Adoption of Arms Trade Treaty to Constrain Conventional Weapons Flows 'Big Win', Say Speakers in First Committee; Critics Say Text 'Easy to Manipulate'
Adoption of Arms Trade Treaty to Constrain Conventional Weapons Flows 'Big Win', Say Speakers in First Committee; Critics Say Text 'Easy to Manipulate'
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-eighth General Assembly
7th Meeting (AM)
Adoption of Arms Trade Treaty to Constrain Conventional Weapons Flows ‘Big Win’,
Say Speakers in First Committee; Critics Say Text ‘Easy to Manipulate’
Syria Alleges Countries Export Small Arms, Light Weapons to Terrorists
Overwhelming support for the Arms Trade Treaty and its recent adoption meant the “will of the very few” had not been allowed to trump the interests of the vast majority, New Zealand’s representative told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today during the continuation of its general debate.
Calling the Treaty’s adoption earlier this year as “big win” and “no mean feat”, she said the successful negotiations and, subsequently, the unusually high number of signatories at such an early stage, boded well for advancing global efforts to bring the conventional arms trade under the rule of law.
While joining other speakers in condemnation of the tragic use of chemical weapons in Syria, the representative of Liechtenstein, nevertheless, said that the recent use of a weapon of mass destruction should not overshadow the fact that conventional weapons caused the vast majority of casualties in armed conflict.
In light of that, he said, the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty was “the greatest achievement in international law in the recent past”.
Estonia’s delegate, likewise, stressed the importance of that treaty as an extremely vital instrument in curbing illicit and illegal transfers of conventional arms in conflict zones or among parties to armed conflict, and Nigeria’s representative reiterated that an unregulated arms trade led to “unfettered access”, as well as the unauthorised use of arms by non-state actors.
However, a minority of speakers voiced concerns about certain elements of the landmark Treaty. The representative from Nicaragua, noting that his delegation had abstained in the vote in April, believed the final text “left a lot of gaps”. He was concerned that when it came to arms transfers and other matters, the Treaty contained ambiguities that could make it “easy to manipulate”.
Syria’s delegate said that one of his country’s main worries about the Arms Trade Treaty was the absence of clear and explicit language prohibiting weapons exports to terrorists or armed groups. Some countries, large and small, were even able to transfer small arms and light weapons to terrorist groups, mercenaries and non-State actors, with the aim of worsening crises and undermining the stability of entire countries in the service of geopolitical and economic interests.
He went on to say that the Government of Syria strongly condemned the use of chemical weapons and considered it an abominable crime for which the perpetrators must be held accountable. There should be no leniency with regard to the Governments of any countries that had “attracted the terrorists of the world to Syria, trained them and furnished them with weapons including chemical weapons.”
He said States must also stop smuggling militants and terrorists through the borders of Syria’s neighbours, as the phenomenon of terrorism would “revert back to those countries sooner or later”. And finally, he said, “accountability must apply to everyone with no dual standards, and anyone using weapons of mass destruction must stand before justice”.
Many delegations praised the work of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), with Burkina Faso noting that it had today been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its work in de-escalating the Syrian conflict.
Also speaking were the representatives of Chile, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Maldives, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal, Oman, Uruguay and Zambia.
The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Monday, 14 October, to continue its general debate.
DEEPAK DHITAL (Nepal), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that his country had consistently stood for the general and complete disarmament of all weapons of mass destruction. Disarmament was crucial to unlocking valuable resources for much-needed social and economic development. It was a “moral issue for the cause of humanity”. Clearly, any detonation of a nuclear weapon carried catastrophic consequences. Continued proliferation, therefore, remained highly dangerous. As a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), Nepal strongly believed in a credible regime for disarmament and non-proliferation. At the same time, it supported the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and appreciated progress in establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones around the world.
He said that the Chemical Weapons Convention had proved to be an important instrument in the elimination of weapons of mass destruction. It had set a precedent by reaching near-universalization in its scope and operation. Believing in multilateralism, he called for the revitalization of the Conference on Disarmament — the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum — in order to achieve concrete results. Calling the Arms Trade Treaty a landmark achievement, he said that it was the proliferation of small arms and light weapons which had taken millions of lives around the world. Noting that Nepal was hosting one of the United Nations Regional Centres for Peace and Disarmament, he said that mechanisms such as that played an important role in the global peace and disarmament agenda.
