Casting a spotlight on regional efforts to advance common disarmament goals, delegates in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) addressed the current and potential contribution of nuclear‑weapon‑free zones to global peace and security, as the Committee concluded its general debate and began its thematic segment.
Many delegates extolled the benefits of nuclear‑weapon‑free zones in reducing the risks and dangers of such armaments. Some said the world’s five such areas, as well as Mongolia, which maintains nuclear‑weapon‑free status, representing 116 States, must use their political capital in the disarmament arena.
Treaties covering those States are: African Nuclear‑Weapon‑Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba); South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga); Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon‑Free Zone (Treaty of Bangkok); Treaty on a Nuclear‑Weapon‑Free Zone in Central Asia (Semipalatinsk Treaty); and, the first ever such zone, the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco).
Unfortunately, Serbia’s representative said, the international community remains “miles away” from a nuclear‑weapon‑free world. To change this, others called for the creation of new zones, with Tunisia’s delegate expressing concern about the absence of one in the Middle East, despite years‑long efforts towards that objective. To advance efforts towards that goal, he called for the adoption of a legally binding treaty to create such an area in the region by June 2019.
In the same vein, the Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine underlined an urgent need to establish this zone to ensure the Middle East is free of nuclear bombs and other weapons of mass destruction. He also noted that a draft resolution presented by the Arab Group is consistent with international consensus on the matter.
However, Israel’s delegate said certain actors in the region are using the creation of a Middle East nuclear‑weapon‑free zone as an excuse not to tackle the region’s real issues. While Israel supports a vision of a peaceful Middle East free of hostilities, he said, this can only be fulfilled with mutual recognition, reconciliation and a cessation of all terrorist acts.
Meanwhile, Algeria’s representative called attention to other such zones around the globe, expressing support for the Treaty of Pelindaba, which contributed to the strengthening of international and regional peace and security. Similarly, Myanmar’s delegate reiterated his Government’s commitment to preserve the Treaty of Bangkok.
The Secretary‑General of the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean raised the issue about the limited commitments of some nuclear‑weapon States to additional protocols of the Treaty of Tlatelolco. Emphasizing that nuclear‑weapon States should reconsider the scope of their reservations in agreement with States belonging to nuclear‑weapon‑free zones, he said that more than ever before, the political capital represented by these zones must be used to strengthen the non‑proliferation regime.
More broadly, Canada’s representative said her delegation supports initiatives that provide a framework for concrete advances, including those aimed at enhancing the understanding of what is required for nuclear disarmament verification. Cooperation, innovation and inclusiveness are critical to addressing current international security challenges, which no single country can address alone. “For the international, rules‑based order to work for all,” she said, “the rules need to apply to all.”
A representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) suggested that all States today should take inspiration from one of the world’s first international weapon bans, the Saint Petersburg Declaration of 1868. In doing so, States should implement measures, including signing and ratifying the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, as a concrete step towards fulfilling long‑standing nuclear disarmament obligations.
Other delegates cited the benefits of regional cooperation in tackling a range of challenges. Honduras’ representative highlighted the importance of cross‑border efforts in combating transnational crime and threats from non‑State actors, including from drug trafficking and gang violence that was plaguing her country and others in Central America. Meanwhile, Cameroon’s delegate reported successful regional coordination resulting in significant gains in the fight against the terrorist group Boko Haram.
In the afternoon, the Committee also held a thematic discussion on the current state of affairs in disarmament and arms control, with High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu exchanging views with senior officials from the Conference on Disarmament, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peacebuilding Support Office, High‑Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research and the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Delivering statements during the general debate were the representatives of Botswana, Ecuador, Côte d’Ivoire, Romania, Burkina Faso, Timor‑Leste, Sri Lanka, Switzerland and Morocco, as well as the Holy See. A representative of the Comprehensive Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty Organization also delivered a statement. The representatives of Qatar, Syria and Iran spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 18 October, to begin its thematic debate on nuclear weapons.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to conclude its general debate on all agenda items before it and begin its segment on thematic discussions and the introduction and consideration of all draft resolutions and decisions. For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3597 of 8 October.
