While information and communications technologies can drive social and economic development, malicious use of these innovations could threaten global security, First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) delegates warned today as they exchanged views on ways to shield cyberspace from such threats.
Many speakers expressed a concern over the increased willingness of some States and non‑State actors to conduct malicious cyberactivities that threaten international peace and security, calling for the establishment of a framework for conflict prevention, cooperation and stability in cyberspace that is based on the application of international law.
Egypt’s delegate highlighted the valuable recommendations made since 2004 by the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security. As discussions have stalled on codifying norms in cyberspace, he called on States to break that impasse. He also rejected the dominance wielded by a handful States in these spheres and their zero-sum mentality, which he said can lead to an arms race no one can win. “Cybertechnologies are no longer monopolized by a few States,” he said, reiterating a call for codifying responsible online behaviour. “It is time to move forward in an action-oriented manner.”
Several delegates recognized the benefits of cyberspace activities, with Japan’s representative describing cyberspace as “an artificial domain for the free exchange of ideas without being constrained by national borders”. Algeria’s delegate said information and communications technologies provide an opportunity for social and economic development for his country. As such, the risk of the dual-use of these technologies should not be used as a pretext to restrict the transfer of these technologies to developing countries. However, the malicious use of these technologies by non-State armed groups and terrorists has become a real threat, prompting Algeria to establish a national agency for prevention of information and communications technology crimes.
Delegates also exchanged views on the previous recommendations made by the Group of Governmental Experts on the issue of cybersecurity. The representative of the United States said the Group is the most productive and useful platform to discuss the international security dimensions of cyberissues in the United Nations because it is consensus-based, time-limited, and expert-driven.
However, some delegations called for the establishment of a new, more representative and inclusive group. The delegate from the Netherlands voiced support for the idea of establishing a new group of governmental experts based on previous mandates and outcomes, but engaging the wider United Nations membership and other stakeholders.
In the morning, the Committee concluded its thematic discussions on conventional weapons and on other disarmament measures. In the afternoon, the Committee held a panel discussion on the disarmament machinery, featuring the President of the Conference on Disarmament, Chair of the United Nations Disarmament Commission, Chair of the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters and the Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), before moving on to its thematic debate on regional disarmament measures.
Delivering statements on conventional weapons were the representatives of Senegal, Russian Federation, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Timor-Leste, Afghanistan and Myanmar. The Permanent Observer for the Holy See also spoke.
Speaking on the issue of other disarmament measures were the representatives of Switzerland, Paraguay, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, France, Estonia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Trinidad and Tobago, Australia, China, United Kingdom, Republic of Korea, Finland, Iran, India, Germany and Malaysia.
Delivering statements on the issue of regional disarmament measures were the representatives of Indonesia (for the Non-Aligned Movement), Philippines (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Belize (for the Caribbean Community), Paraguay, Egypt, United States, Kazakhstan, Nepal, France, Algeria, Pakistan, Indonesia, Poland, Georgia, Iraq and Ukraine, as well as the European Union.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Bangladesh, Russian Federation, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ukraine and Georgia.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 31 October, to continue its work.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its thematic debates on conventional weapons and other disarmament measures and international security. For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3597 of 8 October.
SALIOU NIANG DIENG (Senegal) said tensions around the world demonstrate that the maintenance of international peace and security is an ideal that the world is far from achieving. West Africa and the Sahel region are facing multiple threats, including the proliferation and illicit trafficking of conventional arms and of terrorist attacks. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is trying to tackle illicit weapons circulation, adopting a related convention in 2010. Reaffirming support for the Arms Trade Treaty, he called upon producers to prevent them from falling into the hands of non‑State actors. At the same time, he called for more political will 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. Regarding modular weapons, he said they undermine the effective tracing of small arms and light weapons. Turning to other weapons classes, he called for the entry into force and effective implementation of the provisions of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which would be an important step in the protection of civilians and the implementation of international humanitarian law.
ANDREY GREBENSHCHIKOV (Russian Federation) said his country attaches great importance to the issue of conventional weapons, including 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. His country is helping mine clearance action in Syria, including in Aleppo. His delegation takes a cautious position on the consideration of lethal autonomous weapons. He also noted some technical and financial aspects of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti‑Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, known as the Ottawa Convention. The Convention on Cluster Munitions has been politicized by certain countries with technical advantages. Regarding the Arms Trade Treaty, the Russian Federation has no intention to accede to the instrument as it lacks provisions to prevent transfer of weapons to non‑State armed actors. In this regard, the Programme of Action on Small Arms’ potential is far from exhausted.
SEYDOU KI (Burkina Faso) said small arms and light weapons are weapons of mass destruction, causing many deaths, fuelling conflicts and supporting the activities of terrorist groups. The Arms Trade Treaty makes it possible to present a collective response to the phenomenon. Welcoming the third Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty and the third Review Conference of the Programme of Action on Small Arms, he said the subregion of the Sahel is witnessing disastrous consequences of such weapons. As such, these instruments are able to render more effective existing instruments, such as the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunition and Other Related Materials. As no country can fight against the scourge alone, his Government organized a workshop with the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR). As cluster munitions impede access to arable land across the world, hindering the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals, he called for the universalization of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
OMER DAHAB FADL MOHAMED (Sudan), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, the African Group and the Arab Group, said his country has been adversely affected by the spread of conventional weapons, such as small arms and light weapons, worsening the already dire challenges stemming from climate change and drug trafficking. The competition for water and other resources is helping the illegal firearms trade thrive. Sudan’s border control initiatives contributed to curbing and monitoring the trafficking of humans, weapons and drugs. This has had a regional and international implications, led to confiscation of a substantial number of firearms and allowed the return of displaced civilians. In tackling these challenges, regional synergy and solidarity is vital.
