|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-sixth General Assembly
13th & 14th Meetings (AM & PM)
First Committee Hears Introduction of Eight Drafts on Range of Topics, from Threat
of Outer Space Arms Race to Terrorist Acquisition of Mass Destruction Weapons
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard the introduction of six draft resolutions and two decisions today on a broad spectrum of concerns, from preventing an outer space arms race to strengthening the cornerstone disarmament conventions in the field of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, as it entered its third rigorous week of deliberations.
Draft texts tabled today also concerned transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space, monitoring new types of weapons of mass destruction and preventing the terrorist acquisition of those weapons and their delivery systems, missiles, follow-up to nuclear disarmament obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and the next review of that Treaty in 2015.
The representative of the Russian Federation, introducing with China the draft decision on transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space, said there was a need for ever greater measures to stem an extraterrestrial arms race, with more than 60 States orbiting their own satellites and 130 United Nations Member States operating space programmes, and new pressing challenges, including space debris, colliding satellites and the grave dangers of weaponizing outer space.
Supporting the adoption of additional transparency and confidence-building measures was an important step, he said, tabling the text that would have the General Assembly call on the Secretary-General to select a group of governmental experts to — after a 20-year hiatus — investigate a number of issues surrounding outer space. Supporting the adoption of additional transparency and confidence-building measures was another important step, he said, noting that, in 2008, his country, together with China, had brought before the Conference on Disarmament a draft treaty on preventing the placement of weapons in outer space.
Humankind had long engaged in arms races in land, sea and air, said Sri Lanka’s delegation, introducing a related draft resolution on prevention of an arms race in outer space. She stressed that outer space must not be the next arena for an arms race. A series of grave consequences could arise due to the deployment of any weapon in outer space, which could seriously threaten the security of outer space assets and had the potential to harm the world’s biosphere. “It is much easier to prevent an arms race from taking place rather than controlling it or rolling it back once it has begun,” she said.
India’s delegation drew attention to what she deemed a “grave security challenge” posed by the risk of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists. Introducing the draft on measures to prevent that threat, she said the text underlined that the international response to the threat needed to be national, as well as multilateral and global. For its part, India had a well‑established and effective export control system and a domestic law in that regard.
Upon the introduction of a draft resolution aimed at strengthening the Chemical Weapons Conventions, some delegates noted that any treaty was only as effective as the States parties made it. In the case of that Convention, hailed by many today as having successfully banned an entire category of loathsome weapons, South Africa’s representative worried, however, that long after its entry into force, a significant number of States had not implemented national measures as they were obliged to do, and reports had revealed the weaponization of tear gas, which was prohibited by the Convention. Those reports did not paint a picture of a chemical weapons regime functioning as it was intended. That also meant the international community should have a “business as usual” response, he said.
Establishing an agreed international procedure to monitor the development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction by the Conference on Disarmament and provide recommendations on undertaking specific negotiations on identified types of such weapons was the subject of a draft resolution introduced by the Deputy Head of International Security and Arms Control of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus.
“Preventive measures are the best way of dealing with potential threats to international peace and security,” he said. The “nature and boldness of these preventive measures, however, depend on the political will of States. Lack of proven evidence of the existence or development of specific types of new weapons of mass destruction cannot serve as an excuse for losing sight of this important issue.”
Iran’s Director of Disarmament and International Security of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs introduced a draft decision on missiles. On behalf of his country, Egypt and Indonesia, he also tabled a draft resolution on the follow-up to nuclear obligations agreed to at the 1995, 2000 and 2010 NPT Review Conferences. The Philippines tabled a draft on the 2015 Review Conference.
The Ambassador of Italy to the Conference on Disarmament delivered a statement on the theme of nuclear weapons.
Exercising their right of reply to statements made on the theme of nuclear weapons Friday, 14 October, the Committee heard the delegates of Syria, France, Pakistan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Japan and Algeria.
Statements on the debate on other weapons of mass destruction were delivered by the representatives of the Netherlands, Australia, United States, Lithuania, Norway, United Kingdom, Cuba, China, Iraq, Uruguay (on behalf of Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR)), Spain, Poland, Republic of Korea, Canada, Switzerland, Russian Federation and France.
The Ambassador of Italy to the Conference on Disarmament also delivered a statement on the theme of outer space (disarmament aspects of).
Statements in the outer space debate were delivered by the representatives of Australia, Romania, United States, Kazakhstan, China, Italy, Sri Lanka, Republic of Korea, Canada, Brazil and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The right of reply was exercised on the thematic debate on outer space by the delegates of United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The conventional weapons cluster was introduced by the Chairman of the Group of Governmental Experts on the United Nations Standardized Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditures and the Chairperson of the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty.
The Committee then heard statements on conventional weapons delivered by the representatives of Trinidad and Tobago and Costa Rica.
The Committee will meet at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 18 October, to continue its thematic debate on conventional weapons and to hear statements and the introduction of draft resolutions and decisions.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met today to conclude its thematic debate segment on nuclear weapons and to open the next segments of its thematic debate: other weapons of mass destruction; outer space (disarmament aspects); and conventional weapons, hearing statements and the introduction by delegates of draft texts on those subjects. (For background on the Committee’s session and a summary of reports before it, see Press Releases GA/DIS/3429 and GA/DIS/3436.)
Summaries of Drafts
A draft resolution entitled “Follow-up to nuclear disarmament obligations agreed at the 2000 and 2010 review conferences of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) (document A/C.1/66/L.3), sponsored by Iran, would have the General Assembly call for practical steps, as agreed at the 2000 NPT Review Conference, to be taken by all nuclear-weapon States, which would lead to nuclear disarmament in a way that promotes international stability.
Based on the principle of undiminished security for all, the draft would have the Assembly call for further efforts by those States to reduce their nuclear weapons capabilities and the implementation of agreements pursuant to article VI of the NPT and as voluntary confidence-building measures to support further progress in nuclear disarmament; further reduce non-strategic nuclear weapons, based on unilateral initiatives; undertake concrete agreed measures to reduce further the operational status of their nuclear weapons systems and diminish the role for nuclear weapons in security policies. It would also call for the engagement, as soon as appropriate, of all the nuclear-weapon States in the process leading to the total elimination of their nuclear weapons.
A draft decision, submitted by Egypt, Indonesia and Iran, entitled “Missiles” (document A/C.1/66/L.10) would have the Assembly include in the provisional agenda of its sixty-seventh session an item by the same name.
Another draft decision, submitted by China and the Russian Federation, entitled “Transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities” (document A/C.1/66/L.11), would have the Assembly recall its resolution 65/68 of 8 December 2010 and previous resolutions on this matter, and decide to include in the item in the provisional agenda of its sixty-eighth session.
According to a draft resolution, submitted by Sri Lanka, on prevention of an arms race in outer space (document A/C.1/66/L.14), the General Assembly, recognizing that prevention of an arms race in outer space would avert a grave danger for international peace and security, would reaffirm the urgency of preventing an outer space arms race and the readiness of all States to contribute to that common objective.
The Assembly would also reaffirm its recognition that the legal regime applicable to outer space does not in and of itself guarantee the prevention of an arms race in that environment. With that, the Assembly would reaffirm the need to consolidate and reinforce that regime and enhance its effectiveness and the importance of complying strictly with existing agreements, both bilateral and multilateral.
In a related provision, the Assembly would emphasize the necessity of further measures with appropriate and effective provisions for verification to prevent an arms race in outer space.
It would call upon all States, in particular those with major space capabilities, to contribute actively to the objective of the peaceful use of outer space and of the prevention of an arms race in outer space and to refrain from actions contrary to that objective and to the relevant existing treaties in the interest of maintaining international peace and security and promoting international cooperation.
Further to the text, the Assembly would reiterate that the Conference on Disarmament, as the sole multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, has the primary role in the negotiation of a multilateral agreement or agreements, as appropriate, on the prevention of an arms race in outer space in all its aspects.
Submitted by the Philippines, a draft resolution on the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and its Preparatory Committee (document A/C.1/66/L.15) would have the General Assembly note the decision on strengthening the review process for the NPT, in which it was agreed that review conferences should continue to be held every five years. And, in that connection, it would take note of the decision of the parties to the Treaty to hold the first session of the Preparatory Committee in Vienna from 30 April to 11 May 2012.
Further to the text, the Assembly would welcome the successful outcome of the 2010 Review Conference, and reaffirm the need to fully implement the follow-on actions adopted at the Conference.
A draft resolution on the Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (document A/C.1/66/L.19), sponsored by Poland, which would have the Assembly emphasize that 11 years after the Convention’s entry into force, it remains a unique multilateral agreement banning an entire category of weapons of mass destruction, and stress the importance of the Organisation on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in verifying compliance with its provisions, as well as in promoting the timely and efficient accomplishment of all objectives.
Determined to achieve the effective prohibition of these weapons and their destruction, the draft would also have the Assembly urge all States parties to meet in full and on time their obligations.
Determined to prevent the emergence of new types of weapons of mass destruction that have characteristics comparable in destructive effect to those of weapons of mass destruction identified in the definition of weapons of mass destruction adopted by the United Nations in 1948, a draft resolution on the prohibition of the development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons: report of the Conference on Disarmament (document A/C.1/66/L.24) would have the General Assembly call upon all States, immediately following any recommendations of the Conference on Disarmament, to give favourable consideration to those recommendations.