ROSEMARY MCCARNEY (Canada) said that cooperation, innovation and inclusiveness are critical to addressing current international security challenges, which no single country can address alone. “For the international, rules‑based order to work for all, the rules need to apply to all,” she said, adding that these rules are under stress in the areas of non‑proliferation, arms control and disarmament, where progress in one area is often countered by back‑sliding in others. The norm against the use of chemical weapons has been violated, with convincing evidence that the transgressors include Syria and the Russian Federation, both being States parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction, she said, underscoring the importance of the work of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Her delegation supports initiatives that provide a framework for concrete advances, including those aimed at enhancing the understanding of what is required for nuclear disarmament verification. As Chair of the High‑level Fissile Material Cut‑off Treaty Expert Preparatory Group, which concluded its work in June, she welcomed the adoption of a consensus report on options for elements of a future treaty and called for support from Member States on a related draft resolution. Raising several concerns, she said her delegation is troubled by the precarity of conventional weapons treaties and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction. In that vein, Canada is open to initiatives that would put these instruments on a sustainable financial footing.
EDGAR SISA (Botswana) said the First Committee deliberations should result in outcomes that facilitate the attainment of sustainable international peace and security for the good of humankind. Describing an alarming rise in violent conflicts characterized by untold devastation and suffering, he said sustainable development cannot be attained without peace, security and stability. He rejected the nuclear deterrence argument, noting that the potential humanitarian consequences far outweigh any other considerations. In that vein, he urged nations whose military doctrine is premised on the use of such weapons to reconsider their strategies. While his Government totally rejects the possession and use of nuclear weapons, it is in support of utilizing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, such as power generation, agriculture and medicine. Raising several concerns, he worried about the threats posed by terrorism, the illicit trade and flow of small arms and light weapons, transnational organized crime and human trafficking.
DIEGO ALONSO TITUAÑA MATANGO (Ecuador), rejecting the theory of nuclear deterrence, expressed grave concerns that despite positive developments, nuclear weapons could be used again by accident or deliberately. Joining others in calling for adherence to global non‑proliferation norms, Ecuador complied with these obligations, he said, urging nuclear‑weapon States to do the same. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons establishes a path toward a world free of atomic bombs. The Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons remains essential and its three pillars must be implemented in a balanced manner without double standards. He urged an early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, urging annex 2 States to ratify the instrument. Located in the Latin American and Caribbean region, Ecuador is part of this first densely populated nuclear‑weapon-free zone, he said, adding that these zones will contribute to a world free of such armaments.
N'CHO VIRGILE AKIAPO (Côte d’Ivoire) said the current global security environment is no more reassuring than in 2017. Despite progress on the Korean Peninsula, he remained alarmed by the recurring use of chemical weapons, the breakdown of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action contained in the Iran nuclear agreement and attempts at the weaponization of outer space and other issues echoing the difficulties of the cold war. The goal of a nuclear‑free world cannot be achieved expeditiously because of the deterrence‑based strategies of nuclear‑weapon States. Expressing support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he called on Member States to join this innovative approach to disarmament and non‑proliferation. He underscored the importance of an instrument on negative assurances for non‑nuclear‑weapon States, as well as a legally‑binding protocol for the Biological Weapons Convention. Concerned about the risks of improvised explosive devices around the world, he noted that countries in the Sahel region are victims to explosive remnants of war and anti‑personnel mines. In that regard, he supported the full implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. However, a lack of consensus on ammunitions is a major concern, he said, offering to share national experiences in that regard. He went on to highlight the need to uphold financial support for regional centres of disarmament, as they are invaluable platforms in combatting small arms and light weapons trafficking.
MOEZZ LAOUANI (Tunisia) underscored the importance of dialogue in disarmament and non‑proliferation efforts, welcoming the recent diplomatic developments on the Korean Peninsula, as well as the adoption of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which is an example of success for multilateralism. Tunisia welcomes the Secretary‑General’s new disarmament agenda and has always supported the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which complements the Non‑Proliferation Treaty. Nuclear‑weapon States bear special responsibility. He urged all States to sign the Test‑Ban Treaty if they have not already done so. The absence of a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East is a concern, he said, calling for the adoption of a legally binding treaty to create such an area in the region by June 2019.
