Debating Whether Rules of Procedure Were Political Impediments or Working Methods in Need of Review, First Committee Seeks Ways to Revive Disarmament Machinery
Debating Whether Rules of Procedure Were Political Impediments or Working Methods in Need of Review, First Committee Seeks Ways to Revive Disarmament Machinery
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-eighth General Assembly
15th Meeting (AM)
Debating Whether Rules of Procedure Were Political Impediments or Working Methods
In Need of Review, First Committee Seeks Ways to Revive Disarmament Machinery
International Community’s Patience ‘Running Thin’, Says Speaker, as Proposals
Coalesce around Need to Lessen Conference’s ‘Historic Debt’ of Outstanding Issues
As delegations decried the impasse in the Conference on Disarmament, Pakistan’s representative said today that its “lacklustre performance” did not derive from the “myth” of organizational or procedural issues, but was instead a reflection of the external political environment, which underpinned the deadlock in nuclear disarmament — the Conference’s raison d’être — for more than 30 years.
Speaking on day two of the thematic debate of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) on the disarmament machinery, he said that the Geneva-based Conference did not operate in a vacuum, but was affected by developments taking place outside its chamber. The lack of consensus on the core issues could not be pinned down to the position of any one State, nor did it hinge on a single issue. Making progress meant taking into account the security concerns of all States. No treaty was ever or would ever be agreed otherwise.
Still, he noted, some States consistently called for a change in the Conference’s current rules of procedure, particularly, to redefine the consensus principle. Such actions would be contrary to the recognized international position and would undermine the Conference’s authority. The impasse was not attributable to its procedural rules, as those same methods had produced landmark instruments, such as the Chemical Weapons Convention and Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.
Similarly supportive of the Conference’s procedures was India’s delegate, who said that that body retained the mandate, membership, credibility and rules of procedure to discharge the “heavy responsibility” of the international disarmament agenda. Since its decisions had an impact on national security, it was logical that it conducted its work by consensus, and proposals that questioned the viability or relevance of the Conference should be met with “utmost caution”.
Offering up a somewhat different recipe was Switzerland’s representative, who said that the Conference must move beyond the initial step of establishing an Informal Working Group to motivate adoption of a work programme. Dissociating the adoption of the work programme from the specific mandate of issues on the agenda through the establishment of a subsidiary organ could contribute to putting an end to the current situation. It would be an opportunity to address in detail several issues that could make consensus-building easier. Enlarging the membership and increasing civil society participation also warranted further consideration.
The international community’s patience was “running thin”, declared the representative from the United Kingdom. In order for the Conference to remain effective and relevant to the challenges of the twenty-first century, it must be revitalized, and despite frustrations, it was difficult to envisage an alternative that would do the job better. Nuclear weapons were tied up with the security perceptions of so many States, whether they possessed nuclear weapons or not, and thus disarmament forums must be multilateral and take decisions by consensus.
Speaking to the broader disarmament machinery, he said that over the years, linkages between the “joined-up process” of the various bodies had been at best weakened, at worst broken. The Disarmament Commission was “unfocused” with just two agenda items. It did not consider follow-up to resolutions passed in the First Committee, nor emerging threats to peace and security. That, in turn, meant the Committee spent too much time voting on outdated and increasingly irrelevant resolutions, some of which had not changed in 30 years. Any serious attempt to revitalize that machinery should start by re-establishing those links.
Slovakia’s representative called for extending the “tool box” of non-proliferation and disarmament instruments, and said that a machinery that was unable to strengthen the security environment risked changes in the disarmament landscape. He urged the international community to “prevent such erosion.” Colombia’s speaker said that the Conference had a “historic debt” of outstanding issues concerning nuclear weapons, negative security assurances, a fissile material cut-off treaty, as well as weapons in outer space. He said commitment, political will and creativity would make it possible to overcome the stalemate.
