Disarmament Committee Approves Drafts on No First Placement of Arms in Outer Space, Ban on New Types of Mass Destruction Weapons
Disarmament Committee Approves Drafts on No First Placement of Arms in Outer Space, Ban on New Types of Mass Destruction Weapons
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) forwarded 12 draft resolutions to the General Assembly today on weapons of mass destruction, conventional weapons and a new one on no first placement of weapons in outer space, which stresses the urgency of preventing an arms race in outer space.
Approving the text by a recorded vote of 126 in favour to 4 against (Israel, Ukraine, United States, Georgia), with 46 abstentions, the Committee asked the Assembly to urge an early start to substantive work on an updated draft treaty submitted by China and the Russian Federation on preventing the weaponization of space, as well as the threat or use of force against outer space objects.
That draft would also stress that, while such an agreement had not yet been concluded, other measures could contribute to ensuring that weapons were not placed in outer space. All States, especially space-faring nations, would be encouraged to consider the possibility of upholding as appropriate a political commitment not to be the first to place weapons in outer space.
Also on the outer space cluster, the Committee approved a draft that would have the Assembly call upon all States, in particular those with major space capabilities, to contribute actively to the peaceful use of outer space and to the prevention of an outer space arms race and refrain from actions contrary to that objective. That text was approved by a recorded vote of 180 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (United States, Israel).
Acting without a vote, the Committee approved a third draft on outer space, by which the Assembly would encourage States to continue to review and implement the proposed transparency and confidence-building measures in a manner consistent with the national interests of Member States.
During the cluster on other weapons of mass destruction, the Committee approved a draft aimed at prohibiting the development of new types of mass destruction weapons, by a recorded vote of 177 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 1 abstention (Ukraine). By its terms, the Assembly would reaffirm that effective measures should be taken to prevent the emergence of those weapons.
The Committee also approved a draft on measures to uphold the authority of the 1925 Geneva Protocol, by a vote of 178 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (Israel, United States), which would have the Assembly renew its previous call to all States to strictly observe the principles and objectives of the Protocol.
Acting without a vote in that cluster, the Committee approved drafts on the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention; measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring radioactive sources; and measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.
Taking action on drafts in the conventional weapons cluster, the Committee took recorded votes on a draft welcoming the ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty, approving it by 149 in favour to 1 against (Somalia), with 26 abstentions.
Prior to action on that text as a whole, the Committee retained operative paragraph 3 by a recorded vote of 145 in favour to 2 against (Iran, Lao People’s Democratic Republic), with 23 abstentions. That provision would have the Assembly call on States that had not yet done so to join in sign and ratify the Treaty.
Also in that cluster, the Committee approved by consensus drafts on assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons; the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons; and the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects.
Speaking in explanation of vote on yesterday’s action were the representatives of Switzerland, United Kingdom, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ireland, Pakistan, Netherlands, Kazakhstan, Brazil, France, Australia, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Canada, Iran and the Russian Federation.
Speaking in explanation of vote and making general statements in the cluster on other weapons of mass destruction were the representatives of Iran, Belarus, Russian Federation, United States and Pakistan.
Delivering statements on the cluster on disarmament aspects of outer space were the representatives of Egypt, Cuba, Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Indonesia, Pakistan, China and Nicaragua.
Speaking in explanation of vote on the outer space cluster were the representatives of the United States, Mexico, Italy, Costa Rica, Ukraine, Russian Federation, India and Switzerland.
Speaking in explanation of vote on the cluster on conventional weapons were the representatives of the United States, Morocco, Canada, India, Ecuador, Egypt, Cuba, Libya, China, Armenia and Iran.
The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Friday, 31 October, to continue taking action on all texts before it.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to continue its consideration of all draft resolutions and decisions before it, across the whole spectrum of its agenda items. For further background, please see Press Release GA/DIS/3513 of 29 October.
Action on Texts
Speaking in explanation of vote after yesterday’s voting, the representative of Switzerland said he had supported “L.2/Rev.1” again this year. It promoted the universalization of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in the Middle East, and he welcomed the specific measures adopted by the 2010 Review Conference on the subject of the creation of a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East. Holding the conference in Helsinki as soon as possible was crucial for security in that region, as well as the NPT regime.