FRANCISCO VITAL ORNAI (Timor-Leste), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the collective strategy to prohibit and eliminate nuclear and chemical weapons should include the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. Collective measures for preventing, combating, controlling and eradicating this illegal trade are needed to improve coordination and cooperation at the bilateral, regional and multilateral levels. He encouraged the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament to continue its efforts in organizing seminars and workshops to create partnership networks with a view to halting arms trafficking.
SAYED MIRAGHA MUSADDEQ (Afghanistan) presented the draft resolution “Countering the threat posed by improvised explosive devices” (document A/C.1/73/L.16). As part of continuing efforts to combat improvised explosive devices in all their aspects, the text recognizes their increasingly negative impact on civilians, including through terrorist attacks carried out around the world. Importantly, it emphasizes a need for coordination among several actors to achieve that common goal. Along with Afghanistan, Australia and France are the main co‑sponsors of the annual draft resolution, he said, adding that his delegation is pleased that improvised explosive devices have become a prominent issue in the Committee.
LEI LEI SEIN (Myanmar), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), raised concerns about the widespread availability of conventional weapons, which are as deadly as weapons of mass destruction, given the huge number of casualties they cause. The proliferation of small arms and light weapons poses a security threat to individuals, communities, countries and the international community. Myanmar is not yet a party to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, due to a lack of its capacity in related areas, but is participating in meetings. Myanmar supports initiatives under the Ottawa Convention and conducts a mine risk education programme in cooperation with United Nations agencies and civil society. Referring to a reference to Myanmar made by a representative on 29 October, she urged that delegation to stop exploiting this Committee to advance its narrow political interest.
BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, reiterated that on average, every 15 minutes, the use of a firearm results in a violent death somewhere in the world. Expressing strong support for multilateral efforts to curb the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons, he welcomed the consensus established at the third Review Conference on the Programme of Action on Small Arms, adding that the International Tracing Instrument is a significant measure. However, greater international cooperation and assistance are needed to severely restrict and eradicate the weapons.
Other Disarmament Measures
SABRINA DALLAFIOR (Switzerland), noting that the cyberdomain is not a new area of operation void of any norms and rules, underscored the important role of the United Nations in contributing to international peace and security in that sphere. The Organization’s Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security have significantly contributed to strengthening the global framework for cyberstability through their reports in 2010, 2013 and 2015. All States should operationalize their recommendations. Going forward, Switzerland, together with Mexico and Germany, seeks a more representative and inclusive process than in the past, by organizing informal consultative meetings with the wider United Nations membership and interested stakeholders.
ROBERT A. WOOD (United States) said his Government’s national cyberstrategy calls for the reduction and prevention of destabilizing and malicious activities directed against his country. The framework presented in the strategy is supportive of the work on international cyberstability that has taken place over many years in the United Nations system, including the related Group of Governmental Experts. The failure to find consensus during the most recent round of the Group’s discussions demonstrates that challenging issues remain. However, the lack of consensus does not make the existing recommendations of the Group any less valid or important, being the most productive and useful platform to discuss the international security dimensions of cyberissues in the United Nations because it is consensus‑based, time‑limited, and expert‑driven. For this reason, the United States and many other Member States are concerned that the Russian Federation tabled a draft resolution on 12 October on the Group of Governmental Experts, with provisions that diverged significantly from past consensus texts. He also expressed concern over a shift away from consensus by the Russian Federation when it chose to table a cyber‑related resolution on 15 October.
ENRIQUE JOSÉ MARÍA CARRILLO GÓMEZ (Paraguay) highlighted the importance of the use of information and communications technology in the area of disarmament. Emphasizing his delegation’s full support for efforts aimed at combating racism through the use of information and communications technology, he said Paraguay signed onto a related protocol on the issue in 2001. In addition, Paraguay has made it a priority to incorporate this in public policies. Citizen participation is important for the free use of technology to advance sustainable growth, he said, underscoring links between disarmament and development.
FLACO MUELLER-FISCHER (Canada) said advancing international peace and security depends on the ability to account for gender dimensions in the Committee’s work. For its part, Canada is committed to the women, peace and security agenda and has devised a national action plan that includes specific targets on gender mainstreaming. Applying a feminist lens to disarmament can help Governments to better support victims of violence and develop better policies, he said, adding that understanding how small arms are used to perpetrate violence against women and girls is crucial. To overcome entrenched discrimination, Member States must engage women as full partners in non‑proliferation, arms control and disarmament processes. The international community has a responsibility to advance gender consideration in all of its work. In that context, he welcomed gender impact work in Geneva.
