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GA/DIS/3541
5 November 2015
Seventieth Session, 25th Meeting (AM)

First Committee Approves 20 Drafts, Including New One Containing Declaration Aimed at Relinquishing ‘They versus Us’ Approach to Nuclear Disarmament

Reiterating its deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) approved a new draft resolution containing a universal declaration on the achievement of a nuclear-weapon-free world, one of 20 passed today.

The text, “L.52.Rev.1”, attaches a 19-paragraph declaration, which, if adopted by the General Assembly, would call on all States at all times to comply with applicable international law, including international humanitarian law.  It would call on all nuclear-weapon-possessing States to eliminate all types of their nuclear weapons and in the meantime diminish their role in security policies. 

The draft resolution was approved by a recorded vote of 131 in favour to 22 against, with 28 abstentions.  Presenting the text, the representative of Kazakhstan said that the declaration would be unique in that it took the controversial issues facing both nuclear-possessing and non-nuclear possessing sides and tried to find a middle ground.  It was not a matter of “they versus us”, but rather it was a matter of “we the people of the United Nations”, he said.

Also drawing debate in the nuclear weapons cluster was a draft resolution on accelerating the implementation of nuclear disarmament commitments, “L.41/Rev.1”, by which the Assembly, deeply regretting the lack of any substantive outcome of the 2015 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), would urge all State possessors to decrease the operational readiness of nuclear weapons in a verifiable and transparent manner.

Prior to taking action on that text as a whole, the Committee retained operative paragraph 13, by a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 5 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Israel, Pakistan, United States), with 7 abstentions (Bhutan, France, Hungary, Palau, Turkey, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe).  That provision would stress the fundamental role of the NPT in achieving nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and call on all States parties to spare no effort to achieve its universality.  It would urge India, Israel and Pakistan to accede to it as non-nuclear-weapon States.

The text as a whole was approved by a recorded vote of 135 in favour to 7 against (France, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Israel, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States), with 38 abstentions.

A related draft resolution, introduced by Algeria, “L.4/Rev.1”, would have the Assembly recall that the NPT Review Conference had been unable to reach agreement, and request that the Secretary-General render the necessary assistance for the 2020 review.  That draft resolution was approved by a recorded vote of 175 in favour to none against, with 3 abstentions (India, Israel, Pakistan).

The Committee also approved a draft on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations (“L.13/Rev.1”), which would have the Assembly reaffirm the urgency of substantive progress in such negotiations, and decide to convene an open-ended working group to address concrete effective legal measures, legal provisions and norms needed to attain and maintain a world without nuclear weapons.  It was approved by a recorded vote of 135 in favour to 12 against, with 35 abstentions.

Also approved today was a draft resolution on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, “L.25”, by which the Assembly would urge the Conference on Disarmament to agree on and implement a balanced and comprehensive programme of work including the immediate commencement of such negotiations.  The text was approved by a recorded vote of 175 in favour to 1 against (Pakistan), with 5 abstentions (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Syria).

A draft resolution on a nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas, “L.35”, was approved by a recorded vote of 174 in favour to 4 against (France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States), with 1 abstention (Israel).  Acting without a vote in the same cluster, the Committee approved a resolution on the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone,“L.58”.

The representative of Iran withdrew from action a text on effective nuclear disarmament measures, “L.28/Rev.1”, saying that a general statement made earlier by France’s representative, also speaking on behalf of China, United States, United Kingdom and the Russian Federation, demonstrated that nuclear-weapon States were not willing to commit themselves to a consensus-based and inclusive approach.

Also speaking prior to action on the nuclear weapons cluster were representatives of South Africa (New Agenda Coalition), Brazil, Uganda and Malaysia.  Speaking in explanation of the vote before the vote on that cluster were the representatives of Austria, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Palau, Pakistan, Indonesia, Cuba, Australia (speaking on behalf of a group of countries).

