|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-eighth General Assembly
24th Meeting (AM)
With Some in First Committee Seeking to Reframe Nuclear Debate around Humanitarian
Consequences, New Draft Reaffirms Compliance with International Humanitarian Law
Eight Draft Resolutions Forwarded to General Assembly for Adoption
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today approved eight drafts, with a new one on follow-up to the General Assembly’s high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament drawing attention, particularly the provision expressing deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of those weapons and the reaffirmation of the need for all States at all times to comply with applicable international law including international humanitarian law.
Action was taken on a range of draft resolutions covering those weapons, outer space (disarmament aspects of) and conventional weapons. Three were approved without a vote, while recorded votes for the remaining five required additional votes on six separate provisions, sparking energetic discussion.
The revised text, submitted by the Non-Aligned Movement, on following up the 2013 high-level meeting, called for the urgent start of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a nuclear weapons convention to prohibit the possession, development, production, acquisition, testing, stockpiling, transfer and use or threat of use of those weapons and to provide for their destruction.
Further to that text, approved by a recorded vote of 129 in favour to 28 against, with 19 abstentions, the Assembly would decide to convene, no later than 2018, a United Nations high-level international conference on nuclear disarmament to review the progress made. It would also declare 26 September as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.
Also deeply concerned at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any nuclear weapons use and similarly reaffirming the need for all States at all times to comply with international and international humanitarian law was a more traditional text, entitled “United action towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons”. The resolution enjoyed broad support — with a recorded vote of 164 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 14 abstentions, however, some held that consideration of the humanitarian aspect of nuclear weapons was “evident” and a “distraction” to the disarmament and non-proliferation movement.
Prior to that, recorded votes were taken on operative paragraph 2, which called on States to promptly accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as non-nuclear-weapon States; operative paragraph 8, which would urge all States that had not yet done so to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT); operative paragraph 9, which would reiterate the call for the immediate commencement of negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices; and operative paragraph 17, which would stress the importance of universalizing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) comprehensive safeguards agreements, while strongly reaffirming the follow-on action of the 2010 Review Conference encouraging all States which have not done so to conclude and bring into force as soon as possible the Model Protocol Additional to the Agreement.
Two other drafts took recorded votes on their provisions before being approved by the Committee; on the Test-Ban Treaty, and another on nuclear disarmament. The first, on the CTBT, was approved as a whole by 175 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 3 abstentions ( India, Mauritius, Syria); and the text on nuclear disarmament was approved by a vote of 117 in favour to 44 against, with 18 abstentions.
Approved by recorded vote of 151 in favour to 4 against ( France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States), with 21 abstentions was a text on taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations.
Acting without a vote, the Committee also approved draft resolutions on the Treaty on the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone; Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space; and on the Convention on the Prohibition or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects.
Delivering general statements on cluster 1, on nuclear weapons, were representatives of United Kingdom, Indonesia, Cuba, Iran, New Zealand, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Brunei-Darussalam and Myanmar.
Speaking in explanation of vote during action on cluster 1 were the representatives of Egypt, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nicaragua, Belarus, Russian Federation, Japan, France, Pakistan, India, Netherlands, China, Ireland, Iran, Spain, Switzerland, Ecuador, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Israel and Portugal. The representative of Iran spoke in explanation of vote during cluster 3, on the disarmament aspects of outer space, and the representative of Germany spoke on cluster 4, on conventional weapons
The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 5 November, to continue its consideration of its draft texts.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to begin its consideration of all draft resolutions and decisions before it across a spectrum of its agenda items.
Cluster 1: Nuclear Weapons
MATTHEW ROWLAND ( United Kingdom) said that several draft resolutions waiting to be voted on contained references to the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. The United Kingdom shared the international the concern at those consequences and attached great importance to avoiding the use of nuclear weapons. Furthermore, his country stood by its commitments set out in Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and had a strong history of nuclear disarmament, supporting a step-by-step approach to the process.
