Arms Supplies to Conflict-Ridden Regions with Unmanageable Conventional Weapons Imbalance Enhance Compulsion to Acquire Nuclear Weapons, First Committee Told
Arms Supplies to Conflict-Ridden Regions with Unmanageable Conventional Weapons Imbalance Enhance Compulsion to Acquire Nuclear Weapons, First Committee Told
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
15th Meeting (AM)
Arms Supplies to Conflict-Ridden Regions with Unmanageable Conventional Weapons
Imbalance Enhance Compulsion to Acquire Nuclear Weapons, First Committee Told
Drafts Tabled on Nuclear Weapons Elimination; Information Security; Women,
Disarmament, Arms Control, Non-Proliferation; Practical Disarmament; Missiles
Strategically or commercially motivated arms supplies to tense or conflict-ridden regions disrupted delicate balance, enhanced the quest for more balanced conventional capabilities, or, in case of an unmanageable differential, the compulsion for acquiring nuclear weapon and missile capabilities, delegates heard today in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), along with the introduction of five draft texts.
Besides addressing the root causes of insecurity, conventional arms control needed to ensure that proclamations about balanced reductions in conventional arms were translated into action, the representative of Pakistan said as the Committee concluded its thematic debate on conventional weapons and began discussions on other disarmament measures and international security. The noble goal of “global zero” should be in tandem with conventional disarmament, he said, adding that it was necessary to make sure that the elimination of nuclear weapons did not give way to the unworkable conventional imbalance that had spawned the two World Wars.
Stressing the need for the international community to also direct its attention to the threats posed by the illicit and irresponsible transfer of conventional weapons, their munitions and other military equipment, the representative of Israel urged effort to prevent arms transfers to terrorists. The Middle East was particularly vulnerable to the dire impact of arms transfers to terrorists, and arms continued to flow to those groups, notwithstanding the recognition of the international community of the need to regulate the arms trade. The 2006 conflict in the Middle East region had shown that man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS), unmanned aerial vehicles, missiles and short-range rockets and mortars were not outside the reach of terrorists.
Several speakers in the debate also stressed the need for progress towards the establishment of an arms trade treaty for regulating conventional weapons deals. Slovenia’s representative said that a strong, robust instrument would be the international community’s only relevant and efficient answer to the problem of regulating international trade in conventional arms. Slovenia was pleased that fewer and fewer countries disputed the need to conclude such a treaty as a global response to the illicit and irresponsible global arms trade, and it called on sceptic countries to join the endeavour and for the international community to invest additional efforts to advance the negotiations.
The representative of Mexico said that it was important to succeed in concluding an arms trade treaty in 2012 as part and parcel of an agreement to regulate arms trade and not just for controlling exports. Such a treaty should include a mechanism to ensure that weapons sold reached intended users. It should also cover munitions, in that way avoiding the mistakes of the past. The suggestion that the treaty should not cover arms designated for activities such as sporting was wrong as the fact that they had been manufactured for peaceful uses did not guarantee that they would not be used to commit human rights abuses.
The representative of Iran, however, said that the conditions were not ripe for negotiating a comprehensive global instrument on all kinds of arms transfers, given that the major weapons exporters had not fully complied with their existing obligations under relevant conventional arms agreements. The recent flow of sophisticated weapons to volatile regions, such as the Middle East, had negative implications, and the unabated arms production and exportation by major producers was a matter of serious concern. International peace and security could only be attained through serious international cooperation, and any arrangement for regulation of conventional armaments should be based on a non-discriminatory and comprehensive approach and through multilateral negotiations.
Record levels of crime and violence in Caribbean communities, insecurity, economic and social dislocation, and interruption of development, said a representative of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, were caused by loopholes in the trade in small arms and light weapons. In its wake, transnational organized crime and illegal drug trafficking imposed enormous burdens on the law enforcement and judicial services. However, the secretariat did not see the idea of an arms trade treaty as a disarmament measure or as signifying the end of the illegal weapons scourge in its region. Instead, an instrument that sought, by plugging loopholes in the licit trade, to prevent those arms from finding their way to the illicit market was a good place to start.
The representative of Germany said that experience had shown that measures, like control of small arms and light weapons, had become integral parts of effective conflict resolution and post-conflict rehabilitation. He introduced a draft resolution on the consolidation of peace through practical disarmament measures, asserting that practical disarmament and arms control measures had indeed led to results, with a direct impact on the lives of people in conflict-affected countries.
By the draft, the Secretary-General would be requested to provide the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs with adequate resources for maintaining the Programme of Action (to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects) Implementation Support System, beginning in 2012.
The representative of Trinidad and Tobago introduced a new draft resolution, on women, disarmament, non-proliferation and development, which would have the Assembly urge member States, regional organizations, the United Nations and specialized agencies to ensure equitable representation of women at all decision-making levels, in particular in the security sector, which may make or influence policy with regard to matters related to disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation.
