Submitting 18 Drafts to General Assembly, First Committee Approves Measures for Building Regional Confidence, Curbing Spread of Conventional Weapons

GA/DIS/3593
1 November 2017
Seventy-second Session, 27th Meeting (PM)

Submitting 18 Drafts to General Assembly, First Committee Approves Measures for Building Regional Confidence, Curbing Spread of Conventional Weapons

Approving 17 draft resolutions and 1 draft decision, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) voted on a range of measures, including one that would have the General Assembly give urgent consideration to conventional arms control issues at the regional and subregional levels.

By the terms of the draft resolution “Conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels” (document A/C.1/72/L.13/Rev.1), approved by a recorded vote of 174 in favour to 1 against (India), with 2 abstentions (Bhutan, Russian Federation), the Assembly would also request the Conference on Disarmament to consider the formulation of principles that could serve as a framework for such regional agreements.

Voicing opposition to the draft, India’s representative said security concerns of the States extended beyond regions and for that reason, conventional arms control in a regional and subregional context was unrealistic and unacceptable.

Turning to other regional issues, the Committee approved several texts, among them the draft resolution “Regional disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.12), which would have the Assembly call upon States to conclude agreements for nuclear non‑proliferation, disarmament and confidence‑building measures at the regional and subregional levels.

The Committee also took action on measures to ban the creation and spread of next‑generation armaments, approving the draft resolution “Prohibition of the development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons: report of the Conference on Disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.9), by a recorded vote of 173 in favour to 3 against (Israel, Ukraine, United States), with no abstentions.

By the terms of the text, the Assembly would reaffirm that effective measures be taken to prevent the emergence of new types of such weapons.  It would also request the Conference on Disarmament to keep the matter under review and to make recommendations on undertaking specific negotiations on identified weapon types.

Explaining his vote, the representative of the United States said such efforts were diverting the attention of the international community from real weapons of mass destruction.  Indeed, the international community should focus on the proliferation of “known weapons of mass destruction” by State and non‑State actors.  No new weapons of mass destruction had appeared and the notion remained hypothetical, he said.

Among drafts related to the disarmament machinery, the Committee approved, without a vote, the draft resolution “Report of the Conference on Disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.14).  By the text, the Assembly would reaffirm the role of the Conference on Disarmament as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community.  It would also call upon the Conference on Disarmament to explore possibilities for overcoming its ongoing deadlock by adopting and implementing a balanced and comprehensive programme of work at the earliest possible date.

Also without a vote, the Committee approved five draft texts pertaining to regional centres for peace and disarmament, including “United Nations regional centres for peace and disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.34); “United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa” (document A/C.1/71/L.39); “United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific” (document A/C.1/72/L.48); and “United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean” (document A/C.1/72/L.51).

Taking up outstanding resolutions on nuclear weapons, the Committee approved the draft resolution “Follow‑up to the 2013 high‑level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.45/Rev.1), by a recorded vote of 129 in favour to 30 against, with 12 abstentions.  By the text, the Assembly would decide to convene in 2018 a high‑level international conference on nuclear disarmament to review the progress made in that regard.

Speaking in explanation of vote, Bulgaria’s representative, on behalf of a group of countries, said convening another conference would deviate the focus from the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which was the cornerstone of the non‑proliferation regime.

In addition, the Committee approved the following drafts: “Strengthening of security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region” (document A/C.1/72/L.8); “Confidence-building measures in the regional and subregional context” (document A/C.1/72/L.11); “Implementation of the Declaration of the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace” (document A/C.1/72/L.29); “Regional confidence‑building measures: activities of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa” (document A/C.1/72/L.20); “Report of the Disarmament Commission” (document A/C.1/72/L.25); “Convening of the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.33); “Nuclear disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.18); and “Follow‑up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons” (document A/C.1/72/L.57).

The Committee also approved the draft decision “Treaty on the South‑East Asia Nuclear‑Weapon‑Free Zone (Bangkok Treaty)” (document A/C.1/72/L.58).

Speaking in explanation of position were the representatives of France (also for United Kingdom), Iran, Syria, Singapore, Russian Federation, Pakistan, Iran, Belarus, Peru, Indonesia, Nepal, Mexico, Cuba, Mauritania (for the Arab Group), Sweden, Canada, Switzerland, Netherlands , Japan, Syria, Poland and the European Union.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of the United States and the Russian Federation.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 2 November, to conclude its consideration of all outstanding draft resolutions and decisions.

