Addressing Arms Proliferation Risks, First Committee Approves 26 Texts, Including Draft Promoting Nuclear-weapon-free Middle East

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today sent 25 draft resolutions and 1 draft decision to the General Assembly, among them one that would pave the way for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.

Amidst warnings that further procrastination in fulfilling such a goal would threaten global peace and security, one speaker said the draft resolution on “the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East” (document A/C.1/71/L.2/Rev.1) had become “part and parcel of the literature” of the Committee.

By that text, approved, as a whole, by a vote of 147 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Federated States of Micronesia, Namibia, Palau, United States), with 21 abstentions, the Assembly would call for the speedy and full implementation of commitments made regarding the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Also by the draft text, the Assembly would reaffirm the importance of Israel’s accession to the Treaty and placement of all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, in realizing the goal of universal adherence to the Treaty in the Middle East.

Prior to approving the text as a whole, the Committee approved the retention of preambular paragraph 5, by a vote of 165 in favour to 2 against (India, Israel), with 2 abstentions (Bhutan, Pakistan).  By its terms, the Assembly would recall the decision on principles and objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament adopted by the 1995 Review and Extension Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 1995, in which the Conference urged universal adherence to the Treaty as an urgent priority and called upon all States not yet parties to the Treaty to accede to it at the earliest date, particularly those States that operate unsafeguarded nuclear facilities.

The Committee, by a vote of 163 in favour to 2 against (India, Israel), with 2 abstentions (Bhutan, Pakistan), approved the retention of preambular paragraph 6.  The Assembly would, by that provision, recognize with satisfaction that, in the Final Document of the 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the Conference undertook to make determined efforts towards the achievement of the goal of universality of the Treaty, called upon those remaining States not parties to the Treaty to accede to it, thereby accepting an international legally binding commitment not to acquire nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices and to accept Agency safeguards on all their nuclear activities, and underlined the necessity of universal adherence to the Treaty and of strict compliance by all parties with their obligations under the Treaty.

Also approved was a draft resolution titled “women, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control” (document A/C.1/71/L.37), by which the Assembly urged Member States, relevant subregional and regional organizations, the United Nations and the specialized agencies to promote equal opportunities for the representation of women in all decision-making processes with regard to matters related to disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control, in particular as it relates to the prevention and reduction of armed violence and armed conflict.

Prior to approving that text as a whole without a vote, the Committee held a separate recorded vote to retain preambular paragraph 10, which would have the Assembly recall the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty, and therefore encourage States parties to fully implement all the provisions of the Treaty, including the provisions on serious acts of gender-based violence and on violence against children.  The Committee approved the retention of that paragraph, by a vote of 146 in favour to none against, with 24 abstentions.

Speakers voiced support for that resolution, which underlined the important of women’s roles, from conflict prevention to post-conflict disarmament efforts.  Some speakers indicated their support, but explained that they had abstained from voting on preambular paragraph 10 due to its reference to the Arms Trade Treaty.

Turning to regional disarmament, the Committee approved a range of texts.  After holding separate recorded votes on preambular paragraph 6 and operative paragraph 2, the Committee also voted to approve a draft text on “conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels” (document A/C.1/71/L.16), by a vote of 176 in favour to 1 against (India), with 2 abstentions (Bhutan, Russian Federation).  By the text, the Assembly would request the Conference on Disarmament to consider the formulation of principles that could serve as a framework for regional agreements on conventional arms control, and would look forward to a report of the Conference on that subject.

The Committee also approved, by recorded vote, the following draft texts:  “developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security” (document A/C.1/71/L.17); “promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation” (document A/C.1/71/L.45); “effects of the use of armaments and ammunitions containing depleted uranium” (document A/C.1/71/L.63); and “Open-ended Working Group on the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament” (document A/C.1/71/L.66).

Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the following draft texts:  “United Nations Disarmament Information Programme” (document A/C.1/71/L.39); “disarmament and non-proliferation education” (document A/C.1/71/L.40); “observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control” (document A/C.1/71/L.44); “relationship between disarmament and development” (document A/C.1/71/L.46); “United Nations disarmament fellowship, training and advisory services” (document A/C.1/71/L.51); “consolidation of peace through practical disarmament measures” (document A/C.1/71/L.52/Rev.1); and “role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament” (document A/C.1/71/L.54).

