Highlighting Ways to Stop Weapons Flowing into Vulnerable Regions, Delegates in First Committee Call for Stricter Export Controls

GA/DIS/3584
18 October 2017
Seventy-second Session, 17th Meeting (AM)

Highlighting Ways to Stop Weapons Flowing into Vulnerable Regions, Delegates in First Committee Call for Stricter Export Controls

Illegal Guns Threaten Stability, They Say, Asking Arms-Producing States to Guard against Illicit Diversion of Shipments

Stemming the steady flow of conventional arms into vulnerable regions required proper export controls and improvements in the implementation of existing instruments, delegates told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today during a debate on the issue.

Highlighting some of the detrimental effects of the spread of conventional weapons, Senegal’s representative said many threats were rooted in illicit arms and drug trafficking, including the flourishing of terrorist groups in West Africa and the Sahel.  To remedy that, major weapon‑producing States must safeguard against the illicit diversion of those arms, said Guyana’s delegate.

Speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), he said member countries did not manufacture, export or conduct large‑scale imports of small arms and light weapons, but those weapons continued to have a major negative impact on the region.  States that manufactured and exported conventional arms must work with other nations to ensure adequate control systems, he stressed.

Other regions threatened by the spread of illegal arms included Africa and the Middle East, said Egypt’s representative.  Emphasizing that a burgeoning illicit market was supplying terrorist and armed groups, he said the problems of those groups possessing such weaponry were not due to the lack of proper export controls or inadequate stockpiles, but that certain States continued to deliberately arm them.

Some delegates raised related concerns, highlighting an emerging imbalance between non‑weapon and weapon‑producing countries.  Measures imposed by the latter infringed upon the sovereign right of States to acquire, manufacture, export, import and retain conventional arms for self‑defence, said Indonesia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement.

Elaborating on that point, he expressed concern about unilateral coercive measures, saying no undue restriction should be placed on the transfer of such arms and relevant parts, components and ammunition.  He then called on major producing States to ensure that the supply of small arms and light weapons was limited only to Governments or entities duly authorized by them.

Underscoring the importance of a coherent and holistic approach by the international community to tackle the problem, Paraguay’s delegate highlighted the Arms Trade Treaty as a useful tool for preventing conflict, violence and violations of international law and human rights.  The representative of the United States — a major weapon‑producing State — said the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms was a tool that had pioneered international discussions of transfers and remained the cornerstone of global efforts to address the problem arising from the irresponsible shipping of small arms and light weapons.

Urging the international community to push for the implementation of all existing instruments and put the protection of civilians at the centre, Austria’s delegate called for “disarmament that actually saves lives”.  Underlining the importance of considering humanitarian concerns, he said scientific and technological advances should ensure that the application of new military technologies was consistent with legal, ethical and political imperatives.

Pointing to progress made on the destruction of anti‑personnel mines, Norway’s representative said 51 million landmines had been destroyed and countless civilian lives had been spared in the two decades since the adoption of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction.  He warned, however, that the last few years had seen an increase in the use of improvised landmines as a tool of war.

Several delegates, including Mexico’s representative, brought attention to scientific and technological related developments, including artificial intelligence, for military purposes and the new challenges they posed.  Similarly, Costa Rica’s delegate said the international community should tackle the ethical, legal and technical concerns regarding those and other emerging threats.

The Committee also heard a briefing from a representative of the fifth Review Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the 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.

Several draft resolutions were introduced, including on countering the threat posed by improvised explosive devices; Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons; countering the threat imposed by improvised explosive devices; and on preventing and combating illicit brokering activities.

Also speaking today were representatives of Finland (for the Nordic countries), Egypt (for the African Group), Switzerland, Italy, Australia, Japan, India, France, United Kingdom, Guatemala, Germany, Jamaica, Haiti, Bangladesh, Netherlands and the Republic of Korea, as well as the European Union.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of the Russian Federation, Argentina, Myanmar, United States, Poland and the United Kingdom.

The First Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 20 October, to continue its thematic debate on conventional weapons.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met to begin its thematic discussion on conventional weapons and hear a briefing by the President of the fifth Review Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the 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.  For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3571 of 2 October.

Briefing

FARUKH AMIL (Pakistan) delivered a statement on behalf of Tehmina Janjua, President of the fifth Review Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the 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.  Noting that Ms. Janjua, Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, had been the first woman and representative of the Non‑Aligned Movement to act as President of the Conference, he provided a summary of the latest gathering, held in December 2016.  The Review Conference had provided an opportunity to consider the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons’ operation and identified new areas that required attention.

