Destabilizing Stocks of Conventional Weapons Preoccupy First Committee as Speaker Describes Amount Spent on ‘Breeding, Exacerbating and Maintaining’ Conflict

GA/DIS/3508
22 October 2014
Sixty-ninth session, 14th Meeting (AM)

Destabilizing Stocks of Conventional Weapons Preoccupy First Committee as Speaker Describes Amount Spent on ‘Breeding, Exacerbating and Maintaining’ Conflict

It was “ironic” that the weapons that propelled and sustained conflicts came from areas that enjoyed peace, a delegate told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) as it continued its thematic debate on conventional weapons.

Drawing attention to what he called double standards in the global arms trade, the representative of Pakistan said that only four countries accounted for two thirds of those exports, while major importers were in the developing world.  

As the total United Nations budget amounted to a paltry 3 per cent of the global military expenditure, he said, 33 times that was being spent on breeding, exacerbating and maintaining conflict than in preventing it.

Many speakers drew attention to the coming entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty, with the representative of Djibouti saying that “a new page in United Nations history” had been written that highlighted the dynamism of multilateralism.  Arms transfers were at the heart of Africa’s destabilization, with conflicts costing the continent billions every year, notwithstanding the human toll.

The representative of Ethiopia concurred that the negative impacts of conventional weapons were immense, saying they hampered hard-won peace gains as well as social and economic development.  Over the years, many violent conflicts in Africa had been fuelled by those weapons, resulting in wider instability. 

Those “hotbeds of tension” showed that peace and stability were “anything but a given”, said the representative of Senegal.  The situation in the Sahel remained a particular concern.  To curb small arms and light weapons, West Africa had adopted an initiative to trigger “synergies of action,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the African Group, the representative of Nigeria underscored the importance of a reduction in military spending, urging countries to devote those resources to development, notably in the fight against poverty and disease.  Turning to the Arms Trade Treaty, he said that its implementation should be done in a balanced manner to ensure that the interests of all States were protected, and not only those of the arms-producing nations.

While weapons of mass destruction had dominated much of the global security and disarmament agenda over the last few decades, noted the representative of the Republic of Korea, the illicit transfer and use of conventional weapons continued to engender insecurity and conflict around the world.  Adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty was an important milestone, requiring States for the first time to consider humanitarian and human rights consequences when exporting conventional weapons.

The continued impact of weapons on civilians “shook the legal foundation” that was at the centre of conventional disarmament, stressed the representative of Costa Rica.  As President of the Fifth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, she said those weapons should not be part of a State’s modern arsenal.  Despite the legal framework, the use of cluster munitions could be seen in the conflicts in Syria and eastern Ukraine.

Sharing a perspective from Latin America, the representative of Colombia noted that his country was heavily affected by conventional weapons and supported the full and effective implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty.  While the right of States to self-defence must also be ensured, there should be a differentiation between lawful and illicit weapons use.

During the meeting, draft resolutions were tabled on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa; Standing Advisory Committee of the United Nations on questions of security in Central Africa; Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons; the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons; and preventing and combating illicit brokering activities.

Also speaking during the debate were representatives of India, Equatorial Guinea on behalf of the Economic Community of Central African States, United States, Egypt on behalf of the Arab Group, Cuba, Belarus, France, Slovenia, Iraq, Japan, China, Bangladesh, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Finland, South Africa, Republic of Moldova, Myanmar, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Switzerland, Romania, Austria, Australia, and Spain.

The First Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 23 October to conclude its thematic debate on conventional weapons.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met today to continue its thematic debate on conventional weapons.  For more background, see Press Release GA/DIS/3497.

Statements

SIDDHARTHA NATH (India), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the full and effective implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons and the International Tracing Instrument was a priority for his country, particularly with regard to combating terrorism and transnational crime.  On that issue, India welcomed the successful conclusion of the Fifth Biennial Meeting of States on the Programme of Action and the consensus adoption of its outcome document.  The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, he said, remained the only forum of a universal character that brought together all the main users and producers of certain conventional weapons, ensuring that the instruments that emerged had a greater prospect of making a “meaningful impact on the ground”.