The Committee also took action today on draft resolutions on regional disarmament and security, and, by recorded votes that included separate votes on certain provisions, approved texts on the Indian Ocean as a zone of peace, “L.18”, and conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels, “L.34”.  Approved without votes were drafts on strengthening security and cooperation in the Mediterranean, “L.5”, confidence-building measures in the regional and subregional context,“L.31”, and regional disarmament, “L.33”.

The representative of India spoke in explanation of vote after the vote on the regional disarmament and security cluster.

By a recorded vote of 173 in favour to none against, with 4 abstentions (France, Israel, United Kingdom, United States), the Committee approved a draft decision on an open-ended working group on the fourth special session of the general assembly devoted to disarmament, “L.11”, in its disarmament machinery cluster.  Acting without votes, it approved drafts on the United Nations regional centres for peace and development,“L.8”; report of the Conference on Disarmament, “L.14”; report on the Disarmament Commission, “L.29”; United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, “L.42”; activities of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa, “L.43/Rev.2”; the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, “L.53”; and the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa, “L.57”.  A draft, “L.30”, on the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research was postponed. 

Prior to action, the representative of Cuba delivered a general statement on the disarmament machinery cluster.  Explaining their position after the votes were representatives of the United Kingdom (also on behalf of France and the United States), Cuba, United States (also on behalf of United Kingdom), South Africa, Germany, Iran and Indonesia.

Speaking in explanation of the vote after the vote on the other disarmament measures and international security cluster, whose drafts were considered yesterday, were the representatives of France (also on behalf of the United Kingdom), United States and Cuba.

[Oral statements have accompanied a number of drafts thus far approved by the Committee, in accordance with General Assembly Rule of Procedure 153.]

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 6 November, to continue its consideration of all draft resolutions and decisions before it.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue taking action on all draft resolutions and decisions before it.  For more information see Press Release GA/DIS/3540.

Cluster 5, Other Disarmament Measures and International Security

Explaining the vote after yesterday’s vote on “L.7”, on observance of environmental laws when drafting disarmament and arms control agreements, the representative of France, also speaking on behalf of the United Kingdom, said those countries had joined the consensus, but wished to make clear that they operated under stringent environmental impact regulations for many activities, including arms control and disarmament agreements.  The delegations did not see a direct connection between general environmental standards and multilateral arms control.

Also explaining the position of those countries on “L.10”, she said that the United Kingdom and France had joined consensus on the resolution.  They supported the mainstreaming of disarmament issues into development policy, particularly in the field of small arms and light weapons, demobilization and reintegration.  On other aspects, however, she said that the symbiotic relationship between development and disarmament seemed questionable, since the conditions necessary for disarmament were not dependent on development only.  There was no automatic link between the two, which the resolution did not capture.  The idea that military expenditure diverted funding from development needed to be nuanced, since defence and security were also necessary for development and stability.  France and the United Kingdom were of the view that the report of the group of governmental experts did not give sufficient credit to unilateral, bilateral and multilateral actions on non-proliferation and disarmament.

Also speaking in explanation of vote, the representative of the United States said he would also explain position on “L.7” and “L.10”.  His delegation had not participated in the consensus on “L.7”.  The United States operated under stringent domestic environmental impact regulations, including with regard to the implementation of arms control and disarmament agreements.  His delegation did not see any connection between general environmental standards and multilateral arms control, and did not consider the issue to be germane to the First Committee.  On “L.10”, he said that disarmament and development were two distinct issues.  The United States did not consider itself to be bound by the final document adopted at the International Conference on Disarmament and Development in 1987.

The representative of Cuba said her delegation had joined consensus on “L.17”, on objective information on military matters, a topic that had been considered for some years by the First Committee.  Cuba’s decision to join consensus echoed its practice of recent years.  At the same time, she wished to place on record that Cuba did not agree with preambular paragraph 9, which welcomed the establishment of a group of experts.  Her delegation was not convinced that a further group was needed for that purpose, but thought instead that greater focus should be placed on existing instruments.  Cuba believed that establishing groups of experts should not be the rule of thumb, but rather should be the exception.  Priority needed to be given to negotiations and discussions in which all Member States could participate on equal footing.