Spain’s delegate urged the international community not to “give in to gloom”. Perseverance was indispensible, in keeping with the lofty objectives of global peace and security. Any proposal regarding the Conference should be given constructive attention, he added.
During the Meeting, the representative of Nepal introduced a draft resolution entitled on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific. The representative of Peru introduced a draft resolution on the Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Speaking before the cluster on disarmament machinery, Peter Woolcott, President of Final United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, introduced the Committee’s conventional weapons cluster ahead of an informal discussion.
Also speaking during the meeting were representatives of Algeria, Canada, Czech Republic, Ecuador, France, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Myanmar, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, and South Africa.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 24 October, to continue its thematic debates.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its thematic debate segment and hear the introduction of draft resolutions and decisions across the spectrum of agenda items before it.
Introduction to Informal Discussion
Introducing the Committee’s Conventional Weapons cluster, PETER WOOLCOTT, President of Final United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, called the April 2013 adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty a “historic moment” and a victory for multilateralism. The Treaty would make it harder for weapons to be diverted to the illicit market and to reach warlords, pirates, terrorists and criminals. Recalling the process, which involved many years of “complex negotiations”, he said he had been impressed by States’ commitment, as well as the engagement of international and regional organisations, and civil society. The Final Conference had shown what happened when political will existed.
He said that no delegation left the Conference getting everything they wanted, but likewise, no one walked away empty-handed. In his view, the final text could not have been stronger, while holding disparate interests together. Despite setbacks in the process, 114 States had signed and eight had ratified the Treaty since it opened for signature, which was an excellent start. Mindful that the Treaty was ultimately only a framework, he nonetheless hoped to see it enter into force by the end of 2014, stressing that it was necessary to keep working to ensure it “really does reduce human suffering”.
JEAN-HUGUES SIMON-MICHEL (France), associating himself with the European Union, said his country was wedded to multilateral disarmament and the international community must work to create conditions for a safer world by tackling in stages comprehensive disarmament. The different branches of the machinery were operating at varying levels of efficiency. The Arms Trade Treaty and the recent Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) were successes, but problems remained.
For the disarmament machinery, he said, the next logical step was the commencement of negotiations on a treaty banning fissile material for nuclear weapons, as had been called for by a number of decisions, including action 15 of the Action Plan emanating from the 2010 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). For that reason, France had backed the adoption last year of General Assembly resolution 67/53, which set up a group of governmental experts to make recommendations rather than negotiate the fissile material issue. The resolution was in full coherence with the NPT Action Plan and was focused on the Conference on Disarmament, where the issue should be discussed.
He was also concerned over a number of parallel initiatives, which were not in line with the 2010 Action Plan. Such initiatives served to question the common road map laid out under the Action Plan and called into question a number of principles, among them, the consensus rule; the participation of all States possessing key capacities in the field; compliance with the unique nature of the Conference on Disarmament and its complementarity with existing disarmament architecture; mandate clarity; and the cost of those initiatives.
France had a special responsibility when it came to the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), as his country was a traditional author of the five-yearly resolution. UNIDIR was not a training or purely academic institution, but rather an independent body, with a mandate tailored to meet Member States’ needs. Its work was directly related to negotiations and debate under way, and he supported establishment of its headquarters in Geneva. He would soon chair the meeting of States parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, in Geneva. That Convention and its five protocols were legally binding and an integral part of the disarmament machinery.
CAMILO LOUIS ( Colombia) said that flowing from his country’s firm belief in multilateralism; he supported the establishment of “collegiate bodies” to address disarmament matters with a “plural vision”. With renewed commitment, the First Committee could make progress. Regarding the Disarmament Commission, he recognised Peru’s efforts as its President to reach an agenda for the three-year cycle. He hoped for greater political will and flexibility at the Commission’s next session, and called on Member States to ensure that the recommendations on substantive matters were issued. Colombia supported the convening of a fourth special session of the General Assembly on disarmament, recalling that prior sessions had achieved results.
