Despite Opposing Views on Middle East Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, First Committee Delegates Say ‘We Are in the Same Boat’, Must Join Forces to Reach Safe Shores

GA/DIS/3637
30 October 2019
Seventy-fourth Session, 19th Meeting (PM)

Despite Opposing Views on Middle East Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, First Committee Delegates Say ‘We Are in the Same Boat’, Must Join Forces to Reach Safe Shores

Delegates today set out their countries’ positions on a Middle East zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, the subject an upcoming conference at Headquarters, as the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) concluded its thematic discussion on regional disarmament and security.

The United Arab Emirate’s delegate anticipated a positive outcome from the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction, to be held from 18 to 22 November at Headquarters.  He invited all regional parties to participate in its effort to hammer out a legally binding treaty that would prohibit nuclear weapons throughout the region.  Echoing that perspective, Indonesia’s representative said that achieving such a zone is an important endeavour and called for the full and meaningful participation of States in the region.

The representative of the United States said his country supports the goal of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, but efforts to that end must be pursued by all regional States concerned in an inclusive, cooperative and consensus-based manner that considers their respective security concerns.  In the absence of the participation of all regional States, he added, Washington, D.C., will not attend the conference and it will view any outcome as illegitimate.

In the same vein, the United Kingdom’s delegate said his country supports creating such a zone in the Middle East on the condition that it is based on arrangements freely arrived at by all States in the region.

Israel’s representative said that as long as a culture of non-compliance with arms control and non-proliferation treaties persists in the Middle East, it will be impossible to promote any regional disarmament process.  “We are in the same boat and we must work together to reach safe shores,” he said.

Iran’s delegate said peace and security in the Middle East can only be guaranteed by the countries of the region, not through interventions by the United States or its economic terrorism.  Tehran’s proposed coalition of hope, under the umbrella of the United Nations, aims at involving Middle Eastern countries in security cooperation.

The Committee also began its thematic discussion of disarmament machinery today, with delegates addressing the decades-long deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and the impasse plaguing the Disarmament Commission in New York.

Switzerland’s speaker said the international community should be able to rely on a fully functional disarmament machinery, especially considering increasingly complex problems, with the Conference on Disarmament returning to the way it was dealing with its work programme until the mid-1990s.

France’s delegate put a spotlight on the financial difficulties being faced by the four Geneva-based treaty bodies dealing with anti-personnel mines, certain conventional weapons, cluster munitions and biological weapons.

At the outset of today’s meeting, Mary Soliman, Chief of the Regional Disarmament, Information and Outreach Branch of the Office of Disarmament Affairs, briefed the Committee on the work of its regional centres for peace and disarmament in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

Also speaking today on regional disarmament and security were representatives of Nepal, Pakistan, Togo, Georgia, Algeria, Peru, Russian Federation, Venezuela, Malaysia and Ecuador.

During the discussion on the disarmament machinery, the following  representatives delivered statements:  Indonesia (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Tunisia (on behalf of the Arab Group), Bahamas (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Thailand (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Austria (on behalf of the Francophone Group of Experts in Geneva), United Kingdom, Egypt, Iraq, Poland, India, Philippines, Cuba, Mexico and Bangladesh, as well as the European Union.

The First Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m., on Thursday, 31 October, for a joint panel discussion with the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) on possible challenges to space security and sustainability.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to continue its thematic discussion on regional disarmament and security.  For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3624 of 10 October.

Interactive Discussion

MARY SOLIMAN, Chief of the Regional Disarmament, Information and Outreach Branch, Office of Disarmament Affairs, briefed the Committee on the work of regional centres for peace and disarmament in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean.  Their disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control activities ranged from conventional weapons to weapons of mass destruction and emerging issues.  The regional centres and its Vienna Office will continue to work closely with Member States to identify strategic priorities and gaps where support is required and, in collaboration with those nations, develop projects to address current challenges, with a focus on creating multi-disciplinary and multi-partner projects to bolster national capacities.

The Committee then suspended its meeting for an interactive dialogue.

Regional Disarmament and Security

JOHN A. BRAVACO (United States) said the commitment of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to preserving the region as a nuclear-weapon-free zone is vital to address regional security threats.  However, China is expanding its arsenal while refusing to engage in substantive discussion on arms control and must realize that continued silence on its part is destabilizing.  Turning to the Middle East, he urged States there to refocus attention on real world security threats emanating from Iran and Syria.  The United States supports the goal of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, but efforts to that end must be pursued by all regional States concerned in an inclusive, cooperative and consensus-based manner that considers their respective security concerns.  In that regard, the United States deeply regrets the General Assembly’s adoption, in a divided vote, of a resolution asking the Secretary-General to convene a conference to negotiate a legally binding treaty on such a zone.  In the absence of the participation of all regional States, the United States will not attend that conference and will regard any outcome as illegitimate.