At the same time, the United Kingdom was concerned at efforts under the “humanitarian consequences heading”, which appeared to be increasingly aimed at a nuclear weapons convention prohibiting the possession of nuclear weapons. His country believed that attempts to establish such an instrument risked undermining the NPT’s full implementation, which should remain the international community’s priority.
DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the Movement had tabled a draft resolution on follow up to the 2013 high-level meeting on disarmament in the General Assembly (document A/C.1/68/L.6/Rev.1). The draft underlined the strong support expressed at the high-level meeting for taking urgent and effective measures to achieve the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
Further to its terms, the General Assembly would call for the urgent commencement of negotiations, in the Conference on Disarmament, for the early conclusion of a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons to prohibit their possession, development, production, acquisition, testing, stockpiling, transfer and use or threat of use, and to provide for their destruction.
The draft would declare 26 September as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, devoted to furthering that objective. A further provision would have the Assembly convene, no later than 2018, a United Nations high-level international conference on nuclear disarmament to review the progress made in that regard.
The Non-Aligned Movement, said the speaker, had engaged in extensive consultations in that regard, resulting in a request for the inclusion in the draft of references to humanitarian consequences and the importance of making explicit reference to the NPT. Those requests had been accommodated, and new preambular paragraphs had been added, and a revised version had been issued to reflect those changes. The Movement sought the support of all Member States for the draft resolution.
YADIRA LEDESMA HERNANDEZ ( Cuba) said that, concerning “L.36”, entitled “Nuclear Disarmament”, her delegation was of view that that draft provided for the most complete discussions of nuclear disarmament, the terms of which must be promptly addressed.
Likewise, “L.6.Rev.1”, which, among other things, proposed 26 September as an International Day for the elimination of nuclear weapons, outlined a new approach to promptly launching nuclear disarmament negotiations within the Conference on Disarmament. She called the resolution a “good-faith initiative” and hoped States would support it.
MOHAMMAD KHAZEE ( Iran) said he believed draft L.6/Rev.1 was among the most important and deserved universal support. Nuclear weapons were the biggest threat to “our life, the life of our children, and the security of all humanity”.
Before those weapons consumed humanity altogether, humanity must consume them, he declared. That was not an option but a must; a right, a responsibility, as well as a long-overdue obligation. The first ever high-level meeting had been a step in the right direction. At the same time, there was a need to invest further political will, taking advantage of the momentum created by that meeting to take forward multilateral negotiations. He looked forward to support for the Movement’s draft resolution, which was full endorsed international efforts within the NPT framework and had the potential to overcome the impasse in the Conference.
KATY CROWLEY ( New Zealand) introduced draft “L.29.Rev.1” on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). She said her delegation was pleased to see so many sponsors of the resolution, which highlighted the cross-regional support that the resolution enjoyed. She looked forward to its adoption by an overwhelming majority of Member States.
RI TONG IL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said his delegation supported the introductory statement made by Indonesia, but at the same time wished to clarify his country’s position on “L.6/Rev.1”. That resolution was the full reflection of the successful holding and support for the High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament, which had been held on the imitative of the Non-Aligned Movement and had gained wide-ranging support. The draft was also fully reflected the ongoing deadlock in nuclear disarmament. That process was a pressing need and a task to be accomplished by all of humanity. More than any other type of weapon, nuclear weapons were the most destructive category in the world. The country that had the record of their first use was “hanging nuclear weapons over the heads” of his country’s people and was continuing to deploy them in the territories of other countries, causing great fear among the countries of the world. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea maintained that there should be a total elimination of nuclear weapons as the upper-most task, in the context of a legally binding instrument. In that light, he fully supported that draft resolution.
ABDUL GHAFAR ISMAIL (Brunei Darussalam), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), introduced a draft resolution entitled, “Treaty on the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (document A/C.1/68/L.39/Rev.1). The draft was based on the previous resolution adopted by consensus, and contained a number of updates, including the extension of the Plan of Action to Strengthen the Implementation of the Treaty on the SEANWFZ for another five years. Changes made to operative paragraph 3 had been reflected in the revised text. The draft underscored ASEAN’s unwavering commitment to preserving Southeast Asia as a nuclear-weapon-free zone, as well as free of all other weapons of mass destruction.
