|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
17th Meeting (PM)
First Committee Considers One of Greatest Contemporary Security Threats — Chemical,
Biological Weapons, as Thematic Debates, Introduction of Drafts Continue
Mounting a successful campaign to counter, and finally eradicate, what many perceived to be the greatest contemporary security threat — weapons of mass destruction — depended on concrete enforcement and verification, delegates heard today as the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) addressed some of the obstacles to strengthening the key conventions prohibiting biological and chemical weapons.
“International legal provisions are essential but not enough by themselves,” said the representative of Belgium, on the European Union’s behalf. “They must be effectively implemented. Each State must comply with its non-proliferation obligations. Operational cooperation is required to prevent and disrupt illicit transfers, to control exports even more effectively, to counter illegal networks of diversion and trafficking, and to combat proliferation financing.”
The Conventions prohibiting biological and chemical weapons use played a key role in reducing those threats, and full compliance with their provisions was of critical importance, he said. However, verification was a problem, said the representative of Brazil, speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR). He was concerned about the path that the Biological Weapons Convention had taken. He agreed with many States that its additional measures must be developed and implemented to ensure that the ban was effective, but the Convention lacked means for assuring that States parties were in compliance.
That deficit, he noted, had compelled some States parties to the Convention to explore implementation modalities that focused on cooperation in areas such as sanitary structures and human and animal health in general, competing with existing mechanisms at, for instance, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Cuba’s representative stressed that the possibility of any use of bacteriological and toxin agents as weapons must be completely eliminated. Cuba shared the legitimate international concern about the risk that terrorist groups might acquire weapons of mass destruction. The follow-up mechanism formulated during the Sixth Review Conference, beyond doubt, was a useful tool for the exchange of national experiences and a forum for consultation. Her country believed that the only way to strengthen the Convention was through a binding protocol which would involve balanced and broad application of all its articles.
Indeed, to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention, said Switzerland’s speaker, the mandate of the implementation support unit must be renewed and broadened. It was also crucial that the coming Review Conference on the Convention agreed to improve the confidence building measure mechanism, he said.
Turning to the Chemical Weapons Convention, he said destroying existing chemical weapons stockpiles was a core obligation, but meeting deadlines was another concern. As the deadline of 29 April 2012 approached, he knew all States would do their utmost to meet that goal, but two possessor States had declared they would not meet their commitments on time. That issue must be resolved in a manner that was inclusive, cooperative and non-discriminatory.
“It is crucial that the CWC remains strong and credible,” he said. “Nothing should be agreed upon that could alter, weaken or lead to a re-interpretation of the provisions of the Convention, and thus of the almost universal ban on chemical weapons.”
South Africa’s delegate said another major challenge requiring careful navigation in the next few years was the manner in which the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) adapted to its changing operational environment once destruction activities were completed. It remained essential that a careful balance be struck between the OPCW’s non-proliferation activities on the one hand, in terms of monitoring the production and movement of chemicals, and the technical cooperation and assistance it provided to States parties on the other.
Despite Egypt’s fill adherence to principles and objectives of the Conventions banning biological and chemical weapons, its delegate said, all States of the region should make equal and reciprocal commitments in that regard. Israel persisted in not joining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and that position remained the significant obstacle facing the accession of Egypt and other Arab countries to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions and the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), since doing so in the current situation would further widen the existing gap between commitments of all the Arab States who had been States parties to the NPT since 1995.
Also today, three draft resolutions were introduced. Myanmar’s delegation tabled a draft resolution on nuclear weapons. Resolutions on the activities of the United Nations Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa and the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, introduced respectively by the representatives of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nepal, were part of the debate on regional disarmament.
Also speaking during the debate on regional disarmament and security were the representatives of Malta, Kuwait, Kazakhstan, Togo, Iran and Armenia.
Also making a statement on the subject was the representative of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean.
Exercising their rights of reply following that debate were the representatives of Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Introducing the debate on other weapons of mass destruction was Carlo Trezza, Chair of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters.
Also speaking during that debate were the representatives of Australia, Norway, Venezuela, and Iraq.
