Speakers in First Committee Urge Balance of Conventional Forces in Hotbeds of Tension, Non-Militarization of Outer Space

GA/DIS/3511
27 October 2014
Sixty-ninth session, 17th & 18th Meetings (AM & PM)

Speakers in First Committee Urge Balance of Conventional Forces in Hotbeds of Tension, Non-Militarization of Outer Space

Global peace and security depended in large measure on stability at the regional and subregional levels, making that relationship an inseparable one, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard today as delegations delivered statements on regional disarmament, weapons of mass destruction and the disarmament aspects of outer space.

During the cluster on regional disarmament, Pakistan’s representative said regional arrangements for disarmament and arms limitation should accord priority to addressing the most destabilizing military capabilities and imbalances in both conventional and non-conventional fields.

In hotbeds of tension and dispute, he said, achieving a stable balance of conventional forces and weapons through cooperative regional initiatives was all the more important.  Confidence-building measures had proven their efficacy at regional and subregional levels, especially in the area of arms control.

Colombia’s representative said that nuclear-weapon-free zones were an effective means for achieving a world free of those arms, and stressed the importance of establishing such zones where they did not yet exist.  In addition to building confidence in a region, the zones were essential disarmament and international security mechanisms, as they reduced the possibility that nuclear weapons would be used in conflicts.

Speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the representative of Belize said the States of her region continued to take a practical and innovative approach to tackle its various security threats, protect against transnational organized crime and the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, and collectively mark and control firearms.

Echoing the sentiments of many in the room, the representative of Indonesia, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated concern over the nearly two-decade delay in implementing the 1995 resolution on a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  He urged co-sponsors to take “all necessary measures” to implement that text without further delay.

During the cluster on outer space, the representative from the Russian Federation said it was the common duty, not just to react to current problems, but to courageously and actively endeavour to overcome them.  That could be accomplished by identifying and neutralizing threats before they acquired a catastrophic and complex nature, as was the case with nuclear weapons proliferation.  To prevent a similar situation in outer space, his country had consistently supported international efforts to prevent an outer space arms race.

His delegation had been an ever-present co-sponsor of a resolution alternately tabled each year by Egypt and Sri Lanka on “No First Placement” of weapons in space, or “NFP”, which was a sound basis for further tangible steps.

The representative of the United States said his country was especially concerned about the continued development and testing of destructive anti-satellite, or “ASAT”, systems.  Although some States had advocated for space arms control measures to prohibit the placement of weapons there, their own development of terrestrially based destructive “ASAT” capabilities was destabilizing and could trigger dangerous misinterpretations and miscalculations.

The United States, he went on, had long indicated its willingness to consider space arms control proposals and concepts that were equitable, effectively verifiable, and which enhanced the security of all nations.  However, Russia’s initiative for States to make declarations of “No First Placement” of weapons in outer space was flawed and did not clarify what constituted a “weapon in outer space”, nor did it account for terrestrial-based “ASAT” weapons.

China’s representative said space security was confronted with growing uncertainties.  With increasing activities in outer space, the risks of weaponization of, and an arms race in, that domain, were increasing.  However, the security of outer space was vital to the existence and development of all mankind.

He attached great importance to transparency and confidence-building measures for outer space activities, as they enhanced mutual trust, reduced misperceptions, and maintained security.  He advocated for an international code of conduct focused on peaceful uses of outer space and which did not undermine the right of all countries, particularly developing ones, to fair use of outer space.

The representatives of Germany, Pakistan, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Nigeria, Singapore, Switzerland, Spain, Canada, Ireland, Ethiopia, Australia, Poland, Turkey, Algeria, Hungary, Iran and Syria also spoke during the thematic debate on weapons of mass destruction.

During that cluster, draft resolutions were introduced on the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (Poland), and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Hungary).

Also speaking during the cluster on regional disarmament and security were representatives of Suriname (on behalf of Union of South American Nations), Latvia (on behalf of the Baltic States and Poland), United States, Cuba, Kuwait, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Zambia, Malta, Gabon, Myanmar, Iran, Armenia, Algeria, New Zealand, Azerbaijan, Greece and Nigeria.

Representatives of the Russian Federation, Armenia and Azerbaijan spoke in exercise of the right of reply on that theme.

During the regional disarmament cluster, draft resolutions were tabled on regional disarmament; confidence-building measures in the regional and subregional context; conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels (Pakistan); strengthening security and regional cooperation in the Mediterranean region (Algeria); the United Nations Disarmament Fellowship Training and Advisory Services (Nigeria); and the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (African Group).

Also speaking during debate on the disarmament aspects of outer space were representatives of Indonesia (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Egypt (on behalf of the Arab Group), Suriname (on behalf of Union of South American Nations), Cuba, Colombia, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Switzerland, Republic of Korea, Australia, France, Spain, Kuwait, Canada, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and Pakistan.  A representative of the European Union delegation also spoke.

Exercising their right of reply were delegates of the Russian Federation, China and the United States.

The First Committee will meet at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 28 October to continue its thematic discussions.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met today to conclude its thematic debate on other weapons of mass destruction and begin consideration of regional disarmament and security.  For more background, see Press Release GA/DIS/3497.

Thematic Debate — Weapons of Mass Destruction

MICHAEL BIONTINO (Germany), associating with the European Union, said the Chemical Weapons Convention was the cornerstone of that regime, and the world could not remain silent when it was violated.  Within the United Nations, it must be made clear again and again that the international community condemned the use of chemicals as weapons, either by non-State actors, such as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS), or by States.  Due to the excellent work of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Germany would not stand in the way of the draft before the Committee.  The fact-finding mission in Syria showed the use of helicopters, which were used only by the Syrian Government.  There were gaps and inconsistencies in Syria’s declaration, and it was not initially accurate.  That, he said, raised questions about whether Syria might not have fully abandoned its chemical weapons programme.  Syria should provide the international community with credible evidence that its programme had been fully abandoned.  Regarding the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, the threat of those weapons continued to pose substantial challenges.  All States not yet party should join that treaty.  Every disarmament and non-proliferation regime needed active tools with which Member States could demonstrate compliance.  He supported the resolution on that treaty.

YASAR AMMAR (Pakistan), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions made an important contribution to the goal of general and complete disarmament.  However, Pakistan shared concerns that, along with the threat of the possible production, acquisition and use of those weapons by States, raised the danger of their use by non-State actors.  The deplorable use of chemical weapons in Syria highlighted such concerns.  While advances in biology offered a range of new tools to address diseases, those had also heightened anxieties about their possible misuse by non-State actors.  The only credible and sustainable method of strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention was through multilateral negotiations aimed at concluding a non-discriminatory, legally binding agreement.  Pakistan had ratified that Convention in 1974 as a non-possessor State and remained fully committed to its full implementation.  He was concerned that “undue restrictions” remained challenges for the full and effective implementation of article X.  The dual-use nature of emerging technologies should not be used as a pretext for restricting their availability to developing countries for peaceful purposes.  His country advocated for confidence-building measures to increase transparency and build trust and confidence among States parties in the implementation process.  Those, however, could not be used as a tool for assessing compliance by the States parties, for which the only method was a legally binding mechanism with verification measures. 

DOVYDAS ŠPOKAUSKAS (Lithuania), associating with the European Union, said chemical weapons had been outlawed for almost a century, and their use was a serious violation  of international law, a war crime and a crime against humanity.  The Joint Mission of the OPCW staff deserved special gratitude for their tireless and often very dangerous work.  For the operation in Syria, now entering its second year, much work remained to be done, and he asked Syria to cooperate to facilitate the full destruction of any remaining chemical weapons.  New reports on chlorine attacks continued to appear as recently as August, he said, urging the fact-finding mission to look into the matter.  The potential misuse of life sciences and the risk of development of biological weapons was a major challenge to the international community, he said, voicing support for formulating methods to facilitate compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention.  Lithuania had been among the first to join the Convention’s Compliance Protocol and invited other States to follow suit.