JURI SEILENTHAL ( Estonia) said he shared the view of the overwhelming majority of United Nations Member States that considered the Arms Trade Treaty an extremely important instrument in curbing illicit and illegal transfers of conventional arms in conflict zones or among parties to armed conflict. Its adoption was a reminder of the last time the international community was able to make progress in concluding a universal treaty of disarmament and non-proliferation, which was the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). However, 16 years later, that Treaty had still not entered into force.
He lamented that the “deeply troubling ongoing stalemate” in the Conference on Disarmament had become its unofficial slogan. However, he was grateful for the work of the Informal Working Group aimed at elaborating a programme of work. However, given the universal nature of the United Nations, there was no reason or moral justification why an interested State should not be allowed to participate fully and equally in the disarmament discussion and negotiations.
The use of chemical weapons in Syria on 21 August, and on several alleged occasions before that, demonstrated that there were still those who did not hesitate in using weapons of mass destruction, he said. In order to support the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in implementing its decision concerning Syria, Estonia would voluntary provide financial assistance to OPCW’s special trust fund, installed to serve that purpose. Supporting mine clearance activities remained essential for post-conflict States and the safe return of refugees. And, out of determination to support those efforts, Nepal had lent financial support to the United Nations Mine Action Service, or UNMAS.
JOSE LUIS CANCELA (Uruguay), associating himself with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said his country was committed to the fight against illicit arms trafficking, especially small arms and light weapons. Those were true weapons of mass destruction in his region, threatening civilians, especially women and children. In that regard, he was especially pleased by the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, and hoped it would promptly enter into force. Regulation of the arms trade would have fundamental effects on armed conflicts, thereby promoting peace and security, upended by the destabilizing effects of arms transfers to conflict zones. He reported that Uruguay was expected to ratify the Treaty shortly. The Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects was also vital to progress, and the Review Conference last year had made significant progress with the adoption by consensus of its outcome document.
He said that Uruguay was a non-nuclear-weapon State and highlighting the recent high-level nuclear disarmament meeting, he reiterated Uruguay’s commitment to nuclear disarmament. Sixty-four measures towards progress had been identified, and he called for furthering nuclear disarmament in line with NPT. The ultimate objective was a world free of nuclear weapons, and, in that regard, CTBT must enter into force as soon as possible. With that, he called for its prompt ratification by all Annex II States. Pending the Treaty’s entry into force, he stressed that there must be a moratorium on all nuclear testing. On the Conference on Disarmament, he called for it to begin negotiations on a treaty to prohibit the production of fissile material, as well as on an agreement for negative security assurances to guarantee that non-nuclear-weapon States would never suffer the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons. Uruguay deplored that the conference on the establishment of nuclear-free zone in the Middle East had not yet been held, and he called for its convening soon.
Effective implementation of conventions that prohibited weapons of mass destruction, leading to their complete elimination was a priority for Uruguay, he said. The country strongly supported the Chemical Weapons Convention, and called on all States to stand by it. He saluted Syria’s accession and efforts aimed at the elimination of chemical weapons in that country. In conclusion, he reiterated the need to revitalize the Conference on Disarmament so as to respond to the needs of the international community. For that reason, he proposed that its membership be enlarged to include Member States that had expressed interest in joining it.
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ ( Chile), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, stated that nuclear disarmament was an “urgent political need”. Recent events in Syria had shown the horrendous impact on human populations of weapons of mass destruction, and nuclear weapons were infinitely more destructive than chemical weapons, and their use would be a “crime against humanity”. Despite the deadlock affecting many areas of disarmament, there, nevertheless, had been some movement, opening up new opportunities for progress.