Background

The First Committee met this afternoon to take action on all draft resolutions and decisions before it.  For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3571 of 2 October.

Action on Draft Texts

The representative of France, speaking also for the United Kingdom, explained their position on draft resolutions relating to other disarmament measures and international security.  France and the United Kingdom had joined the consensus on the draft resolution “Relationship between disarmament and development” (document A/C.1/72/L.30).  However, the notion of a symbiotic relationship was questionable because conditions that were conducive to disarmament were not solely dependent on development, which could be seen in the growing military expenditure of some developing countries.  Moreover, the idea that military expenditure directly diverted funding from development requirements would need to be nuanced, as defence investments were also needed to develop peacekeeping, improve responses to natural disasters and to favour stability.  Having joined the consensus on the draft resolution “Observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control (document A/C.1/72/L.31), he said France and the United Kingdom operated under stringent environmental impact regulations.  However, they saw no direct connection between general environmental standards and multilateral arms control.

The representative of Iran said that on the draft resolution “Role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament” (document L.52/Rev.1), the international transfer of high technology and scientific products for peaceful purposes were important for all societies, especially for developing countries.  However, military applications of scientific and technology developments could also be used to build weapons of mass destruction, he cautioned.  In that vein, enabling such transfers must consider States’ legitimate defence requirements and universally acceptable non‑discriminatory guidelines were needed.  He expressed concerns about exclusive export control regimes for goods and technologies that would deny countries their right to foster development.  “L.52/Rev.1” lagged behind expectations, he said, noting that Iran had demonstrated good will by joining the consensus on the draft.

The representative of India said her delegation had voted in favour of the draft resolution “Compliance with non‑proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments” (document A/C.1/72/L.7), as it believed in States meeting their obligations.  Moreover, countries should resolve compliance issues in accordance with related mechanisms provided in the relevant agreements and in accordance with the United Nations Charter and international law.

The representative of Syria said his delegation had abstained on “L.7”.  While compliance with non‑proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments were important matters, adopters of treaties, including the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, did not respect their compliance.  Israel, the only party in the region to not accede to that instrument, threatened regional peace and stability in the Middle East and the world.  Israel, a prime example of non‑compliance, had also supported “L.7”, raising questions about the draft resolution’s credibility.  Moreover, the draft text did not mention the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which made it illogical.

The representative of Singapore, referring to the draft resolution “Developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security” (document A/C.1/72/L.44), said her delegation regretted to note that the latest iteration of the group of governmental experts could not agree on an outcome document.  Robust global cooperation was needed to address cyberthreats and the United Nations played a key role in promoting a greater understanding of the issue.

The representative of the Russian Federation expressed dismay about “L.7”, raising concerns that the authors had attempted to politicize matters.  The purpose of the First Committee was to find compromises and not to prevent delegations from completing their work.

The Committee then turned to draft resolutions pertaining to regional disarmament and security.

The representative of France said his delegation would vote against any resolution explicitly mentioning the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The representative of the European Union, referring to the draft resolution “Strengthening of security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region” (document A/C.1/72/L.8), said operative paragraph 5 and its proposed reference to “legal instruments in force” did not imply a change to the bloc’s longstanding support of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test‑Ban Treaty.  Its early entry into force was among the Union’s top priorities.

The representative of Pakistan introduced an oral amendment to the draft resolution “Conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels” (document A/C.1/72/L.13/Rev.1), in the fourth preambular paragraph.  With that change, the resolution had been reverted to its original version.

The representative of Iran said it would not participate in voting on “L.8”, given the continued crisis in Palestine and the Israeli blockade, including in the Mediterranean part of the region.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution “Strengthening of security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region” (document A/C.1/72/L.8).  By the terms of the text, the Assembly would call upon all States of the region that had not yet done so to adhere to all the multilaterally negotiated legal instruments related to the field of disarmament and non‑proliferation, thus creating the conditions necessary for strengthening peace and cooperation in the region.

The Assembly, by the text, would also encourage Mediterranean countries to further strengthen their cooperation in combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and in combating international crime, illicit arms transfers and illicit drug production, consumption and trafficking, which posed a serious threat to peace, security and stability in the region.

The Committee then approved the draft without a vote, as orally revised.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution “Confidence‑building measures in the regional and subregional context” (document A/C.1/72/L.11), by which the Assembly would call upon Member States to refrain from the use or threat of use of force in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.  By the terms of the text, the Assembly would also urge States to comply strictly with all bilateral, regional and international agreements, including arms control and disarmament agreements, to which they were party.