He regretted that the Conference on Disarmament had been unable to make progress for more than a decade. However, commitment and political will linked with creativity would make it possible to overcome the stalemate. The Informal Working Group designed to advance a programme of work was a welcome development, and Colombia recognised the need for essential disarmament matters to be discussed in a multilateral forum and, with that, the need for a revitalized and strengthened disarmament machinery. The Conference had a “historic debt” of outstanding issues concerning nuclear weapons, negative security assurances, a fissile material cut-off treaty, as well as weapons in outer space.
URS SCHMID ( Switzerland) said the international community faced a multitude of security challenges that were global in nature and therefore required cooperative and multilateral solutions. The adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty earlier this year had demonstrated that the international community was able to meet such challenges when it set out to do so. However, he was concerned over paralysis in the disarmament machinery, particularly the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament. A fully functional Conference was fundamental, and the disarmament community in Geneva built around it represented a unique cluster of expertise on the issues. It must move beyond the initial step of establishing an Informal Working Group to consider taking action on other proposals made by Kassym JomartTokayev, Conference Secretary-General and Secretary-General’s Personal Representative to the Geneva-based body.
He suggested that establishing a subsidiary organ to improve that body’s effective functioning would be an opportunity to address, in greater detail, a number of issues that could make consensus-building easier. That applied, first and foremost, to the way the Conference approached its programme of work, as a simpler and more progressive approach was possible. In particular, dissociating the adoption of the work programme from the specific mandate of issues on the agenda could contribute to putting an end to the current situation. Enlarging the membership and increasing civil society participation also warranted further consideration. He hoped that the Conference could build on the different proposals to revitalize it, and he stressed the importance of UNIDIR as an independent, autonomous institution within the United Nations system
DJAMEL MOKTEFI (Algeria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, stated his commitment to strengthening the disarmament machinery, which, he felt, required political will to break the impasse. Algeria also reaffirmed its support of the Disarmament Commission’s mandate, despite the fact that it had been unable to adopt concrete recommendations for several years. Likewise, Algeria attached great importance to the Conference on Disarmament, and along with other speakers, was deeply concern at the lack of consensus on a programme of work. That situation was particularly detrimental to non-nuclear-weapon States.
He said that the stalemate was not due to the Conference’s mode of operation or rules of procedure, including the consensus rule, with the latter offering a way to protect the national security interests of all Member States and not just the most powerful. The Conference could not resume its substantive work without the necessary political will, he said, noting that its decision to establish a working group had been the result of a compromise and demonstrated that the Conference was still viable and able to put an end to its impasse. Algeria was convinced of the need for the “restoration of the vocation” of the Conference as the sole multilateral negotiating body on disarmament, and it stood ready to engage with Member States. He expressed particular support for the convening of a fourth special session of the Assembly on disarmament, as well as for UNIDIR.
ABDULAZIZ ALAJMI ( Kuwait), associating himself with the League of Arab States and Non-Aligned Movement, expressed concern over the chronic stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament. The absence of political will by a number of major Member States had been a factor in disabling it. He welcomed the resolution to establish an informal working group to produce a programme of work. He hoped that efforts to support the United Nations disarmament machinery would continue until the world could celebrate the full elimination of nuclear weapons.
JAVIER GIL CATALINA ( Spain), associating himself with the European Union, said that his country was working alongside the international community to have balanced policies towards the twin goals of disarmament and non-proliferation, for which political will was necessary. Once again, Spain was forced to restate its concern at the impasse in the Conference on Disarmament, despite various resolutions of the General Assembly aimed at revitalizing it. The paralysis in that body and the absence of tangible results was not due to structural problems, but a lack of political will to promote multilateral negotiation.
