvement.  “More so than in any other facets of the United Nations work, non-governmental organizations are excluded from disarmament negotiations, even though they have useful expertise and insight to contribute,” he said.  Liechtenstein was ready to engage.  Having abolished its armed forces 140 years ago, it continued to strive for worldwide general and complete disarmament.

LESLIE GUMBI ( South Africa) noted encouraging developments in disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.  However, he was concerned about the selective approach adopted by some States, which focused only on those NPT provisions which suited their agendas.  The Treaty’s vitality depended on maintaining a balance between its three mutually reinforcing pillars.

He said that the adoption of the final document at the 2010 NPT Review had set the scene for the next review cycle, and, if vigorously pursued, its steps aimed at strengthening global security could play a meaningful role in outlining the future approach towards a world free of nuclear weapons.  Nuclear-weapon-free zones were an integral part of the NPT.  His country supported the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Pelindaba Treaty) and anticipated the Organization of African Unity’s endorsement of the African Commission on Nuclear Energy in South Africa.  He meanwhile urged IAEA to make decisions on proposals concerning assurances over nuclear fuel cycles.

The two major possessor States parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention) should complete destruction of their chemical weapons without delay, he urged.  Strengthening the the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention) was imperative, and he called on all States to join immediately.  He added his hope that the General Assembly would adopt by consensus this year’s omnibus draft resolution on the illicit small arms and light weapons trade. 

He lamented the inability of the Conference on Disarmament to generate substantive results.  Due to the inability to fulfil its mandate over the last 14 years, some had understandably started questioning whether the Conference remained the appropriate vehicle to pursue disarmament objectives.  That body’s past achievements spoke for themselves.  “Core instruments have been negotiated in this forum and no one can therefore claim that the structure of the [Conference on Disarmament] does not allow negotiations to take place,” he said.  While acknowledging its imperfections and the need for reform, he remained fully committed to strengthening that multilateral disarmament machinery.

MAGED ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt) highlighted a wide array of positive developments in disarmament, including the adoption of the action plan the 2010 NPT Review urging implementation of the resolution to establish the Middle East as a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.  While Egypt continued to oppose the possession of nuclear weapons by any State in the Middle East, Israel had not acceded to the NPT and continued to enhance its nuclear capabilities outside the IAEA safeguards system.  Israel should acknowledge the international consensus.  He was sure that the States that had drafted the NPT and pushed for inclusion of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East, along with other nuclear-weapon States and other States of the region, would do their utmost in the next phase to obtain the necessary guarantees for the engagement of Israel, Iran and all Arab States in that effort.

He said that Israel’s refusal to join the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon State remained a significant obstacle facing Egypt’s accession to the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions and to its ratification of the Test-Ban Treaty, despite Egypt’s support for the goals and principles of those three instruments.  Thus, the existing gap widened between the commitments of NPT States parties that had implemented all their Treaty obligations and the sole State outside the NPT in the region, which enjoyed unmatched freedom under unjustifiable international support.  There was no doubt that the link between Israel’s disposal of its ambiguous nuclear capability, on the one hand, and the achievement of parallel progress in dealing with other weapons of mass destruction on the other, as provided for in the NPT plan of action on the implementation of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East, confirmed the international community’s conviction of the firm link, which Egypt and the Arab countries had always highlighted. 

Turning to conventional weapons, he said the June Biennial Meeting of States on implementing the 2001 Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspectshad reaffirmed the importance of enhancing national capacities to fulfil promises.  However, Egypt highlighted the priority of technical assistance, international cooperation and the exchange of experiences to promote full implementation.  Egypt also invited all participating States in the Preparatory Committee for the 2012 Arms Trade Treaty Conference to focus on the goal of creating a consensual platform to ensure the treaty’s universality.

Egypt was also concerned with landmine clearance, he said, noting that some 17 million mines remained on its territory, and he hoped that enhanced cooperation would match the magnitude of the mine problem in Egypt.  His country would present three draft resolutions this session:  on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, and on prevention of an arms race in outer space.

