Speakers in First Committee Signal Appetite for Accelerating Disarmament, Spotlighting Cross-Border ‘Hotbeds of Tension and Conflict’

GA/DIS/3501
13 October 2014
Sixty-ninth session, 6th Meeting (PM)

Speakers in First Committee Signal Appetite for Accelerating Disarmament, Spotlighting Cross-Border ‘Hotbeds of Tension and Conflict’

There was “no good purpose for bad weapons”, heard the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today as a cross-section of non-nuclear-armed States called for greater global disarmament efforts.

In a thought-provoking discussion that challenged the international community to step up the pace of disarmament, the representative of Lebanon said that the world’s current struggles with violence, crime and terrorism made it clear that “the path of peace was better than the path of war”.

This sentiment was echoed by other countries associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, including the Congo, whose representative reminded delegates that the world was filled with “hotbeds of tension and conflict” where terrorists and extremists were committing “acts of barbarous violence”.  The world could no longer dodge the threat of nuclear weapons once they fell into the hands of non-State actors, he warned.

Continued reliance on nuclear weapons was possibly the “greatest driving force” behind their proliferation, said the representative of Austria, adding that whether or not there was concrete proliferation, the symbolism and status associated with nuclear weapons certainly proliferated.

He said new information had come to light about the risks associated with nuclear weapons, which were more serious than previously known and which could never be eliminated completely.  Humankind had been very lucky so far at their non-use; however, reason demanded urgent action to eliminate those weapons.

Indeed, the world was at a critical juncture, said the representative of Tunisia, pointing out that more than half of the world’s population lived in nuclear-weapon States or in those that were members of a nuclear alliance.

Against a backdrop of globalization, she continued, the international arms trade was evolving and fuelling violence in conflict and post-conflict zones around the world.  Disarmament was, therefore, the best bulwark to prevent arms from falling into the hands of non-State actors or terrorist groups.

Jamaica’s representative, whose delegation also chairs the Committee, said it was crucial to nurture an atmosphere of mutual confidence, non-discrimination, increased transparency and trust, while exercising the political will and commitment to achieve the First Committee’s goals.

She said her country, having been disproportionately affected by the “irresponsible” trade in conventional weapons, welcomed the ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty as the world continued to grapple with the “sobering reality” that small arms and light weapons killed an estimated 300,000 people each year.

Also speaking were the representatives of Kuwait, Hungary, Burkina Faso, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Viet Nam, Oman, Estonia, Montenegro, Cabo Verde, Papa New Guinea, Sudan and Italy.

The First Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on 14 October, to continue its general debate.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its general debate.  For background, see Press Release GA/DIS/3497.

Statements

ABDULAZIZ ALAJMI (Kuwait), associating with the Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, called for a new approach to particular objective frameworks that allowed implementation of disarmament-related agreements in a measurable way and avoidance of obstacles that hindered those efforts.  Member States should find ways and means to meet the increasing challenges, he said, commending the establishment of zones free from nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction as an important step.  However, the Middle East was still a long way from achieving that goal.  Israel must accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and submit its nuclear installations to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) control.  He also stressed the importance of Iran’s cooperation with the Agency, and supported efforts under way on that issue.  He said he saw some hope in that regard, while reiterating that self-defence was an important right, as well self-determination for nations under occupation.  He called for transparency and flexibility from Member States to achieve a world that was peaceful and secure.

GYORGY MOLNAR (Hungary), associating with the European Union, said that despite the current stalemate, his country continued to hold the Conference on Disarmament in high regard.  The first step towards its revival would be the adoption of a programme of work, and that, he stressed, should be the focus of future presidencies.  Hungary sought a truly “robust” programme that allowed for negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.  Another essential building block missing from the legal nuclear disarmament architecture was the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).  In the months ahead, Hungary would intensify its efforts to reach out to States that had not yet signed or ratified it.  The elimination of nuclear weapons could not be a single act, but rather had to be a gradual, comprehensive process, which fully engaged the nuclear-armed States while preserving the integrity of the NPT.