Nevertheless, the international community should not “give in to gloom”. Perseverance was indispensible, in keeping with the lofty objectives of global peace and security. Several laudable attempts had been made, but it was unfortunate that no work programme had been agreed by consensus. Spain did not support the creation of a parallel body alongside the Conference that did not include nuclear-weapon States. That was not the best way to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons since the support of nuclear-weapon States in that was crucial. Any proposal regarding the Conference deserved constructive attention. The disarmament institutions should be open to all Member States and, thus, Spain supported expanding the Conference’s membership.
KELLY ANDERSON ( Canada) expressed regret that the two main multilateral forums had again failed to fulfil their mandates this year. The Disarmament Commission had concluded without consensus recommendations, and likewise, the Conference on Disarmament had not agreed on a programme of work. It remained to be seen if the Conference’s Informal Working Group could overcome the impasse. It was only partly true that lack of political will was to blame. A close inspection showed strong political will, flexibility and compromise among many Member States. But as long as even one State was unwilling to balance international and national interests, the Conference would remain deadlocked, with no progress on a fissile material cut-off treaty. While the Informal Working Group’s formation was welcome, Canada’s hope was tempered by past experience. It had participated in the Open-Ended Working Group on multilateral disarmament negotiations; discussions had been open, constructive and substantive. Establishment of a group of governmental experts on a fissile material cut-off treaty was likewise a positive development.
SAIF ALDIN AL-DARRAJI (Iraq), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, said the Conference on Disarmament needed to returned to the important role set out for it. It enjoyed a record of past successes, but was unfortunately going through a very complex phase in light of the increasing regional crises and terrorist threats throughout the world. Such elements threatened international stability and diverted resource flows, preventing the achievement of economic and social development. For almost 17 years, the Conference had been unable to perform negotiations for a disarmament convention. Its Member States must intensify efforts to agree on a balanced programme of work to meet the concerns of all States. Nuclear disarmament must remain at the top of the Conference’s priorities, as the use or threat of use of those weapons contravened international law. He looked forward to the 2014 session of the Conference on Disarmament and hoped that Member States would lend the necessary political will to enable it to proceed with its intended function.
DAVID CERVENKA (Czech Republic), associating himself with the European Union, expressed support for multilateral diplomacy and the vital role of its key components — First Committee, Conference on Disarmament, Disarmament Commission and UNIDIR. The Czech Republic was frustrated by the Conference’s repeated failure to commence negotiations. Even more disappointing was that insufficient time and effort had been devoted to the question of expanding its membership. Rule 2 of its procedure stipulated that the “membership of the Conference would be reviewed at regular intervals” and that should be honoured. The Czech Republic reiterated its call for the appointment of a special coordinator to initiate the necessary debate on that topic. It was in the Conference’s interest to infuse it with “inclusivity and dynamism” for the sake of its legitimacy and reputation.
KHALIL HASHMI (Pakistan), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that over the past several years, the discourse on the disarmament machinery had focused on several “myths”, namely that the Conference on Disarmament had failed to produce any treaty in the last four years, that there was only consensus on one of its four core issues, and that its working methods and rules of procedure were outdated and should be changed. The facts, however painted a different picture. The Conference had faced deadlock over negotiations since 1996 when the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) had been concluded, and the deadlock over nuclear disarmament, which was its “raison d’être”, had persisted for more than three decades. There was no hierarchy or “ripeness” to negotiate any one issue on its agenda, and a lack of consensus was not about just one issue. There was no consensus on any of the core issues, which could not be pinned on the position of one State. Neither could the Conference’s lacklustre performance be attributed to its procedural rules, as those same methods had produced landmark treaties and conventions such as the Chemical Weapons Convention and the CTBT.
He said that the challenges facing the international disarmament machinery were not exclusive to the Conference. In the past 10 years, several measures had been taken to rationalize and improve the methods of work of the First Committee. Aimed at achieving efficiency and effectiveness, the Committee had streamlined its work, resolutions had been “biennialized or triennialized”, and reports had been consolidated, among other efficiency-driven measures. And yet, the effectiveness, authority and results would suggest that the Committee was at as much at a standstill as the Conference. More importantly, the changes in working methods had not led to results on substance or forward movement on the priority accorded to nuclear disarmament. Likewise, the Disarmament Commission had been unable to agree on any document for more than a decade. Why, therefore, single out the Conference?
