Daily Archives: October 24, 2018

WHO: ‘Very Serious’ Ebola Situation in Eastern DRC

Violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is hampering efforts to contain an Ebola outbreak that has already killed more than 150 people, according to the World Health Organization.

“It’s a very serious situation. This is something that we have been fearing from the beginning; that the security situation will influence the response to the level that we cannot really function fully,” says a WHO spokesman, Tarik Jasarevic.

The outbreak in Congo’s North Kivu province is in a conflict zone where dozens of armed groups operate. Aid agencies have been forced to suspend or slow down their work on several occasions since the outbreak began in July.

Health workers killed

It happened again over the weekend, when two health agents with Congo’s military were killed by rebels. The next day, residents in the city of Beni pelted aid groups’ vehicles with stones during a protest against a separate rebel attack that killed at least 13 people.

Jasarevic tells VOA’s English-to-Africa service that the incidents have forced Ebola containment teams to severely curtail their operations. The result?

“Contacts will not be followed; this is something that has to be done on a daily basis. People who may develop the disease will not go immediately to treatment centers and will present danger to their environment,” he says.

Containment delayed

That means health workers will have to essentially start over to locate contacts of Ebola victims and ensure they are vaccinated.

“In case we are not able to access communities, if in case response measures are not being put in place safe burials, contact tracing, vaccinations, provision of treatment to those who are sick � it is really difficult to hope that the Ebola outbreak can be contained on its own,” Jasarevic says.

Latest numbers

According to the WHO’s most recent report, released Tuesday, a total of 238 confirmed and probable Ebola Virus Disease cases have been reported in Congo’s North Kivu and Ituri provinces. It said 155 people have died.

The WHO has warned the virus could spread to nearby countries, such as Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

“Neighboring countries need to be ready in case the outbreak spreads beyond the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” said the latest WHO report.

Source: Voice of America

West Africa’s Ebola Outbreak Cost $53 Billion: Study

An Ebola outbreak that ravaged Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia in 2014 cost economies an estimated $53 billion, according to a study in this month’s Journal of Infectious Diseases.

The study aimed to combine the direct economic burden and the indirect social impact to generate a comprehensive cost of the outbreak, which was the worst in the world.

The outbreak ran from 2013 to 2016 and killed at least 11,300 people, more than all other known Ebola outbreaks combined. The vast majority of cases were in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The report’s authors, Caroline Huber, Lyn Finelli and Warren Stevens, put the economic costs at $14 billion and said the human cost was even greater, based on the people affected and a dollar figure that reflects the value of each human life.

The total is far higher than previous estimates. In October 2014, the World Bank said the Ebola epidemic could cost $32.6 billion by the end of 2015 in a worst case scenario, but by November 2014 it dialled back that forecast to $3-4 billion. In 2016 the World Bank estimate of economic loss was $2.8 billion.

The 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) cost an estimated $40 billion, while the 2015-2016 Zika virus outbreak in the Americas was estimated to have caused $20 billion in social costs, the new study said.

But a repeat of the 1918 influenza pandemic could cost an annual 700,000 lives and $490 billion, the authors said, citing research published in 2016.

The new Ebola study factored in the impact on healthworkers, long-term conditions suffered by 17,000 Ebola survivors, and costs of treatment, infection control, screening and deployment of personnel beyond West Africa.

The biggest cost not previously accounted for was deaths from other diseases, as Ebola tied up healthcare resources and hospital admissions fell dramatically, adding $18.8 billion to the total bill.

During the outbreak there were 10,623 additional deaths from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, with 3.5 million additional untreated malaria cases.

Measles caused 2,000-16,000 extra deaths as 1 million children missed being vaccinated for measles, and 600,000-700,000 missed other vaccines.

But the authors added that they had limited information on the cost of deploying international health staff and military personnel, and they were obliged to place a value on human life, a widely accepted economic measurement.

Although the “value of a statistical life” (VSL) in North America and Europe is estimated at $7 million-9 million, the authors said, they took a figure from the only study in a West African context, with a VSL of $577,000 in Sierra Leone.

Source: Voice of America

Algerian Lawmakers Oust parliament Speaker, Elect Youthful Replacement

Algeria’s governing coalition elected a relatively youthful new parliamentary speaker on Wednesday to replace Said Bouhadja whom it accused of mismanagement.

The new speaker, MouadBouchared, is aged 47 � unusually young for a country where many senior officials are in their 70s and above.

