Anxiety over Nuclear Weapons ‘Deep and Genuine’, Disarmament High Representative Tells First Committee as Session Opens, Urging It to ‘Roll Up Its Sleeves’

GA/DIS/3520
8 October 2015
Seventieth Session, 2nd Meeting (AM)

Anxiety over Nuclear Weapons ‘Deep and Genuine’, Disarmament High Representative Tells First Committee as Session Opens, Urging It to ‘Roll Up Its Sleeves’

Amid concerns that the progress made since the cold war had stalled, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) was warned today that there was “no time to lose”, and the international community was urged to “roll up its sleeves” and tackle the world’s disarmament issues.

Opening the Committee’s annual debate was Acting High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Kim Won-Soo, who said that anxiety about the dangers posed by nuclear weapons was deeply and genuinely felt.  A testament to that was the large number of States that supported the humanitarian consequences movement.

Continued bilateral and plurilateral efforts by nuclear-weapon States were vital, he said, but if the international community was to take the necessary collective measures to rid the world of nuclear weapons, it would have to develop an inclusive process, where disparate views could be expressed.

The agreement reached between the E3+3 (France, Germany, United Kingdom, China, Russian Federation, United States) and Iran was truly historic and showed that diplomacy could work, Mr. Kim said.  It also demonstrated that the nuclear-weapon States could be united on matters of international security, and he hoped that same leadership could be shown on nuclear disarmament.

In today’s rapidly evolving world, people were becoming ever more dependent on technology, which brought many benefits but could also challenge peace and security if the world was not prepared to mitigate the risks, he said.  Emerging technologies were “more nimble than we are”, and the gap was growing between those realities and the world’s ability to govern them.  Finding a way to narrow that gap was “a battle we cannot lose”.

“There can never be the right hands for the wrong weapons,” said the representative South Africa on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition — Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, and South Africa.  Echoing concerns heard throughout the morning, he said that in a world where the basic needs of billions were not being met, increased spending on nuclear weapons was unacceptable and unsustainable, and at odds with the aspirations embodied in the new sustainable development agenda.

The existing step-by-step approach adopted by the nuclear-weapon States had failed to make concrete systematic progress towards total elimination of those weapons, said Indonesia’s representative on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.  Forward movement must not be held hostage to progress on non-proliferation or the perceived notions of strategic stability.  He reaffirmed the urgent need to conclude a legally binding instrument to assure non-nuclear-armed States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances.

Speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the representative of Myanmar said that increasing regional conflicts and extremist violence threatened peace, making it even more crucial to prevent access to nuclear weapons, their means of delivery and manufacture, and their technologies.  However, the prospect of eliminating those weapons remained bleak, given the years-long stalemate in the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament.

Given the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, Nigeria’s representative called on all States to dismantle and renounce them.  Speaking on behalf of the African Group, she strongly supported the call for banning nuclear weapons, which were the only weapons of mass destruction not prohibited by an international legal instrument.  The Group urged the Conference on Disarmament to commence nuclear disarmament negotiations without delay.

Oman’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said that consolidating world peace could not be achieved in the presence of nuclear and other mass-destruction weapons.  However, nuclear-weapon States had generally avoided elaborating on any specific time frame to implement their international obligations in that regard.  He rejected the doctrines of those States that permitted the use of nuclear weapons, even against non-nuclear-weapon States.

Concerning chemical weapons, the representative of the European Union commended the effective and prompt action by the international community in carrying out the destruction of Syria’s declared stockpiles.  The removal and ongoing destruction of those weapons and of remaining production facilities was a significant step towards the necessary complete and irreversible dismantling of the Syrian chemical weapons programme.  The risk that non-State actors could acquire weapons of mass destruction added a further critical dimension.

On conventional weapons, Trinidad and Tobago’s representative said, on behalf of the Caribbean Community, that the illicit arms trade had increased homicide rates and gang violence in that region.  The Arms Trade Treaty could contribute significantly to reducing the suffering of countless people around the world, especially women and children.  However, that Treaty must be universal and implemented in full and in good faith by all States parties, including the major manufacturers, exporters and importers of conventional weapons.