Cluster 6, Regional Disarmament and Security

The Committee took up a draft resolution on strengthening of security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region (document A/C.1/70/L.5), by which the General Assembly would call upon States in that region to adhere to all multilaterally negotiated legal instruments on disarmament and non-proliferation.  The Committee approved it without a vote.

Next, the Committee took action on a draft resolution, introduced by Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, on implementation of the Declaration of the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace (document A/C.1/70/L.18).  By its terms, the General Assembly would reiterate its conviction that the participation of all permanent members of the Security Council and the major maritime users of the Indian Ocean in the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Indian Ocean was important and would greatly facilitate the development of a mutually beneficial dialogue in the region.  The Assembly would also request the Ad Hoc Committee Chair to continue his informal consultations with Committee members and to report to the General Assembly at its seventy-second session.

That draft was approved by a recorded vote of 116 in favour to 3 against (France, United Kingdom, United States), with 46 abstentions.

Acting without a vote, the Committee then approved a draft resolution on confidence-building measures in the regional and subregional context (document A/C.1/70/L.31).  By its terms, the Assembly would urge States to comply with all bilateral, regional and international agreements, including arms control and disarmament agreements, to which they were party.  It would encourage promotion of bilateral and regional confidence-building measures to avoid conflict and prevent the unintended and accidental outbreak of hostilities. 

Also approved without a vote was a draft resolution on regional disarmament (document A/C.1/70/L.33), which would have the Assembly call on States to conclude agreements, wherever possible, for nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament and confidence-building measures at the regional and subregional levels.  The Assembly would also support and encourage efforts aimed at promoting confidence-building measures at those levels to ease regional tensions and to further disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation measures.

Next, the Committee took up the draft resolution on conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels (document A/C.1/70/L.34), by which the Assembly would urgently consider issues involved in conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels, and request the Conference on Disarmament to formulate principles that could serve as a framework for regional agreements on conventional arms control and to report on this subject.

Prior to action on that draft as a whole, recorded votes were requested on operative paragraph 2, which would have the Assembly make that request to the Conference on Disarmament.  That provision was retained by a recorded vote of 133 in favour to 1 against (India), with 36 abstentions.

The draft as a whole was then approved by a recorded vote of 169 in favour to 1 against (India), with 5 abstentions (Albania, Austria, Bhutan, Palau, Russian Federation).

The representative of India, speaking in explanation of the votes on “L.34”, said he had voted against the draft as a whole as well as its operative paragraph 2.  He noted that the Conference on Disarmament was the single multilateral negotiation forum for nuclear disarmament, as well as the regional disarmament guidelines adopted by the United Nations Disarmament Commission in 1993.  There was no need for the Conference to engage in formulating principles on the same subject when it had other priorities.  The security concerns of States extended beyond narrowly defined regional matters, and not taking that into account would make achieving balanced defence capabilities regionally both unrealistic and unacceptable.

The representative of Nicaragua said he would have voted against “L.18”, but had not been present.

The representative of Niger said he was delayed but would have voted in favour of “L.18”. 

The representative of Madagascar would have voted in favour of “L.18”.

Cluster 7:  Disarmament Machinery

In a general statement on that cluster, JUANA ELENA RAMOS (Cuba) said her country was one of the co-sponsors of “L.11”, submitted by Non-Aligned Movement, which called for the convening of a fourth special session of the General Assembly on disarmament.  That session would revitalize the disarmament machinery and could no longer be put off.  She called on all States to support the resolution and participate in such a session, with a view to the adoption of concrete decisions.

On “L.8”, on the Regional Centres for Peace and Disarmament, she said she supported the Centres’ work, but that needed to be rolled out with States in the region in keeping with the mandates that led to their establishment.  Noting the importance of voluntary contributions, she nonetheless emphasized that the interests of donors in specific terms could not override the balanced implementation of the work that Member States had designated to the Centres.  She recognized the important work by the Centre in Latin America and the Caribbean, and Cuba had co-sponsored “L.42”, which referred to that body.

