Fifty-ninth General Assembly
7th Meeting (PM)
‘TENSION BETWEEN NUCLEAR LEGALITY AND NUCLEAR REALITY’ CAUSE OF CRISIS
IN NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION REGIME, DISARMAMENT COMMITTEE TOLD
(Issued on 13 October 2004.)
The crisis in the nuclear non-proliferation regime had been brought about by the “tension between nuclear legality and nuclear reality”, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) was told this afternoon, as it continued its general debate.
The representative of Pakistan went on to explain that, although the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) only recognized five nuclear-weapon States, there were actually eight. Given that the recognized five intended to retain their nuclear weapons “for the foreseeable future”, the remaining three were likely to follow suit. Thus, unless the cooperation of the three nuclear-weapon States outside the Treaty was invoked, the “gaping hole” in the NPT regime would remain, he warned.
Furthermore, because the nuclear weapons in South Asia were essential for regional stability, attempts to persuade his country and India to adhere to the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon States were likely to be fruitless and could actually damage prospects for creating a credible global non-proliferation regime.
Also citing flaws in current international non-proliferation norms, the speaker from the Democratic People’s Republic of Koreadeclared that it was unacceptable for any State to advocate nuclear non-proliferation, while simultaneously enlarging its nuclear arsenal. Noting that certain countries had been designated members of an “axis of evil” and, therefore, “targets for pre-emptive nuclear strikes” simply because they were suspected of possessing weapons of mass destruction, he emphasized that such designations only served as an artificial pretext for global domination. Anyone who doubted that only had to look at the case of Iraq.
Reminding delegates that the nuclear-weapon States had committed themselves to abolishing their nuclear arsenals 36 years ago, he lamented that the pursuit by the “nuclear super-Power” of outer space-based weapons and a missile defence system was casting “dark clouds” over the international arena.
The representative of Cuba added that the international community was incorrectly focused on horizontal proliferation, that is, the spread of nuclear weapons amongst a greater number of countries, and ignoring vertical proliferation, by which nuclear Powers increased, developed or relaxed restraints on the use of their nuclear arsenals. Emphasizing that eliminating such arms was the only way to guarantee they would not be used, he lamented that some nuclear Powers did not have the political will to do so.
Sharing delegates’ concerns over the link between terrorists and weapons of mass destruction, he voiced support for all legitimate international efforts in that area. Nevertheless, he was worried that the Security Council, a non-representative body constrained by vetoes, continued to give itself functions that it was never assigned, particularly in the area of disarmament. Furthermore, because the appropriate machinery for disarmament-related instruments already existed, there was no excuse for documents such as resolution 1540 (2004), which concerns non-State actors and weapons of mass destruction, to be put before Member States without their acceptance.
Statements in the general debate were also made by the representatives of Ghana, Tunisia, Fiji, Qatar, Nepal, Guinea, Paraguay, Cameroon, Bahrain, Mozambique and Papua New Guinea. The Committee also heard from a speaker from the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. Wednesday, 13 October.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to continue its general debate on the whole range of arms limitation and security arrangements. (For background, see Press Releases GA/DIS/3271 and 3272.)
NANA EFFAH-APENTENG (Ghana) said that the euphoria brought on by the end of the cold war had long since waned, because the global village was still unsafe. Stressing that no country or region could insulate itself from today’s dire security challenges, he urged Member States to set aside their parochial interests and strive towards the greater good. After all, despite worrying shifts towards unilateralism, multilateral solutions were the only way to achieve any progress. In that context, he urged the Conference on Disarmament and the Disarmament Commission to break out of their deadlocks.
Calling for States to make the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) universal and to faithfully comply with all its provisions, he, at the same time, criticized the instrument’s discriminatory nature, which implied that only some countries could be trusted with nuclear weapons. In that regard, he said the Treaty would be undermined if some States continued to enhance their nuclear arsenals’ destructive capabilities and display such weapons as an “enviable source of power and respectability”.
