Diplomatic Frustration over Conference on Disarmament Deadlock Sparks Urgent Calls for Tangible Results in First Committee Drafts

6 November 2012
GA/DIS/3470

Diplomatic Frustration over Conference on Disarmament Deadlock Sparks Urgent Calls for Tangible Results in First Committee Drafts

6 November
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3470
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-seventh General Assembly

First Committee

21st Meeting (AM)

Diplomatic Frustration over Conference on Disarmament Deadlock Sparks

 

Urgent Calls for Tangible Results in First Committee Drafts

 

Other Texts on Nuclear-Weapon-Free Southern Hemisphere, Developments

In Information Security, Confidence-Building in Conventional Weapons Field

Forwarding 16 drafts to the General Assembly, the majority addressing nuclear weapons and the disarmament machinery, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today considered a range of texts that reflected shared and sometimes divergent positions on how best to spark progress across the wider international disarmament and non-proliferation agenda.

Frustrated by the continued failure to restart negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament, and concerned that gains made in the broader arena could be weakened, many delegates called for fresh approaches.  Several texts focused on regional disarmament mechanisms.  One drew attention to information technologies and security, and another called for enriching the role of women in the disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control processes.

Once again the subject of vigorous debate was the United Nations disarmament machinery, as First Committee delegates called for ways to revive the languishing institutions, including by allowing for greater flexibility with respect to commencing the Conference on Disarmament’s substantive work, considerations to expand its membership and efforts to establish an open-ended working group.

One draft, on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, recognized the absence of concrete outcomes of multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations within the United Nations framework for more than a decade, including in the context of its deep concern about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons.

By its terms, the General Assembly would decide to establish an open-ended working group to develop proposals to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations for the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons.  The group would convene in Geneva in 2013 and would make recommendations to the Assembly.  The draft was approved by a recorded vote of 134 in favor to 4 against (France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States), with 34 abstentions.

While many speakers said they supported that resolution hoping that it could help to overcome the lack of political will on the part of some States, others worried that taking forward negotiations outside of the established forum could jeopardize the entire architecture of United Nations disarmament machinery.

Speaking during action, France’s representative said that such efforts sought to circumnavigate the established mechanism.  The draft, he said, also focused on nuclear disarmament, while the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) covered all three disarmament pillars equally. 

Ecuador’s representative said the delegation had supported the text, given its “clear and consistent” stance on nuclear disarmament, but agreed that any negotiating initiative on the margins of the Conference would be tantamount to undermining its work and that of the entire United Nations disarmament machinery.

There were similar words of caution, including from Argentina’s delegate – who said she encouraged all ideas to break the Conference’s current impasse, and had supported the draft, but felt that negotiations should not be moved outside that venue as it could negatively affect the current structure. 

China’s representative said that establishing such a working group was not viable, since the difficulties faced in the Conference were mainly of a political nature, rather than a technical one, and could weaken the existent mechanism and make it difficult to maintain the participation of major countries.

With a world “over-armed and underfunded”, said Brazil’s representative, echoing the view of the draft’s many co-sponsors, an open-ended working group could be a useful step towards a productive negotiating process in the Conference.  There were no illusions that the difficulties facing the Conference could be overcome in other forums, but the working group could be “a path converging” with the Conference.

There were two other texts approved today concerning the Conference on Disarmament, both without votes.  The first, a draft decision sponsored by the Netherlands, South Africa and Switzerland, asked the Assembly to keep the item entitled, “Revitalizing the work of the Conference on Disarmament” on its agenda. 

The second, sponsored by Germany, on the Conference’s report, called on the institution to intensify consultations and explore possibilities for overcoming its ongoing deadlock by adopting and implementing a balanced and comprehensive work programme at the earliest possible date during its 2013 session.

Another draft, on nuclear disarmament, urged the Conference to begin substantive work as early as possible in 2013 and called for the “immediate commencement” of negotiations in that body on a fissile material cut-off treaty. 

With several calls on the nuclear-weapon States, including beginning plurilateral negotiations among themselves on further deep reductions of nuclear weapons, to deactivate those weapons, diminish their role in strategic doctrines and stop immediately their qualitative improvement, the text drew a fractured vote, earning approval by 111 in favor to 43 against, with 20 abstentions.

Prior to action on that draft as a whole, a separate recorded vote was requested for operative paragraph 16, concerning the negotiations for a fissile material ban, which was retained by 165 in favour to 1 against (Pakistan), with 7 abstentions (Armenia, Belarus, France, Israel, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan).

According to a draft on a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the southern hemisphere, the Assembly would note with satisfaction that all nuclear-weapon-free zones in the southern hemisphere and adjacent areas are now in force and, among its other provisions, call on the nuclear-weapon States to withdraw any reservations or interpretive declarations contrary to the object and purpose of the treaties establishing those zones.  It was approved by a recorded vote of 165 in favour to 4 against ( France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States), with 2 abstentions ( Federated States of Micronesia, Israel).

