First Committee Delegates Call for Shifting Global Spending from Conventional Arms to Development, as Military Costs Top $1.7 Trillion

GA/DIS/3585
20 October 2017
Seventy-second Session, 18th Meeting (AM)

First Committee Delegates Call for Shifting Global Spending from Conventional Arms to Development, as Military Costs Top $1.7 Trillion

Burgeoning military expenditures were among an array of worrying trends, delegates told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today, as they highlighted the development challenges confronting Member States even as they sought to curb the global proliferation of conventional weapons.

Cuba’s representative said that, with 700 million people living in extreme poverty, 850 million faced chronic hunger and 5 million children perished from preventable or curable diseases, $1.7 trillion in military expenditures surpassed spending in development.

Meanwhile, Samoa’s delegate said conventional weapons undermined political stability and economic development, both of which were critical to realizing the goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Concurring, Togo’s representative said small arms and light weapons had fuelled a climate of insecurity that was not conducive to achieving development goals.  In West Africa, they were used in all types of crime, posing major security challenges that were a heavy burden on States.

Echoing that view, the delegate of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic said her country, among the most heavily contaminated with unexploded ordnance, had adopted national measures to ensure safety.  Overwhelmed by the task ahead, some speakers, including the representative of Trinidad and Tobago, said their countries were finding it difficult to mobilize adequate resources to address issues arising from the illegal arms trade.

Thailand’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), called on developed countries to provide the necessary financial, technical and humanitarian assistance and cooperation towards the clearance of the conventional weapons and the reintegration and rehabilitation of victims.

Zambia’s delegate welcomed calls for regional cooperation-based approaches, including the sharing of intelligence and information about suspected traffickers, routes and related diversion activities.  He called for assistance in the form of transferring technology and building capacity.

At the same time, the representative of Lithuania praised the international community’s attempts to develop better coordinated approaches and instruments, adding that various arms control conventions could facilitate the implementation and efficiency of different regimes.

Ireland’s representative was among the speakers who highlighted the irrefutable intersection linking peace, security and development.  He welcomed the inclusion of a provision stating that gender-based violence should be considered in assessing the risks of arms transfers.

Turkey’s representative was among several delegates who raised concerns about the increasing global impact of improvised explosive devices and their role in terrorist attacks.  Canada’s representative called for stronger compliance with international humanitarian law on the indiscriminate use of such weapons in populated areas.

As delegates expressed concern about the threat of weapons systems falling into the wrong hands, Israel’s representative said recent security challenges had been raised by the growing use of man-portable air defence systems, which were easy to dismantle, conceal, assemble and operate, posing a significant challenge to border security.

At the outset of the meeting, the Committee heard a briefing by the Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts on the Operation and Further Development of the United Nations Standardized Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditures.

Expressing concern that a declining number of States were reporting their military expenditures, he urged Member States to translate their universal support for the instrument into the actual submission of reports.

To date, political support had not been matched by the level of participation, he said, adding that if that trend continued, the instrument would lose its value to promote transparency and confidence-building.

A draft resolution on the assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them was introduced.

Also speaking today were representatives of Pakistan, South Africa, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, Algeria, Russian Federation, China, Spain, Ghana, Guinea, Ukraine, Myanmar, Sudan, New Zealand and Colombia.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Syria, Russian Federation, Israel, United States and Ukraine.

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

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met to continue its thematic discussion on conventional weapons and hear a briefing by the Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts on the Operation and Further Development of the United Nations Standardized Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditures.  For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3571 of 2 October.

Briefing

ION JINGA, Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts on Military Expenditures, briefed the Committee on its report, issued following the completion of its work in July.  Established through a General Assembly resolution, the Group of Governmental Experts was established to further review the mandate of the United Nations Report on Military Expenditures for reporting military spending.  Over three sessions of work in New York and Geneva, it delivered a consensus report containing recommendations on how to enhance activities.  Members, who had been encouraged to examine issues from national and regional perspectives, had discussed the level of reporting by Member States and actions undertaken to promote the instrument and cooperation with regional and subregional organizations.