BASSEM YEHIA HASSAN KASSEM HASSAN (Egypt), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, said States must abide by previous agreements to maintain international security and avoid chaos. Several domains are left with international agreed norms, including cyberspace and outer space. He rejected dominance by a handful States in these spheres and their zero‑sum mentality, which can lead to an arms race no one can win. Cybertechnologies are no longer monopolized by a few States. Since 2004, valuable recommendations have been made by the related Group of Governmental Experts, but the codification of norms has stalled. Egypt supports any proposal to advance this issue. “It is time to move forward in an action‑oriented manner,” he said.
ALCIBIADES SANCHEZ (Mexico) said new technologies are being used by criminal organizations in a manner that constitutes a breach of international peace and security. Multilateralism is the most effective formula to combat cyberchallenges. In this vein, he encouraged international cooperation, confidence‑building and increased synergies between Member States. The international community must guarantee the peaceful use of cyberspace as a driver of development and promote human rights on the Internet, while ensuring that it is a safe and reliable place for individuals and the private sector. Discussions tackling procedures must end, with a shift in focus to more substantive talks that lead to a robust, action‑oriented mandate. Meanwhile, the international community should build on the findings of the related Group of Governmental Experts on how to implement international law, consider recommendations from academia, civil society and the private sector and tap into UNIDIR resources.
YAILIN CASTRO LOREDO (Cuba), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that most advanced countries are the producers of weapons. The $1.7 billion annual military spending must be rechannelled to sustainable development and the improvement of people’s well‑being. She underscored the need to regulate activities in cyberspace and the use of drones. It is also vital to lift selective discriminatory restrictions limiting developing countries’ access to technology. For its part, Cuba has cut military spending and devoted more resources to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Rejecting unilateral measures, she highlighted the importance of multilateralism. The United States, in violation of International Telecommunication Union (ITU) rules, has attacked Cuba’s radio‑wave space, she said, adding that it should also lift its economic sanction against her country, as it impedes use of information and communications technology.
YANN HWANG (France), associating himself with the European Union, reiterated that international law and the United Nations Charter in its entirety apply to cyberspace. Stating that different national approaches cannot be allowed to take precedence over real progress in building trust, security and stability in cyberspace, he called for revitalizing multilateral negotiations on the topics. However, States must also involve the private sector, researchers and non‑governmental organizations (NGOs) in the discussions, as they play an unprecedented but crucial role in the matter.
HELI TIIRMAA-KLAAR (Estonia) said digital technology forms the modern fabric of societies, with essential services, transport, banking, energy and telecommunications services depending on resilience the digital domain. However, this same technology has the potential to be misused and exploited for malicious purposes. States bear a special responsibility to use information and telecommunications technology to support stability and security and refrain from malicious activities in cyberspace. At the same time, the Committee’s work on the issue should be based on the already solid achievements by previous Groups of Governmental Experts, in 2010, 2013 and 2015. Drawing attention to a growing demand for capacity‑building for e‑governance and cybersecurity, she noted the work her Government is undertaking to support developing countries.
HUSHAM AHMED (Pakistan) said the relentless pace of developing new weapon technologies carries serious implications. Governing and regulating the use of such weapons under international law is proving to be an immense challenge. In particular, lethal autonomous weapons systems are by nature unethical and violate international and humanitarian law. With their lower threshold of war, such weapons impede progress on arms control, non‑proliferation and disarmament. Developments in artificial intelligence should not outpace the regulations governing them, he said, calling for a legally binding framework. Pakistan supports an open‑ended working group through the Group of Governmental Experts on lethal autonomous weapons and is open to addressing the issue in other multilateral forums, including the Conference on Disarmament. The use of armed drones in areas of conflict violates international law and is tantamount to extrajudicial killings. Cyberwarfare also poses serious threats to international peace and security, he said, calling for the issue to be taken up in a multilateral forum.
HARYO BUDI NUGROHO (Indonesia), associating himself with ASEAN, said his country’s national policy on information technology is already geared to unlock economic and business opportunities. In cases of illegal or negative uses of such technology affecting international peace and security, there is a need to address common concerns. Indonesia supports the development of a legal framework to do so, he said, adding that such an endeavour should be pursued at the United Nations with the active and equal participation by all States.
JOOST BUNK (Netherlands) expressed support for the establishment of a new United Nations Group of Governmental Experts based on previous mandates and outcomes. States should not selectively refer to past consensual recommendations nor should they predetermine the outcome of next discussion. Recognizing the complex nature of cyberspace and a need for all States to be involved in the discussion, he supports consulting the wider United Nations membership and other stakeholders as an important element of a future mandate of the Group of Governmental Experts.
CHARLENE ROOPNARINE (Trinidad and Tobago) introduced the draft resolution “Women, disarmament, non‑proliferation and arms control”, which recognizes the role of women in decision‑making processes related to disarmament, non‑proliferation and arms control. The draft builds on predecessor resolutions and reflects recent progress and on language relating to the Sustainable Development Goals, acknowledging that the success of efforts to achieve sustainable growth and disarmament depend on the full and effective inclusion of women. Bearing in mind the significant work being done to curb the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons, the draft has upheld language relating to women’s participation in preventing the proliferation of such arms. Additionally, the text has preserved language on the Arms Trade Treaty. For the first time, the draft resolution recognizes the important role played by civil society organizations in promoting the role of women. Requesting the support of all Member States, she noted that the draft has had an increasing number of co‑sponsors since it was first introduced in 2010.