His election may be a sign that the ruling National Liberation Front seeks to rejuvenate a political elite which is dominated by figures from the war of independence against France which ended in 1962.

Lawmakers of the FLN and its coalition partner, the Democratic National Rally, accused Bouhadja, who is around 80, of mismanagement in the job of speaker.

But opposition lawmakers boycotted the parliamentary session in solidarity with Bouhadja who described his ousting as illegal and was quoted by the private Echorouk TV channel as saying: “I will not resign.”

President AbdelazizBouteflika’s office did not comment.

Bouteflika, 81, who has rarely been seen in public since he suffered a stroke in 2013, has not yet said whether he will seek a fifth term in next April’s election but his supporters have repeatedly urged him to stand.

Source: Voice of America

Amid Reports of Continued Chemical Weapon Use, First Committee Delegates Debate How Best to Effectively Eliminate Banned Lethal Agents

Spotlighting continued violations of bans on chemical and biological weapons, delegates discussed how best to effectively address those threats and ensure the destruction of remaining stockpiles, as the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) continued its debate on other weapons of mass destruction.

Raising concerns about continued violations, some representatives called on the international community to preserve global norms and a century long effort to outlaw such materials. Many pointed to targeted attacks and the disturbing use of lethal chemical agents in Syria, Iraq, Malaysia and the United Kingdom as instruments of assassination. Some delegates voiced grave concerns at existing stockpiles, calling for their immediate destruction.

New Zealand’s delegate warned Member States that complacency on the matter could contribute to an erosion of the core principles of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction. Highlighting the indiscriminate nature of a chemical weapon attack, she said the breach of international law is particularly abhorrent when it involves weapons so clearly incapable of distinguishing between civilians and combatants.

Expressing concerns about the continued use of chemical weapons in Syria and the incident in Salisbury, Ukraine’s representative said such acts cannot be left unanswered. This would undermine a basic sense of justice and lead to the erosion of the non proliferation and disarmament regimes.

Many delegates expressed support for a decision made in June at the fourth Special Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention that would allow the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to identify the parties responsible for the use of such weapons. Meanwhile, Latvia’s delegate, among others, expressed dismay at an attempted cyberattack in April against OPCW, while calling on the international community to strongly oppose and deter efforts to interfere with its work.

The peaceful and legitimate use of such weapons also featured prominently throughout the discussion, with representatives of several developing States, including Cuba, highlighting the importance of article 11 of the Chemical Weapons Convention regarding economic and technological development.

Other delegates stressed the importance of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction. Some emphasized the numerous challenges it faces, including keeping up with rapid progress in biological sciences and ensuring strong national implementation programmes.

Voicing a common concern about the risk of weapons of mass destruction falling into the wrong hands, Kazakhstan’s representative said technological advances exacerbate the threat of terrorism and make negotiations for a convention for the suppression of acts of chemical and biological terrorism increasingly relevant. Similarly, Nepal’s delegate called for a universal, non discriminatory and legally binding mechanism to tackle the issue of biological threats.

The Committee also began consideration of the disarmament aspects of outer space.

Delivering statements on the issue of other weapons of mass destruction were the representatives of Paraguay, Switzerland, Canada, Egypt, Mexico, India, South Africa, Ireland, Japan, Germany, France, Algeria, Pakistan, Poland, Indonesia, Qatar and Hungary.

On the issue of outer space, the representatives of Indonesia (on behalf of the Non Aligned Movement), Egypt (on behalf of the Arab Group), Malaysia (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), United States and Switzerland, as well as the European Union delivered statements.

The representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Syria and France spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The First Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 24 October, to continue its thematic debates on weapons of mass destruction and on outer space.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to continue its thematic debate on other weapons of mass destruction. For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3597 of 8 October.

Other Weapons of Mass Destruction

ENRIQUE JOSA� MARA�A CARRILLO GA�MEZ (Paraguay) said that the prohibition and elimination of weapons of mass destruction are necessary conditions for international peace and security. As a State party to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction, Paraguay urges all States to refrain from any act that undermines the aims of these instruments and to encourage their universalization. In cooperation with the Counter Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, his Government is working to develop an institutional framework to combat terrorism and help to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction by non State actors.