ZHANGELDY SYRYMBET (Kazakhstan) said that Member States needed to honour their commitments under the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions.  International cooperation was the only way to beat the growing global threats.  For its part, Kazakhstan was planning to build a central reference laboratory on its territory, which would serve as a major centre to develop methodologies and tools to respond to and prevent the spread of highly dangerous human and animal diseases.  His country was also exploring new areas of international collaboration to set up biological weapons proliferation prevention projects in the country.  The aim was to strengthen an infectious disease surveillance system to improve Kazakstan’s ability to detect, diagnose and respond to natural and bioterrorist infectious disease outbreaks.  Although his country had no chemical weapons, much work had been done in the field of the non-proliferation of those weapons and chemical safety.  As such, it was collaborating with the OPCW in implementing targeted activities and projects, and he thanked it for its technical assistance.

ROB WENSLEY (South Africa) said that recent events in Syria had once again reminded the international community of the importance of the international instruments governing weapons of mass destruction and the devastating humanitarian consequences associated with their use.  No cause could ever justify their use by any actor under any circumstance.  He called for the full and non-discriminatory implementation of all the articles of the Chemical Weapons Convention in order to ensure that it remained relevant to all States parties.  South Africa also remained committed to strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention.  Besides its obvious benefits, it also contained important cooperation and assistance provisions that could strengthen the international community’s ability to combat the debilitating impact of disease.  Those provisions could also assist socioeconomic development.  The universalization of those two Conventions was crucial for the effective eradication of all biological and chemical weapons, and he called on countries not yet party to them to join without further delay.

CHUKA UDEDIBIA (Nigeria) recognized the need for the Security Council and States in a position to do so to enhance the capacity of developing countries, particularly in Africa, to enable them to establish domestic controls to prevent illicit trafficking in weapons of mass destruction materials on their territories, in line with the requirements of Council resolution 1540 (2004).  With respect to chemical weapons, Nigeria remained committed to their complete elimination and was pleased that since that Convention’s entry into force, States parties had made substantial progress.  The treaty’s membership now stood of 190 States.  On biological weapons, Nigeria would continue to fulfil its obligations under the Convention.  It had hosted the regional workshop for West and Central African States on national implementation of the treaty in Abuja, Nigeria.  He called for its strengthening through adoption of a “robust verification mechanism” as well as universality, and urged States that remained outside the Convention to join it at the earliest possible date.

MARK SEAH (Singapore) said his was the first country in South-East Asia to have put in place a safeguards regime for the development, production and transfer of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.  There was a greater urgency to address the threat of non-State actors acquiring those weapons.  As a small, highly globalized State, Singapore was aware that today’s international security challenges could not be overcome by unilateral actions.  His country, therefore, was active in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).  As a strategically located shipment hub, Nigeria had an important role to play in preventing the proliferation of mass destruction weapons.  Its Strategic Goods Control Act safeguarded against the illicit movement of goods and technology related to their production.  He welcomed the unanimous adoption of Security Council resolution 2178 (2014), which aimed to suppress and prevent the transport of foreign terrorist fighters intending to commit terrorist acts in other States.  That was a clear threat to world peace and security, and he supported all efforts to combat it.

URS SCHMID (Switzerland) welcomed the progress made towards the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria and commended the United Nations and the OPCW for their efforts.  Syria must now comply with its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, he said, adding that any related facilities must be destroyed without delay and any inconsistencies in the country’s declaration must be clarified.  However, he noted that the fact-finding mission’s conclusion about chemical weapons use in Syria was a “tragic reminder” that more remained to be done and that the international community must remain vigilant.  Also important was to ensure the accountability of all users and bring all sides to justice.

On the Biological Weapons Convention, he said significant efforts were required to pave the way for 2016, including effective action within the framework of the intersessional programme.  He was encouraged by discussion on article 7, saying that the potential for concrete action existed.  Progress was needed on how the States parties could assess compliance, for which stronger mechanisms were needed.  In that, he favoured the establishment of a multilateral compliance framework.  That would be a challenge, he acknowledged, various opportunities existed to strengthen confidence-building measures as well as developing innovative approaches.  Those tools would reinforce assurances of compliance and smooth the way to more stringent measures and mechanisms, he said.

JULIO HERRAIZ (Spain), supporting the statement by the European Union, said the events in Syria demonstrated the peace and security threat of weapons of mass destruction proliferation.  Those weapons were a global threat and undermined basic human rights, for which the United Nations leadership was of paramount importance.  Spain called upon the States that had not yet acceded to the Convention on Chemical Weapons to do so. The success in the implementation of Council resolution 2118 (2013) depended, not only on the success on the elimination programme in Syria, but also on preventing those weapons from being used against civilians altogether.  The Biological Weapons Convention was at the centre of efforts to eradicate the proliferation of the offensive use of pathogens.  It was essential to take precautions to prevent weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorist groups, and, in that context, he stressed the importance of compliance with Council resolution 1540 (2004).  Expressing the need for collaborative projects, he said Spain had joined the Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction and various export control regimes for dual-use items, such as the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Australia Group, and the Nuclear Suppliers Group, among others.

MICHELLE TSANG (Canada) said that though the international community’s action was constrained in Syria, it had come together to destroy the chemical weapons stockpile.  Canada had contributed $2 million to the OPCW as well as an additional $10 million to destruction efforts.  The Assad regime needed to come forward and declare all irregularities in its initial disclosure of chemical weapons.  Most urgently, that regime must cease immediately and forever from using chemicals against its population.  There was compelling evidence that a toxic chemical was used repeatedly in three villages in northern Syria, most likely chlorine.  The attacks were described as being carried out by helicopters, which was a capability that only the Syrian Government possessed.

Anyone with minimal knowledge, such as non-State actors, could create a “bioweapon” with some measure of success, she said, adding that it was vital, therefore, that all countries used the tools necessary to prevent biological weapons from being produced, acquired or used.  In recent weeks, the international community had seen that the spread of disease knew no borders.  Thus, it was necessary to establish a biological weapons regime that was adapted to the twenty-first century, in order to respond to deliberate outbreaks of disease, such as Ebola, and natural disasters.  States parties to the Biological Weapons Convention needed to demonstrate compliance with it in a pragmatic and realistic manner.  She encouraged further development of mechanisms for improving confidence in its effective national implementation, such as compliance assessment and peer review mechanisms.  Canada would be happy to offer assistance in that regard.

JULIA O’BRIEN (Ireland), associating with the European Union, said that weapons of mass destruction represented one the most pressing threats to humanity.  She welcomed the international community’s efforts to eliminate chemical weapons in Syria, and called on that country to comply with the Chemical Weapons Convention and address any queries fully.  Ireland was encouraged at work done to destroy Syria’s facilities and was proud to have made a financial contribution to that work.  However, it was very concerned by the fact-finding mission’s results and repeated her country’s call for the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.  She also called on States that had not ratified or acceded to that Convention to do so without delay.

Ireland also continued to give high priority to strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention, he said.  As the world sought ways to mitigate the current Ebola crisis, it was reminded of the potentially deadly effect of biological pathogens.  In that regard, Ireland looked forward to discussions at the upcoming meeting of States parties in December, ahead of the 2016 Review Conference.  The proliferation of ballistic missiles also threated international security, and the speaker hailed The Hague Code of Conduct as the only instrument in that area.  Ireland was proud to be part of the Code and urged all countries to do likewise.  She urged the convening of a conference on the establishment of a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone.  The tragic events in Syria demonstrated that as long as weapons of mass destruction existed, there could be no assurance that those attacks would not happen again.  History could not repeat itself, she said, adding, “We owe this to our citizens and all of humanity.”

