Disarmament Efforts Must Support, Not Thwart, Push for Global Social, Economic Development, Speakers Tell First Committee
For the sake of humanity and the planet, Member States must ensure that disarmament efforts supported, rather than thwarted, global economic and social development, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard today as its general debate continued.
Making the connection between development and disarmament, several speakers underlined the humanitarian consequences of nuclear and other weapons while urging the international community to take a more holistic approach to global challenges.
Indeed, the work of the First Committee was crucial in the attainment of other global goals, the representative of Ireland said. Calling for more inclusivity and gender parity, she said a humanitarian response was needed to address what, for far too long, had been an issue that had been examined in a silo.
Many speakers said disarmament and development were intrinsically connected. Eritrea’s speaker said the maintenance of international peace and security required stable and inclusive global economic and social development with full respect of the United Nations Charter. Jamaica’s delegate said citizens everywhere could only live meaningful and productive lives when they lived in peaceful and secure environments. As such, there was a clear link between the achievement of the Sustainable Development Agenda and combatting the illicit arms trade, he said, noting the effects illegal weapons were having on Jamaica.
Providing a global snapshot, the speaker from Nigeria said that throughout the world, uncontrolled access to conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons, had led to unprecedented carnage.
Some delegates, including the representative of Sudan, shared similar experiences. He said Sudan had suffered as a result of the spread of such weapons and the socioeconomic damage they caused. Possession of weapons had become a facet of tribes and communities, representing symbols of power and countries that produced such weapons must not export them to non-State groups and individuals. The depletion of resources was a common denominator of current conflicts, he underscored the strong link between development and disarmament, pointing out that farmers and nomads were fighting to maintain their water resources and pasture land.
Pointing to a number of factors that were stymying disarmament efforts, speakers said semantics had made an impact on regional insecurities. Citing recent political rhetoric heard in his region, the speaker from Bangladesh said the inherent danger underlying such threats could only further escalate tensions.
The delegate from the United Arab Emirates also spoke of “aggressive rhetoric” that was undermining security. She stressed the importance of Iran’s full cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in order to enhance confidence in the peaceful nature of its nuclear programme.
During the debate, some speakers focused on paths for making new progress. Calling the proposed 2017 conference to negotiate a prohibition on nuclear weapons a potential avenue to advance disarmament, the representative of Singapore stressed that any negotiated instrument must not wind up as “just another empty agreement”.
Elaborating on that thread, the delegate from the Dominican Republic, speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said that while the prohibition of all nuclear weapons would not automatically eliminate them, a ban would set a norm that would constitute the basis of further efforts and negotiations towards that ultimate goal.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Netherlands, Colombia, Ukraine, Liberia, Republic of Korea, Ethiopia, Hungary and Eritrea. Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea, Iran, United States, Russian Federation, and Ukraine.
The First Committee will meet again on at 3 p.m. on Monday, 10 October, to continue its general debate.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its general debate on all agenda items before it. For background, see Press Release GA/DIS/3545 of 3 October.
HENK COR VAN DER KWAST (Netherlands) condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s “provocative behaviour” in conducting multiple ballistic missile and nuclear tests and called for it to fully comply with Security Council resolutions, implement the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and submit all its installations to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. The Netherlands had assumed the presidency of the Convention on Cluster Munitions after the successful Dubrovnik 2015 Review Conference. During the sixth meeting of States parties to that instrument, a new political declaration, adopted by consensus, had condemned any use of such weapons and stated that all parties to the Convention must fulfil their obligations by 2030. He expressed deep concern about the current financial situation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction and especially about the possible lack of available funds to organize the fifteenth meeting of States parties in Santiago. Much work needed to be done to reach the goal of a mine-free world in 2025, he said, calling on States to pay contributions in full without delay. Among other concerns was the availability of unmanned aerial vehicles to both State and non-State actors, including the risk of their proliferation among terrorist organizations, including Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh).
JUAN CAMILO DÍAZ REINA (Colombia), noting the peace agreement with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia — Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP), reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to disarmament at the domestic level. He highlighted the role of the Mine Ban Convention in negotiations with FARC-EP and acknowledged the decontamination of 199 municipalities. The problem of small arms and light weapons had cut across several issues, including terrorism and organized crime. For its part, Colombia had ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions and also supported all initiatives leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons, he said, urged nuclear-weapons States to show political will and flexibility. Despite the results of the 2 October plebiscite, he said, Colombia was committed to peace and an inclusive and united society.