Also participating in the day’s debate were representatives of Finland (on behalf of the Nordic States), Mexico and Switzerland.

The First Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 9 October, to continue its general debate.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to begin its annual general debate, scheduled to run through 15 October, on all disarmament and international security agenda items entrusted to it.  The Committee had before it the following reports:  A/70/139, A/70/139/Add.1, A/70/29, A/70/174, A/70/172, A/70/172/Add.1, A/70/153, A/70/153/Add.1, A/70/168, A/70/168/Add.1, A/70/81, A/70/181, A/70/163, A/70/163/Add.1, A/70/164, A/70/164/Add.1, A/70/155, A/70/117, A/70/183, A/70/157, A/70/169, A/70/169/Add.1, A/70/170, A/70/170/Add.1, A/70/182, A/70/182/Add.1, A/70/116, A/70/138, A/70/114, A/70/165, A/70/177, A/70/186, A/70/27, A/70/42, A/70/153, A/70/160, A/70/160/Add.1, A/70/171 and A/70/159.

Opening Remarks

KIM WON-SOO, Acting High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said the international community shared the noble goal of a world free of nuclear weapons, but the divisions in how to achieve that goal were still deep.  That had been evident in the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty this year and had been on display at the Conference on Disarmament.  It would also likely be echoed in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security).  He was concerned that the considerable progress made since the cold war had stalled.

The agreement reached between the E3+3 (France, Germany, United Kingdom, China, Russian Federation, United States) and Iran, he said, was truly historic, and showed that diplomacy could work.  It also demonstrated that the nuclear-weapon States could be united on matters of international security, and he hoped that same leadership could be shown on nuclear disarmament.  However, there was a palpable frustration over the pace and scale of disarmament.  Anxiety about the dangers posed by nuclear weapons was deeply and genuinely felt.  The large number of States that supported the humanitarian consequences movement was a testament to that.  Continued bilateral and plurilateral efforts by nuclear-weapon States were vital, but if the international community was to take the necessary collective measures to rid the world of nuclear weapons, it would have to develop an inclusive process, where disparate views could be expressed.  The United Nations was the only truly global multilateral body.

There was no time to lose, he said.  Problems became much harder to manage without a process, and it was time for the international community to “roll up its sleeves”.  The eight States whose ratification was required to bring the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) into force had a special responsibility to do so; they should not wait for others to act.  However, there were 25 other States that had not yet ratified the Treaty, and he called on them to do so, and expeditiously.  Negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty were long overdue, even though there was broad support for an irreversible, verifiable, non-discriminatory and multilateral treaty of that kind.

In today’s rapidly evolving world, people were becoming ever more dependent on technology, he said, adding that emerging technologies brought many benefits but could also challenge peace and security if the world was not prepared to mitigate the risks.  He was concerned that there was an institutional and normative vacuum — that the technology was “more nimble than we are”.  Indeed, the gap was growing between the technological reality and the world’s ability to govern such technologies, and finding a way to narrow that gap was “a battle we cannot lose”.  The Internet was “hardwired into our daily lives”.  As Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had said, “a future catastrophe involving the financial or health systems, key urban infrastructure or deadly weaponry was not hard to imagine.”  The High Representative urged the First Committee to strengthen its efforts to create “rules of the road” for global cybernorms.

Regarding chemical weapons in Syria, he said that the adoption of Security Council resolution 2235 (2015) had been a positive development in the midst of a dark conflict.  But as horrific as chemical weapons were, the world could not forget that more than 200,000 Syrians had also been killed by conventional weapons.  One of the clear highlights of the past year was the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty, which was a major check against the illicit arms trade.  The Committee had a lot of work ahead, and he encouraged Member States to exercise maximum flexibility to achieve consensus on the crucial issues before it.