On “L.16”, his delegation had not supported the resolution, maintaining its position over the last two years. A resolution, whose goal was to prohibit nuclear weapons or any threat of such devices, should have appropriate reference to the relevance and importance of the international non-proliferation system. The recent conferences on the impact of nuclear weapons showed that the probability of a deliberate, accidental or other explosion was underestimated. Any nuclear detonation would be a catastrophe in humanitarian terms. Switzerland would be ready to pursue a dialog with the sponsors of the resolution, in order to see an evolution of the text so that it might enjoy greater support. He hoped the resolution would further evolve to meet his delegation’s concerns.
Regarding “L.44”, he said that the high-level meeting on 26 September had proved to be an event of great significance. It showed strong expression of support for renewed efforts towards the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. Deeming it important to build on that momentum, Switzerland had voted yes on the resolution. However, he said that moving forward, the international community should aim at acting in a collective and inclusive manner, and unify the United Nations membership in the shared goal of nuclear disarmament.
The representative of the United Kingdom regretted that his delegation had to abstain on “L.2/Rev.1.” He strongly supported the 1995 resolution on the Middle East, and continued to call on States in the region to accede to NPT, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). The concerned parties should continue to engage in direct discussions to achieve the convening of the conference for a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East.
The representative of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, explaining his position on “L.2/Rev.1” and “L.12/Rev.1”, said he had voted in favour of “L.2/Rev.1” and remained firm and consistent in the position to establish a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East. However, there were some NPT-related elements contained in that resolution, such as general adherence to NPT, which gave his delegation some reservations, even though it had voted in favour.
He said his delegation had voted against “L.12/Rev.1”, noting the main point of that text was oriented towards nuclear disarmament and global denuclearization. Operative paragraph 10 of the resolution failed to meet fairness and balance by singling out the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea regarding the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula. The notion that denuclearization hinged solely on a unilateral undertaking by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was very much mistaken. The resolution distorted the essence of the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula. The Joint Statements called on the parties, including the United States, to respect each other’s sovereignty. The United States however defined the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as an enemy, refusing to recognize its sovereignty, and even admitted to the goal of overthrowing the political system. His country possessed a nuclear capacity because the United States had threatened it with nuclear weapons. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s negative vote on “L.12/Rev.1” should not be seen as a shadow cast upon the intention to work together towards nuclear disarmament.
The representative of Ireland, delivering an explanation of vote on behalf of Austria, Malta, New Zealand, Liechtenstein, San Marino and Sweden, said those delegations had decided to support “L.44”. The draft was entirely consistent with and supportive of NPT, article VI of which required all State parties to have effective measures relating to a nuclear arms race at an early date. The resolution was also consistent with the Action Plan agreed upon at the 2010 NPT Review Conference. Any efforts towards a world free of nuclear weapons should reinforce NPT’s obligations. He was therefore pleased that “L.44” benefitted from an explicit reference to NPT. He further believed that any initiative aimed at advancing nuclear disarmament should give attention to the humanitarian consequences of any detonation of a nuclear weapon, which should remain among the foremost precepts, whether such use occurred by accident, miscalculation or design. Although supporting “L.44”, he did not see a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons as the only available option, and emphasized that his delegation would be favourably disposed towards any set of measures to achieve that goal.
The representative of Pakistan explained his country’s position on five drafts. On “L.2/Rev.1” he supported the primary purpose and focus of the text, but said that references to the recommendations and conclusions emanating from various NPT Review Conferences were disappointing. Pakistan was a nuclear-weapon State and there was no question of it joining NPT in any other capacity.
On “L.12/Rev.1” he said there were several aspects of the resolution with which his delegation agreed, however he was disappointed with the unrealistic assertion in operative paragraph 9 that asked Pakistan to unconditionally accede to NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon State. As a non-party to NPT, Pakistan neither subscribed to it, nor was bound by it, or to the calls for its universality. Pakistan had therefor abstained from the resolution as a whole, specifically on preambular paragraph 24 and operative paragraph 11, and had voted against operative paragraph 9.
On “L.21”, he said his delegation had always supported nuclear disarmament, and the goal of achieving a world without nuclear weapons. He shared the frustration over the lack of progress in nuclear disarmament negotiations, but strongly believed the Conference on Disarmament was the single most important multilateral negotiating forum in that field. The decision not to reconstitute the open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament was a positive one and had allowed Pakistan to vote in favour of the resolution. In the past several years, Pakistan had drawn attention to the erosion of consensus in the global disarmament regime. The country, therefor, had been calling for harmonization to renew the global consensus. The best way forward was to convene a fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament so that the disarmament objective was advanced and the entire disarmament machinery was revitalized.
