General Assembly Rejects Resolution Calling for Strengthening Russian-United States Compliance with Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

GA/12116
21 December 2018
Seventy-third Session, 64th & 65th Meetings (AM & PM)

General Assembly Rejects Resolution Calling for Strengthening Russian-United States Compliance with Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

Elections Held for Members of Criminal Tribunals Residual Mechanism, Peacebuilding Commission Organizational Committee

The Assembly today rejected a resolution which would have called on the Russian Federation and United States to strengthen compliance for the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), and elected members to various bodies, including one judge to the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.

By a recorded vote of 46 against to 43 in favour, with 78 abstentions, the Assembly rejected the draft resolution titled “Preservation of and compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty” (document A/73/L.70), which would have also called on parties to resume a constructive dialogue on strategic issues premised on openness, mutual confidence and real opportunities for cooperation.

Introducing draft text “L.70”, the representative of the Russian Federation said today represents a turning point as the very future of the agreement is at stake.  Its existence was threatened in October when the United States announced its intention to withdraw from the INF.  “This is the start of a full-fledged arms race,” he warned, adding that the United States has continuously presented unfounded accusations that Moscow has violated the Treaty.  The resolution presented today seeks to give the Assembly the opportunity to recommend that parties continue to comply with the Treaty, he stressed.

The representative of the United States, prior to the vote, said that his country would vote against the text because it is disingenuous for the Russian Federation, as it is in breach of the INF, to put forward a resolution on the Treaty it is violating.  The United States has engaged the Russian Federation repeatedly to bring it back into verifiable compliance.  Moscow has denied any wrongdoing and pretended it did not know which missile the United States was talking about, he said.  If the Russian Federation intended to preserve the Treaty, it could have returned to verifiable compliance within the last five years.  

Several delegates explained their positions as well, including China’s representative, who expressed hope that the countries concerned would honour their commitments and properly handle issues through consultation.  China opposes any unilateral act of withdrawal from the INF, he said, noting that it voted in favour of the resolution.

The representative of Switzerland, having abstained from the vote, said his country is concerned about the status of the INF and the implications of its possible disintegration.  He urged both parties to preserve the Treaty. 

New Zealand’s delegate explained that his delegation voted against the resolution not because it disagrees with the importance of the INF, but rather because the draft text sidesteps issues that are critical to the Treaty’s future.  Compliance should be addressed through bilateral discussions, he added.

Following six rounds of voting by secret ballot, the Assembly decided to elect Yusuf Aksar (Turkey) to serve as a judge on the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.  The meeting was then suspended, and voting will resume once the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) presents its work to the Assembly.

In other matters, the Assembly elected Egypt, Guatemala, Kenya, Mexico and Nepal as members of the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission, each for a two-year term of office beginning 1 January 2019.  It also took note of the information contained in a letter (document A/73/603) and a note verbale (to be issued as document A/73/663).  The letter, dated 28 November 2018, informed the Assembly President that Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan and Rwanda will serve on the Commission from the troop-contributing countries category from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2020.  The note, dated 20 December 2018, said that Canada, Germany, Japan, Norway and Sweden will serve a full two-year term over the same period.

In other matters, the Assembly re-appointed Keiko Kamioka (Japan) as a member of the Joint Inspection Unit for a five-year term of office beginning on 1 January 2020 and expiring 31 December 2024.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Poland, Austria (on behalf of the European Union), Belarus, Ukraine, Liechtenstein, Argentina, Canada, Iran, Peru, Pakistan, Guyana, Viet Nam, Malaysia, Philippines and Azerbaijan.

The Assembly further postponed the date of recess of the seventy-third session and extended the work of the Fifth Committee until Saturday, 22 December 2018.

The meeting was suspended until the completion of the work of the Fifth Committee.

