Drawing attention to the daunting challenges and long-term consequences posed by explosive remnants of war, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) continued its debate on conventional weapons as delegates pointed to progress made through multilateral instruments in clearance operations.
Norway’s delegate, echoing a common view, said the single most successful multilateral arms treaty of recent times is the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, known as the Ottawa Convention. Also making a substantial difference to human security is the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Delegates whose countries continue to face the consequences of explosive remnants of war shared their experiences. The representative of Lao People’s Democratic Republic recounted the traumatic impact of explosive remnants of war on her country, which has been heavily contaminated with unexploded ordnance. Such weapons have also affected the nation’s socioeconomic development and poverty eradication efforts, she said, calling for the universalization of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Iraq’s representative said his country continues to deal with explosive remnants of war that pose a great threat to both humanity and the environment. Outlining an example, he said that in the areas liberated from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), demining operations and educational programmes on anti-personnel mines are taking place prior to permitting displaced persons to return home.
Indonesia’s delegate condemned the continued use of anti-personnel mines in conflicts in contravention of the international humanitarian law. “These have maimed, killed and terrorized innocent populations in many regions,” he said, underscoring a need for the full implementation of the Ottawa Convention. While international assistance remains vital in landmine clearance operations and victims’ rehabilitation, equally critical is national ownership by affected States to ensure victims are rehabilitated properly.
Pointing to progress being made, Turkey’s representative said her country has fulfilled its commitments related to article 4 of the Ottawa Convention, destroying approximately three million anti-personnel mines. Similarly, Spain’s delegate confirmed that his country has eradicated all its cluster munitions accordance with the Convention and is committed to victim assistance efforts.
Likewise, Italy’s delegate said assisting survivors and their families is a fundamental component of humanitarian aid and a key element in long-term development strategies. Indeed, the universalization and full implementation of the Ottawa Convention is among his country’s priorities, with Italy’s contributions to mine-action programmes totalling almost €55 million since 2001.
In the afternoon, the Committee held a panel discussion with the Chief of the Regional Disarmament Branch, and the Directors of the three United Nations Regional Centres for Peace and Disarmament.
Also delivering statements were the representatives of Kazakhstan, Ireland, Ghana, Guatemala, Germany, Costa Rica, Greece, France, Algeria, Austria, Pakistan, Madagascar, New Zealand, Poland, Djibouti, Portugal, Ukraine, Argentina, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Australia, Brazil, Kuwait, China, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cambodia, Eritrea, Bulgaria, Israel, Thailand, Nigeria, Malawi, Niger, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Iran, Mali, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, El Salvador, Zambia, Japan, Ecuador, Togo, Botswana and Albania.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Argentina, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Russian Federation, Iran and Ukraine.
The First Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 30 October, to continue its thematic discussion on regional disarmament.
ZHANGELDY SYRYMBET (Kazakhstan) expressed support for arms control instruments, including the Arms Trade Treaty, Programme of Action on Small Arms and the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects, also known as the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. On the latter, Kazakhstan supports the humanitarian aspect, as the international community must protect civilians from harm caused by such inhumane weapons, and does not produce and has no intention or plans to produce incendiary munitions covered by the Convention. His delegation supports the creation of the Group of Governmental Experts on lethal autonomous weapons systems to give this issue a more formal approach and contribute to finding ways towards a common understanding and definitions of such weapons. “The danger of the consequences of the development of new technologies, which always have a dual-use purpose, is better to be overestimated than underestimated,” he said, noting that leaders of many States and of international organizations are aware of the influence artificial intelligence has on the future of countries and the entire world.
SOMSANOUK KEOBOUNSAN (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) recounted the traumatic humanitarian and developmental impacts of conventional weapons in her country. Although conventional weapons do not have the same effect as weapons of mass destruction, their extensive use can have long-term consequences, as is the case with explosive remnants of war. Such weapons continue to have a negative impact on livelihoods and hamper development in affected countries. Most parts of her country have been heavily contaminated with unexploded ordnances. During the Indo-China war, between 1964 and 1973, more than 270 million cluster submunitions were dropped on its territory, with 30 per cent failing to detonate upon impact. As a result, explosive remnants of war have presented a daunting challenge to socioeconomic development and poverty eradication efforts. Against that backdrop, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic has been actively promoting the universalization of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
FRANK GROOME (Ireland), associating himself with the European Union, raised grave concerns about the spread of small arms and light weapons, which prolong conflicts, fuel organized crime and contribute to gender-based violence. Ireland strongly supports the Programme of Action on Small Arms and its International Tracing Instrument and cites the Arms Trade Treaty as the cornerstone of efforts against illicit arms proliferation. Expressing further concern over the humanitarian harm caused by explosive ordnances, he called for compliance under international humanitarian law to ensure the protection of civilians during armed conflict. The international community must also consider the potential risks posed by new technologies, including lethal autonomous weapons. Highlighting Ireland’s assistance programmes for humanitarian demining, he expressed support for the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Ottawa Convention and the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.
FRED FRIMPONG (Ghana), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said nuclear-weapon States continue to engage in excessive, competitive spending in the maintenance and modernization of their stockpiles at the expense of human existence. Ghana anticipated the realization of tangible results at the 2020 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Welcoming the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he encouraged States that have not yet signed to do so, adding that the instrument does not establish a competing norm, but rather complements the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Also urging Annex II States that have yet to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty to do so, he went on to call for the consolidation and enhancement of the existing five nuclear-weapon-free zones and urged Member States to give meaning to the various legal instruments they have subscribed to under multilateral platforms.
OMAR CASTAÑEDA SOLARES (Guatemala), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said conventional weapons cause a huge number of deaths and hinder economic and human development. The Arms Trade Treaty is a historic agreement, and his delegation welcomes the recent accession of Suriname and Guinea-Bissau. He then highlighted the outcome achieved at the third Conference to Review Progress Made in the Review Conference on Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, welcoming the inclusion of the gender perspective and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The use of cluster munitions violates international law and humanitarian law, he continued, adding that Central America is a region free of these weapons and emphasizing that States have responsibility to protect civilians from the devastating effects of indiscriminate use of these devices.