On “L.22”, Pakistan had voted in favour, agreeing with most of the elements in it. He wished to reiterate that the notion of decreasing the operational status of nuclear weapons must be based on reciprocity. Reference to the conclusions and recommendations of NPT were unwarranted, and as a non-party, Pakistan could not subscribe to it and had abstained on preambular paragraph 8.
On “L.36”, Pakistan continued to disagree with several provisions, rejecting, for example, the unrealistic call for it to accede unconditionally to NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon State, and did not consider itself bound by NPT provisions. Pakistan supported the objective of total elimination of nuclear weapons, a key goal of “L.36”, as well as several other elements of the draft. However, Pakistan could not agree to negotiate the fissile material cut-off treaty as presented in the resolution, and had abstained from voting on the text as a whole; it had voted against operative paragraph 11, and abstained on other provisions.
The representative of the Netherlands, explaining his position on behalf of Australia, Belgium, Croatia, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland and Slovakia, said those delegations had voted in favour of “L.12”. They supported the text’s overall goal, however, they were disappointed that the authors had chosen to include references, not only to resolution 68/32, but also to decisions contained therein. His delegation had previously expressed concern about that resolution.
On “L.44,” speaking on behalf of Albania, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, Luxembourg, Poland, Monaco and Slovakia, he said they shared the long-term goal of the resolution, namely, a world free of nuclear weapons. However, the main sponsor had been unable to meet those delegations’ concerns.
Speaking in explanation of vote on “L.21”, the representative of Kazakhstan said it supported the draft resolution with the understanding that an open-ended working group would not serve as an independent platform parallel to the Conference on Disarmament and the Disarmament Commission. Furthermore, the group’s recommendations should be presented for further consideration and approval by those two bodies.
The representative of Brazil, speaking in explanation of votes on “L.16”, “L.18”, “L.21” and “L.36”, said it had voted in favour of “L.16” as his country shared the understanding that nuclear weapons constituted a threat to mankind. He stressed the need to go beyond the prohibition of their use and move towards their complete elimination. Complete and verifiable disarmament must be a global priority, he said, calling for a legally binding instrument on the issue. On “L.18”, he noted that while the risks of unintentional and accidental use of nuclear weapons must be reduced, there was no substitute for multilateral agreements aimed at the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.
On “L.21”, he said his country voted in favour and welcomed the open-ended working group, which had been held in an inclusive and constructive manner. He reaffirmed the importance of multilateral diplomacy in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation and the role of the Conference on Disarmament, as well as the power of the General Assembly in that regard. On “L.36”, he said the text did not recognize the compliance deficit that persisted with nuclear-weapon States. Mention should have been to annex two States, whose ratification was needed in order for NPT to enter into force. He said that operative paragraph 14 should have expressed support for immediate discussions on assurances in the Conference on Disarmament for non-nuclear States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. He said language in operative paragraph 20 could have been drawn from the 2010 NPT Review Conference.
Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote on “L.36”, the representative of France said his country had voted in favour of the draft resolution as it had reflected commitments on nuclear disarmament issues to which the country subscribed. France sought balanced treatment of NPT and acknowledged the efforts of States in that regard. Nuclear weapons, he said, were a way of protecting vital defence interests only in extreme situations and in respect of the United Nations Charter. Considerable work had been done by the Governmental Group of Experts on fissile material, he said, voicing the country’s hope of advancing towards a nuclear weapon-free world in accordance with NPT. His additional comments had been mentioned by the United States.
The representative of Australia, explaining his position after the vote on “L.2/Rev.1”, said it was committed to a world free of nuclear weapons and was a strong supporter of NPT. Further, his delegation would continue to promote that position in international forums. Australia placed great importance on the consensus outcome of the 2010 NPT Review Conference and supported the convening of a conference on the establishment of a Middle East nuclear weapon-free zone. The draft resolution, however, only referred to one country and did not refer to other threats in that region, which was why, with regret, his country had abstained.