The draft text would have the Assembly request the Conference on Disarmament, without prejudice to further overview of its agenda, to keep the matter under review, as appropriate, with a view to making, when necessary, recommendations on undertaking specific negotiations on identified types of such weapons.
According to a draft resolution submitted by Hungary on the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxic Weapons and on Their Destruction (document A/C.1/66/L.32), the Assembly would note with satisfaction that there are 164 States parties to the Convention and reaffirm the call upon all signatory States that have not yet ratified it to do so without delay. It would call upon those States that have not signed the Convention to become parties at the earliest possible date, thus contributing to the achievement of universal adherence to the Convention.
The Assembly would note the success of the Preparatory Committee Meeting of the Seventh Review Conference in Geneva in April, and welcome the convening in December of the Review Conference. In that connection, it would recall that the upcoming Review Conference is mandated to consider issues identified in the review of the operation of the Convention as provided for in article XII thereof and any possible consensus follow-up action.
Deeply concerned by the growing risk of linkages between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, and in particular, by the fact that terrorists may seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction, a draft resolution on a convention prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons (document A/C.1/66/L.48) would have the Assembly call upon all Member States to support international efforts to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery and urge all Member States to take and strengthen national measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, their delivery means, and materials and technologies related to their manufacture. The Assembly would appeal to all Member States to consider early accession and ratification of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.
Statements in Thematic Debate on Nuclear Weapons, Introduction of Drafts
REZA NAJAFI, Director for Disarmament and International Security, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran, introduced one draft resolution and one draft decision. The draft resolution was on follow‑up to nuclear obligations agreed to at the 1995, 2000 and 2010 Review Conferences of the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) (document A/C.1/66/L.3). Since the NPT was the cornerstone of non‑proliferation, the draft mainly emphasized the need for State parties to implement their disarmament obligations under the treaty and its reviews. The draft was similar to the one adopted at the General Assembly’s sixty‑fourth session, with only technical updates. He was confident of its wide support to those States sincerely devoted to the spirit of the NPT.
On behalf of Egypt, Indonesia and Iran, he introduced the draft decision on missiles (document A.C.1/66/L.10). In line with the position of the Non‑Aligned Movement Member States, that draft had been adopted by the General Assembly since 1999. Given 2012 would be a busy year, he would only be introducing the draft decision on missiles.
LIBRAN NUEVAS CABACTULAN (Philippines), regarding the Secretary‑General’s remarks last week, said he was gratified by the appointment of Jaakko Laajava, Under‑Secretary of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, as facilitator, as well as the designation of Finland as the host Government for the 2012 Conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.
He said he was presenting before the Committee a draft resolution A/C.1/66/L.15 entitled, 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and its Preparatory Committee. The draft resolution takes note of the decision of the parties to the treaty following appropriate consultations to hold the first session in Vienna from 30 April to 11 May 2012, and requests the Secretary‑General to render necessary assistance required for the 2015 Review Conference and its Preparatory Committee.
Rights of Reply
Exercising his right of reply, the delegate of Syria said his country had been among the first to sign the NPT and to call for a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East in a Security Council resolution he had brought forward in 2003, which was not met with success. There was no Syrian “nuclear issue” and all the feverish attempts to create such an “issue” sought to distract attention from the aggression launched against his country in 2007, as well as the Israeli nuclear arsenal. The latter was the only real threat to regional peace.
The delegate of Canada’s statement during the nuclear weapons debate was void of reference to the real danger of his region: Israeli nuclear weapons. It proved Canada’s support for nuclear proliferation. He called on the representative of Canada to stop the hypocrisy, since her country was part of the Manhattan Project, which had led to the first nuclear bomb used in Japan. Did her country make an official apology to the people of Japan, who were still suffering from the consequences of the use of nuclear bombs, and to provide compensation?
Syria’s delegate said the German representative had turned a blind eye to the real danger of Israeli’s nuclear weapons and instead was critical of Syria. Germany was non‑compliant with the NPT, due to its cooperation with Israel to develop a means to launch nuclear weapons. Germany was exercising double standards concerning his “house of glass”.
The Netherlands was in flagrant non‑compliance with NPT provisions, due to nuclear weapons stationed on its territory and supplying nuclear technology and materials to Israel. The attempt by the Netherlands’ delegate to criticize Syria could not detract from the Netherlands’ non‑compliance issues.
France’s delegate’s statement was not surprising, said Syria’s delegate, in that it also had not criticized Israel. It must be remembered that France had committed crimes against Algerians during nuclear tests. Syria would hold France responsible for any damage inflicted in his region from the Dimona nuclear reactor, which France had given to Israel, he said.
The representative of France, exercising his right of reply, said Iran, in his right of reply on 14 October, had referred to the events of 50 years ago. In February 2010, Iran had begun enriching its uranium to 20 per cent, approaching the military‑use threshold. In June, Iran had announced tripling its enrichment programme and, in August, it had announced the installation of the first centrifuge at one its nuclear facilities.
Iran also refused to supply the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with the required information, he said. Why did Iran continue to produce 20 per cent uranium at a facility made for military uses in a secret site? Iran refused to shed any light for the IAEA. The latest Agency report had heightened France’s concerns, as the Agency was unable to confirm the nature of Iran’s nuclear activities, leaving open a possibility of a military dimension.
The information the IAEA had at its disposal was consistent and credible, he said. The Agency was still awaiting an answer from Iran on several issues. Iran’s pursuit of a ballistic and space programme was in serious violation of the NPT, he said.
Additionally, he said, Syria’s right of reply included words that were unacceptable. The point about Algerian victims in the desert were lies. Aerial tests had been conducted in 1960 and 1961, and nomad populations had been evacuated. The test allowed France solely to test equipment and material, with inert material positioned at various distances from the ground zero, including armed vehicles and dressed mannequins.
Pakistan’s delegate, exercising his right of reply, referred to France’s statement of 14 October, which he said had referred to the unacceptability of Pakistan’s to France. Pakistan was obliged to take its position due to other countries, including France. It was precisely the policies of discrimination and double standards that were unacceptable.
The delegate of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, exercising his right of reply, said concerning the delegate of Japan’s statement of 14 October that Japan had no moral authority to talk about nuclear issues, as it was under the “nuclear umbrella” of the United States. Japan had signed a secret agreement with the United States, had its own weapons‑grade plutonium, and had succeeded in launching a rocket. Japan was also conducting joint research on delivery systems with the United States. Yet, Japan had asked for the denuclearization of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
He said his country had declared that it possessed a nuclear deterrent, as a result of being under a nuclear threat since 1957. The six‑party talks stipulated that all the parties were to honour their rights and obligations.
Japan’s delegate asked for the immediate abandonment of enriching uranium, but this was a right of all States, he said.
Iran’s delegate, exercising his right of reply, referring to France’s delegate’s right of reply, said Iran was enriching uranium for medical uses and had told the IAEA about those developments. Referring to a summary by non-governmental organizations, he noted that the delegations that had criticized Iran over so-called “proliferation concerns” either had nuclear weapons and active weapons development programmes, like France, in contravention of the NPT’s article VI, or they were under a nuclear umbrella, like Japan and the Republic of Korea. Or, even worse, they were host to tens of nuclear weapons, like the Netherlands, which had been in non-compliance with article II of the NPT for years.
The representative of Japan, also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, responded to the statement made by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s representative, saying his delegation wished to comment on two specific points. For many years, Japan had formally maintained a national policy of a free, non‑nuclear principle of not producing and not permitting nuclear weapons into its territory. As such, the statement by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was completely baseless and unacceptable. Second, Japan had been strictly in compliance with the NPT and the IAEA safeguards obligations as an NPT State party, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy had been confirmed by the IAEA in its annual conclusion that all nuclear material remained in peaceful activities. Moreover, beyond its legal obligations, as an international transparency measure, Japan had regularly reported the amount of plutonium holdings in according with guidelines of the managing of plutonium stocks.
The representative of Algeria said his delegation noted that in a number of statements, there had been clear references to Algeria and nuclear tests carried out in its territory during the colonial period. To that end, he wished to clarify that, in terms of that fact, nuclear tests had indeed taken place on Algerian soil. His country continued to cooperate with several countries to fully evaluate the impact of those tests, both to the environment and to the nuclear test sites. However, Algeria could not agree to be instrumentalized or have reference made to those sites for different purposes. Delegations that gave their own interpretation of facts should refrain from doing so on behalf of Algeria. Algeria had its own means to show and prove the impact of those tests on its own soil.
The representative of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said, concerning the remarks made by the Japanese delegate, that he wished to draw attention to the fact that, last year, the Japanese Foreign Minster had officially confirmed the existence of the “nuclear secret” between Japan and the United States that allowed warships carrying nuclear weapons to come into bases in Japan. Japan was introducing to its military the most modern additions for weapons of mass destruction, including fifth generation fighter jets.
Statements in Thematic Debate on Weapons of Mass Destruction, Introduction of Drafts
PAUL VAN DEN IJSSEL, Ambassador of Netherlands to the Conference on Disarmament, President‑designate of the Seventh Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention, said the review was a crucial opportunity to maintain and improve the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention). The State parties were perhaps in the best position in over a decade to agree on major new steps to improve the effectiveness and implementation of the Convention. The Preparatory Committee held in Geneva in April had been a promising start, and that had been matched by an impressive number of informal workshops and seminars set to begin exploring substantive issues of the Conference.