Also without a vote, the Committee approved draft texts titled “confidence-building measures in the regional and subregional context” (document A/C.1/71/L.14); “regional disarmament” (document A/C.1/71/L.15); “strengthening of security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region” (document A/C.1/71/L.30); and “maintenance of international security — good-neighbourliness, stability and development in South-Eastern Europe” (document A/C.1/71/L.69).

During further action, the Committee approved draft resolutions, without a vote, on:  “Report of the Conference on Disarmament” (document A/C.1/71/L.6); “United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific” (document A/C.1/71/L.27); “Report of the Disarmament Commission” (document A/C.1/71/L.38); “United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (document A/C.1/71/L.50); “United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean” (document A/C.1/71/L.60); “United Nations regional centres for peace and disarmament” (document A/C.1/71/L.62); “regional confidence-building measures:  activities of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa” (document A/C.1/71/L.67); and “Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco)” (document A/C.1/71/L.34/Rev.1).

Also speaking today were the representatives of France, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, India, Cuba, Fiji, United States, Venezuela, Iran, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Namibia, Pakistan and Syria.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of the Russian Federation, Ukraine and United States.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 2 November, to conclude its consideration of all outstanding drafts.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to take action on draft resolutions and decisions.  For background, see Press Release GA/DIS/3545 of 3 October.

Action on Draft Texts

The representative of the Netherlands, in explanation of position on draft resolutions in the Committee’s cluster on other disarmament measures and international security, spoke on behalf of a number of countries, highlighting the great value of a draft resolution on “women, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control” (document A/C.1/71/L.37).  Noting the key roles women were playing in peace and security efforts, he said increased representation was needed at all decision-making levels.  The draft resolution was an integral part of conflict prevention.  Moreover, the Sustainable Development Goals that had been introduced in January had served as a reinforcement to increase the role of women in disarmament and stressed the importance of women’s empowerment for a peaceful world.  The Arms Trade Treaty was highly relevant for the content of the draft text and as such, must be appropriately referred to.  He also noted that the draft makes specific reference to Security Council resolution 1325 (2000).

The representative of Germany introduced a draft resolution titled “consolidation of peace through practical disarmament measures” (document A/C.1/71/L.52/Rev.1), which emphasized practical disarmament measures aimed at addressing small arms and light weapons trafficking.  The draft resolution formed part of an effective weapons strategy that would contribute to a sustainable peace building process, he said.

The representative of Cuba said his delegation shared the concerns expressed in the draft resolution titled “developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security” (document A/C.1/71/L.17), which addressed the use of technologies for purposes that were incompatible with international peace and security.  She noted that the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security had important responsibilities in establishing rules to curb the hostile use of telecommunications with the purpose of undermining the legal and political systems of States.  In that vein, she condemned the continued radio and television transmissions of the United States into Cuba for destabilizing purposes.

The representative of Pakistan, in a general statement, expressed support for “L.37”, saying that the role of women in disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control was a very important issue that must continue to be discussed at the United Nations.  The draft text would enhance the focus on the issue, he said.  Turning to “L.17,” he said information and communications technologies offered immense opportunities, but also several challenges that could entail profound security risks.  While appreciating the efforts of the text’s penholders, Pakistan was disappointed not to have been included in the Group of Governmental Experts on the issue in 2015.  Four such groups had now concluded their work and it was high time for the topic to be taken up in a multilateral setting such as the Conference on Disarmament or the General Assembly.

The representative of the Russian Federation expressed gratitude to those States which co-authored the Russian document “L.17”.  Solid groups of responsible States had shown the attention that the international community had paid to global information security and its readiness to keep discussing the issue at the United Nations.  Although one capital had suddenly decided to withdraw its vote on “L.17”, he said he trusted that such an important document would have consensus approval.

The representative of Mexico presented draft resolutions titled “United Nations Disarmament Information Programme” (document A/C.1/71/L.39), which recommended that the United Nations Disarmament Information Programme continue its work, and “disarmament and non-proliferation education” (document A/C.1/71/L.40), which highlighted the importance of disarmament education, particularly among young people.