SABRINA DALLAFIOR (Switzerland) called on Member States to accede to both the biological and chemical weapons conventions if they have not yet done so, underscoring the importance of their universal ratification. The repeated use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), as confirmed by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism in 2016 and 2017, is an unprecedented violation of the norm. The use of a Novichok class of nerve agent in the United Kingdom is illegal, she said, expressing her Government’s full confidence in the results of the OPCW and United Kingdom investigation. Therefore, the Russian Federation should clarify the origin of the nerve agent and disclose any nerve agent development programmes and stockpiles to OPCW. Switzerland supports the decision made in June on OPWC at the fourth Special Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which called for establishing a mechanism to identify the parties responsible for use of such weapons. The Biological Weapons Convention faces numerous challenges, including a need for stronger national implementation and for keeping up with a rapid progress in biological sciences.

ROSEMARY MCCARNEY (Canada) said the taboo against the use of chemical weapons has been broken. Toxic chemicals have been used as weapons in Iraq, Malaysia, Syria and the United Kingdom. Many chemical weapon attacks in Syria remain unattributed due to the Russian Federation’s veto in the Security Council of the renewal of the Joint Investigative Mechanism. Canada welcomes the June decision to broaden the OPCW mandate and will continue to do its part to mitigate chemical weapon threats globally, having, to date, contributed more than $41 million for destruction, monitoring, verification and investigation efforts in Iraq, Libya and Syria.

BASSEM YEHIA HASSAN KASSEM HASSAN (Egypt) said that even though the Middle East is fraught with chronic tension and instability, his country acceded to the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in goodwill and implemented all its provisions. Yet, a zone free of weapons of mass destruction has not yet been established, creating a security imbalance due to one party’s obstruction of efforts in this regard. He called on Member States to rid the Middle East of such weapons and redress the imbalances of the region. Opposed to the use of such armaments, Egypt supports the biological and chemical weapons conventions, all relevant Security Council resolutions and efforts to implement resolution 1540 (2004) to prevent non State actors from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. He pointed out the clear contradiction of States calling for the universalization of these conventions, while failing to call on Israel to accede to the Non Proliferation Treaty. These States are also reluctant to support a conference to negotiate a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East on the pretext that security conditions in the region are not favourable, he said, reminding them that humanitarian principles are indivisible and that the security of all States should be treated equally without double standards.

ANDREJS PILDEGOVICS (Latvia) strongly condemned the use of chemical weapons by State and non State actors under any circumstances. Expressing dismay at an attempted cyberattack in April against OPCW, he said the international community must strongly oppose and deter any such efforts to undermine the global norm or interfere with the Organisation’s work. Moreover, he expressed regret that it was not possible to renew the Joint Investigative Mechanism mandate in November, welcoming a decision to enhance the capacity of the OPCW Technical Secretariat. United and coordinated multilateral action is the only way forward to effectively tackle the threats posed by weapons of mass destruction, he said, adding that Latvia welcomes the adoption of a new European Union autonomous sanctions regime designed to fight the proliferation of chemical weapons and their precursors.

SOCORRO FLORES LIERA (Mexico) expressed concern about the United States withdrawal from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, formally known as the Treaty between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate Range and Shorter Range Missiles. Cautioning that the decision would erode confidence in global disarmament efforts, she urged the United States and the Russian Federation to spare no efforts to avoid jeopardizing international security. The First Committee is also meeting at the time when the norms on chemical weapons have been violated. Categorically condemning the use of such weapons, she said perpetrators must be held accountable. The Chemical Weapons Convention is an outcome of effective multilateralism, she said, adding that his delegation welcomes the June decision to broaden the OPCW mandate.

SANDEEP KUMAR BAYYAPU (India), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, said the use of chemical weapons cannot be justified under any circumstances and perpetrators of such abhorrent acts must be held accountable. All investigations into the alleged use of such weapons should be conducted in an impartial and objective manner, strictly in accordance with the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention. India has the second largest number of declared facilities and receives among the largest number of OPCW industry inspections, he said, adding that Convention provisions must be implemented in a manner that does not hinder legitimate activities.

ANAYANSI RODRA�GUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba) said her country strictly complies with provisions of biological and chemical weapons conventions. Cuba firmly rejects the use of such weapons under any conditions. To achieve the objectives of the Chemical Weapons Convention, she called on the United States to complete the destruction of its declared stockpiles. Likewise, she called for the full implementation of article 11 of the Convention regarding economic and technological development. She condemned the attack by the United States on 13 April against military and civilian installations in Syria under the pretext of the Government’s use of chemical weapons, despite having no proof. Moreover, she called for a knowledge exchange on chemical and biological activities for peaceful purposes in line with relevant conventions. She went on to condemn the United States blockade against Cuba, while stressing the central role of the United Nations in matters relating to disarmament and non proliferation.

