|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
22nd Meeting (AM)
First Committee, Concluding Session, Sends 59 Draft Texts to General Assembly,
Consistent with Its Practice of Voting on Nearly Half
Chair, Thanking Delegations, Says ‘If We Do Not Hang Together, We Hang Separately’
As the sixty-seventh session of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) drew to a close today, Committee Chair Desra Percaya of Indonesia thanked delegations for “hanging with” him and the Committee during the session’s challenges since, as Benjamin Franklin said, “if we do not hang together, we hang separately”.
During the course of the substantive session, which began on 8 October, the Committee had approved 53 resolutions and six decisions, he said, noting that those, 29 had required a recorded vote, while another 30, or about half, were approved without a vote. That, he said, represented a marked increase in the number of texts requiring recorded votes compared to the last session.
Continuing its practice today of approving texts with generally broad support but on which no consensus existed, the Committee took action on a new draft resolution calling for a high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament, as well as a significantly updated draft on the arms trade treaty — both core concerns of the disarmament community, bringing to 59 the total number of approved texts it would forward to the General Assembly for adoption.
Introduced by Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, the draft resolution would also encourage Member States to participate in that meeting at the highest level, along with representatives from non-governmental organizations selected by the General Assembly President. That draft was approved by a recorded vote of 165 in favour to none against, with 5 abstentions ( France, Israel, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States).
Three of the nuclear-weapon States — the United Kingdom, the United States and France — explained their abstention. The United Kingdom questioned holding a high-level meeting of the Assembly on nuclear disarmament when venues for such discussions already existed. He said he was puzzled at how such a meeting might further the goals of the Action Plan of the 2010 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
France’s representative similarly questioned whether there was any added value to convening such a meeting when there were already appropriate venues. The delegation was also “bewildered” by how such a meeting might advance the Action Plan, which already sketched out the best path forward. Regretfully, the meeting would not address disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation in a balanced manner.
The United States’ representative raised concerns about potential programme budget implications, citing an oral statement by the Secretariat indicating that adoption of the resolution would create an additional financial requirement of $77,000. Taken together with the cost of other newly proposed activities, the total impact on the United Nations budget was significant, he cautioned.
Also kindling discussion among delegations was a draft resolution aimed at building on the progress made towards the adoption of a strong, balanced and effective arms trade treaty. That text would decide to convene the “Final United Nations Conference” for the creation of such a treaty in March 2013.
Also by that resolution, the draft text of the treaty submitted by the Conference’s president on 26 July would be the basis for future work, without prejudice to the right of delegations to put forward additional proposals on that text. The Committee approved the resolution as a whole by a recorded vote of 157 in favour to none against, with 18 abstentions.
Prior to acting on the draft as a whole, two separate recorded votes were requested: one on operative paragraph 2, concerning the convening of the Final Conference, which was retained by a recorded vote of 153 in favour to 1 against (Iran), with 18 abstentions; and a second on the third operative paragraph, concerning the basis for future work on the treaty, which was retained by a vote of 148 in favour to 1 against (Iran), with 22 abstentions.
The Committee also approved drafts on: follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons; The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation; Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction; Transparency in armaments; illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects; Preventing and combating illicit brokering activities; Open-ended Working Group on the Fourth Special Session of the General Assembly Devoted to Disarmament; and Regional confidence-building measures: activities of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa.
During Cluster 1, Nuclear Disarmament, the representatives of Cuba and the Republic of Korea made general statements. The following representatives also spoke in explanation of vote on that cluster: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Russian Federation, Brazil, Sweden, Cuba, Syria, Japan, Australia, Pakistan, Indonesia, India, Iran and Italy. The representative of Denmark spoke on a point of order to clarify the delegation’s vote.
For Cluster 2, Other Weapons of Mass Destruction, the representative of Iran spoke during action.
For Cluster 4, Conventional Weapons, the following representatives made general statements: United Republic of Tanzania, United Kingdom, Morocco, South Africa, Nigeria, the Netherlands and Norway. Speaking in explanation of vote on that Cluster were Sierra Leone, Syria, Indonesia, Mexico, Canada, Belarus, Sudan, Egypt, Iran, Ecuador, India, Cuba, Venezuela and Pakistan.
For Cluster 5, Other Disarmament Measures and International Security, the representatives of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran and Ecuador spoke in explanation of vote on that Cluster. The representative of Syria noted that shortening the thematic debates this year did not constitute a precedent.
During Cluster 7, Disarmament Machinery, the representative of Cuba made a general statement. The following representatives also spoke in explanation of vote on that Cluster: Germany, Spain, United Kingdom and Ethiopia.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue taking action on the draft resolutions and decisions before it.
Cluster 1: Nuclear Weapons
Making a general statement, YADIRA LEDESMA HERNÁNDEZ ( Cuba) said her country fully supported draft resolution “L.19”, on a General Assembly high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament in 2013, which was a new initiative, in concert with the Non-Aligned Movement’s position. The aim of ensuring the complete elimination of nuclear weapons was a position that Cuba believed in both in its national capacity and as a member of the Movement. Elimination of nuclear weapons must be the international community’s highest priority. Thousands of nuclear weapons were ready and operational for use, and it was unacceptable that certain nuclear-armed States had not refrained from deeming their use in their nuclear doctrines.
Worse, she continued, those States were devoting millions of dollars to modernizing their nuclear weapons. The only guarantee of safety was through the absolute prohibition of those weapons, for which several high-level meetings had been held. The new draft resolution proposed to focus on the issue of nuclear disarmament in a one-day plenary meeting in 2013, in order to facilitate broad participation. The meeting would be an opportunity to exchange views on the matter and send a political message indicating the commitment of States to a world free of nuclear weapons. Cuba believed that the meeting would be an opportunity to further promote the efforts made by the international community.