After the vote, the representative of the United Kingdom, speaking also on behalf of France and the United States, questioned whether the real goal of the draft was to establish a zone covering the high seas, noting that that ambiguity was not clarified.   Pakistan’s representative noted that his delegation had voted in favour of the draft for the first time.

The Committee also approved drafts on:  Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific; Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean; Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa; United Nations disarmament fellowship, training and advisory services; Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status; confidence-building measures in the conventional arms field; security and information technology; women and disarmament; consolidation of peace through practical disarmament measures; and the United Nations Disarmament Information Program.

The representatives of Burundi, Netherlands and Germany made general statements during Cluster 7, Disarmament Machinery.  Iran’s representative spoke in explanation of vote during that cluster.

During Cluster 1, Nuclear Disarmament, the representatives of Myanmar and Austria made general statements.  The following representatives spoke in explanation of vote on that cluster:  Egypt, Morocco, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Japan, Cuba, India, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Syria, Algeria, Georgia and Belgium.

For Cluster 4, Conventional Weapons, Argentina’s representative spoke during action.

For Cluster 5, Other Disarmament Measures and International Security, the representatives of Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago and Sweden delivered general statements.

Algeria’s representative delivered a general statement on Cluster 6, Regional Disarmament and Security.  Iran’s representative spoke in explanation of vote on that cluster.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 7 November, to continue its consideration of remaining texts.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue taking action on the draft resolutions and decisions before it, with a focus on the texts in its Cluster 7, on Disarmament Machinery.

Cluster 7:  Disarmament Machinery

HELLMUT HOFFMAN ( Germany), President of the Conference on Disarmament, said he had spoken in previous meetings on his experience gained as the last of the annual session’s six Presidents, drawing several conclusions.  There was wide-ranging agreement that after more than a decade of inability to do the task mandated to it, the Conference was in a difficult situation.  Member States had different perceptions as to how critical the situation was and which factors were responsible.  States, therefore, had different ideas as to how to remedy the situation.  That was why it was now easy – “to put it mildly” – to find consensus first on the report of the Conference on Disarmament and, second, on the draft resolution on the report.

However, before action was taken on that draft, he wished to attach importance to and stress that he had tried to the best of his ability to listen to everybody and accommodate concerns to the greatest possible extent.  However, not everyone could be made entirely happy, given the mutually exclusive nature of some concerns and requests.  That said, everyone should be able to live with the outcome contained in L.33.

Putting aside differences over what should be done, he was convinced that there continued to exist a widely held view among Conference on Disarmament Member States, observer States and indeed Member States of the United Nations, that the best solution was still a Conference on Disarmament that at long last started working properly.  As the outgoing Conference President, he expressed the hope that a strong signal of collective political will would be sent from this year’s United Nations General Assembly to capitals and Geneva alike, and that indeed all efforts would be undertaken to make the Conference on Disarmament an effective body again.

VINCENT NIYUNGEKO ( Burundi) said that in Central Africa, the Standing Advisory Committee had developed measures to strengthen confidence and cooperation.  The countries of that region had established non-aggression and mutual assistance pacts, as well as a mechanism to promote and consolidate peace and security in Central Africa, called the Peace and Security Council of Central Africa.  The United Nations Centre for Counter-Terrorism and the Defence and Security Commission, among others, had assisted in efforts in the region, showing the importance of confidence-building mechanisms as well as those for peace, security and stability in Central Africa.  Draft L.57 largely copied the language of the text on the subject adopted last year, but changes had been made this year to reflect developments.  He thanked delegations for their support, especially contributions to the United Nations Trust Fund for the Advisory Committee, and hoped that efforts would continue towards peace and security in the region.

PAUL VAN DEN IJSSEL (Netherlands), also speaking on behalf of Switzerland and South Africa, said that the group had tabled a resolution on the Conference on Disarmament last year, which had been adopted by consensus as General Assembly resolution 66/66.  The main aim of the text had been to unite all United Nations members on the need to revitalize the Conference.  States had been encouraged to build on work already undertaken and to move forward on multilateral negotiations.  However, the delegations noted with concern that despite efforts by States to reach consensus on a programme of work, the Conference had not succeeded in conducting substantive work in 2012.  Efforts to end the deadlock were welcome, as were discussions on revitalizing that body, and the delegations hoped that the process could advance to a more thorough and structured debate.

Having considered all the options, he said, the authors of last year’s resolution had decided not to submit a follow-up text this year, but to introduce the draft decision, entitled, Revitalizing the work of the Conference on Disarmament and taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations (document A/C.1/67/L.31).  They would continue to advocate for progress and stood ready to consider resolution 66/66 again next year.

The Committee then approved by consensus a draft decision introduced by the Netherlands, South Africa and Switzerland, entitled Revitalizing the work of the Conference on Disarmament and taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations (document A/C.1/67/L.31).  It would have the Assembly, recalling its resolution 66/66 of 2 December 2011 and previous resolutions on the matter, decide to include in the provisional agenda of its sixty-eighth session an item by the same name.