PETER BEERWERTH (Germany) expressed his delegation’s commitment to promoting the universalization and effective implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty. Member States must make the best use of the voluntary trust fund, which has more than $5 million at its disposal to support implementation activities. The fund has called for project proposals to be submitted to the Treaty Secretariat by mid‑January. In 2017, Germany proposed dedicating a new group of governmental experts to focus on improved ammunition stockpile management and counter the diversion of conventional ammunition into conflict and crime zones. “Ammunition is indeed the oxygen nourishing conflicts even more so than weapons themselves,” he pointed out. Moreover, the use of weapons systems capable of delivering massive explosive forces has been a defining feature of armed conflict in recent decades. In that regard, Germany has held three events in 2018 and established discussions in Geneva on the use of such explosive weapons in populated areas.
VERÓNICA GARCÍA GUTIÉRREZ (Costa Rica) expressed concern that some countries seek to guarantee their own security through the global trade in arms. Meanwhile, armed conflicts are moving from rural to urban centres, impacting vulnerable civilian populations. The Arms Trade Treaty is unique in bringing together the technological objectives of arms control, along with its humanitarian aspects. She called for enhanced synergies between this instrument and the Programme of Action on Small Arms to combat the illicit trade and promote weapons marking and tracing. Member States must also fight against the excessive production of these weapons and their ammunition. Meanwhile, it is vital to address ethical, legal and technical issues surrounding lethal autonomous weapons, which are in direct violation of international humanitarian law, she said, condemning the use of armed drones outside areas of active hostility.
MARIA THEOFILI (Greece), associating herself with the European Union, said her country was part of the Bureau of the third Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (also known as the Review Conference on the Programme of Action on Small Arms), which addressed the parameters of illicit trade and set thematic points for aspects requiring attention. Some 17 years after the instrument’s adoption, the time is ripe to accelerate work towards synergizing and streamlining efforts linking the illicit trade with the plethora of regional and national initiatives to battle it. Greece has also supported efforts towards the universalization of the Arms Trade Treaty, which today has 130 signatories.
YANN HWANG (France), associating himself with the European Union, said that as chair of the third Review Conference of the Programme of Action on Small Arms, held in June, his delegation is convinced that the event has gathered and remobilized States in trying to achieve common goals, including the fight against the proliferation of these weapons and its disastrous consequences. He commended States for dealing with the issue of lethal autonomous weapons systems, proposed by France in 2013, under the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. France, together with Germany, has formulated substantive proposals to contribute to the work of the Group of Governmental Experts, particularly the project to negotiate a non-legally binding political declaration, and is pleased to see wide support among States.
NAZIM KHALDI (Algeria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, Arab Group and the African Group, said that small arms and light weapons pose a deep and enduring threat to peace, security and stability in Africa. Algeria accords high priority to securing its borders to combat a growing scourge of terrorism in the Sahel region and, within the framework of the Programme of Action on Small Arms, is engaging with affected countries to strengthen security cooperation. Technical assistance and financial support from developed countries, the United Nations and international organizations are crucial to helping the Sahel countries to build local capabilities and fight the illicit arms trade. A significant asset in this fight is the African Police Cooperation Organisation, headquartered in Algiers, he said, noting that it will enhance the continent’s capacity to address terrorism and transnational organized crime.
ELISABETH TICHY-FISSLBERGER (Austria) urged Member States to make best use of the international community’s existing disarmament tool-box. To create a safer world, Member States must uphold instruments agreed upon and join forces to address challenges. As conflicts are increasingly occurring in urban areas, she expressed concern about the harm caused by explosive weapons in civilian areas and called for greater humanitarian protection. Moreover, the current urban context has reverberating effects, she said, causing people to flee their countries. On that issue, she welcomed support from the Secretary-General to develop a political declaration, while underlining the importance of the International Red Cross and civil society in helping to protect civilians. All such weapons must be used in accordance with international humanitarian law and the global community must focus on the related potential impact of technological progress, particularly artificial intelligence. She also called for a legally binding instrument on autonomous weapons, so they are under meaningful control before they enter the battlefield.
JEHANZEB KHAN (Pakistan) said that the present expenditure on international trade in conventional arms is close to $2 trillion. Ironically, the total budget of the United Nations is only 3 per cent of the world’s total military expenditure, with about 33 times more being spent on fuelling and exacerbating conflicts than on preventing them. The same troubling trend is mirrored at the regional level, in particular in South Asia, where one State’s military spending grossly and vastly outnumbers that of others. This has the potential of fuelling instability and jeopardizing a delicate regional balance, he said, emphasizing that Pakistan neither wants nor is engaged in an arms race in the region.
LALAINA JOSIE BRIGITTE RAHARIMBOAHANGY (Madagascar) said development depends on human security. Madagascar’s experience in combating illicit arms trafficking reflects a pressing need for strategic prevention plans. For its part, Madagascar has benefited from technical and financial assistance needed to tackle insecurity inherited due to a precarious political and economic situation, she said, thanking bilateral partners, including Japan. Outlining several national initiatives, including arms control projects and security sector reform, she went on to express concern about explosive weapons in populated areas and their impact on civilians. In this regard, Madagascar supports the Secretary-General’s related recommendations and the Maputo Action Plan 2014-2019, adopted in 2014 by States parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, known as the Ottawa Convention. More broadly, she called for increased mobilization for the implementation of multilateral instruments.
KATY DONNELLY (New Zealand) said the success of the Arms Trade Treaty cannot be measured simply by the extent of its membership, but rather by its progress toward the realization of its objective and purpose. Through the intersessional efforts of the Treaty’s working groups, considerate effort has been directed at attainment of its dual objectives of establishing the highest possible common standards for regulating the international trade in conventional arms and of preventing and eradicating their illicit trade. New Zealand remains a strong supporter of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, she said, highlighting the sharp decrease in related casualties in 2017 from 2016. However, this achievement must not be translated into complacency.
HARYO BUDI NUGROHO (Indonesia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), condemned the use of anti-personnel landmines in conflicts in contravention of the international humanitarian law. “These have maimed, killed and terrorized innocent populations in many regions,” he said, underscoring a need for the Ottawa Convention’s full implementation and urging States not yet party to the instrument to join it. While international assistance remains vital in landmine clearance operations and victims’ rehabilitation, national ownership by the affected States is equally important to ensure that the victims are rehabilitated properly and peacebuilding is deepened. As for the sovereign rights of States to acquire, manufacture, export, import and retain conventional arms and ammunition for their self-defence and security needs, Indonesia is against any undue restrictions and coercive measures placed by exporting States on importing States.