PETER HORNE (Australia) expressed concern about cyberincidents conducted by some States and their proxies. These behaviours can lead to miscalculation, escalation of tension and in extreme cases conflict. His delegation calls for the establishment of an international rules-based order. Those who act in contravention of international law must be held to account. This type of action, including destabilizing democracy and disrupting critical infrastructure, is unacceptable. All countries must follow online rules. For its part, Australia has adopted a national policy aimed at using information and communications technology to drive economic growth, enhance national and international security.
YU PENG (China) said the international community faces challenges, such as a risk of conflict in cyberspace, where all are connected. There is an urgent need for a new security concept and a common ground. Member States must abide by the United Nations Charter, in particular the principles of sovereign equality and non-interference in domestic affairs. It is also vital to uphold multilateralism, as rule-making in this space requires a wide participation of States, with the United Nations being the world’s most representative body. China supports the future establishment of a more open and inclusive mechanism than the previous related Group of Governmental Experts. His delegation also supports the draft resolution on information and communications technology, tabled by the Russian Federation.
AIDAN LIDDLE (United Kingdom) said economic prosperity and social well-being increasingly depend on the openness and security of networks beyond national borders. Expressing support for stabilizing frameworks based on existing international laws and norms, he said the United Nations has a central role to play. For its part, the United Kingdom will promote the implementation of agreed norms of responsible State behaviour and the development of positive, practical measures. In this vein, it supports the efforts of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other regional forums to implement confidence-building measures that contribute to transparency and trust between States. The international community must be prepared to take collective action against those States that choose not to follow the rules, he said, expressing support for joint European Union responses to malicious cyberactivities, a type of “cyberdiplomacy tool-box” that sets out various options, including restrictive measures.
LEE JANG-KEUN (Republic of Korea) said States must boost efforts to apply international law in cyberspace and implement norms of behaviour, highlighting the value of the related Group of Governmental Experts. He called for the development and implementation of practical confidence-building measures to enhance transparency and reduce risks of conflict stemming from misunderstandings and miscalculations. It is also essential to bridge the gap in cybersecurity capacities among countries, given the cross-border nature and ripple effects of cyberthreats, which leave no country immune.
PETRA PAASILINNA (Finland), associating herself with the European Union, expressed grave concerns about recent attacks against the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), attributed to the Russian Federation. She also underlined a need to uphold international law in cyberspace. Noting that there are questions about applying existing legal rules in cyberspace, she said it would be counterproductive to redefine unlawful interventions in the internal affairs of other States. Citing recent recommendations of the Group of Governmental Experts, she said they outline standards as to what States should do at the national level and how to cooperate in protecting critical infrastructure, ensuring the integrity of the supply chain and preventing the proliferation of malicious information and communications technology tools and techniques.
MUSTAPHA ABBANI (Algeria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, African Group and the Arab Group, said information and communications technology provides an opportunity for social and economic development for his country. However, the malicious use of these technologies by non-State armed groups and terrorists has become a serious threat. However, the risk of these technologies’ dual use should not be a pretext to restrict developing countries’ access to them. For its part, Algeria has adopted a number of measures to face up to the mounting challenges caused by cyberspace crimes, establishing a national agency for preventing crimes involving information and communications technology.
ALI ROBAT JAZI (Iran) said a number of States with subversive aims continuously attempt to overtly use cyberspace to intervene in the political, economic and social affairs and systems of other States. While national measures are being implemented, a multilateral mechanism within the United Nations is needed for sustained consideration of and cooperation and coordination on cybersecurity-related issues. Accordingly, a serious substantive discussion is required to explore the ways and means of developing international norms, rules and principles. As a victim of cyberweapons, Iran rejects the status quo and supports the establishment of international legal norms and rules aimed at preventing the malicious use of cyberspace and information and communications technology. Condemning those seeking dominance and superiority in cyberspace and their attempts to maintain the status quo, he pointed to a certain State which, in collaboration with Israel, used the computer worm Stuxnet against Iran’s critical infrastructure, and yet has tabled a draft resolution regarding responsible State behaviour in cyberspace.
RACHITA BHANDARI (India) said the Secretary-General’s report provides an overview of recent developments concerning the means and methods of warfare, drawing attention to the possible security implications of these developments and making recommendations on multilateral efforts to address these issues. Challenges related to the military application of advances in science and technology must be tackled with a nuanced understanding of how they interface with existing mechanisms on international security and disarmament.
KAZUHIRO NAKAI (Japan) said cyberspace is an artificial domain for the free exchange of ideas without being constrained by national borders. It is an intangible frontier of definite values generated by intellectual creations and innovations inspired by ideas that are globally exchanged. Japan’s efforts to develop a free, fair and secure cyberspace consist of three pillars that promote the rule of law, confidence-building measures and capacity building. Japan contributes to international discussions on developing non-binding and voluntary norms of responsible State behaviour. Regarding disarmament and non-proliferation education, the 34 recommendations contained in the 2002 report of the Secretary‑General on the issue should be put into practice. However, the report might require updates to better suit today’s situation.