Another draft resolution entitled United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (document A/C.1/67/L.32) would have the Assembly appeal to Member States, in particular those within the Asia-Pacific region, as well as to international governmental and non-governmental organizations and foundations, to make voluntary contributions, which represent the only resources of the Regional Centre, to strengthen its activities and their implementation.

That draft would also have the Assembly reaffirm its strong support for the role of the Regional Centre in the promotion of United Nations activities at the regional level to strengthen peace, stability and security among its Member States, and underline the importance of the Kathmandu process for the development of the practice of region-wide security and disarmament dialogues.

That draft was approved by consensus.

Also approved by consensus was a draft resolution sponsored by Germany entitled Report of the Conference on Disarmament (document A/C.1/67/L.33) that would have the Assembly express conviction that the Conference on Disarmament, as the sole multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community, had the primary role in substantive negotiations on priority questions of disarmament.

Noting with renewed concern that, despite the efforts by States members and successive Conference Presidents, a consensus on a programme of work had not been reached, the draft would have the Assembly stress the urgent need to commence its substantive work at the beginning of its 2013 session.  A further provision would call upon the Conference to further intensify consultations and explore possibilities for overcoming its ongoing deadlock of well over a decade by adopting and implementing a balanced and comprehensive programme of work at the earliest possible date.

It would further recognize the importance of continuing consultations on the question of the expansion of the membership of the Conference on Disarmament.

According to a draft resolution sponsored by Peru, on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (document A/C.1/67/L.38), the Assembly would express its satisfaction for the activities carried out by the Centre in the last year.

The Assembly would also request the Centre to take into account the proposals to be submitted by the countries of the region in order to implement the Centre’s mandate in the areas of peace, disarmament and development, and promote, among others, nuclear disarmament; the prevention, combat and eradication of the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons; ammunition and explosives; confidence-building measures; arms control and limitation; transparency; armed violence reduction; and prevention, at the regional and subregional levels.

Further to the text, the Assembly would recognize that the Regional Centre has an important role in the promotion and development of regional and subregional initiatives agreed upon by the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean in the field of weapons of mass destruction; conventional arms; in the relationship between disarmament and development; and in strengthening voluntary confidence building measures among the countries of the region.

That text was also approved by consensus.

Also acting without a vote, the Committee approved a draft resolution entitled United Nations disarmament fellowship, training and advisory services (document A/C.1/67/L.56), which would have the Assembly note that the programme contributed significantly to developing greater awareness of the importance and benefits of disarmament, and also note with satisfaction that the programme has trained a large number of officials from Member States throughout its 34 years of existence.

Recognizing the need for Member States to take into account gender equality when nominating candidates to the programme, the Assembly would express its appreciation to all Member States and organizations for their support throughout the years.  It would also express its appreciation to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, and the James Martin Centre for Non-Proliferation Studies of the Monterey Institute of International Studies for organizing specific study programmes in disarmament.

Next, the Committee turned to a draft resolution entitled United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (document A/C.1/67/L.57), approving it without a vote.

That text would welcome the undertaking by the Centre to provide capacity-building, technical assistance programmes and advisory services to the African Union Commission and subregional organizations on the control of small arms and light weapons, including in stockpile management and destruction, negotiations on an arms trade treaty and issues related to weapons of mass destruction.

It would further welcome the contribution of the Regional Centre to continental disarmament; peace and security - in particular its assistance to the African Union Commission in the elaboration of the African Union Strategy on the Control of Illicit Proliferation, Circulation and Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons; and the ongoing process of seeking an African common position on the proposed arms trade treaty, as well as to the African Commission on Nuclear Energy in its implementation of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty.

A further provision would urge all States, as well as international governmental and non-governmental organizations and foundations, to make voluntary contributions to enable the Centre to carry out its programmes and meet the needs of the African States.  It would also urge States members of the African Union to make voluntary contributions to the Centre’s Trust Fund.

In explanation of vote, the representative of Iran said his delegation had joined the consensus on today’s draft.  It had always supported the revitalization of the Conference in full observance of its rules of procedure.  The Conference should be responsive to the security concerns of all States.   Iran had not shared the view that the decision in 2009 was a balanced and comprehensive programme of work; however it had joined consensus in that year for the sake of unity.  The Conference should consider negotiations on nuclear disarmament as the highest priority.  

He said his delegation had also joined the consensus on the draft concerning the United Nations regional centres, as contained in draft resolutions L.38 and L.57, as well as on L.59, concerning the activities of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa, based on the understanding that the measures, references and concepts contained in the texts were only applicable to countries in the region.  Disassociating with such references as ammunitions, explosives and armed violence, he said those should not set a precedent for their inclusion in outcome documents of other forums.