However, issues with the instrument remained, he said.  With armed conflicts and rapid technological developments, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons needed to remain at the forefront of action.  Praising the work of the Review Conference, which had achieved a robust outcome document that would help the Convention keep pace with new developments, he noted the valuable participation and engagement of non‑governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society.

Overall, the Review Conference had set up building blocks for the consideration of key issues, including lethal autonomous weapons.  Stand‑alone items at the 2017 Meeting of the High Contracting Parties would include science and technology‑related developments, mines and Protocol III, which covered incendiary weapons.  Informal consultations would also be held to consider the use of conventional weapons in civilian areas.  The success of the Convention was a good sign; its strength lay in its ability to balance humanitarian concerns with the security imperatives of States.

Calling on all States to meet their financial obligations to the convening of further conferences, he drew attention to the issue of universalization of the Convention.  Since the fourth Review Conference, more States had joined, increasing to 123 at end of 2016, from 114 at end of 2011.  Calling on States that had not yet acceded to it to do so, he added that Pakistan would be tabling a draft resolution on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

Conventional Weapons

DANNY RAHDIANSYAH (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, affirmed the sovereign right of States to acquire, manufacture, export, import and retain conventional arms and relevant parts, components and ammunition for their self‑defence and security needs.  Concerned about unilateral coercive measures in that area, he emphasized that no undue restriction should be placed on the transfer of such arms and relevant parts, components and ammunition.  He also called on major producing States to ensure that the supply of small arms and light weapons was limited only to Governments or entities duly authorized by them.

Recognizing the adverse humanitarian impact caused by the use of cluster munitions, he called for financial, technical and humanitarian assistance toward unexploded ordnance clearing operations and the rehabilitation of victims.  He deplored the use of anti‑personnel mines in conflict situations aimed at maiming, killing and terrorizing innocent civilians.  In that regard, he reiterated the Movement’s commitment to the full implementation of the Cartagena Action Plan 2010‑2014, aimed at ending the suffering caused by anti‑personnel mines.  Meanwhile, explosive remnants of the Second World War continued to cause human and material damage and obstruct development plans in some Non‑Aligned Movement member States, he said, calling on nations responsible for laying those mines to cooperate with affected countries.

Turning to lethal autonomous weapons, he highlighted the ethical, legal, moral and technical questions that should be thoroughly examined in the context of their conformity to international humanitarian and human rights law.  Addressing the significant imbalance in the production, possession and trade in conventional weapons between the industrialized countries and Non‑Aligned Movement member States, he called for significant reductions to enhance global peace and security.

PETRA PAASILINNA (Finland), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, said armed violence killed half a million people every year.  A valid and effective strategy to cope with the illicit weapons flow could be found in the Arms Trade Treaty and the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.  Such disarmament efforts should be placed in the context of wider goals, such as conflict prevention and the Sustainable Development Goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  The linkages between disarmament, development and gender perspectives were clear, and the need for equal participation of men and women in disarmament analysis, negotiations and decision‑making processes would increase the legitimacy, quality and effectiveness of all disarmament initiatives.  Improving the gender aspect was not “soft” policy, but rather a smart one, she said.

RUDOLPH MICHAEL TEN-POW (Guyana), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), stated that while members of the bloc did not manufacture, export, re‑export or conduct large‑scale imports of small arms and light weapons, the impact of such weapons on the region remained a cause for concern.  Thus, CARICOM remained a strong advocate for the universalization of the Arms Trade Treaty, he said, expressing pleasure over progress made since its entry into force in 2014.  He noted with satisfaction that the third Conference of States Parties to that instrument had decided to establish the Working Group on Treaty Universalization as a standing body.

He continued to acknowledge the region’s ongoing partnership with the United Nations through the Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, which had resulted in many concrete achievements.  Measureable outcomes included improved security for more than 120 stockpile facilities across the region and the destruction of more than 54,000 weapons and 67 tons of ammunition.  He called on States that manufactured and exported conventional arms to work with other nations to ensure adequate control systems to safeguard against the diversion of those arms from legitimate uses to illicit markets.

Mr. HASSAN (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the African Group and associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the illicit movement of conventional weapons across national borders had major security implications for the continent.  The Group was committed to the full implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms as a vital element for long‑term security and sustainable development in Africa.