In addition, the Group of Governmental Experts on Military Expenditures addressed new issues, he said, including concern about the trend of Member States’ declining participation.  As a result, he urged all Member States to translate their universal support for the instrument into the actual submission of reports.  To date, political support had not been matched by the level of participation, he said, adding that if that trend continued, the instrument would lose its value to promote transparency and confidence building.  To address that challenge, the Group of Governmental Experts had developed a voluntary questionnaire that would be circulated at the beginning of 2018, he said, calling on Member States to respond to it.  While a key issue was the establishment of a periodic review, the Group of Governmental Experts concluded that a decision would be more sensible if it incorporated answers from the questionnaire.

Conventional Weapons

NAWIN CHIRAPANT (Thailand), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, recognized the serious consequences of the indiscriminate use of conventional weapons.  At the same time, he affirmed the sovereign rights of States to acquire, manufacture, export, import and retain conventional arms for self-defence and the maintenance of security.  Highlighting ASEAN’s commitment to international humanitarian law and to the regional mine action in cooperation with the United Nations Mine Action Service and the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining, he called on developed countries to provide the necessary financial, technical and humanitarian assistance and cooperation towards the clearance of the conventional weapons and the reintegration and rehabilitation of victims.

MICHAEL GAFFEY (Ireland), highlighting the intersection between peace, security and development as irrefutable, welcomed the inclusion of a provision that the issue of gender-based violence should be considered during arms transfer risk assessments.  Condemning the use of cluster bombs in conflicts, in particular in Syria and Yemen, he urged States to accede to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.  Humanitarian demining was an essential contribution to strengthening resilience in fragile situations, he said.  Also, the use of “drones” or unmanned aerial vehicles should be in accordance with international law and international human rights and humanitarian law.  He underscored the important role civil society played in tackling challenges related to conventional weapons, in particular on State compliance through pressure from lobbying and raising public awareness.

FARUKH AMIL (Pakistan) said the destabilizing effects of conventional arms demonstrated the need for further action, with clear guidance provided in the final document of the first special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament.  Nevertheless, several worrying trends persisted, including burgeoning annual military expenditures that now almost reached $2 trillion dollars globally.  Regionally, the military spending of one particular Asian State vastly outnumbered that of others, he noted.  Condemning double standards based on narrow commercial and political interests, he said Pakistan neither wanted nor was engaged in an arms race in the region.  Turning to the Arms Trade Treaty, he said the instrument’s success would depend on its non-discriminatory implementation.  Concerning 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, he said its success rested on maintaining its delicate balance between humanitarian consequences and States’ security considerations.  Other concerns included the use of improvised explosive devices by terrorists.

ROSEMARY MCCARNEY (Canada) said that in preventing the proliferation and unlawful use of conventional weapons, it was critical to implement international laws and work towards restricting or banning weapon systems prone to be used to cause indiscriminate, excessively injurious effects.  Canada would soon join the Arms Trade Treaty, she said, noting the importance of mine action and cluster munitions eradication in achieving the objectives set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  The international community must gain a deeper understanding of the multifaceted issues those weapons presented.  While the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons was important in that regard, its financial situation needed to be stabilized.  Turning to the indiscriminate use of explosive weapons in populated areas, she said work must be done to strengthen compliance with international humanitarian law through education, accountability and sharing best practices.

SHUAIB MAHOMED (South Africa) highlighted the impressive growth in membership of the Arms Trade Treaty, pointing out that many States shared a common understanding of the importance of preventing illicit arms deals.  The instrument’s full implementation would contribute to the promotion of international peace and security by reducing human suffering cause by armed violence, which most often affected women and children.  South Africa was committed to the convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and the humanitarian principles enshrined therein.  He then encouraged States that had not met their financial obligations to do so with a view to ensure the instrument’s effective implementation and broad participation at future meetings of States parties.

ANAYANSI RODRÍGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said 700 million people lived in extreme poverty, 850 million faced chronic hunger and 5 million children perished from preventable or curable diseases.  Yet, $1.7 trillion in military expenditures surpassed spending in development, undermining international peace and security.  Cuba placed great priority in regulating and limiting sophisticated conventional arms that lead to innocent victims in modern warfare.  Cuba advocated for the adoption of the Protocol prohibiting autonomous lethal weapons also called “murdering robots” and she called on all States to regulate military attack drones.  In order to eradicate illicit traffic of small arms and light weapons, focus should be placed on dealing with the profound socioeconomic causes from which they stemmed.

