|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixtieth General Assembly
40th & 41st Meetings (AM & PM)
general assembly reaffirms strong support for nobel prize-winning
international atomic energy agency, director general elbaradei
Reaffirming its strong support for the Nobel Peace Prize-winning work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, the General Assembly today appealed to United Nations Member States to continue to back the Agency’s indispensable role in encouraging and assisting the development and practical application of atomic energy for peaceful uses.
Adopting a resolution by a recorded vote of 137 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) with no abstentions, the Assembly also reaffirmed its strong support of the Agency in the area of technology transfer to developing countries and in nuclear safety, verification and security (see Annex).
The Assembly also took note of the important resolutions adopted by the Agency’s Governing Council in the past year, including on measures to strengthen the IAEA’s activities related to nuclear science, technology and applications; on the application of its safeguards in the Middle East; and on the implementation of the Agreement between the IAEA and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for the application of safeguards in connection with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
In his annual report, Mr. ElBaradei told the Assembly that cooperation in matters of safety and security had resulted in some improvements, but that there was still much to be done, chiefly in the area of nuclear verification. Resumption of inspections in Iraq in 2002, the subsequent termination of inspections in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the IAEA’s more recent probe of clandestine nuclear programmes in Libya and Iran, and the discovery of illicit nuclear procurement networks all highlighted the unprecedented array of challenges to the non-proliferation and arms control regime.
“The current challenges to international peace and security, including those related to nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear arms control, cannot be wished away”, he said, stressing that it was urgent and indispensable that the international community continue to build a global security system that was equitable, inclusive and effective.
Hamid Baeidi-Nejad, Director for Disarmament and International Security, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Iran, said membership in the NPT, and the IAEA safeguards regime, should not impede the peaceful use of nuclear technology, while non-membership was rewarded by acquiescence, as in the case Israel, which continued to develop its “clandestine” nuclear weapons programme. “If anything, failure to accept NPT safeguards obligations should have made the outsider to [the Treaty] subject to the most severe restrictions, and not provide it with impunity”, he said.
He stressed that Iran was determined to exercise its inalienable right under the NPT to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes within its overall economic plans for the country. To that end, it was also committed to operate its programme under the IAEA verification system and in conformity with its obligations under the NPT. Iran had and would continue to cooperate with the IAEA and insist that all parties must abide by the provisions of the NPT, as well as stringently adhere to the IAEA statute.
Speaking before the vote, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the IAEA was not relevant to the nuclear situation in his country and that it was, therefore, inappropriate for other nations to talk about his country’s obligations under the NPT. Indeed, the issue was between his Government and the United States, which had been threatening his country with nuclear weapons for over half a century, and referred to it as part of the “axis of evil”. He would not support the draft because it did not contribute to the resolution of the issues regarding his country’s nuclear programme.
In other business today, the Assembly adopted a resolution on the situation in Central America: progress in fashioning a region of peace, freedom, democracy and development, by which it noted the progress achieved in that region, and decided that the relevant item should remain on its agenda, beginning with the sixtieth session, for consideration upon notification by a Member State.
The Assembly also approved a decision on zone of peace and cooperation of the South Atlantic, under the terms of which it would defer its consideration of matters related to that item, as well as the Secretary-General’s relevant report, and include the item in the provisional agenda of its sixty-first session. The Assembly further decided to consider the item biannually from now on.
Jan Eliasson (Sweden), President of the General Assembly, began today’s meeting by extending the Assembly’s deepest sympathies to the Government of India and to the families of those killed in two terror attacks in New Delhi over the weekend. He said the attacks underscored the need for a comprehensive convention on terrorism and for the Assembly to take up a strategy on counter-terrorism.
India’s representative then expressed his heartfelt acknowledgement for the kind words of sympathy, saying his country did not regard the incident as an attack on the Government or institutions of the State. Rather, it was an attack on ordinary working people, who were preparing for the upcoming festival of lights, which was a way for families and society to come together. Ordinary people would continue to maintain tolerance and harmony among all faiths, as they had for thousands of years.
On Holocaust remembrance, a new item on the Assembly’s agenda, Mr. Eliasson said remembering that tragedy was a unifying historic warning around which all had to rally: not only to recall grievous crimes but to reaffirm the unfaltering resolve to prevent their recurrence. Leaders at the 2005 World Summit had lived up to that test by unanimously accepting the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleaning and crimes against humanity. That was a major step in preventing genocide. The draft text on “Holocaust remembrance” before the Assembly today must be viewed in that context, he added.
At the outset of the meeting, the Assembly, acting on the recommendation of its General Committee, decided to include an addition item in its current agenda on the granting of observer status in the Assembly for the Ibero-American Conference, and to allocate the item to the Sixth Committee (Legal). It also decided to defer consideration of the item “Question of the Comorian island of Mayotte” to the Assembly’s sixty-second session and to include it in the provisional agenda of that session.
Also speaking today were high-level officials and representatives of Egypt (on behalf of the Arab States), United Kingdom (on behalf of the European Union), Uruguay (on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR)), Pakistan, Malaysia, Sudan, India, Ukraine, Nigeria, China, Bangladesh, Belarus, Indonesia, Singapore, Iraq, Venezuela, Russian Federation, Republic of Korea, Armenia, Cuba, Bahamas (on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)), Norway, Denmark, France, Romania, United States, Australia (also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand), Poland and Germany.
Drafts were introduced by the representatives of Japan, Nicaragua and Israel.
The Assembly will reconvene tomorrow, 1 November, at 10 a.m. to conclude its consideration on Holocaust remembrance and to take action on a related draft text.
The General Assembly met today to consider the annual report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); the situation in Central America; the zone of peace and cooperation of the South Atlantic; and Holocaust remembrance. It was also expected to take up the third report of its General Committee, concerning organization of work and allocation of items.
Before the Assembly is a note by the Secretary-General (document A/60/204), transmitting the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 2004 report. The report states that nuclear energy continues to account for roughly 16 per cent of world electricity production. While 94 per cent of existing nuclear power capacity is in industrialized countries, developing countries account for 60 per cent of new reactors under construction, with the majority of those in Asia.
Concern has grown in recent years over the proliferation and security risks posed by the high-enriched uranium fuel used in many research reactors, the report continues. The Global Threat Reduction Initiative, launched last year, is trying to speed up conversions of research reactors to low-enriched uranium fuel while focusing on returning high-enriched uranium fuel to its country of origin. In 2004, 95 kilos of fresh high-enriched uranium were repatriated to the Russian Federation.
A significant part of the Agency’s work lies in transferring peaceful nuclear technology for applications in areas such as agriculture, health, water management, environment and industry. A major focus is on combating the growing cancer threat in the developing world by delivering radiotherapy and related diagnostic techniques to States. One of the key elements of the Agency’s mandate is to maintain the safety and security of global nuclear activities. In March, an Action Plan for the Safety of Transport of Radioactive Material was approved. The Agency continues to update internationally accepted safety standards, though many States are not yet party to those agreements.