Turning to efforts aimed at concrete action on the ground, he called on developed countries to render assistance for realizing the Programme of Action on Small Arms and for eradicating the illicit trade.  Further, the Arms Trade Treaty should be fully implemented by all States, he said, underlining the importance of respecting the sovereign right of States to manufacture conventional weapons for self‑defence in accordance with the United Nations Charter.  Unregulated conventional arms transfers fuelled illegal weapons markets and undermined peace and security, he said, highlighting the importance of political will and transparency in addressing international disarmament and security issues.

JUDIT KÖRÖMI (European Union) reiterated full support for the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti‑Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction and the implementation of the Maputo Action Plan 2014‑2019 toward achieving a world without any new victims by 2025 that was free of anti‑personnel mines.  The humanitarian impact of the Mine Ban Convention had been remarkable:  more than 51 million had been destroyed, 87 of 90 States had declared they no longer held stockpiles and 30 of 61 States no longer held mined areas on territory under their control.  In addition, the situation for the majority of mine victims was significantly better today than two decades ago, she said, noting that the European Union, in 2016 alone, had committed more than €100 million towards mine action worldwide, providing victim assistance and education in the most heavily affected countries and regions of the world.

Meanwhile, the European Union supported the humanitarian goal of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, she said, expressing deep concerns about the reported indiscriminate use of those arms.  In that regard, she called upon all actors to refrain from using those weapons and fully observe the principles of humanitarian law.  She also expressed support for the universalization of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and supported the decision of the fifth Review Conference to establish a group of governmental experts on lethal autonomous weapons.  Concerned over the increasing global impact of terrorist groups using improvised explosive devices, she welcomed Security Council resolution 2370 (2017), which called for more stringent national measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring such weapons.

SABRINA DALLAFIOR MATTER (Switzerland) said the illicit trade and misuse of conventional weapons was a daily threat to peace, security and sustainable development.  Finding solutions to overcome those challenges would require measures for the transfer, management and use of conventional weapons.  The Arms Trade Treaty played a crucial role in establishing shared rules on the transfer of weapons and the fight against their illicit trade.  Implementing the instrument must be a priority, she said, emphasizing the need to treat the question of ammunition as an issue in its own right.  Inadequately managed ammunition stockpiles regularly fuelled conflicts and violence, and were the cause of accidental explosions.  Switzerland was pursuing an initiative on the safe and secure management of ammunition, while continuing to support the implementation of existing standards.

THOMAS HAJNOCZI (Austria), urging the international community to push for the implementation of all existing instruments and put the protection of civilians at the centre, called for a “disarmament that actually saves lives”.  In addition to reports of anti‑personnel mine use in Myanmar, the number of casualties stemming from the deployment of improvised explosive devices was growing.  Austria, together with Afghanistan and Chile, had tabled a draft resolution on countering the threat posed by improvised explosive devices.  Such devices had killed or injured more than 32,000 civilians.  He added that scientific and technological advances should ensure that the application of new military technologies was consistent with legal, ethical and political imperatives.

VINICIO MATI (Italy) expressed regret that due to financial issues, no formal meeting could be held on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.  Noting with concern the indiscriminate humanitarian and socioeconomic impacts of anti‑personnel mines, he added that Parliament had recently approved a new law prohibiting all Italian financial institutions from investing in and providing any form of support to Italian or foreign companies involved in the production, use, sale, import, export, stockpiling or transport of anti‑personnel mines as well as cluster munitions and explosive munitions.

HUGH WATSON (Australia) highlighted the detrimental effect of illicit arms trade in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  While States currently outside the Arms Trade Treaty may not realize the benefits of joining, Australia would launch a compendium to address awareness‑raising issues that would promote the instrument’s broader benefits.  Australia was committed to mine action, having donated A$5 million in 2017 for demining activities across the globe.  But, significant challenges remained in clearance, stockpile destruction and countering the effects of improvised explosive devices.  To that end, Australia hoped Member States would support the related draft resolution, also co‑sponsored by Afghanistan and France.  Underlining the importance of the Mine Ban Convention, Cluster Munitions Convention and the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, he urged all States parties to sustain the momentum of those treaties.

NOBUSHIGE TAKAMIZAWA (Japan) welcomed the successful outcome of the third Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty and the establishment of working groups on implementation.  Less than half of United Nations Member States had joined the Arms Trade Treaty, with the number of States parties in the Asia‑Pacific region remaining low.  Highlighting the importance of mine action programmes, he said Japan had donated $710 million for programmes in 51 countries and regions since 1998.  Turning to lethal autonomous weapons, he welcomed the Group of Governmental Experts on the issue and called on Member States to intensify discussions in order to achieve progress.  Turning to the Group of Governmental Experts to Review the Operation and Further Development of the United Nations Report on Military Expenditures, he said the reporting mechanism was conducive to building trust and confidence and called on Member States that had not yet done so to utilize the tool.  He then expressed regret that Geneva‑based disarmament instruments had faced a troublesome financial situation, which put at risk the functioning and future implementation of the conventions.  In that vein, he called upon all States that had not yet paid their contributions to do so in a timely manner.