SABRI BOUKADOUM (Algeria), Committee Chair, congratulated the President of Colombia for winning the Nobel Peace Prize and expressed hope that it would inspire the Committee in its work.
MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) expressed concern with some of the political rhetoric emanating from his region about the threat of using nuclear weapons. The inherent danger underlying such threats could only further escalate regional tensions and insecurities. The guarantee of peace could be assured by the total elimination of such weapons. There was no doubt that all responsible Member States shared a firm commitment toward that goal, however, there were divergent views on the ways, means and pace of achieving that objective, he said. Despite professed political will, the world had reached a stage where it had allowed the United Nations disarmament machinery to yield no tangible results, resulting in a deepening sense of frustration and insecurity all around.
Mr. BOUKADOUM shared with the Committee news that the Permanent Representative of Eritrea had passed away, offering his heartfelt condolences.
Sergii Shutenko (Ukraine), associating himself with the European Union, said his Government remained committed to the effective implementation, strengthening and universalization of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, even in the face of continued military aggression and occupation by the Russian Federation. As a party to the Memorandum on Security Assurances in Connection with Ukraine’s Accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (Budapest Memorandum), Ukraine had given up all its nuclear arsenals, only to have its sovereignty and territorial integrity violated by the Russian Federation, one of the Memorandum’s guarantor States. The Russian Federation had seized Ukraine’s nuclear facilities, installations and materials located in Crimea and declared its right to deploy nuclear weapons, restoring Soviet-era nuclear storage facilities and their means of delivery on the peninsula. The ongoing Russian aggression had left without due control the radionuclide sources in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which had become highly conducive to the perpetration of terrorist acts and gave much food for thought on real and potential threats far beyond the region. In addition, the Russian Federation had continued its massive transfers of military goods, including conventional weapons, both to Crimea and eastern Ukraine. The daily reports of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission showed clear evidence of Russian military activity in eastern Ukraine, with over 700 explosions reported in Donetsk in the last week.
COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica) associated himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Emphasizing that citizens everywhere could only live meaningful and productive lives when they lived in peaceful and secure environments, he reiterated Jamaica’s commitment to achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world. With regard to conventional weapons, he welcomed the outcome of the second Conference of State Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty, adding that combatting the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was a top priority for Jamaica. The link between the illicit arms trade and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals had been recognized at 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. Going forward, the international institutional framework must be responsive to the current global security challenges requiring the strengthening and modernization of the Conference of Disarmament and related efforts.
FRANCISCO ANTONIO CORTORREAL (Dominican Republic), speaking on behalf of CELAC, said the enhancement of existing nuclear weapons and the development of new ones was inconsistent with the disarmament obligations. The role of nuclear weapons in strategic doctrines and security policies must also be eliminated. CELAC welcomed discussions of the Open-ended Working Group taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations and its efforts to develop proposals on effective legal measures, provisions and norms needed to attain a nuclear-weapon-free world. CELAC was also committed to the commencement of a diplomatic process toward a legally binding instrument for the elimination of nuclear weapons within an agreed timeframe.
While the prohibition of all nuclear weapons would not automatically eliminate them, he said, a ban would set a norm that would constitute the basis of further efforts and negotiations towards that ultimate goal. Furthermore, a ban would have both a political and legal impact on nuclear disarmament. Meanwhile, the indefinite extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty did not entail the right of any State to indefinitely possess nuclear weapons, he noted. In that regard, CELAC rejected the assertion made in the Joint Statement on the Test-Ban Treaty by five nuclear-weapon States (China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States) that the stockpile maintenance of nuclear-weapon States was consistent with the Non-Proliferation Treaty and Test-Ban Treaty objectives.
LEWIS G. BROWN (Liberia), associating himself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “The world does not need more nuclear tests,” he said. “It needs more elimination of nuclear weapons.” Nuclear-weapon-free zones were indispensable to strengthening the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he said, noting that the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, known as the Treaty of Pelindaba, had cemented Africa’s status as such an area. Turning to other concerns, he said the scrupulous implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty would assist States in curbing the illicit acquisition of small arms and light weapons. For its part, Liberia was trying to prevent trafficking and unauthorized access and had declared amnesty for those who surrendered small arms and light weapons.