India, he went on, supported the vision of a world free of the threat of landmines and was committed to their eventual elimination.  His country had discontinued the production of non-detectable anti-personnel landmines and observed a moratorium on their transfer.  Further, it had participated in the expert level meeting for the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons focused on lethal autonomous weapons systems in May and supported continued discussions in connection with that Convention in 2015, in line with its mandate.  The country felt that lethal autonomous weapons should be assessed, not only from the view of their compatibility with international law, including international humanitarian law, but also on their impact on international security.  The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons should emerge strengthened from ongoing discussions, resulting in their increased systemic control.

ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea), speaking on behalf of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), said that every effort was needed by the international community to create a world of peace and concord.  In that context, on behalf of the Community, he presented a draft resolution on the Standing Advisory Committee of the United Nations on questions of security in Central Africa.  He said the solution to conflict was through negotiations and peaceful means, and he reaffirmed the determination to join efforts made by the United Nations to combat the evils afflicting those countries, which included some of the world’s greatest challenges, such as Ebola. He sought full support for the draft resolution.

ROBERT WOOD (United States), welcoming the coming entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty, said the instrument must operate in an open, transparent and inclusive manner.  “We need to recognize that States are at different stages in developing the national control systems required by the Treaty and in being able to sign and/or ratify it,” he said.  States that had committed to it needed to be able to participate in its operation “to the maximum extent possible”.  The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons was an important instrument that had been able to bring together States with diverse national security concerns.  Turning to anti-personnel landmines, he said the United States this year had announced several important changes to its policy, including that it would not produce or otherwise acquire any anti-personnel munitions that were not compliant with the Mine Ban Convention.  That included replacing such munitions as they expired in the coming years.  On 23 September, the United States had announced that it was aligning its anti-personnel landmine policy outside the Korean peninsula with that Convention’s key requirements.

He said the United States was the largest financial supporter of humanitarian mine action and remained committed to eliminating at-risk conventional weapons and munitions.  He urged Member States to implement the United Nations Programme of Action and the International Tracing Instrument.  Due to instability in the Middle East and Africa, terrorists had gained access to Man Portable Air Defence Systems, which threatened civil and military aviation worldwide.  His country was cooperating with partners to secure those missiles.

CHUKA UDEDIBIA (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the Group of African States, welcomed the successful convening of the Fifth Biennial Meeting of States on the Programme of Action.  He noted that international cooperation and assistance was essential to the Programme’s full implementation.  The Programme and the instruments that emerged from its review were key to addressing issues of conventional weapons and ensuring sustainable development in Africa.  One important confidence-building measure would be a reduction in military spending, he said, urging countries to devote those resources to development, in particular, to the fight against poverty and disease.  The Group also welcomed the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty as that created a legally binding instrument for the illicit transfer.  The Treaty’s implementation should be done in a balanced manner to ensure that the interests of all States were protected, and not just those of the weapon-producing States.

He said the African Group acknowledged that the unregulated flow of arms gave access to non-State actors and, as such, it urged ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty by the major weapons suppliers.  The Group reiterated the critical importance of political will in addressing the issue of small arms and light weapons, and believed that international deliberations should “enhance the cost of peace”.  He called for assistance to States in controlling those weapons, saying that efforts in Africa should correspond to efforts in other regions.  With that, he introduced a draft resolution on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa.  While there had been overwhelming support in the past on this resolution, he encouraged Member States to redouble their efforts in support of this draft.

AMR FATHI ALJOWAILY (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, welcomed the successful holding of the Fifth Biennial Meeting on the implementation of the Programme of Action, and noted the Group’s participation and recommitment to that process.  The Group also appreciated efforts towards the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty, and urged the international community to ensure that its implementation was in consonance with the United Nations Charter and respected the right of each State to self-determination and to the export and import of conventional weapons. The Group also emphasized the sovereign right of countries to keep those weapons in line with their security and self-defence needs.  He voiced the Group’s concern about the use of ordnance and landmines, which were still causing material damages and obstructing development in some Arab States.  The countries responsible for their use must compensate the affected States.

IVIAN DEL SOL DOMINGUEZ (Cuba) said the “cost” of small and light weapons was great, but at the same time, she defended States’ rights to manufacture and import those weapons.  She called for more stringent measures to control the illicit trade, as that was seriously compromising people’s lives.  Thus, more concrete efforts were needed to promote and strengthen international cooperation.  The underlying causes leading to the scourge must be addressed.  The world community had had a historic opportunity during negotiations on the Arms Trade Treaty, but the final text favoured exporting States.  Nevertheless, strict compliance with that text and related protocols was crucial to its success, and negotiations should continue in order to end asymmetric capabilities between developed and developing States.