Some States had consistently called for bringing changes to the current rules of procedures of the Conference, and some had even called for redefining its consensus principle, he said. He was willing to examine concrete proposals for reform, but the problems facing the Conference and other aspects of the disarmament machinery were not organizational or procedural in nature, but rather related to the external political environment. The Conference did not operate in a vacuum and was affected by developments taking place outside its chamber. In order to make progress, it was essential to take into account the security concerns of all States. That was the only way to unblock the Conference. No treaty was ever or would ever be agreed without taking into account those concerns. Attempts to explore outside options were contrary to the recognized international position adopted by consensus, and Pakistan would take no part in such efforts.
YOO YEONCHUL (Republic of Korea) said that the reasons the Conference had been mired in standoffs and arguments since the adoption of the Test-Ban Treaty in 1996 were complex and the answers were not simple. The long-standing deadlock had often been attributed to regional security concerns, and for that reason, compromising had been more difficult. The consensus rule had been blamed by many countries for the current roadblocks. Recently, however, there had been several encouraging advances, including the launch of an Informal Working Group aimed at producing a programme of work during the inter-sessional period running up to the 2014 session. That was the result of the shared sense of crisis about the prolonged stalemate, and it had created a sense of political flexibility on the Conference’s operational procedures. Its long history of delivering landmark agreements, such as the Chemical Weapons Convention, just joined by the Syrian Government, reminded Member States of its key standing as a negotiation body. The Disarmament Commission also needed to play its pivotal role, and next year would be the concluding session of the triennial discussion cycle.
JOHANN KELLERMAN ( South Africa) said that the prolonged impasse in the Conference undermined, not only its credibility as the world’s ingle multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, but also raised questions about its continued relevance. It was imperative that the Conference be revitalized, and as part of that process, South Africa had exercised the greatest level of flexibility and supported proposals that stopped far short of what his delegation deem “optimum solutions”, hoping they would nonetheless pave the way for eventual negotiations.
With each passing year, he said, it became clearer that the vast majority of Member States were exasperated with the lack of progress on nuclear disarmament. Drawing attention to the importance of the Oslo Conference, he aligned with the joint statement delivered by New Zealand on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. The Open Ended Working Group and the High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament had been opportunities to bridge disagreements and move towards the fuller consideration those issues required. South Africa was optimistic that solutions could be found and that multilateral governance and the international rule of law in the area of disarmament would prevail.
FERNANDO LUQUE MÁRQUEZ ( Ecuador), associating himself with the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and Non-Aligned Movement, said he shared the concerns regarding the situation in the Conference. A dilemma existed about whether to progress through “improvised initiatives”, or try to rectify the problem once and for all. Proposals submitted that overtly or covertly transferred the issues of the Conference to other forums had failed, as they were based on a suggestion that did not enjoy consensus. Additionally, those proposals were incomplete and biased. Clearly, the deadlock was due to insufficient will to attach due importance to all topics, without subordinating or sidelining any of them. He welcomed the establishment of an Informal Working Group to develop a programme of work, which Ecuador would co-chair. The solution did not require changing procedure or methodology, but rather, reconciling positions to ensure that the concerns of all States were addressed, and by following the good faith principle of consensus. He supported the convening of a fourth special session of the General Assembly.
FRANTIŠEK RUŽIČKA (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union, said it was astonishing that while international security was jeopardized and the international community was facing great threats — through the nuclear test of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the use of chemical weapons in Syria — that the Conference was debating whether or not it should start negotiations on pressing issues of disarmament and non-proliferation. He was disappointed that individual interests were prevailing over global security interests, thus preventing progress on issues that would strengthen security for all. The ongoing stalemate in the Conference and stagnation in furthering nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation norms endangered global security. A machinery unable to secure and strengthen the security environment risked changes in the disarmament landscape. “We must prevent such erosion,” he said. Extending a “toolbox” of non-proliferation and disarmament instruments available to the international community was an important part of strengthening the international security architecture. It was urgent to revitalize the Conference, and he urged the international community to show increased flexibility and political will that would be reflected in trust and confidence and would help to bridge divergent views.