Exercising a right of reply after that debate was the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Monday, 25 October, to continue its thematic debates and to hear the introduction of related draft decisions and resolutions.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met today to conclude its thematic debate on regional disarmament and security, to begin its debate on other weapons of mass destruction and on the disarmament aspects of outer space, as well as to hear the introduction of related draft resolutions and decisions.
Thematic Debate on Regional Disarmament and Security
SAVIOUR BORG ( Malta) said there was an intrinsic relationship between the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Last week, Malta had hosted the 2010 Mediterranean Conference, which had provided an opportunity to discuss security matters and to jointly approach challenges, among other things. Cooperation in approaching security was key, he said.
He noted that, in November, Malta would also be holding another conference to adopt a strategy and action plan focused on bringing relevant cultural, social and political stakeholders from both sides of the Mediterranean. It was also aimed at bridging divides and fostering good-neighbourly relations. Malta had also been host to the Parliamentarian Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM), which had examined issues affecting countries of the region. The fifth plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly in Morocco would see the engagement of ideas, proposals and other issues by parliamentarians.
The political and security implications in the Middle East directly affected the Mediterranean region and beyond, he said. He hoped the parties of the Israelis and Palestinians would come to a successful conclusion. Illegal immigration was another issue affecting Europe. Malta attracted a disproportionate number of illegal immigrants, and his country needed assistance to address that issue. He, thus, called on the international community to continue assisting Malta.
GHAZI ALFADHLI ( Kuwait) said the Middle East region, one of the most tense in the world, had a dire need to become free of weapons of mass destruction, as reflected in Security Council resolutions. Taking into consideration that all States in the region had joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) except Israel, he called on the international community to pressure Israel to adhere to the Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon country and for all countries to fulfil their obligations under article IV of the Treaty on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
He said his country was pursuing a peaceful nuclear programme, and he supported the right of all States to pursue such programmes. Iran had a right to pursue a peaceful nuclear programme, and he hoped the current Group of 5 + 1 talks would come to a successful conclusion. That would stabilize the region, which had seen the draining of its resources that could otherwise been used for development.
GYAN CHANDRA ACHARYA (Nepal) introduced a draft resolution on the review and implementation of the Concluding Document of the Twelfth Special Session of the General Assembly: United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (document A/C.1/65/L.56). It would have the Assembly express its satisfaction for the activities carried out in the past year by the Regional Centre, and would invite all States of the region to continue to support the Centre’s activities, including by continuing to take part in its activities, where possible, and by proposing items for inclusion in its programme of activities, in order to contribute to the implementation of measures of peace and disarmament.
The draft would also have the Assembly appeal to Member States, in particular those within the Asia-Pacific region, as well as to international governmental and non-governmental organizations and foundations, to make voluntary contributions, the only resources of the Regional Centre, to strengthen the programme of activities of the Centre and the implementation thereof. In addition, the Assembly would, by the text, underline the importance of the Kathmandu process for the development of the practice of region-wide security and disarmament dialogues.
The Assembly would also, by the draft, reflect on increasing interests of Member States of the region in the work of the Centre and to further enable it as an effective regional mechanism for the implementation of measures of peace and disarmament in the region, he said.
He said that dialogue, exchanges of views and sharing good practices among Member States in the region were among the essential elements for creating an environment conducive to disarmament and non-proliferation. Regional endeavours and initiatives were critical elements for wider global peace and security arrangements. Regions understood best the nuances surrounding the issues they faced and what could be durable solutions vis-à-vis differences among Member States. Peace and disarmament would not be fostered amid a dense cloud of suspicion and misunderstanding. Frequent transactions among Member States in the region would greatly help to dispel misunderstanding and create a sense of confidence.