PETER BEERWERTH (Germany), associating himself with the European Union, said a new Group of Governmental Experts must allow more States and others with expertise to exchange their views. To secure peace, sovereign equality and human rights in the digital age, he called for the establishment of a number of measures, including clarity of norms, rules and laws alongside a predictable framework for responsible State behaviour to prohibit and deter wrongful cyberacts. Rules must protect against manipulation, interference, economic espionage and the theft of business secrets and intellectual property. He further called for protection measures against cyberattacks on political independence by State or non-State actors, and capacity building to make the Internet safe and secure everywhere.
SHIVANAND SIVAMOHAN (Malaysia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said his country has taken a keen interest in cybersecurity. Together with Singapore and Japan, Malaysia co-chairs the ASEAN Regional Forum Inter-Sessional Meeting on Security of and in the Use of Information and Communication Technologies. In the future, this body will make valuable contributions to the regional discourse on cybersecurity, including through the development of confidence-building measures. Noting divergent views on particular issues, he called on all States to find common ground in addressing an area of great concern to the international community as a whole.
Right of Reply
The representative of Bangladesh, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said the statement of Myanmar’s delegate is emblematic of their systemic denial of violations of international humanitarian law. The use of landmines by Myanmar has been raised by the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. The issue has been elaborated on by the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, which has provided an authoritative account of crimes committed by its security forces. For example, some landmines were of a certain type known to be produced by the Government of Myanmar. In one particular instance, two Bangladesh nationals suffered casualties, he noted. Expressing concern about the continued use of such weapons in violation of international humanitarian law, he urged Myanmar to accede to the Ottawa Convention.
Panel Discussion on Disarmament Machinery
The Committee then held a panel discussion on the disarmament machinery, featuring Raul Alp Denktas, speaking on behalf of Beliz Celasin, President of Conference on Disarmament; Gillian Bird, Chair of the United Nations Disarmament Commission; Vladimir Drobnjak, Chair of the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters; and Renata Dawn, Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR).
Mr. DENKTAS said the Conference on Disarmament is the body mandated to negotiate disarmament treaties and is at the centre of efforts to render the world safer. The 2018 session was not easy as it failed to reach a consensus on a programme of work. Instead, it adopted a technical report and other positive steps were taken in 2018. The Secretary-General and the Director General of the United Nations Office at Geneva rallied behind efforts to advance the work of the Conference on Disarmament and five subsidiary bodies were established, all having submitted their respective reports. The reports were adopted, except one on negative security assurances. Turkey produced the annual report in a factual and transparent manner. He hoped that incremental steps will be taken in 2019, in which maintaining the relevance of the body is an essential issue.
Ms. BIRD, highlighting the recent progress made by the Disarmament Commission, said the body is on the best possible path towards repeating its success of 2017, when it reached its first agreed outcome since 1999. In April, the Commission adopted its agenda in the shortest time since 2006, a testament to the positive and constructive dynamic that must be fostered over the next two years. In 2018, the Commission successfully launched two working groups, with two experienced Chairs. In this connection, a perfect gender balance was achieved. Concerning Working Group I, addressing nuclear risk reduction, she said it will carry into 2019 a Chair’s paper that incorporates a range of views as the basis for further discussions. Meanwhile, Working Group II, on outer space transparency and confidence-building measures, was of great benefit to participants given the lack of specific technical expertise in the field. It also agreed to take a Chair’s paper into 2019. Noting that the Group was unable to secure a consensus on bringing the next session forward to February from April, she expressed confidence that the Commission is well positioned to enjoy a productive and successful 2019 session.
Mr. DROBNJAK said the work of the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters is guided by the Secretary-General’s request to consider two main points: to contribute to his Agenda for Disarmament, with respect to disarmament and non-proliferation issues; and to consider the impact of development in science and technology on international disarmament and security. The Board proposed that disarmament should be accorded an equally high priority as the peace and development architecture reforms. It also underscored the role of disarmament in conflict prevention, humanitarian action and sustainable development. The Board considered the “frontier” issues, including emerging technologies, such as nanotechnology, supersonic technology, biotechnology and armed drones. Despite innovations, it is the human being that controls machinery, he said, adding that the Board highlighted a need for responsible innovations by industries. In addition, UNIDIR should play an increasing role in this area.
Ms. DAWN, said the UNIDIR Board of Trustees endorsed in June a three-year research agenda, covering weapons of mass destruction and other strategic weapons; conventional arms; security and technology; and gender. Key activities in 2018 included 38 research projects, 45 events and the release of 40 publications. Other activities include publishing information on emerging themes such as artificial intelligence and the weaponization of increasingly autonomous technologies. In the context of conventional arms, it published a handbook to help to identify synergies among select treaties. To promote new ideas on older issues, pioneering work was also done on nuclear weapon verification. On outer space, it published a dossier that includes guidelines for anti-satellite testing. To further dialogue on key issues, it held a cyberstability conference and an informal expert meeting on preventing the diversion of arms. It also provided advice to the Group of Governmental Experts on Further Practical Measures for the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space while supporting countries in establishing national policy frameworks. Concerning the financial situation of the body, she said five Member States provide 75 per cent of all contributions. Unfortunately, the number of donors has decreased to 19 in 2018 from 24 in 2017. Beyond its new research agenda, it is involved in the implementation of the Secretary-General’s Agenda for Disarmament and supports multilateral processes. More broadly, it endeavours to innovate and offer its services to a broader range of Member States, while seeking to build partnerships with a diverse community of experts.