SHIN DONG IK ( Republic of Korea) introduced draft resolution “L.23”, entitled, “The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation”. The Code, he said, had contributed to transparency and confidence-building in outer space. The General Assembly had adopted resolutions recognizing it as a practical step. While the content of the new draft was similar to the previous resolution, there had been modifications, including recognition that 2012 marked a decade since the Code’s development, and it welcomed advancement towards universalizing the instrument, in operative paragraph 3. In operative paragraph 7, reference was made to the relationship between the Code and the United Nations.
He said that the draft resolution had been agreed by 134 States at a meeting in Vienna earlier this year and was co-sponsored by more than 80 in the First Committee. He asked for the Committee’s renewed commitment by supporting the draft and giving blessing to the Code’s further development on its tenth anniversary.
In an explanation of position before action on that text, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that his delegation intended to vote against L.23 because it believed that the Republic of Korea had no qualification or moral grounds to sponsor such a draft resolution. It was “absolutely hypocritical and absurd” that the Republic of Korea, which was actually engaged in missile proliferation under the patronage of the United States, had tabled that text in this Committee. Only last month, the Republic of Korea had begged the United States for permission to upgrade and extend its missile range, with the intended purpose of hostility towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The United States, by giving the “green light” to “ South Korea”, had instigated further the inter-Korean confrontation and triggered a missile arms race in Northeast Asia, let alone undermined the authority of the Missile Technology Control Regime.
Without the permission of the United States, the Republic of Korea could not develop its missile capability on its own, because, as far as military matters were concerned, the Republic of Korea was at the beck and call of the United States, the representative said. The Republic of Korea did not even have wartime military operational control, held by all sovereign States. For the past few decades, the Republic of Korea had persistently begged the United States for approval and transfer of technology to upgrade its missile capability. It was very ironic that the Republic of Korea was behaving like a frontrunner in international efforts to curb missile proliferation. That reminded the speaker of an episode in Aesop’s fables “The ass in the lion’s skin”; fine clothes might disguise, but silly behaviour would soon disclose true nature.
Sharing the deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, a draft resolution on follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons (document A/C.1/67/L.9) would have the General Assembly underline the unanimous conclusion of the Court that there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.
The Assembly would call upon all States immediately to fulfil that obligation by commencing multilateral negotiations leading to an early conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention prohibiting the development, production, testing, deployment, stockpiling, transfer, threat or use of nuclear weapons and providing for their elimination, informing the Secretary-General of their efforts.
The Committee approved that draft by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 23 against, with 25 abstentions.
Speaking on a point of order, the representative of Denmark said his delegation had wished to vote against the draft, and not abstain as was indicated on the board.
A draft resolution introduced by Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement entitled High-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament (document A/C.1/67/L.19) would have the Assembly, convinced that nuclear disarmament and the complete elimination of those weapons are essential to remove the danger of nuclear war, decide to convene a high-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament that will be held as a one-day plenary meeting on 26 September 2013, to contribute to achieving the nuclear disarmament Goal. It would encourage Member States to participate in the meeting at the highest level and request the Assembly President to draw up a list of representatives of non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council to participate in the meeting.
The Committee approved that draft by a recorded vote of 165 in favour to none against, with 5 abstentions ( France, Israel, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States).
A draft resolution on The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (document A/C.1/67/L.23) would have the Assembly invite all States that have not yet subscribed to the Code to do so, and encourage States that have already subscribed to make efforts to increase participation in it and to improve its implementation.
By further terms, the Assembly would welcome progress in implementation, which contributes to enhancing transparency and building confidence among States through the submission of pre-launch notifications and annual declarations on space and ballistic missile policies. The Assembly would encourage the exploration of further ways and means to deal effectively with the proliferation of ballistic missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction, and to deepen the relationship between the Code and the United Nations.
The Committee approved that text by a vote of 151 in favour to 2 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran), with 21 abstentions.
Speaking in explanation of the vote after the vote, the representative of Egypt said that L.23 was a product of exclusive export regimes developed outside the United Nations in a discriminatory manner. The Code was neither balanced in its approach nor comprehensive in its scope. It focused on ballistic missiles while ignoring other, more advanced means of delivering weapons of mass destruction, such as cruise missiles. Any consideration of the missiles issue should take place only in the context of the United Nations if it was to enjoy legitimacy and effectiveness. Egypt had been a co-sponsor on L.7 on missiles to keep the issue on the United Nations agenda in a comprehensive manner.
Also speaking in explanation of vote after the vote on L.23, the representative of the Russian Federation said that his delegation had consistently advocated an increase in the efficacy of the Code and welcomed every effort aimed at universalizing it. Of course, his delegation had supported L.23, and once again, reiterated the clear intent to bolster that forum in the international system of non-proliferation mechanisms and as a reliable tool for increasing transparency and confidence building.
He said that his country, between May 2011 and May 2012, had produced 63 indicators of missile launches, which was the highest among States parties that were carrying out such launches. The Russian Federation was honouring its obligations under the Hague Code of Conduct, and noted that some States in the forum, saying they wanted to bring it to a new level and bring in new States parties, in reality, were actually undertaking activities that did not positively develop the situations surrounding the Code. He warned that inappropriate political actions taken by some States ran counter to the Code and could undermine efforts to make that important forum universal.