DER KOGDA (Burkina Faso), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and African Group, said that disarmament remained a key concern on the United Nations’ agenda.  The Arms Trade Treaty would be the first to establish binding global norms and would thus contribute enormously to tackling conflict, insecurity, instability and banditry and protect the victim populations.  His country had undertaken an outreach campaign for that Treaty’s adoption, which included workshops for members of parliament and other authorities.  Due to the looming threat of nuclear war, the world lived in the shadow of Armageddon.  For that reason, it was important to end policies of nuclear deterrence.

LANI ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates), associating with the League of Arab States and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that her country firmly believed that issues of disarmament and non-proliferation were significant in achieving the objectives of international peace and security.  She underlined the importance of involving women in international disarmament efforts and playing a central role in promoting global peace and security.  Additionally, her country supported the peaceful use of nuclear energy, as that was essential to meeting the world’s growing energy demands.  The country was proud to be a pioneer in the region and it upheld the highest standards of transparency, safety and security.  She emphasized the need to continue negotiations between Iran and the “P5+1” in order to reach a comprehensive settlement on the country’s nuclear issue within a specific time frame.  She was deeply concerned that no tangible progress had been made in establishing a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.

ANTHONY ANDANJE (Kenya), associating with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that none of today’s global challenges could be solved by any one nation, no matter how powerful.  Multilateralism was, therefore, imperative.  And yet military spending, instead of being cut, was increasing at an alarming rate.  The NPT required disarmament and not increased armament, but the modernization of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems, the pursuit of pre-emptive strike doctrines and threat of use of nuclear weapons did not create an atmosphere conducive to disarmament.  Despite the rhetoric on arms reduction, the reliance on nuclear weapons attested to the central role they continued to play in security policies.  That was “counterproductive”, he said, adding that every citizen had the right and duty to oppose the existence of nuclear weapons.

EL KHANSA ARFAOUI HARBAOUI (Tunisia), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab and African Groups, said that the world was at a critical juncture in which more than half of the global population lived in countries that were either nuclear-weapon States or members of a nuclear alliance.  She regretted the lack of destruction of those weapons through a bilateral or multilateral treaty, and the absence presently of any substantive negotiations.  Fresh efforts were needed, she stressed, to eliminate nuclear weapons and divert those resources to economic and social development, building democracy and protecting the environment.  Disarmament was also the best bulwark to prevent arms from falling into the hands of terrorist groups or non-State actors.  With globalization, the global arms trade was evolving and acts of violence were being committed in conflict and post-conflict zones around the world.  The uncontrolled proliferation of small arms and lights weapons devastated civilians, particularly women and children, and more and more were falling into the hands of terrorist networks.

NURAN NIYAZALIEV (Kyrgyzstan) said that preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was one of his country’s most important policies.  He welcomed the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, and would continue to support efforts aimed at that important topic.  The CTBT was one of the key instruments in the field of nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation strategic stability and security.  It was vital to prevent non-State actors from gaining access to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons through implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004).  A zone free from nuclear weapons was established in Central Asia, signed in 2006 and entered into force in 2009, he said, urging the nuclear-weapon States to ratify the protocol to that treaty, which provided negative security assurances to States in that region.

SHORNA-KAY RICHARDS (Jamaica), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that no matter what the challenge and perceived realities, the promotion of multilateral disarmament must play a central role in the goals of general and complete disarmament.  In the face of the urgent tasks before the international community, the question remained how to move multilateral disarmament forward after nearly two years.  Clearly, it was crucial to nurture an “atmosphere of mutual confidence, non-discrimination, increased transparency and trust, while exercising the political will and commitment to achieve the stated goals and objectives of the First Committee and the wider disarmament machinery.

As a country that had been disproportionately affected by the “irresponsible” trade in conventional weapons, Jamaica welcomed the ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty and took pride in its active contribution to that process as one of the first countries to have signed and ratified it.  As the world continued to grapple with the “sobering reality” that small arms and light weapons killed an estimated 300,000 people worldwide each year, Jamaica viewed the inclusion of those weapons in the scope of the Arms Trade Treaty as an important complement to the 2001 United Nations Programme of Action.