A draft on united action towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons, detailed by Japan, would have the Assembly express deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and call upon nuclear-weapon States to undertake further efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate all types of nuclear weapons, deployed and non-deployed, including through unilateral, bilateral, regional and multilateral measures. The draft would also have the Assembly emphasize the importance of applying the principles of irreversibility, verifiability and transparency in relation to the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation processes.
A draft resolution on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security, introduced by the representative of the Russian Federation, proposes the convening in 2012 of the group of governmental experts on international information security to conduct a study on existing and potential threats in the sphere of information security and possible cooperative measures, as well as on relevant international concepts that would be aimed at strengthening the security of global information and communication systems. The draft was especially important to maintain the positive impetus gained by the previous group of experts, said the representative.
Also today, the Committee heard the introduction of a draft decision on missiles by the representative of Iran, by the terms of which the General Assembly would recall its related resolutions and decisions and decide to include in its provisional agenda of its sixty-sixth session the item entitled “Missiles”.
Speaking during the debate on conventional weapons were the representatives of Ethiopia, Guatemala, Venezuela, Uganda, Libya, United Republic of Tanzania, Nigeria and Ukraine.
The representative of Argentina exercised a right of reply.
Chairperson of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security introduced the Committee’s thematic debate on other disarmament measures and international security. Speaking in that debate were the representatives of Cuba and the United States.
Exercising the right of reply were the representatives of Lebanon, United Kingdom and Syria.
The President of the General Assembly, Joseph Deiss, also addressed the Committee.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Thursday 21 October to continue its thematic debate on other disarmament measures and international security and to hear the introduction of related draft resolutions and decisions.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met today to conclude its thematic debate on conventional weapons, to begin its debate on other disarmament measures and international security and to hear the introduction of related draft resolutions and decisions.
RAZA BASHIR TARAR (Pakistan) said that, notwithstanding the global financial, food and fuel crises, current global military expenditure stood at $1.53 trillion, representing 2.7 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). The past 10 years had seen a 50 per cent increase in the global spending on conventional weapons. Ironically, the weapons that fuelled conflicts came from areas that enjoyed peace. Only four countries accounted for 73 per cent of global arms exports. It was indeed an oxymoron of global dimensions that the guardians of peace and security also made its attainment difficult. The major importers of those arms were developing countries, mostly in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The total United Nations budget was a paltry 3 per cent of the world military expenditure. Hence, the international community was spending 33 times more on breeding, exacerbating and maintaining conflict than in preventing it.
He said that the apparently egregious spending on armaments, though highly profitable for the sellers and middlemen, was not entirely their creation. The “real parents” were unresolved conflict and strategic asymmetry. Strategically or commercially motivated arms supplies to tense or conflict-ridden regions disrupted delicate balance, enhanced the quest for more balanced conventional capabilities, or, in case of an unmanageable differential, the compulsion for acquiring nuclear- weapon and missile capabilities. Besides addressing the root causes of insecurity, conventional arms control needed to ensure that proclamations about balanced reductions in conventional arms were translated into action.
The noble goal of “global zero” should be in tandem with conventional disarmament, he said. It should be ensured that the elimination of nuclear weapons did not give way to the unworkable conventional imbalance that had spawned the two World Wars. The final document of the General Assembly’s first special session on disarmament provided clear directions in that regard. A further complicating factor in the disarmament and non-proliferation field was the development of advanced conventional weapons, with lethality approaching weapons of mass destruction, without the public relations fallout. The United Nations disarmament machinery must address that dimension. In its own region, Pakistan had proposed a three-pronged Strategic Restraint Regime consisting of conflict resolution, nuclear and missile restraint, and conventional balance.
FORTUNA DIBACO (Ethiopia) said that illicit trade in small arms and light weapons continued to pose a great challenge to the security, as well as political and social advancement, of countries in her region. In that regard, Ethiopia was committed to the full implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action and was working with partners on its implementation. Along that line, the member States of Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) had undertaken measures to improve the coordinating mechanism for the Action Programme’s implementation. The Ethiopian Government had also established a national plan to strengthen border controls and stop illegal firearms transfers. Recently, her Government had collected and destroyed more than 24,000 arms. It was taking proactive measures to address the problem of small arms and light weapons.
She added that anti-personnel mines were affecting many people in many countries. Her country had signed the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Mine-Ban Treaty) in 1997 and had become a State party. The country had carried out mine clearance covering a total of 16 square kilometres, benefiting a total of 1.2 million people. Through different structures, local communities had always been involved in the different mine clearance activities. As a result, the communities provided pertinent information to assist the process. Ethiopia emphasized the importance of international cooperation in carrying out effective clearance work.
Mónica Bolaños-Pérez (Guatemala) said the focus on small arms and light weapons should go beyond reduction and arms control. The Fourth Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects had produced a final document that was an important tool to, among other things, tackle the problems associated with cross-border arms trafficking. Progress should be made on that and other issues. Armed violence was an ongoing threat to security, and factors that increased levels armed violence needed attention.