MARCIN CZEPELAK (Poland) said his country’s regulations on transferring weapons are strict, complete and followed thoroughly. “As we are not able to prevent conflicts, we need to do our utmost to protect innocent civilians,” he emphasized. Citing the steady increase in the volume and value of the international major weapons transfers, he said the trend is the result of a deteriorating security environment and other related challenges. Such transfers constitute a legitimate activity, but must meet certain standards. One standard is transparency in armaments as a key confidence‑building measure, he said, underscoring the importance of export control regulations and their implementation. In the context of conventional weapons, he emphasized the importance of complying with the core principles of international humanitarian law.
SAADA DAHER HASSAN (Djibouti) said the greatest threat to the 2030 Agenda’s implementation is violence and conflict, and called for the international community to take action. Drawing attention to the 30 million small arms circulating in sub-Saharan Africa, she noted that another 8 to 10 million arms are added to this arsenal each year. Such weapons are the weapons of choice in many conflicts and constitute a threat to international peace and security. Meanwhile, a growing frequency of terrorist acts and international crime creates another stumbling block to an already fragile situation, requiring a different response from that of conventional peace operations. Lamenting a lack of progress achieved in tackling the spread of small arms and light weapons, she called for greater subregional and regional partnerships to combat the cross-border movement of weapons. Turning to the Horn of Africa, she hailed the détente between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which ushered in an era of peace. Noting that leaders of his country and Eritrea met in Saudi Arabia in September, she said they agreed to open a new chapter in relations and continue dialogue on its border dispute and other issues, including prisoners of war.
JOSÉ ATAÍDE AMARAL (Portugal), associating himself with the European Union, welcomed the initiative to establish a multi‑partner trust fund within the Peacebuilding Fund dedicated to small arms and light weapons. These instruments of violence and death and their illicit traffic cause tremendous human suffering while fuelling organized crime, terrorism and regional instability. Portugal welcomes the outcome document of the third Review Conference on the Programme of Action on Small Arms, stressing its importance for achieving the 2030 Agenda and recognizing its gender dimension. The Arms Trade Treaty can be a very effective instrument against the illicit trade of arms and ammunition, especially for regions in conflict and countries with high levels of armed violence. While the Ottawa Convention is an example of success, he said that despite remarkable progress, the international community is still far from attaining the objective of a landmine‑free world. Noting the tenth anniversary of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, he raised concerns about the use of these weapons by State and non‑State actors.
HASSANAIN HADI FADHIL FADHIL (Iraq), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, said the threat posed by conventional arms is no different from that of weapons of mass destruction. Emphasizing that States must shoulder responsibility and redouble efforts, he said Iraq joined most of treaties on conventional arms. Conventional arms fuel conflict and organized crime, he said, welcoming the outcome document of the third Review Conference on the Programme of Action on Small Arms. It is vital to prevent the diversion of these weapons into the hands of terrorists. For its part, Iraq is dealing with remnants of war that pose a great threat to humanity and the environment. In the areas liberated from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), demining operations and educational programmes on anti-personnel mines are taking place before allowing displaced persons to return home.
YURIY VITRENKO (Ukraine) said the Russian Federation’s military forces have significantly damaged his country’s existing system of conventional arms control. The Russian Federation continues to illegally transfer arms and send its military personnel to Ukrainian territory through uncontrolled border areas, deliberately promoting destabilization in the region. Ukraine also faces a drastically increased number of landmines and explosive remnants of war in its eastern occupied territory. Landmines and explosive devices are scattered throughout the conflict‑affected area, especially along the contact line, posing a severe threat to civilians. These devices are often planted by Russian Federation‑guided armed groups in residential areas and along communication routes, threatening the civil population more than military personnel. Ukraine, in close cooperation with international partners, is performing a range of demining activities in the liberated territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
ELIF ÇALIŞKAN (Turkey) said the death toll resulting from small arms and light weapons — 500,000 people every year — is alarming. Underscoring the undeniable relationships among the illicit arms trade, terrorism and organized crime, she called for the full and comprehensive implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms and for actions to strengthen its provisions. For its part, Turkey signed, and would soon ratify, the Arms Trade Treaty. Highlighting the human suffering caused by the indiscriminate use of anti-personnel mines, she said Turkey is a party to and strong supporter of the Ottawa Convention. In that connection, Turkey has fulfilled its commitments to article 4, destroying approximately three million anti-personnel mines.
MARIA PAULA MACLOUGHLIN (Argentina) said that the risk of conventional weapons falling into the wrong hands would have an adverse impact on security and sustainable development. Her country supports a number of disarmament instruments, including the Secretary‑General’s new Agenda for Disarmament and international agreements, including the Programme of Action on Small Arms and the Arms Trade Treaty. Highlighting the importance of confidence‑building measures, she said her delegation is introducing a related draft resolution (document A/C.1/73/L.29). The draft provides information related to confidence‑building measures and is not prescriptive, she said, calling for its adoption by consensus.
MARTIN ERIC SIPHO NGUNDZE (South Africa), expressing a commitment to non-proliferation, disarmament, arms control and the Arms Trade Treaty, welcomed States that have recently joined the instrument, particularly Cameroon. The move from procedural issues to more substantive discussions at the fourth Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty in Tokyo was a positive development. Although a consensus on the outcome document of the third Review Conference on the Programme of Action on Small Arms could not be maintained, his delegation was encouraged by the interest and dedication shown by Member States during discussions. On other positive developments, he said South Africa welcomes the increasing number of countries joining the Convention on Cluster Munitions, particularly Benin and Namibia.
CHARLENE ROOPNARINE (Trinidad and Tobago), associating herself with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that challenges to bridle the unlawful weapons trade can be confronted with a collaborated approach based on the Programme of Action on Small Arms and related instruments. Welcoming the outcome document of the third Review Conference on the Programme of Action on Small Arms, she cited its recognition of the link between small arms issues and gender perspectives. Similarly, with the Arms Trade Treaty, she welcomed Latvia’s decision, as president of the instrument, to focus on gender and arms‑related gender‑based violence. The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean has provided increased assistance to countries of the region, she said. Raising several concerns, she underscored the importance of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Regarding unmanned aerial vehicles, she said the ethical, legal and humanitarian consequences of their use are incompatible with international law.