Also explaining his position was Brazil’s representative, who said that although his country did not adhere to the Code, his delegation had voted in favour of L.23, because Brazil acknowledged and respected that 134 States had already subscribed the instrument as a practical step against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means. Brazil welcomed the view expressed in preambular paragraph 8, that States should not be excluded from using the benefits of space for peaceful purposes. He hoped that the instrument could adequately address the question of international cooperation, which was of utmost importance for developing countries.
The representative of the United Kingdom, also speaking in explanation of vote, explained his delegation’s abstention on L.19 and questioned holding a high-level meeting of that kind when there were already venues for such discussions. His delegation was puzzled by how such a meeting might further the goals of the Action Plan of the 2010 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The road map agreed the Action Plan was the best way to further the agenda.
Also explaining its position, the United States ’ representative said his delegation had abstained on L.19, since the country based on substantive reasons already set out by the delegation of the United Kingdom. The oral statement on programme budget implications, which the Committee had heard for the first time yesterday evening, indicated that if the General Assembly adopted the resolution, additional requirements would be made for more than $77,000. That was not a complaint, because his delegation greatly appreciated how hard everyone in the Secretariat was working under trying circumstances, particularly due to Hurricane Sandy, which set things back. However, he joined others in expressing concerns about the volume of potential add-ons to the 2012/2013 regular budget. Taken together with the cost of other newly proposed United Nations activities, the total impact on the budget was significant, and the cost should be absorbed.
The representative of Sweden said the delegation had voted in favour of L.9, but wanted to comment on preambular paragraph 15, where the General Assembly took note of the Model Nuclear Weapons Convention submitted to the Secretary-General by Costa Rica and Malaysia in 2007. Sweden believed that was done without prejudice to a future negotiation process on a nuclear weapons convention or agreement on a framework of separate mutually reinforcing instruments.
Cuba’s representative said her country had abstained from voting on L.23 because of the lack of transparency and the selective manner of developing the Hague Code of Conduct, which took place outside of the United Nations and did not involve all States. The issue of missiles should be examined within the United Nations framework in an inclusive manner. All interested Member States had the right to participate openly.
Moreover, she said the Code had deficits and did not reflect the interests of a group of countries. Among its problems were that it did not address the peaceful uses of missile technology or underline cooperation to address the needs of specific countries. Focus was restricted to horizontal proliferation, ignoring vertical. Other aspects of proliferation should be included, such as the design of tests. The Code referred to ballistic missiles, but not to other types of missiles. Cuba was committed to non-proliferation, including of ballistic missiles, and was convinced that instruments negotiated in a multilateral manner were the only ones that were truly effective, including with regard to ballistic missile proliferation.
The representative of Syria, stating that his delegation had abstained in voting on L.23, emphasized his country’s commitment to the United Nations Charter, as well as to multilateral action. Some States concluded instruments outside of the United Nations, which compromised the disarmament and non-proliferation machinery. Syria believed the Hague Code was selective and discriminatory. It focused on self-propelled missiles and not other categories, and it did not look at reasons for proliferation. The Committee had adopted the resolution titled “Missiles”, which considered all aspects.
Japan’s representative said his country had abstained from voting on L.9. Due to the immense destructive power of nuclear weapons, Japan believed that their use did not comply with the spirit of humanitarianism. Nevertheless, the advisory position of the International Court of Justice, as set out in the resolution, demonstrated the complexity of the issue. Japan supported the conclusion of the court that there existed an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to conclusion an agreement on nuclear disarmament. It was convinced that realistic measures were required to achieve steady progress regarding nuclear non-proliferation. However, it considered it premature to call on all States to immediately fulfil that obligation by commencing negotiations leading to the early conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention.
The representative of Australia, speaking on behalf of numerous co-sponsors of L.19, said that a world without nuclear weapons was a goal worthy of high-level attention. The representative said the delegation had voted in favour of L.19, supporting the idea that disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation were mutually reinforcing. It looked forward to the high-level meeting in September.
France’s representative said the delegation had abstained from voting on L.19, because of a question about whether there was any added value to convening the high-level meeting given that there already were appropriate venues, such as the First Committee, Disarmament Commission and Conference on Disarmament. France was bewildered by the manner by which such a meeting might make progress on the NPT Action Plan. That road map already sketched out the best path possible. France remained of the view that nuclear proliferation continued to pose a most serious threat to peace and security and regretted that a meeting would not address disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation in a balanced manner.
The representative of Pakistan, speaking about L.23, said that the missiles issue was complex, so it was important to address it in a multilateral forum. While some effort had been made to acknowledge the concerns of States in the Code, several missile-possessing States could not accept the final product because of the lack of proper deliberations. The Code did not address Pakistan’s concerns. Despite Pakistan’s commitment to nuclear non-proliferation, and transparency and confidence-building measures, the delegation had abstained.
The representative of Indonesia explained the delegation’s abstention on L.23, saying that its noble aim did not increase security for all countries. The best way for establishing norms was through an instrument that prohibited ballistic missiles and reached out to all States. It was also important that such an instrument contain a provision on international assistance with regard to peaceful use. That would give developing countries an incentive to join.
The representative of India, stating that his country had also abstained in that vote, said the country was committed to the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means, including that of ballistic missiles, whose proliferation impacted India’s security. The issue was complex because there was no global legal regime on the use of missiles and advanced weapons systems. Any initiative to address concerns about missile proliferation should be inclusive and comprehensive. The United Nations had an important role to play in providing a more structured and effective mechanism to build consensus. As for the Code, 134 States considered it to be effective. India was not a member, but was willing to study it.
