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GA/DIS/3636
29 October 2019
Seventy-fourth Session, 17th & 18th Meetings (AM & PM)

First Committee Delegates Exchange Divergent Views on How Best to Prevent Weaponizing Outer Space, Cyberspace amid Eroding Global Trust

While delegates largely agreed that new universal legally binding regulations must tackle new and emerging security threats online and in outer space, they exchanged divergent views on how best to do so amid an environment of eroding international trust in both domains, as the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) continued its thematic debates on these and other issues.

During its debate on other disarmament measures, Committee members raised grave concerns for the proliferation of online attacks alongside ever more sophisticated and technologically advanced cyberweapons.  Indonesia’s representative said his country recorded 12 million cyberattacks in 2018 alone, stressing that:  “it is high time that we update our work to cope with this increasingly important challenge.”

However, representatives were divided in their support for the work of two related groups established through General Assembly resolutions adopted in 2018.  Following a panel discussion with the chairs of both entities, Austria’s delegate was among some that commended the consensus already emerging from the Group of Governmental Experts on advancing responsible State behaviour in cyberspace in the context of international security, tasked with studying possible cooperative measures to address existing and potential threats in the sphere of information security, including norms, rules and principles of responsible State behaviour.

Other delegates, including Iran’s representative, said the best forum to involve all States on an issue that touches every aspect of life is the Open-Ended Working Group on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security, which is mandated to further develop the rules, norms and principles of responsible State behaviour.  He added that there is no need for a parallel Group of Governmental Experts, which is a vehicle to maintain the status quo for the benefit of a few States.

The representative of the United States said that despite having voted against the resolution establishing the Open-Ended Working Group, these two fora reflect opportunities to refine critical guidance for States and identify ways to improve capacities across the area of cybersecurity.

At the same time, the Russian Federation’s delegate cautioned against a tug-of-war between the Open-Ended Working Group and the Group of Governmental Experts.

Some delegates called for merging the findings of both groups, with Australia’s representative saying that while they are separate processes, his delegation expected them to operate collaboratively.  Only by working together can the international community harness the potential of cyberspace for the benefit of all, he said.

Several delegates expressed frustration at the lack of progress.  Egypt’s representative said stagnation in addressing security threats arising from cyberspace and outer space alongside the weaponization of artificial intelligence is due to the misguided belief by some States that their absolute dominance in such domains can be maintained.

Mexico’s representative said a good starting point would be to implement what has been agreed by the Group of Governmental Experts, adding that while not exhaustive, those agreements are a solid basis for a multidimensional approach that strikes a proper balance between international security, human rights and development.

During its thematic debate on outer space, Japan’s representative highlighted the current blurred distinction between civil, commercial and military activities in outer space, saying the international community must bring new ideas to discussions going forward.

Many delegates called for legally binding agreements to ensure outer space remains weapon-free.  In this regard, many delegates supported drafting new regulations and guidelines to reflect new and emerging space technologies, while others said existing agreements were sufficient, including the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, known as the Outer Space Treaty, adopted in 1967.

The debate also touched on the Chinese-Russian draft treaty on preventing the weaponization of outer space, which was submitted to the Conference on Disarmament in 2008 and updated in 2014.  The United Kingdom’s delegate said the proposal is too narrow, fails to resolve serious political and technological challenges, and cannot be effectively verified.

However, Pakistan’s representative, highlighting the urgency of preventing an outer space arms race, said the draft treaty is indeed a good starting point for discussions, and the Conference on Disarmament is the right place to start negotiations on the issue.

At the outset of this discussion, the Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts on further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space told the Committee, via a video recording, that members failed to reach consensus on a final report.

During the day-long meeting, the Committee also began a thematic debate on regional disarmament and security.

Speaking today on the issue of other disarmament measures and international security were representatives of Singapore (also on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Switzerland, Pakistan, Italy, Philippines, Montenegro, Cuba, Brazil, Bangladesh, Estonia, Republic of Korea, France, Netherlands, China, Venezuela, United Kingdom, Japan, Slovenia, Spain, Malaysia, Austria, Ecuador and India.

On the issue of outer space, the following representatives delivered statements:  Indonesia (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Tunisia, Malaysia, Switzerland, Egypt, Indonesia, South Africa, Italy, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, Cuba, Zambia, Germany, Mexico, Brazil, Bangladesh, Republic of Korea, France, Algeria, Argentina, Nigeria, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russian Federation (also on behalf of the Commonwealth of Independent States), Myanmar, Australia, Malaysia, Ecuador and the Philippines, as well as the European Union and the Holy See.

Participating in the debate on regional disarmament and security were representatives of Indonesia (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Tunisia (for the Arab Group), Philippines (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Bahamas (for the Caribbean Community), Egypt, Iraq, Poland, Ukraine, Cuba, Armenia, France, Greece and Myanmar, as well as the European Union.

Representatives of China, Russian Federation, United States, France, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Turkey spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The First Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m., on Wednesday, 30 October, to continue its thematic debate on regional disarmament and security.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met to continue its thematic discussion of other disarmament measures and international security and begin consideration of thematic debates on outer space and regional disarmament and security.  For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3624 of 10 October.

Panel Discussion

GUILHERME DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA (Brazil), Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts on advancing responsible State behaviour in cyberspace in the context of international security, said the world is moving towards overarching digitalization and interconnectedness.  As such, there is a critical need for different voices, a plurality of views and an engage of different groups of actors to clarify the risks and opportunities the world is facing in the cyberdomain.  To that end, the Group of Governmental Experts, comprising 25 members reflecting a geographical balance, is working to implement principles and norms discussed in previous engagements in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

Highlighting tasks ahead, he said efforts should focus on addressing existing and emerging cyberthreats, applying international law and implementing non-binding norms, and confidence- and capacity-building measures.  Having consulted with groups of States, he outlined key developments in capacity building, forward-thinking input and the identification of region-specific opportunities and risks.  Pointing to subsequent meetings in New York on 5 and 6 December, when the pertinent parties can take the next step in discussing cybersecurity at the multilateral level, he said the Group’s task is a challenging one in tackling cybersecurity at the global level.