Turning to other treaties, he said he was “disheartened” by the failure of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) to enter into force. In that regard, he entreated States, particularly the 11 whose ratification was necessary for its entry into force, to ratify it as soon as possible. Regarding negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, he expressed “great concern” that some parties were opposed to verification measures. After all, any treaty devoid of credible verification and inspection provisions would not do enough to keep dangerous materials out of the hands of terrorists.
Emphasizing that nuclear-weapon-free zones were critical components in the global disarmament and non-proliferation strategy, he noted that they could not exist without the support of nuclear-weapon States. He also touched upon conventional weapons. Focusing on landmines, he expressed hope that the necessary resources would be provided so that Africa could rid itself of the scourge. Before concluding, he voiced support for reforming the First Committee. However, such reforms should mainly focus on the creation of a “requisite environment” in which the Committee could work efficiently.
ALI HACHANI (Tunisia) said that the new international context existing in the last few years had highlighted the important role of the United Nations in the area of disarmament and international security. Today, the international community, more than ever before, was aware of the necessity for strengthening the role of international law and ensuring respect by States of treaties and agreements on disarmament and non-proliferation. Tunisia had always felt that the arms race was often carried out at the expense of the basic needs of the civil populations and their development.
His country considered multilateralism as the fundamental principle that should guide international negotiations in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation, he went on. It had, therefore, supported all efforts at the international and regional levels to promote multilateralism. He added that measures should be adopted to rid the world of nuclear weapons and to strengthen international security. In expression of its commitment to its obligations, Tunisia had, on 23 September, deposited its instrument of ratification of the CTBT. It had also, in collaboration with the Preparatory Committee of the CTBT, organized a workshop for North African countries in 2004.
Difficulties persisted and were hindering the disarmament process, he noted. The CTBT had not entered into force and the verification protocol of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention) had not been adopted. At the same time, the Conference on Disarmament, the sole multilateral negotiating forum for disarmament, continued to encounter difficulties in agreeing on its programme of work. In addition, the failure of the Member States to reach consensus on the holding of the fourth special session of the General Assembly on disarmament illustrated the situation in which the international community had found itself. In the light of that situation, and while awaiting the total elimination of nuclear weapons, non-nuclear-weapon States had the duty to ask for effective guarantees against the use or threat of use of those weapons against States that had voluntarily renounced them.
He said that proliferation in the Middle East remained a tense issue, because Israel, which had not declared its nuclear weapons, refused to become a party to the NPT and to place its nuclear installations under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards regime, without conditions. That was despite appeals by the Member States of the region and by the General Assembly, which had adopted numerous resolutions on the subject. The Israeli position constituted an obstacle to disarmament efforts, in general, and to the achievement of durable peace in the region. Tunisia called on the international community, and particularly major Powers, to take credible measures to force Israel to comply with its international obligations.
FILIMONE KAU (Fiji) said the international community was living in a complex security environment that had been brought on by new threats, such as weapons of mass destruction and international terrorism. In that context, he warned that no immediate solutions were in sight. As the United Nations approached its sixtieth anniversary, it was important for it to maintain its credibility and integrity as the most effective multilateral venue for addressing peace and security. Unfortunately, however, Member States were divided on crucial disarmament issues, cooperation remained elusive, and the Organization’s disarmament machinery was not making much progress. Therefore, it was important to reform the First Committee and, thus, strengthen multilateralism.
For its part, his country was an active regional player in the Pacific Islands Forum. Through that venue, Fiji had been working towards imposing strict controls on the import, possession and use of firearms and related materials. Given that it was also working to address the shipment of radioactive materials through the region, he welcomed recent assurances from shipping States to assume their responsibilities if accidents occurred. Regarding the nuclear-weapon-free zone in the South Pacific, he urged all parties that had not yet done so to ratify the relevant treaty. On small arms and light weapons, his country had hosted a United Nations regional workshop on the topic last August, he said.