GHANSHYAM BHANDARI (Nepal) said women, youth and non-governmental agencies are important partners of United Nations regional disarmament mechanisms.  They have the capacity to, among other things, support Government policy-makers.  He encouraged the regional centres to develop meaningful partnerships with both Government and non-Government stakeholders.  They should also disseminate information and develop educational modules for different age levels to raise awareness of disarmament issues.  Regional dialogues such as the Kathmandu Process are important tools for fostering cooperation, understanding and confidence building.

AIDAN LIDDLE (United Kingdom) said his country, with the other permanent members of the Security Council, stands ready to engage further with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member States on the Protocol to the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone, known as the Treaty of Bangkok.  He also supported creating a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, with arrangements freely arrived at by all States in the region.  He drew attention to threats to international peace and security posed by the development of ballistic missiles in Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and encouraged India and Pakistan to consider The Hague International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation as a means to support their bilateral engagement.  He also called upon the Russian Federation to demonstrate its compliance with arms control regimes and to align itself with international norms.

PANGERAN IBRANI SITUMORANG (Indonesia), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, said achieving a Middle East zone free from nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction is an important endeavour.  As such, he called for full, meaningful participation of States in the region in the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction, to be held from 18 to 22 November at Headquarters.  Turning to issues on the Korean Peninsula, he highlighted the importance of constructive dialogue and confidence- and trust-building measures.  On the issue of Iran, he said commitments between Tehran and parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action should be upheld, with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verification process being key to the agreement’s effectiveness.

HUSHAM AHMED (Pakistan), noting that peace and security is co-dependent on regional stability, called for regional-level context-specific confidence-building measures, with arrangements on transparency, openness and risk reduction.  South Asia faces unique challenges “arising from the hegemonic pretensions of one regional country” who refuses to engage in bilateral dialogue.  Pakistan is open to any bilateral or regional initiative that builds confidence and reduces risks, he said, adding that in past sessions, his delegation had tabled three draft resolutions on conventional arms control in the regional and subregional context, the significance of regional approaches to arms control, and regional disarmament and confidence-building measures.

KHADIJA AL-MAZROUEI (United Arab Emirates), associating herself with the Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said the Middle East faces unique security threats posed by extremist and terrorist groups.  Expressing support for the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, she anticipated a positive outcome of the November conference, inviting all regional parties to participate.  She also looked forward to a successful 2020 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons through constructive dialogue with partners.  Reaffirming commitments to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, she reiterated the rights of all States to access nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, under IAEA safeguards and standards.

MANZI KARBOU (Togo) underlined the importance of regional centres for peace and disarmament, adding that they carry great potential to make progress in the areas of disarmament.  She commended the work done by the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa, based in Togo, explaining how its role has been crucial in combatting enormous challenges faced by the continent due to asymmetric conflicts and arms trafficking.  The centre has also assisted countries with technical support and in implementing peace and disarmament measures.  Highlighting the centre’s significant contribution to combatting the illicit arms trade in the Sahel region, she urged all Member States to be up to date with their financial commitments.

ELENE AGLADZE (Georgia) said the Russian Federation militarization activities in his country has persisted and, in some respects, accelerated its pace and scope.  Illegal Russian military bases participate in drills and large-scale exercises and are armed and equipped with advanced equipment, including tanks, armoured vehicles, long-range artillery, rocket launch systems and anti-aircraft systems.  Adding that the Russian Federation constantly denies access to the European Union Monitoring Mission in Georgia to fully exercise its mandate, he called on Moscow to comply with its international commitments in ensuring respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty.

NAZIM KHALDI (Algeria), associating himself with the African Group, Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said his country is deeply involved in consolidating stability and security with its neighboring States.  In Libya, comprehensive political dialogue and a national reconciliation remains the only way to settle the crisis.  On the situation in Mali, the peace and reconciliation agreement stemming from the Algiers process remains the sole frame of reference for the Government, other Malian parties and the international community.  The African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, known as the Treaty of Pelindaba, is a concrete example of disarmament at the regional level, he said, adding that his delegation will submit the draft resolution “Strengthening of security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region” during the current session.

ENRI PRIETO (Peru) said the Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, based in his country, has made strides in a range of fields.  It has assisted States in the region to make progress in such areas as capacity-building, training and developing standards.  In addition, the centre has advanced work on promoting women’s participation in disarmament initiatives.