BELACHEW GUJUBO GUTULO (Ethiopia) said that eliminating weapons of mass destruction remained an important aspect of disarmament.  Countering nuclear, chemical and biological weapons threats in the context of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) was of particular importance, especially preventing those weapons from being accessed by non-State actors.  The pursuit of universal membership and full compliance with the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions and the treaties to limit conventional arms should not be considered “optional” for States.  Rather, those were obligations, which should be implemented on an urgent basis.  The global fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles was “yet far from over”, and the ongoing crises in many regions of the world were a reminder that continued engagement and action by the international community was needed more than ever.

IAN MCCONVILLE (Australia) was committed to working with others to uphold the integrity of the Chemical Weapons Convention, including in terms of holding States accountable for non-compliance.  The latest report by the fact-finding mission of the OPCW confirmed that a toxic chemical was used as a weapon in Syria.  Deeply disturbed by those findings, which were a breach of both the Chemical Weapons Convention and Security Council resolution 2118 (2013), his country joined international partners in condemning the Syrian regime’s brutality towards its citizens and disregard for international disarmament, humanitarian and human rights law.  The Biological Weapons Convention was another important instrument, underpinning the international norms against those weapons and facilitating efforts to promote peaceful use of life science.  His country remained committed to working to achieve a successful Review Conference in 2016.

Playing an active role in the Asia-Pacific, his country, he said, joined regional workshops aimed at building capacity and regional response to major chemical incidents and strengthening implementation of that Convention.  The Australian Group provided an international benchmark to help all United Nations Member States fulfil their obligations under resolution 1540 (2004).  The Group also sought to prevent the acquisition of chemical and biological weapons by extremists, a key component of the Council’s text, and was working to highlight the chemical weapons threat in Syria.

PAWEL RADOMSKI (Poland), introducing a draft resolution on the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, said his country’s leadership as a sole sponsor of the text was its contribution to creating a world free of such weapons.  The resolution, which had been adopted without a vote for many years, was a visible expression of unequivocal support for the implementation of the Convention and the prohibition of chemical weapons.  His country faced the challenge of preserving consensus on the issue in Syria, he said, adding that the text sought to reflect the expectations of all partners participating in the chemical disarmament process there without going beyond what had been discussed and agreed in the OPCW.  Taking stock of the successful removal of all declared chemical materials from Syria and pointing out the remaining tasks, the draft condemned chemical weapons use by anyone under any circumstance.  The wording on chemical disarmament in Syria would be under review in future versions of the resolution, he said, adding his view for the Committee’s approval without a vote.

FATIH CEYLAN SHERPA (Turkey) said the mere existence of weapons of mass destruction was a threat to peace and, therefore, they must be ultimately eliminated.  As party to the important international instruments banning those weapons, Turkey did not possess or develop them or conduct research on them.  Recent findings on Syria were clearly in contrast with the initial optimism about that regime’s cooperation.  The job had not been accomplished yet, he said, cautioning against a premature sense of achievement.  Bearing in mind that the Chemical Weapons Convention was the only comprehensive multilateral treaty banning an entire category of weapons of mass destruction, Turkey would continue to cooperate with the OPCW.  The spread and transfer of dual-use goods and technology that could be used to produce biological weapons and the possibility of their falling to the hands of terrorists were major concerns.  Coupled with other mass destruction weapons, the fact that those agents were so easy to attain had heightened the concerns.  Regional approaches that paved the way for eventual universalization and effective implementation of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Convention should be utilized, he said, calling for swift convening of the delayed conference on promoting the establishment in the Middle East of a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone.

ZAINA BENHABOUCHE (Algeria), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, recognized the important role played by the Chemical Weapons Convention in the prevention of the proliferation and the destruction of chemical weapons.  Algeria called on those States that had not yet done so to join the Convention.  Each of its provisions was equally important and complementary, she said, adding that verification of the destruction of all remaining stockpiles should remain one of the OPCW’s highest priorities.  In that context, Algeria was deeply concerned that certain possessor States parties did not comply with their obligations regarding the total destruction of their chemical weapons within the deadline.  She called on developed countries to promote international cooperation for the benefit of assisting developing States parties and evolving a comprehensive, balanced and non-discriminatory implementation of the Convention.  Article X was crucial to countering the threat of the use of those weapons, the speaker said, adding that the Convention was relevant in its framework for the global fight against terrorism, particularly as it related to the prevention and response capabilities in the event of a chemical attack.

Council resolution 1540 (2004), she said, obliged States to refrain from supporting non-State actors in developing, acquiring, manufacturing, possessing, transporting, transferring or using weapons of mass destruction, and encouraged them to adopt and enforce effective laws and domestic controls.  Undoubtedly, she said, that resolution had been adopted at the right time in order to face the risk of the “dangerous nexus” between weapons of mass destruction and global terrorism.  The increased potential for access to those weapons by non-State actors would have dangerous implications for any State or group of States and constituted a threat to international peace and security as well, she said.

ZSOLT HETESY (Hungary) introduced draft resolution L.6, entitled Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction.  His delegation held discussions with Member States who quickly achieved a common position on the text.  The consultations also reflected Member States’ commitment to the Biological Weapons Convention.  This draft retained all important elements of that adopted last year by consensus but contained substantive changes.  In preambular paragraph 2, there was a new emphasis on the need to achieve the treaty’s universalization; operative paragraph 4 called on States parties to utilize the time allotted in the treaty’s article VII; operative paragraph 5 enhanced the language on confidence-building measures; and operative paragraph 9 streamlined the language on the role of the Implementation Support Unit.  More logistical changes were made to operative paragraphs 4 and 10.  The eleventh operative paragraph ensures that the agenda item would appear on the agenda of the seventieth session.  Hungary wished to remain the sole sponsor of the draft and sought its consensus approval.

SEYED MOHAMMAD ALI ROBATJAZI (Iran), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the international community had made historic progress towards eliminating the chemical weapons threat.  But much remained to be done, he said, adding that the full implementation and universalization of the Chemical Weapons Convention were of utmost importance to his country.  Not only was Iran faithful to the Convention to fully enjoy the security and economic benefits, it also had been a victim of those weapons use by the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq.  Those weapons were manufactured with the material and technical assistance of certain western countries, he said, citing France by name.  Welcoming the progress on the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons programme, he said that could not have been realized without the full commitment and sustained cooperation of the Syrian Government, the international community and the OPCW.  The major possessor States parties must comply with their obligations under the treaty and redouble efforts to destroy all stocks in the shortest possible time.

BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that from the outset of the crisis in his country, the Government had repeatedly warned against the dangers involved in chemical weapons use by terrorist groups, some of them associated with Al-Qaida.  Some regimes which supported terrorism and terrorists would provide them with chemical weapons and then pretend later that it was the Syrian Government that had used them.  A letter sent two years ago expressed his Government’s fears that terrorists would gain control of chemical weapons facilities, and that proved to be true.  The Syrian Government had been falsely accused of using chemical weapons, by some who in fact provided terrorists with those weapons in order to entice military action against it.

He called for those State sponsors of terrorists to be held accountable.  Despite the exposure of “this scandal”, the international community stood by as a silent spectator as actors like ISIS used chemical weapons against civilians in Syria and Iraq.  ISIS had used burning materials, which inflicted harm on tens of people.  It was strange that that danger, which threatened not just the region but the world, was not a wake-up call for all Governments.  They had not listened to the warnings of the Syrian Government, but rather, some of them had tried hard to hide the truth, accusing Syria in order to demonize the Government.  No one had yet learned the dangers of promoting baseless accusations to justify terrorism to destroy nations.  Syria had fulfilled its commitments under the Chemical Weapons Convention and was fully committed to the OPCW framework for endorsing the non-proliferation regime.  Moreover, the Syrian Army had never used chlorine gas or any other such agent, throughout any stage of the crisis. 