The representative of Morocco said his delegation supported the content of “L.36” and expressed appreciation of Japan for mentioning in operative paragraph 17 the necessity of making the Middle East a zone free of nuclear and other mass destruction weapons, and for calling for the rapid convening of the Helsinki conference
The representative of Portugal, also speaking on behalf of Cyprus, said they had abstained on “L.21”. They “globally” supported the content of the resolution, notably the inclusiveness of the open-ended working group established in the framework of the General Assembly. The peoples of the world had a vital interest in the success of disarmament negotiations, and having negotiations that were non-discriminatory were a major prerequisite of effective negotiations.
The representative of Spain, also speaking on behalf of Bulgaria, Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Republic of Moldova, Romania and Slovenia, said they had not been in a position to support “L.44”. The concerns they expressed last year remained valid today. They believed in a world free of nuclear weapons and considered disarmament and non-proliferation to be mutually reinforcing goals, which should be pursued through successive and gradual steps. He stressed the fundamental role of NPT as a cornerstone of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime.
Those countries, he continued, shared concern about the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons. However, banning them would not guarantee their elimination. Only by recognizing both the security and humanitarian dimensions of those weapons would the international community be able to rid the world of them.
Speaking in explanation of vote on “L.2/Rev.1”, the representative of Canada said that it had opposed the draft resolution due to the fact that it demonstrated bias, unfairly singling out Israel, and called for its accession to NPT. The draft was deficient because it ignored the fact that Iran and Syria were flouting their legal obligations. For that reason, Canada had voted against it.
Speaking in explanation of vote on “L.1”, the representative of Iran said that his country had first proposed in 1974 a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East to the General Assembly and had since consistently endorsed the proposal. Despite repeated calls from the international community, no progress had been made, owing to Israel’s refusal to abandon its nuclear weapon programme and accede to NPT. As such, Israel posed the greatest threat to non-nuclear-armed States in the region. It should accede to the Treaty and place all of its nuclear weapons under the IAEA safeguards.
The representative of the Russian Federation said his delegation was forced to abstain or even vote against certain resolutions on issues of nuclear disarmament. He underscored that it in no way indicated change in Russia’s position. Russia always was and would be the most consistent proponent of the full elimination of nuclear weapons. That was why he welcomed any constructive initiative that truly contributed to achieving that goal. He asserted that the Russian Federation had been carrying out productive dialogue on reducing offensive strategic weapons for many decades with a State that once actually used that kind of armament and launched an arms race. It was also quite well known that much had been achieved, as the nuclear arsenals of the Russian Federation and United States had been reduced to the level of the 1960s. Negotiations, in one form or another, were constantly ongoing, and in practice, the nuclear arms race was something that stopped a long time ago.
On that point, he said, the Russian Federation had fulfilled its obligation under article VI, but was ready to go even further, engaging in the most serious substantive discussions on the issue of nuclear disarmament. It was essential to work together to strengthen NPT, which was why conditions must be created to move forward towards the common goal of a world free from nuclear weapons. Attempting to enshrine biased interpretation of the Treaty in documents of the General Assembly, and thus impose unilateral obligations on States was unacceptable in today’s unstable conditions. Attempts to undermine NPT – what was, in essence, the only internationally binding document in the area of disarmament – were extremely dangerous. He wished to speak out against ideas that sought to launch parallel disarmament processes because they
Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote on draft resolution “L.17” of cluster 2, the representative of Iran said his country had always supported that resolution and would continue to do so. International cooperation aimed at strengthening the protection of nuclear material helped prevent nuclear weapons-related terrorism. In that context, the IAEA was the most appropriate place to address that issue. However, his delegation had reservations about the inclusion of a reference to the nuclear security summit in preambular paragraph 9 of “L.17”, and therefore his delegation disassociated itself from that paragraph.
General Statement on Cluster 2: Weapons of Mass Destruction
Making a general statement before the vote, the representative of Belarus said his country had submitted draft resolution “L.7”, which introduced certain technical amendments. He said that “L.7” complemented Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) and confirmed that the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons was a threat to international peace and security. It was essential to maintain world focus on that issue and ensure that certain States and terrorists did not produce new forms of weapons of mass destruction. He called for the broadest support for the text.
Making a general statement, VLADIMIR YERMAKOV (Russian Federation) said his delegation had traditionally supported “L.7”. Now, it was one of the co-authors of the resolution and was convinced that the prohibition of the development of weapons of mass destruction needed to occupy a special place on the Committee’s agenda. The international community should be proactive and forward-looking. The level of technological development was increasingly advanced and being used to develop various types of weapons. The goal was to establish a coordinated international procedure to monitor those weapons. Already 33 States had signed up as co-authors of the resolution, and he called for more support.