VLADIMIR GERASIMOVICH (Belarus) affirmed that the illegal trade in small arms and light weapons was a security priority of his country.  Belarus had scrupulously implemented its commitments in that area, particularly in connection with the United Nations Programme of Action.  The country had a successful legal foundation governing the control of small arms and light weapons and had made good contributions in that area, including control of its borders.  It was unacceptable for those weapons to fall into the hands of non-State actors, he said, pointing to the need to control their licenses.  His country also supported efforts to improve stockpile management, as that was important to combating illegal trade.  Since 2007, Belarus had implemented a joint project with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations Development Programme to stop the modernization of small arms and light weapons at facilities run by the Government’s Defence Ministry.  He thanked all countries involved in that project as well as the European Union for their financial contributions towards that end.

JEAN-HUGUES SIMON-MICHEL (France) said small arms and light weapons were a serious impediment to the most fragile States.  The speed with which the Arms Trade Treaty was coming into force reflected the importance the international community attached to the matter.  France supported Geneva as the host of its secretariat, he said, adding that implementation of the Treaty was crucial.  In view of that, France, in partnership with African countries, had organized a seminar on implementation, and was planning similar initiatives.  France also would hold consultations in the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons to strengthen that process.  The text of its proposed resolution would take into account recent developments, and France hoped to achieve consensus.  He urged the cessation of the use in Syria of cluster munitions.

BOŠTJAN JERMAN (Slovenia), associating with the European Union, expressed his satisfaction at the outcome of the “race to first 50” ratifications of the Arms Trade Treaty.  Reaching that goal demonstrated the international support for the first treaty regulating international trade in conventional weapons, technology and equipment.  Looking forward to the First Conference of States Parties, Slovenia supported an inclusive approach that enabled wide participation of States and civil society.  The next challenge would be the race to the second 50 ratifications.  He called on all States that had not done so to ratify the Treaty.  Regarding anti-personnel mines, Slovenia welcomed the successful conclusion of the Maputo Review Conference, which saw the adoption of the Maputo Declaration and plan of action and the decision related to implementation machinery.  His delegation would continue to support a world free of anti-personnel mines by acting through the International Trust Fund for enhancing human security.  His delegation also fully supported the draft resolution on the Mine Ban Convention.

SARMAD MUWAFAQ MOHAMMED AL-TAIE (Iraq), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, reaffirmed his commitments on small arms and light weapons and stressed the importance of measures to control their illicit trade.  Iraq suffered immensely from such weapons, he said, adding that the affected land could not be used for development.  Despite the difficult circumstances, Iraq had eliminated cluster munitions and mines left since 2003 with the help of international organizations.  The task was fraught with difficulties, particularly concerning pollution, and Iraq was doing its utmost to help survivors and other victims.  He sought the cooperation of global organizations in the search for uranium weapons and in addressing their effects.

TOSHIO SANO (Japan) said the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty provided positive impetus for the Programme of Action, which remained an important tool to address the illicit trade because it covered a wider range of issues including marking, tracing and stockpile management.  Both anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions were major causes of serious humanitarian harm, and they not only posed grave dangers and harm to civilians during and after conflicts, but could also leave a lasting socio-economic impact for many years or even decades.  He was deeply concerned by reports that anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions had recently been used, which lead to the belief that those two conventions should become universal.

SUN LEI (China) said that the main legal framework dealing with the humanitarian issues in the field of arms control was the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which had played an irreplaceable role in connection with the devastating impact of anti-personnel landmines and other conventional weapons.  As a full Contracting Party to the Convention and its five Protocols, China would, as always, strictly implement its obligations in that regard and remain committed to enhancing the Convention’s effectiveness and universality.  While promoting the domestic implementation work, China had been actively dedicated to international mine clearance assistance.  The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons contributed to complicated causes, thus calling for a holistic approach, which should also address both the root causes and symptoms.  The international community should strengthen cooperation within the United Nations as the main channel, and ensure the full and effective implementation of the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons.  Meanwhile, each State should strengthen its capacity-building and take on the primary responsibility for eradicating illicit trade.