ANDREY BELOUSOV (Russian Federation) said the anti-Russian approach of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is undermining the foundation of European security instruments.  Thousands of NATO troops are deployed near the Russian border alongside an expansion of military activity in the Black Sea.  Every opportunity must be used to reduce tensions and improve cooperation, he said, referring to the Vienna Document 2011 on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures.  The Russian Federation favours resuming the Treaty on Open Skies and trusts that Georgia will fully implement it.  To de-escalate tensions and threats, there should be a structured dialogue on security challenges in Europe and a code of conduct for transparency.  Moscow supports the role of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in settling conflicts.  However, unprecedented political and economic pressure on the Russian Federation runs counter to the OSCE vision of a European area of security.

DANIELA ALEJANDRA RODRÍGUEZ MARTÍNEZ (Venezuela), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the recent increase in bellicose rhetoric and unilateral actions by some nuclear-weapon States has created a climate of distrust and required confidence-building measures to change the trajectory.  In addition, she called for legally binding instruments to prevent the stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons.  Noting that the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, known as the Treaty of Tlatelolco, made the region the world’s first such area, she voiced support for the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East.  Turning to the Joint Plan of Action, she regretted to note the United States withdrawal because it goes against the goals of disarmament.

NUR ATHIRA HANI ABDUL RAHMAN (Malaysia), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, said nuclear-weapon-free zones significantly contribute to enhancing global and regional peace.  He called for dialogue between nuclear-weapon States and ASEAN members to resolve the long-overdue signing and ratification of the Protocol to the Treaty of Bangkok protocol.  Turning to the failure of the 2015 Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty to reach consensus on creating a nuclear-weapon-free-zone in the Middle East, he anticipated progress at the November conference on this issue.

ANDRES FIALLO (Ecuador), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country is proud to be part of regional peace efforts, not only as declared by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, but because the region was the first densely populated area in the world to become free of nuclear weapons, through the adoption of the Treaty of Tlatelolco.  He supported the establishment of more such zones in the world because they contribute to peace and security.

OFER MENASHE MORENO (Israel) said the core struggle in the Middle East is between those striving for stability and those who, together with non-State actors, support terrorism and aim at destabilizing the region to promote radical agendas.  Showing a blind eye to Iran’s aggressive acts will only worsen the regional security dilemma, he said, adding that Iran and Syria are clear examples of countries that supply lethal weapons to terrorist organizations.  As long as a culture of non-compliance with arms control and non-proliferation treaties persists in the Middle East, it will be impossible to promote any regional process.  “We are in the same boat and we must work together to reach safe shores,” he said.

HEIDAR ALI BALOUJI (Iran) said the Middle East will become secure only when United States troops withdraw.  Peace and security will be guaranteed by the countries of the region, not through interventions by the United States or its economic terrorism.  The United States role in creating and assisting terrorist groups, using them as proxies against independent countries, has resulted in catastrophes.  Since its inception, the Israeli regime has been engaged in brutal occupation, brazen terrorism, military aggression and all kinds of international crimes with the support of the United States.  Iran’s proposed coalition of hope, under the umbrella of the United Nations, aims at involving Middle Eastern countries in security cooperation.

Right of Reply

The representative of Syria, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said the European Union’s statement on 29 October was full of wrong information.  Among other things, it neglected to note ongoing cooperation between his country and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), he said, adding that if the European Union has evidence to support its accusation, it should send it to The Hague.

The representative of China said the United States has cast slander on her country.  The question is, who is the spoiler of international peace and security?  Making irresponsible accusations does not free a country from its own responsibilities, she said China’s position is well known about an ASEAN nuclear‑weapon-free zone.

The representative of the Russian Federation said his country’s military exercises are carried out within its own borders.  He also noted an increase of anti-Russian rhetoric, with so many threats and recent statements in the First Committee.  Replying to Georgia’s statement, he said the Russian military presence in the Caucasus contributes to stability, security and development.

The representative of Poland, speaking on behalf of NATO member States, said the Euro-Atlantic security environment has become less stable due to the Russian Federation’s illegal annexation of Crimea, which NATO does not recognize, and by developments in eastern Ukraine.  He said the Alliance’s posture is defensive in nature and proportion.

The representative of India, replying to the United Kingdom, said for that record that his country subscribes to The Hague Code of Conduct.

The representative of the United States said Iran should be willing to operate like a normal country and change its behaviour.  It is time for a new era of arms control, one in which China is at the negotiating table and willing to reduce nuclear risks.  China is the least transparent of the five permanent Security Council members and it is hard to take it at its word on nuclear issues.

The representative of Libya, noting his country’s collaboration with the OPCW, said he cannot see why Syria accuses it of transferring chemical substances to Syrian territory as if it did not have such substances of its own. 