PETER HORNE (Australia) said that the illegal and irresponsible trade in conventional arms frustrates a collective effort to further peace, security, public health and sustainable development. More than half a million people die violently each year in conflict and non-conflict settings, with many of these civilian deaths caused by small arms and light weapons in the hands of non-State actors. His country is a proud champion of the Arms Trade Treaty and has been since its beginning. The Treaty could evolve into one of the most important and widely endorsed normative initiatives to combat the illicit arms trade and the violence it fuels. In addition, Australia’s efforts are aimed at furthering the Treaty’s provisions and advancing work on the Programme of Action on Small Arms.
ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil) said that the international regime of conventional arms control plays a central role in promoting transparency and stability and in preventing the use of such weapons in violation of international humanitarian law and their diversion to unauthorized users. He therefore welcomed the inclusion of a related section, titled “Disarmament that saves lives”, in the Secretary‑General’s disarmament agenda. Brazil has been an active promoter of the purposes and objectives of the Arms Trade Treaty since its inception. It ratified the Treaty in August and is a full member. As for lethal autonomous weapons, Brazil, with Austria and Chile, has proposed a mandate for the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons to establish a legally binding obligation to outlaw any weapons systems not subject to human control.
JULIO HERRAIZ (Spain) said that the Ottawa Convention is an encouraging humanitarian success, demonstrating that multilateral cooperation can make a difference in efforts aimed at reducing human suffering. Nevertheless, work is needed to achieve the Convention’s universalization and the goals of the Maputo Action Plan. Turning to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Spain has eradicated all of its cluster munitions and is committed to victim assistance. Concerning the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, he called for a more robust and consistent implementation of international humanitarian law to better protect civilian populations. Meanwhile, he advocated for greater synergy between relevant humanitarian conventions when dealing with clearing explosive remnants of war. Expressing support for the Arms Trade Treaty, he noted the instrument’s contribution to international peace and security and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, before calling for its universalization and for assistance to be provided to States to implement it. He welcomed recent international efforts to deal with the munitions aspect of small arms and light weapons and the incorporation of the gender dimension in tackling related challenges.
GIANFRANCO INCARNATO (Italy), associating himself with the European Union, said that his delegation is extremely concerned by the indiscriminate humanitarian and socioeconomic effects of anti‑personnel mines and cluster munitions, especially on civilians. In this vein, Italy has prioritized the universalization and full implementation of the Ottawa Convention. Since 2001, the Government devoted nearly €55 million to mine‑action programmes, including in Afghanistan, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Gaza. In addition, Italy attaches great importance to assisting survivors and their families as a fundamental component of humanitarian aid and as a key element in long‑term development strategies.
HANA RYBA CERVENKA (Norway) said conventional arms are the real weapons of mass destruction in many countries, killing more than 500,000 people each year, with the illicit trade often being a key factor in transnational organized crime and international terrorism. The Arms Trade Treaty has great potential to reduce human suffering, while contributing to global security and stability. The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti‑Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, known as the Ottawa Convention, is the single most successful multilateral arms treaty of recent times, yet landmine use has re‑emerged, she noted, adding that a mine‑free world by 2025 “remains our vision and rallying cry”. Meanwhile the Convention on Cluster Munitions has made a substantial difference to human security. A major challenge ahead will be the widespread use of home‑made explosive devices, many of which are used as tools of war and terror by non‑State actors. Highlighting the scale and magnitude of the problem, she said the indiscriminate use of such weapons has been seen in Syria, Ukraine and Yemen.
IBRAHIM F. M. A. A. ALDAI (Kuwait), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, highlighted how the illicit trafficking of conventional arms is negatively affecting his country and region. Kuwait strongly supports the fight against the proliferation of these weapons, he said, welcoming the consensus outcome document at the third Review Conference on the Programme of Action on Small Arms. Kuwait remains determined to undertake further efforts regarding the implementation of the instrument. Because the region is unstable due to the existence of small arms and light weapons, States must exchange information and cooperate to ensure that these illicit weapons do not cross land and sea borders.
YANG JIA (China) said the Organization’s multilateral mechanisms must play their full role in the context of conventional arms control. Moreover, consultations must be conducted on an equal footing, with respect for States’ reasonable security concerns and needs balanced by humanitarian concerns. International cooperation must also be strengthened in this regard, with developed countries increasing their assistance to developing ones in terms of institution building, funding, technology transfers and training. China actively participated in the drafting and revision of relevant regulations of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons by participating in the drafting of standards to address improvised explosive device disposal. “Military transparency is high on China’s agenda,” she noted, pointing out that her delegation has submitted annual data on arms transfers to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms. China has also provided more than ¥100 million of humanitarian mine-clearing assistance to more than 40 countries through financial aid, equipment, training programmes and field guidance.
AIDAN LIDDLE (United Kingdom), associating himself with the European Union, said that political and financial support is vital to the functioning of international conventional arms control, with women properly represented in disarmament and arms control discussions, negotiations and processes. The universalization of the Arms Trade Treaty must remain a priority, he continued, emphasizing the importance of getting the right States around the table, and for existing States parties to fully implement their current commitments. The United Kingdom is implementing its obligations under the Ottawa Convention and the Convention on Cluster Munitions through clearance activities in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)*, he said. He also called on the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons to pay their contributions to keep the instrument financially stable. The United Kingdom will continue to strengthen cooperation with partners to reduce the supply of and demand for illicit weapons, including through support for national and regional projects on arms regulation, law enforcement cooperation, disarmament, counter‑terrorism and promotion of conflict resolution.
MARTIN KLUCAR (Czech Republic), expressing support for the Arms Trade Treaty, raised concerns about the instrument’s new and demanding requirements for many of the States parties who are not traditional exporters. Such requirements include establishing national arms control systems and related control lists. Its voluntary trust fund has been an important tool for supporting national implementation efforts and has so far been funded by donations from 14 States parties. For its part, his country has supported the fund by providing voluntary contributions in previous years and hopes to do so again in 2019, he said, emphasizing that strengthening States parties’ reporting capabilities is indispensable so they can fulfil their obligations.