However, he went on, doctrines explaining and even justifying the possession and use, even hypothetically, of nuclear weapons still had followers among the big Powers. A valuable tool for dismantling and debunking such doctrines could be found in new approaches that focused on the humanitarian and environmental implications of a nuclear detonation. Now that the world had witnessed the horrendous humanitarian impact of weapons of mass destruction in Syria, nuclear disarmament required a forceful intellectual and democratic campaign to delegitimize the most devastating of such weapons.
The familiar signs of paralysis in multilateral disarmament negotiations were visible, he said. The impasse in the Conference on Disarmament was untenable, and he appealed for renewed efforts. As a country in the first densely populated nuclear-weapon-free zone, created by the Treaty of Tlatelolco, he reaffirmed the contribution of those zones to international peace and security. He urged nuclear Powers to withdraw their “interpretive declarations” to Protocols I and II of the Tlatelolco Treaty to help eliminate the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons against the countries of the region.
FERNANDO LUQUE ( Ecuador), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, condemned the use of nuclear weapons, as both a crime against nature and humanity. Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation should be parallel processes and be undertaken together. Ecuador was a non-nuclear-weapon State, and it would continue to comply with its non-proliferation obligations. Likewise, he hoped that nuclear-armed States would meet their commitments. To this day, however, they had not, and it was “high time”, therefore, for the international community to place more priority on the issues. Ecuador shared the concern of other Member States at the stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament, which corresponded to a lack of political will. Hopefully, the open-ended working group would be able to agree on a work programme, so that the Conference could provide legal instruments for the international community. Given its years of “scant results”, however, a comprehensive analysis of the United Nations disarmament machinery was needed.
Reiterating his country’s call for universalization of NPT, he also urged all states to spare no effort in establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones in all regions of the planet. He deplored the fact that the planned conference for such a zone in the Middle East had not yet taken place, and called on the organizers to convene it as soon as possible. Israel should renounce nuclear weapons and place itself under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. He also voiced support for the entry into force of CTBT, while also endorsing the legitimate right of States to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. He called on States that choose to use nuclear energy in that way to achieve the highest standards of nuclear safety.
Touching on other matters of importance to his country, he reaffirmed its commitment to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions, and condemned the use of such weapons “wherever they may be by whoever uses them”. His country deplored that the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty had not been able to approve the treaty by consensus. However, it was not necessary to reiterate his country’s reservations regarding its content, he said, adding that he hoped the Treaty would be applied in a balanced fashion. Security in international relations must be based on confidence between States, and as such, the network of espionage, recently detected, was an “attack on human rights”, as well as a cause of instability in relations between States, since it affected sovereignty, and therefore, international security. Ecuador, therefore, supported extended efforts to seek a global framework on that issue, which should establish the inviolability of electronic communication among all the world’s inhabitants.
NAJEEM AL-ABRI (Oman), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and Arab Group, said his country would continue to support initiatives aimed at making the Middle East a free zone of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. He emphasized the right of States to peaceful nuclear energy, and stressed that enforcing that right in his region would not come from coercive policies and practices, such as sanctions or other measures, but rather through creative diplomacy. On the other hand, he hoped the international community would persuade other States in the Middle East to join NPT and subject their nuclear facilities to IAEA supervision. Israel should follow those suggestions, he said, expressing dismay at the lack of progress on that front so far.
DER KOGDA ( Burkina Faso), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and African Group, said international peace and security were being put to the test. Some conflicts had taken a tragic turn, such as the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Thankfully, that conflict had been de-escalated by Security Council resolution 2118 (2013) and the decision of OPCW to complete destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons. He noted that OPCW had been awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. The international community must be clearer on its commitments to uphold the commitment to eliminate all weapons of mass destruction. A world free of nuclear weapons was the only way to attain peace and security. The signing of the new Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START) was a positive step, as was the ratification of CTBT by seven new members.
He said that Africa had demonstrated its commitment through the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, known as the Pelindaba Treaty. However, obstacles persisted, particularly with the ongoing tensions in the Middle East and Korean peninsula. It was the duty of nuclear-weapon-possessor countries to join the global consensus and commit to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and he reiterated his country’s support of NPT. The matter of conventional weapons remained one of great concern, as the adverse impacts of the use of those weapons were obvious to everyone. Civilians in conflict areas suffered enormously. Those violent actions frustrated development and violated human rights. Armed violence killed half a million people every year, including many women and children. Progress so far on the Arms Trade Treaty had been promising, and he urged more States to sign and ratify it.