The representative of Syria said his delegation never said that chemical weapons and toxic substances imported into his country originated in Libya.  At the same time, Israel is repeating false information in a bid to hide its crimes, and the United States is not in a good position to preach to others.

The representative of Georgia said Russian aggression has resulted in the occupation of two parts of her country.  She advised the Russian Federation to cooperate with the international community and the International Criminal Court and allow access to the occupied territories.

The representative of the Russian Federation said that since 1997, there have been four waves of NATO expansion.  To date, the Alliance has not dispensed of its decision to stop all contact with his country on security matters.  At the same time, NATO is expanding its offensive capability on the Russian Federation’s borders.  Meanwhile, Georgia, not his country, is manipulating international opinion about South Ossetia.

The representative of China said her delegation has repeatedly elaborated on its position in the Committee.  She urged the United States not to impose its own erroneous thinking and misjudgements on others.

The representative of the United States said the Assad regime must reverse its destructive behaviour against its own people and cease the use of chemical weapons.  He also called on all like-minded States to persuade China to change course and make it possible for responsible democratic States to lower their defences.

The representative of Israel underscored the number of Syrians killed with chemical weapons going back to the 1980s and the flow of refugees, some of whom came to Israel.

The representative of Iran highlighted the crimes that the Israeli regime is committing, adding that it must correct its behaviour in the region and the occupied territories.

Disarmament Machinery

PANGERAN IBRANI SITUMORANG (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, regretted to note the Disarmament Commission’s inability to accomplish its work in 2019 in a formal setting, expressing hope that delegations will address all underlying issues to overcome that impasse by 2020.  He highlighted the importance of convening the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament, which among other things, would review critical aspects of the process and mobilize the international community and public opinion in favour of eliminating nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction and conventional weapons.  Raising deep concerns about the under-representation by his regional body in the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, he called on the Secretary-General and High Representative to redress the imbalance.

MOEZZ LAOUANI (Tunisia), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group and associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, called for the universalization of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Achieving a world free of nuclear weapons is a priority, however, serious setbacks exist in the non-proliferation regime, including the failure to reach a consensus at the 2015 Review Conference.  Member States must ensure a successful outcome in the Non-Proliferation Treaty’s 2020 Review Conference.  States must also make progress towards establishing a nuclear-weapon-free-zone in the Middle East in the November conference on this issue, he said, regretting to note the lack of consensus in the past as a result of unconstructive positions of some nuclear-weapon States.

SHEILA CAREY (Bahamas), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), underscored the need to maintain momentum on progress made within the Conference on Disarmament, encouraging it to promptly resume stalled negotiations.  The Conference and Disarmament Commission delegations should work steadfastly to overcome a paralysis that has hindered the conclusion of agreements in key areas of deliberations.  The bloc looks forward to more robust movement within the current cycle and to engaging in discussions to build consensus on recommendations for achieving nuclear disarmament and the non-proliferation of atomic arsenals alongside recommendations aimed at preventing an arms race in outer space.

VITAVAS SRIVIHOK (Thailand), speaking on behalf of ASEAN, said all Conference on Disarmament members must reinvigorate their political will to fulfil its mandate.  Expressing regret that the Disarmament Commission could not hold its substantive session in 2019, he encouraged all Member States to overcome outstanding issues hindering efforts therein.  States must also demonstrate stronger political commitment to preserve multilateralism, the essential foundation for disarmament and non-proliferation.  Indeed, the disarmament machinery must keep pace with a rapidly evolving security landscape and advances in science and technology.

YANN HWANG (France), speaking on behalf of the presidents of the disarmament conventions in Geneva, said a lack of funds have affected approved schedules for treaties dealing with anti-personnel mines, certain conventional weapons, cluster munitions and biological weapons.  This includes unacceptable cost-cutting measures that have meant a lack of translation.  The lack of funding threatens multiple areas, he said, welcoming efforts by successive presidencies to take an inclusive, substantive approach to avoiding non-payment.  The only permanent solution is to have arrears paid in full before meetings are held, he said, encouraging States to envisage a healthy and sound funding situation, with all debts to relevant institutions and agencies resolved as soon as possible.

ELISABETH TICHY-FISSLBERGER (Austria), speaking on behalf of the Francophone Group of Experts in Geneva, expressed strong support for multilingualism in all fora and in all treaties and conventions.  However, she expressed regret over the recurrent liquidity problem driving the choice to hold meetings involving several conventions without interpretation or translation.  She called for a general mobilization to safeguard multilateralism and the inclusive environment that should characterize the work of these conventions.  She reiterated a strong interest in the decision to establish a fellowship programme on disarmament, calling it an important joint achievement of the Committee.