HAIM ASSARAF (Israel) said the troubling reality in the Middle East has resulted in devastating consequences beyond the region. While supporting a vision of a peaceful Middle East free of hostilities, such a future cannot be fulfilled without mutual recognition, reconciliation and a cessation of all terrorist acts. Regarding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he reaffirmed the agreement’s danger to the security and stability of the Middle East and highlighted Iran’s increasingly malign behaviour since its implementation, including ballistic missile testing. Tehran also continues to promote subversive activities throughout the region by supporting terrorist organizations with weapons, military training and financial and political assistance. Concerning the use of chemical weapons by Syria, he said the recent fact‑finding mission report clearly states that a chemical agent was used in Douma on 7 April 2018. He then called on the international community to prevent the further erosion of the absolute norm against the use of chemical weapons, especially considering the ambition of terrorist organizations to acquire and use these capabilities. Addressing the establishment of a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East, he said such a zone is an excuse not to tackle the real issues of the region. Regional dialogue is needed to address the concerns of all States on an equal footing.
MILAN MILANOVIĆ (Serbia) said the international community remains “miles away” from a world without nuclear weapons and that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is detrimental to sustainable development efforts. Noting that Serbia has acceded to all relevant international instruments on disarmament, he said the Non‑Proliferation Treaty is the cornerstone of international security. Serbia has ratified amendments to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and has entered into multilateral non‑proliferation agreements that contribute to the elimination of weapons of mass destruction. Turning to the threat posed by the illicit trade of conventional weapons, he called for regional efforts to address arms export controls. He also expressed hope that the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva will consider expanding its membership.
GEORGE CIAMBA (Romania) said highlighted the power of multilateralism, which enables a stable regional environment. Welcoming the Secretary‑General’s disarmament agenda, he voiced strong support for the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and its provisions, including on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. There is no shortcut in disarmament and non‑proliferation efforts, he said, calling on States parties to the Treaty to fulfil their obligations, minizine differences and adopt a forward‑looking approach. The Test‑Ban Treaty must remain high on the agenda also. A logical step towards creating a world free of nuclear weapons is to commence negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Romania welcomes the developments on the Korean Peninsula and underscores the important role to be played by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the verification of denuclearization efforts.
KYAW MOE TUN (Myanmar), as a firm supporter of global nuclear non‑proliferation, expressed support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. While weapons of mass destruction pose grave risks to humanity, conventional weapons are equally threatening, as they continue to harm combatants and non‑combatants alike every day, he said, noting that, in May, Myanmar was visited by the Special Envoy of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti‑Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (known as the Ottawa Convention). Turning to other issues, he welcomed positive progress on the Korean Peninsula, hoping it will pave the way for a complete and verifiable denuclearization process. On nuclear‑weapon‑free zones, he reiterated Myanmar’s commitment to preserve the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon‑Free Zone, known as the Treaty of Bangkok.
ZACHARIE SERGE RAOUL NYANID (Cameroon), warning that hundreds of the 15,000 nuclear bombs stored around the world could be ready to be launched within minutes, raised grave concerns about weapons expenditures, with more than $1.7 trillion spent each year. Stronger political commitments towards effective efforts must protect the heritage of humankind, since disarmament is an instrument for conflict prevention, whose implementation is one of the missions of the United Nations. With resolve, the Organization must assert its role as envisioned by its founding fathers and Member States must play their part in reducing regional tensions and boosting collective security. For Cameroon, priorities include addressing the new threats of terrorism and managing the control of small arms and light weapons. Legislative measures are needed to implement the Central African Convention for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunition and All Parts and Components That Can Be Used for Their Manufacture, Repair and Assembly (Kinshasa Convention). With regional cooperation, Cameroon has greatly reduced the capacity of Boko Haram. Meanwhile, coordinated action is needed to bring about conditions for sustained growth.
YEMDAOGO ERIC TIARE (Burkina Faso), associating herself with the African Group and the Non‑Aligned Movement, highlighted multilateralism’s essential role and welcomed the Secretary‑General’s disarmament agenda, as the use of atomic bombs would cause humanitarian disasters. In that vein, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons complements the global non‑proliferation regime. Repeated use of chemical weapons is another serious concern, she said, while also underlining a need to create more nuclear‑weapon-free zones around the world, which are essential to international peace and security. She also underscored the importance of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, an early entry into force of the Test‑Ban Treaty and a conclusion of a fissile material cut‑off convention. Drawing attention to the nexus between disarmament and development, she said illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons is a threat to both individual States and their attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. In this regard, she called for strengthening the Arms Trade Treaty, welcoming the inclusion of ammunition in the Programme of Action on Small Arms.