JÜRG LAUBER (Switzerland), Chair of the Open-Ended Working Group on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security, highlighted urgent issues, including threats in the sphere of information security, how international law applies to information and telecommunications technologies, responsible State behaviour, institutional dialogue, confidence building and capacity building.  Ahead of the Working Group’s next meeting, to be held in February, he anticipated a deepening of discussions.  Recalling recent consultations with regional organizations, such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) or the Organization of American States (OAS), he foresees informal intersessional multi-stakeholder meetings with businesses, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and academia, to share views on the issues within the Working Group’s mandate.

Other Disarmament Measures and International Security

BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said digital transformation presents tremendous opportunities and benefits for the region, but it also brings persistent, evolving and transboundary cyberthreats that may undermine international peace and security.  Coordinated expertise from multiple stakeholders must effectively mitigate threats, build trust and realize technological benefits.  No Government can deal with the growing sophistication and transboundary nature of cyberthreats alone, making regional cooperation essential.  ASEAN has reiterated its commitment to cybersecurity cooperation and non-binding norms in a series of summits and conferences and will continue to focus on regional capacity-building efforts, reflecting a need to further develop consensual non-binding norms for responsible State behaviour in cyberspace.

Mr. GAFOOR, speaking in his national capacity, said Singapore has been a target of cyberattacks.  Cybersecurity requires a global approach based on international norms and rules.  He cited the importance of complementarity between the Open-Ended Working Group and the Group of Governmental Experts, as both processes must succeed in delivering meaningful outcomes.  Regionally, the ASEAN-Singapore Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence will help those States better prepare for emerging threats.

FÉLIX BAUMANN (Switzerland), noting that new artificial-intelligence-based systems raise important ethical questions, said interdisciplinary cooperation is crucial to ensure that innovations benefit all of society.  Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation and its reference to the Geneva Dialogue on Responsible Behaviour in Cyberspace, he said the two United Nations processes on advancing responsible behaviour in cyberspace must avoid duplication and ensure their work is mutually reinforcing.  Cyberspace is not void of rules but is governed by the same legal obligations that States have offline.  A rules-based approach is therefore key to harnessing the full potential of scientific and technological developments — an approach that requires the application of existing norms and the development of new norms where necessary.

PETER HORNE (Australia) expressed concern at the scope, scale and severity of cyberincidents undertaken by State actors and their proxies.  Member States have affirmed by consensus that international law applies to cyberspace.  While the Open‑Ended Working Group and the Group of Governmental Experts are separate processes, Australia expects them to operate collaboratively.  Only by working together can the international community harness the potential of cyberspace for the benefit of all.

JOHN BRAVACO (United States) said the Group of Governmental Experts and the Open-Ended Working Group are opportunities to refine critical guidance for States and identify ways to improve capacities across the area of cybersecurity.  Despite voting against the resolution establishing the Open-Ended Working Group, the United States is committed to contributing constructively to its work, as it provides an ideal complementary venue to broaden awareness of a framework of responsible state behaviour.  The two groups represent distinct but related processes and therefore should have two distinct but complementary texts on information and communications technologies in 2019.

BASSEM YEHIA HASSAN KASSEM HASSAN (Egypt), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and Arab Group, said the lack of progress in addressing the security threats arising from cyberspace, outer space and the weaponization of artificial intelligence is due to the misguided belief by some States that their absolute dominance in such domains can be maintained.  Those countries resist the development of equitable rules-based international regimes that would prohibit the malicious use of such technologies.  Such an approach can lead to an arms race that no one can win, he said, noting that meaningful progress on a reliable regime based on agreed rules and norms has been stalled for more than a decade.  In that context, Egypt anticipates real progress within the related Open-Ended Working Group.  It is time to move forward in an inclusive and action-oriented way, rather than go in circles when the real challenges and threats are already known.

HUSHAM AHMED (Pakistan) said new sophisticated and technologically advanced weapons threaten peace, security and stability at all levels, making it a challenge to regulate this phenomenon under international law.  An international legally binding instrument must regulate lethal autonomous weapons systems because “any system that delegates life and death decisions to machines is by nature unethical and cannot fully comply with international humanitarian law”.  States can address the issue within the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons or the United Nations disarmament machinery, including the Conference on Disarmament.  As for cyberwarfare, he said most States participating in the related Open-Ended Working Group agree that the Internet must be regulated and that there is a need for having common but differentiated responsibilities in making the global network safe and secure.  Additional norms must be developed, he said, adding that the Conference on Disarmament remains an appropriate venue for further multilateral work on this topic.

GIANFRANCO INCARNATO (Italy), aligning himself with the European Union, said participating in international fora and complying with the norms of responsible State behaviour in cyberspace are part of his country’s cybersecurity action plan.  Calling on all States to work towards complementarity between the Open-Ended Working Group and the Group of Governmental Experts in a spirit of consensus and mutual respect, he regretted to note a rise in the volume of malicious cyberactivities.  While multilateralism remains the best available tool to counter this trend, a truly universal cybersecurity framework can only be based on existing international norms.

ARIEL RODELAS PENARANDA (Philippines), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, said Member States should aim, wherever possible, for the standardization and universalization of legislation by sharing and comparing good practices.  He proposed enabling easier cyberincident attribution to ensure that States are held responsible for what happens in their online realm.  In addition, assistance should be extended to States lacking the capacity to thwart cyberthreats.

MILICA PEJANOVIĆ ĐURIŠIĆ (Montenegro) said threats in cyberspace used to be limited to hackers, but now they include criminals, terrorists and State and non-State actors.  Given these circumstances, a multilateral approach is the best way to keep the transformational power of information and communications technologies.  A holistic approach, with human security at its core, is required, she said, emphasizing the importance of sustaining the momentum demonstrated during the first substantive session of the Open-Ended Working Group.