OH JOON (Republic of Korea) said the situation involving the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was his country and the world’s most urgent proliferation and security issue. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was getting close to full nuclear weaponization, with its troubling announcements that it was ready to use nuclear weapons pre-emptively. With more than 100 countries strongly condemning its nuclear testing, the task now was to work together to make the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea change course towards complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization. If the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s provocations were left unchecked, the international community would risk condoning a new, illegal nuclear-weapon State, which would seriously undermine the foundation of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. As such, the Security Council should adopt a new robust resolution containing effective sanctions.
Reiterating the Republic of Korea’s commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he said a disarmament breakthrough required a practical approach based on Article VI of the Treaty and not a new legal instrument. Bringing the Test-Ban Treaty into force must be at the top of the agenda. Launching negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a treaty to ban the production of fissile material was another urgent task, while the threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction among non-State actors must form a vital part of non-proliferation discussions. As president of the IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security, to be held in December, his Government would highlight the threat of nuclear terrorism.
MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia) highlighted the conundrum that nuclear weapons — by far the most dangerous weapons of mass destruction — were the only ones not yet explicitly prohibited under international law. Indeed, those weapons were being further modernized and upgraded. Curbing the escalation of nuclear arms production was a task that should be accomplished without further delay. The step-by-step approach toward their total elimination had failed to make concrete progress, she continued, noting that Ethiopia supported the recommendation of the Open-ended Working Group that the General Assembly convene a conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument banning nuclear weapons. Any negotiations, however, should not be in lieu of, but rather should complement and strengthen the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, she said.
JOHN KHOO WEI EN (Singapore), aligning himself with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, reaffirmed his commitment to all three pillars of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, calling for efforts to find a way to universalize the instrument and to engage those nuclear-weapon States that fell outside it. Stressing that progress on disarmament and non-proliferation were mutually-reinforcing, he underlined the importance of preventing nuclear terrorism, noting Singapore’s participation in related multilateral security exercises. Calling the proposed 2017 conference to negotiate a prohibition on nuclear weapons a potential avenue to advance disarmament, he stressed that any negotiated instrument must not wind up as “just another empty agreement”. In that regard, he called for nuclear-weapon States to constructively engage in the process. Nuclear disarmament would also be advanced by the entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty, negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty and the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones. He also called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to refrain from further provocative actions, for the universalization of the Arms Trade Treaty and for more attention by the First Committee to emerging issues, including outer space and cybersecurity.
GYÖRGY MOLNÁR (Hungary), associating himself with the European Union, underlined the importance of implementing the Non-Proliferation Treaty through the action plan stemming from the 2010 Review Conference. Nuclear disarmament could only be achieved through a gradual and inclusive process that garnered the engagement of nuclear-weapon States. He also called for intensified efforts towards the entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty, negotiations on a fissile cut-off treaty and the maintenance of nuclear security, for which he welcomed recent high-level conferences. The Arms Trade Treaty was an important priority for Hungary, he said, underlining the need for States parties to fulfil their obligations and emphasizing that need to engage major arms exporters. He welcomed opportunities to strengthen the Geneva-based disarmament conventions, particularly the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention). Noting Hungary’s long-standing commitment to the latter, he expressed hope that extensive common ground would be found under the country’s presidency at the November review conference.
LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates), associating herself with the Arab Group, the Non-Aligned Movement and the State members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, stressed the importance of Iran’s full cooperation with the IAEA in line with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. It had been hoped that the agreement would encourage Iran to open a new chapter while enhancing confidence in the peaceful nature of its nuclear programme, but Tehran had continued to undermine regional security through its aggressive rhetoric, support for armed militias and its actions as a State sponsor of terrorism. She called on Iran to ensure full compliance with its international obligations and responsibilities under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Reiterating the importance of declaring the Middle East a nuclear-weapon-free zone, she called upon Israel to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
OMER DAHAB FADL MOHAMED (Sudan), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, small arms and light weapons had great significance in the context of disarmament. Sudan had suffered as a result of the spread of such weapons and the socioeconomic damage they caused. Possession of weapons had become a facet of tribes and communities, representing symbols of power. Countries that produced such weapons must not export them to non-State groups and individuals. He stressed the importance of Israel acceding to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and called for a conference on establishing a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. The depletion of resources, compounded by drought, desertification and climate change, was the common denominator of all current conflicts, he said. Farmers and nomads were fighting to hold on to their water resources and pasture land, he said, underscoring the strong connection between development and disarmament.