LIM TONG HAI (Singapore), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country was committed to United Nations efforts to address the illicit arms trade, irresponsible use of ammunitions and the spread of small arms and light weapons.  For its part, Singapore was implementing the Arms Trade Treaty and supported regional and international efforts to regulate the conventional arms trade.  It also supported United Nations resolutions relating to the use of anti-personnel mines, cluster munitions and conventional weapons.  However, the right to self-defence of any nation must be upheld, he said, reaffirming the sovereign right of States to acquire arms for legitimate and responsible means.

SAVITRI PANABOKKE (Sri Lanka), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, emphasized that her country had experienced first-hand the destruction caused by the illicit arms trade and highlighted concerns about the ease with which terrorists could procure such weapons.  The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons had contributed to the protection of civilians and combatants while considering States’ legitimate security concerns.  Developing countries needed assistance for capacity building in managing that critical issue.  Equally important was respect for States’ rights to use conventional weapons for self-defence, she said, adding that a greater responsibility should be borne by weapon-producing States.

FERNANDO LUQUE MÁRQUEZ (Ecuador), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed support for the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction.  Emphasizing Ecuador’s goal of making its borders mine-free, humanitarian demining efforts were underway with neighbouring countries.  Guidance to combatting arms trafficking were outlined in the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects and the International Tracing Instrument.  Now, the international community must continue to debate the issue of unmanned weaponized vehicles and lethal autonomous weapon systems.  New military technologies raised serious concerns and the humanitarian and legal implications of such weapons must be examined.  Turning to the Arms Trade Treaty, he said Ecuador had abstained on voting for the instrument and was conducting an analysis of it, he said, regretting to note that the latest meeting of States parties had seemed to indicate that the instrument was being politicized.

SOMSANOUK KEOBOUNSAN (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), associating herself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the use of conventional weapons had caused traumatic experiences that had humanitarian and developmental affects in her country.  For that reason, Lao People’s Democratic Republic had joined the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and the Convention on Cluster Munitions.  Being one of the countries with the most heavily unexploded ordnance contaminated areas, Lao People’s Democratic Republic was addressing the challenge with measures such as the adoption of a national programme on to ensure safety.  Turning to other concerns, she highlighted the security and humanitarian effects of the illicit arms trade and the widespread use of small arms and light weapons by criminals and drug traffickers.

CHARLENE ROOPNARINE (Trinidad and Tobago), associating herself with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said progressive measures had been taken to implement the Arms Trade Treaty.  Cognizant of complementarities between the Programme of Action on Small Arms and the Arms Trade Treaty, her country also sought to implement practical measures to allow their harmonized implementation alongside the Firearms Protocol, in order to include the regulation of ammunition exports and stockpiles as well as to enhance anti-corruption measures.  Many States were finding it difficult to mobilize adequate resources to address many issues, including the illegal arms trade.  Trinidad and Tobago applauded the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean for its increased assistance in the region, including through capacity-building and technical assistance programmes.

ABDELKARIM AIT ABDESLAM (Algeria), associating himself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said his country placed high priority in securing its borders from the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons and spared no effort in dismantling criminal networks and fighting against terrorism, particularly in the Sahel region.  Algeria was committed to the subregional, regional, and international cooperation and assistance to implement the Programme of Action on Small Arms.  It also promoted the sharing of information and exchange of expertise through the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and the establishment of the African Police Cooperation Organisation (AFRIPOL), headquartered in Algeria, which would greatly enhance the continent’s capacity to deal with the threat posed by terrorism and transnational organized crime.  Algeria had also fulfilled its international obligations by destroying its remaining stockpiles of anti-personnel mines in accordance with the Mine Ban Convention.

VLADIMIR YERMAKOV (Russian Federation) expressed support for the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which had uniquely balanced humanitarian concerns and the legitimate defence interests of States.  However, discussions on lethal autonomous weapon systems, at the Convention’s fifth Review Conference, were premature.  Turning to the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, he called for strict compliance of existing international humanitarian law.  Meanwhile, his Government supported the Mine Ban Convention and appreciated the efforts of Belarus, which had eliminated 3.4 million anti-personnel mines.  The Russian Federation had also undertaken measures to minimize the threat of mines and had ceased production of the most dangerous type of anti-personnel mines.  He urged Member States to respond to rational proposals, such as the draft resolution on preventing an arms race in outer space.