Draft Resolution on Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty

DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation), introducing draft resolution A/73/l.70 on the “Preservation of and compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty”, said that his country has submitted for consideration the draft in support of the Treaty on the elimination of intermediate and shorter-range missiles.  The Treaty has made a significant contribution to strengthening international stability, he said, noting that today represents a turning point as the very future of the agreement is at stake.  Its existence was threatened in October when the United States announced its intention to withdraw from the INF Treaty.  Then they set a date for withdrawal.  The United States is declaring its intention to deploy types of armaments prohibited by the Treaty, primarily in the Asia-Pacific region.  In other words, “This is the start of a full-fledged arms race”, he said.  The United States side has done everything to present unfounded accusations to the Russian Federation that Moscow has violated the Treaty, he said, noting that he was referring to the notorious 9M729 rocket.  The letter received from United States Ambassador Nikki Haley on 20 December proves that the Russian Federation could not respond to the concerns of Washington, D.C., because it was not aware of the substance of such concerns.  His country was then able to show that the 9M729 does not fall under the terms of the Treaty.  He said that his delegation is convinced that such a development of events does not meet the interests of the international community.  The resolution tabled today seeks to give the General Assembly, in line with article 11 of the Charter of the United Nations, the opportunity to recommend that parties continue to comply with the Treaty.

The representative of the United States said the resolution requires a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting.  The text is quintessentially a resolution addressing the maintenance of international peace and security.

The Assembly President asked if there were any objections to this proposal and as there were none, she said the proposal will hold.

The representative of United States, taking the floor again to speak in explanation of vote before the vote, said that his country will vote “no” because it is disingenuous for the Russian Federation, as it is in breach of the INF Treaty, to put forward a resolution on the agreement it is violating.  The United States has engaged the Russian Federation repeatedly to bring it back into verifiable compliance.  Moscow has denied any wrongdoing and issued baseless accusations.  It pretended it did not know which missile the United States was talking about, the 9M729 missile.  The Russian Federation then changed its story from saying the missile did not exist to saying it did but was compliant with the Treaty.  If the Russian Federation intended to preserve the Treaty, it could have returned to verifiable compliance within the last five years.  It has refused to do so.

The representative of Poland, speaking in explanation before the vote, said the Treaty has been crucial to global security for more than 30 years as it has contributed to the disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.  On 4 September, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies affirmed that Moscow had fielded a missile system called 9M729 that violates the Treaty.  Concerns have been raised with the Russian Federation for over five years.  His delegation strongly supports the findings of the United States that the Russian Federation is in breach of the Treaty and has yet to address these concerns in a constructive and credible manner.  No treaty is sustainable when it is only respected by one side, he said.

The representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said, thanks to the Treaty, almost 3,000 missiles and nuclear armaments have been removed or destroyed.  Constructive dialogue between the United States and the Russian Federation remains essential, he emphasized, adding that this resolution diverts from the issue at stake.  Thus, the Union would not vote in favour of the text.  He urged the Russian Federation to demonstrate compliance and engage in dialogue with the United States.  Erosion of the INF Treaty will have critical consequences on Europe and beyond, he warned.

The representative of Belarus said his country strictly complies with the Treaty and supports preserving its integrity.  The Assembly must support sending a clear signal in support of the pact.  Doing otherwise would have negative international consequences.  Belarus is prepared to assist in any way to alleviate tensions.

The representative of Ukraine said the Russian Federation delegation knows better than most that the best way to preserve the Treaty is to return to full compliance.  His delegation would vote against the resolution, he said.

The representative of China said the Treaty is important, playing a crucial role in history and maintaining global stability.  Maintaining the INF Treaty is highly relevant.  He hopes the countries concerned can honour their commitments and properly handle relevant issues through consultation.  China opposes any unilateral act of withdrawal.  Treaty multilateralization involves a host of legal issues.  Many countries have their own concerns about this and do not support Treaty multilateralization.  China’s efforts to strengthen national defence is reasonable to safeguarding national security and poses no threat to any country.  It will vote in favour of the resolution.

Action

By a recorded vote of 46 against to 43 in favour, with 78 abstentions, the Assembly rejected draft resolution titled “Preservation of and compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty” (document A/73/L.70).

