Debating Proposals on Common Principles to Ensure Outer Space Security, First Committee Delegates Call for Adoption of Legally Binding Treaty

GA/DIS/3557
19 October 2016
Seventy-first Session, 15th Meeting (AM)

Debating Proposals on Common Principles to Ensure Outer Space Security, First Committee Delegates Call for Adoption of Legally Binding Treaty

A guiding set of common principles was needed to encourage responsible behaviour and secure outer space safety and security, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard today as other speakers debated the need for legally binding instruments with reliable guarantees.

While delegates considered several proposals during the thematic debate on disarmament aspects of outer space, many speakers agreed that prompt action was needed to address the safety and security of the Earth’s orbit, given growing numbers of satellites, the development of sophisticated defence systems and the ever-increasing amount of orbital congestion, which currently included more than 500,000 pieces of debris.

Yet, agreement on the nature of the space security regime remained elusive.  Speakers juxtaposed the merits of legally binding instruments, such as a treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapon in outer space that China and the Russian Federation had proposed in the Conference on Disarmament, and politically binding norms, such as the international code of conduct for outer space activities drafted by the European Union.

Calling for a set of new common principles, the European Union’s representative said international cooperation and agreed standards of responsible behaviour were needed.  Convinced of the importance of transparency and confidence-building measures, she proposed an international code of conduct, adding that a non-legally binding agreement negotiated within the United Nations could be the way forward.

She went on to say that a new legally binding instrument on preventing the placement of weapons in outer space and on the threat of use of force against outer space objects would need to be comprehensive, effective and verifiable, she said.  The initiative of no-first-placement of weapons had not adequately responded to the objective of strengthening trust and confidence between States.

Echoing those concerns, the representative of the United States said many challenges could be addressed through practical, short-term measures, such as non-legally binding transparency and confidence-building initiatives.  Unfortunately, the pursuit of a legally binding instrument had not addressed fundamental concerns of States, he said.

Other speakers said States must be bound legally to commitments to completely ensure the prevention of the weaponization of outer space.  The speaker from the Russian Federation said a legally binding instrument with reliable guarantees needed to be developed, pointing out the Russian-Chinese draft text.  An updated version of that draft had been under consideration at the Conference on Disarmament since June 2014, he said, drawing attention to the fact that the text had responded to all questions, including the definition of outer space weapons.

Negotiations on such a treaty, he said, should be launched as soon as possible as part of a balanced programme of work at the Conference on Disarmament, adding that only multilateral initiatives would be truly effective.

Acknowledging the European Union’s proposal, the representative of Venezuela said that initiatives promoting transparency and confidence between States were steps in the right direction.  However, they could not replace the need for a legally binding multilateral instrument to prevent the weaponization of space.  In that vein, he stressed the need for progress on such a treaty.

The representative of Switzerland said the international community must move forward on several tracks, with special attention paid to transparency and confidence-building.  While the Chinese-Russian draft treaty was the most developed proposal so far, it should include a ban on the development and testing of ground-based anti-satellite systems, he added.

As the international community worked to ensure that outer space did not become “a theatre of conflict”, the representative of Canada called on States to refrain from destabilizing activities, such as developing or testing anti-satellite weapons systems.

Some speakers cautioned that more needed to be done.  Indeed, the weaponization of outer space was “not science fiction anymore” and measures needed to be taken now to prevent an arms race, said the representative of Pakistan, highlighting the potentially wide-reaching implication of anti-ballistic missile defence systems on international security.

Also this morning, the Committee began its thematic debate on conventional weapons.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Singapore (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Tunisia (for the Arab Group), France, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Italy, Australia, Algeria, Myanmar, Egypt, China, Iran, Republic of Korea, Japan, Cuba, Malaysia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Indonesia (for the Non-Aligned Movement) and Nigeria (for the African Group), as well as the Holy See.

Representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea, the United States and Japan spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to resume its thematic discussion on disarmament aspects of outer space and take up its agenda item on conventional weapons.  For background, see Press Release GA/DIS/3545 of 3 October.

 

Briefing on Conventional Weapons

COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica), Chair of the Sixth Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, briefed the Committee on the outcome of the meeting, which took place in June.  It had been an important opportunity to strengthen the global framework on combatting the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons ahead of the third Review Conference, to be held in New York in 2018.

Highlighting the most significant outcomes of the Sixth Biennial Meeting, he said it had acknowledged the link between the Programme of Action on Small Arms and its International Tracing Instrument, on the one hand, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular Goal 16 and related target 16.4, he said.  At the same time, States had noted that the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons had implications on the realization of several other Sustainable Development Goals.

He said the meeting had stressed a need to consider the implications of recent developments in small arms and light weapons manufacturing, technology and design, and recommended the review conference to considered that issue.  The outcome document had also emphasized the role of subregional and regional organizations and a stronger focus on gender-related issues.  States in a position to do so had been urged to provide capacity-building, equipment, financial and technical assistance to others requiring help to meet their obligations.  The outcome document also included provisions on the illegal reactivation of deactivated weapons and the challenges posed by the illicit online trade market.

He highlighted a divergence between Member States over the inclusion of a direct reference to ammunition or to the Arms Trade Treaty in the outcome document.  Some negotiations had been challenging, yet consensus language had been achieved.  With regard to ammunition, the outcome document had acknowledged that some States would apply relevant provisions of the Programme of Action on Small Arms to materials beyond those mentioned in the International Tracing Instrument definition of small arms and light weapons.  It had also recognized that other States had viewed such material as being outside the scope of the Programme of Action on Small Arms.  On the Arms Trade Treaty, the outcome document had encouraged States to take into account complementarities with other instruments, including those that were legally binding.

Thematic Debate on Outer Space

HENRY ALFREDO SUÁREZ MORENO (Venezuela), speaking on behalf of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), emphasized the need to promote cooperation as a key pillar for the development of outer space.  The international community must begin negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prevent the placement of weapons of any kind in outer space, he said, noting that the Russian-Chinese revised proposal had been a positive development.  Preventing an arms race had long been an agenda item for the General Assembly, which had requested the Conference on Disarmament 30 years ago to consider the issue.  However, a lack of consensus had prevented the Conference on Disarmament — the sole multilateral disarmament negotiating body — from doing so.

Transparency and confidence-building measures, he said, could promote cooperation and dialogue.  Welcoming a draft text on preventing an arms race in outer space and the commitment of no-first-placement of weapons there, he said UNASUR members had undertaken voluntary commitments, but such initiatives could not replace legally binding measures.  UNASUR was following with interest discussions on an international code of conduct to govern activities in outer space, sponsored by the European Union, but that initiative would require a genuine mandate to be effective and legitimate.  Appealing to all Conference on Disarmament member States to create conditions for establishing a working group on arms race in outer space, he said the only missing element was political will.

JOSEPH TEO CHOON HENG (Singapore), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said space technology and its applications provided indispensable tools for viable long-term solutions for many development challenges and contributed toward the realization of the 2030 Agenda.  Preventing an arms race in outer space was of vital importance, with norms established to encourage its peaceful use for the benefit of all States.  He expressed support for capacity-building opportunities in space science and technology, particularly in Member States with fledging space capabilities.

The steadily increasing interest in space, he said, brought along a series of challenges that should be tackled expeditiously.  The issue of space debris was concerning, posing serious risks for disrupting communications and the nations, peoples and industries that relied heavily on satellite use.  As such, he encouraged States that had not yet done so to consider voluntarily implementing the Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and called for the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space to continue discussions on related measures.