The representative of Ukraine said that while her delegation had previously supported “L.17”, everything had changed for her country in 2014, when the Russian Federation had illegally annexed Crimea.  Thus, her Government had decided to break the consensus on the resolution during the current session and would abstain from voting.  She expressed deep concern for cyberattacks that had been conducted by some States, including the Russian Federation.  Information and communications technologies should be only used as tools for development based on the principles of the United Nations Charter, she said.

The representative of Belgium said his delegation would vote in favour of a draft resolution titled “effects of the use of armaments and ammunitions containing depleted uranium” (document A/C.1/71/L.63).  Belgium was one of the first countries to have passed a law on that type of armament.  Acknowledging that scientific experts had expressed differing views, he hoped that the draft resolution would lead to a better understanding of the negative side effects of depleted uranium and would contribute to shared analysis on the topic.

The representative of Japan said his delegation would vote in favour of “L.63”.  Having submitted to the Secretary-General its views on the effects of these types of armaments, Japan had neither used nor possessed armaments that contained depleted uranium.  Despite a number of studies, at present, no internationally definitive conclusion had been drawn on the issue, he said, calling for further studies and information gathering.

The representative of the United Kingdom, speaking also on behalf of France, said they would join consensus on a draft resolution titled “observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control” (document A/C.1/71/L.44), but wanted to make clear that they saw no direct connection between general environmental standards and multilateral disarmament control.  Moreover, it was unfortunate that the draft had not mentioned the Paris Agreement on climate change.  The United Kingdom and France would join consensus on a draft resolution titled “relationship between disarmament and development” (document A/C.1/71/L.46), but believed that the notion of a symbiotic relationship appeared questionable as conditions for disarmament were not entirely dependent on development.  Defence investments were also required to contribute to peacekeeping efforts and, under certain conditions, to promote stability, he said.

The representative of Cuba, referring to “L.52./Rev.1”, said that focusing on a single category of weapons would not result in a balanced approach.  More neutral language should have been used in operative paragraph 4, she said.  In preambular paragraph 5, the reference to Security Council resolution 2171 (2014) did not prejudge Cuba’s position on that text, which was well-known.

The Committee turned to draft texts in its cluster on other disarmament measures and international security, taking up a draft resolution on “developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security” (document A/C.1/71/L.17), by which the Assembly would call on Member States to, among other things, be guided in their use of information and communications technologies by the 2015 report of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security and to promote further, at multilateral levels, the consideration of existing and potential threats in the field of information security and possible strategies to address the emerging threats, consistent with the need to preserve the free flow of information.

The Committee then approved the draft by a vote of 177 in favour to none against, with 1 abstention (Ukraine).

The Committee then took up a draft resolution on “women, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control” (document A/C.1/71/L.37), by which the Assembly would urge Member States, relevant subregional and regional organizations, the United Nations and the specialized agencies to promote equal opportunities for the representation of women in all decision-making processes with regard to matters related to disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control, in particular as it relates to the prevention and reduction of armed violence and armed conflict.

Prior to approving the text as a whole, the Committee held a separate recorded vote to retain preambular paragraph 10.

By a vote of 146 in favour to none against, with 24 abstentions, the Committee approved the retention of preambular paragraph 10, which would have the Assembly recall the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty, and therefore encourage States parties to fully implement all the provisions of the Treaty, including the provisions on serious acts of gender-based violence and on violence against children.

Taking up the draft as a whole, the Committee approved it without a vote.

It then turned to a draft resolution on the “United Nations Disarmament Information Programme” (document A/C.1/71/L.39), which would have the Assembly stress the importance of the programme as a significant instrument in enabling all Member States to participate fully in the deliberations and negotiations on disarmament in the various United Nations bodies, in assisting them in complying with treaties, as required, and in contributing to agreed mechanisms for transparency.

The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.

The Committee then took up a draft resolution on “disarmament and non-proliferation education” (document A/C.1/71/L.40).  By the text, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to prepare a report reviewing the results of the implementation of the recommendations and possible new opportunities for promoting disarmament and non-proliferation education, and to submit it to the General Assembly at its seventy-third session.

The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.