He said some State parties had already contributed working papers outlining specific proposals in several areas — such as cooperation and assistance, compliance and verification, and universalization, among others — and more were expected soon. All State parties were encouraged to study those proposals and discuss them with the originators, and with other delegations, because critical feedback could help refine and improve them and increase the chance of consensus. The Convention’s parties would be dealing with a wide range of challenging issues at the Review Conference, and would need help. He thus encouraged all those who had participated in the Convention’s network in the course of the intersessional work to join the Review Conference and add their voices, experience, and expertise to the deliberations.
He stressed that the Biological Weapons Convention was a fundamentally important tool in ensuring that disease was not used as a weapon and that advances in biological science and technology were used in support of peace, security, and development, rather than against them.
PAUL WILSON (Australia) said that countering the threat of chemical and biological weapons proliferation demanded undiminished commitment to strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention), United Nations Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) and related multilateral export control regimes. Australia was looking forward to a substantive review of the Biological Weapons Convention, including effective national implementation. Building a consensus would require all States parties from all regions to work together. That Convention could be stronger, in terms of both implementation and membership.
The Chemical Weapons Convention also played an integral role in the international security regime, he said. The fact that almost 62 per cent of declared chemical weapons stockpiles had been destroyed since the Treaty’s entry into force, demonstrated that it was working well. With the final deadline for destruction of all chemical weapon stockpiles approaching, in April 2012, he urged chemical weapons‑possessor States to make every effort to ensure completion of destruction by the earliest possible date.
Noting his delegation’s chairmanship of the so‑called “Australia Group” — a cooperative group aimed at strengthening global security by making it harder and more expensive for would‑be proliferators to obtain dual‑use materials, equipment and technology sought to develop chemical of biological weapons — he said, “none of us can afford to be complacent”. Globalization, rapid scientific developments, the availability of increasingly sophisticated production techniques, and new procurement channels “mean that we need to be constantly vigilant and proactive. It is our collective job to ensure that we address these new challenges in a cooperative manner”. He called on all United Nations Member States to ensure that they had in place the necessary measures to avoid being “unwitting agents of proliferation” through direct sourcing of weapons of mass destruction related goods or through transit, transhipment and brokering activity, he said.
LAURA E. KENNEDY, Ambassador of United States to Conference on Disarmament said more needed to be done to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of non‑State actors. Some key opportunities to work towards the spread of chemical and biological materials included strengthening existing instruments. The United States stood behind the goal of the complete verifiable destruction of chemical weapons. Her country had destroyed 89 per cent of its chemical weapons stockpile and was committed to the complete elimination of those stockpiles worldwide.
She said that the Biological Weapons Convention was an important part of the effort to ban a whole class of weapons. To remain effective, it must continue to adapt to the widening range of global threats. Nations around the world had made strides. That Convention remained relevant and important, but there was more to be done. Its Seventh Review Conference would soon meet to set a path for the future, and efforts should include improving confidence‑building and transparency measures. Threats must be addressed, but not to the extent that it affected legitimate scientific advances. She emphasized that while the United States had ideas for the Review Conference, she would consult with colleagues to understand other States’ concerns. The Convention lagged in membership behind the NPT and other non‑proliferation instruments, and she urged others to join it and to commit to deep participation in its obligations.
VAIDOTAS VERBA, Ambassador of Lithuania to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, said that weapons of mass destruction was a major threat to international peace and security, and the risk that terrorists might acquire chemical or biological weapons aggravated the problem of “WMD” proliferation. It was crucial for the United Nations to play an active role in enhancing international cooperation in that very important field.
He said his country fully supported the comprehensive implementation of Security Council resolutions 1540 (2004) and 1977 (2011), which were cornerstones to prevent and counter weapons of mass destruction proliferation and terrorism. Lithuania had implemented all the relevant provisions of the resolution 1540 and urged all States to meet their obligations. His country would participate in the forthcoming Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention review and hoped to strengthen the Convention and its implementation during the next intersessional period.
There was a widely recognized need to build an increased role for the OPCW as a platform of cooperation and prevention, preparedness and response against misuse of toxic chemicals. The OPCW should focus on various priorities, including achieving global chemical disarmament, ensuring non‑proliferation of chemical weapons, and building effective solutions in preparedness and response against threat or the use of those weapons and toxic chemicals. It was also necessary for the Convention to recognize the importance of sea‑dumped chemical weapons. Although the treaty did not cover the chemical weapons dumped in the sea before 1985, the OPCW should offer support to those Member States who sought voluntary cooperation on issues related to chemical weapons. He noted adoption last year in the Second Committee, under Lithuania’s initiative, of a resolution, entitled Cooperative measures to assess and increase awareness of environmental effects related to waste originating from chemical munitions dumped at sea. The text promoted cooperation in awareness‑raising on that subject.
LESLIE GUMBI, Chief Director: United Nations (Political) Department of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa said that long after the Chemical Weapons Convention entered force, a significant number of States had not implemented national measures as they were obliged to do, and there had also been reports of the weaponization of tear gas, which was prohibited by the Convention. Those reports did not paint a picture of a chemical weapons regime functioning as it was intended. That also meant that the international community should not respond as if it was merely “business as usual”. Similarly, the Biological Weapons Convention could only be effective if all its provisions were respected and complied with.
Concerning the OPCW, he welcomed the report of the advisory panel established by the Director General to develop recommendations for the organisation’s future priorities, but strongly cautioned against diversion of attention against the key debate of meeting the extended deadline of 2012 for the destruction of chemical weapons. That process was expected to continue.
As for the upcoming Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention, the current process had achieved its purpose, but going forward, the instrument should be adapted to accommodate future developments. That required that the meeting of State parties be given decision‑making powers, clearly mandated by the Review Conference. The effective and positive process developed during the last 10 years could still be put to good use, particularly during the experts’ meeting.
With regard to cooperation and assistance, he said his delegation supported the call by the Non‑Aligned Movement for a cooperation mechanism, which should be developed at the Seventh Review Conference. He agreed with the general consensus that the Implementation Support Unit had done invaluable work over the last five years. It was imperative that the common goal of eliminating the threat posed by biological weapons was achieved. The Convention not only provided the means to strengthen security, but contained important technical cooperation and assistance provisions, enhancing the international community’s ability to combat the debilitating impact of such weapons on peoples and on the social and economic development of countries.
KNUT LANGELAND ( Norway) said the upcoming Biological Weapons Convention Review Conference needed to build on the current momentum and find ways to further strengthen the implementation the treaty, which had helped to set a constructive tone in arms diplomacy. The work programme approved in 2006 was useful, as it showed it was possible to put aside past differences and focus on areas where States parties could unite in a constructive way.
He said the international community should continue to explore innovative ways to strengthen the biological weapons regime, for which many topics needed to be deliberated and agreed in December. A new intercessional programme of work could address existing and emerging challenges, as well as make greater efforts to universalize the Convention, and refine confidence‑building measures to better reflect current needs. It was also important to take a closer look at how to ensure that the Convention kept pace with the rapid developments in science and technology. An important item on the upcoming agenda would be to ensure better cooperation through the continued implementation of article 10. He highlighted the importance of maintaining a strong Implementation Support Unit, as that had proved so valuable for the health of the Convention.
Regarding the Chemical Weapons Convention, he said that since its entry into force, it had proven to be a successful multilateral tool. Still, it was important to recognize that more efforts must be made to ensure that it met its full potential, as the deadline for the completion of the elimination of the stockpiles was only a few months away. States with stockpiles needed to do their utmost in that respect. Verification was one of the comparable advantages of the Convention, and all State parties must submit and complete accurate declarations.
On the prevention of an arms race in outer space, he said there was now a window of opportunity in which to deal with the agenda in a preventative manner. If it was not dealt with soon, the international community would be confronted with an increasing number of countries taking “militarizing measures” in outer space. The international community had the responsibility to do all it could to avoid escalating such a situation, and he thus supported resolutions calling for action and was grateful for the work carried out by the European Union on the draft code of conduct for outer space activities.
IGOR UGORICH, Deputy Head of International Security and Arms Control of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, introduced a draft resolution on Prohibition of the development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons: report of the Conference on Disarmament (document A/C.1/66/L.24).
He said that the purpose of the draft, having first gone before the General Assembly in 1996, was to establish an agreed international procedure to monitor the development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction by the Conference on Disarmament and provide recommendations on undertaking specific negotiations on identified types of such weapons. The draft neither hampered research and development programmes nor overburdened the existing disarmament machinery. It specifically noted that the Conference on Disarmament should keep the issue under review without prejudice to further overview of its agenda.
“Preventive measures are the best way of dealing with potential threats to international peace and security,” he said. The “nature and boldness of these preventive measures, however, depend on the political will of States. Lack of proven evidence of the existence or development of specific types of new weapons of mass destruction cannot serve as an excuse for losing sight of this important issue.”