NATASHA MALEKANE (South Africa) underscored the importance of implementing all provisions of the biological and chemical weapons conventions and urged all possessors of such weapons to accelerate disarmament and non proliferation efforts. Expressing concern that chemical weapons have been used in Malaysia, Syria and the United Kingdom, she said her country condemns any use of such weapons. Voicing concerns that OPCW has been polarized by taking a decision by vote, not by consensus, she anticipated the forthcoming Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention to hear details of the attribution mechanism for the use of chemical weapons. Her delegation will continue to work to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention. The universality of both instruments is critical, she said, welcoming the recent accession of the State of Palestine while urging States that have not yet done so to join the treaties.

ASSYLBEK TAUASSAROV (Kazakhstan) said that through the Biological Weapons Convention the international community committed itself to eliminating an entire category of weapons of mass destruction. He said technological advances exacerbate the threat of terrorism and make negotiations of an international convention for the suppression of acts of chemical and biological terrorism increasingly relevant. Biological research must not be allowed to pose a threat to security. States in possession of chemical weapons must fulfil their obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and must destroy their arsenals within agreed time frames. Kazakhstan supports a weapons of mass destruction free Middle East, he said, voicing regret that a conference on the matter has still not been convened.

FRANK GROOME (Ireland), associating himself with the European Union, said the Non Proliferation Treaty, the biological and chemical weapons conventions and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons are all key in achieving a world free of weapons of mass destruction. However, it is deeply shocking that the international community is still confronted with the use of chemical weapons despite international law prohibiting them, he added. The repeated use of veto powers in the Security Council to prevent moves towards accountability for chemical weapon use in Syria is highly regrettable. The failure to ensure effective accountability only serves to embolden those who dare to use such banned weapons. Strengthening the non proliferation regime is a high priority for Ireland. The role played by export control regimes is an essential part of ensuring the best possible standards are applied to sensitive technology transfers. Ireland is a strong supporter of The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation and continues to support the important goal of achieving a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

NOBUSHIGE TAKAMIZAWA (Japan) said that although progress has been made under the Chemical Weapons Convention, the continued use of these substances in recent years has become a serious and urgent issue. Welcoming the June decision to broaden the mandate of OPCW, Japan looks forward to working closely with other States parties to translate it into action. Highlighting the increased threat posed by non State actors, he called on States to prevent chemical and toxic substances from falling into the wrong hands and encouraged the remaining non member States to reconsider their position or to facilitate internal processes for an early accession to the Convention. Having invested a significant amount of human and financial resources to destroy abandoned chemical weapons in China, Japan takes its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention seriously. While the ongoing project faces various challenges, consistent progress is being made, he said, noting the destruction of 51,000 of the 63,000 recovered chemical weapons. Progress has been made possible through valuable, on-site joint efforts with China. He also underlined the importance of international collaboration and confidence building measures in the national implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention.

PETER BEERWERTH (Germany), associating himself with the European Union, said the Chemical Weapons Convention is a truly successful and relevant multilateral non proliferation, arms control and disarmament treaty. In this vein, he highlighted the completion of the destruction in Germany of Libya’s remaining chemical weapon precursors and the completion of the destruction by Iraq of remnants of its chemical weapons. Germany strongly condemns the cyberoperation that targeted OPWC, noting that the attack was successfully disrupted by Dutch authorities. Regarding the Biological Weapons Convention, he said rapid developments in the field of biotechnology and life sciences must be carefully monitored in view of their dual use potential. Cases of alleged attempts of bioterrorism demonstrate a need for adequate national implementation measures.

SURENDRA THAPA (Nepal), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, said his country is committed to implementing disarmament related international treaties and is free from all types of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems and does not manufacture, import or export any such weapon nor does it intend to do so. The use of weapons of mass destruction is a crime against humanity and perpetrators must always be held accountable. As a State party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, Nepal has always been careful to regulate the cross border movement of such goods. He called for a universal, non discriminatory and legally binding mechanism to tackle the issue of biological threats. Despite an unwavering commitment to disarmament and non proliferation, some least developed countries still lack adequate technical and financial resources and enforcement capabilities to comply with provisions of various treaties. As such, he called for the international community to focus on strengthening the institutional capacity of these countries in this regard.