RIADH BEN SLIMAN (Tunisia), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, underlined the importance of the peaceful use of outer space and international legal instruments seeking to ensure that.  Outer space was a common property and heritage of mankind and all human activities there must be treated under the appropriate United Nations auspices to guarantee the principles of universality and respect for relevant legal instruments.  Any proposal or treaty to govern extraterrestrial activities must seek to promote a regime for the benefit of all and should not restrict the inalienable right of all States to peaceful access to outer space.

Outer space, he said, must be exempt from conflict.  As such, Member States must prevent an arms race by preventing any weapons, defensive or otherwise, from being placed there.  He emphasized the importance of opening access to technology transfers to provide related technical aid and assistance to help developing countries so that all could benefit.  All initiatives must ensure the security and safety of outer space, confirm its peaceful nature and place emphasis on its demilitarization.

JUDIT KÖRÖMI, European Union, said a new space strategy for Europe would be adopted in 2016, setting out its ambitions.  Given a sharp increase in the number of objects in space, new common principles were needed, she said, calling for international cooperation and agreed standards of responsible behaviour.  Convinced of the importance of transparency and confidence-building measures, the European Union had proposed an international code of conduct, she said, adding that a non-legally binding agreement negotiated within the United Nations could be a way forward in that regard.

The European Union remained strongly committed to preventing an arms race in outer space, she said, recalling its member States’ support last year for General Assembly resolution 70/26.  A new legally binding instrument on preventing the placement of weapons in outer space and on the threat of use of force against outer space objects would need to be comprehensive, effective and verifiable.  Regarding the initiative on no-first-placement of weapons, she expressed concern that it had not adequately responded to the objective of strengthening trust and confidence between States.

ROBERT WOOD (United States) said addressing the challenges of orbital congestion, collision avoidance and responsible and peaceful behaviour were the responsibility of all those engaging in space activities.  The pursuit of a legally binding instrument had not addressed fundamental concerns, nor could it be a basis for negotiations in Geneva.  Many outer space challenges could be addressed through practical, short-term measures, such as non-legally binding transparency and confidence-building measures, he said.  In that regard, he encouraged the international community to consider recommendations for criteria that had been made by the Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space Activities.  However, experts from the United States and some Group of Governmental Experts from other countries had noted that the Russia Federation’s initiative for States to make no-first-placement commitments had failed to meet those criteria.

ROSEMARY MCCARNEY (Canada) said outer space activities played an undeniably critical role in the daily life of so many across the globe.  Nevertheless, the increasing volume and complexity of such activities created challenges to its exploration and use for peaceful purposes.  It was therefore in the interest of all countries to create a safe, sustainable and secure outer space environment.  As the international community worked to ensure that outer space did not become “a theatre of conflict”, she called on States to refrain from destabilizing activities, such as developing or testing anti-satellite weapons systems.  She also urged them to clearly signal their intentions and act responsibly, particularly with respect to limiting space debris.

ALICE GUITTON (France) said ensuring the long-term sustainability and security of space activities were basic challenges for the economic growth and development of a growing number of countries.  Member States must prevent the deterioration of space exploration conditions so that as many people as possible could benefit from related applications, particularly in developing countries, and access for future generations could be preserved.  She outlined several challenges, including the growing proliferation of debris and increased risks of collisions generated by the growing number of objects launched into space.  Given those challenges, the international community must ensure the security of all space activities.

VLADIMIR YERMAKOV (Russian Federation) said the most serious factor undermining the sustainable development of outer space was the aspirations of one State.  Wondering whether that State would be deploying weapons in space on the pretext of national interest or the protection of its property, he said the Russian Federation favoured access to outer space by all for peaceful purposes in compliance with the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies.  Outer space must not be dominated by a single State or group of States.

