Stockpiled Instruments of Modern Violence — Conventional Weapons — Focus of Debate in First Committee, as Delegates Rally Support around Key Draft Resolutions
Stockpiled Instruments of Modern Violence — Conventional Weapons — Focus of Debate in First Committee, as Delegates Rally Support around Key Draft Resolutions
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-sixth General Assembly
15th Meeting (AM)
Stockpiled Instruments of Modern Violence — Conventional Weapons — Focus of Debate
in First Committee, as Delegates Rally Support around Key Draft Resolutions
Texts Introduced on Illicit Small Arms Trade; Accumulation of Ammunition
Stockpiles; Transparency in Armaments; Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons
Broadening arms control, reducing surplus weapons stockpiles and increasing transparency over sales and transfers dominated debate in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today, as delegates sought to rally support around several draft resolutions aimed at staunching the flow of readily available, easy-to-use instruments of modern violence — conventional weapons.
Nine texts were tabled on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons; problems arising from the accumulation of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus; national legislation on transfer of arms, military equipment and dual-use goods and technology; Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects; objective information on military matters, including transparency of military expenditures; transparency in armaments; confidence-building measures in the regional and subregional context; regional disarmament; and conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels.
The 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons received a lot of attention, with the introduction by Sweden, together with Bulgaria, of a text underlining the instrument’s essential role in international law applicable to armed conflict. The draft, said the delegate, was also an expression of support for the treaty as an important international humanitarian law instrument.
“We need the [Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons] to be a dynamic instrument responding to urgent humanitarian challenges before us,” he said. With 114 States parties, the Convention — whose purpose, he said, was to ban the use of certain specific types of weapons that caused excessive injury or unnecessary suffering —still fell short of universal membership with 114 States parties.
Speakers suggested that the Convention’s Review Conference next month was an opportunity to conclude a binding protocol in the treaty’s framework on cluster munitions, which addressed all aspects, including use, transfer, stockpiling, and destruction. The representative of the Netherlands hoped negotiations would conclude on meaningful prohibitions and restrictions of those weapons in the context of the “CCW” family for those countries not yet in a position to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions, informally known as the “Oslo Convention”.
Norway’s delegate stressed, however, that any new protocol on cluster munitions in the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons “absolutely must provide an added humanitarian value”, for which States and significant humanitarian organizations could vouch. A new protocol must not be adopted on cluster munitions in that Convention that, as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had put it, might perpetuate rather than prevent the civilian suffering, he added.
Germany’s Ambassador warned that ammunition stockpiles could pose a risk to public safety, not to mention the risk of ammunition falling into criminal hands, and, with France, introduced a draft resolution on problems arising from the accumulation of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus (L.36). By the text, the General Assembly would appeal to all interested States to determine the size and nature of their surplus stockpiles of conventional ammunition, whether they represent a security risk, their means of destruction, if appropriate, and whether external assistance is needed to eliminate this risk. With Romania, the delegate introduced a draft text on reduction of military budgets: objective information on military matters, including transparency of military expenditures.
Tabling three draft resolutions — on regional disarmament, conventional arms control at regional and subregional levels, and confidence-building measures in the regional and subregional context — Pakistan’s Director of Disarmament in Ministry of Foreign Affairs drew attention to what he called “disturbing trends” of bloated military spending, the increasing sophistication of weapon technology and the fact that developing countries were the “favoured” destination of arms sales. That made it imperative to pursue conventional arms control at the lowest possible levels of armaments and military forces, he said.
Highlighting the issue of transparency and armaments, on behalf of “at least 75 co-sponsors”, the Ambassador of the Netherlands to the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament introduced the traditional text on the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, of the view that that promoting openness in military matters, and particularly, transparency in the transfer of armaments, would contribute to confidence and security. He also tabled a draft on national legislation on transfer of arms, military equipment and dual-use goods and technology
In the course of calling for support of a draft resolution on the 2001 Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, Japan’s representative announced the decision by his country to contribute approximately $300,000 through the United Nations Trust Fund for Global and Regional Disarmament Activities to the following three projects proposed by the Office for Disarmament Affairs: “Further Transparency in the Arms Trade”; “Promoting Synergy among Conventional Arms Information Platforms”; and “UN Safer Guard: Securing Ammunition From the Dual Dangers of Explosion and Diversion”.
The Sub-Secretary of Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico also spoke, and the Ambassadors of the United States and France, and the Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the Conference on Disarmament also delivered statements.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Bulgaria, Lithuania, South Africa, Philippines, Jamaica, Australia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, China, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Serbia, and Lesotho.
The First Committee will meet at 10 .m. on Wednesday, 19 October to continue its thematic debate on conventional weapons and to hear the introduction of related draft resolutions and decisions.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its thematic debate segment and hear the introduction of drafts on all disarmament and related international security agenda items, with a focus on its conventional weapons cluster. (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 submitted by Bulgaria and Sweden on the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons) (document A/C.1/66/L.17) would have the General Assembly call on all States that have not yet done so to take all measures to become parties, as soon as possible, to the Convention and the Protocols thereto, as amended, with a view to achieving the widest possible adherence to these instruments at an early date, and so as to ultimately achieve their universality.
Also by the draft, the Assembly would call on all States parties to the Convention that have not yet done so to express their consent to be bound by the Protocols to the Convention and the amendment extending the scope of the Convention and the Protocols thereto to include armed conflicts of a non-international character, and it would emphasize the importance of the universalization of the Protocol on Explosive Remnants of War (Protocol V).