The Committee next took up the draft resolution, introduced by Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, on the United Nations regional centres for peace and disarmament (document A/C.1/70/L.8).  By its terms, the Assembly would reaffirm that, in order to achieve positive results, it would be useful for the three regional centres to carry out dissemination and educational programmes to promote regional peace and security, aimed at changing basic attitudes about peace, security and disarmament.  The Assembly would appeal to Member States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to make voluntary contributions to the Regional Centres in order to strengthen their activities.  The draft was then approved without a vote.

Next, the Committee considered a draft decision, introduced by Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, on an open-ended working group on the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament (document A/C.1/70/L.11).  By its terms, the Assembly would decide to hold an organizational session of that group in order to set a date for its substantive sessions in 2016 and 2017.  That decision was then approved by a recorded vote of 173 in favour to none against, with 4 abstentions (France, Israel, United Kingdom, United States).

Acting without a vote, the Committee approved a draft resolution, introduced by New Zealand, on the report of the Conference on Disarmament (document A/C.1/70/L.14), which would have the Assembly call upon the Conference on Disarmament to intensify consultations and explore possibilities for overcoming its deadlock of almost two decades, by adopting and implementing a balanced and comprehensive programme of work at the earliest possible date during its 2016 session.

Also acting without a vote, the Committee took action on a draft resolution, introduced by Senegal on behalf of the Bureau of the Disarmament Commission, entitled report of the Disarmament Commission (document A/C.1/70/L.29).  By its terms, the Assembly would request the Commission to continue its work in accordance with its mandate, and to that end, make every effort to achieve specific recommendations on its agenda items.  It would also request the Commission to meet for no more than three weeks during 2016 and to submit a substantive report to the Assembly at its seventy-first session.

Also approved without a vote was the draft resolution, introduced by Peru on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, entitled United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (document A/C.1/70/L.42).

By its terms, the General Assembly would recognize the Centre’s important role in promoting and developing regional and subregional initiatives on weapons of mass destruction, in particular, nuclear and conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons.  It would encourage the Centre to further develop activities in the areas of peace, disarmament and development and to provide support in the national implementation of such relevant instruments as the Arms Trade Treaty, among others.

Approved without a vote was the draft resolution, introduced by Angola on behalf of Economic Community of Central African States, entitled regional confidence-building measures:  activities of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa (document A/C.1/70/L.43/Rev.2). The Assembly, considering the urgent need to prevent the possible movement of illicit weapons, mercenaries and combatants involved in conflicts in the Sahel and neighbouring countries, would encourage States to assist those States members of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa that had ratified the Arms Trade Treaty, and encourage those that had not yet done so to ratify it.

Also without a vote, the Committee approved a draft resolution on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (document A/C.1/70/L.53), which would have the Assembly request the Secretary-General to make arrangements for the early resumption of the operations of the Regional Centre from Kathmandu.

It then approved, also without a vote, a draft, introduced by Nigeria on behalf of the African Group, on United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (document A/C.1/70/L.57), along with an oral statement on operative paragraphs 10 and 11.  By its terms, the Assembly would urge all States as well as international governmental and non-governmental organizations and foundations, to make voluntary contributions to enable the Centre to carry out its programmes and meet the needs of African States.

Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of the United Kingdom, also speaking on behalf of France and the United States, said their reasons for abstaining on “L.11” remained valid and those delegations would maintain that position.

The representative of Cuba said her delegation had joined consensus on “L.43/Rev.2”, and believed the text appropriately reflected the broad scope and relevance of the activities carried out by the advisory committee.  However, it dissociated itself from preambular paragraph 5, which welcomed the Arms Trade Treaty, doing so because the Treaty did not enjoy the full support of all United Nations Member States.

The representative of the United States, speaking also on behalf of the United Kingdom, said they had joined consensus on “L.53” on the assumption that there would not be any programme budget implications.  If any did result, then the situation should be revisited.  He expressed sympathy for the people of Nepal affected by the Earthquake.