The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.

The Committee then turned to the draft resolution “Regional disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.12).  By the text, the Assembly would call upon States to conclude agreements, wherever possible, for nuclear non‑proliferation, disarmament and confidence‑building measures at regional and subregional levels.  The Assembly would also welcome initiatives towards disarmament, nuclear non‑proliferation and security undertaken by some countries at regional and subregional levels.

The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.

It then took action on the draft resolution “Conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels” (document‑A/C.1/72/L.13/Rev.1), by which the Assembly would decide to give urgent consideration to the issues involved in conventional arms control at regional and subregional levels.

Prior to approving that text as a whole, the Committee held a separate recorded vote to retain operative paragraph 2, which would have the Assembly request the Conference on Disarmament to consider the formulation of principles that could serve as a framework for regional agreements on conventional arms control.

By a recorded vote of 131 in favour to 1 against (India), with 38 abstentions, the Committee approved the retention of operative paragraph 2.

The Committee then approved the draft as a whole, as orally revised, by a vote of 174 in favour to 1 against (India), with 2 abstentions (Bhutan, Russian Federation).

It then took action on the draft resolution “Implementation of the Declaration of the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace” (document A/C.1/72/L.29), by which the Assembly would reiterate its conviction that the participation of all permanent members of the Security Council and the major maritime users of the Indian Ocean in the work of the Ad Hoc Committee was important and would greatly facilitate dialogue to advance peace, security and stability in the region.

The Committee then approved the draft, by a recorded vote of 126 in favour to 3 against (France, United States, United Kingdom), with 45 abstentions.

The representative of India said her delegation had voted against “L.13/Rev.1” and its operative paragraph 2.  The Conference on Disarmament was the single multilateral negotiating forum to negotiate disarmament instruments that had global implications.  The security concerns of the States extended beyond regions and for that reason, conventional arms control in a regional and subregional context was unrealistic and unacceptable.

The Committee then turned to draft resolutions on the disarmament machinery.

The representative of Belarus said his delegation had introduced the draft resolution “Prohibition of the development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons: report of the Conference on Disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.9), which contained technical updates.  The draft resolution aimed at preventing an arms race and establishing a mechanism for disarmament.  It also intended to prevent the emergence of new forms of weapons of mass destruction and would provide a response mechanism for the Conference on Disarmament to monitor the situation and draft new treaties.

The representative of Peru introduced the draft resolution “United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (document A/C.1/72/L.51).  Located in Lima, the Regional Centre had organized activities for technical assistance to help States to apply international instruments on conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction and to increase the participation of women in disarmament initiatives.

The representative of Indonesia said the Open-ended Working Group on the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament had agreed on language that was acceptable to all, demonstrating a shared commitment to multilateralism.  In that spirit, the draft resolution “Convening of the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.33) had been tabled, she said, noting that Indonesia would work towards making the session a reality.

The representative of Nepal introduced the draft resolution “United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific” (document A/C.1/72/L.48).  Advocated for the strong role of all such centres in maintaining international peace and security, he said the Asia and the Pacific Regional Centre relied on voluntary contributions that needed to be further enhanced.  In that context, he called on Member States to help expand the Centre’s activities.  “L.48” remained the same as the draft resolution that had been presented in Committee’s previous session, apart from technical updates and an oral revision to operative paragraph 1.

The representative of Iran said that calling the disarmament machinery ineffective was merely shifting blame.  Genuine political will by certain nuclear‑weapon States was needed to overcome obstacles.  The importance of the Conference on Disarmament in the area of nuclear disarmament was a priority and he supported negotiations on a nuclear weapon convention through that forum.

The representative of Mexico said it would join the consensus on the draft resolution “Report of the Conference on Disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.14) because it was the only permanent forum to negotiate related multilateral agreements.  However, she was concerned by the two‑decade‑long stalemate, adding that if it failed to rise to the occasion, the resources assigned to it should be assigned to other areas, including sustainable development initiatives.

The Committee then turned to the draft resolution “Prohibition of the development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons: report of the Conference on Disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.9).  By the text, the Assembly would reaffirm that effective measures should be taken to prevent the emergence of new types of weapons of mass destruction and request the Conference on Disarmament to keep the matter under review, as appropriate, with a view to making, when necessary, recommendations on undertaking specific negotiations on identified types of such weapons.