WANG CHANG (China) said that as a high contracting partner to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, his country had faithfully implemented its obligations.  Meanwhile, humanitarian concerns about lethal autonomous weapons had caught the international community’s attention.  Countries must abide by laws governing such weapons while respecting national sovereignty.  He expressed concern about use of improvised explosive devices by non-State actors, an issue that should be addressed within the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.  Illicit arms transfers must also be addressed.  China supported measures to regulate the flow of conventional arms, he said, emphasizing support for the Register of Conventional Arms.  Turning to demining, he said China provided other countries with demining assistance and had embarked on 10 demining programmes abroad.

JULIO HERRÁIZ ESPAÑA (Spain) expressed support for the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and the important objective of achieving a mine-free world by 2025.  The instrument needed to be rendered universal, and synergies should be created with other treaties, including the Mine Ban Convention.  The Arms Trade Treaty was one of the most important achievements in recent years, promoting transparency and cooperation while contributing to Sustainable Development Goal 16.  Small arms and light weapons, the most used tools of war in conflicts, caused more victims than any other type of weapon.  Calling for the full implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms, he emphasized the need to enhance control of the trade.

FRED FRIMPONG (Ghana), associating himself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said that acquiring conventional weapons was essential for the protection, defence, security and safety of a country’s citizens.  However, the proliferation and abuse of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition caused tremendous human suffering, he said, appealing to producing countries to ensure that the supplies were limited to Governments and authorized entities.  Ghana had ratified the Arms Trade Treaty and remained fully committed to the Programme of Action on Small Arms and the International Tracing Instrument.  Those instruments were vital for promoting security and creating conditions necessary for sustainable development, particularly in Africa, he noted.  Like many members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Ghana believed that ammunition management and control were vital to moving the world closer to attaining the objectives set out in the 2030 Agenda, particularly Goal 16.4 calling for a significant reduction in illicit small arms and light weapons trafficking.  Thus, it was time to bring that subject to the fore and discuss it at the third Review Conference on the Programme of Action on Small Arms, to be held in 2018.

SEKOU CAMARA (Guinea), associating himself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said the prevalence, gravity and existence of violence was the result of the proliferation and illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons, with developing countries being the most affected.  The use of conventional weapons on a vast scale had generated conflicts around the world.  Africa was deeply affected by that, facing internally displaced persons, deterioration of environment and other effects.  The spread of weapons also fuelled terrorism and violent extremism, posing challenges for the global security governance.  As a result of the growing enrolment of young people in armed groups, Africa had developed a strategy to silence the guns and a security plan to prevent and manage conflicts.  In that context, he urged all stakeholders to swiftly and effectively respond to the problem of small arms and light weapons through dialogue and legal mechanisms, such as the implementation of the Mine Ban Convention.

KOKOU KPAYEDO (Togo), associating with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, stressed the need to eradicate small arms and light weapons, which had fuelled a climate of insecurity that was not conducive to achieving development goals.  In West Africa, such weapons were involved in all types of crime, posing major security challenges that were a heavy burden on States.  In Togo, national measures were being taken in accordance with the Programme of Action on Small Arms.  The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa had helped with capacity building and played a significant role in controlling conventional arms.  Togo would co-sponsor a draft resolution on assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them.  The draft text aimed at, among other things, strengthening international support for ECOWAS initiatives to combat the challenge posed by such arms.

RAUF ALP DENKTAŞ (Turkey), associating himself with the European Union, raised concerns about the increasing global impact of improvised explosive devices and their role in terrorist attacks.  Turkey welcomed the fifth Review Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and was committed to the Mine Ban Convention, having destroyed approximately 3 million anti-personnel mines.  Other concerns included the proliferation of ballistic missiles and illegal conventional weapons, he said, highlighting the links among the illicit arms trade and conflict, terrorism and organized crime.  Pending Parliament’s approval, Turkey also planned to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty in the near future.