He said the disaster of the twentieth century, when one State had used nuclear bombs on two Japanese cities unleashing a nuclear arms race, must be prevented in the twenty-first century.  A legally binding instrument with reliable guarantees needed to be developed, he said, pointing out the Russian-Chinese draft treaty.  An undated version of that draft had been under consideration at the Conference on Disarmament since June 2014, he said, drawing attention to the fact that the text had responded to all questions, including the definition of outer space weapons.  Negotiations on a treaty for the prevention of placing weapons in outer space needed to be launched as soon as possible as part of a balanced programme of work at the Conference on Disarmament, he said, adding that only multilateral initiatives would be truly effective.

TAREQ MD ARIFUL ISLAM (Bangladesh) said the ever expanding use of space technology had raised the stakes in promoting the safety, security and long-term sustainability of related activities, which should be conducted for the benefit and interest of all countries.  As an aspiring space-faring nation, with its first communication satellite project to be launched into orbit by the end of 2016, he expressed concerns about growing congestion, competition and the resulting possibilities of compromising celestial security.  It was important to develop a universal, non-discriminatory, legally binding instrument on the prevention of an arms race, building on the existing legal regime concerning disarmament, arms control and outer space use.

TEHMINA JANJUA (Pakistan) said the weaponization of outer space was “not science fiction anymore” and measures needed to be taken to prevent an arms race. Concerned about the negative implications of the development and deployment of anti-ballistic missile defence systems and the pursuit of related advanced military technologies, she said those weapons were destabilizing and could have wide reaching implications for regional and international security.  It was essential to redouble efforts toward an agreement that addresses the development, deployment and proliferation of such systems, she said, noting that Pakistan was the co-sponsor of two draft resolutions on the prevention of an arms race in outer space and on no-first-placement of arms in outer space.

AMRITH ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka) said space was part of the common heritage of all humanity and everyone should have an equal opportunity to explore it for the common benefit of humankind.  While exploration offered abundant opportunities, it was incumbent upon those who explored and used it to prevent an arms race.  There were justifiable concerns that the space environment was gradually becoming congested.  Its potential militarization and the weaponization was a prelude to the grave danger of outer space becoming a contested area and a source of conflict.  As such, preventing such an arms race and keeping it free of conflict was essential to avert a serious danger to international peace and security.

ALFREDO FERNANDO TORO-CARNEVALI (Venezuela), speaking in his national capacity, said the sustainable development of outer space offered unlimited potential in such areas as education and medicine, making it immensely important to work together on peaceful activities.  An armed conflict in outer space would have devastating consequences.  Regrettably, such a conflict was not so far-fetched, he said, citing the development of military and dual-use satellites and the testing by some States of anti-satellite systems and missile defence technology that could be used to attack objects in outer space.  Noting the European Union’s proposal for a code of conduct, he said all initiatives promoting transparency and confidence between States were steps in the right direction.  However, they could not replace the need for a legally binding multilateral instrument to prevent the weaponization of space, he said, stressing the need for progress on such a treaty.

LAURENT MASMEJEAN (Switzerland) said the international community must move forward on several tracks, special attention paid to transparency and confidence-building through such measures as prior notification of launches and information sharing on objects in orbit and military space programmes.  On the potential for conflict in outer space, he said Switzerland favoured an international legally binding instrument to ban the use of force against space objects and to avoid any type of arms race.  While the draft treaty that had been submitted by China and the Russian Federation to the Conference on Disarmament was the most developed proposal so far, it should including a ban on the development and testing of ground-based anti-satellite systems.  On non-first-placement principles, he doubted the effectiveness of such an approach in its current form.

VINICIO MATI (Italy) said an arms race in outer space would transform that environment into an area of conflict, inconsistent with long-term global peaceful objectives.  He advocated for the European Union’s draft international code of conduct for outer space activities because a set of globally shared principles of responsible behaviour in outer space may be the most appropriate way to respond to a common sense of urgency expressed by the international community.  Such principles could also lead to the adoption of a voluntary code of conduct and serve longer-term goals across a full range of activities, including non-interference in its peaceful exploration and use, the prevention of debris and ensuring equitable access to outer space.