U MUANG WAI ( Myanmar ) introduced draft resolution “L.36”, entitled “Nuclear Disarmament”, on behalf of its co-sponsors. Nuclear disarmament had been and remained a high priority on his country’s agenda. The processes leading to the total elimination of those weapons were the only absolute guarantee against their use or threat of use. The draft resolution called for the full implementation of the 22-point Action Plan. It reiterated the call on nuclear-weapon States to undertake the step-by-step reduction of the nuclear threat and to carry out effective nuclear disarmament measures with a view to achieving the total elimination of those weapons within a specified framework of time. Pending the total elimination of those weapons, the nuclear-armed States were called on to assure non-nuclear-weapon States of the non-use and non-threat of use of nuclear weapons, in a legally binding instrument.
Action on Cluster 1
The representative of Egypt, speaking in explanation of vote, said that “L.43”, entitled ”United action towards the total elimination of Nuclear Weapons”, could have benefited from a more balanced approach. The draft aimed to achieve universal commitment for global and non-discriminatory disarmament. However, it included selective elements and disregarded Egypt’s national priority, including establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear and all other weapons of mass destruction. His delegation had engaged in good faith with the resolution’s sponsors, but those national comments were not taken into account.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, explaining his position before action on “L.43”, said his country rejected the draft resolution sponsored by Japan for a number of reasons, among them, that it contained elements that did not accurately reflect the situation on the Korean peninsula. His country’s light water reactor and other facilities were intended for peaceful purposes, namely, for electric power, on which many countries were dependent. Also, the draft expressed concerns about only a single country, and he doubted that was purely from good will. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had withdrawn from the NPT and manufactured nuclear weapons for the purpose of defending itself from the United States, which designated his country as a pre-emptive target for nuclear attack.
Japan, he continued, had “no qualification”, and although the Japanese people were the first civilians to have suffer the consequences of a nuclear bomb, Japan had now emerged as a dangerous “war and aggressive force”. The three non-nuclear principles of Japan were just a deception. Plutonium was piled up in excess and political figures raised their voices calling for the country’s nuclear weaponization. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea regarded the draft as being “full of prejudice and hypocrisy”.
The representative of Nicaragua, speaking in explanation of vote, said that he supported resolution “L.43”, on united action towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons, given international concerns about the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. His country, being nuclear-weapon-free, had the moral authority to call for the elimination of nuclear weapons and called on nuclear-weapon States to do so. Nicaragua further welcomed the fact that the draft recognised the legitimate interests of non-nuclear-weapon States to receive binding and unequivocal negative security assurances. Turning to the issue of the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, he said that all parties in that conflict must move forward “step by step and in good faith”.
The representative of Belarus, explaining his delegation’s vote on “L.34”, on taking forward multilateral negotiations, said his country had carefully considered the draft and noted its positive elements, and wished to state its principled support for multilateral negotiations on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. At the same time, the Conference on Disarmament was a “unique forum” in that regard, and Belarus wished to champion resumption of its substantive work. To redress the situation, a great deal remained to be done to enhance mutual trust between nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon States. In that context, the consensus rule in that forum was a guarantee that all States were taken into account. Mindful of that, and other things, Belarus would abstain on “L.34”, but was ready to support all Member States, including its sponsors, on all efforts to further multilateral negotiations on nuclear disarmament.
The representative of the Russian Federation, also speaking in explanation of vote on “L.43”, said Japan’s draft resolution was the “most balanced in that cluster”. However, unlike in previous years, his delegation would be forced to abstain. The problem was that the text had undergone editorial amendments as well as additions that had impacted its balanced nature, in particular, the addition of a preambular paragraph on the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons. His country was convinced that such consequences were evident; namely, the full destruction of human civilisation. It would, therefore, be cynical to require confirmation of that sad truth or to continue deliberations on that topic. If serious progress was to be made, energy and resources must be focused on creating conditions for the path to disarmament pursuant to article VI of the NPT. Shifting attention to humanitarian consequences moved the international community away from responding to the real pending issues.