Action on Texts
The Committee then approved without a vote the draft resolution, introduced by Hungary, on the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (document A/C.1/69/L.6).
That draft would have the Assembly encourage State parties to provide, at least biannually, appropriate information on their implementation of article X of the Convention and offer assistance or training in support of the measures of States parties needed to ensure their compliance with the Convention.
Next, by a recorded vote of 177 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 1 abstention (Ukraine), the Committee approved then approved the draft resolution on the Prohibition of the development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons: report of the Conference on Disarmament (document A/C.1/69/L.7).
By its terms, the Assembly would reaffirm that effective measures should be taken to prevent the emergence of new types of weapons of mass destruction and call upon all States, immediately following any recommendations of the Conference on Disarmament, to give favourable considerable to those recommendations.
Acting without a vote, the Committee approved a draft resolution on Measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction (document A/C.1/69/L.17). By its terms, the Assembly would urge all Member States to take and strengthen national measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.
Next, the Committee approved a draft resolution, introduced by Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, on Measures to uphold the authority of the 1925 Geneva Protocol (document A/C.1/69/L.38), by a vote of 178 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (Israel, United States).
That text would have the Assembly renew its previous call to all States to strictly observe the principles and objectives of the Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare.
Speaking in explanation of vote on “L.7”, the representative of the United States said his country believed that the international community should focus on actors with known weapons of mass destruction. The notion of new weapons of mass destruction remained entirely hypothetical. In that regard, the international community’s attention should not be diverted from existing threats.
Explaining his position on “L.17”, the representative of Pakistan said he shared the concern that terrorists and non-State actors could potentially acquire weapons and materials that could cause mass destruction. He continued to support the objectives of “L.17”, although there was room to improve it with a more objective view of reality. Terrorist organizations and non-State actors were more likely to acquire chemical and biological weapons, whereas the acquisition and use of nuclear weapons by terrorists and non-State actors was much less likely. The international community, however, must not lower its guard in the face of dirty bombs and should increase international cooperation including on a radiological weapons convention.
General Statements on Cluster 3: Disarmament Aspects of Outer Space
Ahmed Elshandawily (Egypt) invited all States to support “L.3/Rev.1” and reaffirmed the importance of preventing an arms race in outer space, with an appropriate and effective verification. It was important to enforce the legal regime, and he invited the Conference on Disarmament to establish a working group on that topic as early as possible in its 2015 session. The resolution contained only technical updates compared to that adopted by an overwhelming majority last year, and he was confident it would enjoy the same level of support again.
IVIAN DEL SOL (Cuba) said that her delegation had co-sponsored “L.3/Rev.1”, “L.14” and “L.15”. All States had the legitimate right to use outer space for the peaceful purposes of scientific and economic development. An arms race in outer space, however, entailed serious dangers for international peace and security. It was not only appropriate but necessary to work out and implement international measures that were transparent and promoted confidence. As part of that, last July, Cuba and the Russian Federation had agreed on a joint declaration whereby they committed themselves not to be the first to place any kind of weapon in outer space and would spare no effort to ensure space did not become a scene of military confrontation.
VLADIMIR YERMAKOV (Russian Federation) said it was the common endeavour of many to ensure that space remained free of armament and that it be used only for peaceful purposes. The Russian Federation had, with a solid group of co-sponsors, submitted two draft resolutions, one of which was a new resolution, “L.14”, on the non-initiative placement of weapons in outer space. The other draft, “L.15”, was on transparency and confidence-building measures. His delegation was convinced that most States would support the resolutions, but for those States that had already decided to abstain, the Russian Federation respected their sovereign position. Those States should take into account that “L.14” was a resolution that encouraged dialogue, which was among the most important topics on the First Committee’s agenda. The international community had not prevented a general arms race in the past, but now could act to prevent an arms race from taking place in outer space. He called on all States to support the resolution, and thereby express their position of principled support for honest and responsible dialogue.
ISRAIL TILEGEN (Kazakhstan) said his country was sponsoring “L.14” because the robust use of outer space had compelled the international community to review its position on the issue. Kazakhstan would like to develop its space programmes with assurances that no weapons would be placed in outer space. His country believed in the peaceful use of outer space, unfettered by threats of global insecurity. He called for universal support of “L.14” to prevent the weaponization of outer space.