NGUYEN PHUONG NGA (Viet Nam), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the First Committee was beginning its work this year against the background of various novel challenges.  As the Secretary-General had put it, it had been a terrible year for the principles inscribed in the Charter, but disarmament was now viewed as a distant dream.  It was then important to respect fundamental principles of international law and the Charter, especially respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.  She called for greater accession to the CTBT, especially those whose ratifications were necessary for its entry into force.  Viet Nam was cooperating with partners to develop nuclear-energy infrastructure.  It also supported the Conventions on cluster munitions and anti-personnel mines, and was working with international partners to rid the country of explosive remnants of war.

MAYA DAGHER (Lebanon), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, said that in the struggle against violence, crime and terrorism, it was important to remember that the “path of peace was better than the path of war”.  Echoing the words of the Secretary-General, she said that there was “no good purpose for bad weapons”.  Efforts must be redoubled, therefore, to encourage dialogue and create a foundation in which human rights, rule of law and sustainable development were used to address the roots of violence.  Lebanon, as it aspired towards the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, called for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free-zone in the Middle East and highlighted that Israel was the only State in the region that had not acceded to the NPT.  As such, it called on the international community to put pressure on that country to submit all its nuclear weapons to IAEA safeguards.  Lebanon had suffered greatly from attacks on its aerial and maritime borders, as well as repeated aggressions on its infrastructure, which resulted in the loss of innocent lives.

ALEXANDER KMENTT (Austria) said his country was proud to be among the first 50 to have ratified the Arms Trade Treaty; its universalization and effective implementation would be crucial to translate the obligations therein into concrete measures.  He commended the international community’s decisive cooperation to remove and destroy Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile as the right response to such grave breaches of international law and international humanitarian law.  Concerning Iran, Austria remained hopeful that negotiations with the “EU+3” would resume in Vienna this week, and could lead to a solution of the Iranian nuclear issue.

He said his country had always been a staunch supporter of the NPT, but the focus on proliferation was not sufficient.  The crisis in Ukraine had led some to question the feasibility of nuclear disarmament.  Continued reliance on nuclear weapons was possibly the greatest driving force behind their proliferation.  Whether or not there was concrete proliferation, the symbolism and status associated with nuclear weapons certainly proliferated.  New information had become available about the risks associated with nuclear weapons, which were more serious than previously known and which could never be eliminated completely.  Humankind had been very lucky so far at their non-use, but reason demanded urgent action to eliminate those weapons.

MOHAMED AHMED SALIM AL-SHANFARI (Oman), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, said that, despite numerous international meetings and conferences over the past three decades, progress had not been made in nuclear disarmament talks or in the reduction of nuclear proliferation.  Moreover, delays in convening an international conference on the Middle East were evidence that some parties did not understand its importance and goal.  Now was the time to resolve this issue.  He meanwhile expressed Oman’s commitment to the United Nations Programme on the illicit trade in small and light weapons and confirmed that his country had submitted its instrument of accession to the Mine-Ban Convention.  In doing so, it contributed to an important convention that aimed to spare individuals from falling victim to mines left over from wars and conflicts.

MARGUS KOLGA (Estonia), associating with the European Union, said the arms Trade Treaty was an extremely important instrument, and he was pleased to see that more than half the United Nations Member States had signed it and more than 50 had ratified it.  That was a major accomplishment for the international community.  However, the CTBT had not entered into force 17 years after its opening for signature.  He fully supported all three pillars of the NPT, and would continue to promote the full implementation of the 2010 Action Plan.  The agenda of the Conference on Disarmament encompassed global concerns, which should be negotiated in a transparent, multilateral way by a wider group of States.  He welcomed Albania’s nomination as special rapporteur to review the issue of membership.  With the Conference the single multilateral negotiating forum for disarmament, there was no reason why an interested State should not be allowed to participate fully in its negotiations.