JO ADAMSON, Ambassador of the United Kingdom to the Conference on Disarmament said that three international agreements were key in the efforts to reduce the threat from chemical and biological weapons, including the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the 1925 Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare). Welcoming the accession of Mozambique to the Biological Weapons Convention, he called upon States that had not yet acceded to do so promptly and those States that had made reservations upon acceding to the 1925 Geneva Protocol to withdraw them without delay. As a depositary of the Biological Weapons Convention, the United Kingdom had been closely working with partners in preparation for the Seventh Review Conference in December, when State Parties would have to take important decisions to strengthen the Convention. In particular, his country hoped that an agreement could be reached on a new substantive intersessional work programme; renewal of the mandate of the Implementation Support Unit and a dual‑track approach to confidence‑building.
Noting that the Conventional Weapons Convention was the first international treaty to ban verifiably an entire category of weapons of mass destruction, he said that the possessor States shared the general recognition that they had an obligation to continue to destroy their remaining chemical weapons stockpiles until they had completed the task. The United Kingdom regretted that both the main possessor States were unable to meet the final extended deadline of 29 April 2012, but was reassured that both had expressed the intent and will to complete destruction in the shortest time possible. He encouraged the new Government in Libya to resume destruction of remaining stockpiles as soon as possible and the Government of Iraq to pursue its efforts to develop plans for destroying its residual chemical weapons. The United Kingdom also recognized the need for timely destruction of Japanese abandoned chemical weapons in China.
The United Kingdom continued to fully support the implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), as one of the most important counter‑proliferation and counter‑terrorism security instruments, he said. Council resolution 1977 (2011) had underlined its importance. His country had provided assistance relevant to the implementation of resolution 1540 to States that had requested it through a range of international initiatives and in coordination with other partners. It welcomed the contributions of members of the G8 Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, supported the work of the Missile Technology Control Regime, and subscribed to the Hague Code of Conduct against ballistic missile proliferation. He concluded that rules alone were not sufficient to tackle proliferation; individual actions and cooperation between States would ultimately stop the illegal trafficking of dangerous materials.
MARIA CARIDAD BALAGUER ( Cuba) said the existence of weapons of mass destruction continued to threaten international peace and security. She called for disarmament, including the prohibition of those weapons, saying efforts should also be directed towards, not only their elimination, but also the prevention of new mass destruction weapons in all their forms. Cuba did not have nor did it ever intend to have those weapons. As a State party to international legal instruments prohibiting them, Cuba reiterated its support to the relevant Conventions. In the framework of the Chemical Weapons Convention, Cuba worked towards balancing the treaty’s two basic pillars: disarmament and assistance and international cooperation.
She said her country also supported all action directed towards achieving universal implementation of the Convention. The complete destruction of chemical weapons within the provided timeline was the backbone and the responsibility of the Convention. Since large stockpiles had still not been destroyed, and the destruction of some old and abandoned chemical weapons had not yet begun, she reiterated concern at the slow pace of the destruction. The final deadline was in 2012, and the last of the remaining stockpiles of chemical weapons, as well as old and abandoned chemical weapons, was a main priority of the Convention’s secretariat. The OPCW had a major role to play, and for that reason, Cuba, together with other members of the Non‑Aligned Movement, called for full implementation of the Convention’s article 11 and would promote specific actions towards that end. The Convention’s objectives could be better achieved through multilateral negotiations and non‑discriminatory agreements.
She reiterated unwavering support for the Biological Weapons Convention, and said the possibility of any use of those weapons should be completely excluded. The only way of strengthening and fully perfecting the Convention was through the adoption of a legally binding protocol, which would be effective to prevent the production, storage, transfer and use of biological weapons. She shared the international concern of the risk of terrorist groups acquiring mass destruction weapons, and said that if the international community truly wished to fight their use, it should work to eliminate all of them.
WANG QUN, Ambassador for Disarmament Affairs of China, said that Japan had abandoned chemical weapons on China’s territory, and whether those weapons would be destroyed within the deadline prescribed by the Chemical Weapons Convention depended on the Convention’s “core object and credibility”. Compared to existing stockpiles, Japan’s abandoned chemical weapons posed a more serious threat, and their destruction should demand greater urgency. In that regard, Japan had admitted that it was unable to complete its obligations within the deadline. China, as the victim, was seriously concerned that its people, land and environment would be subjected to the threat of those weapons for an even longer period of time. However, several rounds of bilateral consultations with Japan had achieved some progress. China urged Japan to take the same pragmatic and constructive attitude and show good faith and cooperation by establishing without delay destruction plans in compliance with the requirements of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
He said that the Biological Weapons Convention was well implemented in general, and had become more universal in its membership. The Implementation Support Unit was operating smoothly and the intersessional process was going well. State parties were deepening and broadening the Convention’s implementation, which served as proactive exploration for pushing forward the multilateral biological disarmament process under the new circumstances. Still, the effectiveness of the Convention should be strengthened as the non‑traditional security threats, such as bio‑terrorism, bio‑safety and bio‑security, and the spread of infectious diseases were increasingly prominent.
HAMID AL‑BAYATI ( Iraq) said that his Government had been committed, since the fall of the former regime in 2003, to an open policy towards the international community in implementing the prohibition of the production and development of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and their delivery methods. Iraq was also dedicated to building trust and transparency in its dealings with the international community.
He added that on 12 December 2009, Iraq had acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Immediately thereafter, it had obtained membership in the OPCW, from 2010 until 2012. Iraq had accelerated the preparation of the plan to destroy remnants of the former chemical programme and had submitted primary presentation to the OPCW in that regard. The advisory committee in charge of decommissioning the storage facilities at the Al Muthana facility had held regular meetings chaired by the Minister of Science and Technology and funds had been approved for the project. The Iraqi Government had invited OPCW to conduct an inspection visit, and the first had been conducted from 1 to 5 May. Iraq had also adopted a number of control procedures on the importation of dual‑use materials, in accordance with Iraq’s obligations to the related Security Council resolutions.
IMELDA SMOLCIC (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), called upon States that had not acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention to do so promptly. She was concerned about the possibility of any State party not complying with the deadline of April 2012 for the destruction of their chemical arsenals. MERCOSUR believed that the provisions of the Convention should be applied so as to avoid hampering the economic or technological development of the States parties and international cooperation in the field of chemical activities for purposes not prohibited under the Convention. The commitment undertaken by the MERCOSUR countries to make the Americas a region free of biological and chemical weapons was reflected in the Declaration on Security of the Americas, signed in 2003, as well as resolution 2107, of 2005, adopted by the General Assembly of the Organization of American States.
She added that MERCOSUR shared, with many other States, the idea of designing and implementing additional measures to ensure effective enforcement of the banning, even if that meant a challenge to the uniqueness of biological weapons. Concerned about the status of the Biological Weapons Convention, MERCOSUR welcomed the holding of the “Regional Workshop for Latin America and the Caribbean on the Seventh Review Conference and the National Implementation of the Convention on Biological Weapons”, in Lima, Peru, to be held from 9 to 11 November. That would provide the States of the region an opportunity to exchange views and strengthen capacities for the implementation of the Convention at the national and regional levels. She concluded that national efforts were essential to the implementation of the Convention and reiterated MERCOSUR’s support for the Implementation Support Unit.
VICTORIA GONZÁLEZ ROMÁN ( Spain ) said that weapons of mass destruction posed a serious threat to international peace and security, and she called for the full universalization of the various Conventions, including the Chemical and Biological Weapons Convention. The Seventh Review Conference of the latter Convention, to take place in December, in Geneva, was an excellent opportunity to design an ambitious intercessional programme to ensure the strengthening of the Convention in years to come. It was also necessary to strengthen confidence‑building measures, which was its basic tenant. She trusted that in the near future, necessary steps would be taken to give the Convention a verification mechanism.
Regarding the Chemical Weapons Convention, she said that was another multilateral achievement in the area of disarmament, as the first international treaty banning an entire category of weapons, establishing verification mechanisms, and garnering broad adherence. Chemical weapons‑possessor States had already completed destruction of their arsenals, and Spain was pleased at that. The deadline was set for 29 April, and was drawing ever closer. It was of the greatest importance, therefore, that all chemical‑weapon States were aware of their obligations and acted accordingly. Destruction of those weapons needed to be supported by the provision to prevent the manufacture of new such weapons, and she acknowledged the crucial continuous work undertaken by the OPCW.
WITOLD SOBKOW ( Poland ) said that work on the draft resolution on the Chemical Weapons Convention had included, over the years, concrete input from Poland on prevention of those weapons. By adopting the resolution by consensus every year, the United Nations had expressed unequivocal support for the prohibition of chemical weapons. He considered the text this year to be well balanced, as in the past, and so his delegation had not introduced any changes to it. There had been several proposals for changes, but they did not gain consensus. Unanimity was critical to provide the continued unequivocal support to meet future challenges.
Indeed, as he submitted the draft (document A/C.1/66/L.19) he said, broad support and willingness to join the consensus on the proposed text was vital, and consultations had confirmed the existence of broad political support for the implementation of the Convention in its entirety. The draft resolution presented today was an expression of that support, and Poland continued to serve as the sole sponsor of the text. He asked for its approval without a vote.