Some countries still lack the programmes and resources to respond to the threat of nuclear and radiological terrorism. To prevent illicit or non-peaceful use of such material, the Agency has been providing international advisory missions, training workshops and technical guidance documents. In 2004 alone, 121 incidents of trafficking in nuclear or other radioactive material were reported, 11 of which involved nuclear material. That is the highest number since 1993.
The Agency’s verification and non-proliferation activities have been challenged by the rise in international terrorism, the discovery of clandestine nuclear programmes, the emergence of covert nuclear supply networks, and the acquisition by more countries of sensitive nuclear know-how and capabilities. In 2004, safeguards were applied for 152 States with agreements in force with the IAEA. The Agency concluded that all declared nuclear material in those States has remained in peaceful nuclear activities or otherwise been adequately accounted for.
The Agency was unable to perform any verification activities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, however, states the report. Therefore, it could not draw any conclusions about that country’s nuclear material or activities. The Agency continued work on clarifying issues regarding Iran’s past undeclared nuclear materials and activities. It also performed verification related to the country’s voluntary suspension of enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.
The report notes that Libya had taken corrective actions on past failures to fulfil requirements of its NPT safeguards agreement. It signed an additional protocol to that agreement, and has shown good cooperation with the Agency. The Republic of Korea informed the Agency about experiments involving nuclear material that should have been reported earlier, and has cooperated in clarifying these past activities. Several open source agreements indicated the possibility of unreported material activities and facilities in Egypt. Egypt acknowledged it had conducted unreported experiments and failed to declare small amounts of material to the Agency. It continues to cooperate in clarifying these activities.
A related draft resolution (document A/60/L.13) would have the Assembly reaffirm its strong support for the Agency’s indispensable role in encouraging and assisting the development and practical application of atomic energy for peaceful uses, in technology transfer to developing countries and in nuclear safety, verification and security.
The Assembly would also welcome the award of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2005 to the Agency and its Director General, Mohamed ElBaradei, for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way.
The report of the Secretary-General on the progress over the past two years in building peaceful, democratic and equitable societies in Central America (document A/60/218) states that Central America is facing a difficult period with many of its problems generated by external factors. Central American countries have to become more competitive in world markets including through greater investment in human capital. Electorates in El Salvador and Guatemala had voted in substantial numbers in elections, but many citizens remained disenfranchised, particularly in indigenous rural areas. Throughout the region, political systems are weak and political parties frequently serve as only political platforms and lack ideological foundations.
Some inroads have been made against corruption but more has to be done, the report states. Establishing accountability for those who transgress the law remains a major challenge. There is also a crisis in public security that has to be addressed. It is important that public security matters are kept separate from national defence matters. One solution is the expansion of police forces. There has been some success in the resolution of conflicts.
The Alliance for the Sustainable Development of Central America has lost backing and some governmental bodies and leaders in the region prefer to harmonize their efforts under the aegis of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). The United Nations is working to ensure that foreign assistance to the region is coordinated with the priorities of national Governments. Opportunities for future initiatives lie in strengthening democratic infrastructures and the rule of law, eradicating poverty, integrating water-resource management and bolstering competitiveness. The European Union is a principal provider of support for integration of the Central American region and more such international efforts are essential.
A draft resolution on the situation in Central America : progress in fashioning a region of peace, freedom, democracy and development (document A/60/L.14) would have the Assembly, noting the progress achieved in that region, decide that the relevant item should remain on its agenda, beginning with the sixtieth session, for consideration upon notification by a Member State.
Delegations also have before them a draft decision on zone of peace and cooperation of the South Atlantic (document A/60/L.11), which would have the Assembly defer its consideration of matters related to that item, as well as the Secretary-General’s relevant report, and include the item in the provisional agenda of its sixty-first session. The decision would also have the Assembly henceforth consider the item biannually.
By the terms of a draft resolution on Holocaust remembrance (document A/60/L.12), the Assembly would resolve that the United Nations will designate 27 January as an annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. It would also have the Assembly reject any denial of the Holocaust as an historical event, either in full or in part, and urge Member States to develop educational programmes that will inculcate future generations with the lessons of the Holocaust in order to help prevent future acts of genocide.
The text would also have the Assembly condemn without reserve all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, whenever they occur. The Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to establish an outreach programme on the “Holocaust and the United Nations”, as well as measures to mobilize civil society for Holocaust remembrance and education, in order to help prevent future acts of genocide.
The third report of the General Committee (document A/60/250/Add.2) recommends that the item on granting observer status in the Assembly to the Ibero-American Conference be included in the current agenda of the Assembly and allocated to the Sixth Committee (Legal). It also recommends that the Assembly defer the “Question of the Comorian Island of Mayotte” to its sixty-second session and that it be included in the provisional agenda of that session.
Expression of Solidarity with India
JAN ELIASSON (Sweden), President of the General Assembly, began today’s session by extending the Assembly’s deepest sympathies to the Government of India and to the families of those killed in two terror attacks in New Delhi over the weekend. He said the attacks underscored the need for a comprehensive convention on terrorism and for the Assembly to take up a strategy on counter-terrorism.
NIRUPAM SEN ( India) expressed his heartfelt acknowledgement for the kind words of sympathy. He said India did not regard the incident as an attack on the Government or institutions of the State. Rather, it was an attack on ordinary working people, who were preparing for the upcoming festival of lights, which was a way for families and society to come together. Ordinary people would continue to maintain tolerance and harmony among all faiths, as they had for thousands of years.
Statement by IAEA Director General
MOHAMED ELBARADEI, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), introduced the Agency’s report, noting that this year marked the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s groundbreaking work that began to unlock the secrets of the atom. It was also the sixtieth anniversary of the first and only use of nuclear weapons, at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Last year marked half a century since a nuclear power plant first supplied energy to the electricity grid in the Russian Federation. He then went on to highlight the IAEA’s work over the past year in each part of the Agency’s mission -- technology, safety and verification.
He said that the past few years had witnessed a considerable change in attitudes towards nuclear energy. Fast growing global energy demands, an increased emphasis on the security of energy supply, and the risks of climate change were driving renewed consideration of nuclear power. Near-term growth in the sector centred on Asia and Eastern Europe, which together accounted for 22 of the 24 units now under construction. The Russian Federation intended to double its nuclear generation capacity by 2020; China planned nearly a sixfold expansion in its capacity by the same date; and India anticipated a tenfold increase by 2022.
And while elsewhere in the world plans remained more modest, he said that it was clear nuclear energy was re-emerging in a way that few would have predicted just a few years ago. He went on to reiterate his plea for multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle to address challenges posed by proliferation of sensitive operations, such as those related to uranium enrichment and plutonium separation. To that end, he updated the Assembly on the work of the year-old group of experts he had established to explore the matter, saying their work had already helped to shape an understanding of how such controls could be put in place.
Turning to human health concerns, he highlighted the Agency’s Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT), which was working to increase its capacity to assist developing States, by mobilizing more resources to address personnel, infrastructure, technology and training needs, particularly since the number of cases was rising most rapidly in those countries. Noting that access to radiotherapy equipment was all but non-existent for some, he said that in Austria, one such machine was available for every 270,000 people, but for most African countries, the ratio was one for every 10 million people.