Addressing nuclear weapons tests carried out in his region, which had led to radioactive contamination, he maintained that the parties responsible for such tests should help rehabilitate the areas they had damaged. Turning to the Millennium Development Goals, he warned that countries would never be able to meet them if they continued to spend large amounts of money on weapons. In that regard, he stressed that disarmament and development must complement each other. He also told delegates that, in light of Security Council resolution 1540, his region’s leaders had moved towards enacting legislation to deal with terrorism and organized crime.
SALEM AL-SHAFI (Qatar) said that his country hoped that the international community would narrow differences on the issues of international security. It was unfortunate that the countries that owned banned weapons still insisted on retaining their ownership and on even further developing them. Those countries wanted to monopolize the ownership of those weapons, while asking other States not to own them. That was a strange equation that was hard to accept. Qatar wanted to see those countries abandoning such weapons of mass destruction voluntarily in order to preserve life on earth.
The Middle East had been an inflamed region because of Israel’s occupation of Syria and Lebanon, he stated. That situation had led to an imbalance of power. The General Assembly had urged all parties to consider and support the proposal to create a region free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. All the countries or the region had responded positively to that call, with the exception of Israel, which had remained outside the relevant framework.
He noted that chemical and biological weapons, including small arms and light weapons, inhibited the achievement of sustainable development, in general. To address the problem posed by those weapons, relevant multilateral agreements must be implemented. It was also important to urge and encourage all countries to join those conventions. On its part, Qatar had established a national committee on banned weapons. It had also ratified a series of multilateral treaties, including the NPT. His country believed that the best way to control and stop the arms race was to seek solutions to difficult political problems and to convince warring factions to seek solutions before situations deteriorated too far.
SHAUKAT UMER (Pakistan) said that, despite the end of the cold war, the current century had dawned on a “world beset by conflict and destruction”, both among and within States. What separated today’s conflicts from earlier ones, however, was that, due to globalization, every catastrophe became international in its scope. Addressing global terrorism, which constituted a threat to all States, including the most powerful, he said it was, at least in part, a consequence of the growing asymmetry of global power and the inability of the international community to eliminate injustice, especially in the Islamic world. In that context, he lamented that the world still did not have a comprehensive strategy to address and eliminate the root causes of terrorism.
Agreeing with delegates that all efforts must be made to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, he said the most effective tool in that regard would be a non-discriminatory, universal treaty. For its part, his country had taken steps to eliminate an underground proliferation network which had had “tentacles” in two dozen countries. Pakistan had cooperated closely with the IAEA in that area, and he urged other concerned countries to follow suit. His country had also tightened security around its nuclear assets, strengthened export controls, and elaborated legislation to ensure the implementation of obligations under the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and of Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention).
Turning to the Middle East, he said the Arab-Israeli conflict was aggravated by the threat of the proliferation and use of weapons of mass destruction. Declaring that no one could ignore the fact that nuclear weapons already existed in the region, he added that the “current controversy relating to the nuclear programme of a country in the region” should be addressed in a cooperative framework. Voicing support for the fulfilment of international obligations by all States, he also backed the creation of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. Regarding the KoreanPeninsula, he said it was essential to prevent the emergence of nuclear weapons and an ensuing arms race there.
With respect to his own region, he lauded the recent dialogue between his country and India. However, durable peace and security in South Asia also depended on three factors, namely: the resolution of outstanding disputes, such as Jammu and Kashmir; mutual nuclear restraint; and a balance of conventional forces between India and Pakistan. To date, the two countries had already agreed on a number of nuclear confidence-building measures, such as improved hotlines, unilateral testing moratoria, and prior notification of missile flight tests. However, more such measures could still be adopted. They included de-alerting nuclear weapons, refraining from deploying nuclear ballistic missiles, refraining from acquiring anti-ballistic missile systems, and avoiding a nuclear and missile arms race.