The Assembly would welcome the commitment by States parties to address the humanitarian problems caused by certain specific types of munitions in all their aspects, including cluster munitions, with a view to minimizing their humanitarian impact. It would note that, in conformity with Article 8 of the Convention, conferences may be convened to examine amendments to the Convention or to any of the Protocols thereto, to examine additional protocols concerning other categories of conventional weapons not covered by existing Protocols or to review the scope and application of the Convention and the Protocols thereto and to examine any proposed amendments or additional protocols.
According to a draft resolution on regional disarmament, submitted by Pakistan (document A/C.1/66/L.26), the General Assembly, convinced that endeavours by countries to promote regional disarmament, taking into account the specific characteristics of each region and in accordance with the principle of undiminished security at the lowest level of armaments, call upon States to conclude agreements, wherever possible, for nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament and confidence-building measures at the regional and subregional levels.
The Assembly would affirm that global and regional approaches to disarmament complement each other and should, therefore, by pursued simultaneously to promote regional and international peace and security.
In a related provision, it would support and encourage efforts aimed at promoting confidence-building measures at the regional and subregional levels to ease regional tensions and to further disarmament, and stress that sustained efforts were needed, within the framework of the Conference on Disarmament and under the umbrella of the United Nations, to make progress on the entire range of disarmament issues.
The General Assembly, believing that an important objective of conventional arms control in regions of tension should be to prevent the possibility of military attack launched by surprise and to avoid aggression, would decide to give urgent consideration to the issues involved in conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels and request the Conference on Disarmament to consider the formulation of principles that can serve as a framework for regional agreements on conventional arms control, according to a draft resolution introduced by Pakistan on Conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels (document A/C.1/66/L.27).
Concerned that the continuation of disputes among States, particularly in the absence of an effective mechanism to resolve them through peaceful means, may contribute to the arms race and endanger the maintenance of international peace and security and the efforts of the international community to promote arms control and disarmament, a draft resolution submitted by Pakistan on confidence-building measures in the regional and subregional context (document A/C.1/66/L.28) would have the General Assembly emphasize that the objective of those measures should be to strengthen international peace and security, and to be consistent with the principle of undiminished security at the lowest level of armaments.
The Assembly would urge States to comply strictly with all bilateral, regional and international agreements, including arms control and disarmament agreements, to which they are party and call on them to refrain from the use or threat of use of force in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. It would encourage the promotion of bilateral and regional confidence-building measures, with the consent and participation of the parties concerned, to avoid conflict and prevent the unintended and accidental outbreak of hostilities.
A draft resolution sponsored by the Netherlands on transparency in armaments (document A/C.1/66/L.29) would have the General Assembly call upon Member States to provide the Secretary-General, by 31 May annually, with the requested data and information for the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, including nil reports if appropriate.
The Assembly would invite Member States, pending further development of the Register, to provide additional information on procurement through national production and military holdings and to make use of the “Remarks” column in the standardized reporting form to provide additional information, such as types or models. It would also invite them to provide additional information on transfers of small arms and light weapons on the basis of the optional standardized reporting form, as adopted by the 2006 group of governmental experts, or by any other methods they deem appropriate.
Further to the text, the Assembly would reaffirm its decision to keep the Register’s scope and participation under review. To that end, it would request Member States to provide the Secretary-General with their views on the Register’s continuing operation and further development and on transparency measures related to weapons of mass destruction. It would request the Secretary-General, with the assistance of a group of governmental experts, to be convened in 2012, within available resources, to prepare a report on the Register’s continuing operation and its further development. The Assembly would invite the Conference on Disarmament to continue its work in the field of transparency in armaments.
Recognizing that disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation are essential for the maintenance of international peace and security, a draft resolution on national legislation on transfer of arms, military equipment and dual-use goods and technology (document A/C.1/66/L.33), sponsored by the Netherlands, would have the General Assembly invite Member States that are in a position to do so, without prejudice to the provisions contained in the Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) of 28 April and subsequently relevant Security Council resolutions, to enact or improve national legislation, regulations and procedures to exercise effective control over the transfer of arms, military equipment and dual-use goods and technology, while ensuring that such legislation, regulations and procedures are consistent with the obligations of States parties under international treaties.
The Assembly would also encourage Member States to provide, on a voluntary basis, information to the Secretary-General on their national legislation, regulations and procedures on the transfer of arms, military equipment and dual-use goods and technology, as well as the changes therein, and request the Secretary-General to make that information available to Member States.
A draft resolution, sponsored by Germany and Romania, on objective information on military matters, including transparency of military expenditures (document A/C.1/66/L.35) would have the General Assembly, emphasizing the continuing importance of the Standardized Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditures under the current political and economic circumstances, would have the General Assembly call upon Member States, with a view to achieving the broadest possible participation, to provide the Secretary-General, by 30 April annually, with their military expenditures for the latest fiscal year for which data are available, using preferably, and to the extent possible, one of the reporting forms, including nil report if appropriate, on the basis of recommendations contained in paragraphs 68 to 71 of the 2011 report of the Secretary-General on the operation of the Standardized Instrument and Annex 2 thereto, or as appropriate, any other format developed in conjunction with similar reporting to other international or regional organizations.
Further to the text, the Assembly would endorse the report of the Secretary-General on the operation and further development of the Standardized Instrument, the recommendations contained in the consensus report of the 2010/2011 group of governmental experts and the new name of the instrument “United Nations Report on Military Expenditures”.
A resolution submitted by France and Germany entitled, “Problems arising from the accumulation of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus” (document A/C.1/66/L.36), would have the General Assembly encourage all interested States to assess, on a voluntary basis, whether, in conformity with their legitimate security needs, parts of their stockpiles of conventional ammunition should be considered to be in surplus, and recognizes that the security of such stockpiles must be taken into consideration and that appropriate controls, with regard to the security and safety of stockpiles of conventional ammunition, are indispensable at the national level in order to eliminate the risk of explosion, pollution or diversion.