JÜRG LAUBER ( Switzerland) said that, based on the recent high-level meeting on disarmament, holding onto the disarmament machinery’s status quo was no longer an option.  The time for change was now, first and foremost regarding the Conference on Disarmament.  The debate in the Conference should be based on a broader security concept.  Conference mechanisms should be adapted to cope with current and future challenges.  “Reforming the [Conference on Disarmament] should not be a taboo in a world which had fundamentally changed,” he said, suggesting that one way to break the deadlock was to launch simultaneous negotiations on treaties to ban fissile material and on negative security assurances.  There should also be sufficient room for discussing mandates on nuclear disarmament and the prevention of an arms race in outer space.

He said the NPT action plan would play a crucial role as a benchmark tool in that arena.  Switzerland promoted the debate on the credibility and usefulness of nuclear deterrence, convinced that focusing on those issues would help to de-legitimize nuclear weapons and prepare for outlawing them in the long run.  However, the last Review Conference had seen a wide gap between States on several questions.  A new approach was required towards a comprehensive legal instrument that would outlaw, once and for all, the most inhumane weapons ever invented.

The spirit of properly functioning multilateral mechanisms, including the bans on landmines and cluster munitions, should be brought back into the United Nations structure, he urged.  In particular, the negotiations on cluster munitions in the framework of the Convention on Conventional Weapons had not yet made a difference on the ground.  He hoped that 2010 would be a “real starting point” towards making multilateral disarmament more functional and more effective.

JOY OGWU ( Nigeria) noted the signing of the new Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START) between the United States and the Russian Federation aimed at achieving deep cuts in their strategic and tactical weapons.  Her country, however, observed that the recent measures were still insufficient and needed to be irreversible, verifiable and transparent, thereby moving the nuclear-weapon States towards fulfilment of their nuclear disarmament obligations.  The call for non-proliferation must be complemented by concrete action in the area of nuclear disarmament, as that was the most effective way of ensuring that those weapons were not accessed by non-state actors.  All States parties to the CTBT, particularly the Annex II States, should intensify their commitment to ratify it, and pending the Treaty’s entry into force, uphold the moratorium on nuclear-weapon tests.  Those arrangements notwithstanding, her country believed that a moratorium was not, and could not be a substitute for a treaty.  The CTBT was the ultimate goal.

She said Nigeria would maintain its position on the need to guarantee the inalienable right of all States to develop, research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, in accordance with the provisions of the NPT.  She reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment to the United Nations action programme on small arms and light weapons, stressing that the West African subregion had about 7 million illicit weapons in circulation.  Those weapons were not only easily available, but could also be purchased cheaply.  Women and children suffered disproportionately from the proliferation of small arms.  Moreover, the spread and misuse of such weapons caused prolonged and exacerbated humanitarian crises around the world.  They also destabilized the African continent, fuelled and prolonged conflicts there and obstructed relief programmes.  Those arms undermined peace initiatives, increased human rights abuses, hampered development and fostered a culture of organized crime and violence.

It was equally lamentable that, despite efforts at various levels, the circulation of such weapons, especially in West Africa, was fast turning the region into a major transit point for illicit trafficking in arms and drugs, she said.  That situation also facilitated the growth of criminal syndicates, some possessing sufficient firepower to challenge a nation’s military force.  Nigeria called on the international community, especially the major arms producers and exporters, to demonstrate more serious commitment to an arms trade treaty.

BYRGANYM AITIMOVA ( Kazakhstan) said that her country, through the unilateral closure of the second largest test site in the world on 29 August 1991, had become the epicentre of peace, as described by President Nursultan Nazarbayev.  It was highly symbolic that the Secretary-General, standing on the former “ground zero” in Semipalatinsk, had described the President’s decision as an act of extraordinary leadership and urged the international community to achieve complete nuclear disarmament.

She said that the ministerial meeting on the CTBT, held on 23 September, had made it evident that a voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing was not enough.  Her country, therefore, called for the Treaty’s early entry into force.  Kazakhstan cooperated with the CTBT Organization (CTBTO) to advance the functioning of its international monitoring system and onsite inspection techniques through the contribution of its own five national cutting-edge 24-hour tracking stations, as part of the global effort.  With the support of the Government of Norway, it had also set up an international training centre for experts from national data centres of the Central Asian countries.

On the fissile material cut-off treaty, she said that an early start of negotiations was a pressing item on two fronts:  to keep the possibility of illegitimate military nuclear programmes to the minimum, and to strengthen control over existing materials, thereby reducing the risk of nuclear terrorism — one of the greatest threats besetting humankind today.  As host country to the Baikonur cosmodrome and as a country engaged in national and multilateral space cooperation, Kazakhstan was convinced that security in outer space was a central issue of the Conference on Disarmament.  It, therefore, called for strict observance of the principle of peaceful activities in outer space.

The establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones controlled the spread of weapons of mass destruction and was an important step towards ridding the world of nuclear weapons, she went on.  Her country, together with other Central Asian States constituting the nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region, played a crucial role in preventing the uncontrolled proliferation of nuclear materials, thus, combating nuclear terrorism.  For the zone to advance multilateral disarmament, however, the members looked to the nuclear-weapon States to provide the requisite negative security guarantees.  Kazakhstan also endorsed the longstanding proposal for a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Recent developments pointed to a window of opportunity that could act as a catalytic force in that regard.  Her country stood ready to work towards making the 2012 conference on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East a success.

AKIO SUDA ( Japan) said the task at hand was to advance the positive momentum with concrete and practical steps.  From a short- and mid-term perspective, the joint statement emanating from a recent ministers meeting confirmed a collective commitment to eliminate nuclear weapons.  Japan believed that most important to achieving that goal was united action.  The final document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference emphasized that unity.  The five nuclear-weapon States had committed to take several steps towards disarmament.

At the same time, he said, united action by the non-nuclear-weapon States must remain robust.  More effective IAEA safeguards were also needed.  The nuclear Powers should also resist strengthening their nuclear arsenals, and he urged them to start reducing their arsenals now.  Collective action by the international community as a whole was needed to realize a peaceful world without nuclear weapons.  The role of the Conference on Disarmament was critical, and he deeply regretted the current paralysis.  Japan welcomed the candid exchange of views at the recent high-level meeting, and urged the Conference to immediately start negotiations on a fissile material treaty.  If there was no emerging prospect for those negotiations within the Conference, Japan and other like-minded countries were ready to make alternative arrangements.  Pending the entry into force of an eventual treaty, it was imperative to declare and maintain a moratorium on fissile material production for weapons purposes.

The CTBT also required the concerted action of the international community, which must also remain engaged in the unresolved nuclear issues related to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran.  Japan urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to take concrete actions based on Security Council resolutions and the 2005 Joint Statement of the six-party talks.  All United Nations Member States should fully implement relevant Security Council resolutions related to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran.  For its part, Japan, as the only country that had suffered nuclear bombings, had a moral responsibility to pass on its experience to current and future generations.

Regarding other weapons, extensive dialogue was needed to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention.  Also, this year, Japan would prepare a resolution on follow-up to the small arms programme of action.  He hoped current discussions on an arms trade treaty would advance the process towards conclusion of an instrument in 2012.  In closing, he said the current situation in disarmament resembled a party of mountaineers about to set out to climb a formidable peak.  “The route had been decided and the equipment is ready,” he said, “but the summit is still far above.  It is now incumbent upon us to fulfil our commitments in a steady, step-by-step manner, but like our mountaineers, we must do it together.”

JORGE VALERO ( Venezuela) was confident that the recent positive strides in disarmament were part of a sustainable process to provide action and far-reaching agreements.  Efforts for disarmament and non-proliferation must be driven simultaneously, with the 2010 NPT Review Conference opening a space for the consolidation of a trend towards dialogue, multilateral negotiation of disarmament agreements and measures that would enable the world to overcome the unilateralism and distrust that had negatively affected disarmament diplomacy for almost a decade.  He reiterated a call for the universalization of the NPT and urged States that had not yet done so to adhere to it.

Turning to peaceful uses of nuclear energy, he expressed concern about the manoeuvres and pressure from the United States and other western nations seeking to limit the right of Iran to develop its nuclear industry and aspirations for energy and technology independence.  Dangerously, political and military elites of the United States and Israel, violating the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, had made threats about the possibility of using military force to compel Iran to abandon its nuclear programme for peaceful purposes, affecting its economic and social development.  The United Nations must intensify its diplomatic efforts to facilitate dialogue and negotiation between IAEA and Iran to overcome that impasse and restore confidence.

Maintaining doctrines of first-use by nuclear Powers constituted a threat to international peace and security, and Venezuela believed the negotiation of a legally binding instrument on negative security assurances was of particular importance, he said.  “Having overcome the duels of the cold war, there is no political or moral justification for the security doctrines of the nuclear Powers to continue building on the approach of first-use,” he said.