IBRAHIMA SORY SYLLA (Senegal), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, highlighted the “hotbeds of tension” that were permeating throughout the world, particularly in Middle East and Africa, which showed that peace and stability were “anything but a given”.  The situation in the Sahel remained a particular concern for the entire sub-Saharan region.  In order to confront those challenges, the West African region had adopted an initiative to trigger “synergies of action” to curb small arms and light weapons, which posed a genuine threat to international peace and security.  As a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which in 2006 had a Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Senegal welcomed the positive momentum accompanying the coming entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty.  He urged a balanced approach to implementation to ensure the needs of all States were taken into account and not just those of weapon-producing ones.  On combating anti-personnel mines, he said the implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty was a priority and called for enhanced technical and financial assistance to implement mine clearance programmes.

MIGUEL CAMILO RUIZ (Colombia), noting that his country was heavily affected by the types of weapons being discussed, supported full and effective implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty.  A key lesson from history was that weapons in the hands of non-State actors led to crimes against humanity and genocide.  Colombia was in the process of ratifying the Treaty, and stressed the role of international cooperation in ensuring its full implementation.  While the right of States to self-defence must also be ensured, there should be a differentiation between lawful and illicit weapons use.  Colombia engaged at the international, hemispheric and regional levels to achieve that objective.  He introduced the draft resolution on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.

FARUK HOSSAIN (Bangladesh), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, welcomed the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty, highlighting that the unregulated trade in conventional arms had been horrific and killed millions of innocent civilians.  He hoped the Treaty would bring further accountability and transparency to the global arms trade and reduce human suffering.  Nevertheless, several major arms-producing, exporting and importing States had not yet ratified it, he noted, adding that the sooner the big players embraced the Treaty, the greater the likelihood of achieving its aims.  Transparency in armaments could build confidence among States, and help prevent excessive or destabilizing accumulations of arms, which often led to conflicts.  For its part, Bangladesh routinely reported on the seven categories in the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and stressed the importance of the effective implementation of the three related resolutions adopted in the sixty-eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly, he noted.

THEO PETERS (Netherlands) said implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty was what would really matter.  Regarding lethal autonomous weapons systems, he was pleased that a concerted effort had begun by both States and civil society.  International law and international humanitarian law was the framework for the legality of those weapon systems, and his delegation would continue to participate in those discussions and advocate for a new mandate within the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.  Small arms and light weapons were still responsible for most arms-related casualties worldwide and remained real weapons of mass destruction.  The Biennial Meeting of States showed mixed results, and the Netherlands would like to see clear references to the synergy between the Arms Trade Treaty, stockpile management, United Nations Security Council resolutions, and assistance in technology transfers.  Regarding the Mine Ban Treaty, he recalled the agreement by States parties to clear all anti-personnel mines before 2025.  During the Meeting of States parties on the Cluster Munitions Convention, it was clear that the main challenges were achieving the treaty’s universalization and ensuring the non-use of those weapons. His country was appalled by the continued use of those weapons in populated areas by the Syrian regime.  It was also concerned about a report of their use in South Sudan, Ukraine, and by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS).

ZAMIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that, notwithstanding the focus on mass destruction potential of nuclear weapons maintained primarily for deterrence, was the widespread use of conventional weapons, which fuelled conflict and destabilized States and societies.  Ironically, the weapons that propelled and sustained conflicts came from areas that enjoyed peace.  Only four countries accounted for two thirds of global arms exports, while major importers were in the developing countries.  Yet another irony was that the total United Nations budget amounted to a paltry 3 per cent of the world’s military expenditure, and hence, the world was spending around 33 times more on breeding, exacerbating and maintaining conflict than in preventing it.  Another disturbing trend was the development of new types of weapons, such as lethal autonomous weapons, he said, adding that States currently developing and using them could not afford to be complacent that such capabilities would not proliferate.

The use of armed drones, he went on, was characterized by a lack of transparency, proportionality, responsibility and accountability.  In the absence of credible information against the target individuals, their use was tantamount to extrajudicial killings since no due process of law was followed. He welcomed the Arms Trade Treaty as the first step towards regulating trade and transfer of conventional weapons and expected that the Treaty would be implemented in a non-discriminatory manner.  An exclusive focus on managing the effects of the arms trade without adequately addressing its causes did not offer a comprehensive solution.  The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons provided an ideal platform to deal with the subject of cluster munitions since it harmonized the genuine humanitarian concerns with the security imperatives of States.