Cluster 1:  Nuclear Weapons

Making a general statement, MAUNG WAI ( Myanmar) stated that he was speaking on behalf of all the co-sponsors when he introduced the draft resolution entitled Nuclear Disarmament (document A/C.1/67/L.50).  Nuclear weapons, he said, posed the greatest threat and danger to mankind.  The risks of their use, whether deliberate or accidental, or their acquisition by the “wrong hands”, lay mainly with existing stockpiles.  In order to overcome those threats, the international community must take step-by-step measures leading to the total elimination of those weapons.

The draft resolution, he noted, called upon the nuclear-armed States to take practical steps to achieve the total elimination of nuclear weapons within a specified timeframe.  It meanwhile urged the nuclear weapon States to assure the non-nuclear weapon States, through a legally binding instrument, of the non-use and non-threat of use of their nuclear weapons.  The draft resolution once again called for actions to be taken, particularly by the nuclear-armed States, aimed at achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.

ALEXANDER KMENTT (Austria), taking the floor on behalf of the many co-sponsors of the draft resolution entitled Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations (document A/C.1/67/L.46), said the text requested the General Assembly to establish an open-ended working group to develop proposals to take forward those negotiations for the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons.  The authors had listened attentively to comments and made efforts to incorporate them.  They would continue to listen to all delegations to ensure that the process remained inclusive.

In explanation of position before the vote on L.46, the representative of Egypt said that his country had always championed the cause of global nuclear disarmament and had submitted programmes for its achievement, but, unfortunately, little had materialized.  Thus, Egypt supported genuine multilateral efforts towards that goal, and believed that the Conference on Disarmament was the proper forum for negotiation.  The international community should make the Conference work; the lack of political will was the obstacle.

He said the delegation had decided to vote for L.46, as the new text of the draft resolution reaffirmed the Conference’s role.   Egypt had engaged actively in that process, supporting operative paragraph 1, which suggested that a working group be established to develop proposals.  Separately, the proper venue for reviewing the whole disarmament machinery was a fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament.   Egypt sought early adoption of the Conference’s work programme, with clear priority to achieving nuclear disarmament.

In a draft resolution on Mongolia’s international security and nuclear-weapon-free status (document A/C.1/67/L.40), the Assembly would welcome the 17 September 2012 declarations by Mongolia and the five nuclear weapon States on Mongolia's nuclear-weapon-free status as a concrete contribution to nuclear non-proliferation and the enhancement of confidence and predictability in the region.

It would also invite Member States to cooperate with Mongolia in taking the necessary measures to consolidate and strengthen its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, the inviolability of its borders, its independent foreign policy, its economic security and its ecological balance, as well as its nuclear-weapon-free status.

That text was approved by consensus, as orally revised.

Next, the Committee approved a draft resolution on nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas (document A/C.1/67/L.45) by a recorded vote of 165 in favour to 4 against ( France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States), with 2 abstentions (Federated States of Micronesia, Israel).

That text would reaffirm the Assembly’s conviction of the important role of nuclear-weapon-free zones in strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

It would welcome the continued contribution that the Antarctic Treaty and the Treaties of Tlatelolco, Rarotonga, Bangkok and Pelindaba are making towards freeing the southern hemisphere and adjacent areas covered by those treaties from nuclear weapons, and note with satisfaction that all nuclear-weapon-free zones in the southern hemisphere and adjacent areas are now in force.

It would call upon nuclear weapon States to withdraw any reservations or interpretive declarations contrary to the object and purpose of the Treaties.  Additionally, it would congratulate Central Asia and Mongolia for their efforts to promote the nuclear-weapon-free status of the southern hemisphere.

A draft sponsored by Mexico, on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations (document A/C.1/67/L.46), was also approved by a recorded vote, as orally revised, of 134 in favour to 4 against (France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States), with 34 abstentions.

By that text, the Assembly would decide to establish an open-ended working group to develop proposals to take forward such negotiations for the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons.  It would also decide that the Group would convene in 2013, in Geneva, for up to three weeks.

A recorded vote was also requested for the draft resolution on nuclear disarmament (document A/C.1/67/L.50).  That text would recognize that the time is now opportune for all nuclear weapon States to take effective disarmament measures to achieve the total elimination of these weapons at the earliest possible time.  It would reaffirm that nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation are substantively interrelated and mutually reinforcing, that the two processes must go hand-in-hand and that there is a genuine need for a systematic and progressive process of nuclear disarmament.

In a related provision, the Assembly would call for the immediate commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.  It would urge the Conference on Disarmament to commence as early as possible its substantive work during its 2013 session, on the basis of a comprehensive and balanced programme of work.

Further to the text, the Assembly would welcome and encourage the efforts to establish new nuclear-weapon-free zones in different parts of the world, including in the Middle East.  It would also encourage the signing of the Protocol to the Treaty on the South-East Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone.