Explaining his country’s position on “L.53”, the representative of South Africa said his delegation fully supported the draft, but added, however, that if there were explanations from the Secretariat on the implications flowing from relocating the Regional Centre from Kathmandu to Bangkok, then the Committee should be able to raise those issues and discuss them in depth if needed.

Speaking on behalf of a number of countries, Germany’s representative said the group had voted in favour of “L.11”, which aimed to start the implementation of General Assembly resolution 65/66 by holding, at a later stage, an organizational session of the open-ended working group for a fourth special session.  Those countries also supported “L.8”, which included a complementary effort to revitalize the multilateral disarmament machinery.  However, the pursuit of a fourth special session was not an alternative to, nor a reason, for postponing efforts to overcome the stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament.

The representative of Iran said he wished to place on record that his delegation dissociated itself from consensus on preambular paragraph 5 of “L.43/Rev.2” for the same reason enumerated in Iran’s explanation of vote on “L.54” on the Arms Trade Treaty.

Indonesia’s representative said that delegation had decided to go along with consensus on “L.43/Rev/2”, but wished to place on record that it also dissociated itself from preambular paragraph 5, as it was not in a position to support the Arms Trade Treaty at present.

Cluster 1, Nuclear Weapons

In a general statement on “L.13/Rev.1”, ALICE GUITTON (France), speaking also on behalf of China, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and United States, said that as NPT nuclear-weapon States, they shared the goal of nuclear disarmament and would continue to pursue concrete and progressive steps towards that end.  An instrument such as a ban without the participation and support of nuclear-weapon States would not eliminate nuclear weapons, but would undermine the NPT regime.  Significant achievements had already been made within that framework, and an incremental step-by-step approach was the only way to achieve nuclear disarmament.  All States could help fulfil that goal by resolving regional tensions, tackling proliferation challenges, promoting collective security and making progress in all areas of arms control and disarmament.  The group also remained open to other channels of discussion, not excluding an appropriately mandated open-ended working group, provided they were conducive to constructive dialogue.  Productive results could only be ensured thorough a consensus-based approach, and to ensure that such an approach was genuinely inclusive and fully anchored in the security context, States should agree in advance on key parameters of the process.  “L.13/Rev.1” lacked all the vital components to guarantee a meaningful collaboration and productive outcome, and attempted to promote nuclear disarmament while ignoring security considerations.  The five countries would vote against that resolution.

SEYED MOHAMMAD ALI ROBATJAZI (Iran) said that the state of affairs with respect to nuclear disarmament could best be characterized as a complete lack of progress.  The high- level meeting in 2013, the conference on the humanitarian impact of such weapons in 2014 and the 2015 NPT Review Conference, all bore testimony to the deep frustration of the international community towards the approach of the nuclear- weapon States towards disarmament.  Under those circumstances, “L.13.Rev.1” and “L.28.Rev.1” had been submitted by non-nuclear-weapon States to further disarmament by establishing two working groups in New York and Geneva.  They demonstrated the non-nuclear-weapon States’ strong interest in breaking the current impasse and status quo in that field.  In that context, Iran had been determined to engage in all diplomatic efforts and had submitted “L.28/Rev.1”.

He went on to say that as the gap between commitment and implementation of nuclear disarmament was becoming wider, so was the gap between nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon States.  The mistrust between them was dominant in all relevant meetings.  If that remained unaddressed, it could have ramifications for the NPT, which was the foundation of the non-proliferation regime.  Under those conditions, there was a need to hold serious and sustained discussions in an inclusive manner, now or in the near future.  The failure of the NPT Review Conference was a unique opportunity for a focused discussion to elaborate effective measures for nuclear disarmament and include legal measures to maintain a world free of nuclear weapons.  The working group proposed would include 40 days of extensive discussion and elaboration of such issues within two years, in New York.  Nuclear-weapon States had the primary responsibility for nuclear disarmament, and it was important to secure their participation in negotiations and dialogue, and that justified the need for a consensus-based approach.  However, the statement just made by the representative of France demonstrated that nuclear-weapon States were not willing to commit themselves to even a consensus-based and inclusive approach.  In the absence of such willingness, there would be no need to keep “L.28/Rev.1” on the table.  Therefore, Iran had withdrawn that text.