AIDAS SUNELAITIS (Lithuania), associating with the European Union, said the easy access to small arms and light weapons only prolonged conflicts and increased the chances of relapse.  The coming entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty would no doubt promote a more responsible global arms trade; however, more needed to be done.  To that end, Lithuania appreciated the efforts of Mexico in hosting preparatory discussions ahead of the Conference of Parties.  Lithuania welcomed a civil-society-led mechanism, which had proved effective in the areas of cluster munitions and anti-personnel landmines.  Looking ahead, the international community should step up efforts to determine implementation measures for the Programme of Action.  The action plan should be complemented by the active use of other instruments. 

He went on to highlight the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation and that country’s decision to suspend its participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty.  As such, his country was concerned at the diminishing “overall level of trust and confidence” in Europe.  He condemned the Russian Federation’s decision to abandon that agreement and called on the country to stop the flow of weapons to Ukraine, secure its borders and end all support to illegally armed groups.

MARITZA CHAN (Costa Rica) expressed her deep concern about the continued impact of the use of weapons on civilians, which shook the legal foundation that was at the centre of the conventional disarmament.  Costa Rica, which had served as the President of the Fifth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, welcomed the first cluster-munition-free subregion in Central America as well as the accession to the Convention by Belize.  Those weapons should not be part of a modern State’s arsenal.  Despite the legal framework, their use could be seen in the conflicts in Syria and eastern Ukraine.  As such, Costa Rica called for universalization of the Convention as the only framework through which to address the issue.  Costa Rica was also concerned by the use of explosive weapons in densely populated areas and its pervasive impact on civilian and infrastructure.  The potential damage that could be caused by armed drones should also be addressed through international law.

Concerning the Arms Trade Treaty, she believed it would be effective in promoting accountability.  The impact of illicit arms flows on development and its contributions to transnational organized crimes were a daily reality, she said, stressing the need to create synergies between that Treaty and related instruments, such as the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons.  Discussions to strengthen transparency and regulation on proliferation of armed drones should be addressed and States should be held accountable for their use.  Costa Rica believed that environmental and public health challenges created by toxic remnants should be addressed and the use of depleted uranium banned.  It remained dedicated to strengthening conventional disarmament’s legal foundation.

ISRAIL TILEGEN (Kazakhstan) called for effective measures to monitor the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty, including the “grey areas”.  While countries had a sovereign right to self-defence, illicit trade in small arms and light weapons must be controlled through concerted international action.  He highlighted his country’s role in promoting disarmament in the region through its leadership of and participation in various initiatives.  Referring to countries emerging from conflict, he said they required assistance to further the goal of disarmament.

Mr. JARUIAHO (Finland), associating with the European Union, said that the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty served as a testimony of the willingness of the international community to regulate “irresponsible” arms trade.  As the Treaty was to be implemented at the national level with national responsibility, it would have an impact on the lives of millions of people.  To meet the goal of universality, all countries, both big and small, must ratify it.  Calling for the exploration of further synergies between that Treaty and the United Nations Programme of Action, he said the former instrument would contribute positively toward the implementation of the latter after the Treaty’s entry into force.  On landmines, he highlighted Finland’s annual contribution of 6 million euros towards mine clearance.  His country also was in full compliance with the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

CHANTELLE NAIDOO (South Africa) believed that the Arms Trade Treaty filled a gap in the global conventional arms control system.  Central to its implementation was effective national conventional arms transfer and control legislation, official guidelines and practical enforcement measures.  South Africa was concerned about the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions and was fully committed to implementing the Convention.  Her delegation supported the destruction of cluster munitions stocks, in compliance with the Convention, and called upon all States to condemn those weapons’ use.  South Africa believed that the United Nations Programme of Action represented the central set of undertakings to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  However, challenges remained.  In many States, for example, the basic elements of national stockpile-management-related measures still needed to be implemented.  She added that without international assistance, many of the issues raised by States, such as civilian displacements, threats to sustainable development, and poverty eradication would never be addressed.