LILIANNE SÁNCHEZ RODRÍGUEZ (Cuba), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said her delegation supports legally binding instruments to prevent the militarization of outer space and the Internet.  The world’s 2018 military expenditure of $1.8 trillion would be better spent on efforts to realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Highlighting advances made by the Open-Ended Working Group, she regretted to note the United States defence strategy, which in 2018 authorized the use of offensive cyberweapons, cyberattacks and pre-emptive attacks as dissuasive tools against adversaries.  She also rejected the United States aggressions against Cuba’s radioelectric space, noting that radio and television transmissions occurred through 21 channels in 2019.

CLAUDIO MEDEIROS LEOPOLDINO (Brazil) drew attention to the rampant use of information and communications technologies and their increasing weaponization by States.  The international community can no longer countenance unchecked behaviour in cyberspace without imperilling shared values of peace, security and human rights.  While international law applies to cyberspace, it should not legitimize the transformation of that environment into an arena for military conflict.  On the contrary, all States should show restraint and foster a safe environment for those technologies.  To this end, the Open-Ended Working Group and Group of Governmental Experts can and must work harmoniously.

EDUARDO ALCIBIADES SANCHEZ KIESSLICH (Mexico) said it is time to advance beyond abstract discussions.  Expectations are high, but so too are the looming challenges and threats if there is no established cybersecurity architecture.  Implementing what has been agreed by the Group of Governmental Experts should be the starting point.  While not exhaustive, those agreements are a solid basis for a multidimensional approach that strikes a proper balance between international security, human rights and development.  International law is fully applicable in cyberspace, he said, adding that discussions by Member States must be based on actual experiences and concerns and must include the participation of big technology companies, civil society and all citizens.

NIRUPAM DEV NATH (Bangladesh) said information and communications technologies is a key vehicle for implementing the 2030 Agenda.  Welcoming opportunities for developing countries to voice their concerns and priorities through the Open-Ended Working Group, he anticipated that it can merge its work with that of the Group of Governmental Experts to set out the rules for cyberspace.  Highlighting the importance of factoring in potential threats, including new developments in artificial intelligence and related fields, he said the international community must prevent such technologies from being exploited by terrorists.

GERT AUVÄÄRT (Estonia), aligning himself with the European Union, said the already agreed-upon norms of responsible State behaviour, together with existing laws and regional confidence- and capacity-building measures, provide the structure for a cyberstability framework.  The first session of the Open-Ended Working Group demonstrated the importance engaging all stakeholders, including civil society, academia and the private sector, in addressing cybersecurity issues.  This in turn illustrates that a safe and stable cyberspace cannot be achieved without an inclusive multi-stakeholder approach.

HAM SANG-WOOK (Republic of Korea) called for an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful cyberspace, asking for the implementation of the conclusions reached by the Group of Governmental Experts.  Commending the work of the Open-Ended Working Group, he said it represents an opportunity to build common understanding and provide practical guidance on implementing agreed rules and norms.  Confidence-building measures can limit the risk of conflict stemming from misunderstanding or miscalculation.  Capacity building is necessary too, he said, adding that malicious actors tend to target developing countries as transit routes for attacks within the global cyberecosystem.  As such, States must develop their own defence and resilience capabilities in cyberspace while supporting each other to jointly respond to cyberthreats.

YANN HWANG (France), aligning himself with the European Union, said States must show determination in addressing cybersecurity challenges through cooperation and law.  To that end, his delegation launched the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace.  Indeed, cyberspace has been a place of confrontation for years, and France has adopted a doctrine for using its defensive and offensive cyberwarfare capabilities.  He therefore encouraged every State to follow suit in publicly presenting its interpretation of how international law should be applied in cyberspace, or its doctrine for using cybercapabilities.

SACHI CLARINGBOULD (Netherlands) said States must cooperate to protect the rules-based international order to ensure they reap the benefits of the digital transformation for economic growth, societal progress and development.  The duty to advance that order is enshrined in the Netherlands’ Constitution, with international law being applicable to cyberspace.  In this vein, the Netherlands will contribute €1 million to the World Bank’s Digital Development Partnership Trust Fund to support global cybersecurity capacity-building efforts.

LI NAN (China) said the world has become highly dependent on cyberspace, but the number of destabilizing incidents is rising.  In addressing cyberspace issues, States should act on the basis of mutual respect and equality through dialogue and cooperation.  They should commit to cooperating and establishing a fair framework of rules and norms, with the United Nations playing a leading role.  China calls for international dialogue on cyberspace and stands ready to work with other countries in this regard.

HEIDAR ALI BALOJI (Iran), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Open-Ended Working Group has been the best forum to involve all States on an issue that touches every aspect of life.  There is no need for a parallel Group of Governmental Experts that is a vehicle to maintain the status quo for the benefit of a few States seeking to dominate and militarize cyberspace.  Like some other nations, Iran has been the victim of irresponsible State behaviour in cyberspace, he said, recalling a case in 2010 in which the United States, in collaboration with the Israeli regime, planted a computer virus in its critical infrastructure.

ANDREY BELOUSOV (Russian Federation), noting that his delegation has submitted to the Committee a concise updated version of the draft resolution “Developments in the field of information and telecommunication in the context of international security”, said the General Assembly needs real consensus on the topic.  That can only be achieved through one common document put forward in a peaceful, constructive and balanced spirit.  A tug-of-war between the Open-Ended Working Group and the Group of Governmental Experts should be avoided.  However, efforts to elaborate a common document have stumbled upon intrigues, amid a view that each group needs its own resolution.  That is nothing more than an attempt to mislead the international community, he said, adding that decisions by the Assembly during its current session should not disrupt negotiations on international information security nor force countries into a division.

DANIELA ALEJANDRA RODRÍGUEZ MARTÍNEZ (Venezuela) said the inalienable right of States to develop information and communications technologies for peaceful ends cannot be questioned.  The use of technologies must be in line with the United Nations Charter, international law and the principles of sovereignty, equality and non-interference in the internal affairs of States.  She expressed concern at the militarization of cyberspace and the use of related technology as tools of war to violate the sovereignty of States for geopolitical ends.  The Open-Ended Working Group should ensure open, frank and inclusive dialogue that leads to shared ideas and binding rules and procedures.