Thematic Debate — Regional Disarmament

DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated concern over the nearly two decade delay in implementing the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East and urged co-sponsors to take “all necessary measures” to implement that text without further delay.  The conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons had not yet convened, despite the decision taken at the 2010 NPT Review Conference.  Continued delays in implementing the 2010 Action Plan contravened the 1995 Resolution and the agreement reached at the Conference.  He rejected the alleged impediments for not implementing the Action Plan, calling for the speedy and full implementation of those collective commitments to avoid any additional negative repercussions on the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime.

Moreover, he said, the Movement demanded that Israel, the only country in the region that had not joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), place all its nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) full safeguards.  He also called for the complete prohibition of all nuclear-related equipment, information, material and facilities, resources or devices and assistance to Israel in the nuclear-related scientific and technological fields.  As for nuclear-weapon-free zones, it was essential that nuclear States provide “unconditional assurances” against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons to all States of the zone.  He urged States to conclude agreements among States of the region concerned, with a view to establishing new zones in regions where they did not exist.

LOIS MICHELE YOUNG (Belize), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the States of her region continued to take a practical and innovative approach at the regional and subregional levels in order to tackle the various security threats, including from transnational organized crime and the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  The project “Promoting Forearms Marking in Latin America and the Caribbean” continued to benefit CARICOM countries and others in the wider Caribbean region.  With support from neighbours, she recognized the region’s collective ability to mark and control firearms.

The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) continued to be an important partner for CARICOM in its efforts to combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, she said.  It had assisted CARICOM member States in enhancing the capacity of local law enforcement and judicial personnel, improving stockpile management capabilities and aligning national legislation with global and regional instruments.  More than 10 countries had benefited from the Centre’s programme and had gained a greater capacity to manage and secure national stockpile facilities, as a means of preventing diversion or leakage into the illicit market.

She said CARICOM also welcomed the United Nations Office for Drug Control (UNODC) Regional Programme 2014-2016, which served as an overarching policy framework for the Programme’s technical assistance to the Caribbean region and also supported the CARICOM crime and security strategy.  The region continued to face the challenge of limited resources with which to confront complex security issues.  However, the promotion of security was best assured through a wide network of partner relationships, with States providing each other with financial, technical and other resources needed to achieve regional strategic goals.

KITTY SWEEB (Suriname), speaking on behalf of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), confirmed that all its member States were parties to the main international disarmament instruments and, therefore, constituted a zone free of weapons of mass destruction.  The Regional Centre had had success in implementing work programmes that were characterized by their interdisciplinary approach and coordination with different actors in the region.  Its activities programme should be devised and implemented in accordance with the priorities of States in the region.  In that context, she drew attention to its initiatives taken in response to requests by States in Latin America and the Caribbean to provide assistance for the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty.  The practical training course on the implementation of that treaty complemented the resources provided by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs.  She thanked Governments for the financial support they had offered to implement the Regional Centre’s activities.

JĀNIS MAŽEIKS (Latvia), also speaking on behalf of Estonia, Lithuania and Poland, underscored the importance of developing best practices and exchanging information in the field of maritime and air traffic.  Such efforts greatly complemented the relevant international law and contributed to the building of mutual understanding and confidence.  That was especially the case with regard to military vessels and aircraft which, when operating outside national waters and airspace in peace time, should apply procedures ensuring transparency and safety of civil aviation and civil maritime activities.  With that background, he drew on existing best practices and proposed to further improve transparency and the overall climate of trust between countries, in particular in the Baltic region.

First, he said the route plans for both air and maritime traffic would be shared in advance when military activity was taking place in the exclusive economic zone of another country or in the international airspace in immediate proximity to the borders of other countries.  Second, countries could demonstrate good will by ensuring that their Armed Forces made use of the on-board transponders and, in such circumstances, responded to the request to contact ground control.  Such practices would allow countries to avoid misunderstandings and false interpretations of military activities.  Overall, it would promote confidence and transparency of the international maritime and air traffic.

MIGUEL CAMILO RUIZ (Colombia) said nuclear-weapon-free zones were an effective means for achieving a world free of those arms and stressed the importance of establishing them in regions where they did not yet exist.  They were essential disarmament and international security mechanisms, as they reduced the possibility that those weapons would be used in conflicts.  They were also confidence-building mechanisms, as they promoted the peaceful use of nuclear energy, strengthened negative security assurances and demonstrated States’ commitment to nuclear disarmament.  In that context, he reaffirmed Colombia’s support for a conference toward the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, as recommended by the 2010 NPT Review Conference.

KHALIL HASHMI (Pakistan) said the General Assembly had long recognized that global peace and security depended in large measure on stability at the regional and subregional levels.  It was for that inseparable relationship between regional stability and international peace that the United Nations Charter recognized and provided for regional arrangements to ensure global peace and security.  The resources released by disarmament in general, and regional disarmament in particular, could be devoted to economic and social development as well as protection of the environment.  Regional arrangements for disarmament and arms limitation should accord priority in addressing the most destabilizing military capabilities and imbalances in both conventional and non-conventional fields.  In regions marked with tense environments and disputes, achieving a stable balance of conventional forces and weapons through cooperative regional initiatives was all the more important.

Confidence-building measures had proven their efficacy at regional and subregional levels, he said, especially in the area of arms control and disarmament.  Those measures could lead to the creation of favourable conditions for the peaceful settlement of existing international disputes and facilitate solutions to any situation which might lead to international friction.  However, confidence-building measures should not become an end in themselves.  Pakistan had spearheaded initiatives on regional disarmament for several years.  He introduced resolution “L.28” on Regional Disarmament, “L.29” on confidence-building measures in the regional and subregional context, and “L.30” on conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels.

ROBERT WOOD (United States) said years of experience had affirmed that non-proliferation and disarmament initiatives at the global and regional levels were mutually reinforcing.  He saw great value in collaborative approaches across the whole spectrum of non-proliferation and arms control initiatives.  As an example, in East Asia, the regional non-proliferation and disarmament architecture had steadily developed to address the challenges of the global regime.  Partnerships between regions and international organizations were also key, and IAEA deserved great praise for ongoing and collaborative efforts to address development challenges at the regional level, he said.

Strong partnerships required sustained effort, he continued, noting that the Russian Federation’s “deliberate and repeated” violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity had undermined the security structure in Europe all had worked to develop after the Cold War.  The United States was committed to finding a way to preserve, strengthen and modernize conventional arms control based on key principles and commitments.  There were other challenges as well, including the proliferation crises in the Middle East and North-East Asia.  The international community must seek to ensure that verification of NPT obligations remained effective and robust, and that parties upheld the Treaty’s integrity by addressing non-compliance.  His Government was committed to help bring parties together for the goal of a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone and would continue efforts to convene the Conference.  He remained optimistic that such consensus could be achieved, noting that in every State in the Middle East, there were diplomats who had shown vision, creativity and determination.

IVIAN DEL SOL DOMINGUEZ (Cuba), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said her delegation was committed to multilateralism as a basic principle in the field of disarmament, and also to regional and subregional efforts in that sphere.  No actions should undermine the security of any State in any region.  Implementation of regional confidence-building measures, taking into account the consent and participation of all interested parties in the region, would contribute to avoiding conflicts and preventing the unwanted and accidental outbreak of hostilities.  States with the greatest military capacity had a responsibility to regional and international security.  Zones free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction were an important step, and Cuba was proud to be a member of the Latin American and Caribbean Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone Treaty, or Treaty of Tlatelolco.  On the Middle East, she deplored non-compliance with the agreements to hold a conference on the matter of setting up a zone free of nuclear and other mass destruction weapons, as that would be a quantum leap for the peace process.  She called for the convening of that conference as soon as possible, preferably before the end of the year.