BELACHEW GUJUBO GUTULO (Ethiopia), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said the negative impacts of conventional weapons were immense, hampering hard-won peace gains as well as social and economic development.  Over the years, many violent conflicts were fuelled in the African continent by those weapons, resulting in wider instability.  That required strong global cooperation on devising international instruments as well as effective monitoring mechanisms.  It was crucial for all States to coordinate efforts on the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons.  Ethiopia also suffered from landmines left from the 1930s, hampering lives and livelihoods, he said, adding that it was among the first countries to have signed the Mine Ban Convention, which was among the most widely accepted disarmament treaties.  Among the programmes undertaken by his country was gender-sensitive training to highlight awareness of the mine threat.

AHN YOUNG-JIP (Republic of Korea) said the illicit transfer and use of conventional weapons had continued to engender insecurity and conflict across the world, while weapons of mass destruction had dominated much of the global security and disarmament agenda for the last few decades.  The adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty marked an important milestone, requiring States for the first time to consider humanitarian and human rights consequences when exporting conventional weapons.  The adoption of resolution 2117 (2013), the first ever resolution exclusively dedicated to small arms and light weapons by the Security Council, was also meaningful.  The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons had served as an essential foundation of conventional disarmament and arms control for the past three decades, while maintaining the delicate balance between humanitarian principles and legitimate and indispensable security concerns.  A balanced and equitable approach towards developing a common understanding on the relevant technology and their implications was vital.

VLAD LUPAN (Republic of Moldova), associating with the European Union, welcomed the coming entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty and said his country had started the ratification process and expected to conclude that procedure as soon as possible.  Today more than ever, the international community should focus on a combination of global and regional conventional arms control arrangements, as the European situation showed.  A genuine security, progress in arms control and disarmament could be achieved if a complex set of measures was taken at all levels — international, regional and national.  For that reason, he would welcome early progress and results on a conventional arms control agreement in Europe.

Existing developments, particularly in and around Ukraine, he said, posed a serious test for the arms control instruments and toolboxes of the United Nations and regional organizations.  Efforts, therefore, should focus on the implementation and strengthening of the existing commitments.  A functional Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, known as the CFE Treaty, would have been a valuable asset, if appropriate political will had been displayed to dispel concerns and defuse tensions, thereby contributing to stabilization in and around Ukraine.

YE GYAW MRA (Myanmar) said production and trading of conventional arms, their parts and components should be carefully maintained between Governments or entities duly authorized by Governments for legitimate use.  Every State had the right to import, export or even manufacture conventional arms, their parts and components for its own security needs.  However, those countries also had the responsibility to prevent such arms falling into the wrong hands.  Highlighting recent national efforts to build capacity in small arms control, he said the United Nations Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons was a significant multilateral framework.  Adequate and sustainable international cooperation and assistance, particularly in the area of capacity-building, was of paramount importance for developing countries to fulfil their commitments.

MAYTHONG THAMMAVONGSA (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country’s strong support and active participation in the work of international conventional weapons disarmament was due to its very traumatic experience and history.  The Lao People’s Democratic Republic had been recorded as one of the most heavily bombed countries on Earth per capita.  Furthermore, unexploded ordnances from the Indo-China war continued to kill and maim innocent people, creating a huge impact on socio-economic development.  Clearance of such armaments was very expensive and time-consuming and compromised the right to life.  As well, the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons had caused great concern for many countries, he said, urging concerted efforts for the international community.

SAADA DAHER HASSAN (Djibouti), associating her delegation with the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Group, and the Arab Group, said a new page in United Nations history had been written which highlighted the dynamism of multilateralism.  The transfer of arms was at the heart of the destabilization of Africa, with conflicts costing the continent billions every year, notwithstanding the human toll.  Thanking Mexico for hosting the first Conference of States Parties in 2015, she said that it was urgent to establish the modalities of the Arms Trade Treaty secretariat, taking into account geographic balances.  Small arms and light weapons were the most deadly weapons in the world, and while no continent was spared, Africa had suffered greatly.  More than ever, the international community must redouble its efforts to step up the application of the Programme of Action and strengthen regional and international cooperation.  Quoting former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, she said, “without peace there can be no progress; without progress there can be no peace.”