The Committee approved the draft by a recorded vote of 173 in favour to 3 against (Israel, Ukraine, United States), with no abstentions.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution “Report of the Conference on Disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.14).  By the text, the Assembly would reaffirm the role of the Conference on Disarmament as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community.  It would also call upon the Conference on Disarmament to further intensify consultations and to explore possibilities for overcoming its ongoing deadlock of two decades by adopting and implementing a balanced and comprehensive programme of work at the earliest possible date during its 2018 session, bearing in mind the decision on the programme of work adopted by the Conference on 29 May 2009, as well as other relevant present, past and future proposals.

Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft.

The Committee then turned to the draft resolution “Regional confidence‑building measures: activities of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa” (document A/C.1/72/L.20).  By the text, the Assembly would urge the members of the Standing Advisory Committee to implement the Libreville Declaration on the adoption and implementation of the regional strategy and plan of action for combating terrorism and the trafficking in small arms and light weapons in Central Africa.

The Committee approved the draft without a vote, as orally revised.

The Committee then took action on the draft resolution “Report of the Disarmament Commission” (document A/C.1/72/L.25), by which the Assembly would request the Disarmament Commission to continue its work in accordance with its mandate and meet for a period not exceeding three weeks during 2018.

Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft.

Following that action, the Committee turned to the draft resolution “Convening of the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.33), by which the Assembly would endorse the report of the Open‑ended Working Group and the substantive recommendations contained therein.

The Committee approved the draft by a recorded vote of 170 in favour to none against, with 3 abstentions (France, Israel, United States).

The Committee then took up the draft resolution “United Nations regional centres for peace and disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.34), by which the Assembly would reiterate the importance of United Nations activities at the regional level to advance disarmament and to increase the stability and security of its Member States.

Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft.

It then turned to the draft resolution “United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa” (document A/C.1/71/L.39), which would have the Assembly commend the centre for its sustained support to Member States in implementing disarmament, arms control and non‑proliferation activities.

The Committee approved the draft without a vote.

The Committee took up the draft resolution “United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific” (document A/C.1/72/L.48), which would have the Assembly appeal to Member States, in particular those within the region, as well as to international governmental and non‑governmental organizations and foundations, to make voluntary contributions to strengthen its programme of activities and the implementation thereof.  The Assembly would also, by the text, reaffirm its strong support for the role of the Regional Centre in the promotion of activities of the United Nations at the regional level to strengthen peace, stability and security among its Member States.

Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft, as orally revised.

The Committee then considered the draft resolution “United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean” (document A/C.1/72/L.51).  By the text, the Assembly would invite all States of the region to continue to take part in the activities, proposing items for inclusion in its programme of activities and maximizing the Centre’s potential to meet the current challenges facing the international community with a view to fulfilling the aims of the Charter of the United Nations in the areas of peace, disarmament and development.

The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.

The representative of the United States, referring to “L.9”, said the international community should focus on the proliferation of “known weapons of mass destruction” by State and non‑State actors.  No new weapons of mass destruction had appeared and the notion remained hypothetical.  Diverting the attention of the international community from real weapons of mass destruction was the reason why his delegation had voted against that draft.  His delegation had abstained from voting on “L.33” because consensus “can and does work if States are patient”, he said, noting his delegation’s scepticism about the value added by a special session of the General Assembly dedicated to disarmament and the potential costs, which should be assessed first.

The Committee then took up draft resolutions on nuclear weapons.

The representative of Cuba said the draft resolution “Follow‑up to the 2013 high‑level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.45/Rev.1) had made it possible to celebrate the international day to eliminate nuclear weapons.  The draft resolution “Nuclear disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.18) highlighted major issues related to obligations and commitments to achieving the goal of nuclear disarmament, which could not be postponed.  The draft resolution “Follow‑up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons” (document A/C.1/72/L.57) referred to the continuous existence of those arms as a threat to humanity and recognized that the only defence against a nuclear catastrophe was their complete elimination.

The representative of Pakistan said his delegation supported the goal of “L.45/Rev.1” and the start of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament.  He recalled that Pakistan had not participated in the negotiations on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution “Nuclear disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.18).  By the text, the Assembly would urge all nuclear‑weapon States to take measures to achieve the total elimination of all such arms at the earliest possible time.  It would also, by the text, urge nuclear‑weapon States to stop immediately the qualitative improvement, development, production and stockpiling of warheads and their delivery systems.