The representative of Switzerland said that the draft resolution addresses a very urgent matter.  His country is concerned about the status of the INF Treaty and the implications of a possible disintegration of the agreement.  He called upon both parties to preserve the Treaty.  Switzerland has raised concerns before, and over the past years it has become more evident the extent to which certain areas of the Treaty are being violated.  Recent events and announcements have added a new and alarming perspective, he said.  Switzerland abstained during the vote.

The representative of New Zealand said that his delegation voted against the resolution not because it disagrees with the importance of the INF Treaty, but rather because the resolution sidesteps issues that are critical to the agreement’s future.  The INF Treaty is an important pillar of the security architecture.  It is a prime example of negotiations leading to a real reduction in nuclear weapons.  Compliance should be addressed through bilateral discussions rather than a treaty, he said.

The representative of Liechtenstein said that the matter goes to the heart of international security, and his country is concerned about the possible disintegration of the Treaty after more than 30 years.  It has aided nuclear disarmament and freed the European mainland from short to mid-range nuclear missiles.  While the INF Treaty is a bilateral agreement, its significance extends beyond two parties, he said.

The representative of Argentina said his country abstained from the vote, but firmly continues to support all bilateral and multilateral treaties aimed at moving towards denuclearization.  However, bilateral agreements should be discussed among the associated parties.

The representative of Canada said States must abide by their obligations under relevant treaties.  It is Canada’s understanding that the Russian Federation is non-compliant with the INF Treaty, which is consistent with its aggressive actions in neighbouring countries and beyond.  For these reasons, Canada voted against the draft resolution.  The Russian Federation could take concrete action to save the Treaty by dismantling the relevant missile bodies without delay.

The representative of Iran said his delegation voted in favour of the draft resolution, adding that “no one could deny” the Treaty’s implications on international peace and security.  In fact, its compliance is in the interest of all States, he added.  All nations have the right and duty to monitor the validity and implementation of such an important agreement.  While no other country is party to the Treaty but the United States and Russian Federation, all States should still concern themselves with its compliance.  He expressed concern for the “destructive doctrine” of the current United States Administration, which seeks to withdraw from myriad multilateral agreements.  Not only has the United States violated the Security Council resolution endorsing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it encouraged others to do the same.  “Actions always speak louder than words,” he added.

The representative of Peru said that his country advocates disarmament.  Its aim is complete disarmament.  It will support any measures that aim to advance towards halting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  His delegation abstained from voting in this case because it is a bilateral matter and those parties concerned must resolve their issues through the relevant channels.  He urged the parties concerned to continue consultations and resume constructive dialogue on strategic issues based on trust and cooperation.

The representative of Pakistan said that his delegation’s support for the resolution stems from the principle that State parties to any treaty should fully abide by their respective obligations.  This builds confidence and contributes to global stability.  Pakistan supports the preservation of the Treaty, as it is solely the responsibility of State parties to it to ensure its inviolability.

The representative of Guyana said that he affirmed the important contribution that the full implementation of the Treaty makes to international disarmament, and peace and security.  He is concerned by any attempts to compromise the Treaty and its effectiveness, as any such action could create more fissures in an already volatile international environment.  His country abstained because turning the matter to the General Assembly may not have the desired end result and could hamper future efforts for dialogue.

The representative of Viet Nam said that he voted in favour according to the principle of maintaining international peace and security.  Concerned parties should engage in dialogue to contribute to peace, security and disarmament.

The representative of Malaysia said that the Treaty is a vital component of the global security architecture.  The Treaty has played an indisputable key role in preserving international peace, security and stability.  He is concerned that the Treaty now faces dire uncertainty owing to divergent views among the parties to the agreement.  His country is in no position to decide whether the alleged violation of the Treaty occurred, but urged the concerned parties to engage in dialogue to preserve the agreement.

The representative of the Philippines said that the Treaty is an important component of the international community’s disarmament agenda.  He appreciates the efforts of the Russian Federation and agrees in broad terms with the resolution.  However, it is overshadowed by distrust, and the Philippines would welcome a resolution that unites rather than divides. In this regard, his country abstained on the vote.