REBECCA ROSE (United Kingdom), associating herself with the European Union, said States must together uphold the rules-based international system in all domains, including cyberspace.  The United Kingdom will engage actively with both the Open-Ended Working Group and the Group of Governmental Experts.  It also welcomes the involvement of Member States and NGOs with different perspectives.  States and individuals are governed by law in cyberspace just as they are in any other domain, and it is the responsibility of all States, as authors and subjects of international law, to be clear on how this extends to the Internet.  Confidence-building measures and international capacity building are crucial, she said, noting that London has invested more than ‏£36 million with partners in more than 100 countries since 2012.  However, responsible States must defend shared rules and values while holding States accountable for irresponsible and malicious cyberactivity.

KAZUHIRO NAKAI (Japan) noted that the Group of Governmental Experts reaffirmed the applicability of existing international law and developed voluntary norms for responsible State behaviour.  With the Open-Ended Working Group also providing a forum for that issue, he expressed hope both groups will play a complementary role.  Turning to disarmament, he emphasized that quality education, including on non-proliferation, exposes people to a variety of ideas and viewpoints.  Developing critical thinking in this forum is key to fostering dialogue and bridging political differences, which are necessary to break the current stalemate and advance nuclear disarmament goals.

DARJA BAVDAŽ KURET (Slovenia), aligning herself with the European Union, said there is a strong need for a global and secure cyberspace, but it is unnecessary to develop a new body of law on the issue, which could question applicability of existing international legislation.  She expressed support for norms and measures agreed upon in the General Assembly and regional organizations, and intra-State cooperation in building capacities to address cyberthreats.  For its part, Slovenia is engaged in sharing best practices with western Balkan States, including management of classified data and training regional computer emergency response teams.

IGNACIO SANCHEZ DE LERIN (Spain), associating himself with the European Union said an international order based on law and the United Nations framework are starting points to discuss challenges facing cyberspace, calling for a safe, secure, open and global Internet.  He raised concerns about a rise in malicious activities online, which have high political and social costs and can threaten peace and security.  Such activities must be tackled, he said, commending the work of the Group of Governmental Experts and the Open-Ended Working Group.  Such efforts must be coherent and include dialogue with the private sector.  At the same time, he called for more capacity-building measures to help to overcome vulnerabilities and better prevent cyberattacks, cybercrime and terrorism.

GLORIA CORINA PETER TIWET (Malaysia), associating herself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, said information technologies can be used for legitimate purposes, but can also increase the nature and level of threats.  The weaponization of information and communications technologies should be rejected, as it risks triggering a new arms race between nations.  The United Nations must adopt a leading role in cybersecurity, he said, voicing support for the Secretary General’s disarmament agenda, which is helping to foster a culture of accountability and adherence to norms, rules and principles on responsible online behaviour.  Malaysia is implementing a new five-year cybersecurity strategy that encompasses governance, legislation, enforcement, innovation, industry development, technology security and research and development.  She called for multilateral cooperation and respect for the sovereignty of all nations and for human rights in the development of new technologies.

THOMAS HAJNOCZI (Austria), associating himself with the European Union, welcomed the consensus emerging from the Group of Governmental Experts as the basis for the application of international law and the United Nations Charter.  Calling for broader involvement of stakeholders during the sessions of the Open-Ended Working Group, he asked for practical steps, including confidence-building measures, to move beyond the current situation where “trust is thin on the ground”.  As for the rules, norms and principles of responsible State behaviour, he said a common understanding must be reached on State-level implementation in areas such as safeguarding critical infrastructure.  Other areas of cybersecurity require guiding principles, he said, as cyberspace has become a global public domain that needs to be strengthened for all to enjoy its benefits.

ANDRES FIALLO (Ecuador), rejecting the proliferation of armed drones and lethal autonomous weapons, highlighted challenges posed by the militarization of artificial intelligence.  As such, he associated himself with the Non-Aligned Movement on drawing attention to a need to ensure online security.  Nothing is outside international law, he said.  Noting the complementary efforts of the Group of Governmental Experts and the Open-Ended Working Group, he pointed to the critical role to be played by civil society, women and youth in disarmament efforts.

PANGERAN IBRANI SITUMORANG (Indonesia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country recorded almost 12 million cyberattacks in 2018.  Cyberspace is also a favourite platform for spreading hatred and radical ideology, he said, adding that potential inter-State conflicts are spreading into the information and communications technologies environment.  “It is high time that we update our work to cope with this increasingly important challenge,” he said.  Moreover, cyberspace norms must represent the interests of all Member States, he continued, adding that current processes should be judged by their merits.  All work should aim at creating an information and communications technology environment as a realm of peace and security for common prosperity.

PANKAJ SHARMA (India) introduced the draft resolution “Role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament” (document A/C.1/74/L.15), highlighting the interface between emerging technologies and their global implications.  Developments in science and technology must therefore be viewed from an interdisciplinary and synergetic manner.  As such, “L.15” proposes that Member States organize national, regional and international events to facilitate dialogue among relevant stakeholders on this topical issue.

Outer Space

PANGERAN IBRANI SITUMORANG (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the prevention of an arms race in outer space, including a ban to deploy or use weapons therein, would avert a great danger to international peace and security.  Rejecting the United States declaration in 2018 that space is a warfighting domain and the next battlefield, he said the Conference on Disarmament must urgently begin substantive work to prevent such a confrontation.  Drawing attention to the Chinese-Russian proposal on a draft treaty to prevent the placement of weapons in outer space, he remained concerned about the impact of anti-ballistic missile defence systems and weaponizing outer space would have on an already eroding international security environment.  Any initiatives regarding missiles must be negotiated within the United Nations and consider the security concerns of all States.

MOEZZ LAOUANI (Tunisia), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group and associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, called for prohibiting any weaponization or armed conflict in outer space.  Existing agreements on the peaceful use of outer space amended to keep pace with new developments and a legally binding international instrument must prevent an arms race in outer space, with a ban on related weapons, including those built to attack objects in that realm.  However, any attempt to govern outer space activities must not obstruct the inalienable right of States to use outer space for peaceful purposes, and international cooperation on the peaceful use of outer space must include developing countries.