She recognized the close ties between armed violence and development, and welcomed the recent Oslo conference on armed violence and the subsequent commitments that resulted. There was an international lack of common ground in terms of weapons trade and transfers, which could be addressed by a global arms trade treaty that established clear criteria and included all types of weapons, and paid due attention to consideration of international humanitarian law and human rights. Such a treaty should be based on common standards, she said. As a country that neither produced, used or stockpiled cluster munitions, Guatemala welcomed into force the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
JORGE VALERO (Venezuela) said the small arms and light weapons Programme of Action was a political instrument to channel the efforts of international cooperation and assistance needed to curb that illegal activity. The importance of international cooperation had once again been emphasized at the Fourth Biennial Meeting of States. Strengthening the Programme of Action required the support of the international community and improved cooperation among States. However, that cooperation should be granted without political conditions and should respect the sovereign right of States to determine their own priorities and needs.
He also highlighted the importance that all States implement the international instrument marking and tracing instrument. It was necessary for marking controls to be in place from the moment these weapons were manufactured. States with public and private manufacturers should establish strict controls to prevent small arms and light weapons from being diverted to the illegal market. The responsibility of States was not the same as non-weapon-producing States. That difference should be taken into account to prevent unfair or unnecessary international measures to be adopted to remedy the trafficking situation.
The Preparatory Committee for the United Nations conference on the arms trade treaty scheduled for 2012 must adhere to a process that was developed in a gradual, transparent, balanced and non-discriminatory manner, he said. Venezuela, at a regional level, had met standards under the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials. It had worked at the subregional level with the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and supported the development and implementation of the Mechanisms of Confidence and Security-building Measures, agreed by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).
He added Venezuela’s National Assembly intended to adopt this year a disarmament act. His country had also acceded to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the use of Certain Conventional Weapons and had participated in the Meeting of High Contracting Parties to 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), held in Geneva in 2007.
HELLMUT HOFFMAN (Germany) introduced a draft resolution on the consolidation of peace through practical disarmament measures (document A/C.1/65/L.36). The draft would have the Assembly stress the particular relevance of the “Guidelines on conventional arms control/limitation and disarmament, with particular emphasis on consolidation of peace in the context of General Assembly resolution 51/45 N.
Also by the draft, the Assembly would welcome the activities undertaken by the Group of Interested States and invite the Group to continue to promote, on the basis of lessons learned from previous disarmament and peacebuilding projects, new practical disarmament measures to consolidate peace, especially as undertaken or designed by affected States themselves, regional and subregional organizations as well as United Nations agencies.
The Assembly would request the Secretary-General to provide the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs with adequate resources for maintaining the Programme of Action Implementation Support System, beginning in 2012, thus securing its important role for identifying and communicating needs and resources to enhance the implementation of the Action Programme.
Mr. Hoffman said the concept of practical disarmament went back to former Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and his “Agenda for Peace”. The matter had since been given increasing attention by the international community. Its basic idea was to focus the First Committee’s attention, in a more integrated manner, on the relevance of practical disarmament measures for the consolidation of peace in conflict and post-conflict settings.
As experience had shown, measures, like control of small arms and light weapons, had become integral parts of effective conflict resolution and post-conflict rehabilitation, he said. Practical disarmament and arms control measures had led to results, with a direct impact on the lives of people in conflict-affected countries.
He said that, at the Fourth Biennial Meeting of States, participants had underlined the central role of the Programme of Action Implementation Support System as a comprehensive tool to facilitate cooperation and assistance for the implementation of practical disarmament measures, as noted in the draft resolution. Given the system’s central importance for the implementation of the Programme of Action, the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs had to be able to rely on sufficient resources for maintaining it, also as noted in the draft. To identify, prioritize and communicate needs and match them with resources, the Fourth Biennial Meeting had encouraged States to consider ways in which needs and resources could be matched and coordinated more effectively.
“We are convinced that the well-established Group of Interested States as an informal, open and transparent forum can and should facilitate the effective matching of needs and resources building on its experience and its broad-based composition,” he said, noting that that was also stated in the draft text.
PABLO ARROCHA Olabuenaga(Mexico) said that his country had observed the improved political will of States for progress in addressing the issue of conventional weapons, reaffirming the feasibility of making strides on that front. That political will had been seen in the entry into force of the Cluster Munitions Convention, the substantive discussion at the Fourth Biennial Meeting of States and the successful conclusion of a mine-clearance plan in Nicaragua towards rendering the region mine-safe and, ultimately, mine-free. All that constituted a signal of the renewed commitment of States to tackle the irresponsible and unlawful use of conventional weapons.
He appealed to all States to maintain that spirit of commitment in undertaking the remaining tasks, such as the arms trade treaty. It was important to succeed in concluding that treaty in 2012, as part and parcel of an agreement to regulate arms trade, and not just for controlling exports. In that regard, the treaty should include a mechanism to ensure that weapons sold reached the intended users. It should also cover munitions. In that way, it would avoid past mistakes, such as those that had been made on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons when the issue of ammunition had been neglected. Ammunition posed a grave threat to many States.