ABDULAZIZ A M A ALAJMI (Kuwait), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that no one could doubt the dangers arising from weapons of mass destruction use and the “high probability” of a radioactive or nuclear disaster.  An international effort was required to rid the world of nuclear weapons, he said, adding that humanity’s survival depended on it.  Kuwait, like others, hoped that the Middle East region would be rid of those weapons, as it was marked by instability and conflict.  On that note, he urged the international community to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region, which, he said, required the agreement of all parties.  However, the hope of a safer world had become more remote as the international community had not been able to hold a conference on that issue.  In that connection, Israel had shirked its responsibilities under international law.  The international community must make Israel uphold its commitments and place all its installations under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.  Turning to Iran, he hoped that country’s nuclear programme would be resolved through peaceful means.  Also vital was full cooperation between Iran and the IAEA. 

MOHAMMED ALWAN (Iraq), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and Arab Group, supported non-proliferation efforts and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  Given the fact that nuclear weapons could not provide security for any party, those simply led to a regional race for armaments, he said, underlining the need for peaceful solutions through diplomacy and multilateral talks.  The creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones helped the non-proliferation cause and allowed regional authorities to undertake nuclear disarmament measures.  Setting up such a zone was important in the Middle East, to ensure effective collaboration between the parties.  He attached great importance to the zones’ creation around the world.  However attempts to establish such a zone in the Middle East had been fraught with obstacles, which were “unacceptable”.  Any attempt to create the zone in that region should be preceded by important “milestones stages” or preconditions, such as the nuclear disarmament of Israel, its accession to the NPT and the submission of its nuclear capabilities to international supervision.  

MOHAMED BIN KHALIFA AL NEHAYAN (United Arab Emirates), associating with the Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, expressed deep concern at the international community’s inability to achieve any tangible progress or results with regard to the disarmament of the Middle East, including the establishment of a nuclear- weapon-free zone there  He emphasized the vital importance of freeing the Middle East from all nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction as a top international priority due to their humanitarian, social and economic implications, which “exceeded regional boundaries”.  He also expressed disappointment that the 2012 conference called for in the outcome document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference had not yet been convened, and he called for it to take place as soon as possible.  Moreover, he called on Israel to join the NPT since it was the only State in the region that had not yet acceded to the treaty.

ERICK MWEWA (Zambia), associating with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, noted that 53 African countries had, with the adoption of the African Nuclear- Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Pelindaba Treaty) shown their commitment to non-proliferation and cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy and disarmament.  Zambia worked with the Forum of Nuclear Regulatory Bodies in Africa to strengthen and protect nuclear safety and security regulatory infrastructures.  He fully supported the African Commission on Nuclear Energy aimed at ensuring compliance with the treaty’s obligations.  Zambia also embraced the Treaty’s Protocols I, II and III, calling on nuclear weapons States not to use or test nuclear weapons anywhere in the zone.  Regarding nuclear science and technology, Zambia would endeavour to support the African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research Development and Training.  Finally, he called on all countries that had not signed the NPT to do so.

CHRISTOPHER GRIMA (Malta) said security challenges in the Mediterranean continued to inform and shape his country’s foreign policy.  The nature and extent of irregular migration and smuggling of human beings, the deteriorating situation in Libya, the threat posed by ISIL, Syria’s slide deeper into chaos, and the uneven progress towards democracy and freedom were among the region’s principal challenges.  Malta welcomed the impending entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty, whose success and relevance would depend on its effective implementation and universalization.  Almost 50 years after the international community had adopted the NPT, hopes for total nuclear disarmament under strict and effective international control remained largely unfulfilled, he said, stressing the importance of nuclear-weapon-free zones and confidence-building measures.

MICHEL RÉGIS ONANGA NDIAYE (Gabon), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African group, restated his country’s commitment to the United Nations disarmament machinery and welcomed the coming entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty, which he hoped would be implemented effectively as it would fill the gaps in the existing legal regime.  On small arms and light weapons, he said that Africa was the most affected and, in that regard, stressed regional and subregional cooperation to tackle the supply and demand of those weapons.  He welcomed cooperation between the United Nations Regional Centre and the African community on small arms and light weapons, and noted the promotion of measures to build confidence and security in Central Africa.  Gabon fought terrorism, piracy and industrial poaching, which he described as an ecological challenge and a threat to States.  He also welcomed the opening of the Regional Centre for Maritime Security in Central Africa to combat the resurgence of sea crimes in line with the recommendations of the Summit of Heads of State and Government on maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea, held in Yaounde, Cameroon.

SAHN THIT YEE (Myanmar) said that despite the fact that different regions had different priorities and approaches, the three United Nations Regional Centres for peace and disarmament had been effective connectors between international policymakers and practitioners at the national, subregional and regional levels.  The Centres played an important role, not only in promoting disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control measures at the regional level, but also in disseminating and sharing concepts, ideas and best practices through the medium of national and regional disarmament forums.  The Centres relied on extrabudgetary voluntary contributions by donors, which they needed in order to meet staffing requirements.  Maintaining and revitalizing the Regional Centres could contribute in no small measures to the activities of the United Nations in promoting the stability and security of its Member States.

MAJTABA AZIZI (Iran), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East remained a strategic priority of his country in promoting peace, security and stability in the region.  However, despite all international efforts, no progress had been made.  Peace and stability could not be achieved in the Middle East as long as an “irresponsible regime” with a massive nuclear arsenal continued to threaten the region and beyond, defying repeated calls to comply with international norms and principles.  To establish such a zone in the Middle East, the international community must first exert the “utmost pressure” on Israel to accede to the NPT.  Full and prompt implementation of the 1995 Resolution and the 2010 NPT decision on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East were “clear commitments” undertaken by the international community.

Neglecting that commitment could only embolden Israel to remain a source of threat and instability, he said.  Failure to convene the 2012 conference was the product of long-standing inaction to those commitments and seriously challenged the integrity and credibility of the non-proliferation regime, as well as the consensus agreements of successive NPT Review Conferences.  At the same time, it had been made “crystal clear” that the establishment of such a zone, proposed by Iran in 1974, continued to enjoy strong international support, he said, noting that his country had been among the first to announce its readiness to participate in the Conference.  An agreed plan of action and timetable for universality of the NPT in the Middle East should be the highest priority at any conference held.

TIGRAN SAMVELIAN (Armenia) attached great importance to regional disarmament and said the United Nations contributed to the establishment of regional stability, security and an atmosphere of confidence.  For decades, the United Nations and regional organizations had played a crucial role in establishing regional trust.  Developments in his region had demonstrated again and again that the use of force could in no way bring durable solutions.  Armenia remained fully committed to its international commitments to arms control and disarmament.  Progress could be made in disarmament not just by the actions of large weapon-holding States, but by all.

Ms. BENHABOUCHE (Algeria) welcomed the Secretary-General’s report on strengthening cooperation in the Mediterranean, as well as the nuclear-weapon-free zone in Africa, established by the Treaty of Pelindaba, which had been a key factor in bolstering security in North Africa and the Mediterranean.  She also praised the Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa for its programme on conventional weapons and small arms and light weapons.  The situation in the Sahel remained a concern, and as such, the international community must redouble its efforts and boost cooperation in the region in the fight against terrorism.  In that regard, Algeria saw itself as an exporter of stability, while ensuring the security of its own territory, which had been exposed to conflict in Libya.  On Mali, she noted that various actors had committed to finding a solution to the crisis.  Algeria submitted the draft resolution entitled Strengthening Security and Regional Cooperation in the Mediterranean Region.