MILORAD ŠĆEPANOVIĆ ( Montenegro) said that the use of chemical weapons was not permissible under any circumstances, nor did they have a place in the twenty-first century. The perpetrators of that tragic and horrific act in Syria must be brought to justice, and the international community must strengthen the global disarmament and non-proliferation regime against weapons of mass destruction in order to ensure those weapons were never used again. In that connection, he welcomed Security Council resolution 2118 (2013).
Despite reductions made in nuclear arsenals, he said, progress in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation was limited. The reduction of nuclear stockpiles must eventually lead to the creation of conditions for their total elimination. The international community should take a modern and pragmatic approach that was not trapped in the past, but was future-oriented and served to bridge existing differences and unite the efforts of nuclear and non-nuclear-weapon States. Entry into force of CTBT remained a priority, as did strengthening adherence to the IAEA Additional Protocol and Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement. As another lost opportunity, he regretted the postponement of a conference on establishing a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction.
He also shared in the frustrations over the continuing stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament, which had been unable to perform its role for more than 15 years. He strongly supported efforts to break the deadlock and remained interested in expansion of its membership. The international community must use the opportunities presented to it to make significant strides on the long path towards a safer and more secure world.
BASHAR JA’AFARI ( Syria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country was, in word and deed, fully supporting international law. It was committed to building an international community free from the use of force, be it by nuclear or conventional weapons, and one based on the principles of the United Nations Charter. Syria was ready to take part in any genuine international effort aimed at achieving those noble and inspired goals. The world was facing many challenges, at the forefront of which was the threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, be that horizontally or vertically. That danger was further intensified by certain threats by Governments to use weapons to further political goals. It had been more than 40 years since NPT was opened for signature, and it had now become necessary for nuclear-weapon States to abide by its Article VI.
He reaffirmed the inalienable right of NPT member States in accordance with Article IV to acquire and develop nuclear technology and employ it for peaceful purposes in cooperation with the IAEA. That Agency must do its part to facilitate cooperation between States for that purpose. Syria would object to any text that undermined that right and limited its use. It was truly a strange irony that a representative of an entity that was a nuclear Power and not yet a member of NPT could appoint himself as a representative of nuclear non-proliferation; how was it that someone refusing to join NPT could criticize other member States who were party to it. That “political hypocrisy” was a mistaken interpretation of nuclear non-proliferation. And yet, the international community was “lenient with outlaws” and presented a unanimous agreement to give that outlaw a chance at the General Assembly to belittle intelligence and provoke emotion.
He stressed the need to respect the rules and regulations of the Conference on Disarmament, adding that it should adopt a balanced and comprehensive programme of work that included the formation of subsidiary organs to negotiate a programme for the complete removal of nuclear weapons in a set timeframe that was both binding and unconditional. He also called for negotiations for a legally binding and unconditional international instrument of safeguards for non-nuclear-weapon States. Preventing an arms race in space, and creating a treaty to prohibit the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons were also important.
The current state of the world pertaining to small arms and light weapons, he said, was allowing some countries, large and small, to transfer those weapons to terrorist groups, mercenaries and non-State actors, with the purpose of inflaming crises and undermining the stability of entire countries, in the service of geopolitical and economic interests. The terrorist attacks committed in Syria in support of Al-Qaida would not have succeeded without the support from some Arab, regional and international parties. It was well known to everyone who was lending such support. Syria also worried about the strength of the Arms Trade Treaty, which lacked clear and explicit language prohibiting the export of weapons to terrorists or armed groups. Some did not seam to realize the gravity of that situation and its impact on international peace and security.