MAOR ELBAS-STARINSKY (Israel) said in the past few years, conventional weapons had proliferated in the Middle East in unprecedented quantities.  Through various illicit routes and means, such weapons had found their way to the hands of oppressive regimes, terrorist groups and countries sponsoring terrorism.  Used deliberately against civilian populations, such weaponry had caused wide-scale suffering, misery, death and loss.  Some States in the Middle East had consistently encouraged, supported and backed activities of terrorist groups, he said, noting that Iran had used proxy organizations to gain regional dominance and spread its extremist ideology.  Meanwhile, some weapon systems, such as man-portable air defence systems, were falling into the wrong hands.  Recent security challenges had been characterized by the loss of control over territories, looting of poorly guarded arms stockpiles and massive transfers of arms, including thousands of man-portable air defence systems, which were easy to dismantle, conceal, assemble and operate, posing a significant challenge to border security.

EDWIN LYSON ZIMBA (Zambia) said porous borders in his region had aided the illicit proliferation, circulation and trafficking of arms and ammunition.  Welcoming calls for regional cooperation-based approaches, including sharing of intelligence and information regarding suspected traffickers, routes and related diversion activities, Zambia sought to establish itself as a trade-friendly transit hub, with strict controls over transfers of strategic goods.  However, assistance in the form of technology transfer and capacity building was required in that domain so that goods were not diverted.  As such, a significant challenge was the lack of information sharing by exporting and importing countries with transit States.

ANDRIY TSYMBALIUK (Ukraine) underlined the importance of effective export control procedures in the sphere of conventional arms.  The Programme of Action on Small Arms was an important and universal tool in global efforts to combat the threat posed those weapons, while the Register of Conventional Arms was an instrumental transparency and confidence-building measure in the legal arms trade.  However, the Russian Federation’s military aggression against Ukraine had undermined the existing arms control system and destabilized subregional and European security through, among other things, the persistent and deliberate massive illicit transfer of military goods.

KHANT KO KO (Myanmar) said that every year, more than 500,000 people were killed in conflict by arms or explosives.  The proliferation of illicit arms and their diversions could fuel and sustain armed conflict, impede the lives of vulnerable communities and encourage human rights violations, including the recruitment of child soldiers.  Regarding the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, he said capacity constraints were preventing Myanmar from joining.  Meanwhile, Myanmar supported, in principle, the Mine Ban Convention and the Convention on Cluster Munitions.  In that regard, relevant stakeholders in Myanmar were studying those instruments to gain a better understanding of related issues, with the view to join them at an opportune time in the future.

NIDA JAKUBONĖ (Lithuania) said the illicit trade and proliferation of small arms and light weapons had a negative impact on the safety and security of civilians and entire States while undermining the rule of law, prolonging conflicts and impeding development.  She welcomed the international community’s attempts to develop better coordinated approaches and instruments, adding that various arms control conventions could facilitate the implementation and efficiency of different regimes.  She expressed great concern about the increasing impact of improvised explosive devices, large quantities of anti-personnel mines and unexploded remnants of war.  Meanwhile, the world was facing a security challenge in the middle of Europe, with the conflict in eastern Ukraine continuing to be fuelled by the constant inflow of ammunition, weaponry and fighters from the Russian Federation.  She called on the Russian Federation to halt the inflow of weaponry and equipment into Ukraine.

OMER AHMED MOHAMED AHMED (Sudan), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said conventional weapons trafficking had had a detrimental effect on his country.  The illegal trade was also closely linked to climate change and desertification, whereby certain groups acquired weapons in order to protect their resources.  Highlighting links among conventional weapons proliferation and organized crime, terrorism and drug trafficking, he said Sudan had been engaged in bilateral efforts with neighbouring counties to strengthen border security.  He called on weapon-producing States to bear the responsibility.  For its part, Sudan was implementing a demining plan, having cleared 105 square miles and destroyed a large number of explosives.

KATY DONNELLY (New Zealand) expressed deep concern that the number of victims of cluster bombs had more than doubled between 2015 and 2016.  As coordinator for the national implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, she welcomed the opportunity to engage with any State on related issues.  As such, New Zealand had supported two workshops on the instrument’s universalization and implementation and had provided NZ$9.1 million since 2016 in support of mine action programmes.  Turning to the Arms Trade Treaty, she said the focus must shift from institutional arrangements to ensuring that the instrument delivered on its humanitarian and security promise.  New Zealand intended to host a Pacific conference in Auckland in February to bring together representatives from neighbouring islands with a view to improving the universalization and implementation of a number of conventional weapon-related treaties in the region.