He told delegates that the crisis in the nuclear non-proliferation regime had been partially brought about by the “tension between nuclear legality and nuclear reality”. Specifically, although the NPT only recognized five nuclear-weapon States, there were actually eight. Given that the recognized five intended to retain their nuclear weapons “for the foreseeable future”, the remaining three were likely to follow suit. Furthermore, because the nuclear weapons in South Asia were essential for regional stability, attempts to persuade his country and India to adhere to the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon States were likely to be fruitless and could actually damage prospects for creating a credible global non-proliferation regime. Unless the cooperation of the three nuclear-weapon States outside the NPT was invoked, the “gaping hole” in the NPT regime would remain, he said.
Other disarmament-related concerns facing the international community involved: the absence of an international agreement on missiles, since The Hague Code of Conduct was insufficient; reports about the further qualitative development of nuclear weapons; and the steady militarization of outer space. Given such concerns, it was more important than ever to break the deadlocks in the world’s disarmament machinery. He also voiced support for improving the effectiveness and working methods of the First Committee.
RAM CHANDRA JHA (Nepal) said that the common objective of the international community to find a durable peace would be predicated on eliminating weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles, as well as putting credible and sufficient curbs on small arms and light weapons. The efforts of the international community to advance the cause of disarmament had, however, never been without problems. While some progress had been registered with respect to disarmament in chemical and biological weapons, nuclear weapons remained a persistent and devastating threat to human civilization. Controls over small arms and light weapons also remained inadequate.
There was no doubt that disarmament and non-proliferation would need to go hand in hand, he continued. No non-nuclear-weapon State should engage in the proliferation of deadly nuclear arms. At the same time, nuclear-weapon States must also prove to the world that they were committed to nuclear disarmament. That would persuade non-nuclear States to abandon their nuclear ambitions. Nepal believed that countries should be able to engage in the peaceful use of nuclear technology, under non-discriminatory safeguards. It was pertinent that countries engaged in such use of nuclear technology complied with applicable IAEA verification measures.
He expressed his country’s support for nuclear-weapon-free zones and stressed the necessity to keep outer space free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. In times of terrorism worldwide, it was absolutely vital that the world community join forces to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the wrong hands, he added. The threat of terrorists having access to such deadly weapons and using them was not hypothetical anymore. Missile proliferation had also become a major cause of concern for the international community and needed to be controlled in an effective manner. The panel of governmental experts should make extra efforts to reach consensus on their final report.
PAK GIL YON (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said unilateralism, based on international supremacy, “ruthlessly destroys” the norms governing international relations. Furthermore, given that weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, were currently pointed at sovereign States, and that the development of new types of nuclear weapons were making the threat of nuclear pre-emptive strikes more credible, the challenges were clear. Noting that the nuclear-weapon States had committed themselves to abolishing their nuclear arsenals 36 years ago, he lamented that the pursuit by the “nuclear super-Power” of outer space-based weapons and a missile defence system was casting “dark clouds” over the international arena.
Declaring that it was unacceptable for any State to advocate nuclear non-proliferation while simultaneously enlarging their nuclear arsenals, he stressed that the situation was made more urgent by the fact that certain countries had been designated members of an “axis of evil” and, therefore, “targets for pre-emptive nuclear strikes”, simply because they were suspected of possessing weapons of mass destruction. Such designations only served as an artificial pretext for global domination, and anyone who doubted that only had to look at the case of Iraq.
Telling delegates that he opposed the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, he added that non-proliferation must be coupled with the cessation of qualitative improvements of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Furthermore, until all nuclear weapons were eliminated, it would be inappropriate to refer to any strides in disarmament. Turning to the Korean peninsula, he said the nuclear issue there had roots in the hostile policies of the United States towards his country, which had been in place for over 50 years. In that context, he said that he consistently advocated the denuclearization of the peninsula and the resolution of the current impasse through dialogue and negotiation.