After highlighting the Agency’s work in the food and agriculture field, as well as in environmental rehabilitation and study, he turned to nuclear safety and security, noting that the IAEA’s safety standards were receiving increasingly broad acceptance as the global reference for protecting people and the environment against nuclear accidents and harmful radiation exposure. He urged all countries to take full advantage of the Agency’s safety review services, as well as to implement the provisions of the International Convention on the Suppression of Nuclear Terrorism and other relevant treaties.
In the area of nuclear verification, he said that while clear progress had been made in some areas, there had been regression on some fronts. The Agency’s resumption of inspections in Iraq in 2002, the subsequent termination of inspection in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, its more recent investigation of clandestine nuclear programmes in Libya and Iran, the discovery of illicit nuclear procurement networks, and the lack of agreement at the 2005 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) had spotlighted the unprecedented array of challenges to the non-proliferation and arms control regime.
The Agency’s verification system had shown great resourcefulness in the face of such challenges, he said, noting that it had been strengthened in a number of ways, including through enhanced use of satellite imagery, environmental sampling and a variety of new technologies. It had also begun applying “integrated safeguards”, and had adjusted its policy on “small quantities protocols”, to ensure more effective verification in all countries with comprehensive safeguards.
Turning to highlight some of his ideas for the future, he hoped, among other things, for a more explicit focus on the need for “energy for development”. The current global energy imbalance had become starkly clear to him on a recent trip to Nigeria, where per capita electricity consumption was only about 70 kilowatt-hours per year, which contrasted sharply with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average of some 8,000 kilowatt-hours per year.
In the area of nuclear security, he said the Agency needed to improve its understanding of the patterns that characterized illicit trafficking activity, in order to provide States with the information needed to combat such activity. In the area of nuclear verification, priorities for the year included normalizing safeguards in Iraq; bringing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea back to the NPT regime; providing the required assurances about Iran’s nuclear programme; universalizing the Additional Protocol to the IAEA safeguards system; and continuing to investigate the nature and extent of the illicit procurement network.
He also urged the commencement of negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament on a treaty to ban the production of material for nuclear weapons, the so-called fissile material cut-off treaty. He said that much remained to be done, expressing disappointment that the 2005 NPT Review Conference had yielded no agreement, and that no agreement on non-proliferation had been reached at the 2005 World Summit. “The current challenges to international peace and security, including those related to nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear arms control cannot be wished away”, he said, stressing that it was urgent and indispensable that the international community continue to build a global security system that was equitable, inclusive and effective.
YUKIYA AMANO (Japan), introducing the draft resolution on the report of the IAEA (document A/60/L.13), said the annual report underlined the Agency’s significant contribution to international peace and stability through promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and maintaining and strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime through safeguards implementation.
The draft resolution reflected a broad agreement among IAEA’s member States, he said. In the last two years, the Agency had adopted a streamlined approach to produce a short and simple resolution. Compared to the previous two years, the present text referred to the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Mr. ElBaradei and the IAEA, which would provide a great boost to the Agency’s activities. The draft gave an account of activities of specific interest, focusing the Assembly’s attention on the most significant activities of the IAEA. He hoped the draft would be adopted by consensus.
MAGED ABDELFATTAH ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Arab States, said the Agency played a vital role in maintaining nuclear safety and security. Egypt appreciated the Agency’s help in economic development and nuclear technical cooperation. Funding for technical cooperation had to be increased. It was important to focus on projects with tangible economic returns. A programme of sustainable development projects should be elaborated for each State. The integrated safeguard networks would not be effective without universality. The Agency must strive further to achieve universality of the safeguard system. Arab States had made many efforts to guard against proliferation.
The Arab States had, since 1980, called for a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East, he said. They had also called for a comprehensive nuclear safeguard system throughout the Middle East. It was regrettable that Israel had rejected that system, a decision which negatively impacted all non-proliferation efforts in general, and in the Middle East in particular. Arab countries called on the IAEA Director General to take steps to bring about such a system. The first step must be to eliminate all nuclear weapons from the region under the supervision of the IAEA. There was an urgent need to implement the Agency’s programmes to protect nuclear materials from nuclear terrorism. It was necessary to place all nuclear materials under supervision as soon as possible.
ADAM THOMSON ( United Kingdom), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said his delegation was fully committed to the NPT and had, this past April, agreed on a common position on the Treaty regime. And while the European Union reiterated its disappointment at the lack of agreement on nuclear non-proliferation issues at the 2005 NPT Review Conference and the 2005 World Summit, it would also reiterate its call on all States not yet party to the Treaty to join the instrument as “non-nuclear-weapon States”.
He went on to say that the IAEA’s international safeguards system was an essential part of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime. Those instruments provided necessary support for the political goal of sustaining an environment in which there could be peaceful uses of nuclear energy without the diversion of nuclear material to nuclear weapons programmes. To that end, the European Union recognized the ongoing need for a properly funded safeguards system that was both effective and cost-efficient, as well as credible, robust with terms that could be competently met.
The European Union also continued to support the universalization of the additional protocols to the IAEA safeguards agreements. The fight against terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction deserved a specific reference, as it represented a challenge of paramount importance to the international community. Therefore, he strongly supported all appropriate measures aimed at preventing terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons.
ENRIQUE LOEDEL (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), said the peaceful development of nuclear energy demanded the establishment of an unequivocal environment of mutual trust, which could only be built on complete transparency in each country’s activities. Every responsible member of the international community must continue working toward a solution to the problems posed by proliferation. The members of MERCOSUR and the IAEA were working to establish a strong and efficient verification mechanism, whose implementation should be rational and not automatic.
He said the world was currently undergoing a critical phase regarding the shared objectives embodied by the IAEA. Every country had the right to responsibly develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and must also comply with international obligations. Nuclear energy would play a fundamental role in the near future, not only in the production of clean energy, but also in terms of human health, agriculture, industry, food preservation, water desalination and other peaceful purposes.
The Common System for Control and Accounting, implemented by the Argentinean-Brazilian Agency of Accounting and Control, deserved a special mention, he added. It established the parameters of cooperation between those two countries and promoted cooperation with the IAEA to ensure an effective and more efficient implementation of the safeguards of the quadripartite agreement (between Argentina, Brazil, the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials and the IAEA).
AIZAZ AHMAD CHAUDHRY ( Pakistan) said that since socio-economic development would require a growing supply of energy, and since nuclear power would be an important source of that energy, the work of the IAEA would be increasingly vital. It was necessary for the Agency to aid in the transfer of safe technology to developing countries. The work of the Technical Cooperation Programme was particularly crucial and it should be strengthened and expanded.
Pakistan was growing rapidly and nuclear power was an important ingredient in its strategy for accommodating that growth, he said. Pakistan had two nuclear power plants and was building a third. Pakistan also had a nuclear desalination plant and food and medical products irradiation plants, as well as nuclear medical centres. In all of those facilities, Pakistan had adhered strictly to safety and security measures of the Nuclear Safety Convention. Pakistan had also worked strenuously to prevent nuclear proliferation. An independent Nuclear Regulatory Authority had been in existence for the fifth year. Last year, Pakistan’s Parliament promulgated a comprehensive Export Control Act.