ISRAIL TILEGEN ( Kazakhstan) said that involvement of regional arrangements in the disarmament field had led to coordination of global efforts. There was, however, a need to ensure that issues identified at the regional level fed into deliberations at the global level, in order to make solutions more implementable on the ground. Kazakhstan was happy with the presentations that had been made the previous day by members of the panel who had appeared before the Committee. That showed an effort to see to it that disarmament took deep root at the “micro-level”. The Regional Centres for disarmament helped to bridge gaps at various levels and were to be commended for raising awareness and for assisting Member States in the practical implementation of global norms. His country would continue to strengthen their activities. The Regional Centres continued to design programmes with regional and subregional specificity. They were also serving as clearing houses for matching needs. Their coordinating should be further intensified. All Member States should continue to work with Centres and provide them with assistance.
KOKOU NAYO M’BEOU ( Togo) said that his country welcomed the entry into force of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Pelindaba Treaty), and he called on States to implement the obligations enshrined therein. The regional disarmament centres had been set up to achieve disarmament goals and the results obtained spoke for themselves. A lot of money had been spent to attain those results, but a price could not be put on the value of the peace that had been achieved. Regional action made it possible to achieve effective implementation of international norms. It also made it possible to foster consensus on various issues at the regional level, thereby promoting the deliberations that took place at the United Nations. The role of the Centres was a major one, and successive reports of the Secretary-General had underscored that point. The Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa focused on small arms light weapons, providing support to States. The action carried out spanned such areas as policy formulation, promotion of international instruments and capacity building, continent-wide. That centre had multiplied and diversified its activities.
In that regard, he said Togo thanked the United Nations and donor countries for the material, financial and other support they had provided to the centre and urged African States to make voluntary contributions to it, as they had promised.
ATOKI ILEKA (Democratic Republic of the Congo) introduced a draft resolution on regional confidence-building measures: activities of the United Nations Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa (document A/C.1/65/L.58), which would have the Assembly appeal to the international community to support the efforts undertaken by the States concerned to implement disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes.
Subregional meetings had led to the adoption of the ways and means to find solutions to problems, including the recent Kinshasa meeting on the issue of small arms and light weapons, he said, adding that the Advisory Committee should be supported by the international community and the First Committee.
He said that the draft resolution reflected activities that had taken place over the last year. By the text, the General Assembly would urge Member States and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to support the activities of the Standing Advisory Committee effectively through voluntary contributions to the Trust Fund. The text also reaffirmed the full importance of disarmament programmes in Central Africa and recognized the Kinshasa Convention.
The Assembly would also urge the States members of the Standing Advisory Committee, in accordance with Security Council resolution 1325 (2000), to include a gender-equality dimension in the various meetings of the Committee relating to disarmament and international security.
AMIR SEIFI ( Iran) said it was regrettable that no progress had been made 36 years after the adoption of a resolution on establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. Despite repeated calls by the international community, the “Zionist regime”, the only NPT non-party in the region, had neither acceded to the Treaty nor placed its unwarranted nuclear facilities under the full-scope safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He pointed to the inaction imposed on the Security Council over the last several decades in addressing the well-documented development of all types of weapons of mass destruction by the “Zionist regime”, including nuclear weapons.
He said that that “regime” was the only obstacle for establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East; peace and stability could not be achieved in the region while such an irresponsible regime was outside the NPT, and its nuclear arsenals continued to threaten the peace in the region and beyond, he said.
Pending the realization of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, no country in the region should acquire nuclear weapons or permit their stationing or that of any nuclear explosive devices within territory under its jurisdiction or under its control. Moreover, all countries in the region should refrain from actions that ran counter to both the letter and spirit of the NPT and to resolutions related to the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East. An agreed action plan and timetable for universalizing that Treaty, especially in the Middle East, should be a top priority on the agenda of all States parties, especially nuclear-weapon States, he said.
KARINE KHOUDAVERDIAN ( Armenia) commended the Secretary-General for convening the high-level meeting on revitalizing the Conference on Disarmament and said it had been an essential measure to decrease the threat to international security. Disarmament played a pivotal role in the pursuit of international peace and security. The effective implementation and further strengthening of existing disarmament and non-proliferation agreements, therefore, should remain a priority. The Register of Conventional Weapons should be given priority at the regional and subregional levels. In her region, that essential instrument was being challenged. It was being disregarded by Azerbaijan, which was creating a threat to peace and security in the region and aiming to derail peace negotiations and initiatives. There was, therefore, a risk of imminent arms race in the area. To avoid any escalation, the international community should react to that specific threat and take all necessary steps to stop the threat by Azerbaijan. Full compliance was critical to bring about durable peace in South Caucasus and beyond.