GLORIA CORINA PETER TIWET (Malaysia), speaking on behalf of ASEAN, said access to outer space for peaceful purposes is an inalienable right of all States.  Urging all Member States to fully implement General Assembly resolution 73/91 on the peaceful uses of outer space, she highlighted the work of the Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space Activities.  As Malaysia is a member, he said that while the Group failed to achieve consensus on a final report, its substantive discussions could be a good basis for further negotiations on an international legally binding instrument to prevent an arms race in outer space.  For its part, ASEAN supports the “Space2030” agenda and its implementation plan with a view to narrowing the technology gap between established and emerging spacefaring nations on favourable terms and a non-discriminatory basis.

MARKETA MONOLKOVA, European Union delegation, highlighted the role of transparency and confidence-building measures and the need to advocate for responsible behavior in outer space within a United Nations framework.  Committed to preventing an outer space arms race, the bloc remains concerned ongoing developments of anti-satellite weapons and calls on all States to refrain from destroying any space objects.  A future arms control framework for outer space should include effective and verifiable instruments and consensus-building on responsible behavior.  However, the Chinese-Russian draft treaty is an insufficient basis for negotiation, as they are among States with Earth-based anti-satellite capabilities not included in that text.   Meanwhile, the No First Placement of Weapons in Outer Space initiative fails to meet the criteria for transparency and confidence-building measures or address Earth-based weapons targeting outer space assets.

LAURENT MASMEJEAN (Switzerland), noting the contribution of space technology to the Sustainable Development Goals, said international norms must be strengthened by developing new legally or politically binding instruments to prevent this realm from becoming a theatre of war.  Regretfully, little progress has been made since 2018, with the Conference on Disarmament stalled and the Disarmament Commission failing to pursue its work on transparency and confidence-building measures.  States must agree what constitutes responsible behaviour in outer space, with attention given to elaborating a norm to prohibit the testing of anti-satellite systems that leave behind space debris.

DAVID EDMONDSON (United Kingdom), associating himself with the European Union, said challenges to operating safely and securely in space are proliferating.  While the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies has served the international community well for half a century, “we need to ensure that the international framework keeps up with our evolving use of space”.  The Chinese-Russian proposal is too narrow, fails to resolve serious political and technological challenges, and cannot be effectively verified.  Instead, a broad approach is needed, he said, voicing support for a legally binding treaty on outer space.  Meanwhile, new ways must be found to reduce the risk to operating in space.

ERIC DESAUTELS (United States) said the Outer Space Treaty and the United Nations Charter remain part of an essential framework of principles.  However, the international community must move beyond a singular focus on the placement of weapons in space when considering space system operations by examining practical ways to mitigate risks of misperception and miscalculation.  Such efforts are essential in the face of efforts by the Russian Federation and China to develop, stockpile and use weapon systems that threaten to deny other States’ the use of outer space.  For the United States, risks can be reduced by cooperating on the development of non-legally binding measures, he said, adding that criteria set out in 2013 by the Group of Governmental Experts on transparency and confidence-building measures could be the foundation for trust and cooperation between State actors in space.

BASSEM YEHIA HASSAN KASSEM HASSAN (Egypt) highlighted the clear need for a legally binding instrument to complement existing international legal framework with a view to preventing an arms race in outer space.  This is especially important when considering the alarming announcements by some States on weaponizing outer space operations, and the continued development of weapons designed to attack assets in that realm.  As such, a series of prohibitions must be established alongside specific verification measures.

PANGERAN IBRANI SITUMORANG (Indonesia) said that given the current stalemate in international disarmament efforts, dealing with a possible outer space arms race requires urgent attention.  A universal legally binding instrument must change the current trajectory, with negotiations being consistent with United Nations principles, with consensus and within the Organization’s framework.  The Conference on Disarmament is a legitimate body for this, he said, calling on Member States to display the necessary political will to commence negotiations for such an instrument.

MARTIN ERIC SIPHO NGUNDZE (South Africa) said Member States must achieve mutually beneficial and peaceful uses of outer space while focusing on extending these benefits to developing countries, including those in Africa.  Outer space must never become another frontier for war and conflict, he said, warning that if one States starts weaponizing the realm, others will swiftly follow in an arms race.  Preventive action must unfold through open and transparent multilateral processes to ensure that States can participate on an equal basis and without discrimination.

HUSHAM AHMED (Pakistan) raised concerns about the potential integration of anti-ballistic mission systems and their components into space assets, drawing attention to a demonstration of anti-satellite capabilities in South Asia in 2019.  Outer space must not become a new realm of conflict or an arms race, he said, calling on the Conference on Disarmament to immediately start negotiations on the issue, with the Chinese-Russian draft treaty being a good starting point for discussions.

GIANFRANCO INCARNATO (Italy), aligning himself with the European Union, called for implementing a comprehensive and effective international regulatory environment, given the increasing number of objects in outer space and the world’s reliance on its resources.  Indeed, the international community has a great responsibility to ensure the adoption of the proper framework for regulating technological developments in outer space, he said, adding that Italy remains fully committed to preventing any dangerous use of related technology.

SANZHAR BUKAYEV (Kazakhstan), noting his country’s active participation in peaceful space exploration programmes with States, including the Russian Federation and France, as host of the Baikonur space-launch site, called for further discussions on preventing an outer space arms race.  Acknowledging the lack of a legally binding prohibition of weapons in outer space, he expressed support for the draft treaty prepared by China and the Russian Federation.

SATYAJIT ARJUNA RODRIGO (Sri Lanka), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said outer space needs protection and equal opportunity for humankind in its exploration and peaceful use.  Ensuring it is free of conflict and preventing its militarization and weaponization are priorities.  In this vein, Sri Lanka seeks support for the draft resolution on preventing an outer space arms race, which it has alternately tabled with Egypt for four decades.