In a related provision, the Assembly would appeal to all interested States to determine the size and nature of their surplus stockpiles of conventional ammunition, whether they represent a security risk, their means of destruction, if appropriate, and whether external assistance is needed to eliminate this risk. It would encourage Member States to examine the possibility of developing and implementing, within a national, regional or subregional framework, measures to address accordingly the illicit trafficking related to the accumulation of such stockpiles.
Emphasizing the importance of the continued and 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, a draft resolution sponsored by Japan on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects (document A/C.1/66/L.43), sponsored by Japan, would have the General Assembly underline the fact that the issue requires concerted efforts at the national, regional and international levels and that those weapons’ uncontrolled spread in many regions of the world has a wide range of humanitarian and socio-economic consequences and poses a serious threat to peace, reconciliation, safety, security, stability and sustainable development at the individual, local, national, regional and international levels.
The Assembly would recognize the urgent need to maintain and enhance national controls, in accordance with the Programme of Action, including their diversion to unauthorized recipients, taking into account, inter alia, their adverse humanitarian and socio-economic consequences on the affected States.
In related terms, the Assembly would endorse the report adopted at the open-ended meeting of governmental experts, held in New York in May; call upon all States to implement the International Tracing Instrument; decide that the preparatory committee for the Review Conference of the Programme of Action will be held in New York from 19 to 23 March 2012; and encourage States on a voluntary basis to submit national reports on their implementation of the Programme.
Thematic Debate, Introduction of Drafts on Conventional Weapons
GANCHO GANEV (Bulgaria), speaking in his capacity as the chairperson of the 2010 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the First Committee on CCW Universalization, said that over the past 12 months, much activity had taken place in support of the Convention’s universalization. He, along with Ambassador Peter Woolcott of Australia and Ambassador German Mundarain Hernandez of Venezuela, had written to the Foreign Ministers of all States that were not party to that Convention to urge them to join it. There also had been an increased focus on promoting the universalization of Protocol V on explosive remnants of war. Both Australia, as President of the Fourth Conference on Protocol V, and Belarus in its current role as President-designate of the Fifth Conference, had encouraged States to join the protocol, which established a clear rule that explosive remnants of war must be cleared once the fighting had ended. He added that a DVD produced by the “CCW Sponsorship Programme” to promote Protocol V was available in the room for delegates.
In preparation for the Fourth Review Conference of the Convention, he said he had been holding a number of bilateral meetings urging States parties to join all the treaty’s instruments. He had also spoken on the issue of universalization at the preparatory session, held during the third 2011 session of the Group of Governmental Experts. Overall, important progress had been made towards universalization since 2006, when the Convention had had 100 States parties; it now had 114, and the fifth protocol had seen the largest increase, from 27 States parties in 2006 to 75 in 2011.
LAURA KENNEDY, Ambassador of the United States to the Conference on Disarmament, said her country continued to support the negotiation of a comprehensive and binding protocol in the framework of the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons), which addressed all aspects of cluster munitions, including use, transfer, stockpiling, and destruction, and that would have a significant humanitarian impact on the ground. She urged the Convention’s high contracting parties to take the opportunity, at the Review Conference, to conclude such a protocol that contained concrete and substantive provisions.
She said her country, as a High Contracting Party to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, looked forward to the Review Conference in November, not only for the opportunity to conclude a protocol on cluster munitions, but also to reinforce the commitment to that important instrument of international humanitarian law. The United States would also continue its strong support for eliminating ageing, surplus, loosely-secured, or otherwise at-risk conventional weapons and munitions, as well as explosive remnants of war.
Concerning small arms and light weapons, she said the United States was dedicated to the full implementation of the 2001 United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat, and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, as well as the implementation of the International Tracing Instrument to enable the timely marking and tracing of illicit small arms and light weapons. Such weapons should also be included in the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms — a confidence-building measure where States annually reported on conventional arms transfers. The United States worked to enhance global peace ad security mechanisms for controlling weapons by assisting in improving export control practices, providing physical security and stockpile management for at-risk arms and munitions, and destroying excess weapons and munitions around the world.
In the hands of terrorists, criminal and other non-State actors, man-portable air defence systems posed a serious threat to global passenger air travel, and the commercial aviation industry, and military aircraft worldwide, she said. In that regard, the United States had been cooperating with countries around the globe since 2003 to destroy more than 32,700 excess, loosely-secured, illicitly-held, or otherwise at risk man-portable air defence systems in more than 30 countries.
HELLMUT HOFFMANN, Ambassador of Germany to the Conference on Disarmament, supported the arms trade treaty process. The establishment of a robust treaty regulating the global conventional arms trade would enhance international peace and security, and his country would spare no effort to make that happen. The high level of engagement was evident in the Preparatory Committee, which was well on its way to deliver on its mandate, and he urged all States to contribute to the process. References to transfers should be spelled out, including a focus on export controls. Controls for other transfers also should be considered; reporting should be developed, and terms should be defined, including types of military equipment. An arms trade treaty should not be a treaty on prohibitions. He welcomed the inclusion of small arms and light weapons in that focus.
He urged strengthening of the small arms and light weapons Programme of Action needed. The Programme had led to, among other things, a significant reduction in ammunition circulation, but implementation needed to be made more effective. The Fourth Review Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in November would review and clarify the Convention. That should lead to substantial improvements on the ground. A new instrument needed to address the prohibition on the use of cluster and munitions.
