|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-third General Assembly
81st Meeting (AM)
GENERAL ASSEMBLY UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTS TEXT ON SUPPORT FOR REHABILITATION
OF KAZAKHSTAN’S SEMIPALATINSK FORMER NUCLEAR TESTING SITE
Recognizing the serious concerns of the people and Government of Kazakhstan in connection with the Semipalatinsk nuclear testing ground -- inherited by Kazakhstan and closed in 1991 -- the General Assembly called on the international community and United Nations bodies this morning to continue to support that country in tackling the challenges of rehabilitating the Semipalatinsk region and its population, including by implementing its national programme to address comprehensively the problems facing the former nuclear-testing grounds.
Adopting, without a vote, a draft resolution entitled “International cooperation and coordination for the human and ecological rehabilitation and economic development of the Semipalatinsk region of Kazakhstan” (document A/63/L.67), the Assembly expressed in the preambular paragraphs of the text profound concern about the negative effects of nuclear testing on the sustainability of the region’s ecosystem and the accumulation of radioactive substances in the soil, which created humanitarian, environmental, social, economic and health problems.
Expressing deep concern that current efforts were not sufficient to alleviate the consequences of nuclear testing, the Assembly urged the international community to provide assistance to Kazakhstan in the formulation and implementation of special programmes and projects of treatment and care for the affected population, as well as in efforts to ensure economic growth and sustainable development in the Semipalatinsk region. It called on Member States, relevant multilateral financial organizations and other entities, including academia and non-governmental organizations, to share their knowledge and experience in order to contribute to the human and ecological rehabilitation and economic development of the Semipalatinsk region.
In addition, the Assembly invited Member States to observe, in 2011, the twentieth anniversary of the test site’s closure by conducting relevant events and functions to deliver information on the consequences of nuclear testing for human health and environment. It also requested the Secretary-General to continue his efforts in implementing relevant resolutions of the Assembly and to encourage the donor community and international and regional organizations to fulfil their commitments declared at the 1999 Tokyo international conference on the problem of the Semipalatinsk region.
Introducing the draft, the representative of Kazakhstan said her country had every reason to argue vociferously for the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty since its land had for 40 years been a testing ground for deadly weapons and today its people were experiencing the dire consequences of those tests. Some 458 atmospheric and underground nuclear and thermonuclear explosions had been carried out from 1949 to 1989, their cumulative capacity equalling that of 2,500 of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. The nuclear testing had affected more than 300,000 square kilometres, an area comparable to the territorial size of Italy or the Philippines.
Regarding the tragic consequences of nuclear testing, she said more than a million people had been recognized as victims of that “inhuman exercise”. Radiation had resulted in the weakening of the victims’ immune system, resulting in increased rates of disease, as well as an exacerbation of the course and duration of diseases. Additionally, the harmful impact of nuclear tests was transmitted from generation to generation.
She went on to say that the novelty of the text -– the sixth Assembly resolution on the Semipalatinsk region -– was that the results of its implementation would be reviewed at the sixty-sixth session under the agenda item “Sustainable development”, while all the previous resolutions had fallen under “Humanitarian aid to countries with special needs”. Reducing the relevance of the humanitarian component in this year’s text was associated with the increase in domestic resources for regional socio-economic programmes in the context of overall development, while international assistance in the form of relevant technical expertise to overcome the effects of nuclear explosions came to the fore. In fact, the collaboration between the international community and the Government of Kazakhstan to overcome the effects of nuclear explosions was moving to a new level of cooperation.
In that connection, she noted that the resolution recognized the contributions of various United Nations agencies, donor countries, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations in providing humanitarian aid and establishing projects for the rehabilitation of the Semipalatinsk region. Kazakhstan was grateful to Japan, the United States Agency for International Development and the United Kingdom for their substantial financial and other assistance in support of a number of projects implemented by Kazakhstan with the aim of improving the living standards of the people in the Semipalatinsk region.
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