A further issue was contained in operative paragraph 15 of the proposed draft, in which there was a shift away from the spirit and letter of Security Council Resolution 2094 (2013), he said. The call to implement the six-party joint statement of 2005 was not only addressed to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Consequently, “L.43” should also focus on all participants in the process.
The Committee then turned to the draft on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement Follow-up to the 2013 High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on Nuclear Disarmament (document A/C.1/68/L.6/Rev.1), which would have the Assembly call for the urgent commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament, and for the early conclusion of a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons. It would also decide to convene a United Nations high-level international conference on nuclear disarmament no later than 2018, and declare 26 September as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.
The text was then approved by a recorded vote of 129 in favour to 28 against, with 19 abstentions.
Next, the Committee turned to the draft resolution on a Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (document A/C.1/68/L.29/Rev.1). By its terms, the Assembly would stress the vital importance and urgency of signature and ratification of the Treaty and would urge all States not to carry out nuclear-weapon test explosions or acts that would defeat the object and purpose of the Treaty.
A recorded vote was requested on preambular paragraph 6, which would have the Assembly welcome the adoption of the conclusions and recommendations for follow-on actions of the 2010 Review Conference of the NPT, which reaffirmed the vital importance of the Treaty’s entry into force as a core element of the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime.
That paragraph was retained by a recorded vote of 170 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 4 abstentions ( India, Israel, Mauritius, Pakistan).
Next, the resolution as a whole was approved by a recorded vote of 175 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 3 abstentions ( India, Mauritius, Syria).
The Committee then took action on the draft resolution on Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations (document A/C.1/68/L.34), by which the Assembly would emphasize that the universal objective of taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament remained the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons, and also emphasize the important of addressing issues related to nuclear weapons in a comprehensive, interactive and constructive manner, for the advancement of multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations.
Among its other terms, the text would encourage Member States and others to take into account the report of the Open-ended Working Group and the proposals contained therein, in the discussions in other forums in which humanitarian, health, human rights, environmental and development affairs were addressed.
That text was approved by a recorded vote of 151 in favour to 4 against (France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States), with 21 abstentions.
The Committee then turned to a draft resolution, entitled Nuclear disarmament (document A/C.1/68/L.36), which would have the Assembly recognize that there now existed conditions for the establishment of a world free of nuclear weapons. It would urge nuclear-weapon States to immediately stop qualitative improvement, development, production and stockpiling of nuclear warheads and their delivery systems, and to commence plurilateral negotiations among themselves to further deeply reduce nuclear weapons.
A recorded vote was requested on operative paragraph 16, which would have the Assembly call for the immediate commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices on the basis of the report of the Special Coordinator and the mandate contained therein.
That paragraph was retained by a recorded vote of 168 in favour to 1 against ( Pakistan), with 5 abstentions ( Armenia, France, Israel, Russian Federation, United Kingdom).
The text as a whole was then approved by a recorded vote of 117 in favour to 44 against, with 18 abstentions.
Acting without a vote, the Committee approved a draft resolution, sponsored by Brunei Darussalam, Mongolia and New Zealand, on the Treaty on the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (Bangkok Treaty) (document A/C.1/68/L.39.Rev.1). By its terms, the Assembly would encourage State parties to the Treaty to continue to engage nuclear-weapon States to resolve comprehensively outstanding issues with a view to signing the Protocol.
The Committee then turned to a draft resolution on United action towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons (document A/C.1/68/L.43). Expressing deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from the use of nuclear weapons, the text would have the Assembly call upon nuclear-weapon States to undertake further efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate all types of nuclear weapons, deployed and non-deployed, including through unilateral, bilateral, regional and multilateral measures.
By further terms, the Assembly would urge all States that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the CTBT, and reiterate its call for the immediate commencement of negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.
A recorded vote was requested on operative paragraph 2, which would have the Assembly reaffirm the vital importance of the universality of the NPT, and call upon all States not party to that Treaty to accede to it as non-nuclear-weapon States promptly and without any conditions.