It would call upon nuclear weapon States, pending the achievement of the total elimination of nuclear weapons, to agree on an internationally and legally binding instrument on a joint undertaking not to be the first to use nuclear weapons, and call upon all States to conclude an internationally and legally binding instrument on security assurances of non-use and non-threat of use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon States.

Prior to action on that draft as a whole, a separate recorded vote was requested for operative paragraph 16, concerning negotiations for a fissile material ban, which was retained by a vote of 165 in favour to 1 against (Pakistan), with 7 abstentions (Armenia, Belarus, France, Israel, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan).

The draft as a whole was approved by a recorded vote of 111 in favour to 43 against, with 20 abstentions. 

Giving an explanation of position after the votes on L.45 and L.46, the representative of the United Kingdom, speaking also on behalf of France and the United States, said that concerning L.45, the delegations underlined the importance of nuclear-weapon-free zones, provided that they were established as set out in United Nations guidelines, namely, that they were supported by all the States in a region as well as by the nuclear-armed States; established by virtue of a treaty or convention; and satisfactorily created in consultation with nuclear weapon States.  The delegations believed it was contradictory to have a zone related to the high seas and the rights of passage through maritime space.  The delegations questioned whether the real goal of the draft resolution was the establishment of a zone covering the high seas, and believed that that ambiguity was not clarified.

Regarding draft resolution L.46, the representative said that there was little value in initiatives taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations outside of the established forum, which only sought to circumvent the mechanism dealing with those issues.  It was also unclear how that fit into the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and 2010 Review Conference framework, which could jeopardize the consensus achieved at that review.  The draft resolution also focused on nuclear disarmament, while the Non-Proliferation Treaty covered all three pillars equally.  Additionally, given the financial climate, the delegations were also concerned about the resulting budgetary impact of setting up an open-ended working group.  The delegations, therefore, could not support the establishment of such a group or any outcome it might produce.

The representative of Argentina, also addressing L.46, said the delegation had supported all ideas to break the current impasse at the Conference, but negotiations should not be moved outside that venue, as that would negatively affect the current structure.  It was important that all groups make progress towards substantive work within the Conference and, therefore, a favourable vote should be seen as a constructive sign.

The representative of China, speaking about L.46 as well, said the delegation had always supported a total ban on nuclear weapons, as well as the spirit of the draft resolution.  At the same time, establishing an open-ended working group to study the proposals on multilateral nuclear disarmament was not viable.  The Conference on Disarmament and Disarmament Commission faced difficulties, mainly of a political nature, rather than a technical one.  To establish a working group could weaken the current multilateral disarmament mechanism and make it difficult to maintain the participation of major countries.   China, therefore, could not support the group’s establishment and had abstained from voting on the resolution.

The representative of Pakistan, speaking about L.45, said his country had always supported nuclear-weapon-free zones, so it had voted in favour of the resolution for the first time.  Regarding L.50, Pakistan had supported nuclear disarmament and the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  It endorsed certain elements in the resolution, but had abstained in the vote on the text as a whole because of references to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Review Conferences.  It had also voted against operative paragraph 16, which referred to negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.  Regarding L.46, Pakistan supported the goal of nuclear disarmament and several elements in the draft, however, it was concerned that a working group would weaken the disarmament machinery.  International consensus underpinning the disarmament regime had eroded.  The best way forward was to restore it, and a fourth special session on disarmament was the best platform to deal with the entire range of issues.

The representative of Japan, speaking about L.46, said his delegation believed that all States need to take up nuclear disarmament measures to bring about a peaceful world, free of nuclear weapons.   Japan considered the treaty banning the production of fissile materials to be the next step for the international community to take.  To ensure that negotiations were effective, Japan considered it essential for major stakeholders to participate in the negotiations.  Regarding draft resolution L.50, from which Japan had abstained from voting, the delegation shared the goal of total elimination of nuclear weapons.  However, to steadily implement measures, Japan attached importance to united activity, including by the nuclear weapon States.  So, there was a gap in Japan’s view and that of the resolution.

Speaking in explanation of vote, the representative of Morocco said his delegation had voted in favour of L.46 and remained open to exploring means of advancing the objective of nuclear disarmament through multilateral negotiations.   Morocco’s support for nuclear disarmament had been consistently firm.  His delegation had supported L.46 with the understanding that the mandate of an open- ended working group was to explore proposals and report on its work, taking into account all proposals made; it was not an overall review of the disarmament machinery.  The Conference on Disarmament remained the sole negotiating forum of the disarmament machinery.  The best way forward in nuclear disarmament was to implement existing obligations, particularly in the framework of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Also speaking in explanation of vote, the representative of the Russian Federation said his delegation had voted against L.46 for reasons that were simple and well known.  He did not see practical advisability in establishing an open-ended working group to discuss such questions, which were all being looked at in a multilateral way by the international community in different forums, such as, for example, within thematic discussions in the Conference on Disarmament.  The reasons for stagnation in the disarmament process were not because the structures were imperfect, but, as was well known to all, because of political factors involved.