Statements

ABDURRAHMAN MOHAMMAD FACHIR, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the existing step-by-step approach adopted by the nuclear-weapon States had failed to make concrete systematic progress towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  Forward movement must not be held hostage to progress on non-proliferation or the perceived notions of strategic stability.  The Movement remained deeply concerned over the greatest threat to peace posed by the continued existence of nuclear weapons and the military doctrines of the nuclear weapon-States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), all of which set out rationales for the use or threat of use of those weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States.  That could not be justified on any grounds.  He called on the nuclear-weapon States to immediately cease their plans to further modernize, upgrade, refurbish or extend the lives of their nuclear weapons and facilities. 

He reaffirmed the urgent need for the conclusion of a universal, unconditional, non-discriminatory and legally binding instrument to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances.  He also affirmed the importance of humanitarian considerations in the discourse.  He called on the nuclear-armed States to immediately reduce the operational status of nuclear weapons, including through complete de-targeting and de-alerting in order to avoid the risks of their unintentional or accidental use.  He welcomed the accession of the State of Palestine to the NPT, but regretted the failure of the ninth Review Conference to have concluded a final outcome document, despite the efforts of the Non-Aligned Movement.  The opposition expressed by the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada at the concluding session was disappointing and could undermine efforts to strengthen the NPT.

The Movement, he went on, strongly rejected any export restrictions to developing countries of nuclear material, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes.  The primary responsibility for nuclear safety rested with individual States, and strengthening nuclear security must not be used as a pretext or leverage to violate, deny or restrict the inalienable rights of developing States to research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  He was profoundly disappointed at the continued lack of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, and strongly rejected the alleged impediments.  The Movement remained concerned at the continuous erosion of multilateralism in the field of disarmament, non-proliferation, and arms control, and was determined to continue promoting multilateralism as the core principle of negotiations in those areas.

KYAW TIN (Myanmar), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, noted that the 10 ASEAN member States would establish a “community” by the end of 2015, aimed at improving regional security.  However, increasing regional conflicts and extremist violence threatened peace, making it even more crucial to prevent extremists from accessing nuclear weapons, their means of delivery and manufacture, and their technologies.  Nuclear disarmament remained a priority for ASEAN; however, the prospect of eliminating those weapons remained “bleak”, with almost two decades of stalemate in the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament.  He reaffirmed the group’s commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), as it remained relevant despite the inability of its 2015 Review Conference to adopt an outcome document.  He welcomed the recent convening of the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, as well as the endorsement of the humanitarian pledge by 119 States.

He added that nuclear-weapon-free zones created by the Treaties of Tlatelolco, Rarotonga, Bangkok and Pelindaba, as well as the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty and Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status, strengthened global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regimes.  While welcoming the convening of the Third Conference of States Parties and Signatories to Treaties that Establish Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones and Mongolia on 24 April, he emphasized that they were no substitute for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.  He reaffirmed ASEAN’s commitment to its Treaty, as evidenced by its Plan of Action to strengthen its implementation, adopted by its Foreign Ministers on 30 June.  He hoped to resolve outstanding issues pertaining to signing and ratifying the Treaty’s protocol.

On the peaceful use of nuclear technology, he noted the establishment of the ASEAN Network of Regulatory Bodies on Atomic Energy, a platform for exchanging views on safety, security and safeguards among the nuclear regulatory bodies.  He welcomed the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and Security Council resolution 2231 (2015) as a contribution to a peaceful solution to Iran’s nuclear issue.  Concerning the Korean peninsula, he expressed support for an early resumption of the Six-Party Talks and inter-Korean dialogue towards denuclearization and reunification.  On outer space, the convening of the ASEAN Regional Forum Space Security Workshops in 2012 and 2014 had contributed to an understanding of the issues.  Turning to conventional weapons, he noted the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty on 24 December 2014 and the first Conference of States Parties.  He commended the ASEAN Regional Mine Action Centre as a regional body of excellence and noted the convening of its second seminar in August.  In closing, he called on Member States to continue supporting the annual resolutions on the legality of the threat of nuclear weapons and their disarmament, submitted by Malaysia and Myanmar respectively.