YAILIN CASTRO LOREDO (Cuba), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, called for all States to have access to outer space and for the development and improvement of legal instruments in this area.  Further, she rejected the United States statement that outer space is a place for war and regretted to note that some space technologies are targeting nations, such as satellites used for espionage.  Calling for a legal framework and multilateral treaty, she said the Conference on Disarmament is a good forum to do so.

Video Presentation

GUILHERME DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA (Brazil), Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts on further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space, speaking in a pre-recorded video, briefed the Committee on its Geneva-based work.  Despite considering several drafts, the Group was unable reach consensus on a final report, he said, adding however that hopefully, its substantive discussions will contribute to future work on the topic.

Outer Space

LAZAROUS KAPAMBWE (Zambia), speaking on behalf of the African Group and associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said space-based technology is unprecedentedly pervasive.  For that reason, there is a need for a comprehensive and legally binding treaty on preventing an outer space arms race and the placement of weapons there.  The benefits of outer space and its technologies should be shared by all Member States, regardless of their socio-economic and scientific development.

TORALF PILZ (Germany) expressed concern over the increasing development of various counter-space capabilities and remained strongly committed to preventing an arms race in that domain.  A future framework for arms control in outer space should involve comprehensive, effective and legally binding instruments.  However, the Chinese-Russian draft treaty on this issue does not constitute a sufficient basis in this regard.

MARÍA ANTONIETA SOCORRO JÁQUEZ HUACUJA (Mexico) said confidence-building measures are useful, but they are no substitute for legally binding instruments.  The ultimate goal should be the total prohibition of the use of outer space for warfare or the deployment of weapons of mass destruction.  Underscoring the centrality of international cooperation, she emphasized the connection between the peaceful use of space with the Sustainable Development Goals, Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

FLÁVIO BEICKER (Brazil) said political commitments and voluntary arrangements are welcome, but they cannot substitute for legally binding multilateral norms.  The Conference on Disarmament has a primary responsibility for negotiating a multilateral agreement on the issue, he said, adding that:  “we cannot afford to be paralyzed and allow scepticism to prevail.”  Guidelines on the long-term sustainability of space activities, recently approved by consensus at the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, demonstrate what can be achieved through dialogue and negotiation.

NIRUPAM DEV NATH (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, highlighted the catastrophic consequences of weaponization, strategic competition and military conflicts in outer space.  Developing countries at different levels of space science and technological capabilities should be able to voice their perspectives and concerns in defining the future rules of this domain.  Citing the launch of the satellite Bangabandhu 1, he said his country’s stake in a secured outer space is greater than ever before.

CHOI SOON-HEE (Republic of Korea) noted the need for a joint political framework on the prevention of an arms race in space, followed by translating political will into reality.  Seoul supports the important role of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and hopes its adopted guidelines will help to realize equitable access to the benefits of exploration and use of outer space.  The Republic of Korea will continue supporting emerging space-faring nations through its Korea Aerospace Research Institute’s international space training programme.

YANN HWANG (France), associating himself with the European Union, said space application benefits are seriously threatened by the current deterioration of the realm, brought on by the growing proliferation of debris, risks of accidents and deliberate or even hostile actions.  The international community must collectively develop pragmatic responses based on measures that can be immediately implemented.  France’s space strategy seeks to reinforce strategic autonomy by focusing on three main actions:  boosting military capabilities in strategic monitoring and operational support; building capabilities in space situational awareness; and developing defence capabilities in outer space.

NAZIM KHALDI (Algeria), associating himself with the Arab Group, African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, called for collective efforts, especially in the Conference on Disarmament, towards a legally binding, balanced and comprehensive instrument to prevent an arms race in space.  Voluntary measures add value, but they are no alternative to a treaty, he said, regretting to note the Group of Governmental Experts’ failure to draw up the main elements of such an instrument.

ALEJANDRO GUILLERMO VERDIER (Argentina) said the Outer Space Treaty deals only with weapons of mass destruction, not conventional weapons or practices that can be weaponized, such as signal jamming.  Argentina supports negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on an agreement to prevent the deployment of such weapons in outer space, with the Disarmament Commission following up on the Group of Governmental Experts’ recommendations.  He also welcomed the upcoming joint session of the First Committee and the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) on security and sustainability in outer space.

AYA DAIKUHARA (Japan), noting the current blurred distinction between civil, commercial and military activities in outer space, said the international community must bring new ideas to discussions going forward.  Transparency and confidence-building measures are pragmatic, short-term instruments to prevent mistrust, misperceptions or miscalculations in space activities among States.  Due to the dual-use nature of space objects, it is inherently difficult to define an outer space weapon or to know and verify intentions behind certain related activities.  Emphasizing the need to voluntarily implement principles of responsible behaviour, he said such standards can build up operational best practices of responsible behaviour in outer space.

SAMSON SUNDAY ITEGBOJE (Nigeria), associating himself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said the adoption of the African Space Policy and Strategy and establishment of the African Outer Space Agency was a positive development towards an African outer space programme.  Preventing an arms race in this domain has assumed greater urgency due to the vulnerability of the environment.  As such, he said Nigeria remains committed to using its growing space capabilities for developmental purposes.

SONG LI (China), associating himself with the African Group, Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said that under a new security situation, all States should reject the cold war mentality and the weaponization of outer space.  The Chinese-Russian draft treaty on preventing an outer space arms race remains a practical choice.  Welcoming all contributions from States to improve the draft, he said transparency and confidence-building measures should not replace negotiations, adding that Beijing will never be part of an arms race in outer space.

FAHAD ABU HAIMED (Saudi Arabia), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, highlighted a need to limit the use of outer space for peaceful purposes, thereby avoiding an arms race that would inflict harm on humanity.  Emphasizing the inalienable right of States to use space for peaceful purposes, he said relevant international agreements must be updated to keep pace of developments.  He also called for strict measures to prohibit the deployment of nuclear weapons in orbit.