Iran’s representative, also speaking about L.23, said the Code suffered from procedural flaws. It was drafted outside the United Nations in a selective, unbalanced and incomprehensive manner, so it did not represent a fully negotiated text. Highlighting other shortcomings, he said that the Code contained no disarmament perspective and discriminatingly acknowledged the ballistic missiles of a few States while others were prevented from obtaining them. Also, it focused on ballistic missiles and did not address other delivery systems, such as cruise missiles used by staunch supporters of the Code. Additionally, it failed to provide a definition of what constituted ballistic missiles capable of mass destruction, leading to political and arbitrary interpretations, nor did it offer a distinction between space-launch vehicles and ballistic missile programmes, so the issue of space-launch vehicle programmes was also subject to interpretation.
Additionally, he said, it had vague language regarding assistance and cooperation in the area of space launch vehicles, and the issue of ballistic missile development had not been addressed compared with proliferation aspects. In fact, it was silent about vertical proliferation. The right of all States to peaceful applications in space, including access to necessary technology like space-launch vehicles, had also been neglected. There had been a previous promise by Code chairmen to consider amendments by non-subscribing States, but there had been no changes in the resolution. Iran, therefore, had been obligated to vote against it. The issue of missiles in all its aspects should be considered in the United Nations and, for that reason, Iran had proposed a draft decision on missiles, which had been adopted by consensus on 5 November.
Turning to L.19, the representative of Italy said his country subscribed to the statements by Australia and the United States regarding financial and budgetary implications of that text, particularly the need to avoid additional costs to the United Nations regular 2012-2013 budget.
Cluster 2: Other Weapons of Mass Destruction
Next, the Committee approved, without a vote, a draft resolution submitted by Hungary on the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (document A/C.1/67/L.29) would have the Assembly welcome the reaffirmation made in the Final Declarations of the Fourth, Sixth and Seventh Review Conferences that under all circumstances the use of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons and their development, production and stockpiling are effectively prohibited under the Convention’s article I.
The draft would encourage States parties to provide, at least biannually, appropriate information on their implementation of article X and to collaborate to offer assistance or training, upon request, in support of the legislative and other implementation measures of States parties to ensure their compliance.
Further terms of that draft would have the Assembly request the Secretary-General to render the necessary assistance to the depositary Governments of the Convention, to provide such services as may be required for implementation of the decisions and recommendations of the Review Conferences and to provide the necessary assistance and services for the meetings of experts and the meeting of States parties during the 2012-2015 intercessional process.
Speaking in explanation of vote, the representative of Iran said that his delegation had joined consensus on the draft, but it was nevertheless dissatisfied with the content of the resolution and believed that in spite of substantial changes, it did not reflect the final document of the Seventh Review Conference of the Convention in a comprehensive and balanced manner, owing due to the sponsor’s selective approach. In fact, the Review Conference outcomes had been modified in the draft in an unacceptable manner. He had put forward concrete proposals for the draft on the Review Conference that was taken exactly from the final document, but, unfortunately, those had not been taken on board.
He said he appreciated the efforts of the sponsor, but hoped more effort would be exerted next year to revise the draft in a balanced manner. Nonetheless, the draft was acceptable to his delegation to the extent to which it was in line with the Convention and Final Document of the Seventh Review Conference.
Cluster 4: Conventional Weapons
JUSTIN SERUHERE (United Republic of Tanzania) again made reference to his country’s use of rats for mine clearance, and expressed hope that all people of good will would take a look at that method, which was worthy of consideration. On L.11, he said his delegation supported an arms trade treaty and he hoped other delegations would do the same.
GUY POLLARD (United Kingdom), on L.11, said that it had been a tiring and trying time in the First Committee, especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which had interrupted work. Delegations had been expecting a budgetary statement on that resolution much earlier, which would have allowed them more time to adequately consider the financial implications. However, it only received that statement, L.60, this morning. But, given the circumstances under which the Committee was operating, he appealed for members to take action on L.11 under the so-called “ Sandy formula” to enable completion of the day’s work.
BOUCHAIB EL OUMNI ( Morocco) said that transparency in armaments was an important confidence-building measure, and so his delegation supported the meeting of the Group of Governmental Experts convened last year. His delegation wished to be a co-sponsor of L.48. On L.11, he supported the call to take action, as well as the continuation of negotiations on an arms trade treaty in a transparent and inclusive manner. He welcomed in that regard the convening of a conference in 2013 and the launch of intensive consultations prior to that event.
DAVID WENSLEY ( South Africa) noted broad support for L.48 and said he hoped it would be adopted by consensus.
ABIODUN RICHARDS ADEJOLA ( Nigeria) said his delegation could not share the “inner recesses of its thoughts” on the one-minute formula on that cluster. Continuing, he said that one objective of the arms trade treaty was the need to create an enabling environment for transfers involving States and authorized non–State actors. It also sought to minimize the harm caused by those weapons across the globe and help with mechanisms to aid in their delivery to the intended end-users. It was not an exaggeration to say that conventional weapons were the weapons of mass destruction in his region, and the subject must be dealt with in all the seriousness it deserved.
In that light, his country had co-sponsored L.11, he said, adding that terrorism in many forms was fuelled by easy and uncontrolled access to weapons and explosives for making bombs, which created many security challenges in the Sahel region. The international community could not afford to relax its guard on illicit arms transfers, he warned.
PAUL VAN DEN IJSSEL ( Netherlands) said his delegation had taken the lead in submitting resolution L.48 on the illicit arms trade since its “birth” in 1991. While an outcome had been expected for this year’s arms trade treaty conference, the international community needed to wait a little longer.