YANN HWANG (France) said that the international community is facing the most serious proliferation crisis of the century in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. While ongoing diplomatic efforts are commendable, the country has not put a stop to its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, which are a continuing threat to international peace and security. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea also has a chemical weapons programme, he said, adding that his delegation expects it to take real and tangible steps towards the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of its illegal weapons programmes. On Iran, he said the provisions of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action must be rigorously and transparently implemented, adding that there is no credible and effective alternative. His delegation is very concerned about the rapid development of Iran’s ballistic missile programme. He also welcomed the June decision to broaden the mandate of OPCW.

MUSTAPHA ABBANI (Algeria), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, African Group and the Arab Group, said bans on weapons of mass destruction constitute a priority in global disarmament and non proliferation efforts. The two treaties prohibiting biological and chemical weapons bear great importance towards achieving a world free of such weapons. Taking note of all the gains achieved under OPCW, he completely rejects any use of such weapons by anyone for any reason. Algeria hopes to see greater international cooperation in the peaceful use of technology to strengthen the economy of nations. He underscored a need for the balanced implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention and a need to prevent the emergence of new kinds of weapons of mass destruction. He also called for the establishment of a zone in the Middle East free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

JEHANZEB KHAN (Pakistan) said the biological and chemical weapons conventions are important pillars of the international security architecture. At the same time, Pakistan values the Biological Weapons Convention’s potential for promoting international cooperation in the peaceful uses of life sciences. In that regard, Pakistan is seeking to further strengthen the legislative, regulatory and administrative framework to regulate life sciences and enhance biosafety and biosecurity regulations. Turning to the Chemical Weapons Convention, he called for preserving the objectivity and credibility of OPCW and its verification regime, adding that distortions to its mandate must be avoided. In addition, OPCW should be strengthened to deal with the ongoing and future challenges of the Convention. Highlighting measures Pakistan has taken to address the threat of chemical and biological weapons by non State actors, he said comprehensive reports have been submitted to the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004). Pakistan also supports the Russian Federation’s proposal for an international convention to be negotiated in the Conference on Disarmament to address acts of chemical and biological terrorism.

DELL HIGGIE (New Zealand) urged countries that have not acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention � namely South Sudan, Israel, Egypt and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea � to do so without delay. The breach of international humanitarian law is particularly abhorrent when it involves weapons so clearly incapable of distinguishing between civilians and combatants. In addition, OPCW recorded more than 100 instances of alleged chemical weapon use in Syria from 2015 to 8 October 2018. She also condemned the highly disturbing instances of the use of lethal chemical agents as instruments of assassination in Syria, Iraq, Malaysia and the United Kingdom. Any complacency on the part of Member States could contribute to an erosion of the core principles of the Chemical Weapons Convention, she warned, adding that the international community must guard against the undermining of the success of the century long effort to outlaw these weapons.

MARCIN KAWALOWSKI (Poland) said his delegation is introducing a draft resolution on the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which is a national priority. The key goal of the draft resolution is to provide strong and unambiguous support from the whole international community to uphold the Convention’s integrity, he said, also emphasizing the critical role of OPCW and its many efforts and achievements. In 2018, Poland was confronted with fundamentally divergent views of some Member States. Finding middle ground proved to be even more challenging than in the past, he said, ensuring that Poland, as the sole sponsor, has done its utmost to table an effective draft resolution.

FAIZAL CHERY SIDHARTA (Indonesia), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said his Government established the National Authority on the Chemical Weapons Convention and is working to plan, enforce, observe and evaluate the use of related substances for peaceful purposes. It is undertaking an enhancement in cooperation with international organizations and States parties to the Convention. Indonesia is pleased that the Meeting of the States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention in 2017 successfully reached consensus on an intersessionalprogramme from 2018 to 2020. His delegation takes note with interest the outcome of the 2018 Meeting of Experts in August and hopes that these efforts will contribute to strengthen the Convention, including a resumption of multilateral negotiations for a legally binding protocol on a verification regime.

TALAL RASHID N. M. AL-KHALIFA (Qatar) expressed grave concern over the spread of conflict and the use of extremely dangerous weapons by armed groups. His Government condemns the possession and development of such weapons, which runs counter to the objective of creating a peaceful world. Drawing attention to Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), he said weapons of mass destruction should not fall into the hands of non State parties and terrorists. The Chemical Weapons Convention contributed to global efforts in the field of disarmament and counter terrorism, but violations of its provisions are unacceptable and perpetrators must be held accountable. The international community does not tolerate the use of such weapons in Syria, which amounts to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Qatar has held many trainings and seminars in cooperation with OPCW and has implemented its obligations under the Non Proliferation Treaty.