KAI SAUER (Finland), speaking on behalf of the Nordic States, said that the group subscribed to the humanitarian perspective in the debate on nuclear weapons.  He urged the nuclear-weapon States to deepen the cuts in their nuclear arsenals and consider the disarmament of non-strategic nuclear weapons.  He regretted that the NPT Review Conference could not agree on an outcome document, and urged all countries to sign and ratify that Treaty.  He also regretted that the conference on establishing a zone in the Middle East free from weapons of mass destruction had not been convened.  He noted the efforts of Jaakko Laajava in opening a channel for regional dialogue.  The open-ended working group, established by the General Assembly, was another option towards nuclear disarmament, and he urged engagement by all nuclear-weapon States.  The International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification could also contribute to progress, and the Nuclear Security Summit was important in securing, reducing and eliminating nuclear and radioactive materials; its efforts should be carried beyond 2016.

He welcomed the joint comprehensive plan of action on the Iranian nuclear programme, and looked forward to its swift implementation.  The group expected Iran to comply with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and build international confidence in the peaceful nature of its programme.  He expressed pride in the Nordic countries’ contribution to the “unprecedented” international mission to remove and destruct Syria’s chemical weapons programme.  Any use of chemical-warfare agents was a breach of the Chemical Weapons Convention and humanitarian law.  He looked forward to strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention and deepening collaboration among the scientific and disarmament communities.  Regarding conventional weapons, he noted the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty, calling it a new tool to address the unregulated illicit trade.  He commended the Convention on Cluster Munitions in setting a strong norm.

He drew attention to the Nordic States’ belief in improving the gender balance in disarmament and non-proliferation through the equal participation of men and women in disarmament analyses, delegations and decisions.  That was one of the few “low-hanging fruits” in that process.  Finally, he expressed support for a durable funding structure for the United Nations Disarmament Research Institute.

MOHAMED AHMED AL-SHANFARI (Oman), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group and supporting the statement of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that consolidating world peace could not be achieved in the presence of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.  He welcomed the commemoration of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on 26 September as a tangible step towards the complete elimination of those weapons.  He called on the international community to launch negotiations on a comprehensive and non-discriminatory treaty to prohibit their use, acquisition, production and stockpiling, as well as to hold a conference on that matter before 2018.

All Arab States within the United Nations had acceded to the NPT, he said, adding that Israel had not done so despite the international resolutions on that score.  The Group was concerned about the lack of tangible progress and the recurrent failure to implement either the Resolution on the Middle East adopted by the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference or the 13 steps adopted at the 2000 Review Conference.  Nuclear-weapon States had generally avoided elaborating on any specific time frame to implement their international obligations in that regard.  He rejected the doctrines of nuclear-armed States that permitted the use of nuclear weapons, even against non-nuclear-weapon States.  In that regard, the total elimination of nuclear weapons was the sole guarantee against their use.

He urged respect for the balance between the pillars of the NPT, of the view that the failure of the 2015 NPT Review Conference and the delay by some nuclear Powers to fulfil their obligations made it necessary to redouble those efforts.  The Arab Group firmly believed that outer space must be used solely for peaceful purposes, as set out in relevant international legal instruments.  On conventional weapons, he stressed the need to activate the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons to combat the dangerous threats posed by those weapons, including their possible acquisition by non-State entities.  In the field of electronic and information security, he called for greater cooperation in order to protect States’ interests and prevent subversive web-based elements.

MICHIEL COMBRINK (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition (Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand and South Africa), stated that their founding countries were motivated by the continued threat of nuclear weapons.  While noting the progress of limiting horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons, the Coalition remained concerned about the limited progress of nuclear disarmament.  Continued reliance on nuclear weapons in security doctrines and concepts was immoral and unethical and motivated proliferation.  Indeed, for the Coalition, “there can never be the right hands for the wrong weapons”.

He regretted the lack of a substantive outcome at the 2015 NPT Review Conference, calling it a missed opportunity towards implementing the commitments agreed on at the 1995, 2000 and 2010 reviews.  Despite challenges, the New Agenda Coalition welcomed the renewed attention to the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and the evidence presented on that at the conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, which had created an awareness of the threat of the estimated 16,400 such weapons still in existence.