DELL HIGGIE (New Zealand) said her country highly valued the contribution to regional peace and security made by the United Nations Centre in Kathmandu, Nepal.  She particularly valued its involvement in the meeting New Zealand had hosted in Auckland last December to assist with the conclusion of the model legislation, which New Zealand, together with the Small Arms Survey, had been working on for over a year.  Paying tribute to the Centre’s Director, Sharon Riggle, who had “brought clarity of focus and real momentum to the Centre,” she said such institutes did valid work on a broad spectrum of disarmament and arms control-related activities, including the Arms Trade Treaty.

FARID JABRAYILOV (Azerbaijan), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and their ammunition affected regional and international security and stability.  His country remained committed to the implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, and welcomed Security Council resolution 2117 (2013).  Regional disarmament and security bore a special importance for conflict-affected zones, which served as a concentration point of uncontrolled arms.

He said the Nagorny Karabakh region of his country, under Armenian occupation, had become a key transit spot for the illegal trade in arms and was now threatening the security of his country.  In cooperation with international partners, Azerbaijan had developed a comprehensive national export control system that proved to be a reliable mechanism in the prevention of illicit arms trafficking.  The territories occupied by Azerbaijan provided Armenia — the occupying Power — with the opportunity to use those areas as repair facilities and to transfer and hide treaty-limited equipment, which deserved serious attention.  He called on Armenia to stop violating its arms control commitments.  Azerbaijan’s strategy was aimed at the restoration of the State’s territorial integrity and the return of the displaced population to their homes.

MICHEL SPINELLIS (Greece) said nuclear safety and security were intertwined and complemented a State’s legitimate right to peaceful use of nuclear technology.  He underlined the need for responsible and transparent national efforts and strengthened regional cooperation to bring nuclear power production in compliance with the highest international standards.  Countries that produced nuclear energy, or aspired to do so, must follow transparent operational practices with respect of transboundary natural habitat.  As one of the 13 countries contaminated by the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident in 1986, Greece was especially sensitive to the application of important elements that helped to achieve a stronger nuclear safety culture.  Current tensions in the global environment necessitated additional precautions in current and future installations.

Mr. UDEDIBIA (Nigeria) introduced two draft resolutions, one on the United Nations Disarmament Fellowship Training and Advisory Services, and another, on behalf of the African Group, on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa.  He said that disarmament fellowship training and advisory services raised awareness and enhanced the capacity of Member States, particularly those in developing countries, in participating more effectively to disarmament.  Many member countries had benefited from the highly regarded programme, he said, noting that its composition also had good geographical and gender balance.  He expressed appreciation to China, Germany, Germany, Kazakhstan and Switzerland for their contribution during 2013 and 2014, as well as to the IAEA, OPCW, the Preparatory Committee for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for organizing specific work-study programmes.  He urged the text’s approval without a vote.

On the draft resolution on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa, the text welcomed the activities of the Centre and responded to the continent’s evolving needs in the area of peace, disarmament and security, including maritime security.  It welcomed efforts in promoting the role and representation of women in arms control and recognized the impact of the assistance the Centre provided to Central African States in the implementation of the Kinshasa Convention.  He urged its usual approval by consensus.

Right of Reply

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Russian Federation said that the statement by the American delegation had once again cast unfounded aspersions and accusations against Russia.  It was a great pity that those colleagues clearly did not study in detail the response that the Russian Federation presented regarding the really anti-Russian statements that were made.  The unconstitutional coup d’état organized in February had led to “monstrous” unrest in the country and mass deaths of civilians.  That had already been acknowledged by everyone, even though, at the beginning, access to that information was simply blocked.  Those who had masterminded that coup d’état should not be laying the blame on others, but should instead be doing their utmost to bolster the ceasefire agreement in the southeast of Ukraine.  He was staggered by the irresponsible words of the United States colleague and by the public.  Russia was showing unprecedented openness, with all inspections, monitoring flights over Russian territory, which were taking place in full.  The result of those inspections had been officially recognized, and it was confirmed that there was and had not been a heightening in military actions on the part of Russia.  Therefore, the continuing barefaced accusations being levelled at Russia could be viewed only as irresponsible and did not increase trust for what one would think was a very respectable country like the United States.

Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Armenia said that while the rest of the world was having big economic and financial difficulties, thinking about development goals and not having enough resources to address their requirements, the Azerbaijani leadership had declared that the country’s military budget was higher than the rest of the State budget in total.  Since the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was mentioned, he wished to make a short remark to be absolutely clear: one could not think there was still a military option to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.  The military option was a tried and failed option.  The path that the Nagorno-Karabakh region had chosen for itself more than two decades ago was irreversible.  It succeeded in assuring its self-defence, set up governance mechanisms and controlled its borders and its economy.  All that had happened in the last 20 years, and it was unrealistic to think that things could return to the way they were.

The representative of Azerbaijan said he was obliged to take the floor again to defy the totally baseless accusations against his country and respond to speculation on the issues that were part of the negotiations process.  He was sure everyone in the hall had heard about the use of force by a certain country to occupy the Azerbaijani territories.  That was the main reason for the current impasse in the negotiations.  Armenia flagrantly violated its international obligations by using military force to occupy Azerbaijan, carry out ethnic cleansing and establish its own separatist entity.  In relevant resolutions, the Security Council condemned the occupation of the Azerbaijani territories.  The Armenian representative expressed concern about Azerbaijan’s military budget; however, Armenia was the most militarized country in the South Caucuses.

Thematic Debate — Outer Space

KAMAPRADIPTA ISNOMO (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, recognized the sovereign rights of all States in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.  Preventing an arms race in outer space would avert a grave danger to international peace and security.  However, the abrogation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty brought challenges.  The Movement remained seriously concerned at the negative security consequences of the deployment of strategic missile defence systems.  It was also concerned about development related to anti-ballistic missile systems and the threat of weaponization and militarization of outer space.  With that, it reiterated its call for the start of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a universal, legally binding agreement on the prevention of an outer space arms race.  Space science and technology, such as satellite communications, Earth observation systems and satellite navigation technologies were indispensable for viable long-term solutions for sustainable development.  In that regard, the Movement stressed that space science and technology should be utilized in accordance with international law and the principles of the United Nations Charter.

AHMED ELSHANDAWILY (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said the instruments “orienting” space for peaceful purposes contributed to forestalling the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and other military activities in that domain.  Despite many efforts, all could recognize that instruments to deal with the weapons race were insufficient and unable to halt the outer space arms race.  Therefore, the Arab Group would support the setting up of a committee as part of a comprehensive balanced programme that was multilaterally negotiated to prevent the weapons race in outer space.  The deployment of weapons in that realm could interrupt satellite services, and lead to global disasters and negative impacts on economies and societies.  Given that state of affairs, the international community must begin negotiations on a legally binding instrument that would prohibit such an arms race.  The Arab States would support any initiative to prohibit that.

Ms. SWEEB (Suriname), speaking on behalf of the Union of South American Nations, supported outer space for peaceful purposes, noting the global reliance on space-based resources.  The prevention of an outer space arms race was a matter of urgency, and negotiation of a legally binding instrument was necessary.  In that regard, she recognized the danger of an insufficient legal framework, adding that the prevention of an arms race in outer space, known as PAROS, had been on the agenda for a long time, however, despite concrete exchanges, a lack of consensus had prevailed.  Transparency and confidence-building measures could foster mutual understanding and political dialogue between States, she said, noting that the Group of Governmental Experts recognized that transparency and confidence-building measures could be the basis of legally-binding obligations.  She recognized the code of conduct sponsored by the European Union, but said that the international community would benefit from a multilateral approach.  Political agreements were no substitute for a legal framework, she said, calling on all Member States to provide the conditions for the early adoption of a programme of work at the Conference on Disarmament, including a working group on PAROS, which would pave the way for the prevention of an arms race in outer space.