That paragraph was retained by a recorded vote of 168 in favour to 3 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Israel), with 3 abstentions ( Bhutan, Mauritius, Pakistan).
A recorded vote was requested on operative paragraph 8, which would urge all States that had not yet done so to sign and ratify the CTBT at the earliest opportunity and reaffirm the importance of the continued development of its verification regime.
That paragraph was retained by a recorded vote of 171 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 4 abstentions ( India, Mauritius, Syria, Uganda).
A recorded vote was requested on operative paragraph 9, which would have the Assembly reiterate its call for the immediate commencement of negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices and its early conclusion.
That paragraph was retained by a recorded vote of 166 in favour to 3 against ( China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Pakistan), with 8 abstentions ( Ecuador, India, Iran, Israel, Mauritius, Syria, Uganda, Zimbabwe).
A recorded vote was also requested on operative paragraph 17, which would have the Assembly stress the importance of the universalization of the comprehensive safeguards agreements of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), while strongly reaffirming the follow-on action of the 2010 Review Conference encouraging all States which have not done so to conclude and bring into force as soon as possible the Model Protocol Additional to the Agreement.
That paragraph was retained by a recorded vote of 167 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 8 abstentions ( Argentina, Brazil, India, Iran, Israel, Mauritius, Pakistan, Uganda).
The draft text as a whole was then approved by a recorded vote of 164 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 14 abstentions.
The representative of Japan, speaking in explanation of vote regarding the delegation’s abstention on “L.36”, said his country shared the goal of the text, but in order to implement measures, he attached greatest importance to united action by the international community, and in particular, by the nuclear-weapon States. In that regard, his country’s view differed from that of the draft text.
The representative of France, speaking in explanation of vote also on behalf of the United Kingdom and the United States, said that, regarding “L.6”, those countries had taken part in the high-level meeting on disarmament in good faith, and had issued both joint and national statements there. However, the draft did not reflect those views, or those of many other Member States. Nuclear proliferation and non-compliance by a few States was the most serious threat to international security and therefore he regretted that the high-level meeting had not dealt with that topic in a balanced manner. The only reference in the draft to the NPT was insufficient, incidental and unbalanced. Likewise, there was no reference to the 2010 Action Plan. He was concerned that States appeared to be moving away from the consensus reached in 2010. Furthermore, the resolution called for an instrument that was not mentioned in the Action Plan. A practical, step-by-step process was the only way to make real progress in disarmament efforts.
Turning to “L.34”, he said that the countries believed, in the context of the Open-Ended Working Group, that sufficient forums already existed for taking forward multilateral negotiations on disarmament. He had previously expressed concern last year at that initiative, and those concerns had proved valid. The NPT 2010 Action Plan had failed to get a mention in the Group’s report. The Plan was presented as a “simple option” among others. Furthermore, the urgent need to negotiate a fissile material treaty had been “diluted”. The 2010 Action Plan, by contrast, provided a balanced way forward on all three NPT pillars. There was little value in asking members to provide the Secretary-General with comments on how to take forward multilateral negotiations. He had understood that that had been the point of the Open-Ended Working Group. A further report would not advance nuclear disarmament, but only duplicate and undercut similar work being done in the Conference on Disarmament, the Disarmament Commission and other forums. The three countries he was representing, therefore, had voted against the resolution.
Speaking in his national capacity, he said that France had voted “yes” on “L.43”, although the country was concerned about the text’s evolution during the past three years. France continued to attach importance to the fact that resolutions presented at the United Nations General Assembly acknowledged the efforts undertaken by nuclear-weapon States in that field. His country was also fully aware of the serious consequences of a potential use of nuclear weapons, which it was in the interest of all nations to avoid.
The representative of Pakistan, also speaking in explanation of vote regarding “L.29.Rev.1” on the CTBT, said that over the years his country had supported that initiative, and in that spirit, had voted in favour again on the draft resolution. Promoting that Treaty’s entry into force was a significant objective, and acceptance of obligations on a regional level would help further that process. At the same, Pakistan had abstained on preambular paragraph 6.