Returning to the thematic debate on nuclear weapons, GIOVANNI MANFREDI, Ambassador of Italy to the Conference on Disarmament, said a fissile material cut‑off treaty’s main task would be to “choke off” the supply of the basic and indispensable raw material of the nuclear deterrent, weapon‑grade materials and to avoid that they fall into the wrong hands. “We will never be able to achieve it by simply wishing it,” he said. “It won’t suddenly appear out of the Geneva council chamber one Tuesday morning. We will obtain a world free of these weapons step by step, closing down the loopholes that still make them desirable. One step was the NPT, the next was the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). We can no longer test then; we can no longer give them to others and are duty‑bound to reduce them. With a FMCT [fissile material cut-off treaty], we will no longer have the essential ingredient to build them.”
He said, however, that one of the thorniest problems with those negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament would be how to handle the question of existing stocks of fissile material. The treaty could simply ignore the issues and provide for the cessation of all production from an agreed date. That would be the simplest way forward, but that would deny such a treaty a large part of its disarmament effect. Or, the treaty could contain provisions on stocks, ranging from a simple declaration of their size and composition to much more stringent rules. “But the inescapable fact remains that we will never know what it will contain if we don’t first start negotiating,” he said. “The problem of stocks is typical of those questions that in our line of work can’t be answered with glib or ambiguous formulas, but need complicated and lengthy bargaining sessions before reaching a compromise, exactly what our government pay us for.”
The First Committee was not the place to bring up the intricacies of such a treaty, he said. “For a world free of nuclear weapons, we need to adopt a ‘FMCT’, the sooner the better,” he said. “The draft resolution presented by Canada appears to be a promising way forward.”
During the thematic debate on weapons of mass destruction, SANTOSH CHOWDHARY, Member of Parliament of India, said the Biological Weapons Convention was the first disarmament instrument that banned an entire category of mass destruction weapons, and his country fully supported the initiatives to strengthen the instrument. The Chemical Weapons Convention was also a unique treaty providing for a ban on another such category of those weapons. India had completed the destruction of all its chemical weapons stockpiles. While recognizing the disarmament and non‑proliferation aspects of both those Conventions, “we must not lose sight of the promotional aspects of both these Conventions”, she said, adding, “the economic and technological development of developing countries through international cooperation is fundamental to the achievement of the object and purpose of these Conventions.”
She said that the risk of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists presented a grave security challenge to the international community. India was committed to supporting international efforts to prevent non‑State actors and terrorists from acquiring those weapons and their means of delivery. For its part, India had a well‑established and effective export control system and a domestic law in that regard. India then introduced a draft resolution on measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction (document A/C.1/66/L.48), which gave expression to the concerns of the international community and was a clear reaffirmation of Member States to take measures in that area. The draft underlined that the international response to the threat needed to be national as well as multilateral and global.
CHUL MIN PARK ( Republic of Korea) said the risk that terrorists could acquire weapons of mass destruction represented an emerging threat. A multifaceted approach was needed. The last Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention was an opportunity to demonstrate the will of States parties. The Convention faced a new opportunity to accelerate towards further progress at the coming review. He also strongly supported continuation of the intersessional process.
He said that the Chemical Weapons Convention had resulted in the destruction of nearly 80 per cent of declared chemical weapons stockpiles by the Convention’s 2012 deadline. He called on all States to accede to the Convention and for States parties to implement their obligations and duties. Regarding nuclear enrichment reports on the enrichment activities in the Republic of Korea, mentioned last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had reported that there was no indication of questionable nuclear materials or activities in the country, which was responsible, he concluded.
HUSSEIN HIRJI ( Canada) said that advancements in science and technology since the adoption of the Biological Weapons Convention in 1972 had increased the danger of those weapons. It was the responsibility of Member States to take the threat of bioterrorism seriously. Canada believed that the Implementation Support Unit was one of the Sixth Review Conference’s “great success stories” and it must be renewed for the period 2012‑2016 so that it could continue to support the implementation of the Convention.
He added that although confidence‑building measures were essential to demonstrate compliance with the Convention’s obligations, numerous weaknesses in the system needed to be addressed. Numerous weaknesses in the current system of compliance needed to be addressed, including increased participation, updating the content of the confidence‑building measures forms, and improving how those forms were submitted. Also, while the intersessional meetings had been useful, it was important to grant the Meeting of States parties the power to take decisions and create standing working groups to consider key themes on a continuous basis.
The Review Conference should address the issues of compliance and implementation, he urged, including the improvement of confidence in compliance. While Canada supported its American colleagues that a legally binding verification protocol would not be favourable, it believed that further arrangements to improve transparency in compliance would be useful. International cooperation had been discussed extensively for the past two years, and he highlighted Canada’s contributions to some 61 such projects over the past five years. Those included projects in areas of improving disease surveillance capacity, training, and biosafety and biosecurity, through mechanisms including the Global Partnership Programme. Canada welcomed Mozambique’s accession to the treaty in March, and encouraged non‑members to ratify or accede to it as soon as possible.
ALEXANDRE FASEL, Ambassador of Switzerland to the Conference on Disarmament said that as the April 2012 deadline approached for the destruction of all chemical weapons stockpiles, there was clear consensus among States parties to that Convention that destruction of all stockpiles remained the highest priority. Two States parties still possessing stockpiles were not in a position to meet that deadline. His country welcomed progress being made in the OPCW consultation process on agreeing to a consensual approach to that issue. It was crucial that the Convention remained strong and credible, he said.
Recently, he recalled the Advisory Panel on Future Priorities of the OPCW highlighted its report, which provided much “food for thought” at a timely moment. After the completion of destruction activities, the global focus would shift from chemical weapons disarmament to prevention of production, transfer and acquisition of chemical weapons. “We have to prepare the OPCW for a transition to an agency that will have as its main task to ensure that the threat of use and the use of toxic chemicals as a means of warfare will never reappear,” he said. “Taking into account the rapid advances of science and technology was key to ensuring the continuing relevance of the CWC [Chemical Weapons Convention] as a security regime. These advances may create opportunities for many beneficial applications. At the same time, they may also pose challenges to the way in which the Convention is being implemented. One pertinent example lies in the convergence between biology and chemistry. Within the framework of the OPCW, a comprehensive and broad debate on incapacitating agents and their status under the Convention would be important.”
Also vital, he stressed, was that the Biological Weapons Convention did not lose touch with the rapid developments of biological sciences. To that end, States parties should consider conducting more regular and systematic reviews of scientific and technological developments. The current five‑yearly rhythm was clearly insufficient. The potential harmful misuse of biotechnology due to its dual‑use nature was another concern. Switzerland, together with Australia, Japan and Sweden, had put forward a paper at the Convention’s Preparatory Committee in April, proposing that awareness‑raising among life scientists on potential dual‑use research should become part of the Convention’s implementation process. “Awareness and responsibility among life scientists can effectively help to impede any creation of biological weapons,” he said. Confidence‑building measures were also important, as was the renewal and strengthening of the Convention’s Implementation Support Unit’s mandate.
VICTOR VASILIEV ( Russian Federation) said his delegation highly valued the efforts of Hungary and Poland to present draft resolutions in support of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions, as those drafts were balanced and duly reflected the state of affairs in terms of implementation of those Conventions. He supported those texts in the form in which they had been presented by the sponsors, and trusted that in the current session, corresponding resolutions would be approved by the Member States. The upcoming seventh review of the Biological Weapons Convention in December was one of the most important stages of the Convention’s implementation. The main goal was to enhance the effect of the Conference, and his delegation believed in the creation of legally binding verification mechanisms. Resumption of those negotiations, though unlikely in the foreseeable future, did not mean the parties should avoid the theme. The Russian Federation was doing its utmost to ensure a successful Review Conference.
He said that the Chemical Weapons Convention was one of the most successful multilateral mechanisms in the sphere of disarmament and non‑proliferation. As of September 2011, more than 21,000 tons of toxic substances had been destroyed — or, around 53 per cent of the overall stockpiles of chemical weapons. In terms of the possible failure of the Russian Federation and the United States to meet the deadline for the elimination of chemical weapons by April 2012, he saw the issue as being purely technical in nature and linked to environmental, financial and technological difficulties. Any excessive politicization of the issue could have a negative impact. As the destruction of chemical weapons progressed, the issue of the non‑proliferation of those weapons became increasingly relevant, and he called on all State parties to fully honour the provisions of the Convention concerning the creation of national bodies and national legislation.
ERIC DANON, Ambassador of France to the Conference on Disarmament said that weapons of mass destruction posed a threat that the international community could not afford to address as a secondary issue. Additionally, it had several specialized instruments to deal with those weapons. As a depository State of the 1995 Geneva Protocol, France recalled its commitment to that instrument, which helped to fill the existing gaps in the universalization of the broad regimes concerning those types of weapons. He called on all States that had not yet ratified the Protocols to do so without delay. The deployment of such weapons should not go unpunished.
He said that 2011 would be another Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention, which was of key importance to the international community. Biological weapons could not be held or maintained for any reason whatsoever. He appealed to all member States that had not yet done so to sign and ratify that treaty. He supported the strengthening of the full array of instruments and existing mechanisms in order to ensure its full implementation. Indeed, the Convention was a keystone in the international system to combat mass destruction weapons and must remain so. State parties must ensure that the Convention became the centrepiece in a global system to combat biological weapons. Biological security and safety lay at the heart of France’s concerns in the context of December’s Review Conference.