The suggestion that the arms trade treaty should not cover arms for activities such as sporting was wrong, in Mexico’s view, he said. The fact that arms were manufactured for peaceful uses did not guarantee that they would not be used to commit human rights abuses. Mexico, therefore, supported a robust and legally binding text.
Referring to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Mexico also noted with concern that ways had not been found for controlling those weapons in the context of the United Nations, notwithstanding their grave effects on civilian populations. Given that paralysis, other avenues should be pursued to accelerate that very important process, such as the Oslo process.
PATRICK MUGOYA (Uganda) said that countries in the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa, and Uganda in particular, attached great importance to the fight against illicit trafficking in and proliferation of conventional weapons. They were convinced that illicit arms and weapons were an impediment to peace, security and development in the region. There was an urgent need, therefore, for cooperation among all Member States to combat that proliferation, including destroying those arms. To date, under the East Africa Community’s Small Arms and Light Weapons Programme, the five partner States had destroyed more than 14,600 small arms and five tons of explosives in an effort to secure the subregion.
He expressed support for the United Nations Programme of Action, saying that was a useful mechanism in the efforts to eradicate the illicit trade in and proliferation of arms. He welcomed the outcome document of the Fourth Biennial Meeting of States and looked forward to the expert group meeting in 2011 and the Programme of Action Review Conference in 2012. The Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa had adopted a strategy that complemented and reinforced national, regional and global efforts to prevent and combat the proliferation and trafficking of illicit arms. The region had a Centre on Small Arms and Light weapons in Nairobi to guide national and regional efforts. His country had launched a national action plan on small arms and light weapons in 2005. That plan focused on the control and management of small arms and light weapons, reduction of small arms and light weapons in circulation and prevention of proliferation.
The use of cluster munitions in armed conflict also posed a major challenge to the international community, he said. Uganda had been a victim of the use of those weapons, with devastating effects on its population in areas where armed conflict persisted. The country, therefore, welcomed the entry into force in August of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Uganda was a signatory to that Convention as well as to the Mine-Ban Convention. It remained committed to the full implementation of those instruments.
MEIR ITzCHAKI (Israel) said that arms transfers aggravated human suffering and undermined efforts to secure peace, instead, promoting a culture of violence. Israel shared the international community’s concern about the need to address weapons of mass destruction proliferation threats, particularly as a significant portion of those proliferation risks emerged from the Middle East or were directed towards the region.
He urged the international community to also direct its attention to the threats posed by the illicit and irresponsible transfer of conventional weapons, their munitions and other military equipment. Conventional weapons were necessary for the self-defence of States. The Middle East was particularly vulnerable to the dire impact of arms transfers to terrorists, and arms continued to flow to those groups, notwithstanding the recognition of the international community of the need to regulate the arms trade. The 2006 conflict in the Middle East region had shown that man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS), unmanned aerial vehicles, missiles and short-range rockets and mortars were not outside the reach of terrorists.
Hizbullah, supported by Iran, had continued to heavily arm itself since 2006 and, in recent years, had increased the breadth and sophistication of its arsenals, he said. Arms transfers from Iran and Syria to Hizbullah continued unabated, in contravention of United Nations Security Council resolution 1701 (2006). The Hamas terrorist organization had followed Hizbullah’s footsteps, resulting in the conflict in Gaza. The events of January 2009 had underlined the problem of terrorist use of arms intentionally against civilians and the detrimental effect that had on peace and security.
He urged the international community to prevent arms transfers to terrorists. Curbing illicit arms proliferation must begin with a strong national commitment and determination. That issue could also be addressed by the Conference on Disarmament, and steps should be taken to further advance the subject, including through identification of national programmes to increase awareness and build capacity. Consultations on how to best address that issue should take place in relevant forums, including the Conference on Disarmament.
Israel welcomed the successful outcome of the Fourth Biennial Meeting of States, and encouraged all States to work together to build political momentum and determination indispensable for a successful review conference in 2012, he said. Israel also welcomed the arms trade treaty process, which should lead to the creation of an instrument that provided, among other things, high export control standards and measures to combat arms transfers to terrorists.
Still, the Convention on Certain Convention Weapons remained the most relevant and appropriate forum for addressing those weapons, he said. Israel continued to strike the necessary balance between military and humanitarian considerations. Since the Convention’s inception, it had encompassed major users and producers of convent weapons, include cluster munitions. Israel welcomed discussion dealing with the issue of improvised explosive devices. In past years, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons had conducted serious negotiations to conclude a new protocol on cluster munitions. This year’s negotiations had progressed work forward significantly. Nonetheless, it was clear that more work was needed to finalize a serious, balanced and effective protocol that addressed the humanitarian problems associated with irresponsible use of cluster munitions. Israel had begun a legislative process aimed at creating a regulatory framework to review existing minefields and possibly conduct humanitarian mine clearance. That step was in addition to Israel’s membership in the amended protocol II of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and its moratorium of the transfer and sale of anti-personnel mines.