KNUT LANGELAND ( Norway) said his delegation had supported L.11, and encouraged others to follow suit. He also shared the hope that L.48 would be adopted by consensus.
The representative of Sierra Leone said that his country was not listed as a co-sponsor for L.48, and asked that it be added. Sierra Leone would always co-sponsor any resolution on curbing the illicit small arms and light weapons trade.
Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote on L.22, the representative of Syria said his delegation supported fully the global trend in creating an international community that did not use force or threaten to use it. Syria stood ready to back any international effort to carry out those objectives. He called attention to draft decision L.22, as well as to all resolutions proposed to the First Committee on that subject. Those resolutions did not take into account the specific situation in the Middle East, dominated by the Israeli-Arab conflict owing to Israel’s occupation of Arab territories, as well as its refusal to implement Security Council resolutions. Israel was armed by powerful countries, which provided different types of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, as well as deadly conventional weapons.
Indonesia’s representative, speaking on L.11, said he supported the establishment of an arms trade treaty that was strong and balanced in incorporating the interests of exporting and importing countries. While he favoured the continuation of the so-called “ATT” process, his delegation would abstain on operative paragraphs 2 and 3, because its position was not yet reflected in the draft text of the arms trade treaty. Specifically, the draft text failed to clearly lay out the legitimate rights of every State in any intra-State conflict. Such a draft and a future arms trade treaty without the inclusion of adequate provisions regarding territorial integrity would be very difficult for Indonesia’s Government and Parliament to ratify.
Also speaking in explanation of position, Mexico’s representative said the delegation attached the utmost importance to negotiating an international, legally binding and solid treaty that would establish regulations for the conventional arms trade, including in small arms and light weapons, to ensure that those weapons were not used or diverted to perpetrate serious human rights violations or to illicit markets and to fuel transnational organized crime. His delegation had worked assiduously throughout the diplomatic conference in order to agree on the treaty, but it had not been possible to adopt it.
Still, he said, his delegation remained convinced of the need as well as the possibility of reaching an agreement. However, the goal of consensus should not be interpreted as the right of one or a few delegations to impede a general agreement. The draft, L.11, on the arms trade treaty laid the foundation necessary to allow for a prompt resumption and conclusion of negotiations in 2013, which was why Mexico would support it. He hoped it would receive strong endorsement by all.
Canada’s representative said her delegation would join consensus on L.48. Canada believed it was important to impede the illicit weapons flows used for terrorist organizations, organized crime and armed conflict. However, it was important to recognize the legal and lawful ownership of and trade in firearms by responsible citizens for recreational uses, including sport shooting, hunting and collection. Canada was committed to keeping communities and streets safe. An instrument for curbing the illicit arms trade should not result in new burdens on the lawful firearm owners in Canada.
The representative of Belarus, on L.11, said that the delegation welcomed the initiative to conduct a new conference on the arms trade treaty, with a United Nations-led document aimed at improving international standards regarding conventional weapons and resolving manners concerning their illegal spread. At the same time, Belarus could not support the draft resolution, which would prejudice the results of the work on that most important endeavour, in particular, considering existing disagreement on the arms trade treaty during the conference in 2012. However, the Belarusian delegation stood ready to constructively cooperate during the negotiation process with all United Nations members.
Determined to build on the progress made towards the adoption of a strong, balanced and effective arms trade treaty, a draft resolution by the same name (document A/C.1/67/L.11) would decide to convene in New York from 18 to 28 March 2013 at the Final United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, to be governed by the rules of procedure adopted on 3 July 2012, in order to finalize the elaboration of the treaty in an open and transparent manner.
The Assembly would also decide that the draft text of the treaty submitted by the President of the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty on 26 July 2012 would be the basis for future work, without prejudice to the right of delegations to put forward additional proposals on that text.
A separate recorded vote was requested on operative paragraph 2, concerning the convening of the Final Conference. That provision was retained by a recorded vote of 153 in favour to 1 against ( Iran), with 18 abstentions.
A separate recorded vote was also requested on operative paragraph 3, concerning the basis for future work on the treaty. The provision was retained by a vote of 148 in favour to 1 against ( Iran), with 22 abstentions.
The Committee then approved the resolution as a whole by a recorded vote of 157 in favour to none against, with 18 abstentions.
A draft decision introduced by the Netherlands entitled Transparency in armaments (document A/C.1/67/L.22) would have the Assembly decide to request the Secretary-General to convene the group of governmental experts, mentioned in paragraph 5 (b) of resolution 66/39, in 2013, without change to the other modalities for the group as elaborated in that paragraph.
The draft decision was approved by a recorded vote of 149 in favour to none against, with 26 abstentions.
According to a draft resolution, approved without a vote, as orally edited, on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects (document A/C.1/67/L.48), the Assembly would underline the fact that the issue of that illicit trade requires concerted efforts at the national, regional and international levels to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit manufacture, transfer and circulation of these weapons, and that their uncontrolled spread has a wide range of humanitarian and socio-economic consequences and poses a serious threat to peace, reconciliation, safety, security, stability and sustainable development.
The Assembly would encourage all relevant initiatives, including those of the United Nations, other international organizations, regional and subregional organizations, non-governmental organizations and civil society, for the successful implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, and would call upon all Member States to contribute towards the continued implementation of the Programme at the national, regional and global levels.
By further provisions of that draft, the Assembly would recognize the urgent need to maintain and enhance national controls, in accordance with the Action Programme, taking into account those weapons adverse humanitarian and socioeconomic consequences on the affected States. It would endorse the outcome of the Second Review Conference on the Programme and decide on the schedule of meetings until 2018, as well as hold the third review that year for two weeks.