The Chemical Weapons Convention was a central pillar in the efforts to combat weapons of mass destruction. The Treaty must be fully implemented in order to safeguard its relevance. It was a singular text in the disarmament field, as it called for the total eradication of an entire category of mass destruction weapons. A verification system that allowed for robust action in the field of non‑proliferation, the Convention’s regime covered 90 percent of the global chemical weapons industry. All in all, it was necessary to step up efforts to strengthen the effectiveness of multilateral arrangements. He supported the efforts deployed for the universalization of The Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCOC), urging that it be rendered more efficient and effective. In that, France would continue to raise the international community’s awareness.
Mr. NAJAFI, Director for Disarmament and International Security, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran, said his country had been the victim of chemical weapons from 1980 to 1988, when more than 100,000 Iranians were injured as a result of 30 attacks on cities and villages. During that war, in two separate bombings, armed forces had released mustard gas on civilians. Countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, had been involved in supplying Saddam Hussein with those weapons. Among them, France had supplied Saddam with, among other things, war planes and missiles. A French Mirage F1 was used to launch a missile that had killed 40 Americans. While Saddam and some of his partners, as perpetrators of such crimes, had been punished, there were still the matter of those who had supplied him with those weapons.
He said that the mere existence of chemical weapons threatened the international community and the integrity of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Unless possessor States complied, the Convention’s image would be tarnished.
After nearly four decades, the universality of the Biological Weapons Convention had yet to be realized. To ensure its universality, the upcoming Review Conference issues, such as technology transfer, should be addressed. Strengthening the Convention should be approached in a multilateral manner. The promotion of international cooperation should also be addressed. A total ban on biological weapons should be supported. He called on those States that maintained reservations to the 1925 Geneva Protocols to accede to them.
Thematic Debate on Disarmament Aspects of Outer Space, Draft Introductions
CLAIRE ELIAS ( Australia) said that the world was increasingly dependent on space for communications, navigation, climate monitoring, electronic commerce, and a myriad of other services now necessary for daily life. The Australian Government was currently preparing a comprehensive National Space Policy to chart the way forward in today’s increasingly important domain. The country strongly supported the development of a rules‑based approach to managing the space domain and was committed to contributing to the development of appropriate international norms for behaviour in outer space.
She said her country was seriously concerned about the problem of long‑lived orbiting space debris. “We consider the most pressing task for the international community is to prevent actions which increase the already serious levels of debris threatening the safety of satellites. The inappropriate use of weapons to destroy satellites can create enormous volumes of long‑lived orbiting space debris,” she said. “Unless we can find effective means to prevent such actions, we risk losing the benefits of space for all.”
Australia welcomed the decision of the General Assembly to establish in 2012 a Group of Government Experts on space transparency and confidence‑building measures under resolution, and it stood ready to actively contribute to that important work, she said. Australia also was increasingly active in the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS). It welcomed the establishment of the Working Group on the Long‑Term Sustainability of Outer Space. Australia was also honoured to have served as the co‑chair of the Expert Group on Regulatory Regimes and was a member of the Expert Group on Space Debris and Space Situational Awareness. Complementarity of effort in COPUOS, First Committee and in the Conference on Disarmament remained vital.
Australia also welcomed constructive contributions to space security being made outside the United Nations context, specifically the proposal put forward by the European Union to develop an international code of conduct for outer space activities. That kind of initiative offered a valuable pathway to developing further international norms on space behaviour. As space‑based systems increasingly became critical infrastructure for nations and critical enablers for the international economy and for development, the security of space became even more important. Australia was committed to play its part in developing practical and appropriate measures to protect space for all.
DUMITRU-DORIN PRUNARIU (Romania) said that outer space itself and the growing activities in that realm were of crucial importance. Notwithstanding significant milestones, Romania was now a space‑faring nation. Its membership in the European Space Agency would contribute to the development of a higher level of space applications in the fields of disaster management, agriculture, medicine, and others. The work of the Romanian Space Agency was also important, and he described plans for the Space Science Institute’s participation in the planning of a space mission this month, selected by the European Space Agency to be part of the Cosmic Vision program. Romania was hosting the chairmanship of the United Nations Outer Space Committee this year, and had also been one of the founders of that body 50 years ago. Between 2004 and 2006, Romania had chaired its Scientific and Technical Subcommittee.
He said his country followed with great interest the multilateral debates on the further strengthening of the peaceful uses of outer space. He reaffirmed interest in engaging in real debate on outer space issues in the context of the Conference on Disarmament to prevent an outer space arms race, and he called for the resumption of the Conference’s substantive activities, with negotiations of a fissile material cut‑off treaty. Romania had been a co‑sponsor on the resolution on transparency and confidence‑building measures on outer space activities, and looked forward to the establishment next year of a group of governmental experts to conduct a study on those issues.
Ms. KENNEDY (United States) said that, today, space systems touched nearly all aspects of daily life and were vital to enhancing national security, foreign policy, and global economic interests, as well as expanding scientific knowledge. Space exploration had been characterized for years as a race between two super‑Powers, but today, virtually all Governments, their citizens, and commercial sectors relied on space systems.
She said that all nations had the right to use and explore outer space, but with that right also came responsibility. The United States was committed to strengthening international collaboration to enhance safety, sustainability, stability, and security in space. The United States National Space Policy affirmed that the Government was open to considering space‑related arms control concepts and proposals, provided they met the rigorous criteria of equitability and effective verifiability, and enhanced the national security of the country and its allies. The United States could not support proposals for arms control that did not meet those criteria, nor could it support attempts to establish artificial linkages between such proposals and pragmatic and voluntary transparency and confidence‑building measures.
Measures that promoted transparency and confidence‑building, such as providing prior notifications of launches of space‑launch vehicles, establishing “best practices guidelines”, and warning of risks of collisions between space objects, enhanced stability, safety, and sustainability, and thus strengthened United States’ mutual security interests, she said. Efforts to adopt space transparency and confidence‑building measures should be built from “top down” negotiations, as well as upon “bottom up” initiatives developed by the Government and private‑sector satellite operators. The United States was taking a leadership role in the working group of the United Nations Outer Space Committee on long‑term sustainability, which was a key forum for the international development of “best practices guidelines” for orbital debris mitigation and space situational awareness — foundational to efforts to pursue transparency and confidence‑building measures to enhance stability and security.
She said her country was considering the European Union’s proposal for a politically binding, international code of conduct for outer space activities. A politically binding international code of conduct, signed by established and emerging space Powers, could help enumerate best practices, reduce the chances of collisions or other harmful interference with other nation’s activities, and strengthen stability in space. The United States was already following many of the practices laid out in the current draft of the code, such as warning of potential orbital collisions, notifying of high‑risk re‑entry hazards, publishing national security space policies and strategies, and making pre‑launch notification of civil and national security launches.
Her country, she said, hoped that the Group of Governmental Experts would serve as a constructive mechanism to examine voluntary and pragmatic transparency and confidence‑building measures in space that remedied today’s concrete problems and promoted both safe and responsible operations in space. The United States supported full consideration of all relevant proposals for such bilateral and multilateral measures, including those aimed at enhancing the transparency of national security space policies, strategies, activities and experiments; notifications regarding actual or potential environmental or unintentional manmade hazards to spaceflight safety; and enhanced procedures for international consultations regarding outer space operations in order to prevent incidents in outer space and to prevent or minimize the risks of potentially harmful interference.
ISRAIL TILEGEN ( Kazakhstan) endorsed the Russian and Chinese draft treaty to prevent the placement of weapons in outer space; however, due to a gridlock within the Conference on Disarmament and a number of political difficulties, the push towards a binding international treaty had not made much headway. Kazakhstan called for a combination of a strong unequivocal treaty reinforced by transparency and confidence‑building measures, as proposed by the second Russian and Chinese resolution, which established a Group of Governmental Experts on the subject, scheduled to meet next year. It was absolutely essential that the international community commit its best efforts to that initiative, which would establish norms of responsible behaviour in space.
Placing weapons in outer space, he said, would result in an advantage for the few, thus generating walls of distrust and suspicion, which were only now beginning to break down regarding nuclear and other weapons. What was more dangerous was that action by some countries with advanced space warfare technology could result in non‑proliferation by other countries also wanting to acquire it, as in the nuclear field. “Past experience has proven that such theatre of military action can be concealed,” he said, “thus becoming a major breach of international security.” More than 130 countries possessing or developing sophisticated space programmes were using space assets for their own defence. Member States must ensure that such dangerous weapons systems did not undermine the existing structure of agreements on arms limitation, particularly in the nuclear missile sphere.
Kazakhstan had no intention of developing space weapons, he said, adding that his country hosted the first and largest cosmodome on its territory, Baikonur, and was actively developing a national civilian space programme. “Our past and current lessons regarding difficulties in abolishing accumulated weapons of mass destruction, both nuclear and chemical, prove the need for preventing similar obstacles for eliminating space weapons and space debris in the future,” he said. Space must remain a sphere of cooperation, free from weapons, for humankind to use for its peaceful development and advancement, he concluded.
WANG QUN, Ambassador for Disarmament Affairs of China, said that outer space was the common wealth of mankind as the global public space. The permanent peace of outer space was correlated to all nations’ security, development and prosperity. With the growing reliance of mankind on outer space, the risk of weaponization of outer space and an arms race there were on the rise, and the uncertainties concerning outer space security were also accumulating. Safeguarding the peaceful use of outer space and preventing its weaponization were the common interest and obligations of all countries.