Together with Romania, he then introduced a draft resolution on r eduction of military budgets: objective information on military matters, including transparency of military expenditures (document A/C.1/66/L.35). With France, he submitted a draft resolution on problems arising from the accumulation of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus (document A/C.1/66/L.36).
Reporting on military expenditures could benefit from the report of the Group of Governmental Experts as early as next year, he said. The first draft resolution, L.35, contained a new final preambular paragraph, calling for the promotion of international peace and security for the world’s human and economic resources. Germany and Romania were convinced that delegates would adopt the draft on objective information of military matters without a vote.
On the draft text on the accumulation of conventional ammunition stockpiles, L.36, he said stockpiles could risk public safety, not to mention the risk of ammunition falling into criminal hands. The draft reflected the outcome of work of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs and the United Nations Mine Action Service. He was confident that draft would also be adopted without a vote.
RITA KAZRAGIENE ( Lithuania) supported the international security, disarmament and non-proliferation policies of the European Union. Convinced that only a legally binding instrument setting the highest international standards for conventional weapons’ transfers could prevent their threat to international regional and national security and stability and humanitarian and human rights, she expressed support for negotiations on the arms trade treaty and for Roberto García Moritán as chairman through the conclusion of negotiations in 2012. Regarding the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, she said that enhancing regional cooperation, progress on marking and tracing, and improved matching of needs with resources were of particular importance.
Noting that Lithuania had become the fifty-fifth State party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions and had submitted a voluntary transparency report under Article 7, she called for greater effort to make the treaty universal. A more integrated approach to instruments related to conventional weapons was needed to avoid overlap. A new protocol on cluster munitions to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons should lead to the adoption of a legally binding document that would strengthen humanitarian law and eventually to prohibition of those weapons. On the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Mine-Ban Treaty), she said that while implementation rested principally with the States parties, assistance, particularly from donors, was vital. She called on all Member States to submit their annual reports to the Register of Conventional Arms and to include, on a voluntary basis, information on arms transfers.
As Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), she stressed the importance of the confidence- and security-building measures within the Organization’s framework, which should be further enhanced and could serve as an inspiration for other regions. In closing, she said that multilateral, regional and national programmes related to security and development should take into account gender aspects, in particular, by promoting participation of women as beneficiaries, practitioners and decision-makers, under the framework provided by Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security.
MICHIEL COMBRINK ( South Africa) said in some areas the implementation of conventional arms instruments had been strengthened, while work continued on the elaboration of new international norms and instruments regulating the use, production and stockpiling of such weapons. But, much work remained, he said.
He said his country attached great importance to the United Nations Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons. The Meeting of Governmental Experts provided Member States with an important opportunity to consider the implementation challenges on marking, record-keeping and cooperation in tracing. In that regard, he was particularly pleased with the pledges made to assist developing States with redressing their lack of regulatory frameworks, funding, equipment and capacity in the fields of marking and tracing.
Turning to the arms trade treaty, he said the creation of an implementation support unit would, among others, be one of the keys to its successful enforcement. Regarding the Mine-Ban Convention, she drew attention to the challenges that remained to achieving a world free of anti-personnel mines. Among them, many mine victims still were without access to medical care, education, physical rehabilitation, social services, vocational training and subsequent employment. In addition, several States parties had been unable to meet their clearance deadlines. Early planning, implementation and the allocation of adequate resources would help to address those problems.
Concerning the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions, the Convention on Cluster Munitions was a landmark humanitarian disarmament instrument, which set new standards in the collective commitment to international humanitarian law, he said. As a former producer of cluster munitions, South Africa was of the view that those weapons had become obsolete and had been shown to cause unacceptable harm to civilians. Of particular concern was the legitimisation of the continued use and production of cluster munitions banned under the Convention. He reminded the Committee that Colombia, Japan and South Africa would again submit the annual omnibus resolution on the implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action in small arms and light weapons, which she hoped the General Assembly would adopt.
PAUL VAN DEN IJSSEL, Ambassador of the Netherlands to the Conference on Disarmament, said that the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons constituted an essential part of international humanitarian law, and the Netherlands was committed to its further preservation and development. He welcomed progress in the implementation of the latest addition to the “CCW family”, namely, protocol V on explosive remnants of war. With regard to the ongoing negotiations on a sixth protocol, on cluster munitions, in the framework of that Convention, the Netherlands hoped that those would be concluded with agreement on an instrument. The protocol should contain meaningful prohibitions and restrictions on such weapons for those countries that were not yet in a position to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Regarding the process towards an arms trade treaty, he said that responsible arms trade was a legitimate part of international trade relations, but it was clear that irresponsible or illegal arms trade might be a factor in threats to peace, security, stability, as well as lead to violations of international law, including human rights and humanitarian law. An arms trade treaty should oblige States to adopt and implement national legislation in order to prevent transfers of conventional arms, which could — directly or indirectly — provoke, prolong, or exacerbate conflicts. Further, small arms and light weapons annually caused more deaths worldwide than any other category of weapons. The Second Review Conference for the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms was a unique opportunity, not only for taking stock of achievements, but for a genuine assessment of the Programme of Action.
He introduced, on behalf of “at least 75 co-sponsors”, a draft resolution entitled “Transparency in Armaments” (document A/C.1/66/L.29), with the view that promoting openness in military matters, and particularly, transparency in transfer of armaments, contributed to confidence and security of conventional arms. Member States could also make available background information regarding their military holdings, procurement through national production, relevant policies and on transfers of small arms and light weapons.