Regional Disarmament and Security
ROLLIANSYAH SOEMIRAT (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed support for efforts to establish a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. Pending its establishment, the Movement demands that Israel, the only country in the region that has not joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, to do so without any precondition or further delay and place promptly all its nuclear facilities under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. However, he expressed disappointment about disagreements over the creation of such the zone due to opposition by the United States, United Kingdom and Canada at the 2015 Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.
Highlighting other issues, he said the Group underlines that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action contained in the Iran nuclear deal showed once again that dialogue and diplomacy are the most appropriate means to resolve such issues. Nuclear-weapon-free zones in some parts of the world are positive steps and important measures towards strengthening global disarmament and non-proliferation regimes.
ARIEL PENARANDA (Philippines), speaking on behalf of ASEAN, expressed a view that transparency, confidence-building measures and progress in regional disarmament are indispensable in improving the security environment of the Pacific region. He reiterated the Association’s commitment to preserve South-East Asia as a region free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction under the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone, known as the Treaty of Bangkok. He also reiterated its commitment to continuously engage nuclear-weapon States and intensify ongoing efforts of all Parties to resolve all outstanding issues.
Further, he said, ASEAN recognizes the importance of other regional nuclear-weapon-free zones to the existing global non-proliferation regime and continues to support ongoing efforts towards the establishment of such zones, especially in the Middle East. Making progress on global disarmament commitments depends on developing concrete initiatives, building capacity and ensuring continuity through regional cooperation.
ANDREW SMITH (Belize), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said partnerships have been essential in developing capacity and strengthening frameworks with a view to limiting access by terrorists and violent extremists to firearms, ammunition and explosives. To further strengthen cooperation on arms trafficking, a National Authorities Meeting on Firearms will be convened, hosted by the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security and the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean. Emphasizing the importance of women and youth in disarmament discourse, she expressed appreciation for the Centre’s efforts.
She said partnerships have also resulted in the enhancement of the CARICOM Advance Passenger Information System, the world’s only system that allows States to verify the presence of a person on board an aircraft. In July 2018, CARICOM delivered training and equipment to local law enforcement and firearms examiners in Dominica, Haiti, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Suriname. She also expressed support for the CARICOM-Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004) Implementation Programme, welcoming the upcoming regional conference in Bolivia on the matter.
NARCISA VLADULESCU, of the European Union delegation, said there can be no military solution to the Syrian conflict. Only a political solution in line with Council resolution 2254 (2015) can bring peace to the country and its people. She strongly condemned the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian armed forces and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), as confirmed by the OPCW‑United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism. The European Union supports enhancing the OPCW mandate to identify the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons in Syria and develop a universal attribution mechanism, reflected in the decision made in June at the fourth Special Session of the Conference of the States Parties to Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction. For its part, the European Union imposed additional restrictive measures against high-level Syrian officials for their role in the development and use of chemical weapons.
Meanwhile, she welcomed ongoing diplomatic efforts in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, while urging the country to seize the historic opportunity and engage seriously in follow-up negotiations. Until it takes concrete steps towards denuclearization, the European Union will continue to strictly enforce existing sanctions. Turning to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the European Union deeply regrets the withdrawal of the United States from the agreement. Iran has continued to implement its nuclear related commitments, she said, noting that the lifting of sanctions is an essential part of the agreement. Raising other concerns, she said long-standing principles of European security have not been respected by all States. The Russian Federation committed to refraining from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or sovereignty of Ukraine, as outlined in the Budapest Memorandum, formally known as the Memorandum on Security Assurances in Connection with Ukraine’s Accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. She also condemned the Russian Federation’s illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol. In June 2018, European Union leaders agreed to extend economic sanctions targeting specific sectors of the Russian Federation’s economy. More broadly, she encouraged all Member States to work actively to address regional instability and conflicts, which are often at the root of arms programmes.
ENRIQUE JOSÉ MARÍA CARRILLO GÓMEZ (Paraguay) said that undermining disarmament measures undermines international peace and security. He condemned any type of arms race that could destabilize Latin America, a region free of nuclear weapons. Indeed, Paraguay endeavours to achieve the lowest level of armaments in the region. Meanwhile, his Government values the work of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean in promoting international cooperation between States, including the sharing of norms and monitoring the manufacture, transfer, export and import of weapons. Additionally, Paraguay is focused on tackling transnational crime and highlighting the voices of academics and civil society in the disarmament arena.
BASSEM YEHIA HASSAN KASSEM HASSAN (Egypt), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, said that in 2018, some States still argue that peace and security can be achieved in the Middle East under a policy of deterrence and the accumulation of weaponry instead of engagement on the establishment of an equitable security architecture that achieves the collective and collaborative security of all the States and peoples of the region. Serious steps towards the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East could have saved the world and the region from the recent incidents of the actual use of weapons of mass destruction and several incidents of illegitimate military aggressions. The United Nations is the only suitable venue for elaborating and negotiating a security and arms control architecture that would be conducive to a fostering lasting peace.