He said his country firmly opposed the weaponization of outer space and an arms race in outer space, and dedicated itself to efforts for maintaining peace and security in outer space. China had traditionally co‑sponsored the General Assembly resolution on prevention of an arms race in outer space, calling for negotiations on an international legally binding instrument to be negotiated at the Conference for Disarmament. China and Russia had also jointly submitted to the Conference the draft of “Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects”, in 2008. His country hoped the Conference would start substantive discussion, based on that text, on the effective way to deal with the issues, including verification.
China attached importance to outer space transparency and confidence‑building measures and was open to relevant initiatives and discussions, he said. Such appropriate and viable measures would enhance mutual trust, reduce accidental errors, regulate outer space activities and maintain outer space security, and were the useful supplements to an internationally binding instrument on the prevention of the weaponization of outer space and an arms race in outer space.
Transparency and confidence‑building measures and preventing an outer space arms race were two parallel processes, he explained. A set of the first arrangements could eventually be reached on the basis of consensus through broadly‑participated, open and equal international deliberations. However, such measures were not legally binding and could not substitute for the negotiation of a new legally binding instrument in outer space.
The Russian Federal and European Union supported the resolution on transparency and confidence‑building measures adopted by the General Assembly last year, which requested the Secretary‑General to establish a Group of Government Experts, he said, as that would provide a highly authoritative platform for the relevant international discussion. China looked forward to exchanging views with relevant parties in that framework. Noting the European Union’s efforts towards a draft code of conduct for outer space activities, he said that code, which focused on the peaceful use of outer space, would by no means dilute the process on prevention of an outer space arms race at the Conference on Disarmament. China hoped the European Union could deal with the concerns of all the relevant parties in an appropriate way, so as to conclude a code of conduct acceptable to all.
GIOVANNI MANFREDI, Ambassador of Italy to the Conference on Disarmament, said the prevention of an arms race in outer space and the need to prevent outer space from becoming an area of conflict were essential conditions for the strengthening of strategic stability. Italy was fully committed, together with its European Union partners, to strengthen the security of activities in outer space that contributed to the development and security of States.
He said his country had supported last year’s resolution on transparency and confidence‑building measures in outer space, and encouraged the establishment of those effective measures among those most active space‑faring nations. Together with its European Union partners, Italy also supported the elaboration of an international and voluntary set of guidelines — a tool that would strengthen safety, security and predictability of all space activities. To that end, the European Union had launched a proposal for an international code of conduct for outer space activities, based on principles of freedom for all to use outer space for peaceful purposes, preservation of the security and integrity of space objects in orbit, and due consideration for the legitimate security and defence needs of States. The purpose of that draft code was not to duplicate or compete with initiatives already dealing with the issues, but to serve as a transparency and confidence building measure.
VARUNI MUTHUKUMARANA ( Sri Lanka) introduced, on behalf of her country and Egypt, a draft resolution on prevention of an arms race in outer space (document A/C.1/66/L.14). The human race had long engaged in arms races in land, sea and air. Outer space must not be the next arena for an arms race. A series of grave consequences could arise due to the deployment of any weapon in outer space, which could seriously threaten the security of outer space assets and had the potential to harm the world’s biosphere. “It is much easier to prevent an arms race from taking place rather than controlling it or rolling it back once it has begun,” she said.
She said that space technologies were now used extensively for peaceful purposes, and it was the duty and responsibility of all States to ensure that the rapid advancements in those technologies were exploited for purposes beneficial for human life. The draft resolution emphasized the complementary nature of bilateral and multilateral efforts and stressed the importance of greater transparency in sharing information on all bilateral efforts in that field.
CHUL MIN PARK ( Republic of Korea) said over the past five decades, adventures into space had made unprecedented contributions to the well‑being of mankind, by furthering the progress of sustainable development. The international community would be able to achieve maximum synergy by sharing expertise and experience. Thus cooperation and dialogue should be strengthened in various forums, including through the COPUOS, the Conference on Disarmament, and the First and Fourth Committee’s of the United Nations, among others.
He said there seemed to be a growing consensus that the existing outer space framework remained desirable, and the major space‑faring countries had made constructive progress. He considered the discussion on the prevention of an arms race in outer space to be of great importance, as the implementation and universalization of the existing international regime, the development of transparency and confidence‑building measures, and the introduction of a legally binding instrument needed to be explored in a balanced way. He said the Republic of Korea actively supported the efforts to promote understanding of the existing international regime. Over the past fifty years, his country had sought ways to promote international adherence to agreements for space‑faring nations.
He further said that transparency and confidence‑building measures were of high importance when it came to promoting the peaceful uses of outer space. Considering the huge impact on the long‑term human activities in space, the need for international coordination remained urgent. In this respect, he supported resolution 65/68 and looked forward to actively participating in the work of the global experts in 2012‑2013.
ROXANE MILOT ( Canada) said the importance of space was growing every year, and with it, the urgent need to ensure secure and sustainable access for all. Services dependent on space‑based assets, such as communications, navigations and disaster response, among others, had become the indispensable utilities of many societies, as well as for international commerce and cooperation. The domain of space was still prohibitive to many, the technical and economic barriers which impeded many States’ access to it were already dropping. Today, more than 60 nations and commercial enterprises had deployed their assets in space, and a growing number, including Canada, now considered space assets to be part of their critical infrastructure.
She said that space debris represented a significant hazard, affecting both manned and unmanned spacecraft in orbit, and it was a worsening problem. While there had been no major debris‑causing incidents in the past year, the inventory of dangerous objects in orbit created by past events continued to grow. Canada encouraged both the development and implementation of debris mitigation standards, which some space‑faring nations had formulated, as well as efforts to share information regarding existing hazards. Those enhanced the situational awareness of all nations’ operations in space. In that regard, she welcomed the establishment of the Working Group on the Long‑Term Sustainability of Outer Space by the United Nations Outer Space Committee, and looked forward to its work, particularly its study of workable methods for dealing with space debris.
VICTOR VASILIEV ( Russian Federation) introduced, along with China, a draft decision on transparency and confidence‑building measures in outer space (document A/C.1/66/L.11). The draft would ask the Assembly to call upon the Secretary‑General to select a group of governmental experts. After a 20‑year hiatus, a group of governmental experts would be created to investigate a number of issues surrounding outer space. After all, over 60 States orbited their own satellites, while 130 United Nations Member States operated space programmes. It was hard to imagine life without satellite television or communications, he said.
However, he said, space debris, colliding satellites and the dangers of the weaponization of outer space were all new challenges. The international community had virtually reached consensus. More than 30 countries had tabled considerations to the Secretary‑General on their view of transparency and confidence‑building measures in outer space. Documents had been submitted, including by European Union countries, the Non‑Aligned Movement, United States, Canada, China, Russia and others. All those were elements of a productive group of governmental experts, he said.
Supporting the adoption of additional transparency and confidence‑building measures was another important step, he said. In 2008, together with China, Russia had brought before the Conference on Disarmament a draft treaty on preventing the placement of weapons in outer space. He hoped the Conference would promote and advance the aforementioned treaty.
REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO DUNLOP ( Brazil) said the placement of a weapon in outer space would have extremely serious consequences. It would deepen global insecurity and affect all countries — those that had and those that did not have technological capacity to launch orbital objects. Never before had the world depended so much on space‑based technologies, especially in areas such as information, communication, banking, transport and many others. An estimated 3,000 satellites were operational, providing vital services in an intricate web of information and communications. The interruption of such satellite services as a result of weapons in space would cause a major global collapse.
She said there was widespread recognition of the impending danger resulting from the insufficiency of the legal coverage to deal with the problem of weapons in space. It was in the best interest of the international community to start negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prevent the placement of any kind of weapon in outer space. The lack of consensus to move that item of the Conference on Disarmament agenda forward had stimulated delegations to put proposals on the table. One of those was on Transparency and Confidence‑Building Measures (TCBMs). Brazil took note of the General Assembly’s request of the Secretary‑General to establish a group of governmental experts to conduct a study, commencing in 2012, on outer space transparency and confidence‑building measures. While stressing the priority of negotiating a legally binding instrument on strengthening the international regime on space, Brazil recognized that global and inclusive transparency and confidence‑building measures could be important complementary measures.
However, she added, although such measures could be relevant in certain circumstances, they were not legally binding. Brazil understood that not having agreement on a treaty on preventing an outer space arms race might lead States to explore intermediate alternatives. Thus, efforts were required in the Conference on Disarmament to advance negotiations on a legal instrument. The proposal of a draft treaty in that regard, tabled in 2008 by Russia and China, was a contribution to that goal. It was still an outline, and further substance and more precise language would be needed. However, fruitful interaction among Member States of the Conference was already being held. Clearly, there was a need to establish a subsidiary body in the Conference to allow direct discussions on the issue.
KIM YONG JO (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said negative attempts by specific States for space militarization had been emerging as serious challenges threatening the peace and security of the world. Outer space was misused by certain countries for their strategic purposes, and a huge amount of financial resources had been invested towards that end. One clear example was the United States missile defence system “now in full swing”. In 2002, the United States had unilaterally withdrawn from the Anti‑Ballistic Missile Treaty in order to escape from legal constraint on the missile defence shield, but it was now “pushing ahead with the projects”.