Right of Reply
The representative of Argentina, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, responded to a statement made by his counterpart from the United Kingdom. Noting the unique status under the Ottawa Convention of the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, he said that due to the illegal occupation of the territory by the United Kingdom, Argentina is not able to carry out its obligation under the Ottawa Convention to clear landmines there. The General Assembly recognizes the existence of a dispute over the sovereignty of the territory and the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) calls for an end to the colonial situation, he said, adding that the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas are Argentina’s national territory.
The representative of the United Kingdom said his country has no doubt about its sovereignty over the territory. The principle of self-determination is enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The 2013 referendum clearly showed that residents of the territory do not want a dialogue on their territory’s sovereignty. Argentina should respect their decision and their right to self-determination.
The representative of Argentina said that the principle of self-determination does not apply to a disputed territory, a point clearly stated in General Assembly and Fourth Committee resolutions. A unilateral, illegal vote took place in 2013 and the outcome does not have legal effects.
The representative of the United Kingdom said his Government is very clear about historical and legal positions. His country has never implanted its citizens. Migrants to the territory came from many parts of the world in the nineteenth century.
The First Committee held a panel discussion on regional disarmament and security featuring Mary Soliman, Chief of the Regional Disarmament Branch of the Office for Disarmament Affairs; Anselme Yabouri, Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa; Nancy Robinson, Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean; and Yuriy Kryvonos, Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific.
Ms. SOLIMAN said the activities of the centres span broad issues on the disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control agendas, from conventional weapons to emerging threats. Amid fast-paced developments and limited resources, the need to forge common approaches and improve collective responses to peace and security challenges is greater than ever before. Developing mutually-beneficial partnerships facilitates a cohesive approach and promotes strategic regional dialogue on relevant and pressing issues. To further the implementation of its mandate, the Office for Disarmament Affairs and its regional centres will continue to nurture existing partnerships within the United Nations and with regional organizations and other stakeholders. Additionally, the centres will work more closely with beneficiary States to identify strategic priorities and gaps, with a focus on developing multidisciplinary, multi-partner projects of a longer duration to boost national capacity. Such an approach will facilitate fundraising efforts and encourage donor engagement and interest. Reminding delegates that the three centres depend on extrabudgetary resources to fund their work, she encouraged Member States to support them through voluntary contributions.
Mr. YABOURI presented the Secretary‑General’s report on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa, including information on activities during the reporting period. Highlighting some key aspects of the security context, achievements, challenges and the way forward, he said the Centre expanded operations and doubled its staff within a year, providing a multifaceted legal, capacity‑building and practical assistance to two thirds of African States, covering the whole spectrum of conventional arms, nuclear, chemical and bacteriological weapons, and others. It also assisted Member States in improving the physical security and stockpile management of weapons and ammunition through the rehabilitation and construction of storage facilities compliant with international standards. Additional activities included capacity‑building efforts targeting Government officials, parliamentarians, civil servants, defence and security officers, United Nations peacekeeping personnel, civil society organizations and journalists. Programmes reached more than 900 participants from all regions of the continent, while additional stakeholders from all African Member States benefitted indirectly. In delivering its mandate, the Centre serves 54 African States populated by 1.2 billion people and more than 30 million square kilometres, he said, noting that limited financial resources remains the most significant challenge facing the Centre.
Ms. ROBINSON said that over the past year, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean has undertaken more than 70 activities in 15 countries, with the highest female participation rate on record, up 3 per cent from the previous reporting period. Activities included supporting Member States in developing national control lists and licensing guides to better address the proliferation of dual‑use items. The Centre also intensified its work with youth in four countries and convened its first International Symposium on Women and Security to help contribute to their equitable representation at all decision‑making levels. At the core of requests from Member States was the appeal for practical measures to combat illicit arms trafficking and to reduce armed violence. In response, the Centre worked with Central American and Caribbean law enforcement to maintain the integrity of managing firearms‑related crime scenes and to avoid the diversion of weapons at entry and exit points through training in the use of state‑of‑the‑art X‑ray technology. As firearms marking represents a key arms control measure, the Centre lent on‑site technical assistance to Caribbean States. Supporting the Arms Trade Treaty, the Centre provided specialized training for import and export control authorities and helped with establishing national commissions responsible for overseeing the Treaty’s implementation. Looking ahead, the Centre is eager to expand its technical trainings, with the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty being a priority. Youth will continue to be a vital beneficiary and partner in measuring illicit trafficking through Sustainable Development Goal 16‑based indicators. In the field of the non‑proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the Centre will work with lawmakers to draft related legislation, deliver practical training to law enforcement officials and operationalize national control lists and strategic trade controls. In further support to the women and security agenda, the Centre is undertaking legal reviews to cross‑reference small arms laws with domestic violence provisions in Central America and the Caribbean.
Mr. KRYVONOS, providing an overview of activities undertaken by the Regional Centre in Asia and the Pacific for a one‑year period since November 2017, said projects continued to support States in implementing arms control, disarmament and non‑proliferation agreements, as mandated by the General Assembly and streamlined by the Secretary‑General’s disarmament agenda while contributing to achieving Sustainable Development Goals. The Centre implemented 10 projects at regional and national levels, reaching more than 400 participants from Governments, parliaments, academia and civil society. With respect to building national capacity and providing technical assistance, projects assisted States in implementing commitments related to the Programme of Action on Small Arms, Arms Trade Treaty and Security Council resolution 1540 (2004). While attaching great importance to promoting women’s active participation in decision‑making processes on arms control and disarmament at national, regional and global levels, it launched in 2018 the regional project “Gun violence and illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons from a gender perspective”. Two subregional workshops were held, in Bangkok and in Kathmandu, for South‑East Asian and South Asian countries, respectively. The Centre keeps working with donor States and other funding bodies to secure resources for new projects, laying the groundwork for activities in 2019.
AMIR HAMZAH BIN MOHD NASIR (Malaysia), aligning himself with ASEAN, noted a critical need for measures to prevent the diversion of conventional weapons to illegitimate ends and the important role of the Arms Trade Treaty in this regard. The Treaty will augment existing national policies controlling such weapons while acknowledging the rights of States to utilize them judiciously in the interest of security, self-defence, research and trade. For its part, Malaysia has identified particular elements of its national legislation which may be improved to ensure the Treaty’s full and effective implementation.