He said his Government strongly condemned the use of chemical weapons and considered it an abominable crime for which the perpetrators must be held accountable. But, that opinion must not be relative or lenient with regard to the Governments of countries that had attracted the terrorists of the world to Syria, trained them and furnished them with weapons, including chemical weapons. Accountability must apply to everyone, with no dual standards, and anyone using weapons of mass destruction must stand before justice, keeping in mind that kind of crime did not have a time limit with regard to prosecution and that justice should prevail on the strong as well as the weak, without discrimination. That was based on the conviction that the use of mass destruction weapons must be rejected as immoral and condemnable. In light of the recent developments, the Syrian Government had, out of care for the security of its citizens, joined the Chemical Weapons Convention. It had also signed a framework agreement with OPCW for bilateral efforts in order to dismantle any chemical weapons in Syria.
Also worth noting, he added, was that Syria had signed the Geneva Protocol of 1925 before Israel, whose nuclear weapons were standing in the way of freeing the Middle East of all weapons of mass destruction. After Syria had joined the Chemical Weapons Convention, it had renewed its call for the creation of such a zone. Israel must join all conventions that banned weapons of mass destruction and place its nuclear installations under IAEA supervision without prior conditions and on an equal footing with the rest of the Member States. The fact that some nuclear-weapon States had furnished Israel with nuclear technology and given it a regional nuclear monopoly was contrary to NPT. Actions such as those would cost the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime its credibility. Israel must join NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon State and participate in a conference to create a Middle East zone free of mass destruction weapons.
The Syrian Government, he went on, was the party that had taken the initiative to request that the Secretary-General begin investigations into the crime of chemical weapons use by some terrorist organizations in near Aleppo. In that regard, it had facilitated the United Nations investigations in all ways. He reaffirmed his country’s readiness to cooperate with OPCW, which had recently sent a team into Syria, and he pledged to help it do its job fully. He called on Member States to abide by international conventions and treaties to put an end to weapons smuggling in all forms. States must also stop smuggling militants and terrorists through the borders of Syria’s neighbours, as terrorism would revert back to those countries sooner or later.
AHMED SAREER ( Maldives) stated that even though his tiny country did not produce any weaponry, let alone, nuclear weapons, should a nuclear strike occur, its effects would ripple across the community of nations. Maldives, therefore, had a moral obligation to raise its voice on the issue. The negotiation of a fissile material cut-off treaty, the long overdue entry into force of CTBT and the start of negotiation towards a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons would be vital steps in the right direction. Maldives also emphasized the importance of NPT and its three pillars.
He noted that his country was party to several international conventions on disarmament and arms control, and he welcomed Syria’s recent signing of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Maldives urged those countries that believed that “having nuclear weapons was an indispensable insurance policy as well as a status symbol” to consider the humanitarian consequences. It was only recently that the international community saw the unbelievable human cost of chemical weapons in Syria. Regarding small arms and weapons, he said that adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty by the General Assembly was a sign of hope. Maldives stringent domestic laws prevented illicit arms trade in the country. Maldives also supported the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones around the globe, and he expressed support for the establishment of the Indian Ocean as a zone of peace.
JOHN EJINAKA ( Nigeria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and African Group, said that there was no doubt that the world was at a threshold. A wide range of weapons were posing a threat: nuclear; chemical; biological; and conventional. Despite those challenges, his country remained optimistic, based on a series of measures undertaken and the positive impact those could produce in the future. Renewed efforts included the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, as well as the enthusiasm shown by participants during the second Preparatory Committee Meeting on the 2015 NPT Review Conference. He also welcomed the recent High-Level Meeting on Disarmament, which had been “historic”.
Despite those developments, he said, his country remained deeply concerned by the lack of meaningful progress on nuclear disarmament. If goodwill and common sense did not rid the world of those “doomsday” weapons, perhaps enlightened self-interest would prevail on those who possessed them. The retention of more than 20,000 nuclear warheads should be repudiated, and compliance with NPT should go hand in hand with a willingness of nuclear-weapon States to “disarm and disavow” those weapons. He also stressed the need for a universal instrument on negative security assurances, and called on all States to accede to CTBT.