He introduced a second draft resolution, entitled “National legislation on transfer of arms, military equipment and dual-use goods and technology” (document A/C.1/66/L.33). With that biennial resolution, Member States were invited to enact or improve national legislation, regulations and procedures to exercise effective control over the transfer of arms, military equipment, and dual-use goods and technology. The Office for Disarmament Affairs maintained a database where all information exchanged pursuant to that resolution could be accessed. That exchange not only contributed to mutual understanding, transparency and confidence among Member States, but was also beneficial to countries in the process of developing legislation on those transfers. The resolution had previously been adopted by consensus, and he trusted that it would again meet the approval of all delegations.
RAPHAEL S.C. HERMOSO ( Philippines) was deeply concerned with developments in the field of conventional arms. The different types of weapons that fell under that category were used widely and they killed indiscriminately, threatening entire regions and adversely affecting the economic development of States. He considered the illicit transfer, manufacture and circulation of small arms and light weapons to be a serious threat to international peace and security, since that type of weapon was easily concealed, diverted and transported; they were durable and had a long shelf life. Illicit small arms and light weapons promoted and prolonged conflicts.
He said that the best way to solve the problems associated with those weapons was through the implementation of the United Nations Program of Action.
He encouraged States to utilize the United Nations Register on Conventional Arms as a means of monitoring arms transfers between States. In addition, he highlighted the need for greater cooperation between States in the area of information exchange, sharing of best practices and establishment of national points of contact, and he called for the strict implementation of the international instrument to enable States to identify and trace the illicit arms in a timely and ambitious manner. The Philippine Government had made progress on the implementation of the Programme of Action by maintaining appropriate partnerships with the local firearms industry, private security providers, gun clubs and civil society.
Moving on to the issue of cluster munitions and landmines, he said he was mindful of their harmful effects, long after the conflict ended. He saw an urgent need to regulate the trade in conventional arms through an arms trade treaty and viewed the unregulated trade in those weapons and their diversion to the illicit market as a threat to international peace and security. The treaty should be a reaffirmation of the existing responsibilities of Member States in adherence to international law and would crystallize the development of a mechanism for consistent, transparent, lawful and effective application in the trade in arms. It should be able to address political and economic instability, international terrorism and transnational organized crime. Finally, the treaty should have a clear, detailed and standardized definition of conventional weapons.
KHALIL HASHMI, Director, Disarmament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, spotlighted four key concerns related to regulating the conventional arms trade. First, global military expenditures had ballooned to its current level of $1.5 trillion annually. Second, that growing military expenditure was accompanied by increasing sophistication in conventional weaponry and technology. Third, developing countries were the primary recipients of the total value of international arms transfer agreements, as they were the “favoured” destination for arms sales. New markets were being explored, created and sought after, with scant regard to the destabilizing impact on regional security and stability. And fourth, despite exhortations by the General Assembly for a comprehensive arms approach, the only prescription on the counter was regulating the trade in such arms. Other equally important aspects, such as restraint on production, reduction in the number of weapons or forces and decreases in deployment continued to be ignored.
In view of those disturbing trends, he said, it was imperative to pursue conventional arms control, at the lowest possible levels of armaments and military forces, since most threats to peace and security arose mainly in States located in the same region or subregion. States with larger military capabilities had a special responsibility in promoting such agreements for regional security.
He then tabled three draft resolutions: on regional disarmament (document A/C.1/66/l.26); on conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels (document A/C.1/66/L.27); and on confidence-building measures in the regional and subregional context (document A/C.1/66/L.28).
The Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons struck a balance between humanitarian concerns and States’ legitimate security needs and rightly focused on the “illicit trade”, he said. Pakistan was fully committed to the faithful implementation of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and its protocols, sharing the view that cluster munitions should be addressed within the Convention’s framework, while striking a balance between military and humanitarian considerations. Technology-based distinctions between various types of cluster munitions should not deviate from the established and agreed principles enshrined in the first special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament.
He added that disarmament measures should be pursued in an equitable and balanced manner as to ensure the right of each State to security and to ensure that no individual State or group of States might obtain advantages over others at any State.
Concerning transparency in armaments, he drew attention to its broader objectives, for instance, as an early warning system of global armament trends and a potential force that ought to put some moral pressure on States responsible for destabilizing arms transfers. However, that tool should be used in combination with others. “A level of trust between the States is necessary for transparency measures to succeed,” he said. “Such measures must be supplemented by efforts and solutions to reduce tensions and resolve disputes through negotiations, dialogue and mediation. Transparency is a means to an end, not an end itself. The ultimate objective should be to seek restraints and promote confidence-building measures at the regional, subregional and global levels.” At the same time, transparency in armaments must not restrict the right of a State to acquire arms for self-defence.
ANGELLA COMFORT (Jamaica), aligning herself with the statement of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that in recognition of the adverse humanitarian impact caused by conventional weapons, Jamaica had in recent years become a State party to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and its protocols. Jamaica was also a signatory to the Convention on Cluster Munitions and hoped to ratify it at the earliest opportunity.
She stated that the danger to human life and stability, caused by the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, was a matter of great importance to Jamaica, which did not manufacture either kind. The recently released Global Study on Homicide by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) had indicated that within the Caribbean, close to 70 per cent of the annual homicides were committed with a firearm. The high level of crime and violence threatened Jamaica’s advances towards its millennium development targets. That had driven the Jamaican engagement at the international level with respect to the 2001 Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons. Jamaica looked forward to the 2012 Review Conference as an opportunity for not only evaluating the implementation of the Action Programme, but also for exploring ways to enhance that implementation, in particular, for small States with porous borders. Jamaica also hoped that the Review Conference would provide an opportunity to address border-related issues.