SANDEEP KUMAR BAYYAPU (India), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said his country had ratified all five protocols annexed to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.  He welcomed the outcome of its fifth Review Conference, which had included a decision to establish the Group of Governmental Experts on lethal autonomous weapons systems.  Supporting the approach on anti‑personnel mines enshrined in the instrument, which addressed the legitimate defence requirements of States with long borders, India had stopped producing non‑detectable mines, observed a moratorium on their transfer and had contributed to international demining and rehabilitation efforts.  On the Arms Trade Treaty, India continued to review the instrument from defence, security and foreign policy perspectives.  While India had raised concerns — including shortcomings in terms of stemming the flow of arms to terrorists and non‑State armed groups — during negotiations, he said his country subscribed fully to the instrument’s objectives.

ALICE GUITTON (France) said conventional weapons were a major threat to security worldwide, creating more victims than any other weapon.  The proliferation of small arms and light weapons fuelled conflicts, terrorism and organized crime.  To address those and other concerns, she called for an inclusive, transparent and robust process to achieve results in the combat of their illicit spread.  The international community must also mobilize to cope with the devastating threat of the improvised explosive devices.  The Arms Trade Treaty should prevent the illicit weapons trade and efforts should be made towards its universalization.

ENRIQUE JOSÉ MARÍA CARRILLO GÓMEZ (Paraguay) said combating the illicit trade in conventional weapons required a coherent and holistic approach by the international community.  He called for the production of a common regulatory framework on conventional weapons which should be universal.  Implementing the Arms Trade Treaty was a useful tool for preventing conflict, violence and violations of international law and human rights.  Likewise, the implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms should also include explosive munitions.  In addition, women must be included in disarmament tracking and tracing initiatives.  For its part, Paraguay had destroyed stockpiles and enforced arms control policies that, along with similar legislation in neighbouring countries, had contributed to reducing the illicit flows.

ELEONORA SAGGESE (United Kingdom) said her country was a strong supporter of the Arms Trade Treaty as the primary way to achieve a well‑regulated, legal weapons trade and reduce their diversion to the illicit market.  Universalization, particularly getting the right States around the table, must remain a priority.  Greater participation would increase its influence, strength and reputation, allowing it to achieve its principal aims.  The Arms Trade Treaty could not make an impact unless and until it was effectively and widely implemented.  The United Kingdom would continue to offer technical expertise and financial assistance to States looking to implement the instrument and develop their export control systems.  Expressing concern that the number of new cluster munition casualties had more than doubled since 2015, she called on all States that had not yet done so to accede to the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Mine Ban Convention.  For its part, the United Kingdom strongly upheld its obligations under the Mine Ban Convention, as demonstrated by its ongoing work to remove anti‑personnel mines from the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)*, and was working hard to repair the legacy of past conflicts.

ROBERT A. WOOD (United States) said the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons was an important instrument that had brought together nations with diverse national security concerns.  However, it was deeply disappointing that a lack of funding had prevented the convening of all meetings scheduled for 2017, he said, calling on all high contracting parties to pay assessed costs.  Turning to other concerns, he urged Member States to fully implement the Programme of Action on Small Arms and the International Tracing Instrument, and called for a continued focus on the technical implementation challenges of existing commitments.  Citing current threats, he raised concerns about man‑portable air defence systems and the terrorist groups in the Middle East and Africa who had unprecedented access to shoulder‑fired anti‑aircraft missiles.  Reaffirming his country’s support for the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, he said the tool had pioneered international discussions of transfers and remained the cornerstone of global efforts to address the problem arising from the irresponsible arms shipments.

Mr. HASSAN (Egypt), associating himself with the African Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, reiterated the importance of the International Tracing Instrument as a valuable tool in the eradication of illicit arms trafficking.  The Middle East and Africa faced severe threats due to increasing flows of illicit weapons to terrorist and armed groups.  Pointing out that the Arms Trade Treaty’s lack of clear definitions made it “largely ineffective and selective”, he said the instrument had been designed as a tool to manipulate in a politicized manner the legitimate trade in conventional weapons and obstruct supplies to States, rather than to truly eradicate illicit trafficking.  The problems of terrorist or armed groups possessing conventional arms were not due to the lack of proper export controls or inadequate stockpiles, but that certain States continued to deliberately supply weapons to those terrorists.