Rights of Reply
The representative of Azerbaijan, exercising the right of reply, said that the statement by Armenia was evidence of that country’s racist ideology and unwillingness to settle its dispute with his country in a constructive manner. That country exhibited dangerous superiority and religious prejudice. There was documentary evidence that Armenia had attacked his country and carried out ethnic cleansing, leading to the death of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis. That country had committed international crimes, such as war crimes and it did not publish its arms transactions in the United Nations Register of Conventional Weapons. Nor did it observe United Nations principles. In 2005, the International Crisis group had reported that it was one of the most militarized countries on Earth.
The representative of Armenia, also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the Azerbaijani representative had used the opportunity to falsely discredit her country in his statement the previous day. Azerbaijan had continued the policy of armed aggression, and the world had been witnessing the unprecedented growth of the military of Azerbaijan. That testified to its intention to break military balance in the region. The steps by that country’s authorities contradicted the letter and spirit of many international documents relating to transparency in disarmament.
The representative of Azerbaijan, exercising a second right of reply, said that that stance of Armenia showed irresponsible behavior and was a serious threat to international and regional peace. That country should negotiate in good faith, with a view to finding a durable solution to the conflict between them.
The representative of Armenia , also exercising the right of reply for a second time, said that she had heard unacceptable remarks. It was unethical to proceed with unethical statements. The time had come for Azerbaijan to refrain from propaganda. That country’s behaviour was a desperate attempt to sidetrack the First Committee from its work.
Thematic Debates on Other Weapons of Mass Destruction, Disarmament Aspects of Outer Space
Introducing the thematic debates on other weapons of mass destruction and outer space (disarmament aspects) was CARLO TREZZA, Chair of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters. He updated the Committee on the Board’s activities over the past year. The Board, established in 1978, was non-governmental in nature composed of 15 members of Governments, academia and civil society. It adopted its agenda based on requests for advice on specific disarmament issues.
He said the Board this year had focused on conceptual issues in the lead-up to the 2010 NPT Review Conference, and on non-proliferation education.
The Board recommended, among other things, that the Secretary-General continue to provide his strong support for the political momentum in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and to send positive messages prior to the Review Conference. In view of the Conference’s positive outcome, the Board stressed the special responsibility of the Secretary-General in the follow-up to the review, especially in convening the high-level meeting on revitalizing the work of the Geneva-based Conference on disarmament and taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations, on 24 September, and in organizing and giving legitimacy to the 2012 conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear and all other weapons of mass destruction.
The present knowledge and culture of disarmament and non-proliferation issues was insufficient and attracted too little attention, he said. The Board had agreed that the 2002 United Nations study on disarmament education was still valid: the real challenge was its implementation by Member States. The Board recommended, among other things, that the Secretary-General should remind individual States to implement the study’s provisions and that he consider making a major a statement on the issue. The present stalemate in some multilateral disarmament bodies was due in part to a limited knowledge of those complicated issues.
The Board, which also served as Board of Trustees of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), must also supervise the Institute’s research activities and its programme and budget, he said. Given that only 10 per cent of UNIDIR’s budget was financed by the United Nations and the rest from donors, he appealed to the United Nations to fund at least all core staff costs of UNIDIR and to Member States to support it through all means available.
It was in the present spirit of cooperation and flexibility that the Board was now ready to undertake a thorough review of the issues raised during the high-level meeting on 24 September and to make recommendations to the Secretary-General for further action in that regard, he said.
After an informal exchange with Mr. Trezza, the debate on other weapons of mass destruction began.