FRANCISCO VITAL ORNAI (Timor-Leste), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria and the indiscriminate suffering it has brought to the civilian population, in particular women and children. His delegation continues to promote international legal instruments and related United Nations resolutions on disarmament and international security, which are fundamental for sustainable development. Moreover, it promotes peacebuilding and State‑building together with 19 other Member States of the Group of Seven Plus (G7+). He went on to highlight the use of compulsory conciliation under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, resulting in a bilateral agreement between his Government and Australia on delimiting maritime boundaries.
AMRITH ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka) said his country was one of the first countries to sign both the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and the Test‑Ban Treaty and remains a strong supporter of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons adopted in 2017. Raising several concerns, he said cluster munitions pose severe humanitarian threats and trigger negative social and development consequences. The method of deployment of these explosives means that they are indiscriminate, unable to distinguish between military targets and civilians. These devices will also turn into de facto anti‑personnel mines, he said, adding that Sri Lanka is unequivocally committed to the cause of ending the use and prevalence of these destructive, indiscriminate and inhumane weapons. As such, his country acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions in March.
MOHAMMED BESSEDIK (Algeria), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, African Group and Arab Group, reaffirmed a need for nuclear‑weapon States to fulfil their international obligations. The total elimination of nuclear weapons “is the only absolute guarantee” against their use or threat of use, he said, regretting that the Test‑Ban Treaty has not entered into force. The African Nuclear‑Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, known as the Treaty of Pelindaba, is “an important contribution to the strengthening of international and regional peace and security. Pointing at a lack of political will within the United Nations disarmament machinery, he called on Member States to allow the Disarmament Commission to make substantial recommendations on nuclear disarmament. For Algeria, major concerns include the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons and how this benefits terrorist groups.
YOLANNIE CERRATO (Honduras), highlighting progress made on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, expressed support for efforts to safeguard international peace and security. Citing examples of progress, she pointed at the outcome document of the third Review Conference of the Programme of Action on Small Arms, the implementation of the International Tracing Instrument and the reduction of expenditures on such arms. Such instruments and platforms for action help States to combat organized crime, illegal drug trafficking and terrorism, including the street gangs greatly affecting Honduras and the region. For its part, Honduras ratified the Arms Trade Treaty in 2017 and will adopt a new law on arms registration. On other issues, she said nuclear‑weapon-free zones are a solid foundation for the total prohibition of such weapons. In addition, she called for greater assistance in the transfer of technology, training and promotion of the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
SABRINA DALLAFIOR (Switzerland), said preserving humanity from the dangers created by nuclear weapons makes disarmament a priority. Switzerland fully supports the Secretary‑General’s call to collectively affirm that it is in the interests of national, collective and human security, as well as the survival of humanity, that nuclear weapons are never used again under any circumstances. The need to prevent their use should also lead the international community to take concrete measures to mitigate the risk such armaments create, particularly in light of the disturbing developments regarding nuclear capabilities and certain countries. The acceleration of developments in science and technology raise new challenges in international security. Controlling the development and spread of these technologies is particularly problematic, as they could contribute to a new arms race, especially in the areas of strategic weapons, she said.
OMAR KADIRI (Morocco), associating himself with the African Group, Arab Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, said that uncontrolled spread of weapons to non‑State actors is worrisome, as it destabilizes regions and undermines efforts for sustainable development. The international community must renew its disarmament and non-proliferation commitments. Welcoming many positive outcomes, including the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, Morocco firmly supports the Secretary‑General’s reform initiatives. Morocco reiterates its commitment to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, expressing hope that a convention will be adopted by June 2019 on establishing a zone of free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.
DAVID PAUL CHARTERS, an observer of the Holy See, said the abolition of nuclear weapons requires a profound change of perspective, indeed a metanoia or a change of heart. Only with such a conversion will negotiation, disarmament, verification and the other necessary programmatic components of abolition efforts yield a world free of nuclear weapons. Disarmament implemented on the basis of a change of fundamental attitudes, a movement from fear to trust, is what Pope Francis means by “integral disarmament”. To build this new culture of peace, extensive investments in disarmament education is needed, he said, urging Governments to consider reallocating a sizeable portion of the savings from disarmament for development programmes for their own citizens and the world’s poor.