Mr. SEWE (Senegal), associating himself with the African Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, said many threats stemmed from illicit arms and drug trafficking, including the flourishing of terrorist groups in West Africa and the Sahel.  Senegal and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) were actively combating those threats.  Meanwhile, Senegal continued to push for the universalization of the Arms Trade Treaty and encouraged the sharing of best practices and involving civil society.  Working with the European Union, Senegal was drafting national laws integrating relevant obligations and had undertaken training courses for civil and military officials engaged in implementing the Arms Trade Treaty.  Nevertheless, the proliferation and illicit trafficking of small arms continued to jeopardize international peace and security and had devastating effects for people in conflict and after conflict.  On anti‑personnel mines, he said implementing the Mine Ban Convention was a priority.

Mr. BERNARD (Guatemala), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said small arms and light weapons had caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people around the world every year, including in his country.  Regarding the Arms Trade Treaty, he said Guatemala was committed to the instrument’s principles and implementation.  He advocated for strong provisions on humanitarian and human rights law and condemned the use of cluster munitions by any actor.  Guatemala was also committed to implementing the Convention on Cluster Munitions, he said, underscoring that South America had been declared the first cluster munition‑free region in the world.  However, he was concerned at the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, as their humanitarian consequences were devastating.  In that context, he reinforced States responsibility to protect their populations from weapons with indiscriminate effects.

CLAUDIA YURIRIA GARCÍA GUIZA (Mexico) noted that small arms and light weapons were used in almost half of all violent deaths in the world and thousands more suffered indirectly, as they continued to fuel conflicts and contributed to organized crime and terrorism.  Effectively controlling those arms was a humanitarian imperative and a requirement for development, she said, adding that Mexico’s actions in that regard were based on Sustainable Development Goal 16, on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies.  To achieve that objective, weapon transfers must be controlled and discussions must address reducing arms inventories while tackling their diversion to illicit markets.  Mexico was committed to strengthening the Programme of Action on Small Arms and said the third Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty presented an opportunity to agree to additional commitments on the basis of shared responsibility.  Meanwhile, artificial intelligence and the growing use of technology for arms of war posed challenges that must be discussed, she said, adding that legal strategies and political action were also needed.

MICHAEL BIONTINO (Germany) commended the progress made by partnering with the African Union on arms control efforts, with a special focus on the Sahel region.  The Group of Seven Plus initiative on small arms and light weapons physical stockpile management now also included measures against trans‑border illicit trafficking in support of the African Union’s Silencing the Guns by 2020 strategy.  In populated areas, explosive weapons had enormous humanitarian consequences, he said, noting that discussions within the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons should cover those aspects and legal, technical and military issues.

ROLANDO CASTRO CORDOBA (Costa Rica), stressing the importance of the linkage between the Arms Trade Treaty and the 2030 Agenda, said the former was unique, combining technical arms control issues with humanitarian matters.  Many serious actions violating the instrument’s objectives involved civilian populations, especially women and children and the excessive proliferation of arms fuelled conflicts around the world.  The international community should, among other things, tackle the ethical, legal and technical concerns regarding emerging threats, including autonomous lethal weapons.  It was also the right time to take concrete action on armed drones operating outside areas of hostile activities.

E. COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica), associating himself with CARICOM and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said sophisticated technologies and the increased number of non‑State actors had resulted in the growing use of conventional weapons.  The significance of the Arms Trade Treaty was in its potential to stem the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons, and it represented an important mechanism for security and crime prevention strategies in the region.  In that regard, he highlighted the support by the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean in providing technical training and legal and policy assistance.

PATRICK SAINT-HILAIRE (Haiti), aligning himself with CARICOM, shared concerns about the dangers of the excessive accumulation and use of small arms and light weapons.  Such weapons caused and exacerbated conflict and crime, as their uncontrolled spread threatened peace and security, and limited growth and development.  During the disastrous recent years faced by Haiti, a proliferation in small arms and light weapons had led the Government to draft specific measures to restore control.  He supported action to make progress toward concrete solutions on the use of conventional weapons and underscored the importance of the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms.  He also welcomed the adoption by the Disarmament Commission of recommendations on confidence‑building measures in the field of conventional weapons.  Haiti also supported the Arms Trade Treaty, which was an adequate framework to regulate and control conventional weapons and reduce the suffering stemming from their spread and use.