LUIZ FILIPE DE MACEDO SOARES ( Brazil), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and associated States, reaffirmed the need for the full implementation of the Conventions banning chemical and biological weapons. MERCOSUR was convinced that the elimination of chemical weapons arsenals and the prohibition of its use by all States parties to that Convention were effective contributions to international peace and security. He also congratulated the Organisation for the Prohibition of the Use of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for the positive results it had achieved in implementing the Convention; however, he reiterated his concern regarding the still-existing arsenals.
He expressed concern about the path taken by the Convention prohibiting biological weapons. While agreeing with many States that it was necessary to develop and to implement additional measures for assuring that the prohibition was effective, the Convention lacked means for assuring that States parties were in compliance. That deficit had compelled some States parties to explore implementation modalities that focused on cooperation in areas such as sanitary structures and human and animal health in general, competing with existing mechanisms at the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). He expressed concern about the current situation of the Convention, but reaffirmed his commitment to contribute to its seventh Review Conference. The elimination of weapons of mass destruction should take place through multilateralism, under effective and strict international control.
JEAN LINT (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery was a major threat, including the risk that terrorists would acquire biological or chemical weapons. The biological and chemical weapons Conventions and the 1925 Geneva Protocol played a key role in reducing those threats, and full compliance with their provisions was of critical importance. The Union called for the full universalization of those instruments and on all States to consider withdrawing any reservation made upon acceding to the 1925 Protocol.
He said that 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 the cornerstone of multilateral efforts to prevent the proliferation of those weapons, in part, by prohibiting State-sponsored bio-weapons programmes. The Union was working to promote universalization and national implementation, and recalled its commitment to the development of measures to verify compliance with the Convention. He called on all States parties to submit their annual confidence-building measures on time. Welcoming the participation in that important mechanism, much remained to de done to ensure full participation by all States parties. The question of an evaluation and possible improvement of the confidence-building mechanism and its functioning should be given further consideration at the upcoming Review Conference.
The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention) was a major multilateral achievement, and the Union urged the remaining seven States to join it, he said. Destruction of the weapons must be accompanied by the prevention of the creation of new chemical weapons in the future. Provisions on industry verification, national implementation and challenge inspections were vital for pursuing the non-proliferation goals of the Convention. All concerned States must ensure that the necessary legislation and infrastructure were in place to implement the Convention in an effective manner.
He urged all States to comply with and fully implement the legally binding obligations of Security Council resolutions 1540 (2004), 1673 (2006) and 1810 (2008). The European Union was also concerned about risks caused by the proliferation of missiles, which could be used to deliver weapons of mass destruction. A number of tests of mid- and long-range missiles conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran deepened the Union’s concern. He called on all Member States to support and adopt the General Assembly resolution on the Hague Code of Conduct and on all States that had not yet done so to adhere to that code. He also called on all subscribing States to uphold the authority of the code and to fully implement all of its provisions, including on pre-launch notifications. The Union supported the code’s universalization, better implementation and strengthening. It also favoured examination of multilateral steps to prevent the threat of missile proliferation and to promote disarmament efforts in the missile field. He reiterated its proposal to start consultations on a treaty banning short- and intermediate-range ground-to-ground missiles.
“International legal provisions are essential but not enough by themselves,” he said. “They must be effectively implemented. Each State must comply with its non-proliferation obligations. Operational cooperation is required to prevent and disrupt illicit transfers, to control exports even more effectively, to counter illegal networks of diversion and trafficking, and to combat proliferation financing.”
KERRY O’BRIEN ( Australia) said that that the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons was a potentially serious threat to global and regional security. His country had long been at the forefront of efforts to counter that threat, which demanded undiminished commitment to strengthening the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions. The latter Convention was a cornerstone of the multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation architecture. The country had been encouraged by the continuing progress in the destruction of chemical weapons and urged the remaining chemical weapons-possessor States to make every effort to meet their extended deadlines for destruction. Full and effective implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention was essential to ensure that its non-proliferation goals were met.
He said his country strongly encouraged States parties that had not fully implemented their article VII obligations, concerning national legislation, to continue their efforts to establish a national authority as well as legislative and administrative measures to do so. Such legislative and administrative measures included the criminalization of the prohibitions contained in the Convention. Such measures also underpinned States parties’ ability to submit accurate and complete article VI declarations to the OPCW and enabled a fairer distribution of inspection load among member countries with declarable chemical activities.