DAVID ROBIN WENSLEY (South Africa) introducing, on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition — Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand and South Africa — “L.41.Rev.1”, on accelerating commitments towards a nuclear-weapon-free world.  Based on feedback, the Coalition had issued a revised text to accommodate all legitimate concerns, including the reformulation of provisions on the founding of the United Nations and the 2015 NPT Review Conference, and had made amendments to operative paragraphs 2, 3 and 8.  As in the past, the Coalition sought to uphold previous commitments and obligations under the NPT’s article VI and call for accelerated implementation of the 1995, 2000 and 2010 Review Conferences without exception.  The present draft also urged States to explore options and support identifying and negotiating legally binding measures.

CARLOS SERGIO SOBRAL DUARTE (Brazil) said that the Committee was about to take action on an important set of draft resolutions, and noted that the delegation was a sponsor of “L.41/Rev.”, “L.35”, and “L.13”.  He also highlighted “L.52”, to be presented by Kazakhstan.  A wide variety of measures proposed by those texts reflected States’ determination to pursue all avenues towards achieving nuclear disarmament.

KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV (Kazakhstan) addressed his remarks to “L.52/Rev.1” regarding the universal declaration on achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world.  Since Kazakhstan had closed down its nuclear test site and given up its nuclear arsenal, which had been the fourth largest in the world, that country had been striving ceaselessly for a world free of nuclear weapons.  It had taken many measures in that regard, nationally, regionally and globally.  The idea of the declaration was first conceived in 2010, and the country had worked with States on a text that would be acceptable to all, harmonizing and balancing perspectives from nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon States into one document.  As a result, the text contained elements favourable to both groups of States, if looked at with an open mind.  While each country had a national position on the NPT or to other approaches, the declaration went beyond those confines and parameters, embodying greater basic principles that should lead the international community to a world free of nuclear weapons.  It was unique in that it took the controversial issues of both sides and tried to find a middle ground.  For Kazakhstan it was not a matter of “they versus us”, but rather a matter of “we the people of the United Nations”.  The declaration was important to the international community in promoting peace, security and development.

BECKHAM ROBERT MUGIMBA (Uganda), regarding ”L.52/Rev.1”, said it was necessary to renew the pledge to pursue the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world, which was why Uganda had co-sponsored the resolution.  Nuclear weapons had the destructive capacity to threaten the survival of humanity.  That, coupled with the perceived political value and prestige attached to those weapons, encouraged non-compliance with international obligations.  Even after the cold war, the threat of nuclear annihilation remained a part of the twenty-first century.  With the threat of climate change, the world did not need more devastation from nuclear weapons.  Today, the international community should reunite again through the declaration.  Africa was a nuclear-weapon-free zone.  It was not logical that some States should acquire nuclear weapons while others did not; actions led to reactions and then to counter-reactions.  The act of reducing and eliminating nuclear weapons was the ultimate goal.  Africa needed nuclear energy unless it was somehow scientifically proven that Africans did not need electricity.  Nuclear weapons must become “history”, with a focus only on nuclear energy.

The representative of Malaysia made an oral revision to preambular paragraph 4 of “L.58”, on the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone.

ALICE GUITTON (France) reiterated the explanation of vote on behalf of the “P5” on “L.13/Rev.1”, and said that on that resolution only, the group remained open to other channels of discussion, not excluding an appropriately mandated open-ended working group, provided results could only be ensured through a consensus basis. 