He said that what was proposed in L.46 did not resolve those factors, but only created the appearance of moving forward, and could lead to consequences that were the opposite of what the authors intended, thereby ruining the consensual basis of decision-making and losing the participation of key States in the disarmament negotiations.  That was an unacceptable prospect for the Russian Federation.  He would join with those who thought like his delegation did, and was grateful to those partners for their articulated support.  The “Joint Statement by Interested States in Support of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva” was open to all, and he called on interested countries to – together, “not with propaganda” – come forward and truly bring disarmament work to life again within the multilateral framework, taking into consideration the security of all States, without exception.  

Also explaining his vote on L.46, Slovakia’s representative said that his country was fully committed to creating a safer world for all.  Disarmament, and in particular nuclear disarmament, was an important tool that could bring the international community closer to its common goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.   Slovakia placed multilateralism at the centre of those efforts, and believed the commonly shared and desired goal could be achieved through a comprehensive framework.  His delegation saw the Conference on Disarmament as the sole multilateral negotiating forum for disarmament matters, and was convinced it was still the best place to produce global, well-founded and viable instruments.

He said that the history of negotiations in the Conference had shown that it had the potential to deliver results.  It needed to be resuscitated and to implement the mandate given to it in 1978.  Existing mechanisms were well-established to address the pressing issue of nuclear disarmament if there was sufficient political will.  A new mechanism was not needed.  Consensus could still be reached to achieve an outcome acceptable to all.  His delegation had voted in favour of the resolution on the understanding that the initiative was aimed at providing additional impetus to allow the existing disarmament machinery to start negotiating.

Brazil’s representative said his delegation favoured L.46 and noted that the world was “over-armed and peace was underfunded”, as the Secretary-General had said.  His support for L.46 had also been based on the understanding that it could be a useful step towards a productive negotiating process in the Conference, and saw it as a path converging with that goal.  There should be no illusion that the difficulties facing the Conference could be overcome in other forums.  The stalemates were political and not related to institutional or procedural issues.

Also speaking in explanation of vote, Ecuador’s representative said his delegation had also supported L.46, given its clear and consistent stance and commitment to nuclear disarmament.  At the same time, his delegation recognized that the Conference on Disarmament was the only multilateral negotiating disarmament forum in the United Nations.  Any negotiating initiative on its margins would be tantamount to undermining its work and the entire United Nations disarmament machinery.

The representative of Cuba, also speaking on L.46, supported the convening of a conference to eliminate nuclear weapons and felt that all States should abandon concepts of nuclear deterrence, which only fostered their existence.  Negotiations should commence in the Conference on Disarmament on a treaty banning those weapons, and, first, it should agree on a programme of work.  The Conference was the only multilateral forum for negotiating disarmament treaties and moving to another venue would be a dangerous step backwards.   Cuba reiterated the responsibility of all to strengthen the Conference, including by setting up a working group and developing additional proposals to motivate negotiations.  

The working group, said the delegate, should operate within accepted rules of procedure.  The Conference’s goal should be agreement on legally binding measures.   Cuba proposed that the organizational session of the working group be held in New York City, where all countries had representation.   Cuba supported efforts to optimize the United Nations machinery and criticized the lack of political will demonstrated by some States.

The representative of India, taking the floor in explanation of votes on L.46 and L.50, said the country attached the highest priority to nuclear disarmament and shared the objective of taking forward those negotiations.  However, the delegation had abstained from voting on L.46 even though it shared the text’s aspirations.   India believed that a working group outside of the Conference might not lead to productive outcomes.  Regarding L.50, India shared the main objective of nuclear disarmament, but had been constrained to abstain because of various references on which India’s position was well known.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his delegation had voted in favour of L.50 in association with the principled position of the Non-Aligned Movement, which recognized nuclear disarmament as the top priority and the fundamental issue related to world peace and security.  Nuclear disarmament was the only absolute solution to the issue of non-proliferation, because proliferation itself stemmed from the threat of use of nuclear weapons.  The “Permanent Five” should take the lead in those “with all sincerity”.  They should drastically reduce their nuclear arsenals, commit themselves to unconditional negative security assurances and withdraw all nuclear weapons deployed outside their territories.  

The delegation, said the representative, was ready to join international nuclear disarmament efforts on equal footing with other nuclear weapon States.  It would not compete in a nuclear arms race or produce nuclear weapons beyond its self-defence needs.  There were some elements in the text, however, that the country found uncomfortable, namely, those regarding the implementation of the Action Plan of the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the call for adherence to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.  However, the delegation nonetheless voted “yes” because it subscribed to the core objectives of the text.

The representative of Iran said his delegation had supported L.46 because it dealt with nuclear disarmament, which was of the highest priority.  At the same time, its interpretation of the text was that the working group did not have a negotiating mandate and its role would not be in contradiction to the role, mandate and authority of the special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament.