Australia was also committed to realizing universal adherence to and full implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention in the Asia-Pacific region, he said. It had been actively involved in the conduct of regional workshops on the Convention’s implementation and on related bio-security issues since 2005. Last month, in Manila, Philippines, the United States and Australia had co-chaired an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum Workshop on Biorisk Management and Strengthening Biosecurity. That workshop had focused on the implementation of best practices in the area of bio-risk management for the prevention of accidental release or intentional misuse of human and animal pathogens.
JOHANN PASCHALIS ( South Africa) shared the concerns about threat of weapons of mass destruction, which posed grave danger to international peace and security. He stressed the importance of ensuring that the integrity of the Chemical Weapons Convention remained intact and that the destruction of all chemical weapons was completed without delay. Another major challenge requiring careful navigation in the next few years was the manner in which the OPCW adapted to its changing operational environment, as destruction activities were completed. It remained essential that a careful balance be struck between the OPCW’s non-proliferation activities on the one hand, in terms of monitoring the production and movement of chemicals, and the technical cooperation and assistance it provided to States parties on the other. The Organization would need to ensure that the Convention remained relevant for the majority of States parties that possessed neither chemical weapons nor any substantial chemical industry. By assisting those States parties in the development of their chemical capacity and industry, their ability to contribute to the maintenance of international and regional peace and security would be greatly enhanced.
He said his country was concerned about the threat posed by naturally occurring organisms, as well as those being deliberately manufactured and manipulated for utilization as weapons of mass destruction. In that regard, the country remained committed to strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention to ensure the common goal of preventing the threat posed by those weapons. The strengthening of the Convention’s implementation was a core element of international peace and security and it was imperative that common goal of eliminating the biological weapons threat be achieved. The Convention clearly, not only provided a means to strengthen security, but also contained an important technical cooperation and assistance provision, which enhanced the international community’s ability to combat the debilitating impact of disease on people and on socio-economic development. Greater international assistance was required to alleviate the burden of the threat posed by biological weapons. Initiatives such as the exchanges in biological sciences and technology, the promotion of capacity building in the fields of disease surveillance, detection, diagnosis and containment of infectious diseases were among many others that could be explored.
KNUT LANGELAND ( Norway) said ridding the world of the threat of other types of weapons of mass destruction was simple: ensure full universality and compliance with the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions. Full compliance with Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) was also essential to attain the disarmament and non-proliferation goals.
He said that the Biological Weapons Convention would next year complete another cycle of an inter-sessional programme of work, with States parties exploring pragmatic ways to further strengthen the Convention. Norway had taken part, focusing on biological safety and security and enhanced capacity in disease surveillance. He suggested a number of topics for consideration at next year’s Review Conference, including possibly strengthening the interaction between States parties and civil society; implementation of article X and a revision of the existing confidence-building measures.
Ideally, he continued, confidence-building measures should become legally binding obligations after the Review Conference in 2011. While that might be difficult to achieve, consideration should be given to looking seriously into steps on how to encourage all States parties to provide an annual report containing all relevant information in relation to compliance with the Convention.
He said that the Chemical Weapons Convention, since its entry into force, had shown that multilateralism could achieve important results. A pre-condition for the Convention to achieve its objectives was full implementation of all provisions. He called for completing the process of stockpile destruction within agreed time limits. Production facilities must also be destroyed. Non-possessor States would also contribute towards that goal, as could be seen in Norway’s destruction cooperation programme with the Russian Federation.
It was also vital that all States parties fully implement their non-proliferation obligations and report to the OPCW on all steps taken, he said. Adequate national legislation and enforcement measures would greatly facilitate international cooperation in accordance to article XI of the Convention. Verification was one of the Convention’s comparative advantages, but improvements were needed. All States parties must submit complete and accurate declarations to the technical secretariat. Inspections should focus on other chemical production facilities, which were of high relevance to the Convention. “It is necessary to continue efforts to ensure that the mechanism of challenge inspections is fully operation and is ready to be used when needed,” he said.