When the Committee began taking action on the remaining drafts in that cluster, the representative of Austria, speaking in explanation of vote before the vote on “L.52/Rev.1”, said it was regrettable but not surprising that it was not possible to adopt a strong and genuinely universal declaration on nuclear disarmament.  He appreciated the efforts by Kazakhstan to overcome the barriers, and said that work had paid off in the draft, which contained many strong elements.  Austria shared that goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world and had decided to support the draft.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, explaining his delegation’s position on “L.41/Rev.1”, said it would vote against the resolution again because operative paragraph 14 failed to meet fairness and balance by singling out the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to fulfil its commitments under the six-party talks.  Each party had an equal share of commitments and obligations, and all six had agreed to take coordinated steps in line with the principle of “word for word and action for action”.  The United States, however, refused to recognize the sovereignty of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and continued to threaten it with nuclear weapons.  Those threats left the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with no other option but to further strengthen its nuclear deterrent.  It was clear who was to blame for the setback of the nuclear disarmament process.  His “no” vote should not be seen as a lack of willingness to work with others towards nuclear disarmament.

CALEB OTTO (Palau) said that as a co-sponsor of “L.52/Rev.1”, her delegation would vote in its favour.  Palau did not have an army and did not manufacture arms or import weapons.  It was possible to lead a peaceful society under the rule of law without weapons.  The resolution advanced practical steps towards the moral imperative of nuclear disarmament and preventing unjustifiable suffering inflicted by those weapons.  Achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world required leadership and bold actions by all.  That challenging process demanded a comprehensive timetable.

The representative of Pakistan, explaining his delegation’s position on “L.25”, said that, in line with its consistent and clear position, his delegation would vote against the resolution this year.  Changing the forum or format would not overcome the fundamental obstructions regarding a fissile material cut-off treaty, and establishing a group of governmental experts was ill-conceived, as it simply duplicated the Conference on Disarmament’s work in a non-inclusive body.  Pakistan would not and could not support moves that undermined the Conference.  The members of the governmental expert group could not decide how the Conference should consider fissile material issues, and the discussion mandate assigned to it could easily have been fulfilled in the Conference on Disarmament.  The group was a failed experiment and had not produced any consensus recommendation worth any substance.  To make progress in the Conference on Disarmament, it was essential to take into account and address the security concerns of all States.  It was for those reasons that Pakistan was obliged to take a clear position on a fissile material cut-off treaty, which was cost-free for all other countries.

Speaking on a point of order, the Chair said that Palau’s intervention on “L.52/Rev.1” was to be considered a general statement because that country was a co-sponsor.

The representative of Indonesia, explaining his position on “L.25”, said he supported all efforts designed to achieve concrete progress on nuclear disarmament, including, but not limited to, negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other explosive devices.  Indonesia would continue to urge the Conference to implement a balanced programme of work, paying particular attention to negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons.  His delegation would vote in favour of “L.25”.

Cuba’s representative said her delegation would vote in favour of “L.52/Rev.1” because it was innovative and timely and would contribute to broader efforts already under way to deliver on the complete prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons in the shortest possible timeframe.  As stated in the text, any use of nuclear weapons, in addition to having catastrophic consequences for humanity, also ran counter to the United Nations Charter and would constitute a war crime.  The draft contained various practical actions, which she believed were further nuclear disarmament.  The draft universal declaration did not entirely reflect Cuba’s position; it had various limitations and shortcomings.  However, despite that, Cuba believed that the overall balance in “L.52/Rev.1” was positive and therefore it would support it.

The representative of Australia, speaking on behalf of a group of countries on “L.52/Rev.1” expressed their support for the global push to achieve a world without nuclear weapons, and commended the resolution’s strong endorsement of the NPT’s crucial role.  Nevertheless, there were problematic references in the declaration itself, notably operative paragraph 4 and its conclusions on the application of international law.  For that reason, the group would abstain.

Action on Texts

The Committee then took up a draft resolution, introduced by Algeria, on the 2020 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and its Preparatory Committee (document A/C.1/70/L.4/Rev.1).  By its terms, the Assembly, recalling that the 2015 NPT Review Conference had been unable to reach agreement, would request that the Secretary-General render the necessary assistance for the 2020 Review Conference.

That resolution was approved by a recorded vote of 175 in favour to none against, with 3 abstentions (India, Israel, Pakistan).