ALPHA IBRAHIMA SOW (Guinea) said that it was difficult to give a positive response to the various questions concerning whether the international community had made real progress in the disarmament area since last year, given such developments as the continued lack of movement on disarmament issues and the increase in military spending. Guinea, however, believed that there were ways to bring the international community out of deadlock. The multilateral disarmament regime must be continuously readapted to address emerging challenges. In that regard, the role of multilateral institutions had become more important than ever. Countries should also avoid assuming commitments that they would not abide by, and there should be universal adhesion to multilateral treaties, as well as the adoption of strong safeguards in the nuclear area. States should show greater political will towards ensuring the entry into force of the CTBT.
He noted that, since the end of the Second World War, the attention of the international community had been focused on the question of nuclear weapons. Small arms and light weapons, however, had continued to claim large numbers of victims throughout the world. Those weapons were a particular problem in Africa. Dynamic cooperation was vital at both the regional and international level to promote and guarantee effective implementation of the Programme of Action that had been adopted on illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. Turning to anti-personnel mines, he said that the efforts to eradicate those weapons in Africa had been hampered by lack of assistance to national efforts of the affected countries. Guinea appealed for financial resources and technical assistance to the States concerned.
He said that his country encouraged the seeking of consensus on the subject of improving the efficiency of the First Committee and supported any reform that did not hinder the rights of Member States to defend their legitimate interests. It also approved the proposal to regroup similar items on the Committee’s agenda and to ensure effective follow-up mechanisms for implementing resolutions and decisions adopted by the Committee. Those proposals would improve the credibility of the Committee.
ELADIO LOIZAGA (Paraguay) said multilateralism was the most appropriate and essential instrument for the maintenance of international peace and security. In fact, it was only through the efforts of all States that global harmony could be preserved. Declaring that weapons of mass destruction had rightly become the focus of discussion, he expressed concern that such arms might multiply and fall into the hands of non-State actors. Effective implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 would supplement the work already being done in that area. He, thus, attached great importance to inter-State cooperation in the implementation of that document. He also stressed that disarmament and non-proliferation could not be dealt with separately.
Expressing special concern over the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, he maintained that responsibility must be shared by the countries that produced them, as well as those where they were marketed. Excessive accumulation, uncontrolled proliferation, and the improper use of such arms led to instability in many parts of the world and ultimately led to international insecurity. In that regard, he voiced support for an international instrument on tracing small arms and light weapons. Before concluding, he underscored that, with support from the Secretariat’s Department of Disarmament Affairs and the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, his country was working to eradicate the illicit trade in small arms. Thus far, it had destroyed firearms and munitions, and held training courses for officials.
NGO NGO FERDINAND (Cameroon) said that the survival of humankind was threatened by weapons of mass destruction. Those weapons were coveted by terrorists and other no less dangerous actors. Despite the unfortunate regression in the implementation of international disarmament and non-proliferation treaties, however, the international community must not overlook some precious achievements. It was important to promote the universalization of accession to the various disarmament and non-proliferation instruments. The proliferation of nuclear arsenals only protected the possessing States, and not the non-possessorStates. In that regard, becoming part of the CTBT was central. Non-nuclear-weapon States needed be given assurances that nuclear weapons would not be used against them. In addition, the right to the peaceful use of nuclear technology must be protected.
He said that small arms and light weapons continued to pose a serious challenge and was a source of concern to his country, given the magnitude of the losses they caused. Such weapons led to insecurity and instability, particularly in the Africa region. His country, therefore, looked forward to the first outline of the international instrument on the marking and tracing of light weapons and small arms. It also supported the work of the intergovernmental working group to consider the issue. On anti-personnel landmines, he said that the upcoming Nairobi conference to review the Ottawa Convention would be an opportunity for the renewal of commitment to a world free of landmines, and to assess what needed to be done to make the treaty fully universal. He called for support for the Permanent Consultative Committee in Central Africa, saying that, more than ever, it needed the support of the international community to continue its programmes.