Turning to “L.34”, he acknowledged that the sponsor of that draft had not supported the re-establishment of the Open-Ended Working Group, which, in Pakistan’s view would weaken the Conference on Disarmament. That had enabled Pakistan to vote in favour of the resolution.
Turning to “L.36”, he said that his country had consistently supported the goal of nuclear disarmament. Pakistan supported several elements of that resolution, but because of his country’s well-known position on the NPT, it had had to abstain. Likewise, regarding operative paragraph 16, his country’s clear position on a fissile material treaty had meant Pakistan had voted against this paragraph.
Finally, on “L.43”, he said he continued to disagree on several elements of the resolution. He rejected call to join the NPT without condition. Nor did Pakistan consider itself bound by obligations negotiated in forums in which it had not been present. Furthermore, it was strange that the resolution, supposedly seeking united action on nuclear weapons, called only for action on fissile materials. For these, among other reasons, Pakistan had abstained on operative paragraphs 2, 17, and the resolution as a whole, and had voted against operative paragraph 9.
The representative of India also speaking in explanation of vote regarding “L.34”, said the delegation had voted in favour of the resolution, whereas last year it had abstained, owing to concerns about the impact of that working group on the established disarmament machinery. India, satisfied by the consensus report of the Open-ended Working Group, was thankful to that group for their approach to discussions and it appreciated the manner in which the sponsors had drafted resolution. At the same time, while it had voted in favour, it remained concerned about “parallel initiatives”, which could have a negative impact. The Conference on Disarmament was, for India, the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum.
Turning to “L.36”, he said that his country attached the highest priority to nuclear disarmament, and shared the main objective of the resolution. However, India had been forced to abstain because of references to the NPT, on which his country’s position was well known. There were also many elements of the text that his country did support. On “L.39”, India had joined the text’s approval without a vote. India enjoyed friendly relations with all South-East Asian countries, and, as a nuclear-weapon State, had given assurances that it would respect the nuclear-weapon-free zone in that area. Finally, on “L.43”, India believed the draft text fell short in substantive terms. His delegation had voted against operative paragraph 2, since its position on the NPT was known. India could not join that Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon State. India had also abstained on operative paragraphs 8, 9 and 17.
The representative of the Netherlands, also speaking in explanation of vote regarding “L.6/Rev.1” also on behalf of Albania, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, explained those countries’ “no” vote on that resolution.
He said that those countries had supported the high-level meeting on disarmament and had participated in it. During that meeting, how to achieve the shared goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world was discussed, but the various proposals made had not been captured in the resolution. Also, that the draft only contained a limited reference to the NPT, which was a seminal instrument for achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world. While he welcomed the inclusion of a reference to Article VI, a broader reference to that Treaty would have been preferable. It was a cause for concern that the aim of the proposed 2018 meeting was unclear. It could be interpreted as simply another high-level meeting, or as a potential vehicle to negotiate a nuclear-weapons convention. That risked undermining collective efforts for a positive outcome for the 2015 NPT Review Conference and might lay the foundation for an alternative pathway, which could damage the Treaty. He firmly believed that neither the United Nations nor its goals in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation were helped by yet another International Day.
The representative from China supported the purpose of “L.6/Rev.1” said the delegation had voted in its favour, but felt that nuclear disarmament should uphold the principles of maintaining global strategic stability, and all related issues should be addressed within the framework of existing multilateral disarmament mechanisms. Countries with the largest nuclear arsenals should continue to take the lead in reducing their nuclear arsenals. Regarding “L.18”, China supported the purpose and objective of the resolution, but felt it went beyond the agreed language, and China had therefore abstained. Regarding draft “L.34”, he said that establishing new mechanisms in that regard would only undermine the authority of existing ones and divert resources and China had therefore abstained on the text. On “L.43”, China did not support operative paragraph 9, as it did not think it would promote the start of negotiations for a fissile material cut-off treaty. China had voted against that paragraph and abstained from the resolution as a whole.