The President of the General Assembly, Joseph Deiss, then addressed delegates. Acknowledging the Committee’s work, he encouraged further reflection on the issue of revitalizing the General Assembly’s agenda. It was a particular feature of the First Committee, he said, that many delegates came from Geneva, and he hoped that would lead to a better mutual understanding of the work being done in Geneva and New York. Important positive developments had emerged in the field of disarmament, including the recent high-level meeting on the revitalization of the work of the Conference on Disarmament. He praised the work of the First Committee and wished it a fruitful session.
SANJA STIGLIC (Slovenia) expressed satisfaction at the entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 1 August and said that it was the most important event in the field of conventional weapons in the course of this year. Slovenia was a State party to the Convention and would participate in the first Meeting of the States Parties that would take place in second week of November in Vientiane. That meeting would be a milestone in the life of the Convention.
She said her country was also pleased with the outcome of the second Review Conference of the States parties to the Mine-Ban Convention, which had taken place in Cartagena in November, 2009. An important five-year action plan had been adopted, which should be consistently implemented, notably in the field of mine victim assistance. However, in recent years, the growing number of parties that had not managed to clear mined areas within the 10-year deadline stipulated by article V of the Convention had challenged the treaty. All States needed to overcome donor fatigue and assist those countries that needed it; the credibility of the Convention was at stake.
On the arms trade treaty, she said that a strong, robust instrument would be the only relevant and efficient answer of the international community to the problem of regulating international trade in conventional arms. Slovenia was pleased to note that fewer and fewer countries disputed the need to conclude the treaty as a global response to the illicit and irresponsible international arms trade. Her country called on sceptic countries to join the endeavour and for the international community to invest additional efforts to advance negotiations.
JALAL ALJAEDI (Libya) said that that small arms and light weapons fed conflict and impeded international peace and security. Countering the challenge required considerable effort. Some progress had been made in that regard, including at the Preparatory Committee meeting for the arms trade treaty. Libya would like to see the international community move forward, based on the consensus that had been achieved.
At the national level, he said his country had adopted legislation to stop the illegal import, manufacture and transfer of small arms and light weapons. It was also working to implement international criteria on tracing and marking to indicate country of manufacture, and it was engaged domestically on numbering and other identifying information about arms. Systematic oversight was being provided to counter illicit trade of those weapons. Good coordination existed among the Arab countries in the area of combating the illicit arms trade, with international and regional experience being exchanged among them and legislation being adopted to regulate small arms and light weapons. Libya supported the implementation of a mechanism for marking weapons, while taking into account the specific needs of each region. It underscored the importance of the decision adopted on that issue by the General Assembly in the 2005, and although that decision was not binding, States should implement it. The success of the United Nations in countering the illicit arms trade was very much linked to the resolve of States to implement it.
JUSTIN SERUHERE (United Republic of Tanzania) said Member States had both the moral obligation and a legal requirement to support the United Nations in all its endeavours and to abide by its Charter. In that regard, the words “United Nations” should not be omitted from the title of the small arms Programme of Action. He welcomed the item of small arms and light weapons on the disarmament agenda, particularly since those weapons caused massive numbers of deaths, genocide and untold suffering. Those weapons should be included in the scope of an arms trade treaty.
He said that women played a significant role in the disarmament debate in the Great Lakes region, and his country had co-sponsored a draft resolution on the subject. Women were major stakeholders in development activities and bore the brunt of wars and armed conflicts orchestrated by the use of small arms and light weapons.
TAGHI FERAMI (Iran) said international peace and security could only be attained through serious international cooperation, and any arrangement for regulation of conventional armaments should be based on a non-discriminatory and comprehensive approach and through multilateral negotiations. While it was the sovereign and inherent right of States to acquire, manufacture, export, import and retain conventional arms for self-defence, he shared the concern expressed by the Heads of State of the Non-Aligned Movement about “universal coercive measures” and the emphasis that “no undue restriction should be placed on the transfer” of conventional arms for self-defence and security needs.
He said that, given that the major weapons exporters had not fully complied with their existing obligations under relevant conventional arms agreements, the conditions were not ripe for negotiating a comprehensive global instrument on all kinds of arms transfers. The recent flow of sophisticated weapons to volatile regions, such as the Middle East, had negative implications, and the unabated arms production and exportation by major producers was a matter of serious concern.
The ruthless and irresponsible export of billions of dollars of arms and military assistance to certain Middle East countries was a cause for grave concern, particularly since those exports involved offensive sophisticated weapons to “the Zionist regime”, he said. That was intended to embolden that regime’s war machine to pursue its expansionist, aggressive and destabilizing policies in the region. Given the well-documented United Nations reports on various war crimes committed by military officers and high officials of the regime, the main suppliers of arms were accomplices in those war crimes and must immediately stop exporting weapons to that regime.
Turning to missiles, he introduced a draft decision on missiles (document A/C.1/65/L.18), which would have the General Assembly recall its related resolutions and decisions and decide to include in its provisional agenda of its sixty-sixth session the item entitled “Missiles”.