The Assembly would call upon States to implement the International Tracing Instrument, and encourage them to also implement the recommendations contained in the report of the Group of Governmental Experts established pursuant to resolution 60/81 to consider further steps to enhance international cooperation in preventing, combating and eradicating illicit brokering.
The representative of Sudan, speaking on behalf of the League of Arab States, urged the international community to follow guidelines that were transparent and to enhance the security of all countries in accordance with international law. The Register of Conventional Arms was the fairest attempt to address transparency at the international level, but a problem was that half of the Member States refrained from providing it with information. The League also wished to expand the scope of the Register, which was limited only to certain types of weapons. That instrument’s limited scope did not fulfil security needs.
The League, he went on, believed that the scope needed to be expanded to include advanced conventional weapons and advanced technology with military applications. That would make it more balanced and would lead to greater participation. The League also reminded the Committee of the situation in the Middle East and the fact that Israel was the only State in the region that was not a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, ignoring repeated calls to adhere to it and subject its facilities to International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards. Israel kept accumulating an advanced arsenal, which increased its advantage compared to all its neighbours combined. For such reasons, the Leagues’ member States had abstained from voting on L.22.
The representative of Egypt, associating with the statement made by the Sudanese delegation, wished, in his national capacity as well, to explain its abstention from the vote on L.11. Egypt believed that the Committee’s deliberation should have resulted in a procedural decision, which allowed for a balanced treaty, but today’s text went beyond that simple task and set parameters that would affect work on the treaty. Regarding operative paragraph 3, which concerned a decision to base future work on the draft text submitted by the Conference President on 26 July, he recognized that that treaty text was an attempt by the Conference President to consolidate different papers, but it had become evident that major arms exporters could not adhere to it.
He said that his country, for its part, had expected that the treaty text would address humanitarian law and create multilateral benchmarks. Now that there was more time, the treaty text could be one of the bases on which negotiations could proceed. Different contributions by countries could provide ample material for improvement. The potential treaty should be universal, and negotiations should be inclusive, with all States participating on equal footing. The current draft failed to give that assurance. Egypt did not see a need to put a deadline on finalizing the treaty, as the objective was consensus agreement. The international community should capitalize on progress achieved so far, bearing in mind that an arms trade treaty should further the law in full and not in part, through a comprehensive and not selective manner.
The representative of Iran, speaking about L.11, specifically the paragraph concerning the convening of a conference on the arms trade treaty in March 2013, could be used as a pretext to avoid real negotiations. The conference could only succeed if all proposals were given equal importance and decisions on all issues were made by consensus. Above all, all delegations must be fully respected and allowed to have real negotiations. Iran stressed that the process should not be aimed at pursuing national agendas.
He said his delegation had voted “no” on operative paragraph 3, as the President’s paper was very vague, confusing and full of loopholes. For instance, proposed parameters were subjective and open to different interpretations, allowing States as many weapons as they wanted merely if, in the State’s view, those contributed to peace and security. Regrettably, the paper could legitimize dangerous practices. It completely neglected the security concerns and interests of certain regions. A possible arms trade treaty should be a tool for promoting peace and security in various regions.
Additionally, said the representative, the treaty text did not refer to the right of all people to self-determination and to take legitimate actions in support of that right. That was due to the opposition of a country that was a staunch ally of an occupying regime. An arms trade treaty was expected to be a tool in preventing aggression and discouraging invasion. Those problems “disqualified” the paper as a basis for the treaty. In Iran’s view, it could serve only as one of the documents during the upcoming conference and not the only basis for its work. Other delegations had the right to put forward their proposals.
The representative of Ecuador said the delegation had voted in favour of L.11, but that it had concerns regarding certain elements. Concerning the second operative paragraph on the modalities of the conference, Ecuador hoped that, once and for all, the international community could engage in direct negotiations. Regarding operative paragraph 3, Ecuador had abstained, as it did not accurately reflect the positions of all States, but only of the President’s interpretation. Additionally, the 26 July text was not the result of real negotiation between States. That could be rectified, and Ecuador hoped that negotiations on the arms trade treaty would take place in an equitable and transparent manner, taking into account that the approaches and concerns of member States naturally differed among importing and exporting States and in terms of defence and security concerns.
The representative of India said that her country had voted for L.11, believing that further work needed, which should not be rushed. Such a treaty should establish a balance of obligations between importing and exporting States and respect national jurisdictions, and it should bring all stakeholders aboard. India was prepared to engage in further work on the treaty, with consensus that was based on a process absent of artificial deadlines.
Also on L.11, the representative of Cubasaid that the international community had noted a lack of consensus on the arms trade treaty in July. Events showed that there was no opportunity to impose a forced decision. The issue was complex and had security repercussions. Cuba had supported operative paragraph 2 of today’s draft resolution, he said, adding that the true outcome of the treaty process must be an instrument that was inclusive, transparent and accepted by all. That was the only way to achieve an effective treaty. It should include general norms that could be undertaken by all countries and which did not impinge on legitimate defence needs.
He said his delegation had abstained on the draft resolution as a whole, as well as on operative paragraph 3, believing that the draft should have been more fact-based and objective, and reflective of what truly took place at the July Conference. Amendments of delegations should always be taken into account. The third operative paragraph referred to the president’s document as a basis for future work, but that did not enjoy consensus, which was the reason for past failure and also the reason why it was important to revert to proposals made during the conference, including Cuba’s, on various aspects of the treaty. Cuba hoped Member States would not resort to the same methods or work programme, which had impeded the last conference. Future work should be guided by rules of procedure and results should be adopted by consensus.