Jamaica, she said, remained engaged in the preparatory process leading up to the diplomatic conference on the arms trade treaty, with the goal of a legally binding, objective, non-discriminatory treaty that established the highest possible standards for the transfer of conventional weapons. Jamaica was currently drafting more comprehensive legislation that would strengthen its capacity to combat the flows of illicit arms to the island and regulate brokering. A comprehensive small arms policy was also being developed. At the regional level, Jamaica and its CARICOM partners were working together within the context of the CARICOM Implementing Agency for Crime and Security.
ABDOU SALAM DIALLO ( Senegal) said the three sessions of Preparatory Committee for the 2012 negotiating conference on an arms trade treaty had allowed for the exchange of in-depth information on the future elements of the treaty. The document drafted by the Chair of the Committee was a good basis for negotiations. That positive momentum should be maintained until the international community adopted a strong treaty on conventional weapons. The moral need and the urgency to end the unspeakable suffering caused by those weapons meant the international community must harness all energies to conclude the process by 2012. Such an instrument would only be effective and feasible if it encompassed all categories of weapons, including small arms and light weapons, munitions, technology, and others, and also covered marking.
Transfers must only be authorized when they were actually necessary for defensive measures in particular countries, he said. In the development and reinforcement of State capacities in the application of an arms trade treaty, strong provisions on assistance and international cooperation were needed. Senegal was concerned about the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, as those contributed to the perpetuation of conflict, and to exorbitant human and financial costs. He reiterated the appeal for an effective implementation of the Programme of Action. The key points, in that regard, were international cooperation and assistance, destruction of surplus, and marking.
MARI AMANO, Ambassador of Japan to the Conference on Disarmament, said that his country fully shared the concerns about the serious humanitarian impact caused by anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions. All countries not parties to the Mine-Ban Convention and the Convention on Cluster Munitions should accede to them as soon as possible and join the collective efforts towards universalization of those treaties. It was important for the meeting of States parties of the Mine-Ban Convention next month in Cambodia to take stock of the progress in accordance with the Cartagena Action Plan.
Establishment of a legally binding instrument on the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms, he said, was an urgent task. Last week, Japan, together with Colombia and South Africa, submitted a draft resolution on small arms and light weapons to this Committee (document A/C.1/66/L.43). Japan called on all Member States to support it.
He announced to the Committee that Japan had decided to contribute approximately $300,000 through the United Nations Trust Fund for Global and Regional Disarmament Activities to the following three projects proposed by the Office for Disarmament Affairs: “Further Transparency in the Arms Trade”; “Promoting Synergy among Conventional Arms Information Platforms”; and “UN Safer Guard: Securing Ammunition From the Dual Dangers of Explosion and Diversion”.
GARY QUINLAN ( Australia) said the proliferation and misuse of conventional weapons threatened all societies — from illicit small arms and ammunition that fuelled conflict between communities and across borders, to explosive remnants of war that maimed and killed innocent civilians in many parts of the world. Australia remained strongly committed to international cooperation in curbing illicit trade and misuse of small arms and light weapons and had provided practical assistance to help ensure that the Programme of Action was fully implemented. He welcomed the universal recognition of the need to better regulate the arms trade, because unregulated trade and diversion of arms to the illicit market contributed to armed conflict, displacement, organized crime and terrorism.
He said that the second and third sessions of the Preparatory Committee had made strong headway in developing a solid basis for a treaty text. Australia was continuing to actively pursue the achievement of a treaty that was comprehensive, but also practical and effective. Such an instrument should enhance global standards through creating and strengthening of national control mechanisms governing arms transfers, and should also indicate a base of common minimum standards for assessments of the transfer of arms against given criteria. Among Australia’s efforts were its contribution to regional efforts in the Caribbean by assisting the building approaches to the treaty, through two workshops; it would also hold a Pacific Regional Workshop in March 2012.
As a strong supporter of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Australia was dedicated to eradicating cluster munitions, which caused “unacceptable harm”, he said. The country would contribute constructively to the negotiations for a protocol on cluster munitions in the framework of that Convention, aimed at an outcome that maintained the instrument’s integrity and recognized the worldwide humanitarian benefits that both that Convention and the Convention on Cluster Munitions would deliver. He urged all States that had not yet done so to join those two treaties, as well as the Mine-Ban Convention. Cluster munitions, landmines and other explosive remnants of war were a “tragic legacy of conflict”, and continued to constrain development in several of the poorest countries. They also had devastating socio-economic consequences. Australia remained committed to working with others to address the challenges posed by the proliferation, misuse and unacceptable harm of conventional weapons.
ULF LINDELL (Sweden), together with Bulgaria, introduced a draft resolution on the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (document A/C.1/66/L.17). The Convention’s purpose was to ban the use of certain specific types of weapons that caused excessive injury or unnecessary suffering, and formed an essential and integral part of international law applicable to armed conflict. “We need the CCW to be a dynamic instrument responding to urgent humanitarian challenges before us,” he said. With 114 States parties, the Convention still fell short of universal membership, he said, urging States that had not yet joined to do so.
He said that the draft’s purpose was to express support for the Convention, with particular focus on the universalization of it and its protocols. The text also reflected the ongoing work within the Convention’s framework and an expression of support for the treaty as an important international humanitarian law instrument. He hoped for its adoption without a vote.
JOSE IKONGO ISEKOTOKO BOYOO ( Democratic Republic of the Congo) said the arms trade treaty should be based on a consolidated version on the seventh category of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and should cover small arms and light weapons, as well as munitions, and should apply to all forms of transfers. He supported the criminalization of the transfer of weapons to any State having violated international humanitarian or human rights law, keeping in mind the possible impact on the sustainable social and economic development of the receiving country. The Democratic Republic of the Congo reiterated its concern and support for a treaty establishing the highest possible common international standards to regulate the transfer of conventional weapons.