EVGENY LAZAREV (Belarus) said it had been in favour of resolutions preventing an arms race in outer space. Those were important contributions to ensure the use of outer space for peaceful purposes. Belarus supported the introduction of resolution “L.14” and was one of its co-sponsors. He believed it would trigger negotiations on preventing the deployment of weapons in outer space, which the majority of States favoured.
Also on “L.14”, Mr. ISMONO (Indonesia) said his delegation subscribed to the use of outer space for peaceful purposes and remained concerned about the threat of its weaponization and militarization. He underscored that space technology provided indispensable tools for sustainable development and could contribute to a country’s effort in conserving resources and mitigating natural disasters. He reiterated the central role of the Conference of Disarmament as the single, multilateral forum to negotiate those matters.
YASAR AMMAR (Pakistan) stressed the need to prevent an outer space arms race, saying he had co-sponsored the Russian resolution, which was a clear signal of the importance his country ascribed to that issue. Political commitments would be positive contributions to ensuring international peace and security. Pakistan joined other co-sponsors in extending its support to the draft.
BO SHEN (China) said that it had co-sponsored “L.14” and that outer space was the “common heritage of all mankind”. His country was against its weaponization and supported all related General Assembly resolutions. The Conference on Disarmament should be the forum for negotiating the issue. China and the Russian Federation submitted an updated draft treaty, and welcomed comments from all States on how it could be further improved. China looked forward to its full support.
JASSER JIMENEZ (Nicaragua), making a general statement as a co-sponsor of “L.14”, said he wished to speak in favour of preventing the deployment of weapons in outer space, and hoped that realm would always be used by mankind to promote peace. He supported the final purpose of that text to negotiate a multilateral agreement that would prevent the dangerous weaponization of outer space. He, therefore, called upon all States to support that draft.
Explanations of Vote on Cluster 3
Speaking in explanation of vote, the representative of the United States said his delegation would vote no on “L.14”. In considering the “NFP (No First Placement) pledge”, the United States took seriously into account the criteria for evaluating the confidence-building measures. The July 2013 Group of Governmental Experts consensus study was later endorsed by the full General Assembly in resolution 68/50. Per the Group’s consensus, non-legally-binding transparency and confidence-building measures should be clear, practical and proven in meaning, and their efficacy should be demonstrated. In applying the Group’s consensus criteria, the Russian Federation “NFP pledge” contained a number of significant problems. The United States would vote “no”, in both the First Committee and at the General Assembly. If the international community was serious about maintaining outer space for peace, it should reject flawed initiatives such as the “NFP pledge”.
The representative of Mexico, also speaking in explanation of vote before the vote on “L.14”, said her delegation would support the draft, since it agreed with the importance and urgency of preventing an arms race in outer space.
The representative of Italy, speaking about “L.14” on behalf of the European Union, Australia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Canada, Iceland and Norway, said those countries would abstain. They had a longstanding position in favor of a secure space environment. Strengthening the stability of outer space was of common interest and a key priority for them. However, the resolution might imply that States could develop weapons in preparation for the first placement of a weapon in outer space by another State. It was not clear what constituted a “weapon”; existing satellites could be construed as space weapons if they were to run into other satellites, and that could cause another State to respond by placing a weapon in space. The resolution could lead to misperception and misunderstanding, and could have the opposite effect of what was intended, namely, contributing to international peace and security and preventing an arms race in outer space.
Also speaking in explanation of vote, the representative of Costa Rica said it was in favour of “L.14”, as it reflected the need to prevent an arms space in outer space, as well as the country’s commitment to maintain outer space for peaceful purposes. For Costa Rica, the goal should be the full and complete elimination of nuclear weapons and those weapons should never reach outer space.
The representative of Ukraine, also explaining her position, said her country opposed the resolution submitted by “the aggressor”. It was cynical for the Russian Federation to propose that resolution, as it had annexed Crimea and violated the United Nations Charter. The Ukraine did not believe in the resolution submitted by a country that had violated NPT and key bilateral agreements with its country. This was a weak attempt to deflect the international community’s attention away from the crimes of that State.
On a point of order, the representative of the Russian Federation said the Committee was discussing a draft resolution and not an anti-constitutional coup d’état in Ukraine. He called on his colleagues to stick to the topic of today’s meeting.
