Speakers in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) painted a bleak picture of the international response to the nuclear threat, as they discussed the unprecedented state of the global security environment on the penultimate day of that Committee’s general debate.
The world was reaching a “point of no return”, warned the representative of San Marino, calling for strict control of “deadly arsenals” by arms manufacturers and those with access to them.
All Member States should adopt new metrics of disarmament consisting of specific indicators measuring progress against commitments, he said, urging the international community to ensure that “intentions were fulfilled by actions”.
In today’s unpredictable global security environment, asserted the representative of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the continued existence of weapons of mass destruction was worrying, particularly, the possibility they could fall into the hands of terrorists and non-State actors.
Indeed, the “tragic turn” of the terrorist threat required an international response, said the representative of Morocco. Failing that, the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists would “no longer be hypothetical”. Nuclear and other mass destruction weapons did not guarantee international security and stability, he said, emphasizing that that required dialogue, mutual respect and partnerships that favoured sustainable human development.
The nuclear threat was even more daunting, said the representative of Iran, when considering that those weapons were not just in storage, but associated with war strategies that contemplated their use. The international community had a right to know that the nightmare inflicted upon the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki would never befall any other community again, he said.
A just and secure world order remained elusive, said the representative of Pakistan, who warned that, despite expectation, the global security environment had deteriorated since the end of the cold war. Security for all States was being trumped by “narrow selfish interests” as aims for world domination and hegemony had undermined a more rules-based, cooperative world.
He added that absolute security for one State must not come at the cost of diminished security for others. That trend had already “severely damaged” the international arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament regime.
The policies of hegemony and the cold war, along with demonstrations of “strong arms and blackmail”, said the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, were being repeated in an undisguised manner. Moreover, targeted nuclear-war exercises by the largest nuclear-weapon State rendered conventions and treaties “meaningless” and drove the world to a nuclear arms race.
Also speaking today were representatives of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Nepal, Peru, Columbia, Paraguay, and Madagascar.
General Assembly President, Sam Kutesa, also addressed the Committee.
The First Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on 16 October to conclude its general debate and begin its first round of thematic discussions.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to continue its general debate. For background, see Press Release GA/DIS/3497.
MARITZA CHAN (Costa Rica), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said her region had a long-standing tradition of promoting disarmament and arms control. The CELAC States represented the first densely populated region of the world to have declared a zone free of nuclear weapons through the Treaty of Tlatelolco. Recalling the 1996 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, she said that the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons was a crime against humanity and a violation of international law and the United Nations Charter. She urged the international community to reiterate its concern on the humanitarian effects of nuclear weapons whenever the debate took place.
She said CELAC would work to support a conference to eliminate nuclear weapons in the shortest possible time. The international community should also work to adopt a global treaty, as soon as possible, to provide negative security assurances to the non-nuclear-weapon States. She urgently called on all nuclear-weapon States to respect the denuclearized character of her region, and while she commended the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, progress had not been sufficient. She rejected the modernization of existing weapons or the development of new ones, and added that those States with weapons on high alert should decrease their situational readiness. At the same time, States had the inalienable right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
ZAMIR AKRAM (Pakistan), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that, contrary to expectations, the global security environment had increasingly deteriorated since the end of the cold war, as a “just and secure world order continued to elude us”. Part of a zero-sum game, security for all States was being trumped by “narrow selfish interests”, he said. Aims for world domination and hegemony had undermined engagement as the basis of a rules-based, cooperative world. Absolute security for one State, he warned, could not come at the cost of diminished security for others. That trend had “severely damaged” the international arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament regime.
At the same time, he said, new weapons systems were being developed, including anti-ballistic missiles, non-nuclear strategic weapon systems, armed drones and lethal autonomous weapon systems, or LAWS. Nuclear-weapon States must demonstrate renewed commitment in achieving nuclear disarmament within a “reasonable” timeframe, he said, adding that without that commitment, the “bargain of the non-proliferation regime” would continue to erode.