FAIYAZ MURSHID KAZI (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, expressed grave concern over reports on the presence of anti‑personnel mines in Rakhine State in Myanmar, along its shared border, which his counterpart from Myanmar had denied last week in the First Committee.  Sharing observations from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) report stating that Myanmar security forces had planted mines after 23 August 2017 along the border in an attempt to prevent Rohingya refugees from returning to Myanmar.  He underscored the need for proper and independent investigations into those serious allegations, the urgent clearing of any anti‑personnel mines laid along the border and for holding those responsible accountable.

MAARTEN BROEKHOF (Netherlands) said efforts should be made to address the financial issues of the Geneva‑based conventions so work could be done to implement them.  Noting heightened concerns about the use of improvised explosive devices, he said the Netherlands was involved in a United Nations Mine Action Service‑led working group on disposal efforts.  Appalled by rising cluster bomb casualties, he called on all States to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions.  Transparency and reporting were vital, he stressed, underlining the relevance of the Register of Conventional Arms.  For its part, the Netherlands had pledged €45 million to programmes across 13 countries between 2016 and 2020.

SEO EUNJI (Republic of Korea) said the proliferation of small arms and light weapons fuelled and prolonged armed violence.  The Programme of Action on Small Arms played a vital role in equipping the international community with various national and multinational tracing systems and promoting the importance of stockpile management efforts.  Regarding illicit brokering, the Republic of Korea and Australia had, since 2008, tabled a resolution on preventing and combating such activities.  Underscoring the importance of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, he said it played an instrumental role in bringing together States with various legitimate security concerns by considering both international humanitarian law and military needs in a balanced manner.

KNUT LANGELAND (Norway) said arms control had a profound impact on international, regional, national and human security.  As small arms killed more than half a million people each year, efforts must be intensified to combat their irresponsible and illegal trade.  The Arms Trade Treaty contributed to global security and stability, as acts of terror often relied on access to arms.  Since the adoption of the Mine Ban Treaty 20 years ago, 51 million mines had been destroyed and civilian lives had been spared.  However, improvised landmines had reappeared recently, he said, calling for support the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions.  Challenges ahead included the widespread use of homemade devices, produced and placed by non‑State actors, he said, adding that addressing large‑scale contamination by improvised mines would require coordinated efforts and dedicated resources.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, thanked the United States for its help with the implementation of their chemical weapon destruction programme.  However, the representative of the United States had been incorrect saying $1 billion had been provided, when it was closer to 20 per cent of that figure, he said, advising his counterpart to carefully examine the process of eliminating such stockpiles.  The United States had insisted on fixing their own schedule for 2007, which had been unrealistic.  Now, in 2017, the Russian Federation had achieved its goal while the United States had not, he said, offering his country’s assistance in that endeavour.  Responding to comments made by the delegate from Poland, he said suggested refraining from using newly invented confrontational and groundless words against Syria.

The representative of Argentina said the General Assembly had acknowledged the dispute over the Malvinas Islands and urged both parties to find a solution.  The particular situation called for the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume negotiations.  For its part, Argentina had presented a plan to implement measures so that if sovereignty negotiations resumed, discussions could lead to an agreement on demining.

The representative of Myanmar said NGOs, United Nations agencies and others had been invited to assist in a new development programme in Rakhine State, and the Government, together with Bangladesh, had established a working group to address the issue of displaced persons.  Unsubstantiated allegations about landmines were not helping to solve that issue, he said.

The representative of the United States said both the Russian Federation and the United States had requested extensions to chemical weapons destruction deadlines.  Delays were due in part to technology challenges.  Yet, lack of funding had never been an issue, he said, noting that if the United States needed help from the Russian Federation, he would let his counterpart know.  The United States had provided over $1 billion for the Russian Federation’s chemical weapon destruction programme and continued to make steady progress in the destruction of its own stockpile in time for the deadline in 2023.

The representative of Poland said that as a co‑sponsor of the draft resolution on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, his country attached great importance to the facts included in the text, which had been verified by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The representative of the United Kingdom said there was no doubt about his country’s sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and surrounding maritime areas.  The future of the Territory should be determined by its people in adherence to the United Nations Charter.

The representative of Argentina, reiterating the principle of self‑determination, said the Malvinas Islands were an integral part of his country.

The representative of United Kingdom said his country would always defend the right of the people of the Territory to determine their own future.

A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).

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* A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).

For information media. Not an official record.