Mr. WOOD (United States) said reducing regional tensions and conflicts will contribute to creating conditions conducive to progress on nuclear disarmament. In East Asia, he pointed to his country’s engagement with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. By fulfilling its obligations to eliminate its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes under relevant Security Council resolutions, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea may finally realize the security and prosperity it seeks. Meanwhile, China is pursuing a new generation of nuclear delivery systems as it works to establish a nuclear “triad”, matched by investments to upgrade its conventional military. Chinese military modernization remains centrally focused on degrading the United States core operational and technological advantages to establish hegemony across the region. Reducing nuclear danger in Asia is critical to the safety and security of the region and the world. Turning to the Middle East, he said the theory that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action would contribute to regional and international stability has fallen flat. Indeed, Iran has used the economic benefits it received under the agreement to fund its destabilizing activities in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere. He went on to express deep concern about the actions of the Russian Federation aimed at undermining security in Europe.
ZHANGELDY SYRYMBET (Kazakhstan) said the situation in North-East Asia and the Middle East has a high potential for volatility and conflict, underscoring a need to bring political trust and ongoing inclusive dialogue back into international affairs to ensure the safety and future of humankind. While welcoming ongoing diplomatic efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, he highlighted the importance of creating a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. For its part, Kazakhstan hosted a joint regional workshop on the fissile material cut-off treaty, with support from the European Union and the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific. Among other things, the workshops allowed States of the Asia-Pacific region to exchange ideas and contribute to the process of developing a future treaty.
NIRMAL RAJ KAFLE (Nepal), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said new cooperation and dialogue must be fostered, especially at the regional level, to reduce military spending and build confidence. He encouraged the United Nations regional centres for disarmament to develop a meaningful partnership with women, youth and non-governmental agencies. Disarmament education helps to change the basic attitudes of people and policy makers with respect to peace and security, he observed, recalling that his Government has developed textbook content on peace and disarmament education for students in grades 8 through 10. In partnership with the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament for Asia and the Pacific, Nepal has been organizing regional meetings and dialogues under the Kathmandu process. Expressing appreciation for the Centre’s work, he acknowledged its contribution towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 16. He called on countries and NGOs in the region and beyond to make voluntary contributions to the Centre to ensure the sustainability of its activities and operations.
YANN HWANG (France) said the regional dimension of the First Committee’s work may allow former adversaries to build a neighbourhood of peace, using the European Union as an example, including in the field of disarmament. Global, regional and subregional initiatives can be mutually reinforcing when designed to be. Globally, the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms provides a general framework against the trade of these weapons. Regionally, cooperation is essential, given the cross-border nature of arms trafficking, he said, recalling the Serval and Barkhane operations that led to the seizure of many such arms cachés. From a subregional perspective, France supports the Centre for Development of Post-Conflict Mine Action and Decontamination Actions in Ouidah, Benin and has partnered with Germany to launch a coordination group in the western Balkans to address concerns about the spread of small arms and light weapons. Calling on all parties to return to the full implementation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, he also expressed concern over disparities in implementing the Treaty on Open Skies.
NAZIM KHALDI (Algeria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, noted that the latter has tabled a draft decision to convene a conference on the establishment of a weapons of mass destruction free zone in the Middle East, based on arrangements mutually agreed upon among the parties. Algeria has been repeatedly alerting the international community about the risks associated with the unregulated and uncontrolled proliferation of all types of conventional weapons in the North Africa, Sahel and Mediterranean regions. The political solution in Libya is the only way to settle the crisis, using comprehensive dialogue and a national reconciliation initiative between all Libyans. For its part, Algeria is tabling a draft resolution on strengthening security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region.
HUSHAM AHMED (Pakistan) said the resources being spent on arms and weapons systems can be devoted to economic and social development and to protect the environment. Several regions have benefitted from applying such principles and guidelines in terms of conventional arms control and confidence-building measures. Regional arrangements for disarmament and arms limitations should accord priority to addressing the most destabilizing military capabilities and imbalances. “In regions characterized by tensions and disputes, achieving a stable balance of conventional forces and weapons through cooperative regional initiatives is imperative,” he said. Confidence-building measures can lead to the creation of favourable conditions for the peaceful settlement of disputes. However, they should not become an end in themselves and should be pursued in conjunction with sincere efforts to settle disputes peacefully.
HARYO BUDI NUGROHO (Indonesia), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the value of regionalism lies in its inclusivity, rules-based nature and emphasis on mutual benefit and action. The countries in South-East Asia can and sometimes do play a vital role in advancing peaceful co-existence with the principle of undiminished security for all while maintaining the lowest possible level of armaments. Indonesia is committed to preserve the region as a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. His delegation commends the relevant civil society groups and NGOs for their critical activism and awareness-expansion on eliminating nuclear weapons and other disarmament imperatives.
MARCIN CZEPELAK (Poland) said the current security environment in Europe is characterized by a lack of trust caused by the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine and its decision to suspend its participation in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. To be constructive, Poland has sought to modernize the Vienna Document 2011 on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures. To address the issue of increased military activity in the region, Poland has also launched a voluntary reporting initiative on military exercises in the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation. Meanwhile, the illicit transfer, accumulation and misuse of conventional arms is key to regional security. Member States should spare no effort in assisting countries like Ukraine to prevent and combat such activities. Concerning anti-personnel mines, Poland is also focused on promoting the universalization and full implementation of the Ottawa Convention.