YONG JIN BAEK (Republic of Korea), describing small arms and light weapons as “the de facto weapons of mass destruction of our age”, said it is vitally important to implement the Programme of Action on Small Arms and the International Tracing Instrument. This session will be the last time the Republic of Korea and Australia will introduce the draft resolution “Preventing and combating illicit brokering activities,” he said, explaining that the text — tabled since 2008 — has succeeded in advancing efforts on this issue. More must be done towards the universalization of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and to address the threat posed by improvised explosive devices. Noting concern over the financial situation of the Convention on Chemical Weapons, he said it would be in everyone’s interest to find a feasible solution.
VICTORIA LIETA LIOLOCHA (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said the uncontrolled propagation of conventional arms is an obstacle for peace that is also undermining development. This is the case for the Great Lakes region, and particularly for her country, she said, welcoming various initiatives already under way in the area and the provisions of the Secretary-General’s disarmament agenda. While not a State party yet to the Arms Trade Treaty, she said the instrument illustrates the effectiveness of multilateralism in combating challenges. Expressing support for the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and the Ottawa Convention, she said the Democratic Republic of the Congo remains committed to mine action in affected areas. Towards this end, it has partnered with the United Nations Mine Action Service to help to create a more secure environment for its citizens.
HUOT PICHPANHAVOAN (Cambodia), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non‑Aligned Movement, noted that his country is one of the most landmine‑polluted in the world. Unexploded ordnance and explosive remnants of war continue to be a heavy burden to the nation’s economy and society, he said, noting that while 1.3 million mines and 2.7 million explosive remnants of war have been destroyed, there are still 2,000 square kilometres of uncleared land. Recognizing a need to address landmine issues regionally, Cambodia, along with other ASEAN member States, decided to establish the Regional Mine Action Centre in Phnom Penh, he said, also expressing concern over the illicit manufacture, transfer, and circulation of small arms and light weapons and their excessive accumulation and uncontrolled spread in many regions.
ELSA HAILE (Eritrea) said conventional weapons have been the major instruments of destruction over the past decade, particularly in the developing world. The strategic, political, commercial and security interests of States have hindered progress towards meaningful regulation of the arms trade. Meanwhile, the unauthorized use of these weapons by non-State actors and their widespread and uncontrolled access to them remain a threat. More specifically, the impact of the proliferation and transfer of illicit small arms and light weapons is felt acutely in developing countries, particularly those where State control is weak or non-existent. These security gaps enable terrorist groups and other criminal networks to take advantage by advancing chaos and insecurity in fragile States, she said, calling on the international community to stand up against actions that undermine the security and stability of States.
LACHEZARA STOIANOVA STOEVA (Bulgaria), associating herself with the European Union, said the objective of disarmament and arms control is to ultimately save lives, but does not happen in a vacuum. As the Secretary‑General highlighted in his disarmament agenda, there is a direct link between the 2030 Agenda and disarmament efforts. Turning to the issue of small arms and light weapons, the case for addressing a need to control ammunition has been made on various occasions and remains valid. “We cannot have truly effective measures against the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons without controlling ammunition,” she said, underscoring that if such control is put in place and is vigorously exercised, there will be fewer cases of diversion.
OFER MORENO (Israel) said problems arise when conventional weapons fall into unauthorized hands or are abused to promote radical agendas. In the past few years, such weapons have been acquired and have proliferated in the Middle East in unprecedented quantities. Some States not only fail to stop or curb the activities of terrorist organizations, but consistently encourage and support them. In an attempt to gain regional dominance and spread its extremist ideology, Iran is the biggest proliferator of conventional arms in the region, he said, using proxy organizations to inflict terror and engage in hostilities. Meanwhile, the threat posed by some weapons systems, such as man-portable air defence systems, is immense. Concerning the Programme of Action on Small Arms, he called for a continued focus on its implementation. On ammunition, for example, the instrument is not the right platform, as another venue — the Group of Governmental Experts — was already chosen. Highlighting that Israel is one of the few countries to participate in the Register of Conventional Arms, he urged all States to submit their reports, subject to national security considerations.
PICHAMONCH PINTOLA (Thailand), associating herself with ASEAN, said the illicit trade and proliferation of conventional weapons and its impact on global security hinders sustainable peace, development and prosperity. Thailand is working to rid itself of landmines, she said, offering some mine‑clearance statistics. Thailand is also a member of the Committee on the Enhancement of Cooperation and Assistance of the Anti‑Personnel Mine Ban Convention. States with the least capacity to deal with illicit arms are often the most affected, she observed, describing the Programme of Action on Small Arms as the primary framework to address the widespread availability of these weapons. Evolving international humanitarian law must be respected when considering new technologies like drones and other lethal autonomous weapons, and ongoing discussions about these technologies should be based on codifying current practices in appropriate international forums.
NURATU BATAGARAWA JIMOH (Nigeria) welcomed the successful conclusions of the third Review Conference of the Programme of Action on Small Arms and the fourth Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty. She called on large weapon-producing and exporting States to ensure their timely accession to all relevant instruments. For its part, Nigeria has redoubled efforts threatening its national borders. It has signed and ratified relevant international, regional and subregional instruments and sustained partnerships with relevant organizations. To curb weapons proliferation, the Government has established a presidential committee on small arms and light weapons, undertaking capacity-building activities and carrying out an initial baseline assessment. Nevertheless, international assistance is required through the transfer of technology to developing countries to help them in their implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty and other instruments.
LOT THAUZENI PANSIPADANA DZONZI (Malawi) said that his country is not highly affected by the illicit proliferation and use of small arms and light weapons compared with its neighbouring countries, but its people still suffer significantly from the illegal use of these weapons both in their homes and business premises. This is evidenced by an increase in the recovery of illegal firearms. Community policing continues to play a big role in facilitating the recovery of illegal firearms. Currently, about 12,000 Malawians legally own firearms. In 2017, Malawi destroyed 2,700 illegal firearms that were confiscated, he said, noting that his country joined the Programme of Action on Small Arms when it entered into force in 2001.