In addition, he said the use of chemical agents not prohibited by the Convention must not undermine the norm set by the Convention. He also urged all United Nations Member States to adhere to the Hague Code of Conduct and thus contribute to enhanced confidence and stability.
LISETH ANCIDEY ( Venezuela) said the existence of weapons of mass destruction was a grave threat. Stringent international controls should govern those weapons, including nuclear weapons. She supported the universalization of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Venezuela’s nuclear activities were purely peaceful in nature and under IAEA guidelines.
Among efforts the country was undertaking in the chemical industry, she noted a project before the National Assembly involving adoption of a special law to inform the private sector of the need to provide the Government with any information it deemed relevant and necessary, including annual declarations on the use of chemicals. Venezuela had also sent its report to the OPCW in 2010, and had taken part in activities, including related meetings in Paris and Brasilia.
Her country was also a party to the Biological Weapons Convention. For its part, Venezuela had formed a coordinating body that would help to ensure compliance with that Convention. While her country had shouldered its responsibility, some States were not in compliance with the 2012 deadline to eliminate those weapons. Those States should set an example of compliance.
YADIRA LEDESMA HERNÁNDEZ ( Cuba) said that her country did not posses, or intend to posses, any type of weapons of mass destruction. She reasserted Cuba’s firm commitment to the full and effective implementation of all its commitments to the Chemical Weapons Convention and said that her country was advocating for a balanced approach to all the provisions of that Convention. It also supported all actions aimed at achieving its universality, and held that it was imperative that major possessors strictly complied with their destruction deadlines, otherwise the Convention’s credibility would be put at risk.
She said that by promoting international assistance and cooperation, the OPCW played a significant role in fostering the economic and technological progress of States parties, particularly the least developed ones. Cuba, together with the rest of the members of the Non-Aligned Movement, advocated the full implementation of article XI of the Convention and promoted concrete actions to achieve that purpose. It was imperative to eliminate discriminatory restrictions that were contrary to the spirit and letter of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which some States continued to impose on certain States parties, regarding transfers for peaceful use of chemical materials, equipment and technology.
She reiterated Cuba’s unequivocal commitment to the Biological Weapons Convention and support for all actions undertaken to achieve its universality. The possibility of any use of bacteriological and toxin agents as weapons must be completely eliminated. The follow-up mechanism implemented during the Sixth Review Conference, beyond doubt, was a useful tool for the exchange of national experiences and a forum for consultation. Her country believed that the only way to strengthen and improve the Convention was by the negotiation and adoption of a legally binding protocol which would involve balanced and broad application of all its articles. Cuba shared the legitimate international concern about the risk that terrorist groups might acquire weapons of mass destruction, but that threat could not be tackled with a selective approach. Urgent progress was required in the area of disarmament, including the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction. Selective and discriminatory initiatives by some countries weakened the United Nations in the fight against weapons of mass destruction.
JWAN TAWFIQ KHIOKA ( Iraq) said that her country had acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention in February 2009 and had opened a new chapter in its international relations, based on trust. That had made it possible for it to recover its place in the international arena. The executive and legislative branches of the Government had taken steps to destroy remnants of the country’s previous weapons programmes. It was ensuring adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention and would implement all measures to free the country of chemical weapons. Iraq had established a national commission in charge of doing away with the residues of its previous chemical weapons. In order to implement that destruction in close cooperation with the OPCW, Iraq had made a proposal to the Organization to provide it with technical assistance. Its commitment to increase confidence-building measures and transparency had led it to invite a group from the OPCW to visit Iraqi sites as part of the country’s obligations. Iraq had also adopted measures to regulate the import of dual-use chemicals and a plan to control import and exports, with the participation of relevant ministries.
MAGED ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt) said his country had consistently maintained its principled position of attaching great priority to the goal of having a world free from weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, chemical, biological and radiological, with a particular view towards the timely establishment of a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone in the Middle East. The document emerging from the first special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament remained the only viable comprehensive disarmament framework adopted by consensus. It had identified clearly the priorities for disarmament of weapons of mass destruction, and it had accorded highest priority to nuclear disarmament goal.