He expressed disappointment at the slow pace of disarmament at regional and global levels, despite the significant reductions by nuclear-weapon States since the cold war.  Nevertheless, bilateral reductions were no substitute for multilateral disarmament.  It was time for concrete action on the NPT, backed by clear benchmarks and timelines, that built on agreements made in 1995, 2000 and 2010.  In a world where the basic needs of billions were not being met, increased spending on nuclear weapons was unacceptable and unsustainable.  That allocation of resources was at odds with the aspirations embodied in the new sustainable development agenda.  It was now time for States to deliver on their commitments in line with the NPT’s article VI, including the elimination by nuclear-weapon States of their nuclear arsenals.  He urged all States to explore options to identify and negotiate legally binding measures in keeping with binding commitments.

EDEN CHARLES (Trinidad and Tobago), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the international community had been forced to recognize that the constantly changing global security architecture had rendered no State or group of States, big or small, immune to the effects of terrorism, the increasing influence of non-State actors, new proliferation threats, and the escalation of strife and conflict between States.  Working consistently within the framework of the Charter, therefore, was essential to an effective global response.

The illicit arms trade had increased homicide rates and gang violence in his region, he said, adding that the Arms Trade Treaty could contribute significantly to reducing the suffering of countless people around the world, especially women and children.  At the same time, however, he acknowledged that the Treaty must be universal and implemented in full and in good faith by all States parties, including the major manufacturers, exporters and importers of conventional weapons.  Non-binding legal agreements had been of tremendous assistance in attempts to address that illicit trade in his region.  He reiterated the importance of the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons in mobilizing international cooperation to curb that illicit trade.

Regrettably, he said, 45 years since the NPT entered into force, the international community was still unable to undertake good-faith negotiations on nuclear disarmament.  Discord continued to haunt the process, as evidenced by the inability of the most recent Review Conference to reach agreement.  He considered the outcome of the 2015 NPT review to be the “Humanitarian Pledge”, which represented a commitment of more than 100 States to work for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons from a humanitarian angle.  The Caribbean Community was proud to be among those States.  He reiterated strong opposition to the shipment of nuclear waste through the Caribbean Sea, which threatened security and sustainable development in the region and ran contrary to the region’s aspiration to be a peaceful zone.  In closing, he urged all Member States to renew their pledge to work with the United Nations in realizing the fullest extent of its founding principles to maintain international peace and security.

U. JOY OGWU, (Nigeria) speaking on behalf of the African Group and associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, regretted the inability of the ninth NPT Review Conference to achieve an outcome document despite the efforts of non-nuclear-weapon States, including those from Africa.  Reaffirming the usefulness of nuclear-weapon-free zones, she affirmed the Group’s commitment to the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, or Pelindaba Treaty, which shielded the continent from nuclear testing and the stationing on the territory of nuclear explosive devices.

The Group remained deeply concerned, she said, that the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East had not been implemented and that the conference on establishing a zone free of weapons of mass destruction, due to be held in 2012, had not yet been convened.  Given the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, she called on all States to dismantle and renounce them.  In particular, the Group strongly supported the call for banning nuclear weapons, the only weapon of mass destruction not prohibited by an international legal instrument.  She stressed the need for universal adherence to the CTBT, noting the responsibilities of nuclear-weapon States.  She commended the recent ratification by Angola and encouraged the remaining Annex 2 countries to sign and ratify the Treaty.  Concerned at the 19-year impasse in the Conference on Disarmament, the Group urged it to commence nuclear disarmament negotiations without delay.

Acknowledging entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty and the successful Conference of its States parties, the Group urged its implementation, as it was the only legally binding and balanced instrument on the international transfer of conventional arms.  All States had the sovereign right to acquire, manufacture, export, import and retain conventional weapons and their parts for their security, in accordance with the Charter, she added, urging all major arms suppliers to ratify the Treaty and promote its implementation.  She was concerned about the accumulation and spread of small arms and light weapons, especially across Africa, and reiterated the Group’s commitment to the United Nations Programme of Action.  In closing, she emphasized the importance of transparency in addressing international disarmament and security issues.