DARREN HANSEN (Australia) said the right to access to global common space was coming under increasing threats from the proliferation of space debris, which totalled more than 500,000 pieces currently being tracked as they orbited Earth.  Acknowledging ASEAN efforts to raise awareness on the issue, he noted that Australia and Viet Nam had initiated an inaugural security workshop in Singapore in 2012.  Expressing concern about the development and testing of anti-satellite missiles, he said that such weapons had the potential to create vast amounts of debris that would endanger orbital assets.  In fact, even if such missiles did not engage a target, their testing and deployment sent an unhelpful and potentially destabilizing message to the international community.  Underscoring the importance of working together, he suggested that the international community could develop a legally binding treaty or undertake immediate practical solutions.

MUSTAPHA ABBANI (Algeria) said outer space played a key role in the economic, social and scientific sectors of many countries.  For its part, Algeria wished to properly use outer space to meet development needs and had the right to explore it for peaceful purposes.  At the same time, an outer space arms race would pose grave danger to international peace and security.  The current legal system was a source of contradiction, without guarantees to stop that from happening.  Going forward, the international community must work together to strengthen the legal framework.  Voluntary measures, such as the European Union’s proposal on a draft code of conduct, were not a sufficient alternative.  A legally binding instrument was needed to prevent an arms race in outer space, with the Conference on Disarmament remaining the right platform to negotiate it.

YE GYAW MRA (Myanmar), endorsing ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that if outer space became militarized, it would threaten security and undermine current disarmament initiatives.  States with major space-related activities, expertise and capabilities bore the primary responsibility to realize the peaceful uses goal and to prevent an arms race.  Enhancing transparency and confidence-building measures would help in that regard.  As the Conference on Disarmament was the sole multilateral negotiating forum for disarmament issues, it should assume a primary role in shaping an agreement on preventing such an arms race.

TAREK MAHFOUZ (Egypt), endorsing the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, said outer space was equally owned by all humankind and a common asset of humanity.  Related activities must be addressed and managed under the auspices of the United Nations, he said, calling the Conference on Disarmament the most appropriate international forum in that regard.  Any regulation should aim at improving the outer space environment for the use of all States, which was the overall objective of the Outer Space Treaty.  Outer space must remain free of any potential conflict and be recognized as a non-conflict zone, he said, emphasizing the need to ensure that it was not weaponized.  That was why Egypt and Sri Lanka had for many years been tabling draft texts on the prevention of an arms race in outer space in the General Assembly.  Egypt, as an emerging space-faring nation, urged the international community to make relevant technical and technological assistance available to States irrespective of their level of advancement.

YANG JIA (China) said that as outer space was increasingly being used for benefit of mankind, two outstanding issues had emerged - the deterioration of the space environment due to orbital congestion and space debris and the obvious trend of space weaponization, posing a grave challenge to the international community.  Ensuring peaceful space exploration and avoiding an arms race were fundamental rights of all countries, he said, noting that the international community had always attached great importance to outer space security.  China opposed space weaponization and an arms race, calling on all countries to start negotiations on an arms control treaty for space.  China was a co-sponsor of the traditional General Assembly resolution on outer space trust and confidence-building measures.  However, that draft was not a substitute for the negotiation of a legally binding instrument, she said.

MOJTABA AZIZI BASAFI (Iran) said outer space must be utilized exclusively for peaceful purposes and remain demilitarized and deweaponized.  The abrogation of the Treaty between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems had opened up the possibility of a military use.  In addition, the development of missile defence systems had triggered an arms race that affected the use of outer space. Given those challenges, international efforts must be redoubled, he said, expressing support for all related global efforts.  Those initiatives must be open, transparent and consider the interests of all Member States.  The Conference on Disarmament, as the sole multilateral disarmament negotiating body, was the correct forum for negotiations of a treaty that addressed those concerns, he said, noting that the peaceful application of space technologies was an indispensable tool for sustainable development.  In terms of the composition of the Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space Activities, he stressed a need for observing the principle of equitable geographical representation and expressed his dissatisfaction that Iran had not been included in that group.