MATTHEW ROLAND ( United Kingdom), associating himself with the European Union, stated his firm belief in the need to revitalize the disarmament machinery if it was to remain effective and relevant to the challenges of the twenty-first century. The Disarmament Commission was “unfocused” with just two agenda items; it did not consider follow-up to resolutions passed in the First Committee, nor emerging threats to peace and security. That, in turn, had the Committee spend too much time voting on outdated and increasingly irrelevant resolutions. Some had not changed in 30 years.
As for the Conference on Disarmament, he said that the patience of the international community was running thin. Despite frustrations, however, it was difficult to envisage an alternative that would do the job better. Nuclear weapons were tied up with the security perceptions of so many States, whether they possessed those weapons or not. Any disarmament forum, therefore, must be multilateral, and take decisions by consensus. The Conference was at the heart of that multilateral approach, and he called on members to engage constructively and make a concerted effort towards progress, including for an internationally accepted fissile material cut-off treaty.
The disarmament machinery had been envisioned as a “joined-up process”, but over the years, the linkages had been, at best, weakened, at worst, broken, he said. Any serious attempt to revitalize that machinery should start by re-establishing those links. The traditional work of the First Committee would continue with negotiating and voting on resolutions as well as consideration of the work of the Conference. With time, those resolutions would become more relevant and focused. They would build the agenda for the Conference, which had a role in re-establishing links in the disarmament machinery by devoting time during its first session to consider resolutions passed in the First Committee, and by deliberating their substance, seek common ground.
KO KO SHEIN (Myanmar) associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the impasse in the Conference prevented it from negotiating critical issues, but reaffirmed its importance, as well as that of the Disarmament Commission. He asked whether a “mode of complacency” was prevailing and also when the strong political will of nations would emerge on the global disarmament agenda. “We are now at a crossroads to improve our disarmament machinery into a respectable and achievable international medium to initiate discussion on our current and future issues,” he stressed. Maintaining and strengthening the nature, role and purposes of those institutions was mandatory to pave the way for reaching early, fruitful outcomes.
No matter how hard the Conference Presidents had worked to break the deadlock, he said, the lack of political will on the part of some member States had prevented consensus. That impasse must not impede concrete negotiations on such critical issues as nuclear disarmament, negative security assurances, prevention of an outer space arms race, and a fissile material ban. He hoped that the Commission would be able to produce its recommendations on achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and on practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons at its 2014 session. While progress was notably absent in those two bodies, it had been possible to conclude the Arms Trade Treaty, which was a remarkable milestone in disarmament history. To move forward, a balance must be struck between a consensus-based approach and a majority rule-based approach to disarmament.
HENK COR VAN DER KWAST ( Netherlands) noted some encouraging developments regarding revitalization of the work of the Conference on Disarmament, which, he said, reflected the growing importance Member States accorded the issue. Listing several initiatives in that regard, he said the Netherlands was committed to a programme of work that was “robust in substance and progressive over time”. In addition, he noted proposals to address the working methods and membership. Likewise, advancement of nuclear disarmament under other initiatives was encouraging, he said, noting in particular the establishment of a Group of Government Experts on a fissile material cut-off treaty, as well as the Open Ended Working Group on taking forward nuclear disarmament negotiations. Notwithstanding those developments, much remained to be done, he said, emphasising the urgent need to intensify efforts to revitalize the Conference. The current deadlock had undermined its credibility for too long, preventing it from fulfilling its task.