The Committee then took up a draft resolution on the “observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control” (document A/C.1/71/L.44), by which the Assembly would call upon States to adopt unilateral, bilateral, regional and multilateral measures so as to contribute to ensuring the application of scientific and technological progress within the framework of international security, disarmament and other related spheres, without detriment to the environment or to its effective contribution to attaining sustainable development.

The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.

It then took action on a draft resolution on the “promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation” (document A/C.1/71/L.45).  By the text, the Assembly would call upon all Member States to renew and fulfil their individual and collective commitments to multilateral cooperation as an important means of pursuing and achieving their common objectives in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation.

The Committee then approved the draft by a vote of 124 in favour to 3 against (Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 50 abstentions.

The Committee then took up a draft resolution on the “relationship between disarmament and development” (document A/C.1/71/L.46).  By the text, the Assembly would urge the international community to devote part of the resources made available by the implementation of disarmament and arms limitation agreements to economic and social development, with a view to reducing the ever-widening gap between developed and developing countries.

The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.

The Committee took up a draft resolution concerning the “United Nations disarmament fellowship, training and advisory services” (document A/C.1/71/L.51), which would have the General Assembly request the Secretary-General to continue to implement annually the programme within existing resources and to report thereon to the General Assembly at its seventy-third session.

The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.

The Committee took up a draft resolution titled “consolidation of peace through practical disarmament measures” (document A/C.1/71/L.52/Rev.1), by which terms the General Assembly would welcome the activities undertaken by the Group of Interested States for Practical Disarmament Measures, and invites that Group to continue to promote - on the basis of lessons learned from previous disarmament and peacebuilding projects - new practical disarmament measures to consolidate peace, especially as undertaken or designed by affected States themselves and regional and subregional organizations, as well as United Nations agencies.

The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.

The Committee took up a draft decision regarding the “role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament” (document A/C.1/71/L.54), by which terms the General Assembly would decide to include that eponymous item in the provisional agenda of its seventy-second session.

The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.

The Committee took up a draft resolution regarding the “effects of the use of armaments and ammunitions containing depleted uranium” (document A/C.1/71/L.63), by which terms the General Assembly would invite Member States that have used armaments and ammunitions containing depleted uranium in armed conflicts to provide the relevant authorities of affected States, upon request, with information, as detailed as possible, about the location of the areas of use and the amounts used, with the objective of facilitating the assessment and clearance of such areas.

The Committee then approved the draft by a vote of 146 in favour to 4 against (France, Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 26 abstentions.

The representative of France, speaking also on behalf of the United Kingdom and the United States, explained his delegation’s vote against “L.63”, saying the environmental and long-term health effects of depleted uranium armaments and munitions had been thoroughly investigated by the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), United States Centers for Disease Control, European Commission and others.  None had documented long-term effects in connection with those munitions, he said, adding that the draft had not considered existing research.  Given the lack of tangible evidence, France, the United Kingdom and the United States did not recognize the presupposed risk to health and the environment caused by armaments and ammunitions containing depleted uranium and they did not support United Nations resolutions in that regard.

The representative of the Netherlands, speaking also on behalf of Norway, said their delegations had voted in favour of “L.63”.  It was, however, regrettable that the draft resolution had leaned towards conclusions while scientific research was still ongoing and inconclusive.  The UNEP report sent to the Secretary-General had stated that measurements at depleted uranium sites had indicated an overall low level of radioactivity that was within international standards.  Key words in the draft text should have been formulated in a more neutral way.  Since scientific uncertainties persisted, however, the Netherlands and Norway supported the call for a precautionary approach to the use of depleted uranium.

The representative of Germany, explaining his delegation’s abstention on “L.63,” said it regretted that the results of the UNEP study had been quoted in the text in a selective and misleading way.  New results from a more recent report from the United Nations Scientific Committee on the effects of radiation had not been considered properly.  In Germany’s view, further studies should be conducted.

The representative of Switzerland, speaking also on behalf of Sweden, said they had voted in favour of “L.63.”  He expressed concern with persisting uncertainty regarding the long-term environmental impact of depleted uranium, in particular the potential for groundwater contamination.  The text had quoted in a selective manner the 2010 UNEP report, which Switzerland and Sweden had financially and technically supported, and had failed to substantiate, with conclusive scientific evidence, the potential harmful effects on human health and the environment.  Switzerland and Sweden supported further research and appreciated that the issue would be discussed in appropriate fora both within and outside the United Nations.