In the Agency’s work, Pakistan stressed the need for balance between safety and security concerns and promotional requirements. Safeguards had to be complied with, but verification must be conducted in a non-discriminatory way, so as to ensure that the Agency’s safeguards were not used to serve partisan political objectives. The Agency must be a promoter of, as well as a watchdog over, nuclear activities. The IAEA could not be an investigative body. The Agency’s mission could be enhanced by avoiding its politicization and adhering to its technical nature; by a greater emphasis on its technical cooperation activities; through the allocation of more resources for technical cooperation; and through greater involvement of developing countries in technical cooperation projects.
HAMIDON ALI ( Malaysia) said the total elimination of nuclear weapons was the highest priority and the only absolute guarantee against the use of nuclear weapons. Until then, an unconditional and legally binding instrument on security assurances should be concluded as a first priority. It was regrettable that a consensus document on substantive issues had not been concluded at the 2005 NPT Review Conference. Nuclear-weapon States should not assume they had carte blanche to retain their weapons indefinitely. Non-proliferation could not succeed without the disarmament of nuclear-weapon States. Those States had to stop ignoring the nuclear arsenals of non-NPT member States. The NPT must become a truly universal disarmament regime.
Continuing, he said the strengthening and creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones was a positive step toward global nuclear disarmament, even as he supported the inalienable right of States to non-proliferative and peaceful uses of nuclear technology. Questions on the matter should be addressed in a balanced and non-discriminatory manner. The Agency should make sure nuclear technology was not diverted for further military purposes. It was the only competent authority for nuclear verification within the framework of its safeguards system.
MOHAMED YOUSIF IBRAHIM ABDELMANNAN ( Sudan) said he appreciated and supported the contents of the IAEA’s report, which reflected efforts to establish a nuclear-weapon-free world. The Middle East was on the edge of the abyss because Israel continued to possess nuclear weapons and refused to adhere to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The international community must take all necessary measures so that Israel would abandon its nuclear weapons and accept joining the Treaty immediately.
He said the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes was a right guaranteed by the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Given the economic and developmental advantages of that technology, he vigorously supported the right of Iran to enjoy that advantage and to do so within the Treaty’s framework. The European Union and Iran should base their dialogue on principles of credibility and transparency. He also extended appreciation to the IAEA for its work in Africa, in fighting malaria and providing clean water.
SITARAM YECHURY ( India) said it was important that non-discrimination remain a vital consideration for the IAEA, whose work India greatly appreciated. The NPT was discriminatory and flawed. Concerning the IAEA, it was important that member States not use technical bodies for conducting foreign policy. The scope of instruments should not be changed without their formal amendment. Goal posts should not be selectively shifted beyond legal obligations.
Concerns about climate change, the need to provide energy for economic development and escalating fuel prices meant that nuclear power was inevitably growing, he said. India’s electricity needs were expected to grow tenfold in the next four to five decades. India would rely on nuclear energy for a large portion of that increase. In doing so, it planned to draw on its vast thorium resources.
India was a supporter of, and active participant in, the IAEA, he went on. In particular, its experts were participating in the Agency’s project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles. Also, India offered technical assistance to other countries and had ratified the Convention on Nuclear Safety. India, the United States and the IAEA had established a Regional Radiological Security Partnership programme, under which India offered to provide infrastructure and expertise for conducting international training courses on the security of radioactive sources and materials, as well as for locating orphan radioactive sources in countries without such capabilities.
VICTOR KRYZHANIVSKY ( Ukraine) said the existence of weapons of mass destruction represented one of the greatest threats to international security. Nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament should be considered in tandem, and every effort should be pursued to reduce the nuclear threat. The failure to achieve a substantive outcome at the 2005 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was regrettable. The Treaty should continue to play an irreplaceable role in promoting nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament and the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Recent developments in the field of nuclear non-proliferation emphasized the need to strengthen the NPT regime, and maintain the integrity of the Treaty.
The IAEA had a vital role to play in leading the international effort to improve the global nuclear security framework, he said. Enforcing the safeguards system was an essential role of the Agency, in order to prevent the use of nuclear energy for non-peaceful, or military, purposes. Recent developments clearly demonstrated the necessity to ensure compliance with safeguards and address new proliferation risks and challenges.
Noting that next year would be the twentieth anniversary of the Chernobyl catastrophe, he said that it was now important to analyse the effectiveness of measures taken, and to review the work accomplished over the last decades to outline a future action plan. The recent IAEA International Conference, entitled “ Chernobyl - Looking Back to Go Forwards”, produced a report with a set of authoritative documents on health, environment and social impacts of the tragedy, reflecting the consensus achieved among the relevant United Nations agencies and the Governments of Ukraine, Belarus and the Russian Federation.
BIODUN OWOSENI ( Nigeria) said he remained committed to the three pillars of the Agency’s mandate and activities -- peaceful use of nuclear technology, safeguards and verifications. His country had 120 million people and a per capita electricity consumption of 70 kilowatt-hours per year, as compared to countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which averaged 8,000 kilowatt-hours per year. Nuclear power would be needed to fill the energy shortage that impeded development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The IAEA had visited his country in January to help define a new agenda for the generation of electricity based on nuclear technology, in cooperation with the Agency. Legal and regulatory frameworks had been set up, along with those for safety, security, safeguards, physical protection and transparency. They were being incorporated under the Agency’s technical cooperation mechanism in Nigeria’s Country Programme Framework.
He said nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament were two sides of the same coin. Vertical and horizontal proliferation, the sophistication of arsenals, the development of new weapons and doctrines for the use of nuclear weapons in war were all conditions incompatible with nuclear non-proliferation, the Agency’s work and with maintaining international peace and security. Non-proliferation rang hollow as long as nations stockpiled weapons for narrow security interests. Particularly in light of the Agency’s report on nuclear trafficking, developing countries with porous borders must be concerned with preventing radioactive materials from falling into the wrong hands. The IAEA should address its serious staffing problem by increasing representation from developing countries, particularly from Africa, as well as hire more women.
HU XIAODI ( China) said the Agency had carried out plenty of work and scored remarkable achievements in the past year. During that time, China had taken an active part in the Agency’s activities, and strongly supported its efforts to enhance the effectiveness of its safeguards regime. Regarding the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula, the parties concerned had reached agreement on the ultimate goal and basic principles of the six-party talks. But the talks still had a long way to go. China supported a peaceful resolution of the issue through dialogue and the six-party process, and would continue working toward the ultimate denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
On the Iranian nuclear issue, China had all along advocated an early solution within the framework of the Agency, he said. It supported the pursuit by the “EU-3” – France, Germany and United Kingdom -- and Iran of a long-term solution through dialogue and negotiation. Developments since the adoption of a resolution by the Agency’s Board of Governors in September had caused greater concern, but there was still room for the issue to be resolved within the framework of the Agency. The international community should not give up relevant efforts, and the EU-3 and Iran should resume negotiations as soon as possible.
IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY ( Bangladesh) said he was convinced that peaceful uses of nuclear technology, with the IAEA safeguards and verification regimes in place, would immensely contribute to the common endeavour of sustainable development. Nuclear energy could meet the increased energy demand worldwide and also help tackle development challenges such as hunger, disease, environmental pollution and climate change.
Since the Non-Proliferation Treaty guaranteed the inalienable right of all parties to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes without discrimination, it was disconcerting to note that undue restrictions continued to persist on exports to non-nuclear-weapon developing countries of material, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes. Extraneous reasons were being employed by some nuclear-weapon States to deny the rights of non-nuclear-weapon States to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and technology, even in their pursuit of sustainable development. There must be no attempt to use the IAEA Technical Cooperation Programme as a tool for political purposes.
He said the best guarantee against the proliferation of nuclear weapons lay in their total elimination. The general inertia existing in the entire disarmament machinery was cause for concern, but it was necessary to implement what was agreed on in 1995 and 2000, particularly the 13 steps for implementing article VI of the NPT. Negative security assurances were also vital, as they discouraged non-nuclear States from opting for nuclear weapons. That arrangement had largely been diluted in recent years by the imposition of unrelated pre-conditions by nuclear-weapon States on non-nuclear-weapon States. It was necessary to look forward rather than ruminate on how the international community arrived at the present impasse. Innovative ideas and political will were needed.
ULADZIMIR A. GERUS ( Belarus) said that the IAEA and its Director General should be proud of their receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to ensure peace and security. The last year had confirmed the difficult situation that had arisen in the implementation of the NPT. There was a conflict between the rights of member States of the IAEA and their adherence to the Treaty. While member States were committed to non-proliferation, the Treaty ensured that they could use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Belarus supported both objectives.
One of the key priorities on the international agenda was countering terrorism, especially nuclear terrorism, he said. Belarus agreed to an amendment to prevent the physical completion of nuclear materials. It also actively sought to counter the smuggling of nuclear and radioactive materials, especially between its border and those of European countries. International cooperation was needed to overcome the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster and Belarus appreciated the Agency’s activities in that regard. A forum held on Chernobyl and its consequences had been extremely productive, and his country looked forward to the follow-up to initiatives launched at that forum.
IMMANUEL ROBERT INKIRIWANG ( Indonesia) welcomed the IAEA’s attention to technical assistance, which should be unrelated to donor countries’ contributions to the Technical Cooperation Fund, so that funding could be assured, sufficient and predictable. The restructuring of the Department of Technical Cooperation into four new geographical regions was welcome, and he hoped the Agency could arrange briefings in the future on developments in every phase of the restructuring process. It was also important to increase the representation of staff from developing countries in the Agency. While their numbers had continued to rise, there had not been a sufficient and corresponding increase in the number of well-qualified female applicants.
He said the work of the Committee on Safeguards and Verifications should complement that of the IAEA, not duplicate its work. A clearer picture of the Committee’s mandate was still needed. Safeguards and verification issues should be resolved within the framework of the IAEA. All States had the basic and inalienable right to develop atomic energy for civilian and peaceful purposes.
He said Indonesia was especially grateful to the IAEA for its continuous support, including three recent technical cooperation projects for the construction of a nuclear power plant. A national regulatory body had begun a comprehensive plan to develop the necessary infrastructure, especially in licensing and inspecting the plant. Cooperation and assistance by the Agency, in particular in the capacity-building of the regulatory authority, were still needed. Intensive cooperation with countries having more experience in developing and operating nuclear power plants was a necessity.
NG CHUN PIN ( Singapore) said that the IAEA, while safeguarding the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, had to also ensure that such a right was exercised in compliance with the non-proliferation obligations of States under the NPT. So that the IAEA remained capable of responding to new challenges within its mandate, Singapore supported key initiatives taken by the Agency’s Board of Governors, including the creation of an Advisory Committee on Safeguards and Verification and the ushering in of a modified version of the Small Quantities Protocol. Singapore called on member States to enhance domestic controls against proliferation and to step up cooperation against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
To maintain safety and security in the use of nuclear energy, it was necessary for States to not only abide by IAEA standards and guidelines but also to establish regulatory infrastructures that supported national nuclear safety regimes. It was also necessary to have mechanisms in place to address the problem of radiological fallout that had cross-border implications. In that regard, Singapore welcomed the IAEA Board’s adoption of a Nuclear Security Plan for 2006-2009. The Agency’s Technical Cooperation Programme had expanded and improved its management, and its recently-adopted, needs-driven approach optimized the Agency’s use of financial resources.
SAMIR SHAKIR MAHMOOD SUMAIDA’IE ( Iraq) said his country’s relationship with the Agency had often been marked by non-cooperation. Now a new era had begun. Measures had been put in place to ensure and verify Iraq’s compliance with international norms. A commission to control radioactive emissions had been established and a code of conduct set. Stocks of radioactive sources were controlled. Protecting against environmental radiation contamination was in the hands of the Interior Ministry. The monitoring and verification instruments were being implemented.
Those measures had been incorporated into the national Constitution, adopted on 15 October, in the very first paragraph, which set out that Iraq banned the production of any nuclear-weapon-related activities. The course of the future Iraq was set, in direct contrast to the weapons-of-mass-destruction policy of its former regime. Iraq had been verified as being free of nuclear weapons by a delegation from the Agency during an inspection in September. And since nuclear terrorism endangered international peace and security, Iraq had taken steps to defeat that threat, in part through technical assistance from the Agency.
IMERIA NÚÑEZ DE ODREMÁN ( Venezuela) reaffirmed the need for the universalization of the IAEA’s safeguards agreement and for all countries to conform to its norms. At the same time, she upheld the right of States to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Iran’s compliance with the safeguards agreement had produced tangible results. It had led to voluntary compliance with the Agency’s requirements, which showed that the proper approach for dealing with Iran’s nuclear programme was through the IAEA. There was no evidence that Iran violated the NPT or that it had failed to comply with other Treaty requirements.
Venezuela rejected the idea of transferring the case to the Security Council, which would only politicize it, she said. Moving it to the Security Council would also mean that the IAEA was giving up on its ability to deal with the matter, which would undermine the Agency’s prestige. Consideration of Iran’s nuclear programme had to remain within the IAEA, in a transparent manner. The relationship between Iran and the IAEA had to be deepened. The Iranian President’s proposal that private entities work with Iran was one to be welcomed. Venezuela reiterated the importance of the right of all countries to engage in nuclear programmes for peaceful purposes.
KONSTANTIN K. DOLGOV ( Russian Federation) said further improvement of the IAEA’s verification mechanisms and development of its control functions were needed. There was a special urgency for increased efforts in non-proliferation because of the threat of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists. It was important that initiatives addressing that issue, including the Proliferation Security Initiative, the Group of Eight Plan of Action, the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism and UN Security Council Resolution 1540 on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction be fully and strictly implemented.