Mr. GHALEHNOEE ( Iran) aligning with the Non-Aligned Movement, attached great importance to multilateralism in field of disarmament. Disarmament issues, both delicate and multidimensional, were closely related to national security considerations. He underscored the vital importance and continued validity of the Conference on Disarmament, he said it should remain the sole body of multilateral disarmament machinery and expressed support as well for the Disarmament Commission’s relevance as the sole deliberative body. Underscoring in particular his support for the rule of consensus, he expressed dismay at “double standards and discriminatory policies” that underpinned the Conference’s deadlock.
He said that there was no alternative to the Conference and its consensus rule. Similarly, calls for a fourth special session of the Assembly on disarmament could not be replaced by “artificial” initiatives. Existing disarmament machinery should be supported fully. That was a common responsibility, and Iran placed particular emphasis on the field of nuclear disarmament. His country supported early commencement of a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention, in keeping with the recent proposal by the Non-Aligned Movement. Noting his country’s presidency of the Conference in May and June this year, he said that, notwithstanding the complexity of the issues, Iran had not been discouraged and had made “utmost efforts” to consult with members to reach a consensus on a work programme. Its proposal had been based on past efforts to streamline and simplify the programme, and he was grateful for the initiative’s support. Iran would continue to support a balanced work programme.
GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA ( Peru) stated that challenges in disarmament that were common to the majority of countries in his region remained, despite recent progress. Technical tools and economic resources were required to overcome those, and action on peace and disarmament must be linked to social development measures. The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean had provided support to States in his region in developing and implementing norms and standards in disarmament. Highlighting specific initiatives, he emphasised the “shared action” undertaken by States in the region in cooperation with the Centre, and the need for strengthening such cooperation. He introduced a resolution, entitled “United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean”, which reiterated support for the Centre’s role in the region to promote United Nations activities in the areas of peace, stability, security and development. He called for continued support of the Centre.
GHANA SHYAM LAMSAL ( Nepal) introduced a draft resolution entitled “United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific” (document A/C.1/68/L.25). He said that the United Nations Regional Centre was working with Member States from Asia and the Pacific region in the field of peace and disarmament more closely since its relocation to Kathmandu in 2008. While dialogue among the regional member States went a long way towards creating and sustaining a conducive environment for disarmament and non-proliferation, the Centre’s activities needed expanding and consolidating in view of the challenges facing the region. As host country to the Centre, Nepal was committed to providing all possible support to make it an effective primary United Nations regional entity dealing with disarmament and non-proliferation issues in Asia and the Pacific. The draft resolution sought to promote the Centre’s role and contained only technical updates from last year’s version.
VIPUL ( India), associating himself with the Non-aligned Movement, said that his country attached high importance to the disarmament machinery in its present form. The triad of bodies was the mechanism by which the international community gave “expression and coherence” to its disarmament efforts. The First Committee was an embodiment of faith in the benefit of collective action and multilateral approaches, and India was open to suggestions on how to strengthen its work. Despite past successes, the Disarmament Commission had struggled to achieve consensus in its current cycle, even on its agenda items. He hoped it would be able to achieve a substantive result in 2014, the last year of the current cycle.
The Conference on Disarmament, he continued, bore a “heavy responsibility” in the international disarmament agenda. It continued to have the mandate, membership, credibility and rules of procedure to discharge that responsibility. Furthermore, since its decisions had an impact on national security, it was logical that it conducted its work by consensus. Proposals that questioned it viability or relevance should be met with “utmost caution”. It was regrettable that India, a major space-faring nation, had been excluded from the Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space, and it hoped the matter would receive the Secretariat’s due attention.
Two bodies of the disarmament machinery that had not received much attention this year, he said, were UNIDIR and the Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters, and India believed both had a role to play in shaping the disarmament agenda. He called for upholding UNIDIR’s autonomy and impartiality to enable it to fulfil its role, and said that the Advisory Board should be made more representative, so that it could reflect the broadest range of perspectives.
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