Nigeria believed in urgent revitalization of the Conference on Disarmament, he said, adding that it recommended that its membership should be reviewed and expanded. In addition, further engagement between the Conference with civil society, as well as with Member States would help to break the current impasse. He noted that Nigeria had signed and ratified the Arms Trade Treaty in August, of the view that unregulated arms trade led to “unfettered access”, as well as unauthorised use by non-State actors. Major exporters must ratify the Treaty.
DELL HIGGIE ( New Zealand), associating herself with the New Agenda Coalition ( Brazil, Egypt, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa), called the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty the year’s “big win”. Advancing global efforts to bring the rule of law to the conventional arms trade, that Treaty was “no mean feat”. Noting that her own country had been among the 113 signatories, she said that was an unusually high number at such an early stage in a Treaty’s “lifespan”, which demonstrated the overwhelming support it enjoyed. Negotiations that had ultimately led to its adoption had been based on General Assembly procedures, and the “will of the very few has not been allowed to trump the interests of the vast majority”.
The Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions was another “win”, she continued, calling it an “essential instrument of international humanitarian law. It established a norm that had considerable force on the international stage. Steady progress towards universalization had also been made on that and the Ottawa Mine-Ban Convention. Conversely, the “loss” of the year had been the horrific use of chemical weapons in Syria. Those weapons were now rightly being destroyed and rule of law was being re-established on that issued. That would be little comfort, however, to the Syrian citizens who had been victims of these weapons. Nor were they likely to draw comfort from the “anomaly” that the most destructive of all weapons — nuclear weapons — remained the only weapons of mass destruction not banned by any treaty, she said.
Despite the impasse in the Conference on Disarmament, her country saw cause for optimism on the issue of nuclear disarmament, she said, noting the “ground-breaking” initiative of the Oslo Conference provided a platform to consider the humanitarian consequences of any nuclear weapon detonation. When the requirements of international humanitarian law were not met, or when there was failure to move forward on nuclear disarmament, it was “almost always our individual citizens who are the ones to pay the price”, she said.
OCH OD ( Mongolia) welcomed recent positive developments in disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control, highlighting, in particular, September’s High-level Meeting on Disarmament. His country did not believe that nuclear-weapon States had an interest in putting humanity in “unimaginable danger”, and trusted that they would undertake their commitments to fulfil the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. In that regard, nuclear-weapons-free zones indisputably strengthened both nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and Mongolia, therefore, was a strong advocate for the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East. The Test-Ban Treaty was likewise a “catalyst” for nuclear disarmament, and he called on all States that had not ratified it do so urgently.
Mongolia called urgently for the resumption of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament, he said, adding that it was necessary to end that stalemate and avoid any further erosion of its capability to fulfil its mandate. His country stood firmly for the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction, as their potential spread to non-State actors remained an “immediate” threat to international peace and security. Welcoming the Arms Trade Treaty and noting that his country had joined its 113 signatories, he said he believed that instrument would be a “powerful tool” for preventing human rights abuses.
NEGASH KEBRET (Ethiopia), expressed his country unwavering support for the early entry into force of CTBT and called on countries that have not yet signed or ratified it do so, as a matter of urgency. He recalled that Africa had become a nuclear-weapon-free zone in July 2009 when the Treaty of Pelindaba had entered into force. The Treaty, among other things, prohibits research on developing nuclear weapons, the dumping of radioactive waste, and armed attacks on peaceful nuclear installations in the zone. However, as a matter of rights and as provided for in NPT, the Treaty supports the use of nuclear energy and nuclear science and technology for peaceful purposes. Such zones enhance regional and international security, and strengthen action for total nuclear disarmament.
The Ethiopian Government, he said, also was committed to ensuring that radiation protection and nuclear regulatory control were managed in line with the applicable domestic and international laws, including IAEA safety standards. Touching on other matters of importance to his delegation, he said revitalization of the Conference on Disarmament was more urgent than ever and cited, among the major differences, attempts by some countries to link progress in one area to parallel progress in others. In closing, he stressed that creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones around the globe, along with confidence-building, strict implementation of all disarmament and arms control treaties, and mutual assistance in the disarmament process would help to bring about a much safer world. Ethiopia remained committed to participate fully and constructively in all related issues.