Election of Judges of International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals

Results of First Ballot

Number of ballots:

192

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid votes:

192

Number of abstentions:

2

Number of members voting:

190

Majority required:

98

Number of votes obtained:

 

Guénaël Mettraux (Switzerland)

69

Yusuf Aksar (Turkey)

67

Michael Newton (United States)

61

Mustapha El Baaj (Morocco)

58

Constant Hometowu (Ghana)

36

Mame Mandiaye Niang (Senegal)

36

Elyakim Rubinstein (Israel)

22

Hafiz Nasibov (Azerbaijan)

15

Aboubacar Demba Camara (Guinea)

10

Since no candidate obtained absolute majority, the Assembly decided to conduct another round of balloting.

The representative of Azerbaijan announced the withdrawal of the candidate from her country in favour of the candidate from Turkey.

Results of Second Ballot

Number of ballots:

188

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid votes:

188

Number of abstentions:

0

Number of members voting:

188

Majority required:

98

Number of votes obtained:

 

Yusuf Aksar (Turkey)

77

Guénaël Mettraux (Switzerland)

77

Mustapha El Baaj (Morocco)

70

Michael Newton (United States)

65

Constant Hometowu (Ghana)

29

Mame Mandiaye Niang (Senegal)

28

Elyakim Rubinstein (Israel)

18

Aboubacar Demba Camara (Guinea)

5

Since no candidate obtained absolute majority, the Assembly decided to conduct another round of balloting.

The representative of Israel said he would like to withdraw his country’s candidate.

The representative of Guinea also announced the withdrawal of his country’s candidate.

The representative of Senegal thanked those who voted for his country’s candidate and said his delegation would withdraw that candidate.

The representative of Ghana withdrew her country’s candidate as well.

Results of Third Ballot

Number of ballots:

190

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid votes:

190

Number of abstentions:

2

Number of members voting:

188

Majority required:

98

Number of votes obtained:

 

Yusuf Aksar (Turkey)

101

Guénaël Mettraux (Switzerland)

97

Mustapha El Baaj (Morocco)

91

Michael Newton (United States)

77

Since only one candidate obtained an absolute majority in the third round of balloting, the Assembly proceeded to a fourth round of balloting.

Results of the Fourth Ballot

Number of ballots:

188

Number of invalid ballots:

7

Number of valid votes:

181

Number of abstentions:

2

Number of members voting:

179

Majority required:

98

Number of votes obtained:

 

Guénaël Mettraux (Switzerland)

77

Mustapha El Baaj (Morocco)

72

Michael Newton (United States)

30

Since no candidate obtained an absolute majority in the fourth round of balloting, the General Assembly will hold a fifth round of balloting.

Results of Fifth Ballot

Number of ballots:

186

Number of invalid ballots:

3

Number of valid votes:

183

Number of abstentions:

2

Number of members voting:

181

Majority required:

98

Number of votes obtained:

 

Guénaël Mettraux (Switzerland)

85

Mustapha El Baaj (Morocco)

75

Michael Newton (United States)

21

Since no candidate obtained an absolute majority in the fifth round of balloting, the General Assembly will hold a sixth round of balloting.

 

Results of Sixth Ballot

Number of ballots:

186

Number of invalid ballots:

1

Number of valid votes:

185

Number of abstentions:

1

Number of members voting:

184

Majority required:

98

Number of votes obtained:

 

Guénaël Mettraux (Switzerland)

88

Mustapha El Baaj (Morocco)

74

Michael Newton (United States)

22

Since no candidate obtained an absolute majority in the sixth round of balloting, the Assembly will hold another round of balloting at a date to be announced.

The meeting was suspended until the completion of the work of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).

The representative of Switzerland asked whether it was possible to hold one more round of voting.

Mr. Rudolph Michael Ten-Pow (Guyana), Vice-President of the Assembly, said that formal meetings of the plenary require full interpretation in all official languages.

The meeting was suspended until the completion of the work of the Fifth Committee.

For information media. Not an official record.