JOHN GATT-RUTTER (European Union) welcomed the historic agreement between Iran and the E3+3, and supported the IAEA’s long-term mission of verifying and monitoring Iran’s commitments.  The Union also looked forward to the full and timely implementation of the “Road-map for the clarification of past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear program”.  He warmly welcomed the successful outcome of the First Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty, in Cancun, which had made important substantive and operational decisions, including on rules of procedure, financing and management, the secretariat’s seat and the appointment of an interim Head.

He commended the effective and prompt action by the international community in carrying out the destruction of Syria’s declared chemical weapons.  The removal and ongoing destruction of those weapons and of remaining production facilities was a significant step towards the necessary complete and irreversible dismantling of the Syrian chemical weapons programme.  The European Union was gravely concerned about the systematic and repeated use of chlorine as a chemical weapon, as confirmed in the reports of the fact-finding mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).  The evidence was substantial and included reports of the use of helicopters, which only the Syrian regime possessed.  He welcomed the adoption of Security Council resolution 2235 (2015), which established a joint mechanism to identify the perpetrators of those attacks.

The risk that non-State actors could acquire weapons of mass destruction added a further critical dimension, he said.  The European Union was gravely concerned by the possibility that such actors would acquire radiological and nuclear materials for use in attacks, and he called on States to combat that threat effectively.  The CTBT was of crucial importance to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and its entry into force and universalization remained a top priority.  The Union had condemned the nuclear tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as well as its threat of another nuclear test in outright violation of its international obligations.  He attached the highest importance to the IAEA’s efforts to maintain preparedness to monitor that situation.  In closing, he stressed the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment, including through their active participation and leadership in peace and security.

JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico), associating with the New Agenda Coalition, reiterated his commitment to nuclear disarmament.  Adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was a demonstration that political will facilitated the achievement of common objectives for all individuals and not only for a few States.  That also demonstrated the possibility of quantifying any goals, including those of disarmament.  Those successes, however, contravened the scant results in the First Committee.  Despite Mexico’s efforts, the Conference on Disarmament had not made progress, nor had the ninth NPT Review Conference.  Additionally, it had not been possible to convene a conference for a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.  He reiterated the need to prohibit, under international law, the stockpiling, use and modernization of nuclear weapons.

Despite the lack of progress over the past year, he noted some recent encouraging milestones, such as the Dubrovnik plan of action on cluster munitions.  Adopted by consensus, the plan focused on the care of and assistance to victims of those weapons.  Turning to small arms and light weapons, he emphasized the need for effective implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action.  The Arms Trade Treaty was a historic event in strengthening the international legal structure, but that success should not be an isolated success; rather, it should be accompanied by other tools.  April 2015 marked a century since the first use of chemical weapons against civilians in Ypres, Belgium, in 1915.  Use of those weapons should not happen in modern times, yet the impact of their use was seen today in Syria.  International disarmament treaties must be implemented, and he called on all States to sign and ratify the CTBT without delay.

URS SCHMID (Switzerland) said that the historic Iran nuclear agreement, due to be formally adopted in a few days, was a significant and welcome development, and proof that diplomatic solutions were possible even when an issue was highly technical and politically complex.  The humanitarian dimension of nuclear weapons also required focus, and the work carried out in that field underlined the absolute necessity of taking immediate and specific action to mitigate the risk of nuclear detonation.  The establishment of a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East also remained a key objective.

Regarding information and communications technology, he said that strengthening the normative framework for disarmament was essential not only for guaranteeing security but also for ensuring that cyberspace remained open and free.  That effort required confidence-building measures and reaffirmation of existing international law, and clarification of the manner in which it was applied.  New norms of responsible State behaviour should also be developed.  He welcomed the fact that lethal autonomous weapons systems were being addressed within the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, adding that there was now a better grasp of the problem.

For information media. Not an official record.