ANDY RACHMIANTO (Indonesia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the First Committee and other parts of the United Nations disarmament machinery should intensify their work so that the momentum generated by the High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament could be sustained and translated into tangible results. The result would not occur overnight, but his delegation joined the fervent hope that States would demonstrate greater political will to actualize their undertakings on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and simultaneously pursue all other agenda items of the First Committee.
Speaking on a spectrum of disarmament matters, he said that the Conference on Disarmament needed to unlock its stalemate, and added that NPT would remain the foundation for nuclear non-proliferation in the absence of a comprehensive and non-discriminatory nuclear weapons convention. Pending such a treaty, there must be full implementation of the 2010 NPT Review Conference Action Plan. The international community must not only echo the fear of nuclear weapons use, but must show through its actions that it meant to realize the vision of a nuclear- weapon-free world. He also fully supported the call to designate 26 September as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, and to convene an international conference no later than 2018 on the issues.
JASSER JIMENEZ (Nicaragua), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that his Government carried out a foreign policy that preserved peace and international security with a focus on human and sustainable development. It valued general and complete disarmament of all weapons of mass destruction, which ran counter to international humanitarian law. In light of its commitment on the issue, his Government welcomed the recent High-level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament, as well as the designation of September 26 as a new international day to renew commitments to that quest. Nicaragua was a State party to both NPT and the Test-ban Treaty, he said, reiterating the urgency for an immediate halt to all nuclear weapon testing. The terrible consequences on human beings and the environment created by the more than 2,000 nuclear tests since 1945 still caused suffering in many places around the world. That said, Nicaragua supported the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and called on IAEA to strengthen international standards.
Reaffirming his country’s hope for a legally binding instrument providing security assurances for all non-nuclear-weapon States, he added that the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free-zones could strengthen international peace and security. In that regard, Nicaragua deplored the non-compliance with the 2010 NPT review’s action plan regarding the convening of a conference on the establishment of such in the Middle East. Concerning the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty in April, he said that Nicaragua had abstained in the vote on the text because the final version contained “a lot of gaps” in the area of arms transfers, as well as ambiguities, which made the Treaty easy to manipulate. However, his country would continue to study the document.
STEFAN BARRIGA (Lichtenstein) said disarmament initiatives must strike a balance between “visionary aims and feasible measures”. They should also take into account human rights and international humanitarian law. The Conference on Disarmament could not be put aside as an ineffective tool, despite the “prolonged and ongoing” deadlock. It was essential to achieve universality of NPT as part of efforts to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons. Likewise, the Test-Ban Treaty was a key instrument, and he particularly welcomed Indonesia’s decision to ratify as an Annex 2 State.
Welcoming the Security Council’s response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, he said that developments on that issue had illustrated the crucial role of OPCW. He hoped that would create new momentum for universalizing the Chemical Weapons Convention. The recent focus on weapons of mass destruction should not overshadow the fact that conventional weapons caused the vast majority of casualties in armed conflict, and in that regard, he referred to the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty earlier this year as “the greatest achievement in international law in the recent past”.
MWABA P. KASESE-BOTA (Zambia), associating her statement with those made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, acknowledged the contribution of the five regional nuclear-weapon-free zones to strengthening global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament norms and consolidating international efforts towards peace and security. However, she remained concerned with the large number of nuclear weapons that remained on high alert in the world, considering the devastating effects those weapons had on human beings and the environment. Concerned by the lack of progress in the Conference on Disarmament, she was convinced that a functional Conference was the key for addressing disarmament related challenges.
Zambia was concerned by the absence of an internationally binding instrument that guaranteed unconditional legally binding security assurances to non-nuclear States against nuclear attack. This was even stronger in light of the current environment of non-compliance with either NPT or the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty obligations of Member States. She therefore supported international efforts towards negotiations for a legally binding instrument on negative security assurances pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Addressing the destruction of cluster munitions stockpiles, she said the Convention on Cluster Munitions was already having a clear impact, and clearance could be done very efficiently when adequate methodologies were applied. Further, she stressed the importance of a mechanism to match needs and resources in moving the United Nations Programme of Action agenda forward.
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