Also concerning L.46, the representative of Syria urged the international community to work seriously towards nuclear disarmament and towards a definite agenda; however, the lack of political will on the part of some Powers had created obstacles and stopped the Conference from implementing its mandate.  It was important to respect that forum’s rules of procedure, which was a fundamental basis on which to achieve success.  The Conference should adopt a programme of work, which included suborgans for negotiation on the total elimination of nuclear weapons according to a time frame that was unconditional and defined.  There was a need for a legally binding international instrument that provided negative security assurances, as well as stipulations that weapons would not be used in outer space.  There should also be a ban on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.   Syria felt that negotiations on disarmament should take place in the Conference; therefore, the delegation had abstained from voting.

The representative of Algeria, also speaking about L.46, said that although the delegation recognized efforts to improve the content of the text, it was still problematic.  In addition to questioning the value added by the working group, Algeria believed that creating a new body was a risky initiative for several reasons.  To engage a new process was a flagrant threat to the roles and mandates of the Disarmament Commission and the Conference on Disarmament, which were the only bodies tasked with deliberating and negotiating.  The delegation, therefore, had abstained from voting. 

Speaking in explanation of vote, the representative of Georgia said the delegation had meant to vote in favour of L.45 and to abstain on L.46.

Also speaking in explanation of vote, Belgium’s representative said his delegation had supported L.46, which was not an attempt to diminish the Conference or to block negotiations that were going forward in good faith.  The goal was to implement an agreed work programme.  Launching negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty was appropriate, and he called on all States to adopt a constructive approach for that endeavour.

Cluster 4:  Conventional Weapons

PÍA POROLI ( Argentina), on behalf of its co-sponsors, introduced the draft resolution on information on confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms (document A/C.1/67/L.36), as well as oral amendments to operative paragraphs 5 and 6.

Then, acting without a vote, the Committee approved L.36, which would have the Assembly bear in mind the contribution of confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms, and express its conviction that such measures in the field of conventional arms and development were mutually reinforcing.

The draft would encourage Member States to adopt and apply those measures and to provide information in that regard.  It would underscore the conclusions set out in the Secretary-General’s report that most of the measures referred to in national reports had been agreed in regional and subregional or bilateral contexts and that the great variety of those measures underlined the importance of tailoring them to the security concerns of States within a region and subregion.

That text was approved by consensus, as orally revised.

Cluster 5:  Other Disarmament Measures and International Security

YADIRA LEDESMA HERNÁNDEZ ( Cuba) said that attempts to engage in political subversion using telecommunication violated international norms, and created tension for international peace and security.  Telecommunications and related technologies should not be used to the detriment of States, and L.30 emphasized the need to stop the use of resources and information technologies for bellicose or terrorist purposes.  She denounced the “radio and TV aggression” perpetrated by the United States Government against Cuba.  That had been going on for decades, in violation of international law principles.  There were terrorist organizations operating from within the United States against Cuba, which led to the murders of officials and other forms of terrorism.   Cuba would continue to adopt all measures within its grasp to try to put an end to such aggressive actions, and it would continue to denounce those actions in all international bodies.

EDEN CHARLES ( Trinidad and Tobago) said that informal consultations had been held, which produced L.35/Rev.1.  Seeking its adoption by consensus, he said the goal of the text was to heighten the participation of women in disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.  That draft was first introduced in 2010.  He noted an omission in operative paragraph 1 of the word “regional”, which he hoped would be revised during action.

Making a general statement, ULF LINDELL (Sweden), on behalf of Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay and Sweden, said that those countries joined consensus on L.30, entitled “Developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security”.  However, owing to recent developments, they wanted to stress some particularly relevant aspects.

He said one of the starting points for the delegation was that the Internet should remain open, facilitating the free flow of information in cyberspace.  The same universal human rights that individuals enjoyed “off-line” must also be upheld and protected online.  Another fundamental position was that discussions with wider implications for the future of the Internet should be based on a multi-stakeholder approach, including, not least, private sector and civil society actors.  Those discussions should recognize that an increasingly digitalized society led to increased vulnerability for individuals, businesses and States alike.  Cyber attacks, cyber espionage and cybercrime were no longer fictional tales, but risks that needed to be addressed.  It was clear that countering cyberspace threats could only be achieved through global cooperation among all stakeholders.  That important work needed to be intensified.

Turning to action on drafts in that cluster, the Committee then approved by consensus L.30 on information and telecommunications in the context of international security.  That text would have the Assembly call upon Member States to promote further at multilateral levels the consideration of existing and potential threats in the field of information security, as well as possible strategies to address the threats emerging in that field, consistent with the need to preserve the free flow of information.

That text would also have the Assembly invite all Member States, taking into account the assessments and recommendations contained in the report of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security, and report to the Secretary-General their views on the following:  general appreciation of the issues of information security; efforts taken at the national level to strengthen information security and promote international cooperation in this field; possible measures that could be taken by the international community to strengthen information security at the global level; and the content of relevant international concepts aimed at strengthening the security of global information and telecommunications systems.