LUIZ FILIPE DE MACEDO SOARES, Secretary‑General of the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, outlined regional developments, including limited commitments of some States party to additional protocols of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, known as the Treaty of Tlatelolco. This includes respecting the military denuclearization of the zone and providing guarantees to States party to the Treaty against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. Since 2016, the Agency has been offering these States a way out of this problem, having proposed the signing of adjustments that would eliminate misunderstandings and provide full respect of the Treaty. Member States of the Agency are not proposing any new commitments from nuclear‑weapon States other than a common understanding. Two of the nuclear‑weapon States have responded to the adjustment proposal, albeit negatively, while another has not even accepted to receive the representatives of the five Member States to present the proposal. Yet, another nuclear‑weapon State has yet to respond. Nuclear‑weapon States should reconsider the scope of their reservations in agreement with States belonging to nuclear‑weapon‑free zones. Together, the five nuclear‑weapon‑free zones and Mongolia comprise 116 States. More than ever before, the political capital represented by nuclear‑weapon‑free zones must be used to strengthen the non‑proliferation regime.
JOSÉ ROSEMBERG, Senior Liaison Officer of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, said the Test‑Ban Treaty has succeeded in its objectives and enjoys near‑universal support. The Organization’s Preparatory Commission has demonstrated its technical capabilities to provide effective verification to monitor a prohibition on nuclear tests, he noted, adding that disarmament and non‑proliferation require creative global solutions and the active engagement of stakeholders. The Preparatory Commission stands ready to contribute its expertise and technology to any multilateral process aimed at confirming the closure of a nuclear test site in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said, also urging Member States to redouble efforts to bring about the entry into force of the Test‑Ban Treaty.
RIYAD H. MANSOUR, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, underlined the urgent need to establish of a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. The draft resolution put forward by the Arab Group is consistent with the international consensus on the matter. Pointing out that the State of Palestine was the first in the Middle East to become a party to the Arms Trade Treaty, he raised concerns that Israel is responsible for violations of the instrument’s provisions, particularly article 6 and 7. Moreover, Israel’s arms industry prides itself for field‑testing its weapons on civilians in Gaza, which is perceived by the Israeli military sector as some kind of “great laboratory”. All States must disassociate themselves from Israel’s violations by ending the delivery of arms and military equipment to this country.
KATHLEEN LAWAND, of the International Committee of the Red Cross, recalled that 2018 marks the 150th anniversary of one of the earliest international humanitarian law treaties to prohibit a weapon, the Saint Petersburg Declaration of 1868. The Declaration is famous not just for prohibiting exploding bullets that had not yet been used on the battlefield, but also for reaffirming the humanitarian principles applicable to warfare and the weapons of war. The Declaration is equally remarkable as it was adopted by military powers convened by the Russian Federation for the purpose of prohibiting a weapon it had developed, but had subsequently concluded was morally unacceptable. All States today should take inspiration from this example and implement measures, including signing and ratifying the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, as a concrete step towards fulfilling long‑standing nuclear disarmament obligations.
The Committee held a high‑level exchange on the “Current state of affairs in the field of arms control and disarmament”. The following panellists made presentations: Izumi Nakamitsu, Under‑Secretary‑General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs; Michael Møller, Secretary‑General of the Conference on Disarmament; Robert Mardini, Permanent Observer of the International Committee of the Red Cross to the United Nations; Marc‑André Franche, Officer‑in‑Charge of the Peacebuilding Support Office; Amandeep Singh Gill, Executive Director of the High‑level Panel on Digital Cooperation; Renata Dwan, Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR); and Luiz Felipe de Macedo Soares, Secretary‑General of Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Ms. NAKAMITSU said disarmament remains at the centre of international security discourse, with the Committee meeting at a difficult time marked by a deteriorating international security environment when key disarmament bodies are at a stalemate. It was against this backdrop that the Secretary‑General launched his agenda for disarmament. Preliminary plans to implement the agenda are available on a dynamic web‑based platform [www.un.org/disarmament/sg-agenda/en/] and 38 of 40 action plans and 114 specific steps for activities are online. These plans are expected to be completed by 2021. Reducing nuclear risks remains vital, she said, noting that without abiding by past commitments, the dangers will grow. A nuclear war will never be won and must not be waged. Regarding other weapons of mass destruction, she highlighted the repeated use of chemical weapons and a risk of biological warfare, as well as the danger of developing new technologies that could be used in warfare.