The representative of India said her delegation had voted in favour of “L.37”.  It had, however, abstained from voting on preambular paragraph 10, which contained a reference to the Arms Trade Treaty, she said, also noting that India had abstained from voting on a draft resolution titled “the Arms Trade Treaty” (document A/C.1/71/L.29).

The representative of Cuba said her delegation supported “L.37”.  Measures must continue to ensure the full participation of women at all levels of decision making, she said, adding that the General Assembly and Economic and Social Council must follow up on the international commitments given to States on the topic.

The representative of Fiji said his delegation had abstained from voting on preambular paragraph 10 of “L.37”.  Acknowledging the spirit of that draft, Fiji was not a party to the Arms Trade Treaty and would continue to adopt such a position on any draft text that referred to or borrowed language from the Treaty.

The representative of the United States said his delegation had not participated on action taken on “L.44”, as his Government saw no direct connection between general environmental standards and multilateral arms control.  On “L.46”, he said disarmament and development were two distinct issues.

The representative of Venezuela said he had voted in favour of draft resolution “L.37”, but had abstained from voting on preambular paragraph 10, which contained references to the Arms Trade Treaty.

The representative of Iran said his delegation had joined consensus on “L.37”.  The draft was acceptable only insofar as it was in line with Iran’s national laws and administrative procedures.  Furthermore, his delegation had disassociated from the consensus on preambular paragraph 10 of “L.37” and operative paragraph 8 of “L.52/Rev.1”, which contained references to the Arms Trade Treaty.  He said his delegation would not participate in the adoption of “L.30”, which did not reflect the situation in the Occupied Territories and was far from the reality in the region.

The Committee then took up draft texts on its cluster on regional disarmament, first considering a draft resolution on “confidence-building measures in the regional and subregional context” (document A/C.1/71/L.14).  By the text, the Assembly would call upon Member States to refrain from the use or threat of use of force in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.  It would also, by the text, reaffirm the ways and means regarding confidence- and security-building measures set out in the report of the Disarmament Commission on its 1993 session and call upon Member States to pursue those ways and means through sustained consultations and dialogue, while at the same time avoiding actions that may hinder or impair such a dialogue.

The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.

It then turned to a draft resolution on “regional disarmament” (document A/C.1/71/L.15), by which the Assembly would call upon States to conclude agreements, wherever possible, for nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament and confidence-building measures at the regional and subregional levels.

The Assembly would also, by the text, stress that sustained efforts are needed, within the framework of the Conference on Disarmament and under the umbrella of the United Nations, to make progress on the entire range of disarmament issues and affirm that global and regional approaches to disarmament complement each other and should therefore be pursued simultaneously to promote regional and international peace and security.

It approved that draft without a vote.

The Committee then took up a draft resolution on “conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels” (document A/C.1/71/L.16).  By the text, the Assembly would decide to give urgent consideration to the issues involved in conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels.

Prior to approving the text as a whole, the Committee held a separate recorded vote to retain preambular paragraph 6 and operative paragraph 2.

By a vote of 164 in favour to 1 against (India), with 2 abstentions (Bhutan, Russian Federation) the Committee approved the retention of preambular paragraph 6, which would have the Assembly express the belief that militarily significant States and States with larger military capabilities have a special responsibility in promoting such agreements for regional security.

By a vote of 133 in favour to 1 against (India), with 34 abstentions, the Committee approved the retention of operative paragraph 2, which would have the Assembly request the Conference on Disarmament to consider the formulation of principles that can serve as a framework for regional agreements on conventional arms control, and looks forward to a report of the Conference on this subject.

Taking up the draft as a whole, the Committee approved it by a vote of 176 in favour to 1 against (India), with 2 abstentions (Bhutan, Russian Federation).

The Committee then took up a draft resolution on “strengthening of security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region” (document A/C.1/71/L.30).  By the text, the Assembly would reaffirm that security in the Mediterranean is closely linked to European security as well as to international peace and security.

It approved the draft without a vote.