Next, the Committee approved, without a vote, L.35/Rev.1 on women, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control, as orally revised.

Recalling that the Charter of the United Nations reaffirms the equal rights of men and women, that text would have the Assembly recognize the valuable contribution of women to practical disarmament measures carried out at the local, national, regional and subregional levels.  

By further provisions, it would urge Member States, regional and subregional organizations, the United Nations and specialized agencies to promote the equitable representation of women in all decision-making processes with regard to matters related to disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control, in particular the prevention and resolution of armed violence and armed conflict.

That draft would also urge Member States to support and strengthen the effective participation of women in organizations in the field of disarmament at the local, national, regional and subregional levels, and call upon all States to build the capacity of women as agents of change and to empower them to participate actively and effectively in the design and implementation of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control efforts.

Next, the Committee approved a draft resolution, as orally revised, entitled Consolidation of peace through practical disarmament measures (document A/C.1/67/L.37), also without a vote.

By its provisions, the Assembly would express the conviction that a comprehensive and integrated approach to disarmament measures was often a prerequisite to maintaining and consolidating peace and security, providing a basis for effective post-conflict peacebuilding.

Also by that draft, the Assembly would stress that further efforts were needed in order to develop and effectively implement programmes of practical disarmament.  It would emphasize the importance of including in United Nations-mandated peacekeeping missions practical disarmament measures aimed at addressing the problem of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, demobilization, and reintegration programmes aimed at former combatants, with a view to promoting an integrated comprehensive and effective weapons management strategy that would contribute to a sustainable peacebuilding process.

It would encourage the Group of Interested States to continue to function as an informal, open and transparent forum supporting the implementation of the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons, and in this regard welcome the synergies within the multi-stakeholder process, including Governments, the United Nations system, regional and subregional organizations and institutions, as well as non-governmental organizations.

Also acting without a vote, the Committee approved its draft resolution on the United Nations Disarmament Information Programme (document A/C.1/67/L.42), which would commend the Secretary-General for his efforts to make effective use of the limited resources available to him in disseminating information on arms control and disarmament to Governments, the media, non-governmental organizations, educational communities and research institutes, and in carrying out a seminar and conference programme.

The Assembly would stress the importance of the United Nations Disarmament Information Programme as a significant instrument in enabling all Member States to participate fully in the deliberations and negotiations on disarmament in the various United Nations bodies, in assisting them in complying with treaties, as required, and in contributing to agreed mechanisms for transparency.

Further to the text, the Assembly would recommend that the Programme focus its efforts to continue to publish The United Nations Disarmament Yearbook; update the disarmament website; promote the use of the Programme as a means to provide information related to progress on the implementation of nuclear disarmament measures; intensify United Nations interaction with the public to help further an informed debate on topical issues of arms limitation, disarmament and security; and organize discussions on topics of interest in the field of arms limitation and disarmament with a view to broadening understanding and facilitating an exchange of views and information among Member States and civil society.

It would also recognize the importance of all support extended to the Voluntary Trust Fund for the United Nations Disarmament Information Programme, and invite all Member States to make further contributions to the Fund with a view to sustaining a strong outreach programme.

Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Iran said his delegation had joined consensus on L.35/Rev.1, however, he wished to put on record that Iran would implement the resolution as much as it was in line with the country’s constitutional laws and regulations, and administrative procedures.

Cluster 6: Regional Disarmament and Security

Making a general statement, DJAMEL MOKTEFI ( Algeria) introduced the draft resolution entitled Strengthening of security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region (document A/C.1/67/L.6), which, he noted, retained the text contained in its previous version and noted the efforts by Mediterranean countries concerning challenges common to them all.  The draft resolution sought to make the Mediterranean region one of dialogue, peace and prosperity.  It aimed to ensure that the region’s security was tied to that of the world.   Algeria and the other co-sponsors called for consensus adoption of the text, which had great importance.

In an explanation of position before taking action, the representative of Iran said that his delegation would not participate in the voting on L.6.  Given the continued crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the Zionist regime’s blockade, the resolution had not factually reflected the situation in the Territory and was far from the reality in the region.

The Committee went on to approve the draft resolution without a vote.  By its terms, the Assembly, reaffirming that security in the Mediterranean was closely linked to European security as well as to international peace and security, would call upon all States of that region that had not yet done so to adhere to all the multilaterally negotiated legal instruments related to the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.

It would express its satisfaction of those countries’ continuing efforts to contribute actively to the elimination of all causes of tension in the region and to the promotion of just and lasting solutions to its persistent problems, thus ensuring the withdrawal of foreign forces of occupation and respecting the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries of the Mediterranean and the right of peoples to self-determination.

It would encourage them to favour the conditions necessary for strengthening the confidence-building measures among them, and further strengthen their cooperation in combating terrorism, including the possible resort by terrorists to weapons of mass destruction, and in combating international crime, illicit arms transfers and illicit drug trafficking.

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