Given the lack of any internationally agreed norms or arrangement on the question of missiles, Iran believed the only way to deal with the issue in all its aspects was to pursue it within the framework of the United Nations.
Regarding the “so-called breaking news” announced yesterday by the British delegation, he said “it is regrettable that the mentality of the cold war is still dominant in that document by keeping the obsolete doctrine of deterrence. Additionally, with regard to the issue of the Middle East region, this document is deadly silent towards more than 200 nuclear warheads of the Zionist regime, threatening the peace and security of the region and beyond”.
CHUKA UDEDIBIA, Director of First United Nations Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, said that, given recent positive developments in disarmament negotiations in general and developments of the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, his country believed that there should be a clarity in the definition of “arms” in such an instrument. The treaty should also be flexible to take care of new developments in warfare technology and contain provisions that would ban accessibility to small arms and lights weapons of non-State actors operating outside government authority or control.
He said that, despite progress, Nigeria was deeply concerned that small arms and light weapons continued to destabilize the African continent and a large number of developing nations. Those weapons fuelled conflict and increased human rights abuses, not to mention hampered development. He was disappointed in the international community’s failure to accord attention to the urgent need to combat and eliminate the illicit trade in those weapons, and he called on all Member States to give greater focus to that scourge. “Less premium should be placed on commercial benefits of the arms trade in preference to the value of human life”.
As chair of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Nigeria was pleased to report that substantial progress had been made in bringing peace and stability to countries in the subregion that, until recently embroiled, had been in political crisis, he said. The Nigerian Government’s amnesty programme to militants in the Niger Delta had recovered thousands of illicit weapons. As the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons entered into force last year, member States had established national commissions that had encouraged, among other things, inter-State services and Interpol to combat transborder small arms and light weapons crimes. Some areas of assistance in tackling the illicit small arms menace would include monitoring technology and border equipment.
ZOIA OLIINYK (Ukraine) said that her country attached great importance to the reporting of military expenditures by Member States and to participation in the Register of Conventional Arms. The report circulated by the Secretariat had indicated a reduction in participation in reporting by Member States. Ukraine emphasized the importance of reports by the Secretariat to the First Committee on those subjects.
NOEL SINCLAIR, representative of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, said that the record levels of crime and violence in Caribbean communities, insecurity, economic and social dislocation, and interruption of development were caused by loopholes in the trade in small arms and light weapons. In its wake, transnational organized crime and illegal drug trafficking imposed enormous burdens on the law enforcement and judicial services. To the extent that those were challenges for the Governments of the region, they were also challenges for the CARICOM secretariat, since they hampered and undermined the promotion of economic and social development and integration.
He said that the secretariat did not see the idea of an arms trade treaty as a disarmament measure or as signifying the end of the scourge of illegal weapons in its region. Instead, an instrument that sought, by plugging loopholes in the legal trade of weapons, to prevent those weapons from finding their way to the illicit market was a good place to start. The treaty’s potential value was as an instrument that would have the effect of closing the loopholes through which weapons slipped from the licit into the illicit market and caused the ugly consequences in which the region lived on a daily basis. Some kind of binding, globally agreed mechanism for plugging the loopholes in legal trade was needed. The CARICOM secretariat believed that it was possible to devise such an instrument and that enough States desired it. The goal was achievable and the secretariat would continue to work in a manner consistent with those beliefs, in order to ensure that an instrument that would make the necessary difference was achieved.
Right of Reply
The representative of Argentina, exercising the right of reply, referred to the statement made by the United Kingdom’s representative the previous day in which reference had been made to the Malvinas Islands. The Foreign Minister of Argentina had reiterated that the Malvinas and the surrounding area were integral parts of Argentina, which had been illegitimately occupied by the United Kingdom. It had been recognized by various international organizations that the Islands and surrounding area was under sovereignty dispute. The illegitimate occupation had led the General Assembly to adopt resolutions recognizing the existence of a sovereignty dispute and urging the Governments or Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume negotiations, with a view to finding, as soon as possible, a peaceful and lasting solution to that dispute. The Organization of American States, in June, had taken a similar stand on the issue. Argentina restated its legitimate right over that area as part of its national territory.
Introducing the Committee’s thematic debate on other disarmament measures and international security, ANDREY KRUTSKIKH, Chairperson of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security, said the group, from November 2009 to July 2010, had held four sessions and, as a result of a thorough exchange of views, had adopted by consensus a report for the General Assembly. As chair, he had been delighted with the decision, as that had been the first time in United Nations history that a document such as that aimed at countering information security had been adopted.
He said that the report indicated that threats to information security could do severe damage to States, and had an undermining affect on, among other things, government and infrastructure. It was important for the United Nations to ascertain, in time, that risk to humankind. The unique characteristics of information and communication technologies carried a risk of dual purposes, both positive and negative. There were increasing reports of States developing those technologies to “wage war” or for political purposes. Terrorists might aim to carry out online attacks. States were also concerned that the supply network for those technologies could be disrupted, thereby damaging the normal and safe use of information and communication technologies. That could have an impact on, among other things, State security.