He said that while Egypt had stressed that the utmost priority concerning the elimination of nuclear weapons, his country had an equal position relating to other weapons of mass destructions, including a national initiative to rid the Middle East of all types of mass destruction weapons. All States of the region should make equal and reciprocal commitments in that regard. Egypt had played a leading role contributing to the successful conclusion of negotiations on the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions and on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).
Despite Egypt’s fill adherence to principles and objectives of the above legally binding commitments, Israel persisted in not joining the NPT, he said. That position remained the significant obstacle facing the accession of Egypt other Arab countries to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions and the ratification of the CTBT, since doing so in the current situation would further widen the existing gap between commitments of all the Arab States who had been States parties to the NPT since 1995, and the sole State in the region that remained outside that treaty.
He said the 2010 NPT Review Conference encompassed practical measures on the three pillars of that instrument, as well as a plan of action towards realizing a Middle East free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. The delicate balance crafted in that document reflected clearly the direct link between the need for Israel to accede to the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon State and the accession by the Arab countries to the conventions governing other weapons of mass destruction.
JURG LAUBER ( Switzerland) said destroying existing chemical weapons stockpiles was a core obligation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, and he was confident that as the deadline of 29 April 2012 approached all States would do their utmost to meet that goal. However, two possessor States had declared they would not meet the deadline. This issue had to be resolved in a manner that was inclusive, cooperative and non-discriminatory, he said. “It is crucial that the CWC remains strong and credible,” he said. “Nothing should be agreed upon that could alter, weaken or lead to a re-interpretation of the provisions of the Convention, and thus of the almost universal ban on chemical weapons.”
Next year’s meeting in Geneva for the seventh Review Conference on the Biological Weapons Convention would be an opportunity to further strengthen that instrument. To do that, he suggested the mandate of the implementation support unit was renewed and broadened so the unit could better assist in the implementation of the Convention more effectively. Stronger efforts were needed and new approaches should be explored. Another suggestion was that it was crucial that the Review Conference agreed to improve the confidence building measure mechanism. The debate on this topic was “lively”, he said, “now we need to find a way to translate this dynamic into concrete action aiming at revising, updating and strengthening the CBMs (confidence-building measures).”
A third suggestion was to encourage a discussion of the process between the Review Conferences, the inter-sessional process. He saw merit in a process that allowed States Parties to go beyond the purely technical level and, perhaps, use the annual meetings to discuss the CBM submissions. The lack of a mandate for the annual meetings of States Parties to take decisions limited their scope and weakened the convention. He welcomed the notion that States Parties agreed on a more robust mandate for the meeting cycle between Review Conferences.
M WUNNA MAUNG LWIN ( Myanmar) introduced a draft resolution on nuclear disarmament (document A/C.1/65/L.22). He said that the draft recognized the important work achieved at the 2010 NPT Review Conference. It was essential for all to turn the commitments made at the Conference, particularly those by the nuclear-weapon States, into concrete actions. The draft reiterated the call for the full and effective implementation for the 13 practical steps for nuclear disarmament adopted at the 2000 NPT Review Conference and for the full implementation of the 22-point action plan on nuclear disarmament contained in the final document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference. The draft resolution also called upon the Conference on Disarmament to establish an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament, early in 2011, and to commence negotiations on a phased programme of nuclear disarmament, leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons within a specified timeframe.
He said that pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons, the draft resolution again called on nuclear-weapon States to assure non-nuclear-weapon States of non-use and non-threat of use of nuclear weapons in a legally binding instrument. The legitimate right of non-nuclear-weapon States that had given up their nuclear option was to be reciprocated by the nuclear-weapon States in a legally binding instrument on security assurances.
Right of Reply
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the representative of Belgium, speaking on behalf of the European Union, had said that the missile tests by his country and Iran were the subjects of deep concern. He asked why his country’s missile test and that of Iran became subjects of deep concern, while those of other countries did not.
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