ALI’IOAIGA FETURI ELISAIA (Samoa) said conventional weapons had undermined political stability and economic development, both of which were critical building blocks for achieving goals set out in the 2030 Agenda.  As an island nation with only a civilian police force, Samoa did not have a military force because it did not need one.  Even if it did, armed forces would not guarantee peace and security, he said, adding that their only security was the rule of law.  While the Arms Trade Treaty could not alone stop all unlawful arms transfers, if effectively implemented, it could contribute to transparency in the trade.  A strong Arms Trade Treaty was needed to prevent and combat the diversion of arms and ammunition, which was causing human suffering around the world.  For its part, Samoa had signed and ratified the instrument and, despite limited human, technical and financial resources, it had submitted its reports involving the implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms.

CARLOS ARTURO MORALES LÓPEZ (Colombia) said conventional weapons, more than weapons of mass destruction, had caused the greatest number of victims in his region.  After the Final Peace Agreement had been signed by the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia‑People's Army (FARC-EP), disarmament measures had led to the collection of 9,000 weapons, 11,000 grenades and 4,300 mortar shells that no longer presented a threat to civilians in or outside the country.  Mine action had also been a successful tool to consolidate peace, tackling the challenge of areas contaminated by improvised explosive devices, which had left thousands of victims and caused the greatest number of civilian deaths around the world.  Regarding the trafficking of small arms and light weapons, he called for the exchange of information to improve registration systems and to better track weapons, adding that Colombia was working “with speed” to complete its ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty.

Right of Reply

The representative of Syria, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said Israeli military officers had been involved in the illicit arms trade and Israeli entities had provided arms to terrorist groups and toxic materials to Nusrah Front and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Daesh).  Syria had sent to the Security Council letters pertaining to such violations.

The representative of the Russian Federation said his country had never fought nor would fight against the Ukrainian people.  After the 2014 armed anti-institutional coup in Ukraine, which had been supported by the United States and the European Union, territories in Ukraine had become ultranationalist and had provoked a war by which the Ukrainian people found themselves in a difficult position.  He also noted the “inappropriate statement” that had been made by his counterpart from Lithuania.

The representative of Israel noted the ridiculous accusation voiced by his counterpart from Syria, which had used weapons against civilians while blaming other countries.

The representative of the United States said charges that had been made by the delegate from the Russian Federation about the United States’ involvement in Ukraine were unfounded.  He called on the Russian Federation to end its aggression in Ukraine and return Crimea.

The representative of Ukraine said the conflict in Donbass had been caused by the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine, which started with Crimea.  It was not a civil war or an internal conflict.  If the Russian Federation withdrew armaments and stopped the illicit transfer of fighters to Donbass, the conflict would be settled without any assistance from outside.

The representative of Syria said that when Israel’s position was weak, it would propagate false information to shirk its responsibility to the problems it had caused.  Some of the biggest conventional arms traders worked for Israeli weapons manufacturers.  The real danger in the Middle East lay in Israel’s nuclear bombs, chemical and biological weapons, and its capability to deploy them outside the region.

The representative of the Russian Federation asked his counterpart from the United States to read the Minsk Agreements before talking about the obligations contained therein.  For several years, the United States had been saying that someone had not been implementing the Minsk Agreements, yet, none of the provisions had been carried out by Kiev.  Responding to Ukraine’s delegate, he said the Russian Federation and its people had never fought and never would fight against the fraternal people of Ukraine.  It was a complicated situation in the Donbass region and Ukraine had to stop killing peaceful civilians living there.

The representative of Ukraine said his country was fully committed to a peaceful resolution of the conflict and implementing the Minsk Agreements in good faith.  However, progress remained locked by the Russian Federation’s refusal to implement key security aspects of the Minsk Agreements.  The Russian Federation’s direct role in the Donbass conflict, coupled with ongoing aggression, remained a key obstacle to bringing peace to that area, he said, adding that the Government of Ukraine was not killing the people of Donbass.

For information media. Not an official record.