Subversive activities using information and communication technologies were becoming increasingly dangerous, and no country could face these threats alone, he said. Common, joint positions were needed, as was inter-State cooperation, between public and private sectors. In light of innovations and the multifaceted nature of the risk, the expert group made the best use of diplomatic methods. The most important thing was not to slacken the momentum, he said.
Among the first steps geared towards guaranteeing peace, the group recommended further dialogue to reduce potential risks and strengthening risk reduction initiatives, including the exchange of national views, he said. In addition, there should be information exchanges of national policies and best practices, as well as the determination of methods for acquiring support. Finally, common terms and definitions should be established. It was extremely necessary for these steps to be developed. The main aim was to prevent another type of spiralling arms race and to preserve resources in the interest of development.
The meeting was then suspended as delegates took part in an informal discussion on the subject.
When the meeting resumed, AKIO SUDA (Japan) said the 2010 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) had underscored the importance of disarmament and non-proliferation education. He noted Recommendation 31 of the Secretary-General’s report on the subject, which encouraged Member States to inform the Office for Disarmament Affairs of steps taken to implement the Secretary-General’s recommendations.
Unfortunately, according to the Secretary-General’s recent report reviewing the implementation of those recommendations, only five countries, including Japan, had submitted such information. He encouraged all Member States to put into action the Secretary-General’s recommendations and report to the Disarmament Affairs Office on steps they had taken.
Japan introduced a draft resolution on united action towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons (document A/C.1/65/L.43). By its terms, the General Assembly, expressing deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, and convinced that every effort should be made to avoid nuclear war and nuclear terrorism, would call upon nuclear-weapon States to undertake further efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate all types of nuclear weapons, deployed and non-deployed, including through unilateral, bilateral, regional and multilateral measures.
The draft would also have the Assembly emphasize the importance of applying the principles of irreversibility, verifiability and transparency in relation to the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation processes.
Further to the text, the Assembly would call on the nuclear-weapon States to promptly engage, with a view to further diminish the role and significance of nuclear weapons in all military and security concepts, doctrines and policies. It would encourage the establishment of further nuclear-weapon-free zones, where appropriate. And, it would call on States to redouble their efforts to prevent and curb the proliferation of nuclear weapons and their delivery means and to fully respect and comply with obligations undertaken to foreswear nuclear weapons.
The Assembly would encourage all States to secure all vulnerable nuclear and radiological material. It would call for the immediate commencement of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty at the 2011 session of the Conference on Disarmament and its early conclusion, and meanwhile, call on all nuclear-weapon States and States not parties to the NPT to declare and maintain moratoriums on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices pending the entry into force of the treaty.
A further provision of the wide-ranging text would have the Assembly urge all States that had not yet done so to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) at the earliest opportunity, with a view to its early entry into force and universalization.
The Japanese delegate noted that the draft included education as one of the actions, adding that civil society also played a vital role in raising awareness, mobilizing opinion and creating innovative ideas and tools. Japan, as the only country that had suffered atomic bombings, continued to actively support its atomic bomb survivors. Japan and the United Nations University would host a global forum on disarmament and non-proliferation education in March 2011, in order to facilitate dialogue and cooperation among civil society and Governments.
CAMILO GARCIA LOPEZ-TRIGO (Cuba) said that his country strongly supported the resolution by the Non-Aligned Movement on the promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation. It had been demonstrated that disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction would not be achieved via unilateral measures, let alone by negotiated agreements outside the internationally recognized multilateral frameworks or the use or threat of use of force. In relation to disarmament and development, Cuba reiterated that both aspects constituted two of the main challenges facing humankind, especially in light of the global character of the deep economic, social, food, energy and environmental crises affecting the international community.
He said that whereas economies, particularly of developing countries, bled to death, military expenditures in 2009 rose by 6 per cent compared to the previous year, amounting to $1.531 trillion dollars. That dangerous tendency was translated into an increase of over 50 per cent in expenditures on weapons worldwide in the past 10 years. In parallel with that, budget cuts in social, education and health-care programmes were occurring worldwide. Cuba restated its proposal that a United Nations managed fund be established, where at least half of the current military expenditures would go, with a view to meeting the economic and social development requirements of countries in need.
Cuba reiterated the significance of the observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control, he went on. The existence of weapons of mass destruction and their constant improvement was one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, as well as to the fragile environmental balance of the planet and sustainable development for all, without distinction. An international treaty on nuclear disarmament must necessarily include measures for the protection of the environment. So far, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention) remained the only international agreement that included the verifiable destruction of an entire class of weapons and of the facilities producing them, as well as measures to protect the people and the environment. Plus, great importance was given to the principles and methods for the destruction of chemical weapons, which must be taken into account by States possessors when destroying them.