CLARA GANSLANDT, representative of the European Union Delegation, reiterated that group’s longstanding position in favour of the preservation of a safe and secure space environment and its peaceful uses on an equitable and mutually acceptable basis.  Space assets operated by an increasing number of Government and non-government entities offered the world enormous benefits that were accompanied by significant challenges.  The latter called for the serious and timely involvement of States to ensure safety, security and sustainability of outer space.  The European Union attached great importance to the development and implementation of transparency and confidence-building measures in that regard.

She said that the adoption last year by the General Assembly of resolution 68/50 without a vote reflected a widespread support for the need to develop a regime encompassing such measures.  The group, guided by imperatives of safety, security and sustainability as well as an eagerness to implement the consensus recommendations of the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts, was committed to contribute to the conclusion of the multilateral process on the international code of conduct for outer space.  The Union was ready to move the process from a consultation to a negotiating phase in an inclusive and transparent manner.

VLADIMIR YERMAKOV (Russian Federation) said it was the common duty not just to react to current problems, but to courageously and actively act to overcome them, by identifying and neutralizing threats before they acquired a catastrophic and complex nature, as was the case with nuclear weapons proliferation.  To prevent a similar situation in outer space, the Russian Federation had consistently supported international efforts to prevent an arms race in that domain, and in its actions and not just in words, was in favour of keeping outer space open and free for peaceful usage in the interests of all mankind.  The Russian Federation was an ever-present co-sponsor of a resolution tabled each year, alternately tabled by Egypt and Sri Lanka, which was a sound basis for further tangible steps.

He said the Russian Federation had been the first in the world, in 2004, to have assumed political commitments on no first placement of weapons in outer space.  That initiative was called “No First Placement”, or “NFP”.  It had officially been supported by: Armenia, Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Cuba, Tajikistan and Sri Lanka.  This year, the group of co-sponsors brought together 29 countries and tabled a new draft resolution on the matter, “L.14.”  The resolution did not impose on States any additional commitments but was effectively a call to dialogue and for consideration by all Member States of the possibility of globalizing that most important political commitment of no first placement.  For next year, he proposed a joint meeting of the First and Fourth Committees to discuss security of outer space activities, with the hope that it would reinvigorate discussions on that important subject.

YADIRA LEDESMA HERNÁNDEZ (Cuba) stressed the importance of complying with existing legal agreements, but noted that States had the right to explore space for scientific and economic development.  An arms race would seriously jeopardize international peace and security; and, thus, the international community must develop global confidence-building measures and recommence negotiations on a multilateral agreement to prevent an arms race in outer space.  The Conference on Disarmament was the right platform for those talks, and, as a step forward, the Russian Federation and China’s initiative warranted consideration.  More broadly, she welcomed efforts to prevent an arms race in outer space as well as concrete international measures to ensure greater transparency in space activities.

CHRISTOPHER L. BUCK (United States) said his country was especially concerned about the continued development and testing of destructive anti-satellite, or ASAT, systems.  Although some States had advocated for space arms control measures to prohibit the placement of weapons there, their own development of terrestrially-based destructive ASAT capabilities was destabilizing and could trigger dangerous misinterpretations and miscalculations, and possibly escalate a crisis or conflict.  The world had seen the long-lasting environmental effects of China’s intentionally destructive 2007 direct ascent ASAT missile flight test, which generated long-lived debris in low Earth orbit.

The United States, he went on, had long indicated its willingness to consider space arms control proposals and concepts that were equitable, effectively verifiable and which enhanced the security of all nations.  However, the revised draft “treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, the threat or use of force against outer space objects” — also known as the PPWT — submitted by Russia and China to the Conference on Disarmament, did not satisfy those criteria.  His country was convinced that many outer space challenges could be addressed through practical, near-term initiatives such as non-legally binding transparency and confidence-building measures.

Russia’s initiative for States to make declarations of “No First Placement” of weapons in outer space failed to meet the criteria of the Group of Governmental Experts, he said, as it had three basic flaws.  The pledge did not adequately define what constituted a “weapon in outer space”; other States could not effectively confirm a State’s political commitment “not to be the first to place weapons in outer space”; and the pledge focused exclusively on space-based weapons, ignoring terrestrial-based ASAT weapons.  Sustaining the space environment was critical for all humanity — for their aspirations, economic development, the environment, security and well-being.  If the international community was serious about maintaining the space environment for future generations, it must develop and implement pragmatic and effective measures on a timely basis that remedied concrete problems and rejected those initiatives that were problematic, ineffective or irrelevant to protecting the security and sustainability of the space environment.

Mr. RUIZ (Colombia) said that interest in outer space was on the rise, noting the “staggering developments” witnessed in telecommunications and other areas.  His country supported technological developments in outer space but believed that all progress in that area must remain for peaceful purposes.  Moreover, all States should be afforded fair and equitable use.  Keeping arms out of space was the responsibility of all States, he said, noting that that could involve issues such as monitoring outer space activities.  For its part, Colombia would continue to promote the resumption of such negotiations in the Conference of Disarmament.  It had also been developing its own space policy, supported by a programme of action, to promote policies that would benefit all Colombians.

SHEN JIAN (China) said the security of outer space was vital to the existence and development of all mankind.  The relationship between space, security and space development should be properly addressed, and the equal rights of all countries to the peaceful uses of outer space should be ensured.  With increasing activities in outer space, the risks of weaponization of, and an arms race in, that domain, were increasing.  Space security was confronted with growing uncertainties.  In 2008, China and Russia had jointly submitted to the Conference on Disarmament a draft, along with an updated version in June 2014, taking into accord the proposals and comments of interested States.

He attached great importance to transparency and confidence-building measures for outer space activities, as they enhanced mutual trust, reduced misperceptions, regulated outer space activities and maintained outer space security.  He advocated for an international code of conduct for outer space activities that focused on peaceful uses of outer space and which did not undermine the right of all countries, particularly developing ones, to fair uses of outer space.

FARUK HOSSAIN (Bangladesh), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that outer space must be explored for peaceful purposes and for the benefit of present and future generations.  Space was no longer an “exclusive preserve” of a few developed States, he said, noting that developing countries were also tapping into space technology in diverse areas, a trend that would continue to grow.  However, with increasing human activity in outer space, the risk of its weaponization was on the rise, he warned.  The prevention of an outer space arms race, including a ban to deploy or use weapons therein, could avert a grave danger.  The proliferation of space debris over a long period of time also constituted a serious and imminent threat.  As such, there was an urgent need to develop appropriate norms against that phenomenon, whether through accidental or deliberate actions.  Moreover, the responsibility of clearing space debris should rest primarily with States whose actions had created it.  Turning to transparency and confidence-building measures, he said that appropriate and viable measures were conducive to enhancing mutual trust, reducing misconceptions, regulating outer space activities and maintaining security.  The draft treaty tabled by China and the Russian Federation in the Conference on Disarmament in 2008 could be the most viable basis for talks on a legally binding instrument.

Mr. SYRYMBET (Kazakhstan) believed that the growing importance of space should compel all to review outer space from the security and disarmament perspectives.  The Russian Federation and China drafted a treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, endorsed by his country.  However, political hurdles impeded all attempts to achieve a binding international agreement.  More than 130 countries possessed space programmes, and it was important to ensure that dangerous weapons system did not undermine existing arms limitation agreements, especially in the nuclear-missile sphere.  His country had no intention of pursuing the development of space weapons but was developing a national civilian space programme.  Although not a formal member of the Missile Technology Control Regime, Kazakhstan was following all regulations in its export policy.  The common goal was to ensure that space remained a sphere of cooperation, free from weapons. 