Turning to conventional weapons, he said the Fourth Biennial Meeting of States on the programme of action on the illicit arms trade was a sign that Member States were committed to strengthening cooperative efforts.  For its part, Venezuela’s National Assembly was expected to approve this year the Disarmament Act as part of State policy to combat small arms and light weapons.  He also hoped the Conference on Disarmament would break its deadlock over such issues as a treaty banning fissile material production and negative security assurances.

MARIUS GRINIUS ( Canada ) said that despite consensus at the 2010 NPT Review Conference and the new START, “we remain unable to work together successfully to start negotiations in our established multilateral disarmament bodies”.  The recent high-level meeting on the Conference on Disarmament had been a call to action.  “Now the onus returns to us, the United Nations Member States, to deliver what our people want: a safe world with fewer arms,” he said.

He said that after a dozen years without disarmament negotiations in the Conference, “the clock is ticking loudly”.  The traditional negotiating bodies, such as the Conference on Disarmament, and instruments negotiated there, such as the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, were well known.  Canada was encouraged by recent progress at the first preparatory committee on an arms trade treaty.  However, alternative models and United Nations-related parallel processes had delivered successful treaties banning landmines and cluster munitions.

He said he would introduce a draft resolution on a treaty banning fissile material production for weapons, which would be a significant step on the road to a world free of nuclear weapons.  It would also be a critical aspect for a future nuclear weapons convention.

ERIC DANON ( France ) said his country shared the common legitimate frustration over the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament.  The international community should reflect on its real reasons and, like the European Union, make constructive proposals to end it.  France commended the Secretary-General for taking the initiative to organize the 24 September high-level meeting, which had helped to clarify the debate.  Work in the Conference had been suspended as a result of political animosity, and thus, procedural improvements would not be enough to end the deadlock in that forum.  Countries that thought they could profit from moving in the opposite direction of history should be shown that they could not.

He said the nuclear issue should not overshadow other multilateral negotiations on disarmament.  Mobilization was still required in all areas, including on biological, chemical and conventional weapons, ballistic missile proliferation and outer space.  That was not just a matter of international security, but also a matter of ensuring that nuclear disarmament was not offset by a new arms race in the other areas.  France planned to carry out a number of actions in the coming months.  The international community’s nuclear road map, or action plan, adopted at the 2010 NPT Review had showed that, for the first time, the international community was ready to deal with the nuclear issue in a comprehensive, global manner.  It must be ensured that each State did its part to carry out the action plan and move collectively towards a more secure world. 

France had invited its permanent-member Security Council partners to Paris in 2011 for the first follow-up meeting on the 2010 NPT Review Conference, he reported.  That approach illustrated the resolve of nuclear nations to implementing concrete actions aimed at ensuring full respect for their treaty commitments.  At the national level, France would also make a special effort in all forums to reduce nuclear proliferation, which was the greatest danger facing the planet today.  For France, strengthening the non-proliferation regime was an absolute priority, notably with the reinforcement of the CTBT, and the reopening of negotiations on a fissile-ban treaty.  France wanted the cut-off treaty negotiations to be carried out in the Conference, which was mandated to do so.

This year, France planned to introduce three draft resolutions in the First Committee, he added.  Those were on The Hague Code of Conduct on missile proliferation, on the Washington Summit on Nuclear Security and on the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR).

JAKKRIT SRIVALI ( Thailand) warned that sustainable peace would never be achieved by war, but by strengthening global cooperation.  Likewise, security would never be achieved by stockpiling and using weapons, but by ensuring their control and elimination.  Disarmament of weapons of mass destruction significantly contributed to international peace and security by reducing their potential to be used, as well as the risks posed by their proliferation.  Conventional weapons control was a crucial step towards the disarmament goals.  Armed conflict, meanwhile, impeded progress in achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. 

He said his country had joined all key international treaties and hoped that recent positive developments would continue.  Thailand continued to work on the Treaty on the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, including striving towards resumption of direct consultations with the five nuclear Powers to resolve outstanding issues.  Thailand commended the work of IAEA, supported adherence to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions and was committed to implementing Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), with a view to addressing the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction.