KIM IN-CHUL (Republic of Korea) said securing the safety and sustainability of the space environment and preventing an arms race depended on the full implementation and universalization of existing international rules and guidelines and the strengthening of transparency and confidence-building measures.  It was “deeply deplorable” that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continued to abuse the right to the peaceful use of outer space as a pretext to develop its long-range ballistic missiles.  That included its 7 February launch, which had posed a serious threat to peace and security in the region and beyond.  Relevant Security Council resolutions had clearly decided that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should not conduct any launch using ballistic missile technology and the launch of such missiles in any form was a grave violation of that country’s international obligations.

YUSUKE SHINDO (Japan) said the international community must prioritize enhancing the rule of law in outer space.  Stressing the need for responsible behaviour in all related activities, he encouraged all States to cooperate in good faith.  With a view to preventing an arms race, Japan had taken an active part in discussions at the international level, while paying attention to cooperation and transparency issues.  The development of technology could be critical for the stable use of outer space, he said, adding that addressing the problems of debris depended on advanced technologies, such as space situational awareness or active removal initiatives.

RODOLFO BENÍTEZ VERSON (Cuba) expressed concern about the absence of a legally binding framework on the placement of arms in outer space. For its part, Cuba was fully committed to the prevention of an arms race and condemned the extensive network of existing spy satellites that were saturating the orbit and generating waste.  He advocated for the legitimate use of outer space for all countries and access to the transfer of technology and related applications.  Expressing support for the draft treaty proposed by China and the Russia Federation and in the Conference on Disarmament, he said that until such a treaty was adopted, international measures of transparency and confidence-building were needed and should be negotiated through the United Nations.

DELFINA JANE ALOYSIUS DRIS (Malaysia) said outer space should only be used for peaceful purposes and should not become an area of international conflict.  Given that the existing legal regime to deal with its weaponization remained insufficient, there was a need to establish a legally binding instrument.  That approach was the most effective means to strengthen the existing legal regime, she said, calling on the Conference of Disarmament to agree to a programme of work that would include an agenda item on the issue.

RI IN IL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said the successful launch of the Earth observation satellite Kwangmyongsong-4 in February was part of his Government’s peaceful development of outer space.  Some countries opposed starting negotiations on a treaty to prevent a celestial arms race because they sought to have a monopoly on outer space.  Such a stance represented a substantial threat to the international community.  The development and deployment of missile defence systems by a specific country in various regions of the world seriously undermined world peace and security.  A draft resolution on a treaty on preventing the placement of weapons in outer space, jointly submitted by China and the Russian Federation, constituted a basis for preventing an arms race in outer space and for maintaining world peace.

SIMON KASSAS, of the Holy See, said because basic resources such as water and power were now tied to control systems linked by satellite communications, “the very life blood of societies is vulnerable to attacks in outer space”.  Integrating prohibitions designed for human infrastructure protection should become an essential component of outer space law.  Every effort must be made to prevent the expansion of State conflict to space and concerted international action must address the risk of counter-population warfare through attacks on satellite technology.  The Conference on Disarmament should overcome its frustrating, years-long impasse and agree to begin negotiations dealing with the use of weapons in space.  An international code of conduct for outer space activities should also be adopted, taking into account the available draft code.

Thematic Debate on Conventional Weapons

ANGGI SAZIKA JENIE (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, affirmed the sovereign right of States to acquire, manufacture, export, import and retain conventional arms for their self-defence and security needs. She expressed concern about unilateral, coercive measures and emphasized that no undue restriction should be placed on the transfer of such arms. In that regard, she called on all States to ensure that the supply of small arms and light weapons was limited only to Governments or entities authorized by them.  She also underlined the need for a balanced, full and effective implementation of the United Nations Program of Action and the International Tracing Instrument.