The representative of Venezuela, also speaking about L.11, said that the draft submitted today confined negotiations to a single document, the president’s text. That prejudged the outcome by closing the door on the possibility of submitting further proposals. The draft resolution would make the negotiating process less inclusive by placing conditions upon negotiations and limiting it to the President’s text. Today’s draft resolution had aligned with a specific and substantial vision for the treaty and in doing so, had diverged from its procedural nature. That was why the delegation abstained.
Explaining her delegation’s vote on L.11, Canada’s representative said that battling the illicit arms trade was important, but an arms trade treaty should recognize the lawful ownership of and trade in firearms by responsible citizens. Since there were also legitimate uses of firearms, there should also be a legitimate trade, and the treaty should be strengthened by clarifying its intent in that regard. It should not just “take note” of those activities, but should “affirm the legitimacy” of that right.
Syria’s delegate, also explaining his country’s position, said that measures to oversee armaments by taking a selective approach would not be inclusive and would impede the commitment of the international community to fully complete disarmament. The draft L.11, just approved – particularly the operative paragraphs referring to the text of the arms trade treaty presented in July – was not a result of negotiations among States participating in the Conference. Rather, it expressed an understanding of multilateral negotiations held in “bizarre” circumstances. Negotiations on any treaty should always be transparent, and yet, that was not pursued in the July Conference. The President’s text did not contain the rightful proposals put forward by numerous delegations, and instead only inscribed the views of some States. A legally biding treaty should be concluded by consensus and correspond with the United Nations Charter. Unfortunately, the existing treaty text did not incorporate what was needed.
Also speaking in explanation of vote, the representative of Pakistan said the delegation shared the humanitarian concerns arising from the misuse of conventional weapons, particularly small arms and light weapons. On L.11, his delegation recognized that the authors had taken on board some, if not most, of the proposals made to them. However, he shared the concern that the resolution retained certain elements that impinged upon the outcome of the treaty conference. He had nonetheless voted in favour of it, while keeping in mind that it did not reflect the views of all Member States, including that the draft treaty should be used as ”a” basis, rather than ”the” basis for a final treaty.
Cluster 5: Other Disarmament Measures and International Security
When the floor was opened for action on that cluster, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, explaining his position on L.24 concerning preventing and combating illicit brokering activities, said that his delegation intended to vote “no” because it believed that the sponsor of that draft was pursuing an ulterior motive for legitimizing the illegal activities of some countries, especially the United States, for the arbitrary interception of vessels. Those activities were not consistent with existing international law and sought to violate the sovereignty of countries by abusing and restricting their freedom of passage on the high seas. That was a very dangerous attempt, which could incur catastrophic consequences. The Republic of Korea, by sponsoring the draft resolution, had once again revealed his country’s identity as being subordinate to the United States. His delegation rejected the draft resolution.
According to the draft resolution, entitled Preventing and combating illicit brokering activities (document A/C.1/67/L.24), the Assembly would express concern that, if proper measures were not taken, the illicit brokering of arms in all its aspects would adversely affect the maintenance of international peace and security, prolong conflicts, and could impede sustainable economic and social development and result in illicit transfers of conventional arms and the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by non-State actors.
Reaffirming that efforts to prevent and combat illicit brokering activities should not hamper the legitimate arms trade and international cooperation with respect to materials, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes, the Assembly would encourage Member States to fully implement relevant international treaties, instruments and resolutions to prevent and combat illicit brokering activities.
It would also call upon Member States to establish appropriate national laws and/or measures to prevent and combat the illicit brokering that could contribute to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. It would emphasize the importance of international cooperation and assistance, capacity-building and information-sharing in that regard.
Before approving the draft resolution as a whole, a recorded vote was requested on preambular paragraph 12, by which the Assembly would encourage cooperation among Member States to prevent and combat illicit trafficking in nuclear materials, and recognizing in this regard existing efforts at all levels, including those elaborated at the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, consistent with international law.
That paragraph was retained by a recorded vote of 167 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 4 abstentions ( Iran, Syria, Zambia, Zimbabwe).
The Committee then voted to retain a preambular paragraph 12bis by a recorded vote of 167 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 3 abstentions ( Iran, Zambia, Zimbabwe).
It then approved that text as a whole, as orally revised, by a recorded vote of 174 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 3 abstentions ( Iran, Zambia, Zimbabwe).
In an explanation of position after the vote, the representative of Iran spoke about L.24, saying that it implied that there was a licit trade in brokering weapons of mass destruction. However, everyone all knew that, under major conventions, the production, development, research and transfer of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons were prohibited and, consequently, any trade or brokering of weapons of mass destruction was illegal. The interpretation of some paragraphs was that the trade and brokering of weapons of mass destruction was legal, which was in contravention with the NPT, which said that any trade or brokering in nuclear weapons was illegal.
He said his country shared certain views of the draft resolution, such as the need to stop transfers and not allow terrorists to have access to weapons of mass destruction, but it was also of the view that the illicit trade and brokering in weapons of mass destruction versus in small arms and light weapons were two distinct phenomenons. While there was a licit role for small arms and light weapons, there was not one for weapons of mass destruction. So, legally, it was inappropriate to mix those two different concepts.
While Iran fully supported the need to combat illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, he went on, it believed that extending the domain to weapons of mass destruction was not acceptable and, indeed, incorrect. Preventing the trade in weapons of mass destruction seemed, at first glance, to be a great idea, but one should take into account its legal consequences. Adoption of today’s resolution in its current form could lead to different interpretations. For those reasons, the delegation had abstained in the vote on the text as a whole and on preambular paragraphs 12 and 12bis.