On the other hand, he said, in 2008, Japan abrogated its domestic law on the prevention of space militarization, which had existed for over 40 years and had newly adopted a Basic Law on Space, paving the way for space militarization and actively collaborating with the United States in developing the missile defence shield. That system was aimed at securing “power supremacy by means of outer space, thus inciting another arms race there in space”. That situation necessitated the establishment of a new and multilateral legal system, as a matter of urgency, more effective for preventing space militarization.
In that context, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea supported the draft treaty for prevention of placement of arms in outer space, presented jointly by China and Russia at the Geneva Conference on Disarmament in 2008, and called on the First Committee to direct due attention to the negative elements that could give rise to a new arms race in outer space and to double its efforts to ban the militarization of space at an early date.
Mr. NAJAFI, Director for Disarmament and International Security, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran, said outer space was a common heritage that must be explored and utilized for the benefit of future generations. Satellite technologies provided valuable tools contributing to the development of all countries and regions of the world. Iran supported the principles of non‑ownership of outer space. While exploring space technologies should be available to all countries, Iran strongly opposed turning that technology into a monopoly in the hands of a few.
He said that his country, being under restrictions and deprived of sending its satellite into space, had an indigenously‑made telecommunications satellite that had been placed in low orbit. Iran had also gained experience to further explore and utilize space. France’s approach through a monopoly was wrong.
Iran was an active partner in the United Nations platform for space — the United Nations Platform for Space‑based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response(UN‑SPIDER), he said. As a disaster‑prone country, Iran had always supported UN‑SPIDER and was now a partner in that programme. Iran would also host a regional workshop on the use of space technology in health areas.
He was deeply concerned about advanced military technology threatening international peace and security. Iran shared the view that the prevention of an outer space arms race required greater urgency. Hosting a missile defence system would not add to the security of the host country or neighbours. It would only trigger an arms race.
Right of Reply
The representative of the United States, exercising her right of reply, commented on the Iranian delegate’s statement on the United States’ supply to Iraq of certain materials. She said her country’s actions were legal. Turning to the delegate’s comments on the United States’ destruction of its stockpile, she said that she had already discussed the extraordinary transparent stockpile destruction being undertaken by her country. She noted that allegations regarding weapons of mass destruction were “surreal” coming from a country that was not in compliance with the NPT and was the subject of six Security Council resolutions. Perhaps Iran might wish to discuss its own nuclear missile programme, she said.
The representative of the United Kingdom, exercising her right of reply, commented on Iran’s statement on the behaviour of several countries in Iraq. She said her country’s actions had been clarified by the Chemical Weapons Convention, concluding that the action the United Kingdom took in Iraq did not violate the treaty, she said.
Japan’s delegate, exercising his right of reply, commented on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s statement. Japan was only taking part in a space programme that was only for peaceful purposes.
Iran’s delegate, using his right of reply, reacted to the comments made concerning the chemical weapons in Iraq. The reason given for protecting the troops in Iraq was not a reason that would be in accordance with the provision of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Any such weapons found by a State party should be destroyed. Regarding references made to the Security Council resolutions, he had elaborated Iran’s position, stating that his country’s nuclear programme had always been peaceful.
The delegate of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, using his right of reply, said the Japanese delegate’s comments were “far from reality”. Japan had been one of the first countries to have launched satellites and now it went as far as to launch espionage satellites. It had “an eye over the Asia-Pacific” countries. In 1999, Japan had started underground joint research with the United States. They had “an eye over the sky and a missile defence system on the ground”. It gave rise to tensions in the region, he said.
Thematic Debate on Conventional Weapons, Introduction of Drafts
CLAUS WUNDERLICH, Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts on the continuing operation and further development of the United Nations Standardized Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditures, said there had been agreement among the experts on the continuing importance of the Standardized Instrument. The Group also had discussed the low reporting rate and inconsistent participation, and exchanged views on possible reasons for that. The Group had considered the existing standardized form and its simplified version and had agreed to preserve the Instrument’s basic structure. However, experts had found that certain modifications to both forms were needed to better accommodate differences in national accounting systems for military expenditures. The standardized and simplified forms should include the same basic elements to make sure that the same and total amount of military expenditures were concluded.
He said the Group further noted the important role that regional and superregional organizations had played in the exchange of information on military expenditures, and the fact that reporting to both the United Nations and regional instruments was mutually reinforcing. The Group also had noted the importance of leveraging existing resources of the United Nations disarmament machinery for promoting the Standardizing Instrument and of having high-level officials of the Secretariat actively disseminate information on the Instrument by highlighting its role and importance. The Group had agreed that, in order to ensure the continued relevance and effective operation of the Instrument, it would be helpful to periodically review its operation, with a view to better adapting it to new security challenges and developments.
The Group’s key recommendations, he said, including the modifications to the reporting system under the new name “United Nations report on Military Expenditures”, would facilitate broader participation in, and increased effectiveness of, the Instrument.
ROBERTO GARCIA MORITAN, Chair of the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, said that the positions of delegations and the suggestions made by them during the two Preparatory Committee sessions ranged from comprehensive views that insisted on the need for the scope of the treaty to include all kinds of conventional weapons, components, dual-use goods, future technological developments, munitions and ammunitions and explosives — to more selective and less comprehensive views, which included, for example, that small arms and light weapons should not be incorporated. There were also those who still had doubts about the inclusion of munitions and ammunitions.
He said there were also differences in delegations’ expectations. Some highlighted that, in addition to the criteria or parameters that were finally identified and agreed during the negotiations, it was also important that those criteria were not written in such a way that could give room for subjective interpretations. That, they said, would avoid the political or interested use of those parameters. From the intense exchange of views during the two sessions, it was clear that there was a wide variety of perspectives and priorities among delegations, including those who highlighted the importance of a robust, comprehensive and effective instrument with regard to its purpose and provisions, and those who still considered that it was not necessary to adopt a legally binding instrument. Nevertheless, the detailed consideration of all the elements had allowed for a better understanding of all the problems involved in the negotiation of the Treaty.
Overall, he said, the Preparatory Committee was doing a good job that would serve constructively to “shorten distances” when initiating the process of negotiation on an instrument during the 2012 conference. The progress made by the Committee had been possible thanks to the spirit of flexibility of all the delegations that had allowed for the provocative debate and had presented papers.
RODNEY CHARLES (Trinidad and Tobago), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), he said the interlinkages between the accessibility of illegal small arms and light weapons and the consequent increase in organized crime, as well as the illicit drug trade, money-laundering activities, and armed violence, were indisputable. The Community recognized that coordinated and concerted action was important if the international community was to win the fight against the illicit trade, which was cross-border in character. He welcomed the ongoing, direct engagement between the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and their joint determination to tackle issues of priority for the region.
He said effective laws and regulations were critical ingredients in the strategy to confront the menace posed by the illegal arms trade. Nevertheless, leaders recognized the importance of political commitment to the success of any scheme devised to deal with the issue. The CARICOM Declaration on Small Arms and Light Weapons had been adopted at the Thirty-Second Meeting of the Conference of the Heads of Government of Caribbean Community.
In addition, he said, CARICOM remained firm advocates of action at the hemispherical and global levels to assist in combating the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons. In that regard, he underscored the importance of the full implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects and its International Tracing Instrument. Those non-binding instruments were vital in assisting Member States in dealing with those types of illegal trade. In this time of global financial and economic uncertainly, many States were finding it difficult to mobilize adequate resources to address many issues, including the illegal trade in conventional weapons of all types. The international community was at a critical juncture in coordinating its response to that illicit trade, and he looked forward to an enhanced and revised Action Programme. CARICOM strongly believed that through continued negotiations in good faith and with willingness to compromise, those goals would be accomplished.
EDUARDO ULIBARRI ( Costa Rica) said that the virtually unfettered global proliferation of conventional weapons was an immediate and tragic reality. Those weapons, in their “daily practice of death”, were the true weapons of mass destruction. Like other Central American nations, Costa Rica was also caught among the irrepressible transcontinental flows of arms and drugs and firearms were responsible for an average of 70 per cent of all homicides in the region. That was not purely the consequence of the insufficient regulation of this lethal dynamic—social marginalization, as the lack of opportunities for a broad sector of youth, the growth of organized crime, and drug trafficking also contributed. Those systemic challenges called for broad and visionary solutions, among them, an effective control of the arms trade.
Costa Rica, he added, firmly believed that the arms trade treaty presented such a solution, by establishing shared international standards for the import, export, and transfer of conventional arms in order to close the existing gaps in arms control policies. As was noted by Costa Rica at the closing of the Preparatory Committee in July, the treaty was not only a goal in itself but also a means to an important end: to rectify the reality recognized in Resolution 61/89 that the “absence of common international standards on the import, export, and transfer of conventional arms is a contributory factor to conflict, the displacement of people, crime and terrorism, thereby undermining peace, reconciliation, safety, security, stability, and sustainable development”.
Those human security concerns, he said, called for a treaty that was “comprehensive in its scope and strong in its criteria” while building on respect for international humanitarian and human rights law, sustainable development and, above all, transparency. The human security objectives of such a treaty were fundamentally dependent on its being implementable and verifiable. He concluded that as armed violence continued to mount in Latin America and around the world, it was time to muster political will in support of an arms trade treaty.
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