GYORGY MOLNA�R (Hungary) introduced a draft resolution on the Biological Weapons Convention. The instrument is a fundamental pillar of the international community’s effort against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, he said, adding that the draft resolution reflects progress made in the universalization of the Convention. It also highlights the serious financial situation of the Convention, which requires States parties to take urgent action.

VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) expressed concern over the continued use of chemical weapons in Syria, as documented in several OPCW fact finding mission reports. Condemning the use of chemical weapons, he called for perpetrators to be held accountable. The incident in Salisbury is another example of a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and international law. Any such act cannot be left unanswered, as it undermines a basic sense of justice and leads to the erosion of the non proliferation and disarmament regime, which consequently undermines global security. He welcomed the decision to broaden the OPCW mandate in this regard. He went on to note the importance of the proper implementation of resolution 1540 (2004), an important tool to address the evolving risk of the use of weapons of mass destruction by non State actors.

Outer Space

FAIZAL CHERY SIDHARTA (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non Aligned Movement, recognized the common interest of all humankind and the inalienable right of all States in the exploration and use of outer space for exclusively peaceful purposes. He emphasized the importance of strict compliance with existing disarmament agreements relevant to outer space and pointed to an urgent need for substantive work on the prevention of an arms race in outer space. He welcomed General Assembly resolutions on the peaceful use of outer space and the prevention of an arms race in this realm.

He said the Non Aligned Movement urges all Member States to contribute actively to the goal of preventing an arms race in outer space, as an essential condition for the promotion of international cooperation in its exploitation and use. He voiced concern about the negative implications of the development and deployment of anti ballistic missile defence systems and the threat of the weaponization of outer space. He reaffirmed a need for a universal, comprehensive and non discriminatory multilateral approach towards the issue of missiles in all its aspects. Any initiative on this subject should take into account the security concerns of all States and their inherent right to the peaceful use of space technologies, he said.

BASSEM YEHIA HASSAN KASSEM HASSAN (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the League of Arab States, underscored that because outer space is a property of humankind and does not belong to a particular party, its use must be codified. There is a need for an international consensus to prevent an arms race in outer space. However, outer space governance should not prevent its legitimate use for peaceful purposes. Outer space is not the place to test or deploy weapons and related technologies. The Arab Group welcomes the work of the Governmental Group of Experts on a legally binding instrument to prevent an arms race in outer space, he said, expressing hope for the commencement of negotiations on such a treaty.

MOHD SUHAIMI AHMAD TAJUDDIN (Malaysia), speaking on behalf of ASEAN, reaffirmed the imperative of preventing an arms race in outer space and welcomed the establishment of the Group of Governmental Experts on the subject. Expressing hope that its work will be transparent and inclusive, he anticipated a dialogue on how international law can be applied to the conduct of States in outer space. Given the rapid development and deployment of new space technologies, such nuanced questions will assume increasingly practical relevance.

All States must ensure that the use and exploration of outer space are exclusively peaceful, he continued, noting the vital role of the General Assembly in fostering dialogue on current issues and challenges in the field. In that connection, Member States should consider holding meetings on an ad hoc basis, such as those held by the First Committee and Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) during the seventieth Session. Indeed, United Nations led mechanisms are the most suitable avenue for deliberation on space related challenges. At the same time, confidence building measures play a critical role in preventing an arms race in outer space, he continued, noting Southeast Asia’s support for related initiatives through platforms such as the ASEAN regional forum.

ANNE KEMPPAINEN, of the European Union delegation, expressed support for the preservation of a safe and secure space environment on an equitable and mutually acceptable basis. The European Union recognizes outer space as a global common good to be used for the benefit of all. Strengthening the safety, security, sustainability and peaceful nature of outer space activities is best achieved through international cooperation. The European Union and the European Space Agency together have the second largest budget for space in the world.

Both a responsibility and a global common resource, space requires global governance, she continued, affirming that the 1967 Outer Space Treaty remains the cornerstone of global governance of this realm. Underlining the importance of transparency and confidence building measures, she voiced support for efforts to pursue political commitments through codes of conduct. The European Union will continue to promote principles of responsible behaviour in the framework of the United Nations and other multilateral forums. She went on to express concern about the continued development of anti satellite weapons and capabilities, including terrestrially based armaments, highlighting a need to address such developments promptly as part of international efforts to prevent an arms race in outer space.