The link between armed violence and the non-achievment of the Millennium Goals was greater than generally perceived, with easy access to small arms and light weapons posing a serious threat and leading to “backward development” in the world’s poorest regions, he said.  “No fragile and conflict-affected country has yet achieve any Millennium Development Goals,” he added.  Controlling the illicit trade in conventional arms could prevent the diversion of legal arms into the possession of illegal users and non-State actors.   Thailand supported an arms trade treaty.

He said the recent high-level meeting on revitalizing the Conference on Disarmament was a positive sign for the sole multilateral disarmament negotiating forum.  He called for expanding the Conference’s membership, first, by appointing a special coordinator for the task in 2011.  Solutions to international peace and security issues were best achieved at the multilateral level.

DELL HIGGIE ( New Zealand) said that despite the gains that had been made in nuclear disarmament, all was not well in the multilateral disarmament environment.  That was clear from the many concerns that had been expressed about the malfunctioning of the disarmament machinery by the high-level participants at the 24 September meeting.  It was a conundrum that while the international community professed a desire towards securing a safer world, it allowed outdated mechanisms to deliver stalemates instead of advancing that objective.  The current situation was untenable, although it was neither irredeemable nor insurmountable.  Two milestones recorded in 2010 demonstrated what could be achieved with political will for substantive action.  The initiation of arms trade treaty negotiations under General Assembly auspices showed that the United Nations multilateral framework could work.  Those negotiations, launched in July, had made very promising beginnings.  New Zealand was confident of further progress at next year’s preparatory conferences towards the goal of a strong global treaty that set robust and transparent norms to regulate the conventional weapons trade.

She hailed the entry into force in August of the Convention on Cluster Munitions as another important milestone.  It was highly regrettably that it had not been possible to conclude that Convention within the United Nations framework, but the circumstances required a strong and timely response.  As one of the leading countries in the Oslo cluster munitions process, her country was satisfied with the Convention’s effective stigmatization of an egregious weapons system.  There was no reason why States with a common purpose should be held back in the face of a clear humanitarian need and a strong will to achieve a multilateral outcome.  The task now was to set the course for the Convention’s future implementation.  That would be a key focus for the first meeting of the States parties, to be hosted by the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, in Vientiane, in November.

New Zealand respected and understood the right of Member States to protect their vital security interests, but it could not understand why those interests could not be taken into account in the negotiating processes, rather than be used as a veto to even beginning negotiations, she said.  That, coupled with the unnecessary restrictive manner in which the Conference on Disarmament was interpreting its work programme rule, had “deeply mired” the Conference.  It was inevitable that some delegations were weighing other options.  New Zealand also had vital security interests to uphold, for which achieving nuclear disarmament was crucial.  Doing nothing was not an option.  It would therefore follow closely all activities building upon the 24 September high-level meeting on the Conference on Disarmament and the actions identified in the Chair’s summary.  Those actions should help keep international attention pinned on resolving the protracted and frustrating problems besetting the Conference on Disarmament, as well as other integral parts of the multilateral disarmament machinery.  New Zealand’s strong preference was to work within the Conference to break its deadlock. 

ZEID ABUHASSAN ( Jordan) said recent positive developments after years of deadlock were a window of opportunity to make real progress on the international agenda.  He applauded appeals from the United States to create a nuclear-weapon-free world, along with the new START, which had led to further disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.  Jordan had participated in the high-level meeting last month on the Conference on Disarmament, and hoped to achieve positive outcomes, reflected in a fissile-material-ban treaty.

He said his country was developing a peaceful nuclear programme, in accordance with its NPT obligations.  The 2010 NPT Review Conference had resulted in an expression of the willingness of the international community to make progress in disarmament and non-proliferation.  The positive recent developments had established an environment that fostered the work of future treaty reviews.  The NPT should enhance the responsible and peaceful use of nuclear energy.  He also supported the objective of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, for the security of Jordan and the whole region.

Jordan had acceded to the NPT, and was subjecting its facilities to the IAEA safeguards.  Those safeguards should also prevent radioactive pollution in the region.  Jordan would accede to all international conventions on non-proliferation.  It was meanwhile important to implement the outcomes of past NPT Review Conferences, especially the 1995 Review.  A collective response was needed to combat the threat of terrorist acquisition of weapons of mass destruction.  Jordan would like negotiations to begin on, among other thing, a fissile material treaty.

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