HEIDAR ALI BALOUJI (Iran) noted that a certain State has tried to dominate space for military advantages and to control access of other countries to outer space since the beginning of the twenty-first century.  As doing so was impossible with the weaponization of outer space, the State’s first step was to unshackle itself from any legal limitation, namely the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which banned testing and deployment of space-based weapons.  In moving forward its space weapons programme, that certain State is taking advantage of existing gaps in international law governing outer space, which must be filled.  As such, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty is insufficient to prevent an arms race in that realm.

ANDREY BELOUSOV (Russian Federation), speaking on behalf of the Commonwealth of Independent States, said the most effective measures to prevent weaponizing outer space are under negotiation, based on a draft treaty put forward by his delegation and China, with the Conference on Disarmament being the single forum for elaborating such an agreement.  Regretfully, one expert prevented the adoption of the Group of Governmental Experts’ report, but its work can still be useful in future efforts.

Mr. BELOUSOV, speaking in his national capacity, raised concerns about several announcements of plans to deploy offensive weapons in outer space, including from France, United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  Moscow has been trying to prevent outer space from becoming a new arena for military confrontation, notably through a draft treaty tabled with China at the Conference on Disarmament.  Similarly, his delegation would be introducing an annual resolution on transparency and confidence-building measures, which in past years has been co-sponsored by China and the United States.

PYE SOE AUNG (Myanmar), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, said enhancing transparency and confidence-building measures will play a pivotal role in easing doubts over weaponizing outer space.  While the Group of Governmental Experts offered principles that provide a sound foundation, they are not sufficient, he said, welcoming the Chinese-Russian draft treaty.

VANESSA WOOD (Australia) said the outer space technologies her country relies on, including space satellite remote sensing, communication and navigation, are vulnerable as space is increasingly seen as a military arena.  The fundamental issue is responsible behaviour and confidence.  As such, greater consideration should be given to transparency, cooperation and building international norms, she said, welcoming guidelines from the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and calling on all States to implement them.

GLORIA CORINA PETER TIWET (Malaysia), associating herself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that as more States embark upon space exploration, there is a need for secure access, a precursor to the sustainability of future related activities.  Citing guidelines from the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, she said her Government is drafting domestic outer space legislation to ratify relevant international instruments, including the Outer Space Treaty.

ANDRES FIALLO (Ecuador), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, called for a legally binding instrument reaffirming the peaceful character of outer space.  He expressed hope that Member States consider the Group of Governmental Experts’ recommendations.  He also called on all delegations to work on frank and open dialogue on this topic and refrain from militarizing and politicizing outer space.

ARIEL RODELAS PEÑARANDA (Philippines), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, said space exploration entails ethical responsibilities and all Member States must not wield their positions of power to this new realm.  Because the benefits derived from outer space should be shared for all humankind, all related activities must adhere to international law.  As such he called for a coherent and unified strategy for space exploration and a legally binding instrument to prevent arms proliferation in that domain.

BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, said the ability to destroy outer space platforms with beams of electromagnetic energy should be prohibited.  Satellites should meanwhile be protected from attack by establishing “keep-out zones” around them, he said, suggesting that an international satellite monitoring agency could help to strengthen security and sustainability in space.

Right of Reply

The representative of China, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said his delegation will not accept the accusations made by the United States and some other States.  If there is an arms race in outer space, the United States must be held responsible.  China is not the United States and does not seek to dominate outer space.

The representative of Russian Federation, responding to his counterpart from the United States, said Moscow’s activities in outer space are carried out in full conformity with international law.  The United States is “distorting the real situation” regarding transparency and confidence-building measures.  Moscow is open for talks, but the document that the United States is putting before the Committee has nothing to do with its work.  Moreover, the United States is not interested in addressing concerns about its anti-satellite system, which it intends to send into outer space.

The representative of the United States said it is regrettable that the Committee had spent time on whether or not it was appropriate for one expert to block consensus on the Group of Governmental Experts’ report.  The current approach to outer space security is mired in the past, when the most likely threat comes from ground-based anti-satellite weapons.  The best way forward is to improve communications, enhance situational awareness and reach a common understanding on basic operational behaviour while also focusing on space congestion.

The representative of France said the Russian Federation has a biased reading of his country’s space defence strategy.  Calling on all space Powers to demonstrate transparency, he said France perfectly respects international law, including the right to self-defence.

The representative of the Russian Federation, in a second intervention, said it is curious to hear his counterpart from the United States describe the current approach to space security as old and obsolete.  The United States concept of security is a reminder of the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when the United Kingdom used the Royal Navy to defend its trading ships, resulting in several armed conflicts.

Regional Disarmament and Security

Mr. SITUMORANG (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that pending the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons, Israel must renounce the possession of such weapons, accede to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons without preconditions or delay, and put all its nuclear facilities under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards regime.  Welcoming the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction, to be held at Headquarters from 18 to 22 November, he called upon all States in the region to participate at its first session and negotiate a treaty in good faith.  Nuclear-weapon States must meanwhile provide unconditional assurances against the use or threat of use of atomic arsenals to all States in the Middle East.  United Nations activities at the regional level are important to increase the stability and security.  In this vein, the Movement is presenting the draft resolution “Implementation of the Declaration of the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace”.

MR. LAOUANI (Tunisia), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said the Middle East needs to strengthen disarmament, build confidence and consolidate the pillars of sustainable development.  Given that context, greater efforts must be made to establish a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.  Such a zone would enhance peace and security in a region so stricken by conflict and instability.  He called on all stakeholders to participate in good faith in November’s meeting and to sign on to a legally binding instrument that would reinforce both regional and international peace.  Arab States have assumed their responsibility and it now is time for others to follow suit.  He went on to express concern at the danger of Israel continuing to refuse to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty or to put its nuclear facilities under the IAEA safeguards regime.

CHRISTIANNE D. AZUCENA (Philippines) speaking on behalf of ASEAN, said the value of regionalism rests on its inclusivity, rules-based nature and emphasis on mutual benefit and respect.  ASEAN aims at keeping South-East Asia free of nuclear weapons and any other weapon of mass destruction.  In this regard, he said dialogue must resume to address denuclearization issues on the Korean Peninsula.  Capacity building and regional cooperation are crucial to make progress on global disarmament commitments, he said, commending ASEAN members for their participation in relevant treaties addressing, among other things, atomic energy use and the presence of explosive remnants of war in the region.