The Committee took up a draft resolution regarding the “maintenance of international security — good-neighbourliness, stability and development in South-Eastern Europe” (document A/C.1/71/L.69), by which terms the General Assembly would decide to include that item in the provisional agenda of its seventy-third session.

The Committee then approved that draft without a vote.

The representative of India said her delegation had voted against “L.16” and its operative paragraph 2.  The Conference on Disarmament had the mandate to negotiate global disarmament agreements and there was no need for it to formulate principles that could serve as a framework for regional agreements on conventional arms control when it had other priorities on its agenda.

The representative of Cuba, in a general statement on draft texts under the disarmament machinery cluster, said that a lack of specific results in disarmament was due to a lack of political will on the part of certain States.  It was deplorable that the Conference on Disarmament had been unable to do any substantive work for two decades.  A balanced programme of work needed to be adopted without delays, she said, adding that a lack of progress at the Disarmament Commission could not be a pretext to ignore or marginalize that body.  She expressed concern over the proliferation of groups of experts representing only 20 or 25 countries that drew up First Committee resolutions, which were often automatically endorsed without a majority of States having had time to consider them.  Forming groups of experts should not be the rule and transparent and inclusive processes should be promoted.  Lastly, she highlighted the positive role played by United Nations regional centres for peace and disarmament.  The centres, however, were far from reaching their full potential and the United Nations regular budget should ensure that minimum resources were made available.

The representative of Indonesia drew attention to a draft decision titled “Open-ended Working Group on the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament” (document A/C.1/71/L.66).  That text would have the Assembly include in the provisional agenda of its seventy-second session, under the item titled “General and complete disarmament”, a sub-item titled “Convening of the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament”.  He expressed hope the draft decision would be approved either without a vote or with a unanimous vote, so as not to give the wrong impression that Member States were prejudging the outcome of the Open-ended Working Group.

The Committee then took up a draft resolution on the “Report of the Conference on Disarmament” (document A/C.1/71/L.6).

It approved that text without a vote.

The Committee then turned to a draft resolution on “United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific” (document A/C.1/71/L.27), which would have the Assembly express its satisfaction at the activities carried out in the past year by the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, and invites all States of the region to continue to support the activities of the Regional Centre.

The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.

The Committee then took action on a draft resolution on the “Report of the Disarmament Commission” (document A/C.1/71/L.38).  By the text, the Assembly would reaffirm the importance of further enhancing the dialogue and cooperation among the First Committee, the Disarmament Commission and the Conference on Disarmament, notes that the Commission has not submitted any substantive recommendations to the General Assembly in the course of the past 17 years, and thus encourages the revitalization of the work of the Commission in its current triennial cycle.

The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.

The Committee took up a draft resolution titled “United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (document A/C.1/71/L.50), which would have the General Assembly commend the Regional Centre for its work and urge all Member States, as well as international governmental and non-governmental organizations and foundations, to make voluntary contributions to enable it to carry out its programmes and activities and meet the needs of African States.

The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.

The Committee took up a draft resolution titled “United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean” (document A/C.1/71/L.60), which would have the General Assembly reiterate its strong support for that Regional Centre.  It would invite States in the region to continue to take part in its activities and to maximize its potential to meet the challenges facing the international community with a view to fulfilling the aims of the United Nations Charter in the areas of peace, disarmament and development.

The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.

The Committee took up a draft resolution regarding “United Nations regional centres for peace and disarmament” (document A/C.1/71/L.62), which would have the General Assembly commend the three regional centres for their sustained support to Member States over the past 30 years in implementing disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation activities.  It would appeal to Member States in each region that are able to do so, as well as to international governmental and non-governmental organizations and foundations, to make voluntary contributions to the regional centres in their respective regions.  It would moreover request the Secretary-General to provide all support necessary, within existing resources, to the regional centres in carrying out their programmes of activities.

The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.

The Committee took up a draft decision regarding the “Open-ended Working Group on the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament” (document A/C.1/71/L.66), by which terms the General Assembly would decide to include in the provisional agenda of its seventy-second session, under the item entitled “General and complete disarmament”, a sub-item titled “Convening of the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament”.

The Committee then approved the draft decision by a vote of 175 in favour to none against, with 5 abstentions (Australia, France, Israel, United Kingdom, United States).