FARID MOUSTAPHA MAMANE SANDA (Niger) said the West African and Sahel regions remain severely affected by the uncontrolled production and proliferation of firearms and their ammunition. Indeed, Niger is in a region characterized by the presence of extremist groups and armed gangs that benefit from insecurity in the northeast of the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin regions. This illustrates the complexity of the issue. For its part, Niger has signed nearly all instruments on counter-terrorism and organized crime and has started a national commission that has carried out several related initiatives, including projects to collect illegal weapons. Niger is also a party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Arms Trade Treaty and ratified all additional five protocols of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. At the same time, Niger maintains an active partnership with the Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa and the Office for Disarmament Affairs. Hailing the success of the Arms Trade Treaty, he called for its universalization to more effectively fight against the illicit trade of small arms.
SATYAJIT ARJUNA RODRIGO (Sri Lanka) said the proliferation of conventional arms pose a serious threat to global security. As such, Sri Lanka is committed to eradicating the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons, having already established a national commission to tackle this issue. Sharing other concerns, he said cluster munitions will cause humanitarian suffering and trigger developmental consequences. These explosive weapons cannot distinguish between civilian and military targets, he said, adding that his delegation is taking a lead in submitting a draft resolution on cluster munitions towards a world free of these explosive devices.
AVA ELSA BRAGANZA ARCILLA (Philippines), associating herself with ASEAN and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that strong regulations covering conventional weapons should be firmly enforced. However, the ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty by the Philippine Senate may prove daunting, considering questions of its prioritization alongside other urgent tasks. Regarding the Programme of Action on Small Arms, she highlighted the importance of securing international cooperation on marking and tracing and strengthening certification processes and end‑user certificates. In this context, she emphasized a need for advocating for “the involvement of women - the gender that does not go to war but binds its wounds”. In terms of international cooperation for a robust conventional weapons regime, she underscored the importance of showing respect for the sovereignty of individual States, which know best how to protect their populations.
MOHAMMAD HOSSEIN GHANIEI (Iran), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that, in the interest of international peace and security, there must be a reduction in the production and transfer of conventional weapons. This is particularly important in the case of Israel, which, he said, continues to receive substantial military aid from the United States and has employed the procured weapons to commit genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The situation in the rest of the Middle East has also been worsened by increases in military budgets and arms imports by certain States, including in the Persian Gulf. Noting large weapons purchases by Saudi Arabia from the United States and the United Kingdom, he said that such Western arms have been used to kill hundreds of thousands of civilians in Yemen in clear violation of international law. Accusing the countries that supply such weapons of culpability in war crimes, he called on them to stop the destabilizing transfers of arms. For its part, Iran’s military budget is a small fraction of its neighbours, which have smaller territories to defend. The common goal should be reducing global military expenditures, as well as the production and transfer of weapons, to match the actual security needs of States. In closing, he introduced a draft decision on missiles (document A/C.1/73/L.10), expressing hope that, as in previous years, it will be adopted without a vote.
NOËL DIARRA (Mali), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, noted the threat posed by the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the Sahel region in Africa. The negative impacts of these arms make them worthy of being called “weapons of mass destruction”. In 1998, Western African States agreed on moratorium on small arms and light weapons, which led to the adoption of the Programme of Action on Small Arms in 2001. His delegation is tabling a draft resolution on the issue of providing assistance to States to combat the proliferation of these weapons, he said, calling for its adoption by consensus. Subregionally, the Group of Five Sahel States (G-5 Sahel), made up of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, has formed a joint force to combat terrorism and drug trafficking. Nationally, Mali put in place strong legislative measures to control ammunition and firearms.
FAIYAZ MURSHID KAZI (Bangladesh) said that, in the context of the Programme of Action on Small Arms, modest progress has been made in addressing the issue of ammunition. Given the constraints faced by developing countries, new technologies in the manufacturing and marking of such arms must also be addressed. As a signatory of the Arms Trade Treaty, he underscored the synergy among both instruments and the potential contribution of the Programme of Action on Small Arms towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. Meanwhile, he raised concerns about casualties suffered by his country’s peacekeepers due to indiscriminate use of improvised explosive devices by non-State actors. It is critical that further attention is given to peacekeeping intelligence and enhancing support for mine action by peacekeeping missions, including through the additional deployment of expertise and equipment. He also expressed concern about the continued use of anti-personnel mines, including in neighbouring Myanmar, as documented by the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission. Its report found that landmines were used by both State and non-State actors in Myanmar’s Kachin, Shan and Rakhine States since 2011, often with fatal consequences.
BANTIHUN GETAHUN (Ethiopia) said that the cross-border and international nature of the challenge of conventional arms proliferation requires multilateral responses, which must be complemented by measures at the national level by Member States. It is important to consider the multifaceted aspects of the direct or indirect support terrorist groups receive and adopt a comprehensive mechanism to address issues related to their access to conventional weapons. As a signatory to the Ottawa Convention, Ethiopia has already declared the completion of the destruction of stockpiled anti-personnel mines before its deadline, he said, noting that the shortage and obsolete condition of operational equipment, capacity-building challenges and a lack of adequate funding hampered the accomplishment of the planned programme.
RUBÉN ARMANDO ESCALANTE HASBÚN (El Salvador) said that, given the consequences of their use, preventing and combating the trafficking of small arms and light weapons is among his Government’s priorities. Nevertheless, the inertia on the issue exacerbates the scourge, he said, calling on the international community to shoulder its responsibility. El Salvador is in favour of adopting a preventative approach, focusing on their diversion by boosting control systems and enhancing arms registration, without overlooking their illicit manufacturing. He welcomed the Programme of Action on Small Arms and its focus on ammunition. Turning to the Arms Trade Treaty, he welcomed the results of fourth Conference of Parties and called on countries that have not yet done so to ratify the instrument. Addressing armed drones, he condemned their irresponsible use and called for appropriate international standards to address the harm they can cause. Taking issue with the idea that a machine can end someone’s life, he condemned the use of lethal autonomous weapons systems, calling for a binding instrument to control such arms.
DOMINIC MATALE (Zambia), associating himself with the African Group, said the impact of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons is one of the continent’s biggest hurdles to development. Calling for the full implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms and the International Tracing Instrument, he said meeting these obligations will lead to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 16 and target 16.4. A rigorous application of the Arms Trade Treaty’s provisions will contribute to reducing the flows of conventional arms to areas of high tension and volatility, to Governments engaging in systematic human rights abuse and to terrorist organizations, he said, calling on State parties to strictly adhere to article 6 of the instrument.