Prior to approving that text, the Committee held separate recorded votes to retain preambular paragraph 32 and operative paragraph 16.

By a recorded vote of 114 in favour to 37 against, with 11 abstentions, the Committee approved the retention of preambular paragraph 32, which would have the Assembly reaffirm that States should refrain from the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in settling their disputes in international relations.

By a recorded vote of 159 in favour to 1 against (Pakistan), with 6 abstentions (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, France, Israel, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States), the Committee decided to retain operative paragraph 16.  By that paragraph, the Assembly would call for the immediate commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament, in the context of an agreed, comprehensive and balanced programme of work, on a non‑discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.

The Committee then approved the draft, as a whole, by a recorded vote of 110 in favour to 41 against, with 18 abstentions.

It took action on the draft resolution “Follow‑up to the 2013 high‑level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.45/Rev.1).  By the text, the Assembly would decide to convene, in New York, from 14 to 16 May 2018, a high‑level international conference on nuclear disarmament to review the progress made in that regard and to include it as a sub‑item in the provisional agenda of its seventy‑third session, under the item “General and complete disarmament”.

Prior to approving the draft, the Committee held a separate recorded vote to retain preambular paragraph 12, which would have the Assembly note the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

By a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 26 against, with 17 abstentions, the Committee approved the retention of preambular paragraph 12.

The Committee approved the draft, as a whole, by a vote of 129 in favour to 30 against, with 12 abstentions.

It then took up the draft resolution “Follow‑up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons” (document A/C.1/72/L.57), by which the Assembly would once again call upon all States to immediately engage in multilateral negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control, including under the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Prior to approving that text, the Committee held separate recorded votes to retain preambular paragraph 16 and operative paragraph 2.

By a recorded vote of 117 in favour to 35 against, with 13 abstentions, the Committee approved the retention of preambular paragraph 16, which would have the Assembly welcome the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

By a recorded vote of 117 in favour to 35 against, with 14 abstentions, the Committee approved the retention of operative paragraph 2, which would have the Assembly call once again upon all States to immediately engage in multilateral negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.

The Committee then approved the draft, as a whole, by a vote of 124 in favour to 31 against, with 17 abstentions.

The Committee then took up the draft decision “Treaty on the South‑East Asia Nuclear‑Weapon‑Free Zone (Bangkok Treaty)” (document A/C.1/72/L.58), which would have the Assembly include it as a sub‑item in the provisional agenda of its seventy‑fourth session, under the item entitled “General and complete disarmament”.

Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft.

The representative of Bulgaria, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said they did not support “L.45/Rev.1” because they believed in a world free of nuclear weapons.  They also considered the Non‑Proliferation Treaty to be the cornerstone of the disarmament regime and convening another conference would deviate the focus from the instrument.  Nuclear disarmament was directly linked to strengthening the non‑proliferation regime, she noted, asking for the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty.  The Conference on Disarmament should start its substantive work as soon as possible and adopt a comprehensive and balanced programme of work.  While sharing concerns about the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, she said the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons would not contribute to their elimination.

The representative of Mauritania, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said members had voted in favour of “L.18”.  He also condemned the policies of ethnic cleansing and other violations taking place in Myanmar.

The representative of United States, speaking also on behalf of France and the United Kingdom, said nuclear proliferation and non‑compliance was a threat to international peace and security.  Unfortunately, that threat was not addressed in “L.45/Rev.1”, which was “insufficient, incidental and unbalanced”.  Convening another conference without consideration of all Non‑Proliferation Treaty obligations would lead to another “futile outcome”, he stressed.

The representative of Sweden, speaking also on behalf of Switzerland, said their delegations had abstained from voting on operative paragraph 2 of “L.57” because new language could mean that multilateral negotiations could be undertaken with regard to the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Sweden and Switzerland were currently assessing the new instrument to see whether it complemented exiting agreements, rules and processes.

The representative of Canada, referring to “L.57”, said it had abstained because the draft addressed political and not legal issues and had included a reference to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  Further, it did not recognize multilateral negotiations on disarmament, he said, expressing concerns about the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and calling on all States to work together.

The representative of Switzerland said his delegation had always voted in favour of “L.45/Rev.1”.  Noting that the Non‑Proliferation Treaty was the cornerstone of the non‑proliferation regime, he welcomed the high‑level meeting and expressed hope that it would bring States around a common agenda.