YLEEM D.S. POBLETE (United States) raised several concerns about the Russian Federation and its space apparatus inspector and statements made by its space troops commander and military officials. Such statements included that new prototypes of weapons into space forces’ military units is a main task facing the aerospace forces space troops and that the Russian Federation’s space troops have delivered a combat laser system. Furthermore, the Russian Federation claims to be developing missiles that can be launched from an aircraft mid flight to destroy American satellites. Such developments are yet further proof that the Russian Federation’s military actions do not match their diplomatic rhetoric. In addition, the drafters of the no first placement resolution and the draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space are actually also developing capabilities designed to attack satellites in space � the very thing that they claim to seek to prohibit. Such proposals are fundamentally flawed and are advanced by a country that has routinely violated its international obligations. For its part, the United States continues to support the Committee’s resolution on transparency and confidence building measures.

SABRINA DALLAFIOR (Switzerland) highlighted progress in 2018 on strengthening international norms and ensuring security in space and the safety and long term sustainability of activities there. In the Conference on Disarmament, discussions are helping to strengthen mutual understanding among Member States, she said, expressing hope they will prepare the ground for the possible development of new instruments for preventing an arms race in outer space. The participation of major space powers in the Group of Governmental Experts on Further Practical Measures for the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space is encouraging, she said, also noting with appreciation the Disarmament Commission’s work on transparency. In addition, the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space finalized nine supplementary guidelines, she said, demonstrating the goodwill of all States involved. Switzerland supports the proposal discussed within the Fourth Committee for a new joint meeting in 2019.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, rejected allegations made by his counterpart from France that his country is continuing with the development of weapons of mass destruction. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea undertook a number of measures, including the discontinuation of intercontinental ballistic missile launches. Instead of welcoming Pyongyang’s significant contribution to international nuclear disarmament efforts, the French delegate made provocative allegations. The French delegate believes that nuclear weapons are safe in their hands but dangerous in the hands of others, he said, adding that France should follow the good example of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in its denuclearization efforts. He also rejected allegations about chemical weapons programmes.

The representative of Syria said his Government condemns any use of chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Syria honoured its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, confirmed by United Nations officials. Some delegations cited the Joint Investigative Mechanism report, which was governed by States that sponsor terrorists. Therefore, Syria rejects all allegations made by a number of delegates, including those from Canada, Germany and Switzerland.

The representative of France commended the diplomatic efforts on the Korean Peninsula and encouraged these positive developments. However, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must end its illegal nuclear weapons and chemical weapons programmes, which are of concern to all, in a verifiable and irreversible manner.

Source: United Nations

MEC Ismail Vadi on Rand West City Registration Authority Search and Seizure Operation

Search and Seizure Operation conducted at Rand West City Registration Authority in Westonaria

Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport, Ismail Vadi, said that an early morning search and seizure operation is underway at a Rand West municipal vehicle registration centre in Westonaria, resulting in a temporary suspension of services at the centre.

He said that the joint operation is being conducted by members of the South African Police Services (SAPS) and the National Anti-Corruption Unit of the Road Transport Management Corporation (RTMC).

They, together with members of the Insurance Crime Bureau, had combined their capabilities to uncover fraudulent transactions in the vehicle registration processes in Westonaria, explained Vadi.

Due to the investigations the Centre will remain closed to the public until further notice.

All attempts are being made by the ANC-led provincial government to address the scourge of corruption within the vehicle registration system.

The public is heavily dependent on the integrity of the system to protect them from being targets of vehicle related crime and from unknowingly purchasing vehicles that originate from various crimes, added Vadi.

He stated that the provincial roads and transport department was made aware of an erroneous transaction performed at the Westonaria Registration Authority, which prompted the investigation.

Consequently, audits were conducted and system users were identified who are suspected of being involved in the cloning of vehicles, wherein stolen vehicles are re-registered on the records of similar, non-stolen vehicles, he explained.

The illegal transactions are linked to vehicles stolen and then re-registered on export records on the national transport information system.

The search and seizure operations are being conducted at the licensing centre itself and at several private premises.

Vadi said that the current operation is part of an ongoing investigation into irregularities in Westonaria and at several other licensing centres in the province.

Source: Government of South Africa