SALAH ALI HASAN HELAL AL-MALKI (Bahrain) said weapons of mass destruction still constituted a source of concern for the international community, especially given the slow pace of disarmament. In that context, he lauded measures taken by Libya to abandon its weapons of mass destruction programmes and expressed the hope that other States, which still sought to possess deadly arms, would follow suit. Currently, the numbers of weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, exceeded the numbers required by States to maintain security. It was, thus, essential to intensify efforts to develop the necessary machinery to eliminate and combat the importance of such arms. For example, negative security assurances should be given to non-nuclear-weapon States.
On small arms and light weapons, he expressed concern about their illicit trade and the possibility that they might fall into the hands of those who did not respect the “right to life”. For its part, his Government was working to limit the proliferation of such arms, and supported the creation of an international instrument on the tracing of such weapons. Turning to nuclear-weapon-free zones, they had been a major factor in encouraging peace and security, by alleviating tensions and conflicts in regions throughout the world. Therefore, one should exist in the Middle East, where currently only Israel possessed nuclear weapons. He added that Israel’s possession of such arms was a source of instability.
Voicing support for reforming the General Assembly and its Main Committees, he said their resolutions should be more effective. That required the “reconsideration” of matters related to international peace and security. Expressing hope that improving the Committee’s work would help achieve a “unity of opinion”, he said the international community should look at how it could implement resolutions, instead of how to belittle them. He also stressed the need to respect all disarmament-related treaties and agreements, so that security, love, harmony, prosperity, tranquillity and peace could prevail in the world.
ORLANDO REQUEIJO GUAL (Cuba) said delegates kept saying that the cold war was a thing of the past. Actually, however, global military expenditures were on the rise, particularly because of the actions of the planet’s hegemonic super-Power, which did not seem to care about the world’s weakest countries. In that regard, he reasoned that there could be much social advancement if only resources devoted to weapons were redirected towards achieving a balance between the world’s richest and poorest countries.
Stressing the need for the elimination of nuclear weapons, he said the international community was incorrectly focused on horizontal proliferation. That was unfortunate, since there were currently thousands of nuclear weapons in existence, and they greatly endangered mankind. Emphasizing that eliminating such arms was the only way to guarantee against their use, he lamented that some nuclear Powers did not have the political will to do so. Rejecting selective applications of the NPT, he said the world could not afford to continue stalling on an instrument governing negative security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States.
On conventional weapons, he said he was greatly concerned by their spread. Conceding that it was good to prohibit the indiscriminate and irresponsible use of landmines, he, at the same time, wondered when the international community would take real steps to ensure that certain countries did not continue to develop and use new types of deadly armaments. Sharing delegates’ concerns over the link between terrorists and weapons of mass destruction, he voiced support for all legitimate international efforts in that area. Nevertheless, he was worried that the Security Council, a non-representative body constrained by vetoes, continued to give itself functions that it was never assigned, particularly in the area of disarmament. Furthermore, because the appropriate machinery for disarmament-related instruments already existed, there was no excuse for legally binding documents to be set before Member states without their acceptance.
Stressing that problems associated with terrorists and weapons of mass destruction should be solved through political and diplomatic channels, he rejected any arbitrary interpretations of Security Council resolution 1540, especially those by a certain military Power which might use the document to unilaterally use force against States that were believed to pose threats. Noting that high-level officials in the United States had issued false, unproven accusations about his country, regarding alleged biological weapons capabilities, he said his Government had every right to be concerned.
Turning to the Proliferation Security Initiative, he expressed regret that it focused on horizontal proliferation and undermined multilateralism. Declaring that it did not contribute to “international unity”, he wondered why an attempt was being made to impose a non-transparent mechanism that had not been produced within the United Nations system, especially since prerogatives that Initiative States had granted to themselves might allow them to behave in an “abusive manner” to other States, for their own ideological purposes.
Regarding the reform of the Committee, he said he was in favour of improving the working methods of all United Nations organs. However, he said that the right of all Member States to promote and defend their legitimate interests must not be hampered. Declaring that one of the serious problems affecting the General Assembly was the lack of appropriate follow-up mechanisms regarding the implementation of adopted resolutions, he criticized the lack of political will on the part of some Member States.