Mr. MØLLER, citing a range of pressing challenges, pointed at a rise in global spending on weapons and ever‑advancing technologies that are creating a new frontier in the arms race. But, there is also reason for cautious optimism, he said, citing the Secretary‑General’s new disarmament agenda and positive developments in the Conference on Disarmament. Recalling some lessons of the past year, he noted the benefits of all six presidents working as a team and how crucial it is to refrain from overly politicizing its work. Looking ahead, the 2019 session must continue with its subsidiary bodies and the fourth special session will be an appropriate forum to take decisions on the next steps regarding disarmament organs. Expressing concern at the financial situation of disarmament conventions, he said that once negotiated, agreements need nurturing and resources. Funds must be available for meetings and support structures, he said, calling for solutions and recalling that one idea is to create economies of scale by merging the various conventions’ Secretariats. Addressing the management of new technologies, he said that security‑related innovation must be responsible, accountable and transparent. Fundamental questions on whether technology will be used in a responsible manner depend on multilateral efforts. The Conference on Disarmament is debating such questions, but they require partnerships, innovation and breaking down silos, he said, adding that Geneva is the national home for disarmament and has the means and momentum to advance global disarmament. However, Member States must reinvigorate collective efforts.
Mr. MARDINI said disarmament must be rooted in humanitarian principles. The International Committee of the Red Cross, over more than a century of its history, identified three types of weapons that cause heavy human costs: explosive devices, anti‑personnel mines and conventional arms. Providing examples, he said explosive devices designed for open‑field warfare are increasingly used in densely populated areas, including Gaza, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, killing and maiming civilians and destroying critical infrastructure. Resulting power outages mean patients die in hospitals and damaged water purification systems cause diseases to spread, both cases being seen in Yemen, where essential services stopped being delivered, health‑care facilities collapsed and an outbreak of cholera spread swiftly. Landmines and explosive remnants of war are causing heavy human costs and affect the movement of populations, including in Ukraine, where these devices prevent travel, animal herding, firewood collection and crossing checkpoints. Also a concern is the widespread availability of conventional weapons and irresponsible transfers of these armaments. These weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists, making the human costs even greater. “When there is respect for international humanitarian law,” he concluded, “there is a better chance for peace.”
Mr. FRANCHE, sharing efforts made by the Peacebuilding Support Office, addressed links between disarmament and supporting peace efforts. Violent conflicts of today are on the rise and ever more complex, with many more State actors, dimensions and factors. Indeed, the changing nature of conflict has made sustaining peace even more important. Sustaining peace and disarmament are intertwined with the 2030 Agenda at a time when the increasing cost of conflict is unsustainable, he said, noting that prevention saves both lives and resources. “It is not only the right thing to do, it is cost‑effective,” he said, adding that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is the world’s best defence against instability. Many drivers of violent conflict reflect issues the Goals address. For its part, the Peacebuilding Fund offers a timely, risk‑tolerant instrument and a critical vehicle to drive resilience. Since its inception, it has provided more than $40 million towards disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in more than 10 countries and is discussing the launch of a new initiative devoted to reducing the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. On the role of women in peacebuilding, he said 79 Member States adopted national action plans in support of the related Security Council resolution.
Mr. GILL, providing a snapshot of the work of the High‑level Panel on Digital Cooperation, said digital technology is creating unprecedented value in the private sector. Therefore, working with digital technology means working with the private sector. In this context, the Secretary‑General decided to set up the panel, whose work emphasizes how digital cooperation can maximize benefits while safeguarding against potential misuse. For its part, it will submit a report of its findings in late spring of 2019. Outlining several topics currently being considered, he said that at a recent New York meeting, panellists discussed how values and principles can underpin policy, how effectively these are implemented and priority action areas for the international community. The panel will meet again in late January 2019 in Geneva and begin drafting its report. Recalling one of the reasons the panel was created, he said an erosion of trust between companies and customers continues to pose challenges and addressing this “trust deficit” is among its key tasks.