The representative of Ecuador said that the delegation had voted in favour of L.24 in keeping with its principles, but was concerned about addressing issues of universal interest in only small groups, such as the Washington and Seoul groups.
The representative of Syria then stated that shortening the thematic debates did not constitute a precedent, and that certain amendments to the resolutions passed this year had not been available to his delegation.
Cluster 7: Disarmament Machinery
Making a general statement, Ms. LEDESMA HERNÁNDEZ ( Cuba) spoke about her delegation’s support for L.58 on the Open-ended Working Group on the Fourth Special Session of the General Assembly Devoted to Disarmament. The draft resolution endorsed the holding of an organizational session of the Working Group for the purpose of setting a date for its substantive sessions in 2013 and 2014 and submitting a report on its work. The draft decision was relevant for the international community as a whole and appealed to it to maximize the disarmament machinery. Cuba underlined the need to convene a fourth special session and was concerned that that important event had still not been held.
The Committee proceeded to take action on a draft resolution sponsored by Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement entitled Open-ended Working Group on the Fourth Special Session of the General Assembly Devoted to Disarmament (document A/C.1/67/L.58). It was approved by a recorded vote of 171 in favour to none against, with 4 abstentions ( France, Israel, United Kingdom, United States).
That text would have the Assembly hold, at a later date, an organizational session of the Open-ended Working Group on the Fourth Special Session of the General Assembly Devoted to Disarmament for the purpose of setting a date for its substantive sessions in 2013 and 2014, and include in the provisional agenda of its sixty-eighth session, under the item entitled “General and complete disarmament”, a sub-item entitled “Convening of the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament”.
The Committee then took up a draft resolution sponsored by Burundi and Congo entitled Regional confidence-building measures: activities of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa (document A/C.1/67/L.59), approving it without a vote.
Emphasizing the need to strengthen the capacity for conflict prevention and peacekeeping in Africa, that text would have the Assembly request the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa, in collaboration with the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa, to facilitate the efforts undertaken by the States members of the Standing Advisory Committee, in particular for their execution of the Implementation Plan for the Kinshasa Convention.
The Assembly would welcome the efforts of the Standing Advisory Committee towards addressing cross-border security threats in Central Africa, including activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army, and acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea, as well as the fallout from the situation in Libya and the crisis in Mali. It would also welcome the role of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa in coordinating those efforts, working closely with the Economic Community of Central African States, the African Union and all relevant regional and international partners.
Further, it would urge other Member States and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to support the activities of the Standing Advisory Committee effectively through voluntary contributions to the Trust Fund, and also urge States members of the Standing Advisory Committee to strengthen the gender component of the various meetings of the Committee relating to disarmament and international security.
The representative of Germany , speaking also on behalf of Estonia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden, to explain their votes on L.58, said that, in 2010, as in 2007, those delegations had voted in favour of the resolution entitled “Convening of the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament”. That decision had been based on the conviction that the United Nations disarmament machinery urgently needed political impulses towards its revitalization to allow it to resume its main task: negotiating multilateral instruments in the field of disarmament.
He said it was against that background that those delegations had voted in favour of L.58, which aimed to start the implementation of resolution 65/66 by holding, at a later stage, an organizational session of the Open-ended Working Group on the Fourth Special Session of the General Assembly Devoted to Disarmament (SSOD IV). In that connection, those delegations had also supported L.41 on a treaty to ban fissile material, and L.46 on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations.
Also speaking in explanation of position, Spain’s representative, also on behalf of the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia and Lithuania, said those delegations had voted in favour of L.58, based on the conviction that United Nations disarmament machinery needed serious attention and political impulse to allow it to resume work on its main task, namely, negotiating multilateral instruments in the field of disarmament. Those delegations had supported L.58, since they considered it to be complementary to other initiatives with the same goal of revitalizing the disarmament machinery. Also important was to ensure that the resources needed to convene the Open-Ended Working Group would be identified within the United Nations regular budget and that there were no extra-budgetary implications for 2012-2013.
The representative of the United Kingdom also explained the positions of his own country, as well as that of France and the United States, on L.58, on which they had abstained. In their view, the reasons to abstain were valid and so they had maintained that position.
Ethiopia’s delegate noted that during action yesterday, his delegation had meant to abstain from the vote on L.46, not vote in favour.
Conclusion of Session
The Committee then moved to adopt, by consensus, its programme of work for 2013 (document A/C.1/CRP.5).
In closing remarks, the Committee Chair DESRA PERCAYA ( Indonesia) congratulated the Committee on its collective success. He said deliberations had been marked by both positive and negative developments. On the positive side, there was a carry-over of the high energy and enthusiasm, which delegations had developed during the arms trade treaty conference and the Review Conference on the small arms and light weapons Programme of Action, both of which had been held shortly before the opening of the First Committee.
On the other hand, he said, the tragic hurricane that touched down during the long weekend of October 26 had placed everyone under “house arrest” for five days and resulted in the loss of three working days. The Committee, while empathizing with those most affected, was frantic to find an effective strategy for making up the lost time. However, necessity was the “Mother of invention”, and that necessity had brought out the best in the Committee, compelling it to dig deeply into delegations’ creative and problem-solving minds to come up with and adhere to the “ Sandy formula”.
Since, as Benjamin Franklin said, “if we do not hang together, we hang separately”, he thanked delegations for “hanging with” the Chair and the Committee. During the session, the Committee had approved 53 resolutions and six decisions. Of those, 29 required a recorded vote, another 30, or about half, were approved without a vote, which was a marked reduction from last year’s record of 62 per cent adopted without a vote.
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