The Committee took up a draft resolution titled “regional confidence-building measures:  activities of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa” (document A/C.1/71/L.67), by which terms the General Assembly would reaffirm its support for effort aimed at promoting confidence-building measures at the regional and subregional levels in order to ease tensions and conflicts in Central Africa and to further sustainable peace, stability and development in the subregion.

Also by the terms of the text, it would encourage Member States to provide assistance to those States members of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security that have ratified the Arms Trade Treaty, and encourages those that have not yet done so to ratify the Treaty.  In addition, it would encourage the Economic Community of Central African States and the Economic Community of West African States, in coordination with the African Union Commission, to accelerate joint efforts to adopt a comprehensive strategy to more effectively and urgently combat the threat posed by Boko Haram.  In that regard, the Assembly would urge the two subregional organizations to convene their joint summit at the earliest opportunity in order to adopt a common strategy and develop active cooperation and coordination.

The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.

The representative of France, also speaking on behalf the United States, said they had abstained from voting on “L.66”.  The draft provided that the Open-ended Working Group should conduct work based on consensus, however, any future work of the special session on disarmament must be based on consensus and consistent with precedents that had been set by previous special sessions.

The representative of Algeria, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, introduced, under the nuclear weapons cluster, a draft resolution on “the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East” (document A/C.1/71/L.2/Rev.1).  Submitted by the Arab Group on an annual basis, the draft had become “part and parcel of the literature of the First Committee”, he said.  The international community needed to establish the Middle East as a nuclear-weapon-free zone, which should be the fourth tenet of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  Unfortunately, all efforts had remained stymied.  The 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference had set about a realistic plan of action, but the decision had not been operationalized yet.  The Arab Group had believed that 2012 would have been the beginning of a path towards holding regional conference in Helsinki, but one State had postponed such a conference.  The 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference had not led to a remedial path and the final document had not reached the required consensus.  The international community had been frustrated with those depressing developments, he said, emphasizing that procrastination in fulfilling the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East was a threat to global peace and security.

The representative of the European Union expressed a strong commitment to the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  The resolution that had been adopted by the 1995 Review and Extension Conference of the Parties to the Treaty remained valid until its goals and objectives were achieved, she said, expressing regret that the conference on the establishment of such a zone had not yet been convened.  Condemning the confirmed use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Armed Forces and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), she said the findings of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)‑ United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism required strong action by the OPCW and the Security Council.  She called on Iran to implement the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, fully cooperate with IAEA efforts and ratify the additional protocol to its safeguards agreement.

The representative of Israel said her delegation would vote against “L.2/Rev.1”, as the text was an unfortunate attempt to divert the Committee’s attention away from the real proliferation challenges facing the Middle East.  That approach served neither the interests of regional States nor those of the international community, she said.  Although the text had been altered from previous versions, the change introduced was by no means an attempt to reconcile differences.  Not only did the draft resolution distort the truth, it also failed to genuinely address the real weapons of mass destruction risks in the region.  The authors of the resolution neglected to mention that four regional countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria - had violated Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations and promoted a clandestine military nuclear programme that contravened their international commitments.

The representative of the United States said his delegation would vote against “L.2/Rev.1”, as in past years, because the draft text would not advance the goal of a Middle East without weapons of mass destruction.  That goal would involve the constructive participation on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at, he stressed.  Singling out one State while ignoring significant security concerns would not be productive.  He called for inclusive discussions and renewed dialogue so that real progress could be achieved.

The Committee then considered a draft resolution on “the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East” (document A/C.1/71/L.2/Rev.1), which would have the Assembly call for the speedy and full implementation of commitments made regarding the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, as contained in conclusions of the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference and in the resolution adopted by the 1995 Review and Extension Conference of the Parties to the Treaty.

Also by the draft text, the Assembly would reaffirm the importance of Israel’s accession to the Treaty and placement of all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards, in realizing the goal of universal adherence to the Treaty in the Middle East.

First, the Committee approved retaining preambular paragraph 5 by a vote of 165 in favour to 2 against (Israel, India), 2 abstentions (Bhutan, Pakistan).

The Committee then approved the retention of preambular paragraph 6 by a vote of 163 in favour to 2 against (Israel, India) and 2 abstentions (Bhutan, Pakistan).