It was also important that the Additional Protocol to IAEA safeguards agreements be made universal. Russia had provided, and planned to continue to provide, assistance in strengthening the IAEA safeguards system. Russia had cooperated with many States in developing nuclear technologies for energy production. However, it was important to ensure that such technology was not used for nuclear weapons. The initiative of the Director General on multilateral approaches to nuclear fuel cycles opened new opportunities for strengthening the non-proliferation regime. The IAEA had brought about important advances in the safety of the operation of nuclear power plants, as well as in the handling of radioactive materials, waste and sources.
In the last year, the IAEA had made important progress on the settlement of the Korean peninsula nuclear issue, as well as on Iran’s nuclear programme. The Russian Federation supported more intensive dialogue on Iran’s programme. It was important to reach an agreement that removed any doubts that Iran’s nuclear programme was solely for peaceful purposes, while ensuring Iran the satisfaction of its legitimate requirements.
LEW KWANG-CHUL ( Republic of Korea) welcomed the Joint Statement adopted last September in Beijing at the conclusion of the fourth round of the six-party talks on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as a basis for achieving the common objective of the verifiable and peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. His delegation also welcomed the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s commitment to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing programmes, and to returning, at the earliest possible date, to the NPT and IAEA safeguards.
He added that the six-party talks could lay the groundwork for achieving enduring peace on the peninsula and consolidating the global non-proliferation regime. He hoped the proposed fifth round of six-party talks, currently set for early November, would mark another milestone by agreeing on the detailed follow-up steps to fully implement the principles set out in the Joint Statement.
In implementing the terms of the Joint Statement, verification would remain one of the keys to the success of the six-party process. In that regard, the Republic of Korea respected and supported the IAEA’s role in the global non-proliferation regime, in conducting verification through its well-established and sophisticated safeguards system. The Republic of Korea would appreciate the Agency’s resolve and readiness to conduct its verification work in the most efficient and productive manner.
HAMID BAEIDI-NEJAD, Director for Disarmament and International Security, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Iran, said the IAEA had been established with the basic purpose of broadening the scope of atomic energy’s contribution to worldwide peace, health and development. Therefore, it had a major responsibility to help States effectively and efficiently use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. He stressed that atomic energy was enormously useful in agriculture and medicine, and that its advanced applications in the field of renewable sources of energy had increased.
Boosting construction and operation of nuclear reactors in electricity production indicated that more and more States pursued nuclear energy as a component of their “energy mix” in the new century. He said that the global trend to reduce the use of fossil fuels in the search for clean energy sources was yet another incentive for further development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. He added that State parties to the NPT should enhance their cooperation to develop energy without discrimination and devoid of restriction.
Unfortunately, the levels of cooperation of the developed countries, as the main supplier of nuclear technology, with the developing world had not been promising in the past. Indeed, the nuclear cooperation between the suppliers and recipients had been marked by restriction, obstruction and disruption. Furthermore, it was unfortunate that being a party to the NPT and the IAEA safeguards agreement not only had not facilitated nuclear cooperation, but had also served to create impediments to peaceful use.
Even non-parties were rewarded with better cooperation. Indeed, in the case of Israel, nuclear exchanges and transfer of advanced nuclear materials, and equipment had contributed -- and continued to contribute -- to the development of the Israeli clandestine nuclear weapons programme, which endangered global and regional security. “If anything, failure to accept NPT safeguards obligations should have made the outsider to [the Treaty] subject to the most severe restrictions, and not provide it with impunity”, he said.
He stressed that Iran was determined to exercise its inalienable right under the NPT to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes within its overall economic plans for the country. To that end, it was also committed to operate its programme under the IAEA verification system and in conformity with its obligations under the NPT. Iran had and would continue to cooperate with the IAEA and insist that all parties must abide by the provisions of the NPT, particularly its article VI, as well as stringently adhere to the IAEA statute. He also urged the Assembly to help strengthen the role of the IAEA in promotional and safeguards-related activities by avoiding extralegal unilateral measures and attempts to use the Agency to support short-sighted political positions. Such efforts would only undermine the Agency.
ARMEN MARTIROSYAN ( Armenia) said the Agency played an important role in ensuring that nuclear technology and materials were used for peaceful purposes only. As a non-nuclear-weapon State and party to the NPT, his country emphasized the need for the IAEA to improve the non-proliferation and nuclear verification regime. Steps must be taken to reinforce the safeguards system, he said, noting that Armenia had ratified the Additional Protocol.
He said his country had been cooperating with the IAEA since 1995, resulting in the reopening of Armenia’s nuclear power plant. While regional conflicts limited the use of other energy sources, nuclear energy met 40 per cent of the country’s energy needs. National legislation was constantly being revised to upgrade the safety and security of the plant and of the verification regime. Also, the final amendments to the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material had been signed, and ratification was under way since the physical protection of the plant was a priority.
The International Physical Protection Advisory Service was expected to issue, before the end of the year, a report on its mission to Armenia last year. By the end of this year, Armenia would also receive a mission from the Operational Safety Assessment Review Team, whose report was expected in 2006. A feasibility study was being considered for the possible construction of a new power plant in Armenia. That was of regional significance since it would enable Armenia to provide energy to its neighbours.
ORLANDO REQUEIJO GUAL ( Cuba) said the only solution to the danger of nuclear weapons and their proliferation was the total elimination of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons. Cuba attached importance to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s work and reiterated the need to attain a balance among its three fundamental pillars: technical cooperation, security, and verification. These pillars should be implemented in a balanced way to address the interests of all States.
Focusing on technical cooperation, he said that the imposition of restrictive measures in the exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy should cease. On verification, Cuba rejected the attempt of some Powers to “prejudge” the peaceful nature, or not, of the nuclear programmes of specific countries, disregarding the IAEA, which was the only international organization with the mandate and technical capacity to verify the nuclear activity of States. The manipulation of information regarding the processes of verification of the IAEA to create a negative opinion of some countries should be strongly rejected, in addition to the attempts to deprive any country of its right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Action on IAEA Draft
The Assembly turned to the draft resolution on the IAEA’s report, contained in document A/60/L.13.
In explanation of position, PAK GIL YON (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said the IAEA was not relevant to the nuclear situation in his country. There were no relations between the Democratic People’s Republic and the IAEA or the NPT. Therefore, it was inappropriate for other nations to talk about his country’s obligations under the Treaty. The IAEA was not in a position to deal with his country’s nuclear programme, which was an issue between his Government and the United States. The United States had been threatening the Democratic People’s Republic with nuclear weapons for over half a century, and referred to it as part of the “axis of evil”.
Therefore, he wondered how the IAEA could handle an issue that had become a dispute between his small and weak nation and the super-Power, the United States. The IAEA and the United States handled the issue with prejudice and a double standard, disregarding the principle of equality. To properly understand the Beijing Joint Statement, it was necessary to realize that it did not only state the obligations of the Democratic People’s Republic but also of the United States and South Korea. The unilateral dismantlement of his country’s nuclear programme would not satisfy the draft resolution. He would not support the draft resolution because it did not contribute to the resolution of the issues regarding his country’s nuclear programme.
The Assembly adopted the draft resolution on the IAEA by a recorded vote of 137 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with no abstentions (see Annex).