ELENE AGLADZE (Georgia) said that despite calls from the international community, the militarization of the Black Sea region by the Russian Federation persists and has even accelerated in its pace. While the Russian Federation denies that the build-up of offensive weaponry goes beyond the need to defend its territorial integrity, Georgia has seen tanks, rocket systems, air defence missile systems and more. The best way to verify the Russian Federation’s claims would be to allow international monitors on the ground. However, the Russian Federation has consistently denied the European Union Monitoring Mission from entering the area for monitoring and verification purposes. Regarding ludicrous allegations made by the Russian Federation about the Tbilisi Richard Lugar Health Research Centre, the laboratory is designed to promote public and animal health for the benefit of Georgia, the region and the global community. Unfortunately, such allegations are not only being used as a propaganda tool, but as part of a hybrid warfare to lay the groundwork for future aggression.
SUHA AL-GHARRAWI (Iraq), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, said nuclear-weapon-free zones are key to the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regimes. Her country fully supports the creation of such a zone, especially in the Middle East, towards a world free from these weapons. Non-fulfilment of plans to establish a zone in the region will lead to instability and further complicate efforts towards the universalization of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, she said, noting that the Arab Group submitted a draft decision to convene a conference to establish such a zone in the Middle East. The denuclearization of Israel and its accession to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon State is the first step to help to reduce tensions in the region.
OLEH NIKOLENKO (Ukraine) said his country complies with its obligations under pan-European confidence-building mechanisms related to the conventional arms control, including the Open Skies treaty and the Vienna Document 2011 on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures. By launching an aggression against his country, the Russian Federation created an impasse for subregional military cooperation and confidence-building arrangements between littoral States of the Black Sea. Ukraine has bilateral agreements on confidence-building measures with several States in the region, but the Russian Federation has rejected entering into a similar agreement with his country. Raising additional concerns, he said the occupation and subsequent militarization of the Crimean Peninsula led to the expansion of the area of use of Russian warships and military aircraft in the Black Sea region and far beyond in the entire Mediterranean basin.
Right of Reply
The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, categorically denied its involvement in the Salisbury event related to the poisoning of the Skripals. Nevertheless, some States continue to believe the Russian Federation carried out this inhumane act. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom’s investigation of the case has not yet provided answers to outstanding questions. Concerning Ukraine, several delegates used the terms “aggression”, “invasion” and “militarization”, but no one invaded or annexed Crimea. It returned to the Russian Federation based on a free vote by people living there. Concerning eastern Ukraine and the alleged involvement of the Russian Federation’s armed forces, he asked for proof of Russian military presence in those regions. The reality is that a genocide of the Russian population, carried out by Ukrainian armed forces, is occurring in two regions of Ukraine. Responding to his Georgian counterpart, he said the Russian Federation’s operations in 2008 were to establish peace at a time when inhumane actions had led to the deaths of many in South Ossetia. Thanks to his country’s efforts, peace was restored and Georgians and South Ossetians are now living side by side. Concerning the laboratory, he said Georgia should be transparent and invite experts to verify what kind of experiments are being conducted there.
The representative of China said the statement by the United States delegate was replete with unwarranted accusations that his delegation categorically rejects. China is pursuing a national defence strategy that is committed to providing the international community with goods in the area of security. The growth of China’s forces is a growth for peace, he said, adding that its nuclear policy is highly stable, consistent and coherent. Moreover, the country is committed to the non-first use of nuclear weapons and is against the use or threat of use of such arms against non-nuclear-weapon States. China has kept its arsenals at a minimum level for national security purposes. No one will be threatened by China’s nuclear weapons. In addition, China will never seek hegemony. In contrast, the United States has been building up its nuclear arsenal and raising the role of atomic bombs in its national security policies, while developing new, low-yield warheads, heightening the risk of a nuclear war. Recently, the United States has threatened to withdraw 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. Highlighting that the instrument is an important tool to ensure international security, he urged the United States to carefully heed the voice of the international community.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea repeated his Government’s position that because of the peace-loving efforts of Pyongyang, there is a new trend towards peace. Indeed, many countries welcome the ongoing dialogue, he said, expressing hope that this trend will continue. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea stands firm for the complete denuclearization and the responsible implementation of the joint statement signed between the United States and his Government.
The representative of Ukraine urged his counterpart from the Russian Federation to stop describing the conflict in eastern Ukraine as a civil war or internal conflict. Regarding the referendum on Crimea, he recalled the bloody war in Chechnya, in which tens of thousands of innocent people were killed by the Russian Federation. He wondered if the Russian Federation would accept a referendum and its results if a minority group in the Russian Federation requests such a vote.
The representative of Georgia said she does not know what her Russian counterpart was referring to when he described the 2008 war. She also rejected allegations regarding the activities of the Lugar Health Research Center.
The representative of the Russian Federation said his country regularly provides humanitarian assistance to eastern Ukraine, helping people there to survive, including through the provision of vital goods, such as medicine. Regarding Chechnya, the republic is flourishing, after peace and clam were established. Georgia conducted aggression on its own people on 8 August 2008, which constitutes a dark page of history in Georgia. That happened and remains the case.