JASSER JIMÉNEZ (Nicaragua), associating with CELAC and the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country combated scourges of drug trafficking and organized crime, which undermined the very fabric of society. Total disarmament of all weapons of mass destruction was his country’s ultimate goal. Worldwide, more was spent on developing and testing weapons of all kinds than was spent on the development of human beings. People were dying from diseases like Ebola, and yet military expenditures continued to increase. It would be a historic day when the international community came together and expressed its hope for a world free from nuclear weapons. That would save all on Mother Earth from a nuclear catastrophe. Ultimately, all nuclear weapons should be eliminated, and a halt to all nuclear testing would be an important first step.
SAM KUTESA, General Assembly President, said that a peaceful and secure world was the “basic building block” required for all peoples to enjoy lives of safety, prosperity and dignity. The collective efforts of the First Committee would have broad implications on many other aspects of the Organization’s work, he said, adding that the promise of a more sustainable and prosperous future could not be fulfilled without ensuring peace and security for all. True security was based on people’s welfare, including a growing economy, strong public health and education programmes, and fundamental respect for common humanity.
GHOLAMHOSSEIN DEHGHANI (Iran), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that threats and challenges were an integral part of the world. Among them was the threat posed by the continued existence of tens of thousands of nuclear weapons. Those were not just in storage, but were associated with strategies and war plans that contemplated their use. As long as the idea of achieving security with nuclear weapons formed the foundation of a few States’ military doctrines, such weapons would remain an ever-present threat to all mankind. While the spread of nuclear weapons was enshrined in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), that was not its only pillar.
He said it was a matter of serious concern that there was no indication that nuclear-weapon States were moving to fulfil their nuclear disarmament obligations. Many delegations, therefore, had questioned their commitment to the process. The international community had a right to know that the nightmare visited upon the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki would never befall any other community again. Non-compliance with nuclear disarmament obligations, if not stopped, would gradually erode trust in the NPT. The lack of resolve on the part of those States had also systematically stymied progress in the disarmament machinery. Despite attempts by some to create doubts regarding Iran’s commitment to nuclear non-proliferation, his country had, for the past 12 months, engaged in earnest and serious negotiations to help build confidence in its peaceful nuclear programme.
KHIANE PHANSOURIVONG (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) said that in today’s unpredictable global security environment, the international community needed to see improvement in the field of disarmament and international security. The continued existence of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, remained a matter of concern, especially due to the possibility that they could fall into the hands of terrorists and non-State actors. The destructive power of nuclear weapons, and the threat they posed to the environment and human survival, meant they were “unique” in their catastrophic consequences. Adherence to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty would contribute to promoting nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, as would the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones. At the same time, the international community could not afford to ignore the challenges posed by conventional weapons, and she welcomed progress in universalizing the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab and African Groups, said that the tragic turn of the terrorist threat required an adequate international response. Failing that, the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists “would no longer be hypothetical”. Nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction did not guarantee international security and stability, he said, adding that collective security rested in dialogue, mutual respect and economic partnerships that favoured sustainable human development. In that regard, he welcomed multilateral discussions on nuclear weapons and hoped that the upcoming conference in Vienna would bring new momentum to that process.
Accession to the NPT and adherence to the International Atomic Energy Agency was crucial to all countries in the Middle East, including Israel, he noted. In that context, Morocco supported an international conference that would pave the way towards the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East, which would ultimately strengthen peace and security in the region.
RI TONG IL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that to build a peaceful and prosperous world, nuclear disarmament remained the first and foremost issue. Policies of hegemony and the cold war, along with demonstrations of “strong arms and blackmail” were being repeated in an undisguised manner. The largest nuclear-weapon State continued to blackmail one dignified United Nations Member State by opening targeted nuclear war exercises, despite unanimous demands by the international community. Such actions made the NPT and other conventions and treaties “meaningless” and drove the entire world to a nuclear arms race. Nuclear Powers’ passive approach, maintaining an aggressive nuclear doctrine and making only minimal reductions, only made a mockery of the international community. “Nuclear war exercises” should be suspended immediately, and pre-emptive strike doctrines should be abandoned. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea welcomed any initiatives of the international community towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
DURGA PRASAD BHATTARAI (Nepal), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the impact of weapons of mass destruction “know no national or regional boundaries”, as the catastrophic consequences from large-scale nuclear disasters would pervade all countries, sectors, and economies. No Power was immune to the consequences of such disasters, he warned. The international community must therefore rise to its responsibility and forge a solid global commitment towards the non-proliferation and complete elimination of mass destruction weapons.