He said his country also lent particular importance to the Register, and was troubled by the drop in participation over the last three years. That level depended chiefly on its relevance to Member States. In other words, they communicated information only when that instrument responded to their security concerns. The fact that the Register did not cover certain categories of conventional weapons, such as small arms and light weapons, impacted participation.
The adoption of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and its entry into force, he said, had been one of the most notable achievements of the last decade in the spheres of international humanitarian law and disarmament, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo would continue to participate in that. The international community must find a solution that would convince the main producers and user countries of the importance of a strong instrument that bolstered and guaranteed the security of civilians and international mission personnel. The resulting instrument would have to meet the security needs of States, respecting the existing legal regime. His delegation, therefore, welcomed the ongoing negotiations on a protocol on cluster munitions to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, with a view to developing a legal instrument that did not undermine the standards set by the Convention, but rather offered complementary alternatives.
SHEN JIAN, Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the Conference on Disarmament, said the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons had increased its vitality, and the Group of Governmental Experts on cluster munitions had worked hard. China attached importance to a Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons along with the humanitarian concerns surrounding those weapons. Since 1998, China had provided humanitarian assistance to 40 countries, and this year, it had provided assistance to more than 5 other countries. The governmental expert group should try to reach an agreement in time for the Fourth Review Conference of that Convention next month.
He said that small arms and light weapons were a grave concern, and China supported existing international instruments to help States identify and trace those weapons in efforts to combat their illicit trade. A comprehensive approach should be taken to identify the symptoms and causes of the spread of those weapons, and he hoped all parties concerned would keep those in mind in coming meetings.
Arms exports were strictly controlled in China, however, the country was seriously concerned about conflicts fuelled by the illicit arms trade, he said. The primary goal of an arms trade treaty was to control arms and protect a State’s right to security needs. Such a treaty should avoid any interference in the legitimate arms trade and a State’s affairs. China would make further efforts within the United Nations framework to appropriately address the illicit trafficking in conventional weapons.
Turning to military transparency, he said his country would continue to provide data for the conventional weapons register and military expenditures register.
NOUFOU BEREMWOUDOUGOU ( Burkina Faso) said that in recent years, trade in illicit weapons had contributed to incalculable human suffering. Around 7 million small arms and light weapons were in circulation in the region, each day leading to the resurgence of insecurity within populations. In terms of the multiple aspects covered by those weapons, it was important to regulate their trade. Far from being just a necessity, that must be an absolute priority on the agenda of the international community when it came to peace and security. He welcomed the broad mobilization of the United Nations on that issue. The 2001 Programme of Action was a step in the right direction. Although its provisions were not binding, the programme offered a general framework to confront the issue and merged related initiatives and actions at international and regional levels. That had also led to a better awareness by the international community of the issue.
He said Burkina Faso had a national commission to combat small arms and light weapons, and had dedicated a high authority to control the import and usage of weapons. Those two structures were responsible for, among other things, preventing and averting illicit arms trafficking on national territory, ensuring control of all imports of weapons by the Government or individuals, and keeping statistics of weapons present on the national territory. The programme also provided training for stakeholders, conducted outreach for the population, and established and enhanced training for gunsmiths, in order to support good cooperation between them and the security forces. Those and other priorities were part of the programme’s annual activities, implemented with the help of partners. He called for enhanced international cooperation, as well as regional and subregional cooperation, to allow a better synergy of actions to combat the weapons proliferation.
ROBERTO DONDISCH GLOWINSKI, Sub-Secretary of Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, said the number of victims increased every year because of the spread of illicit weapons. His country suffered from that illegal weapons trafficking. Unfortunately, the pursuit of absolute consensus had limited calls for action, which most countries had requested. He hoped the need for action could be put before the need for absolute consensus. Implementation and strengthening the Programme of Action on the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons was of utmost importance.
He said that a decade after the adoption of the Programme of Action, areas urgent action was still required in certain areas. The Programme was a living text and needed to be strengthened. In 2012, a new legally binding regime would be established. That arms trade treaty would cover the legal trade. He called upon all countries to work towards reaching an agreement that would affect the lives of many. In that, he praised Ambassador Moritan’s work. The arms trade treaty should be clear, without mistakes, as too many lives depended on it.
The anti-personnel landmine ban was a success story, he said. For years, Mexico and other countries had been struggling to deal with cluster munitions, the only answer for which was an exhaustive ban. The Cluster Munitions Convention was a historic landmark to eliminate that class of weapon, and he encouraged further work in that area. Only the universalization of the ban would enshrine the Convention’s legal aspects. Civil society was a key player in the work on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and non-governmental organization participation would always be welcome.
DJAMEL MOKTEFI ( Algeria ) said the illicit trade and transfer of small arms and light weapons was a destabilizing force in many countries. Algeria reiterated the importance of the Programme of Action covering that illegal trade, especially focusing on the humanitarian aspects of the problem. Regional and subregional cooperation was essential to make the Programme effective.
He said that the worrying situation in Africa would require assistance from developed countries and international organizations. The International Tracing Instrument was an important tool in that area. National reports were another key element in assessing progress made. The 2012 Review Conference of the Programme of Action would be a further opportunity to enhance implementation, as well as to discuss the various instruments in force.
An arms trade treaty would regulate the arms trade, contributing to strengthening international peace and security, he said, adding that there was room to define the principles and the field of application of that treaty. The principles of the United Nations Charter should be used and the security rights of States should be respected. Algeria’s commitment to the treaty did not have an impact on the priority it afforded to disarmament in general, and particularly nuclear disarmament.