The representative of India said her country was the only one possessing nuclear weapons to historically co‑sponsor “L.57”.  She expressed disappointment that substantive changes had been made.  Because operative paragraph 2 was no longer clear in its meaning, India had withdrawn its co‑sponsorship and abstained from voting on the draft.  On “L.18”, India shared the main objective of nuclear disarmament within a specific timeframe, but her delegation had abstained because of references to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The representative of Netherlands, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said her delegation had voted against “L.45/Rev.1” because it excluded clear references to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and failed to acknowledge the instrument’s central role and its review cycle.

The representative of Pakistan expressed support for elements of “L.18”, but as a non‑party to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, it could not subscribe to its action plans.

The representative of Japan said his delegation had abstained on “L.57” due to the immense destructive power of nuclear weapons.  Their use clearly did not comply with the spirit of humanitarianism.  Realistic measures were needed to ensure progress in non‑proliferation efforts.  For the same reasons, Japan had also abstained on “L.18”.

The Committee then turned to issues concerning general and complete disarmament.

The representative of Syria, referring to the draft resolution “Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction” (document A/C.1/72/L.26/Rev.1), said the report mentioned in operative paragraph 2 had not been circulated.  He then requested the Secretariat to distribute copies.

The representative of the Russian Federation said that since the sponsor of “L.26/Rev.1” had managed to transform the document into a confrontational one, its consideration should be deferred until 2018.  Biased, non‑objective information had been added, making it difficult to constructively consider the text.

The representative of Poland said that as a co‑sponsor of “L.26/Rev.1”, his delegation did its utmost to ensure that it was as factual as possible.  The revised version contained references in operational paragraph 2 to the conclusion of the latest report of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)‑United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism.  The report’s conclusion was too important to be omitted or put aside until 2018, as suggested.  The translation of the report was forthcoming and as such, he requested the postponement of the consideration of “L.26” until 2 November.

The representative of the United States said given the gravity of the crimes that had been committed in Syria, it would be absurd to delay action until 2018.  As such, he could not support the suggestion put forth by the delegate of the Russian Federation.

The representative of the Russian Federation said he understood the importance of any investigation.  But, if the Committee were to await an investigation into all crimes perpetrated, then it would not be able to work at all.  Let Member States create a draft resolution to support the Chemical Weapons Convention, rather than one that would plunge members into antagonistic disputes.

The representative of the United States said his counterpart from the Russian Federation had tried to deflect attention from the issue at hand.  He noted that the Russian Federation had just vetoed the renewal of the Joint Investigative Mechanism and was enabling the regime in Damascus to carry out attacks.  The world could not continue to allow that type of behaviour and the Committee had a duty to take up “L.26/Rev.1”, he said, strongly objecting to deferring its consideration beyond 2 November.

The representative of Poland said the process of consultations leading to “L.26/Rev.1” had been open and transparent from the beginning.

Right of Reply

The representative of the United States, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said his delegation had put forth the draft resolution “Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations” (document A/C.1/72/L.6) because it believed strongly in complying with international obligations.  While the United States had not yet ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty, there had been a serious debate within the Government of the United States on the instrument.  On the Chemical Weapons Convention, the United States intended to complete the destruction of its stockpiles by 2023 and had provided $1 billion in assistance to the Russian Federation to carry out the destruction of theirs.  The Russian Federation needed to, among other things, end its illegal annexation of Crimea, its selective interpretation of the Treaty on Open Skies, and its undercutting of the Memorandum on Security Assurances in Connection with Ukraine’s Accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (Budapest Memorandum).  Those who lived in glass houses should not throw stones.

The representative of the Russian Federation said his country was serious about what was happening in Syria and was assisting the Government in its fight against terrorists.  There was no collaborated fact confirming the Government of Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its civilians.  It was absurd that the issue was even being raised.  The Syrian Government, under difficult conditions, had fully dismantled its chemical weapons capacity.  There was a failure to oust the Syrian Government and such attempts would continue to fail, he said, adding that it was better to support active Governments than try to oust them.  Let the people decide who was legitimate for them.  Turning to the matter of Crimea, which would remain part of the Russian Federation, he said that historically, the question had been settled.  To the United States, Crimea was just a territory.  But, to the Russian Federation, it was populated by people residing there for centuries.  Those people did not like what the United States did in Kyiv in 2014, which was a brutal unconstitutional coup.  They had legitimately conducted a referendum, during which they adopted a decision to secede from Ukraine.

For information media. Not an official record.