NOBUSHIGE TAKAMIZAWA (Japan) said his country served as President of the Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty earlier in 2018, where stakeholders deepened substantial discussions on its effective implementation, transparency, reporting and universalization. A thematic discussion shed light on the diversion of these weapons. His delegation echoes States parties in calling for more engagement with industry as they play a significant role in preventing diversion. Regarding the Programme of Action on Small Arms, Japan, together with Colombia and South Africa, will submit a draft resolution, titled “The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects”, he said, calling for its adoption again by consensus.
DIEGO ALONSO TITUAÑA MATANGO (Ecuador), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and Ireland, which spoke for a group of countries, expressed his country’s commitment to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, condemning the use of these weapons by anyone anywhere, while also voicing full support efforts to address the use of anti-personnel mines. It is necessary for States to cooperate in the development of border areas to prevent the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons, he said, adding that the Programme of Action on Small Arms and the International Tracing Instrument are vital tools his country is implementing. In addition, Ecuador is a signatory to the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition. States must continue to discuss the use of armed drones and lethal autonomous weapons. As for the Arms Trade Treaty, his delegation has expressed concern about politicization and potential double standards arising from this instrument.
ESSOHANAM PETCHEZI (Togo) said that the third Review Conference of the Programme of Action on Small Arms was a key milestone in the international disarmament agenda, allowing Member States to take stock on how to better prevent the trafficking of such weapons. In particular, he welcomed the link between the 2030 Agenda and the Programme of Action on Small Arms and the fact that ammunition was addressed in the outcome document. While the number of States seeking assistance is rising, those providing funds is declining, he said, calling for funds to close this gap. Given the consequences of the spread of such firearms in certain regions, they can be called weapons of mass destruction, he said, noting that they undermine peace and security, destabilize States and hinder development. Indeed, West Africa is witnessing a spread of these weapons, which compounds security challenges. He outlined national initiatives Togo is pursuing to fight the scourge, before expressing gratitude to the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa for helping his country and others to meet major security challenges on the continent.
THEREGO SERETSE (Botswana), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, expressed full support for the Programme of Action on Small Arms and the International Tracing Instrument. Calling for more international cooperation and technological exchanges to complement them, he welcomed the appointment of a Group of Governmental Experts on lethal autonomous weapons systems. While some nations might see value in these weapons, Botswana rejects the abdication of decisions on war and human lives to machines that have no regard for international humanitarian or human rights law. Also voicing support for efforts to eliminate improvised explosive devices and anti-personnel landmines, he said modern warfare is largely fought in populated areas, where the rampant use of explosives results in vast, indiscriminate harm to civilians and critical infrastructure. In this regard, he welcomed the communiqué emanating from the 2017 Maputo Regional Meeting on Protecting Civilians from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas, adding that its recommendations will go a long way in contributing to disarmament efforts and respect for internationally established norms of warfare.
ARBEN IDRIZI (Albania), associating himself with the European Union, said numerous measures have been taken in line with the Arms Trade Treaty and European Union standards for arms transfers. Albania has also completed the destruction of all its inherited surpluses of small weapons, light weapons and ammunition, with substantial support from Germany, United States, France, Norway, United Kingdom, Canada and others. A new law on weapons was adopted in 2014 to ensure a better and more effective arms control. A working group of the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons has finished the final draft of a national strategy for 2019 to 2024 and an action plan for 2019 to 2021, to be approved by the Prime Minister’s Office by the end of 2018.
Right of Reply
The representative of Saudi Arabia, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said Iran is destabilizing the Middle East by launching missiles through the Houthi militias, in violation of several Security Council resolutions, most notably resolution 2231 (2015). Moreover, her Government has seized ships transporting arms to Houthi militias originating from Iran. In addition, Iran is supporting a terrorist militia, a small component of Yemeni society that has orchestrated a coup d’état against its legitimate leaders. The Arab coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, is making all necessary efforts to protect civilians against attacks and respect all rules of war.
The representative of the Russian Federation said it is not a party to the internal conflict in Ukraine and does not have any connection to the bloodshed in the country. Ukrainian authorities are involved in a large-scale shipment of arms, resulting in the suffering of civilian populations. They also continue to avoid compliance with the sole road map to resolve the conflict – the Minsk agreements. He called on his Ukrainian counterpart to stop advancing false accusations and focus on fulfilling its own obligations in full.
The representative of Iran said his country has nothing to do with the aggressive attacks Saudi Arabia has launched against Yemen for more than three years, which has killed around 150,000 Yemenis, including many women and children. Saudi Arabia is targeting civilians in markets, weddings, ceremonies, places of mourning and school buses, without any restraint or respect for their obligations under international law. Delegates can make a judgment on who is destabilizing a region. Saudi Arabia is the one that has launched aggression against a poor country, he said, noting that the Houthis are not terrorists, but a long-standing part of Yemen’s history. Saudi Arabia wants to suppress them, so it is easy to label them as terrorists. Iran has nothing to do with this aggression. Yemen is under complete blockade by sea, air and land while suffering from hunger as its economy and infrastructure is devastated because of Saudi Arabia’s bombardment. Asking how can Iran help the Houthis when they are under complete blockade, he pointed out that food and medicine are not even allowed to pass through the borders. With its aggressive policies and posturing, Saudi Arabia is trying to destabilize the region and export terrorists while fuelling conflict in other countries. Moreover, they have acted shamelessly in consulates in other countries. They have done all these actions with the support of the United States, which has emboldened them to do whatever they want.
The representative of Ukraine said that for four years the Russian Federation has continued to describe the conflict in eastern Ukraine as an internal conflict or a civil war, claiming that Ukraine kills its own people. These remarks are part of Moscow’s propaganda and are totally false. The Russian Federation is a full-fledged party to this conflict, he said, urging it to stop the militarization of Crimea and eastern Ukraine. His country is fully committed to a peaceful resolution. Regarding the Minsk agreements, he said that the Russian Federation’s non-compliance with security provisions and a ceasefire regime are key obstacles. The monitoring mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) confirms the presence of Russian weapons in Ukraine. The Russian Federation has a direct role in the conflict in Donbas and remains a key obstacle to bringing peace to the people there. Moscow should stop its aggression, withdraw its forces from Ukraine and end its occupation of Crimea.
* A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).