Next, the Committee took action on a draft on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations (document A/C.1/70/L.13/Rev.1).  The Assembly, deeply concerned about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, would reaffirm the urgency of securing substantive progress in multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, and decide to convene an open-ended working group to address concrete effective legal measures, legal provisions and norms that would need to be concluded to attain and maintain a world without nuclear weapons.

That draft was approved by a recorded vote of 135 in favour to 12 against, with 35 abstentions.

Next, the Committee turned to a draft resolution introduced by Canada on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices (A/C.1/70/L.25).  By its terms, the Assembly would urge the Conference on Disarmament to agree on and implement a balanced and comprehensive programme of work that includes the immediate commencement of negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

That resolution was approved by a recorded vote of 175 in favour to 1 against (Pakistan), with 5 abstentions (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Syria).

Next, the Committee took up a draft resolution on nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas (document A/C.1/70/L.35), approving by a recorded vote of 174 in favour to 4 against (France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States), with 1 abstention (Israel).

It would have the Assembly reaffirm the importance of nuclear-weapon-free zones in strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime and in extending the areas of the world that are nuclear-weapon-free.  It would call on all States concerned to continue to work together in order to facilitate adherence to the protocols to nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties.  The Assembly would also encourage efforts to reinforce coordination among nuclear-weapon-free zones.

The Committee next took action on a draft towards a nuclear-weapon-free world:  accelerating the implementation of nuclear disarmament commitments (document A/C.1/70/L.41/Rev.1), by which the Assembly, reiterating grave concern at the danger to humanity posed by nuclear weapons, which should inform all deliberations and decisions relating to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and deeply regretting the lack of any substantive outcome of the 2015 Review Conference, would urge all States possessing nuclear weapons to decrease their operational readiness in a verifiable and transparent manner.

Prior to taking action on that text as a whole, the Committee retained operative paragraph 13, by a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 5 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Israel, Pakistan, United States), with 7 abstentions (Bhutan, France, Hungary, Palau, Turkey, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe).  That provision would stress the fundamental role of the NPT in achieving nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and call on all States parties to spare no effort to achieve its universality.  It would urge India, Israel and Pakistan to accede to it as non-nuclear-weapon States promptly and without conditions, and to place all nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.

The text as a whole was then approved by a recorded vote of 135 in favour to 7 against (France, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Israel, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States), with 38 abstentions.

Next, the Committee took action on a revised draft resolution, submitted by the Central African Republic, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Senegal and Uzbekistan, on a universal declaration on the achievement of a nuclear-weapon-free world (document A/C.1/70/L.52/Rev.1). 

The draft resolution would have the Assembly adopt a 19-paragraph declaration in its annex, by which Member States would reiterate their deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, and in that context, call on all States at all times to comply with applicable international law, including international humanitarian law.  It would, among its other provisions, reaffirm that nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation were mutually reinforcing processes.  Further, the declaration would stress the need for effective measures of nuclear disarmament, which had the highest priority, and call on all nuclear-weapon-possessing States to eliminate all types of their nuclear weapons and in the meantime diminish their role in security policies as well as avoid activities that hampered the achievement of a nuclear-weapon-free world.  It would reaffirm that disarmament measures concerning nuclear weapons should satisfy multilaterally agreed criteria of strict verification, irreversibility, transparency and be undertaken through legally binding commitments to achieve the total elimination of those weapons. 

The draft resolution was approved by a recorded vote of 131 in favour to 22 against, with 28 abstentions.

Acting without a vote, the Committee approved a draft resolution, introduced by Mexico and Malaysia on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the States parties to the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, to the Treaty by the same name (document A/C.1/70/L.58).

By its terms, the Assembly would reaffirm the importance of nuclear-weapon-free zones.  With particular reference to the responsibilities of the nuclear-weapon States, it would call on all States to seek a safer world for all and to achieve peace and security in a world without nuclear weapons in a way that promotes international stability.  It would also welcome the commitment and efforts of the Commission for the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone to strengthen the Treaty’s implementation through a plan of action for the period 2013-2017.

For information media. Not an official record.