Speaking on behalf of Austria, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Malta, New Zealand, and San Marino, Ireland’s representative strongly supported the disarmament objectives behind “L.6/Rev.1”, which was entirely consistent with the NPT and the 2010 Action Plan. Any discussion or initiative aimed at furthering efforts towards achieving and maintaining a world free of nuclear weapons should take into account the fact that the NPT contained the only multilateral Treaty-based commitments to disarm. That was underscored clearly in the 13 Practical Steps agreed by consensus at the 2000 NPT Review Conference. Further, any initiative aimed at advancing nuclear disarmament should give due prominence to the important ongoing discussion regarding the humanitarian consequences of any nuclear weapons detonation. In supporting “L.6/Rev.1”, those delegations did not see a comprehensive convention as being the only available option for advancing the achievement and maintenance of a world free of nuclear weapons, and would be favourably disposed towards any set of effective measures to achieve that objective.
Iran’s representative, explaining his position on “L.34” and “L.43”, said he had voted in favour of “L.34” since it dealt with nuclear disarmament, which was the highest priority of the international community in maintaining and enhancing regional and international peace and security. However, the word “wish” was not strong enough, as that highest priority was not merely a “wish”. His delegation appreciated the contributions of civil society, but did not support the way it was expressed in operative paragraphs 6 and 7. Regarding “L.43”, he aligned with the overwhelming majority of States in that the total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only absolute guarantee against their threat or use. Therefore, he shared the resolution’s overall objective. However, the text had been drafted in a manner that had weakened its focus; there was no single reference to the risk of nuclear activities of the only non-party to the NPT in the Middle East, or the need to expedited international efforts in that regard. For those reasons, his delegation had abstained in the vote on “L.43” as a whole.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his delegation had voted “no” on “L.29” out of its rejection of various Security Council resolutions, which were the product of “high handed arbitrariness” and double standards. His country conducted nuclear tests as a self-defensive measure and was serious about joining the CTBT. However, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was of the view that more practical steps should be taken towards nuclear disarmament. His delegation had voted in favour of “L.36”, as it associated with the Non-Aligned Movement’s position in that regard.
Spain’s delegate, speaking also on behalf of Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Republic of Moldova, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, on the vote on “L.6/Rev.1”, said those delegations could not support to the resolution this year because not all of the positions expressed at the High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament had been reflected in the resolution. For that reason, those delegations had decided to abstain, as they did not see a nuclear weapons convention as the first priority in the Conference on Disarmament.
Speaking in explanation of vote on “L.6/Rev.1”, the representative of Switzerland said his delegation had voted in favour of the resolution, and had welcomed the convening of the High-Level Meeting at the United Nations. He would have liked to have seen explicit reference in the resolution to the NPT outcome documents, including the Action Plan of 2010. Referring to Article VI, the resolution called for urgent compliance with the legal obligations and fulfilments of the commitments undertaken on nuclear disarmament. Nuclear disarmament would only become a reality if all States possessing those weapons moved resolutely in that direction and fully committed themselves to that objective.
As nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation were mutually reinforcing and inherently linked, any new case of proliferation of nuclear weapons would put at risk further progress on nuclear disarmament, he said. His delegation did not see a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention as the only option for achieving and maintaining a world without nuclear weapons. The high-level international conference called for for 2018 would be an opportunity to take stock of and give new impetus to the efforts.
Ecuador’s representative said hid delegation had voted in favour of “L.34” and had participated in the task of the open-ended working group for the promotion of multilateral negotiations on nuclear disarmament. He was sorry to see that operative paragraph 9 of “L.43” called for the launching of a fissile material cu-off treaty and failed to adequately acknowledge the Conference on Disarmament.
The representative of Brazil said he had voted in favour of “L.34” and welcomed discussions undertaken within the framework of the Open-Ended Working Group. He appreciated that the draft reaffirmed the absolute validity of multilateral diplomacy, as well as the role of the Conference on Disarmament, as set out in the final document of the General Assembly’s first special session devoted to disarmament.
Kazakhstan’s representative said he had voted in favour of “L.34” with the understanding that the Open-Ended Working Group would not serve as an independent platform, and that its outcomes should be presented to both established entities — Conference on Disarmament and Disarmament Commission — of the disarmament machinery.