CHUKA UDEDIBIA (Nigeria), speaking in his national capacity, said the increasing spate of threats to national and international security from illicitly acquired conventional arms required a greater articulation of the role of conventional weapons vis-à-vis the security of States, people and territories.  Nigeria faced enormous costs of terror fuelled by illicit acquisition and circulation of conventional arms, with the terrorist group Boko Haram having killed over 13,000 people and destroyed whole communities in the affected areas.  Over the past decade, his Government had been calling for non-transfer of small arms and light weapons to non-State actors and unauthorized end users.  Thus, Nigeria was gratified that the Arms Trade Treaty would effectively enter into force on 24 December of this year.  The next challenge was to ensure its universality.  Arms producers and brokers whose weapons ended up in illicit hands must be held to account.  It was important to plug all possible loopholes against conventional terror through the establishment of a legally binding international instrument on illicit brokering in small arms and light weapons in general.

URS SCHMID (Switzerland) said that efforts made to meet the challenges posed by small arms and light weapons were as crucial as those taken against weapons of mass destruction.  The ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty underlined the importance that States attached to its rapid entry into force.  Thanking Mexico for hosting the first Conference of States Parties in 2015, he said that Switzerland would contribute to the process by hosting a preparatory meeting.  Nevertheless, ensuring quality implementation would require States to act throughout the year and not just at annual conferences.  Furthermore, the secretariat must be established in a country in which weapon importing and exporting States from the north and south had a presence.  To that end, Switzerland had offered to host the secretariat in Geneva.  He also welcomed the final document of the Fifth Biennial Meeting of States to Consider Implementation of the Programme of Assistance, noting that his country sought to bolster the capacity of States requiring assistance by lending expertise in life cycle management and in the secondment of experts.

NARCISA DACIANA VLĂDULESCU (Romania), aligning her delegation with the European Union, urged countries that had not done so, to sign and ratify the Arms Trade Treaty as soon as possible.  Her country was ready to offer all assistance to States in that direction.  Its rapid coming into force testified to the reality that sustained and committed international action could produce results.  She stressed the importance of ensuring the universality of the Treaty in order to achieve its objectives, stating that Romania looked forward to cooperating with the international community towards the instrument’s full implementation.

THOMAS HAJNOCZI (Austria), associating himself with the European Union, noted that his country was Chair of the Human Security Network which promoted a people-centred international response to international security manners.  That approach was essential in the prevention of human suffering and must remain at the heart of that group’s efforts.  He also highlighted the “disproportionate” impact of armed conflict on women, noting that gender implications deserved more attention in the political debate and should be included in all disarmament efforts.  As a candidate to host the Arms Trade Treaty secretariat, Austria could offer a wealth of expertise and carry out its duties in a transparent and effective way.  He also called for the universalization of both the Mine Ban Convention and Cluster Munitions Convention.  The use of cluster munitions in Ukraine was of concern, and he called on the international community to refrain from the use of those “indiscriminate” weapons, particularly in populated areas.  Furthermore, there was a need to explore ways to better implement the existing framework.

JOHN QUINN (Australia) said that establishing a functional Arms Trade Treaty architecture, including an effective secretariat, was a key step.  His country was committed to assisting States in implementation, and for that purpose had contributed $2 million to the United Nations Trust Facility Supporting Cooperation on Arms Regulation.  Together with the Republic of Korea, his delegation would be presenting the biennial resolution on preventing and combating illicit brokering activities.  The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons demonstrated its continued relevance this year as a multilateral mechanism to explore emerging issues related to conventional weapons that were excessively injurious or had indiscriminate effects.  His country remained committed to addressing the threat posed by the proliferation of conventional arms, and urged the world community to work together to reduce the impact of those weapons, which hampered development and seriously threatened stability and security.

ISMAEL HERRAIZ (Spain), highlighting the threats posed by small arms and light weapons, said the international community must demonstrate special and sustained efforts on the matter.  The Arms Trade Treaty represented a major milestone in conventional disarmament, he said, adding that implementation and universality were central elements of achieving its objectives.  Greater efforts must be made to regulate the legal transactions of weapons and to prevent their illicit trade, he said, adding that the issue of ammunition must be included in instruments and deliberations.  The humanitarian considerations that inspired recent conventions must prevail over any economic or military benefits that may accrue therefrom.

For information media. Not an official record.