FILIPE CHIDUMO (Mozambique) said that the threat of terrorism and the international response to that evil had brought out new concerns related to the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens. The fight against terrorism required broad-based international cooperation. To effectively tackle terrorism, its root causes needed to be addressed. Multilateralism and collective solutions to global concerns within the framework of the United Nations were essential, with a view to creating a climate of trust and confidence.
The arms race, including nuclear weapons and non-compliance with relevant United Nations legal instruments, had long been a source of concern and also a source of insecurity, with the risk of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists, he went on. In the same vein, vertical and horizontal proliferation of conventional weapons, including ballistic missiles, continued to be a matter of concern for international peace and stability. The Conference on Disarmament should, therefore, resume its duty of negotiating new arms control and disarmament agreements, as well as seeking the universalization of relevant international disarmament instruments in place, such as the NPT, the CTBT and the Conventions on biological and chemical weapons.
He noted that armed conflicts not only led to increased military spending, but also to widespread and uncontrolled availability of arms in the concerned countries. They also increased the availability of small arms and light weapons, which had a great potential for use in criminal activities and destabilization. His country was at the forefront of the international action to curb both the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and the global efforts to ban anti-personnel land mines. It viewed the implementation of the 2001 Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects as a critical step to minimize the easy availability and unlawful use of those weapons. In that regard, he welcomed the launching, in June of 2004 at the United Nations, of multilateral negotiations on an international instrument to identify and trace illicit small arms as a further step towards the elimination of that trade.
JIMMY U. OVIA (Papua New Guinea) said that his country was very much concerned about the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. Those weapons were actually of more danger to the general population of Papua New Guinea than the larger weapons of mass destruction. In fact, that category of weapons was his country’s weapons of mass destruction. They caused its people more harm and killed and injured more people than weapons of mass destruction. Papua New Guinea, therefore, supported the moves to negotiate a global convention to trace and monitor the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. The country was looking for ways in which it could effectively participate and contribute to that end. There was also a need to reduce the production of those weapons.
Turning to the question of improving the working methods of the First Committee, Mr. Ovia said that very small delegations like his own had been assisted by changing the way meetings of the Committee were organized. Those had included the decision to alternate between meetings of the First and Fourth Committees and to reduce the number of resolutions and/or combine others, as well as to do away altogether with those deemed superfluous. Papua New Guinea would work with like-minded delegations in achieving the goal of making the Committee’s work more effective and participatory.
ANDA FILIP, representative of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), said that the Union had a long and rich experience of activities to promote rapprochement, particularly through work it had carried out to reduce East-West tensions during the 1970s and 1980s through its own parliamentary Helsinki process. In 1991, the Union set up a process, known as the Conference on the Security and Cooperation in the Mediterranean (CSCM) process, to promote security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region. It consisted of a series of conferences and aimed to develop a comprehensive regional policy drawn up with the participation of everyone in the region and for the benefit of all, and to lay the foundations both the intergovernmental and inter-parliamentary levels. The CSCM was intended as a meeting place where, in a climate of security and stability, a genuine cultural dialogue and partnership designed to ensure the balanced growth of the region could develop. The process was not directly aimed at tackling existing conflicts, but rather was meant to serve as a permanent mechanism for dialogue and negotiations, to generate positive momentum and facilitate the settlement of such conflicts.
One original feature of the process was the formula of layered participation, which included main participants and three categories of associate participants, she stated. That approach was adopted to take into account the political conditions peculiar to the region and especially to allow for the involvement of representatives from countries that did not have a Mediterranean coastline.
Since its inception, the CSCM had held three Inter-Parliamentary Conferences and eight thematic meetings, she continued. It had also maintained an ongoing consultative process at the IPU Statutory Assemblies which took place twice each year, and had worked to establish Mediterranean institutions for cooperation and security.
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