Ms. DWAN, presenting on overview of UNIDIR, highlighted the role partnerships play as a catalyst to the intergovernmental process, in advocacy and mobilization, and with respect to new technologies and the development scenarios involving new and long‑standing risks. Addressing a range of related topics, she said achieving real progress in furthering the gender perspective is about more than having women around the table; it is about disarmament that looks different and has different processes. Emphasizing the role of civil society, she said advocacy and mobilization are key drivers of disarmament efforts. Engaging the private sector is equally important, particularly when seeking new ways of thinking about new problems. In terms of how to pursue partnerships with those groups, she identified different stages in which Member States could engage them, including the information, problem‑framing and the decision phases.
Mr. SOARES, describing positives and negatives dotting the current state of disarmament and non‑proliferation affairs, pointed out that more than 14,000 warheads still exist and each nuclear‑weapon State is innovating its weapons and developing new ones. With one State setting a lower threshold for the use of atomic bombs, he said nuclear‑weapon States are engaged in new frictions. The second preparatory meeting towards the 2020 Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference was far from successful. However, positive signs for growing support include the high‑level participation, on 26 September, at the United Nations special event marking the International Day of Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. In addition, he welcomed resumption of discussions on the Korean Peninsula, the Secretary‑General’s new disarmament agenda and the past adoption of various instruments, including the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. While bilateral agreements and unilateral initiatives by nuclear-weapon States are important, a step‑by‑step approach cannot continue forever, he said.
Right of Reply
The representative of Qatar, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, rejected accusations against his country made on 16 October by his counterpart from Syria. The Syrian regime has no right to accuse other nations when it used chemical and other deadly weapons against its own citizens, violated international laws and committed crimes against humanity and war crimes. In contrast, Qatar has ratified all relevant international instruments, fights against terrorists and has a clean record.
The representative of Syria said that Israel’s delegate distorted facts and turned them upside down. He raised concerns that Israel has positioned missile delivery systems with a range of more than 5,000 kilometres. Israel should accede to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and subject its nuclear installations to IAEA safeguards. Responding to his counterpart from Qatar, he said a Qatari information expert close to the national leadership had once said that chemical weapons were ready to be used at a tribal gathering. Unfortunately, there has not been any reaction from OPCW or the Security Council, he said, adding that Qatar, together with Saudi Arabia, has spent a total of $137 billion in support of terrorist groups.
The representative of Iran said there is no limit to Israel’s lies and disinformation campaign against his country. It is clear that the goal is to distract attention away from Israel’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East, as its past is marked by aggression to its neighbours. Israel continues to flout all international regimes governing weapons of mass destruction by refusing to adhere to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention. Israel is the only obstacle in the way of establishing a nuclear‑weapon-free zone in the Middle East and is not even willing to engage in multilateral negotiations towards that end. Israel’s delegate spoke about the need to respect international law, but failed to explain why they have not complied with relevant treaties and norms. Concerning the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Israel has shamelessly done whatever it could to undermine its successful implementation. Meanwhile, Israel has flagrantly violated 86 Security Council resolutions and is responsible for the killings of 200 innocent Palestinians in March in Gaza. That record gives them no moral standing to judge others or make statements about international law.
The representative of Qatar said that no matter how many attempts are made by Syria to distract the international community, the truth cannot be covered up. The provisions of international humanitarian law and the right of people everywhere to live in dignity will and must be upheld.
The representative of Syria said it is ironic that Qatar’s delegate is levelling accusations against other States about war crimes, the implementation of international law or the rights of people. Qatar imprisoned a poet who did not even criticize Qatar, but spoke in general terms about human rights and was sentenced to life in prison; this is the human rights of which the representative of Qatar speaks. War crimes committed by Qatar with another regime have amounted to $137 billion dollars of investments and led to the destruction of Syria. The Syrian people will not forget the crimes caused by Qatar in Syria since the beginning of the crisis in 2011 and will hold them responsible. Qatar has financed terrorist groups in Syria and other countries, providing them with all types of weapons, and has also transported terrorists from southern Yemen to Syria.