Mr. HALTER (Switzerland) said technological developments meant that there were now a greater number of ways to destroy space-based systems.  Stability in space was closely related to stability on Earth, he said, calling for multilateral negotiations to address the challenge.  The drafting of an internationally legally binding treaty would be important as would be maintaining the dialogue at the Conference on Disarmament.  Referring to the draft treaty presented by the Russian Federation and China, he said greater attention should be paid to attacks on space systems from the ground.  The question of the verification of the draft treaty’s implementation remained open, requiring much work in that regard.  In line with the Group of Governmental Experts’ report, it was important to work together to ensure the long-term security and sustainability of space-based activities.  Joint meetings of the First and Fourth Committees would work to build consensus in that direction.  The disarmament and space committees shared the need to ensure that outer space activities were safe and sustainable for future generations.

KIM HYE-JIN (Republic of Korea) said that space use had risen exponentially, which had led to increased competition.  It was therefore imperative that all States use space responsibly and in a peaceful manner.  It was “deplorable” that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea used space as a pretext to develop its ballistic missile programme, she said, adding that any launch by that country was a clear violation of the Security Council resolution that prohibited such activities.  There was a growing need for norms that reflected new developments, she said, noting that it would be prudent to take a holistic approach to capture all potential circumstances.  Her country commended the December 2013 report of the Group of Governmental Experts and believed its adoption laid a “solid foundation” for further collaboration in the space regime.  Moreover, the Republic of Korea supported a universal and pragmatic code of conduct and called for its early adoption.  She urged cooperation and dialogue on the issue and reiterated her country’s support for the peaceful and sustainable use of space.

DARREN HANSEN (Australia) said that the two main challenges were preventing space debris and building a solid foundation of transparency and confidence in space.  International and regional settings recognized the need for action to protect the safety, security and sustainability of the space environment.  His country, co-sponsored with China, the Russian Federation and the United States, the draft resolution on transparency and confidence-building in outer space.  He welcomed the development of a multilateral code of conduct as a reinforcing norm for responsible behaviour in space.  Concluding and implementing that code would address the real threat posed by space debris, whose proliferation was a major issue for the Indo-Pacific region.  In that connection, he applauded the attention to that issue by the ASEAN regional forum.  Australia was very concerned about the development and deployment of anti-satellite missiles.  He added that any initiatives seeking to deal with the non-weaponization of space should include in their scope ground based anti-satellite weapons, the most pressing threat to space infrastructure.  He urged the world community to focus on practical steps to address the threats to space activities.

Mr. RIQUET (France), associating with the European Union, said the ability to use outer space was threatened by the deterioration of the space environment.  The proliferation of space debris resulted from accidental collisions or acts of deliberate destruction.  Existing mechanisms were insufficient to address the challenge, whose responses should span civilian and military aspects.  France remained attached to the preservation of peace and stability in outer space based on the Charter and other international instruments, acknowledging the due right of States to self-defence.  France was not opposed to developing instruments and initiatives as part of the work of the Conference on Disarmament.  Referring to the draft submitted by the Russian Federation and China, he said it would guarantee success only if it could be precise and transparent, which would take time.  In the short-term, France supported voluntary measures towards promoting confidence and transparency.

Mr. HERRAIZ (Spain), associating with the European Union, said that States were “increasingly dependent” on space.  His country favoured its peaceful and fair use by all.  However, increased space debris was a growing concern for his country and an issue to which the international community must respond.  Turning to confidence-building measures, he underscored the work carried out by the Group of Governmental Experts on establishing those and transparency measures for outer space.  He noted that the resolution on transparency and confidence-building underscored the need for those measures.  He acknowledged the European Union’s initiative on a code of conduct for outer space activities, which had already been endorsed by more than 70 States.  That would be a valuable step forward to strengthening understanding between various stakeholders and establishing a regime for outer space that would allow it to be used responsibly by all, he said.

Mr. ALAJMI (Kuwait), associating with the Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said that harnessing space-based tools had significant applications to finding long-term solutions to sustainable development.  Kuwait was convinced that the exemplary use of space could only be ensured through multilateral negotiations based on the United Nations Charter and on the widest participation.  Unilateral measures towards an arms race in space, on the other hand, would lead to an erosion of confidence among States.  The lack of an international legally binding instrument on outer space had become all too apparent, he said, calling for the start of negotiations on such a text at the earliest date.  A committee within the Conference on Disarmament could study the issue in an open and transparent manner.

MUZAMMIL MEHDI (Canada) acknowledged the increasingly important role that outer space played in people’s daily lives around the world and applauded efforts to implement transparency and confidence-building measures in those activities.  The code of conduct was one way to promote the responsible use of space and could serve as an important tool to establish best practices in mitigating space debris and sharing information.  That voluntary instrument was a pragmatic first step to building momentum around space security efforts ahead of longer-term, legally binding instruments.  As such, Canada would continue to work with others to finalize the code’s text.  It was essential for States to refrain from actions that endangered the space environment, such as the testing of anti-satellite systems, particularly those causing debris.  Unilateral declarations were of “limited value” in the absence of clear verification and built a false sense of confidence.  In that regard, Canada continued to contribute to initiatives towards the long-term sustainability of outer space activities; it was in the interest of all countries to build confidence.  Rather than participate in a “theatre of conflict”, States must refrain from destabilizing activities and act responsibly, he added.

AN MYONG HUN (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said science and technology was being used to militarize outer space, including on the pretext of ballistic missile threats.  The international community had spared no effort to prevent the militarization of outer space and had established some specific mechanisms for that purpose.  However, those could not comprehensively and effectively prevent the establishment of weapons in outer space.  Comprehensive prevention of an arms race in outer space would constitute fundamental conditions, not only for removing the danger of an arms race in outer space and guaranteeing the rights of all States for its peaceful use, but also for security and world peace.  He said the draft treaty jointly introduced by China and the Russian Federation could serve as a positive initiative for preventing an outer space arms race and ensuring world peace.  It was an infringement of his nation’s sovereignty to equate its satellite programme as a violation of Security Council resolutions, and he reaffirmed its commitment to pursue its peaceful activities. 

Mr. AMMAR (Pakistan), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that space was no longer considered an “exclusive preserve” of a few developed States.  Developing countries were tapping into space technology in diverse areas and their reliance on space technology would only grow in the years to come; the monopolies of the few could not last for too long.  As such, it was urgent for the international community to prevent the weaponization of outer space and avoid the mistakes made in the case of chemical weapons, which had witnessed decades of production before the Convention was concluded.  The rapid change in space technologies had widened gaps in the existing international regime.  It was against that backdrop that Pakistan had consistently opposed the weaponization of outer space and called for negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on that concerning issue. 

He said Pakistan, along with a number of other States, had co-sponsored the Russian resolution, No First Placement of Weapons in Outer Space (L.14), which was a “clear reflection” of the importance ascribed to the issue.  In that context, Pakistan was also co-sponsoring the resolution entitled Prevention of an arms race in outer space (L.3), tabled by Egypt.  He noted that some States continued to oppose commencement of negotiations on that issue in the Conference and said the only possible explanation for that was their interest in protecting their monopoly on that technology and maintaining their “full-spectrum dominance”.  He referenced the deadlock in the Conference, adding that some States had found it convenient to attribute the stalemate to one of the four core issues on that body’s agenda.  The international community must ask for a clear reason as to why those States opposed negotiations on preventing an outer space arms race.

The representative of the Russian Federation, in exercise of the right of reply, said anti-satellite technology and anti-missile technology were identical.  If the United States wanted to engage in that discussion, then the Russian Federation was ready to do so through the United Nations framework.  He equally believed that the code of conduct proposed by the European Union risked deflecting the international community’s attention and was an effort to substitute a legally binding agreement on preventing weapons deployment in outer space.  The question of space debris was not a pressing one, he concluded.

The representative of the United States, exercising his right of reply, said the Russian and Chinese draft did not address terrestrial anti-satellite weapons and he wondered why.

Responding, the representative of China said article 2 of the joint draft treaty did indeed address that issue.

For information media. Not an official record.