SHEILA CAREY (Bahamas), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said his bloc remains committed to confronting the illicit firearms trade, which continues to have devastating and lasting impacts on all its nations.  Despite the region’s status as a non-exporter and limited importer of small arms and light weapons, more than 70 per cent of people who die a violent death in the Caribbean are killed with a gun.  Addressing this, CARICOM’s Implementation Agency for Crime and Security and the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean held the National Authorities Meeting on Firearms in December 2018 to strengthen cooperation between the region and international partners in combating arms trafficking.

MARKETA HOMOLKOVA, European Union delegation, highlighted a number of global conflict-related issues.  With hostilities persisting after eight years of brutal war in Syria, she said the parties must engage in confidence-building measures, ensure humanitarian access and full respect for international humanitarian law and declare a full and lasting countrywide ceasefire.  She condemned all attacks against civilian populations and infrastructure by the Syrian regime and its allies.  She also urged Turkey to cease unilateral military action and condemned the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Arab Armed Forces and ISIL/Da’esh.  Turning to other concerns, she called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to comply with international obligations regarding missile launches, Iran must return to full compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on its nuclear programme, and both parties ratcheting up Kashmir tensions must resume bilateral dialogue.  In her own region, she condemned clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by Russian Federation armed forces.

MOHAMED ELHOMOSANY (Egypt) said serious steps towards establishing a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East could have saved the region from devastating wars as well as chronic country-specific proliferation.  After several failed attempts at addressing challenges related to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, Egypt believes the United Nations represents a suitable venue for States of the region to elaborate and negotiate a security and arms control architecture conducive to lasting peace.  Adding that the region is already witnessing a new chapter in an alarming arms race, he said States cannot continue to stand idly watching with their hands tied.

HASSANAIN HADI FADHIL (Iraq), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said nuclear-weapon-free zones are stepping stones towards a world free of atomic bombs and other weapons of mass destruction.  The non-implementation of General Assembly resolutions on establishing such a zone in the Middle East will prolong instability and tension.  It will also complicate the universalization of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  He went on to call on the Israeli entity to submit its nuclear facilities to the IAEA safeguards regime.

JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland) underscored the importance of transparency with regard to military activities and verification provisions.  She noted that in 2017, Poland launched an initiative for voluntary reporting of military exercises, concluding bilateral agreements with Ukraine and Belarus in that regard.  Conflict in an around Ukraine has a serious impact on the situation in the region, and that full implementation of the Minsk Agreements remains the basis for a sustainable political solution in Ukraine.

YURI VITRENKO (Ukraine) said the illegal occupation of the south-east of his country, including Crimea and parts of Donbas, by the Russian Federation has been followed by the alarming and progressive militarization of that area by the occupying Power.  The Russian Federation is also militarizing the Sea of Azov, with implications for maritime trade as well as Ukraine’s security.  “The international community has no right to turn a blind eye to this alarming situation,” he said, urging it to keep calling on Moscow to withdraw its military forces from Ukrainian territory.

ARMANDO FERNÁNDEZ ISLA (Cuba), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said his delegation remains committed to multilateral negotiations and the impact it has on regional and subregional cooperation.  He called for the creation of more nuclear-weapon-free zones, and for a legally binding instrument to establish such an area in the Middle East.  However, the United States is the only nuclear-weapon-State that has not ratified protocols of the treaties on existing nuclear-weapon-free zones in the Caribbean, Africa and the Pacific, he said, also regretting Washington, D.C.’s withdrawal from the Joint Plan of Action, an action that does not help to enhance security in the Middle East.

DAVIT KNYAZYAN (Armenia) expressed support for regional-level confidence-building measures because they can help to reduce tensions and resolve political disputes and conflicts.  However, with regard to the Vienna Document 2011 on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures, he regretted to note that the security situation in its region is characterized by such challenges as uncontrolled military build-ups, hostile rhetoric, threats of use of force, an increase in military expenditure and non-compliance with confidence- and security-building measures.  Major military activities conducted without prior notification have created an element of surprise that can send a signal of readiness to use force.

YANN HWANG (France) associating himself with the European Union, called for enhancing regional governance through cooperation.  Highlighting France’s role in European Union efforts to implement the Arms Trade Treaty, he called for such cooperative measures to be taken among regional partners to combat the trafficking of small arms and light weapons.  Meanwhile, France and Germany are working to reduce the presence of arms in the western Balkans by the year 2024.  However, he regretted to note the weakening of the three existing instruments of conventional arms control:  the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe, Vienna Document 2011 on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures and the Treaty on Open Skies, calling for their full implementation.

STELIOS ZACHARIOU (Greece), associating himself with the European Union, said his country supports a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons, adding that the implementation of IAEA safeguards will help to lift regional confidence while also supporting peace and stability.  While nuclear energy is not part of Greece’s national power mix, other States in the region must respect international agreements and safety standards.  In that regard, the role of the IAEA in sharing best practices is critical.

Mr. AUNG (Myanmar), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed support for ongoing efforts to create nuclear-weapon-free zones, including in the Middle East, and called upon nuclear-weapon States and concerned non-nuclear-weapon States to ratify protocols relating to such zones.  He also called for all Member States to make progress on the entire range of disarmament issues.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, rejected the European Union’s statement as another provocation against his country.  All Pyongyang’s military activities are aimed at defending its sovereignty.  Without provocations, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear deterrent and missiles pose no threat to anyone.  The European Union should set an example by taking the lead in the disarmament process in Europe, including by the elimination of all nuclear weapons and a full denuclearization process.  The international community will indeed welcome such positive steps, he added.

The representative of Turkey, responding to his counterpart from the European Union, said operations on the border with Syria are aimed at defence against terrorist organizations.  The operation is for self-defence, in line with the United Nations Charter and international humanitarian law.  Moreover, the preservation of the integrity and stability of Syria is in line with Security Council resolution 2254 (2015).

For information media. Not an official record.