DANIJELA ČUBRILO ( Serbia) said that Serbia had joined a large number of international instruments on conventional arms control and had taken extensive legislative, regulatory and practical measures at the national level to implement the obligations it had assumed. She gave high priority to the United Nations Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons, and anticipated its effective implementation. Serbia reported regularly to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, including information on international transfers of small arms, and was represented in the expert group for international small arms control standards formed by United Nations Coordinating Action in Small Arms.
She said her Government had adopted a national strategy for the control of those weapons to prevent their unlawful production, possession and trade. Serbia’s national arms export control system, correspondent with relevant European Union and OSCE standards, and accompanied by enhanced border and customs control measures, played a pivotal role in strengthening surveillance and combating illicit arms trade. It was based on the 2005 Law on Foreign Trade in Arms, Military Equipment and Dual-use Goods, which defined the means and conditions under which foreign trade, transport and transit of those goods could be conducted.
Serbia sought a legally binding instrument of the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms and was committed to continued constructive work with Member States towards an arms trade treaty as defined in General Assembly resolution 64/48 2009, she said. Also, Serbia was working to fulfil its remaining obligations under the Mine-Ban Convention, and regularly submitted its annual reports and replies to questionnaires on national measures for the Convention’s implementation. It had also submitted its first report on implementation of the Plan of Action from Cartagena. The Mine Action Centre of Serbia, founded in 2002 as a national coordinating body for mine clearance, was cooperating with numerous international and regional partners.
TERJE HAUGE ( Norway ) said weapons that caused unnecessary human suffering and their irresponsible use had no place in today’s international security environment. That should be the guiding principle in the approach towards conventional disarmament and related processes. In addition to the humanitarian perspective, the reduction and prevention of armed violence had important security and development aspects. Successes that had been made through the adoption and implementation of the Mine-Ban Convention and the Convention on Cluster Munitions must inspire the international community, as concrete results had been achieved that were of great consequence to ordinary people. The Mine-Ban Convention had led to thousands of hectares of land being cleared of landmines, the destruction of huge stockpiles, and the rights returned to thousands of survivors.
He said that while progress on that Convention was indisputable, some States had opposed those gains, even attempting to abuse existing instruments of international humanitarian law to reverse existing standards and diminish the protection already afforded to civilians through another established international instrument. It was unacceptable to adopt a new protocol on cluster munitions in the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons that did not provide an added humanitarian value, for which States and significant humanitarian organizations could vouch. A new protocol must not be adopted on cluster munitions in that Convention that, as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had put it, might perpetuate rather than prevent the civilian suffering.
Norway attached great importance to the ongoing negotiations on an arms trade treaty, as a robust instrument would contribute to reducing and preventing armed violence and human suffering. In that regard, 2012 would be an important year for the United Nations in the area of conventional weapons. In addition to the conference on the arms trade treaty, there would be a Review Conference of the Programme of Action, the implementation of which needed to be strengthened.
MAFIROANE MOTANYANE ( Lesotho ) said that small arms and light weapons continued to pose a major security threat to many developing countries, including his own. Most of those weapons easily found their way into the illicit market, and the Programme of Action was a critical framework for addressing such illicit trade. Further, the Conventional Arms Register also needed to be fully utilized, as a vast majority of official transfers of conventional weapons were captured in that report. However, it was well known that the Register did not cover all categories of conventional weapons, such as small arms and light weapons. Some States, however, did include those weapons in their reports submitted to the Register. That was a welcome move, and he encouraged other States to follow suit.
He said that the arms trade treaty might not be a panacea for the illicit trade in conventional weapons, but it was important to realize that the citizens of the world were increasingly interdependent and interconnected, and supply chains had become global. An instrument that regulated the global trade of conventional weapons was essential for collaboration in the arms industry. That would lead to huge reductions in the diversion of convention weapons to the illicit market.
Anti-personnel landmines were among the most dangerous conventional weapons, resulting in dire humanitarian consequences, he said, adding that the Mine-Ban Convention had extensively addressed the impact of those weapons on civilians. Its universalization was of paramount importance, and Lesotho appealed to States not party to the treaty to consider ratifying it as soon as possible.
ERIC DANON, Ambassador of France to the Conference on Disarmament, said that of all the weapons being discussed in the First Committee, it was conventional weapons that caused the greatest number of victims, the ones that had the most unacceptable human impact. Those were fortunately subjected to progressive bans. The international community had now become aware of the unacceptable nature of weapons that effected innocent people, including many children, in a particularly cruel manner, even decades after conflicts had ended. It was in that spirit that the Mine-Ban Convention, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, and the Convention on Cluster Munitions had been adopted. However, the conclusion of those agreements was not enough, as they had not been adopted by the whole international community. Their universalization remained a priority for France, and that met with resistance on the part of many key countries. He deplored the fact that the countries possessing the largest stockpiles of such munitions felt they were unable to ratify the Mine-Ban Convention or Convention on Cluster Munitions in the near future.
He supported the idea of developing an effective regulatory framework on cluster munitions, as that constituted a step towards a comprehensive ban. He noted that that norm already existed for anti-personnel mines. Taking into account the immediate humanitarian impact of such weapons, France would work with the parties concerned to achieve a protocol that would undoubtedly be a major contribution to international humanitarian law. France was deeply concerned by the catastrophic spread and the use of small arms and light weapons. Their illegal trafficking and stockpiling perpetuated armed violence, which, in addition to the human suffering, impeded development in many countries. He provided an overview of some of the initiatives launched by France, including a 2009 process aimed at negotiating an arms trade treaty — to regulate legal trade on the one hand, and to prevent illegal trafficking on the other.
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