MILORAD ŠĆEPANOVIĆ (Montenegro), associating with the European Union, acknowledged the “considerable reductions” in nuclear arsenals by the United States and Russian Federation since the end of the cold war, but with 17,000 nuclear weapons still in existence, relatively limited progress had been achieved in the field.  Ongoing efforts to modernize and upgrade nuclear weapons did not align with the NPT, he said, stressing that the risk presented by their proliferation and their potential impact on international peace and security was a “constant concern that could never be fully eliminated”.  He urged a renewed focus on the full implementation of existing obligations and outcomes, adding that “real and substantive” progress in nuclear disarmament with the aim of total elimination was “long overdue”.  His country had helped to prepare the National Action Plan on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), with an aim to ensure full and effective compliance.  It also had submitted its national report on the resolution’s implementation, he added.

FERNANDO WAHNON FERREIRA (Cabo Verde), associating with the African Union and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that as part of multilateralism it was possible to create adequate mechanisms to make significant headway towards global disarmament.  He supported the legal provisions of international instruments in the field of security, and was committed to dialogues and platforms for international discussions for reducing weapons of mass destruction.  The intentional or accidental use of nuclear weapons would have a fatal impact on the planet, on life and humanity.  To that end, he called for the NPT’s universalization.

PETER BONNY (Papua New Guinea), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the successful outcome of debates on disarmament issues were dependent on the engagement of nuclear-weapon States and other major arms-producing States, as well as their full compliance with relevant protocols and treaties.  Much had been achieved on that front in the last several years, he said, highlighting the reduction of nuclear arms between the Russian Federation and United States, as well as the disposal of chemical weapons in Syria.  While he called for a peaceful and nuclear-free world, he said his country also supported the view that the development of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes was the “inalienable right of every country”.  Within that context, he called for more openness by all concerned countries to eliminate any doubts about their nuclear programmes.

RAYMOND SERGE BALÉ (Congo) said that practically everywhere in the world hotbeds of tension and conflict were evident.  Terrorism and extremism were displaying objectives of territorial conquest, illustrated by acts of barbarous violence.  Those dangers had shaken the sense of stability for countries.  The world would no longer dodge the threat of nuclear weapons once they fell into the hands of such non-State actors.  He announced the deposit last month of the instrument of ratification of the CTBT, which was in keeping with his country’s commitment to promote peace and security at the regional level.  He welcomed international efforts to conclude an instrument to ban fissile material.  The total elimination of anti-personnel mines was another challenge, and he urged States to cooperate with the Mine-Ban Convention.  The global community must persevere in disarmament despite setbacks and today’s complicated international situations.  Member States must press ahead to usher in a peaceful, prosperous and stable world.

RAHAMTALLA MOHAMED OSMAN ELNOR (Sudan), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement the African and Arab Groups, called for the international community’s support on the establishment of a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone, stressing that a conference was needed to create a binding timetable towards its achievement.  The only way to bolster international security in the region was to place nuclear weapons under IAEA scrutiny, including those of Israel, which had not yet acceded to the NPT.  Sudan had been among the first to ratify the Treaty, as well as the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, or Treaty of Pelindaba.  Another disarmament priority for his country was small arms and light weapons, as it had, like many others, suffered greatly from them.  Sudan had sought to confront the issue, hosting a regional workshop on combating their proliferation and establishing border checkpoints at the borders to help prevent those weapons’ spread.  Sudan had come a long way in the implementation the United Nations Programme of Action and was establishing contact offices to implement policies at national and regional levels.

VINICIO MATI (Italy), associating with the European Union, said that multilateralism and international cooperation were crucial to effective, concrete and long-term results in disarmament.  One recent multilateral success was the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty.  It was more than just a treaty on the arms trade, but was a binding instrument that fostered respect for human rights.  By envisioning binding criteria for the prevention of gender-based violence, the Treaty had, for the first time, included a gender perspective and the concept of human security in the broader context of global security.  In closing, he said the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament was no longer acceptable, and he expressed satisfaction with efforts to revitalize its work.

For information media. Not an official record.