Next, the Committee approved the draft resolution on the Prevention of an arms race in outer space (document A/C.1/69/L.3/Rev.1) by a recorded vote of 180 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (United States, Israel).
That draft would have the Assembly call upon all States, in particular those with major space capabilities, to contribute actively to the peaceful use of outer space, prevent an arms race there and refrain from actions contrary to that objective. That text would also urge States conducting activities in outer space to keep the Conference on Disarmament informed of any progress on bilateral and multilateral negotiations.
By a recorded vote of 126 in favour to 4 against (Israel, Ukraine, United States, Georgia), with 46 abstentions, the Committee approved the draft resolution No first placement of weapons in outer space (document A/C.1/69/L.14).
By its terms, the Assembly would reaffirm the importance of preventing an arms race in outer space and urge an early start of substantive work based on the updated draft treaty submitted by China and the Russian Federation. The text would also stress that, while such an agreement had not yet concluded, other measures could contribute to ensuring that weapons were not placed in outer space.
Acting without a vote, it approved the draft resolution, introduced by China, the Russian Federation and the United States, on Transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities (document A/C.1/69/L.15).
By its terms, the Assembly would encourage Member States to continue to review and implement the proposed transparency and confidence-building measures contained in the report in a manner consistent with the national interests of Member States.
Speaking in explanation of vote on draft resolutions “L.14” and “L.15”, the representative of India said that as a nation with developmental interests in space, it was in favour of “L.14”. India supported strengthening the regime to protect space and prevent its weaponization. In that regard, India supported the draft treaty on preventing an outer space arms race and believed that transparency and confidence-building measures could play a useful role. Those measures, however, were an interim step and not a replacement for substantial legal measures, whose elaboration should remain a priority for the international community. On “L.15”, India had joined consensus. While not a substitute for legal instruments, transparency and confidence-building measures could play an important interim role. A Group of Governmental Experts with more inclusive participation would have ensured a more coherent report.
Speaking in explanation of vote, the representative of Switzerland said it had abstained on “L.14” as space systems had become critical infrastructure for most Member States. His country supported the development of legally-binding instruments that would help prevent a nuclear arms race in outer space, and it believed that confidence-building measures were important. The preservation of outer space in the long-term required the international community to ensure that no weapons were placed there and that that the domain did not become a stage for conflict. The draft resolution only represented one element of a broad set of measures needed to preserve outer space and did not address more immediate concerns. Switzerland would follow the evolution of the draft with interest.
Explanations of Vote on Cluster 4
When the Committee turned its attention to the drafts in its cluster 4 on conventional weapons, the representative of the United States welcomed the international community’s focus on small arms and light weapons, all efforts to curb the illicit transfer of those weapons, and the international tracing instrument.
The representative of Morocco said that the illicit traffic of light weapons, quite apart from human suffering, were a real danger to the development of States’ security. Regional and superregional cooperation were key factors in fighting that traffic. The situation in the Sahel due to the use and illicit traffic of all kinds of weapons, including light weapons, and the related connection between various terrorist networks, meant that efforts needed to be intensified. He supported the Programme of Action to prevent, combat and eliminate the trafficking of illicit small arms and light weapons, and welcomed the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty.
Also explaining her position on the cluster, Canada’s representative said her delegation would vote “yes” on the Arms Trade Treaty draft because curbing the illicit trade was important. Canada had very high standards for export controls and would always work to keep arms out of the hands of criminals, terrorists and those violating fundamental human rights. When it came to international arms transfers, it was important not to discourage exports and imports of firearms for legitimate uses, such as sport shooting and hunting. Canada was taking a thorough review of the Treaty text and consulting parties to seek their views on it.
The Committee then approved by consensus a draft resolution, introduced by Mali on behalf of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), on Assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them (document A/C.1/69/L.4).
That draft would have the Assembly encourage countries of the Sahelo-Sahara subregion to facilitate the effective functioning of national commissions to combat the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons. That text would also call upon the international community to provide technical and financial support to help combat the illicit trade of those weapons.
It next turned to a draft resolution on The Arms Trade Treaty (document A/C.1/69/L.32/Rev.1), by which the Assembly would welcome the ratifications of the Treaty.
Prior to action on that text as a whole, the Committee retained operative paragraph 3, which would have the Assembly call upon States that had not yet done so to join in sign and ratify the Treaty, by a recorded vote of 145 in favour to 2 against (Iran, Lao People’s Democratic Republic), with 23 abstentions.