The delegate from the Russian Federation, speaking in explanation of vote on “L.6/Rev.1”, said his country was an unswerving advocate of the idea of eliminating nuclear weapons. Russia was faithfully implementing that in practice and had already taken unprecedented steps, reducing by a factor of 10 its nuclear arsenals. In that context, the Russian Federation had the greatest possible respect vis-a-vis the States of the Non-Aligned Movement in searching for possible options on the path to nuclear disarmament. But while moving towards nuclear disarmament, it was important to bear in mind the realities of today’s world and clearly implement international agreements. Any sidestep was fraught with the risk of losing mutual trust. Unfortunately, “L.6/Rev.1” ignored today’s global reality, and the Russian Federation had been forced to vote against it.
The representative of Israel, also speaking in explanation of vote, said Israel had voted in favour of “L.29.Rev.1” because of the importance it attached to the Test-Ban Treaty. However, Israel could not support operative paragraphs 1 and 6 of the text, because of its longstanding position on the Conference on Disarmament. Israel’s signature to the Test-Ban Treaty reflected its policy to bring itself closer to international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation norms, and his country had actively participated in the treaty’s verification regime. Completion, however, required “further efforts”.
Regarding the security situation in his region, he added that adherence to and compliance with the CTBT by States in the region was a major consideration in connection with his country’s ratification. The Treaty should be robust and “immune to abuse”, while at the same time, allow States to pursue their security interests. Israel, as in previous years, had voted in favour of this resolution, which stemmed from and reflected the importance it attached to the CTBT.
The representative of Portugal speaking in explanation of vote on “L.34”, on taking forward multilateral negotiations, said that the text should incorporate a reference to the need for expanding the Conference on Disarmament’s membership. Portugal had proposed the inclusion of such a reference in the preambular portion of the text, but, unfortunately, that proposal had not been subjected to the proper consideration, and therefore, his delegation had abstained in the voting.
Cluster 3: Outer Space (Disarmament Aspects)
The Committee then approved without a vote a draft resolution, submitted by China, Russian Federation and United States, entitled “transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities” (document A/C.1/68/L.40). Reaffirming that preventing an arms race in outer space is in the interest of maintaining international peace and security and was an essential condition for the promotion and strengthening of international cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes, decided, in order to advance those transparency and confidence-building measures, to refer the recommendations of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space to the Disarmament Commission and Conference on Disarmament.
Also by the text, the Assembly would encourage Member States to review and implement the proposed such measures contained in the Report of the Group of Governmental Experts.
The representative of Iran, speaking in explanation of vote regarding “L.40”, said that his country strongly believed that outer space was the “common heritage of mankind”, and should be used for the benefit of all countries. Any State, regardless of its economic or technological status, had an inalienable right to use outer space for peaceful purposes. Iran, therefore, fully supported draft resolution “L.40” and had joined consensus.
At the same time, he registered concerns in connection with preambular paragraph 8, noting that, since 2004, several States had introduced a policy of not being the first State to place weapons in outer space. Such activity, he continued, was already forbidden under existing instruments, and therefore such a “policy” by States parties to these treaties should be pursued only as a complementary measure to their legal obligations. Regarding operative paragraph 2, which encouraged Member States to review and implement the measures outlined by the governmental expert group, he likewise stressed that those efforts should be carried out in conformity with obligations under relevant international treaties.
Cluster 4: Conventional Weapons
Next, acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft resolution, submitted by the Philippines, on the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (document A/C.1/68/L.28). By its terms, the Assembly would call upon States that had yet to do so to take all measures to become parties to that Convention as soon as possible. The Assembly would welcome the commitment by States parties to contribute to the further development of international humanitarian law and, in that context, to keep under review both the development of new weapons and uses of weapons, which might have indiscriminate effects or cause unnecessary suffering.
Speaking after the action on “L.28”, the representative of Germany said his country had joined consensus, but regretted, as stipulated in operative paragraph 7, that no recommendations had been made at the Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention in November 2012, and that no decision had been taken regarding the continuation of discussions on mines, other than anti-personnel mines.
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