Statements on Central America
EDUARDO J. SEVILLA SOMOZA (Nicaragua), speaking on behalf of the Central American Integration System (SICA), said that Central America, after considerable sacrifice and with the help of the United Nations, had embarked on a path to peace and had improved the living standards of its people. The long eras of armed violence and crises had passed. Now, countries were becoming more democratic and had begun a period of transformation of political and social structures to improve the lives of their populations and achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Nevertheless, numerous problems remained, including hunger, disease and political corruption.
The first resolution regarding Central America was adopted in 1983, in the midst of the cold war, when three Central American countries were torn by civil war, he recalled. Just four years later, a special plan of cooperation was adopted by the General Assembly for the region. The United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA) had promoted peacebuilding in the region, and had introduced the notion of linking development efforts with peacekeeping. Central America was a transformed region, and was prepared to use its experiences to help other regions achieve development in a post-conflict situation. It was grateful for the assistance of the United Nations in its transformation.
Introducing the related draft decision, contained in A/60/L.14, he pointed to some amendments in the text. Because of the progress made in the region, it was felt that the Assembly could dispose of the issue and turn its attention to more pressing matters.
PAULETTE A. BETHEL (Bahamas), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said an important aspect of the consolidation of peace in the Central America was the regional integrating process facilitated by the Central American Integration System. The System symbolized the new face of Central America. In the Joint Declaration issued at the conclusion of the first summit between CARICOM and the System, leaders of the two regions agreed to strengthen cooperation and to coordinate actions in areas such as education, health, poverty eradication, environment, trade and investment.
She said the recent free trade agreement between CARICOM and Costa Rica signalled the Caribbean region’s desire to foster closer ties with countries in Central America. Given the improved relations between the two regions, the Bahamas was hopeful that a peaceful solution would be reached over the territorial dispute between Belize and Guatemala in the near term. Recognizing the efforts of Central American leaders and their peoples, she trusted that the international community would continue to support the region, in the face of continued challenges.
RACHEL BRAZIER ( United Kingdom), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said one of the most important goals the Union and Central America shared was achieving regional integration. It was possible through regional integration to overcome prolonged internal conflict; reduce vulnerability to external shocks, including natural disasters; and build a regional economic platform, which enabled countries to trade and compete more effectively in a globalized world.
As the UN Secretary-General had stated, Central American countries had made significant strides in cooperating towards the establishment of a peaceful region, she said. Following years of civil war and social and economic disintegration in the region, there had been much progress towards peace and stability, democracy and sustainable development. The European Union had been able to contribute to the process of peacebuilding and democratization in the Central American region through the San José dialogue. In addition, the European Commission had developed a programme of national and regional cooperation with six Central American countries. A new strategy for cooperation for the years 2007-2013 was currently being agreed upon, and would focus particularly on issues of regional integration.
MONA JUUL ( Norway) said that even though many years had passed since the armed conflicts in Central America, the region was still facing a number of major challenges, such as the eradication of poverty, the consolidation of democracy and the safeguarding of human rights. Good governance, sustainable economic development and strengthening of the judicial systems continued to be key issues in the region. It was encouraging to see that the Governments of the region were continuing and even stepping up their fight against corruption.
Peaceful and transparent elections were the rule rather than the exception in Central America, and democracy was gradually being consolidated in the region, she continued. There was still a great need for the international community to continue supporting the implementation of the peace accords in Guatemala. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was the most appropriate international mechanism to follow up on the post-conflict situation in Guatemala.
The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, the draft decision on Central America.
South Atlantic Zone of Peace
The Assembly took up the draft decision on the zone of peace and cooperation of the South Atlantic, contained in document A/60/L.11, and adopted it without a vote.
Statements on Holocaust Remembrance
Assembly President JAN ELIASSON ( Sweden) recalled that in January, the Assembly had held its first-ever special session to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Nazi camps. Also, this year was the sixtieth anniversary of the United Nations, which was created to protect mankind from the scourge of war and to serve as an effective international institution for promoting human rights and the rule of law, as well as the social and economic development of all. The new agenda item on Holocaust remembrance was welcome in that context.
He said remembering the Holocaust brought up the question of other crimes of genocide that had been committed since World War II. Therefore, it must be a unifying historic warning around which all had to rally: not only to recall grievous crimes but to reaffirm the unfaltering resolve to prevent their recurrence. Leaders at the World Summit had lived up to that test by unanimously accepting the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. That was a major step in preventing genocide. The present resolution must be viewed in that context.
DAN GILLERMAN ( Israel), introducing the draft resolution on Holocaust remembrance (A/60/L.12), also recalled the January special session. He said it was imperative for the sanctity of life and for the preservation of humanity for all States to learn the lessons of the Holocaust and prevent such atrocities in the future. The draft being introduced furthered those objectives. It gave expression to the commitment to remember and educate about the Holocaust within the United Nations system. Its significance was reinforced by the fact that it was the first time in the history of the Organization that a resolution relating to the Holocaust would be adopted.
The resolution had received wide support, he said, noting that there were now 90 co-sponsors, calling for measures such as the establishment of 27 January as the annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of Holocaust victims. The draft resolution should be adopted by consensus so that the Organization and its Member States could demonstrate their commitment to the cause with one voice. That would help prevent future acts of genocide and would advance the core mission and founding principles of the United Nations.
PER STIG MØLLER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark, expressed support for the draft resolution. Denmark was a member of the International Task Force on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research, and it hoped to promote further research and awareness of the Holocaust through its membership. It was necessary to take action when ethnic cleansing was on the march. One could not remain silent. Ethnic cleansing had occurred since the Holocaust, as if the lessons of that tragedy had not been learned. But, he noted, tribunals had been created to bring justice against those who committed genocide. Denmark fully supported the International Criminal Court and said that all must learn the hard lessons of the past.
PHILIPPE DOUSTE-BLAZY, Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, said that to speak of the Holocaust was neither a banal nor a trivial matter. As Primo Levi said, the Shoa was about man, his dignity and freedom. The United Nations, which came into existence out of the rejection of Nazi violence, expressed the force of multilateralism and built on the lessons of the past. Remembrance of the Holocaust was everyone’s responsibility. To remember was to uphold a certain idea of man. The names of the concentration camps remained indelibly etched in people’s brains. The commemorative events last year were part of the international community’s responsibility to remember.
France, with its European partners, was co-sponsoring the draft resolution because of the duty to remember, he said. It was necessary now to pass on the memory to another generation, as the last Holocaust survivors were now dying. It was both through the adoption of conventions against genocide and by widespread efforts to remember and to educate that such a tragedy could be prevented in the future. Remembrance was a duty that must constantly be renewed and could never be taken for granted.
MIHAI-RAZVAN UNGUREANU, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania, said the Holocaust was born out of a perverted philosophy of hatred, which later on became a doctrine of death, symbolizing the greatest tragedy humankind had ever known. First and foremost, it was necessary to remember and pay homage to those who perished in the Holocaust.