She urged for financial, technical and humanitarian assistance to unexploded cluster munitions clearance operations and the social and economic rehabilitation of victims. Moreover, she deplored the use of anti-personnel mines in conflict situations aimed at maiming, killing and terrorizing innocent civilians.

 ALFREDO FERNANDO TORO-CARNEVALI (Venezuela), speaking on behalf of UNASUR, recognized the contribution that had been made by the Programme of Action on Small Arms. Nevertheless, he remained concerned about the illicit production and circulation of firearms and the uncontrolled spread in civilian populations, posing a challenge to the sustainable development of societies.  Implementing the Programme of Action on Small Arms was a matter of high priority for UNASUR, he said, underlining the need for the consolidation of international assistance and capacity building to effectively implement its measures.  Yet, implementation challenges existed, he said, pointing to the absence of ammunitions and explosives and the non-binding nature of the Programme of Action.

He welcomed the outcome of the sixth Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms in June and looked forward to further discuss these issues in the next review conference in 2018.  Access to new technologies should be granted to the developing world to address issues related to the illicit arms trade, he said, noting that the exploration of synergies that existed between various arms control instruments would allow for more coordinated and concerted efforts in that regard.

JOHN CHIKA EJINAKA (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group, expressed deep concerns about the manufacture, trade, possession and spread of small arms and light weapons.  The verifiable and effective implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms was a key factor in the promotion of long-term security and in the creation of conditions conducive to sustainable development in Africa.  To fully implement the instrument, continued international assistance and cooperation was needed, he said, calling on Member States with developed economies to provide more technical and financial assistance to developing countries.

Urging major arms-producing countries to reduce military expenditures as a confidence-building measure, he encouraged them to devote more resources to global economic and social development, particularly to the fight against poverty and disease.  The African Group acknowledged the efforts of State parties to promote the Arms Trade Treaty, but noted several concerns.  Raising the issue of autonomous weapons, he said the manufacture of lethal autonomous weapon systems had triggered a range of ethical, legal and technical issues.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, totally rejected the nonsensical argument of his counterpart from the Republic of Korea.  With a peaceful outer space programme, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had joined the ranks of space-faring nations with a full-fledged capacity to manufacture and launch satellites in exercise of its sovereign rights as a Member State of the United Nations.  The United States had raised questions in the Security Council about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s peaceful satellite launch, he said, asking whether the Republic of Korea and Japan had launched satellites using ballistic missile technology, the only method for doing so.

The representative of the Republic of Korea said it was clear that the true intention of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s satellite launches was the development of long-range ballistic missiles.  Security Council resolutions 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), 2094 (2013) and 2270 (2016) had made it clear that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must not carry out any launches.  The United Nations Charter obliged Member States to adhere to all Security Council decisions, he said, adding that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was bound by its obligations and that its claim to the peaceful use of outer space could not be justified.

The representative of the United States, citing President Barack Obama, condemned in the strongest terms missile tests conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which threatened international peace and security and violated multiple Security Council resolutions.  He called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to end its destabilizing and threatening behaviour and to abide by its international obligations and commitments.

The representative of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the United States was using the same technology and was launching the biggest number of satellites, spying on every corner of the world.  Emphasizing that the delegate from the Republic of Korea had been confused between satellites and anti-ballistic missiles, he said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had acted fully within international law and in accordance with the Outer Space Treaty.

The representative of Japan said it was highly inappropriate to compare his country’s activities in space development to activities conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s.  Japan fully complied with the Outer Space Treaty and its programme was strictly for peaceful uses, he said, adding that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had repeatedly violated relevant Security Council resolutions.

The representative of the Republic of Korea said it was disturbing that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was using the Committee to reiterate the same message every day.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had only a handful of working websites and its people had little access to the outside world.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should be concerned about those facts rather than the peaceful use of outer space.

For information media. Not an official record.