LAURA KENNEDY (United States) said that, as dependency on information technology had grown, so too had the risks to the security associated with that dependency. A wide range of primarily manmade activities threatened the reliable functioning of national and global networks and the integrity of the information that travelled over them. Those threats were increasing in sophistication and gravity and had many sources. The vast majority were rooted in criminal behaviours and targeted individuals, businesses and Governments, alike. Some threats were State-sponsored and involved the extension of traditional forms of State-on-State activities and conflict in cyberspace. Whatever the source of the cyber-threat, defending against it was a key priority of United States President Barack Obama.
She said that the President had stated that a strategy was needed for cyber-security that was designed to bring together like-minded nations on a host of issues. As a consequence, he had directed the implementation of a comprehensive domestic strategy to address the country’s cyber vulnerabilities. He had done so, however, with the clear recognition that whatever national steps the country took to defend its information networks, global interdependence meant those steps would be unlikely to be fully successful without effective international collaboration.
The United States believed that the cybersecurity of each nation should proceed on two levels, at the national level, where every Government should make cybersecurity a domestic priority, and at the international level, where each nation must collaborate on common or at least complementary approaches to transnational cybersecurity issues. Drawing on its experience, her country had offered five cybersecurity awareness-raising resolutions in the General Assembly over the past decade, culminating last year in resolution 64/211, which provided a road map for Member Stares to assess the progress of their domestic efforts.
International collaboration should focus on a variety of cooperative strategies to address the various translational threats to information networks, she continued. The international community was making some progress by establishing the foundations for better collaboration in a variety of areas, including through the 15 governmental experts, who, last year, had begun an important discussion on the difficult issue of appropriate standard of behaviour for States with regard to the use of information technology tools in the political-military arena. In that context, the resolution sponsored by the Russian Federation on that group was able to identify some key areas of common ground and it emerged with a short, but valuable, consensus report that pointed in a fruitful direction for further collaboration. Key among those recommendations was that there should be further dialogue to discuss norms pertaining to State use of information technology, in order to reduce collective risk and protect critical national and international infrastructures.
VICTOR VASILIEV (Russian Federation) introduced a draft resolution on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security (document A/C.1/65/L.37), which contains the principal new element: the proposal to convene in 2012 the group of governmental experts on international information security to conduct a study on existing and potential threats in the sphere of information security and possible cooperative measures, as well as on relevant international concepts that would be aimed at strengthening the security of global information and communication systems.
The draft, he said, was especially important to maintain the positive impetus gained by the previous group of experts. As was well known, that group managed to assure important groundwork. It was the first time in United Nations history that a draft report on the problem of information security, designating specific steps in that direction, was prepared and adopted by consensus.
Right of reply
Exercising the right of reply, the representative of Lebanon said he had requested Israel to withdraw from Shebaa Farms and other areas up until the Blue Line, in keeping with Security Council resolution 1701 (2006). He called upon the international community to force Israel to pay damages as a result of its aggressions and the full submission of maps of landmines and cluster munitions that resulted from its aggressions.
The representative of the United Kingdom, exercising her right of reply, said the United Kingdom rejected the sovereignty issue mentioned in the statement by the representative of Argentina. The principle of self-determination enshrined in the United Nations Charter was clear. The Falkland Islanders had made it clear that they did not seek independence.
The representative of Syria, exercising his right of reply, said the resolutions adopted by the United Nations and its principal agencies ran into the hundreds in targeting Israel’s policies. That provided a true legal diagnosis and picture of the international community’s denouncement of Israel’s practices. The First Committee had contributed for several years to the denunciation of Israeli practices in the disarmament and nuclear weapons fields.
He said that, now, Israel was formally and informally part of the weapons trade and was the fourth largest weapons trader in the world. It was shameful for the representative of Israel to “point a finger” at others when it should apologize for its own actions. Israeli airplanes had dropped millions of cluster bombs in Lebanon although Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) called for a halt to Israeli aggressions against Lebanon.
It was also shameful for the Israeli representative to speak, while his Government had so far refused to provide a map where cluster munitions and mines had been planted in Lebanon, he said. Hundreds of Lebanese citizens had died from those weapons. Likewise, the Israeli planting of mines in the Golan had also killed and wounded more than 200 people. Outside that region, everyone knew that the biggest arms traders, especially the illegal arms, were retired military leaders working with Israel.
Israel’s role in that trade around the world protected groups involved in drug trafficking and armed groups headed by rabbis that were involved in the trafficking of children.
Returning to the thematic debate on other disarmament measures and international security, EDEN CHARLES (Trinidad and Tobago) introduced a draft resolution on women, disarmament, non-proliferation and development (document A/C.1/65/L.39), which would have the Assembly urge member States, regional organizations, the United Nations and specialized agencies to ensure equitable representation of women at all decision-making levels, in particular, in the security sector, which may make or influence policy with regard to matters related to disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation.
By the draft, the Assembly would also call on all States to support and strengthen the involvement of women in organizations in the field of disarmament at the local, national and regional levels.
He noted that the current draft was a “compromise text”, a demonstration of the openness, understanding and flexibility during a drive towards achieving a consensus adoption of the text.
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