Romania had developed a strong political commitment to develop Holocaust research programmes and education in the spirit of promoting democracy and tolerance, combating anti-Semitism, conserving Jewish cultural heritage and commemorating the victims of the tragedy. As part of the comprehensive approach to fighting anti-Semitism, the Romanian Government issued an Emergency Ordinance making organizations and symbols of a fascist, racist, or xenophobic character unlawful, among other things.
There was a moral duty for all Member States to strive harder to make future generations understand the dangers of systematic crimes against peoples, he added. Setting up the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day in the memory of the victims was a way to ensure that future generations would not forget the tragedy that occurred in twentieth-century Europe.
ALEXANDER V. SALTANOV, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, said combating anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance resounded heavily in everyone’s minds on the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Current and future generations should know the cause of those horrendous crimes, and fight anti-Semitism, intolerance, extremism and xenophobia in all their manifestations.
Speaking about the attempts of individuals or groups to glorify Nazism, he said that all countries should fight against that scourge. In some countries, attempts were on the rise to proclaim the day of liberation from the Nazis as a day of mourning. The Russian Federation, in order to fight such intolerance, would table a draft resolution at the current session on the “inadmissibility of certain practices that escalate the modern forms of racism, racial xenophobia discrimination and intolerance associated with them”. The abhorrent ideology of terrorism had a lot in common with Nazism and could effectively be combated only through consolidated efforts of the international community.
EMYR JONES PARRY ( United Kingdom), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that although time had passed since the Holocaust, the pain had not, and it was imperative to remember the victims and survivors. It was necessary to remember all of the victims -- the Jews, the Gypsies, the homosexuals, and everyone else victimized by the Nazis. It was important to draw lessons from the Holocaust. A day of remembrance was a day for the international community to assess how it was doing in relation to its pledge of “never again”.
Tragically, he continued, the world was still witness to ethnic cleansing and genocide. The world ignored history at its peril. Holocaust remembrance ought to be an integral part of national educational curricula. The significance of the Holocaust was universal. But it was of special significance to Europe. It was out of the dark episode of the Holocaust that a new Europe was born. The best tribute that could be paid to the victims of the Holocaust was to speak out against violence in today’s world.
VANU GOPALA MENON ( Singapore) said that the Holocaust had occurred in part because it had been fashionable in some quarters at the time to use propaganda and the media to paint people of one ethnicity or religion as scapegoats for all sorts of injustices. At the same time, while many did not agree with the Nazi regime, they felt cowed or chose to otherwise remain silent. That was why today, the international community could not afford to be complacent. There was a need to act early -- at the very first sign of ethnic or religious defamation. There was also a need to promote greater understanding to dispel misconceptions about other religions, ethnicities and cultures. Indeed, the majority should always ask how they would feel if they were one day forced to walk in the shoes of the minority.
Further, he said, the seeds of misunderstanding and hatred still existed in today’s world. He was struck by how little various cultures knew about one another, even in such globalized, Internet-driven times. The tendencies of the modern media to generalize, sensationalize and resort to caricature to sell news only made matters worse. “We owe it to ourselves and to posterity to urgently educate ourselves about others”, he said. “We cannot be complacent and need to work at preserving the harmony that underpins the fabric and foundations of our global society.” For its part, Singapore took care to ensure that there was justice and equality regardless of race, language or religion, and did not condone any acts that would stir up strife along racial or religious lines.
JOHN BOLTON ( United States) said that his delegation was proud to co-sponsor the draft on Holocaust remembrance. The Assembly’s consideration of the matter was appropriate because, among other things, the United Nations had been built on the ashes of the Holocaust and the Second World War with an important mission: to help ensure that the international community would never again allow such a crime against humanity to be committed, never again allow the world to be plunged into such violence and chaos. The greatest tribute that could be paid to the Holocaust’s victims, robbed of their lives in Nazi death camps, was to ensure that their sacrifice was never forgotten.
While the Holocaust occurred 60 years ago, its lessons were no less relevant today. “When a President or a Member State can brazenly and hatefully call for a second holocaust by suggesting that Israel, the Jewish homeland, should be wiped off the map, it is clear that not all have learned the lessons of the Holocaust and that much work remains to be done”, he said, adding that when some Member States shamefully hesitated to decisively condemn such remarks, it was equally clear that much work lay ahead. That was why the text under consideration was so important. It called for an international day of remembrance, 27 January each year, and, among other things, urged Member States to put in place educational programmes to teach future generations the lessons of the Holocaust, so as to prevent future acts of genocide.
ANDREW SOUTHCOTT ( Australia), speaking also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, said that the genocide perpetrated against the Jewish people during the Holocaust had been the most abhorrent of crimes. It had cost millions of lives and caused untold damage and destruction to the lives of millions more. “Our deep sense of loss and sorrow is not only for the many victims and their families, but also for the vitality and talents lost to the world as a whole.” His delegation had been dismayed by the recent signs of increased anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial, racism and religious intolerance, none of which was acceptable on any form.
Canada, Australia and New Zealand commended the resolution as an important step by the United Nations to ensure that Holocaust remembrance and education could remain a priority for all countries. The text also served as a strong reminder to all of the need to remain vigilant and take steps to prevent such horror from happening again.
ANDRZEJ TOWPIK ( Poland) said the Second World War caused terrible destruction to many people and nations. Millions of soldiers died in battle, in prisons and in concentration camps. The Holocaust was an attempt to eliminate an entire nation, and it led to the construction of an entire system for eliminating people. It resulted in the murder of one third of the Jewish population, as well as the murder of members of many other groups. Poland lost millions, over 90 per cent of its Jewish citizens. The Holocaust put an end to an era in Poland, an era when Poles and Jews lived together without prejudice.
In Poland, he said, Jews had enjoyed a climate of tolerance and lack of discrimination for over 800 years. In that time, Jews contributed greatly to Poland’s cultural heritage, and Poland took enormous pride in those contributions. Today’s resolution paid tribute to those people, as well as to those who tried to help Jews. To Poland, those who tried to help were role models and an inspiration to the younger generation. It was important to continue to educate about the Holocaust, which represented a tragic warning against any system based on ethnic or religious intolerance. The main lesson to be learned from the Holocaust was not to allow such a tragedy to ever again occur against any people or any nation.
GUNTER PLEUGER ( Germany) said the Holocaust was the darkest chapter in the history of his country. At a time when the last personal witnesses of the Holocaust were leaving the world, it was especially important to keep the memory of the victims alive and keep on asking how such crimes could have been committed.
It was the responsibility of the international community to keep up the fight against anti-Semitism, racism and any form of intolerance, as well as to realize that the advent of genocide resulted from things such as the dehumanizing of people, preaching of hatred and the call for the annihilation of States. It was very fitting that the Assembly was today discussing the issue at the United Nations because the United Nations was founded in particular for the prevention of genocide and for preventing events like the Holocaust from reoccurring. Remembering the Holocaust was part of the struggle to promote human rights and dignity for all people of all nations.
Vote on Report of IAEA
The draft resolution on the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (document A/60/L.13) was adopted by a recorded vote of 137 in favour to 1 against, with no abstentions, as follows:
In favour: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Federated States of Micronesia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia.
Against: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Absent: Afghanistan, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Benin, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Fiji, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe.
* *** *