The text was then approved as a whole by a recorded vote of 149 in favour to 1 against (Somalia), with 26 abstentions.
The Committee next proceeded to take action on a draft resolution sponsored by France on Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed To Be Excessively Injurious or To Have Indiscriminate Effects (document A/C.1/69/L.33), approving it without a vote.
By that text, the Assembly would call upon all States to become parties to the Convention and emphasize the importance of the universalization of the Protocol on Explosive Remnants of War. It would also welcome the commitment by State parties to continue contributing to the further development of international humanitarian law, regarding the development and use of new weapons.
Also acting without a vote, the Committee approved a draft resolution entitled, The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects (document A/C.1/69/L.35). It would have the Assembly encourage States to build national capacity for effective implementation of the Programme of Action, to make increasing use of their national reports for communicating assistance needs, and implement the International Tracing Instrument.
Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of India said it had abstained in the vote on “L.32/Rev.1”. While it had participated actively in negotiations on the Arms Trade Treaty, various events had sharpened focus on the Treaty’s deficiencies, including the imbalance between importing and exporting States and whether the Treaty could make an impact on the illicit use of arms from non-State actors, which was a major source of instability. India was not in a position to make a final decision on the Treaty, and as such, had abstained.
Also explaining his vote, the representative of Ecuador said that in previous years it had supported “L.32/Rev.1”. Regrettably, the text that was adopted by a vote in the General Assembly in April contained a number of flaws. There was an imbalance between the rights between States importers and exporters. Ecuador also regretted the last-minute attempt made in March, 2013, to redefine the practice and very definition of consensus. For those reasons, it had abstained from the vote in the General Assembly in April as well as from “L.32” today.
The representative of Egypt, also explaining his position on “L.32/Rev.1”, said that the Arms Trade Treaty lacked definitions of terms important for its implementation. The Treaty also lacked references to crimes of aggression as part of the implementation process. Egypt would closely follow developments in the Treaty to determine its position.
The representative of Cuba said it had abstained on “L.32/Rev.1” both as a whole and on operative paragraph 3. While the negotiation on the Arms Trade Treaty provided an historic opportunity, that opportunity was not duly taken advantage of. A premature vote was forced on a text that was not in line with the demands of the international community. Ambiguities, inconsistencies, lack of definitions and legal gaps had all paralyzed the Arms Trade Treaty. The draft was an unbalanced document that favoured exporting States over the legitimate interests of others.
The representative of Libya said it supported “L.32/Rev.1”, but noted that the Treaty and its protocols did not take into account the use of arms for defensive purposes in a way that could be controlled. It also did not take into account States that suffered from landmines or the possibility of the victims’ compensation. Libya had taken into account both its defensive needs and the humanitarian consequences of such weapons.
The representative of China, also speaking in explanation of vote on “L.32/Rev.1”, supported the purposes and objectives of the Arms Trade Treaty and had voted in favour of the resolution. China attached great importance to the issue of illicit trafficking and misuse of conventional arms, and had participated in negotiations on the Arms Trade Treaty and made its own contribution; China was now seriously considering signing it. The resolution should be approved without a vote, and China was committed to cooperating with all parties.
The representative of Armenia said his delegation had joined consensus on “L.4” and “L.35”, and was in full support of their purposes and principles. However, regarding the Arms Trade Treaty resolution, he said that, although he supported that draft, that support did not in any way contradict Armenia’s previously stated national position, particularly with regard to certain preambular statements.
The representative of Iran said his delegation had extensively explained its position regarding the Arms Trade Treaty throughout the course of the thematic discussion under the conventional weapons cluster. Due to reasons previously elaborated on 23 October, his delegation voted “no” on operative paragraph 3 of “L.32/Rev.1” and had abstained in voting on the resolution as a whole.
The representative of Canada again explained her position on “L.35”, noting that her delegation was convinced of the importance of preventing an irresponsible trade of those weapons which fuelled armed conflicts and terrorist activity. Canada had adopted very strict norms for their export and would always ensure that they did not fall into the hands of criminals, terrorists, or those undermining fundamental human rights. Regarding the Arms Trade treaty, she noted that the text reaffirmed the sovereign right of every State to regulate and control conventional weapons exclusively within its own territory. Canada wanted more time to study it.