HELENA NOLAN (Ireland said the Committee’s work was crucial in the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. For the sake of humanity and of the planet, Member States must ensure that the Committee’s work supported, and not thwarted, the achievement of other global goals. Sixteen years since the Security Council had adopted the ground-breaking resolution on women, peace and security, Ireland believed that women’s engagement and empowerment in disarmament negotiations was crucial to achieving success in the challenges ahead. Addressing disarmament, particularly nuclear disarmament, was more urgent than ever before. Ireland’s objective was to see the Non-Proliferation Treaty was implemented in a credible and inclusive manner. She underlined a need for both a human and humanitarian response to what, for far too long, had been an issue that had been addressed in a silo.
ELSA HAILE (Eritrea) thanked the Chair for paying respect to her delegation’s Permanent Representative Girma Asmerom Tesfay, who had passed away. Turning to several concerns, she said the maintenance of international peace and security required stable and inclusive global economic and social development with full respect of the United Nations Charter. In an interdependent world, safeguarding security on national, regional and global levels was a shared responsibility, she said. As violent extremism, transnational crimes and massive population movements continued to evolve and threaten global peace and security, robust partnerships were necessary to secure borders. To counter those transgressions, stronger, transparent and non-discriminatory instruments were needed. Disarmament could only be achieved with a multilateral approach, she said, noting that only through collective political will could Member States achieve the shared goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.
ABEL ADELAKUN AYOKO (Nigeria) said that, in the context of threats to international peace and security, his delegation would continue to highlight the way in which defence budgets had reached astronomical proportions and how enormous resources were going towards nuclear arsenals. Throughout the world, uncontrolled access to conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons, had led to unprecedented carnage. Member States had a collective responsibility to urgently deal with such global insecurity and anarchy, he said. Despite the Arms Trade Treaty, the threat posed by the non-regulation of conventional weapons sadly did not appear to be diminishing. Nuclear weapons remained the ultimate weapon of mass destruction, he said, adding that if goodwill and common sense did not rid the world of such doomsday arms, then enlightened self-interest among those possessing such weapons would.
Right of Reply
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that remarks made by his counterpart from the Republic of Korea regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s self-defensive nuclear programme constituted “a ridiculous argument”. No one could predict when the situation on the Korean Peninsula would explode, he said, adding that the United States was responsible given its long-standing hostile policy. For over half a century, the United States had shipped all types of nuclear weapons to the Republic of Korea and carried out annual joint military exercises. That strategy was aimed at the decapitation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s leadership and the occupation of Pyongyang.
He went on to say that in the face of constant threats from the United States, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had no other choice than to “go nuclear”. He asked on what authority the Security Council had adopted a resolution prohibiting the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile activities, when the Council had not taken similar action with other countries engaged in similar activities. Twice in 2016, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea requested emergency meetings on large-scale joint military exercises, only to be turned away. The Republic of Korea had no legal or moral grounds to talk about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear deterrent or its right to self-defence.
The representative of the Republic of Korea, in exercise of the right of reply, said that her ambassador had fully explained her Government’s position. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would gain nothing by adhering blindly to its nuclear programme. Many in the Committee room had condemned its nuclear programme and urged it to stop, she said, adding that she had not heard one voice in support of it. It was the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that had violated agreements on the demilitarization of the Korean Peninsula, she said.
The representative of Iran, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said his counterpart from the United Arab Emirates had made baseless accusations. Iranhad always been committed to implementing the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. It appeared that the United Arab Emirates had aligned with some other countries that had decided to remain ignorant of such facts. He invited those countries to abandon their unfriendly approach and try to come to terms with the post-Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action environment. With its friends in the region, Iran was at the forefront of fighting such groups as ISIL and Jabhat al-Nusrah li-Ahl al-Sham. While Iran was a force of stability, the United Arab Emirates, like the Israeli regime, was supporting terrorism and the spread of violent extremism, especially in Syria. The United Arab Emirates had also engaged in aggression against Yemen, violating international and humanitarian laws while killing thousands of civilians, including children, in savage air attacks, he said, calling for a halt to arms exports to the United Arab Emirates.
The representative of the United States, in exercise of the right of reply, said it was unfortunate that the Committee had to listen to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s “stale delusional talking points” for a second day. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had continued to violate Security Council resolutions and must stop its provocative activities and fulfil its people.