As host of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, Nepal, he said, sought to revitalize the “Kathmandu process” to facilitate dialogue with the aim of fostering cooperation and confidence-building in the region. While the Centre had made good progress to date, it relied heavily on voluntary contributions for its programmes. As such, he called for its enhanced support from the international community, particularly by Member States from the Asia-Pacific region. As in previous years, Nepal would be tabling a resolution on this issue at the current session of the Committee.
ANA PEÑA DOIG (Peru), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and CELAC, said her country was concerned over the fabrication of small arms and light weapons and thus welcomed the 2001 Programme of Action in that regard. A better exchange of information was necessary at the regional and international levels on tracking those weapons to help eliminate the illicit trade. Regarding disarmament generally, confidence-building was important, and would also help to tackle issues of poverty, inequity and social exclusion, since more resources could be allocated to social development. Peru sought the full implementation of the Hague Code of Conduct on missiles, with the aim of universalizing that instrument.
DANIELE D. BODINI (San Marino) said that eliminating all weapons of mass destruction, be they nuclear, biological or chemical, must remain the world’s absolute priority. The international community must not limit itself to reaffirming its long-term commitments, but should focus and ensure that intentions were fulfilled by actions. The main focus of the United Nations was to maintain peace and security, yet all were witness to events of the world; even non-State actors could wage wars with heavy artillery, tanks and sophisticated weapons. The world was reaching a “point of no-return”. Arms manufacturing countries and those that had access to them must maintain strict control of their deadly arsenal. All Member States should, as Angela Kane said, adopt new metrics of disarmament consisting of specific indicators for measuring progress in implementing commitments.
MIGUEL CAMILO RUIZ (Colombia), associating with CELAC, said his country had been active in living up to the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter. To that end, Columbia was involved in peace dialogue on matters related to conventional arms, which remained particularly relevant to that country. For more than 50 years, it had suffered from the impact of small arms and light weapons, which hindered its potential for development. Thus, his country looked forward to the imminent entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty and its full implementation. In the same vein, Columbia would be hosting a regional seminar on the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlateloco) to exchange experiences and gain expertise from the European Union. Given the enormous scope of the conventional weapons challenge, work undertaken in line with the United Nations Programme of Action was also needed.
LUIS BENÍTEZ RODRÍGUEZ (Paraguay), associating with CELAC, said his country was committed to arms control in the maintenance of international peace and security. More specifically, the effectiveness of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, to which it was a party, was a first step in ensuring that future generations could live in a world free of nuclear weapons. As the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons had brought much grief and tragedy to countries in the region, he urged the international community to step up its efforts to curb that worrisome trend. Efforts must also be accelerated in coordinating the tracking of those weapons globally. Paraguay looked forward to the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty and was in the process of ratifying that Treaty soon. For its part, the country was proud to have hosted a seminar providing technical guidelines on handling munitions and explosives.
HÉLÉNA BERNADETTE RAJAONARIVELO (Madagascar), associating with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the United Nations disarmament system continued to suffer from impasse. She deplored the fact that the Disarmament Commission had not been able to achieve consensus since 1999. Nevertheless, she reaffirmed its important role. The very serious threat posed by the existence of nuclear weapons was clear, and global consideration of the issue must continue. She joined calls aimed at nuclear Powers to uphold their obligations to eliminate those weapons. Madagascar was in favour of the use of nuclear energy for economic development, and encouraged its research, generation and production. She called on all NPT parties to show greater political will. She welcomed the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria, and reiterated the importance of regional cooperation among States to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.