The Committee then approved the draft, as a whole, by a vote of 147 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Micronesia, Namibia, Palau, United States), with 21 abstentions.

The Committee then took up a draft resolution on “Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco)” (document A/C.1/71/L.34/Rev.1), by which the Assembly would welcome the fact that the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco) is in force for all sovereign States of the region.

The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.

The representative of Switzerland, explaining his delegation’s vote in favour of “L.2/Rev.1”, regretted to note the current stalemate.  However, establishing such a zone was essential, and Switzerland would support any structured processes towards that goal.  Pointing out that the text had singled out one country, he said that by voting in favour of the text, Switzerland had emphasized the importance of implementing all provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in the region.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, explaining his delegation’s vote in favour of “L.2/Rev.1,” expressed strong support for a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  He also underlined the importance of confidence-building measures.  However, he said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea disassociated itself from the general call for universal adherence to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which did not conform to the country’s position.  He added that his delegation had voted against the draft resolution titled “Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (document A/C.1/71/L.28), emphasizing that Security Council resolutions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had no legality, no morality and no fairness.

The representative of India said her delegation had abstained on “L.2/Rev.1” and had voted against preambular paragraphs 5 and 6, which should have been limited to the region to which the text had addressed.  She noted that India was not a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and not bound by its outcome documents.

The representative of Namibia said his delegation had inadvertently voted against “L.2/Rev.1” and asked that it be recorded as a vote in favour.

The representative of Pakistan said he had voted in favour of “L.2/Rev.1”.  He also emphasized that Pakistan was not a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and was not bound by its conclusions and recommendations.

The representative of Syria said his delegation had voted in favour of “L.2/Rev.1” out of the belief that the issue was an important one for peace and security in the region and the world.  Syria had been among the first countries to call for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction, having adhered to the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1969.  In 2003, he added, Syria had submitted a proposal to the Security Council on an initiative to achieve that lofty goal, and it had also called on the General Assembly to supervise the implementation of efforts with the participation of all stakeholders.

He said Israel had wanted to distract attention away from the fact that it had not adhered to the Non-Proliferation Treaty nor submitted its facilities to IAEA safeguards.  The European Union had cast doubt on Syria vis-à-vis cooperation with IAEA initiatives.  That had distracted attention from Israel’s rejection of its obligations in the Middle East, he said, adding that European Union representatives were not a position to give lessons or to criticize others.  Many member States of the European Union were not complying with the Non-Proliferation Treaty, with some having nuclear weapons on their territory while supplying Israel with material and technology to build weapons of mass destruction.  Syria had tried to implement its Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations and follow comprehensive IAEA safeguards.  It had also received Agency inspectors to monitor its activities.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said all western capitals who purported to uphold democratic values needed to open their eyes and remember what was actually happening in Ukraine.  As a result of a coup d’état, the most dubious pro-fascist forces had come to power in Kyiv.  The whole population in the south-east of the country had been declared terrorists by Kyiv authorities and attacked, causing more than 5,000 deaths.  Still, Ukraine’s delegate had kept talking about Russian aggression.  In February 2015, full-scale hostilities had been halted in Donbass and the Minsk Agreements had been agreed upon.  While a key part of the Agreements was ensuring that the Kyiv regime stopped its hostilities in the south-east of the country and gave people the opportunity to determine their own future, the authorities had not upheld any of those requirements.

The representative of the United States said the Russian Federation continued to violate Ukraine’s territorial integrity.  The international community must put pressure on the Russian Federation until it fulfilled its obligations under the Minsk Agreements and returned Crimea to Ukraine.

The representative of Ukraine said that following the remarks of the delegate from the Russian Federation, all could now hear what Russia propaganda sounded like.  He was telling lies and she was sorry for the time wasted before the Committee.  Prior to voting, Member States should consider the dangerous propaganda that was being perpetuated by the Russian Federation.

The representative of the Russian Federation said his country was upholding the Minsk Agreements.  The situation in Ukraine was the result of the unconstitutional coup d’état that had been supported by the United States and European Union countries.  The people living in Crimea had held a referendum and had decided to live separately from the Ukraine.  That exercise had been a true example of democracy.

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