MARKETA HOMOLKOVA, European Union delegation, said the First Committee should focus on non-proliferation, disarmament issues and current major challenges to collective security while identifying concrete measures to address them, rather than mechanically updating previously adopted resolutions.  Moreover, the Conference on Disarmament should fulfil its crucial function to negotiate multilateral treaties and elaborate other instruments and norms, such as guidelines and codes of conduct.  His bloc’s longstanding priority in the Conference is to immediately commence negotiations on a treaty banning production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons or other explosive devices.  Expressing deep regret that it has been impossible to reach consensus on a negotiating mandate for this treaty for more than 20 years, he said political will from its members is urgently required to bring it back on track.

LAURENT MASMEJEAN (Switzerland), while expressing concern about blockages across the disarmament machinery, observed that the Committee proceedings have been marked by divergences and organizational matters that restrict the time available to address substantive issues.  The international community should be able to rely on a fully functional disarmament machinery, especially considering increasingly complex problems, with the Conference on Disarmament returning to the way it was dealing with its work programme until the mid-1990s.  At the same time, financial difficulties due to arrears in payments are increasingly affecting the United Nations system, including several disarmament conventions and treaties.  Procedures to improve the cash flow situation must be rapidly established.  Reforms implemented by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) have enabled the Organization to better respond to the expectations of the entire United Nations membership, but contributions from the United Nations regular budget has constantly decreased and voluntary contributions to the Institute’s core budget remain insufficient.

NATASHA SMITH (United Kingdom) said the Conference on Disarmament is the only place where effective and binding disarmament measures can be negotiated.  As such, it was disappointing that the Conference was unable to agree on how to organize its time in 2019 to build on the momentum gained a year earlier.  The draft decision tabled by her delegation would have accomplished that and helped to move the Conference forward, but it was blocked by a small number of States for political reasons.  She expressed hope that Member States will actively support Algeria and the other five presidencies in 2020 in adopting a programme of work that allows the Conference on Disarmament to focus on its agenda.  Welcoming the contribution made by UNIDIR, she noted that the United Kingdom provided the seed funding for the Institute’s new project on integrating conventional arms control into conflict prevention and management.

MOHAMED ELHOMOSANY (Egypt) said the current stalemate in disarmament efforts is not a result of defects in the disarmament machinery but a result of the lack of political will by some States that seek to maintain absolute military dominance and believe in deterrence rather than collaborative and collective security.  Regretting to note the failure of the Conference on Disarmament, he called for the launching of negotiations on the verifiable and irreversible total elimination of nuclear weapons with specific timelines.  The fourth special session of the General Assembly on disarmament is urgently needed to address the current stalemate.

SARMAD AL-TAIE (Iraq), associating with the Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, regretted to note the decades-long stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament due to a lack of consensus on its programme of work.  All Member States must demonstrate the necessary political will and flexibility to revitalize the Conference, given the escalating tensions on the globe and increasing presence of terrorist groups.  Nuclear disarmament must remain a top priority, he said, adding that the use or threat of use of violence is a violation of international humanitarian law.

TOMASZ TOKARSKI (Poland), associating himself with the European Union, said that, almost 100 years after the creation of the League of Nations, 2019 is a good moment to examine disarmament efforts.  The current changing environment requires a solid institutional structure and a global legal framework for non-proliferation and strong engagement of civil society.  Given the lack of stability, all legal commitments must be respected.  He urged Member States to initiate negotiations on disarmament issues, reiterating that the Conference on Disarmament is an instrument in the hands of its members and dependent on their political will.

RACHITA BHANDARI (India), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Conference on Disarmament has for two decades been incapable of discharging its mandate.  However, it remains the most relevant and appropriate negotiating forum as it assembles militarily significant States including those possessing nuclear weapons.  Noting that the Conference enjoys legitimacy through its mandate, membership and rules for negotiating legally-binding universal instruments, he called for its revitalization.  He expressed regret that the Disarmament Commission was unable to convene its formal session in 2019.  While some consider the failure in addressing substantive disarmament and international security issues is due to procedural flaws and inherent inefficiency, he said:  “We must remind ourselves that a bad worker often quarrels with his tools.”

ARIEL RODERAS PEÑARANDA (Philippines), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed regret that the key institutions of the disarmament machinery have encountered difficulties, but emphasized the widening gap between Member States themselves and their entrenched positions.  Such issues intertwine with procedural issues and deadlock the work.  Highlighting both the need for partnership-building and for sustaining the work of UNIDIR, he also cited the importance of mainstreaming gender issues in disarmament processes.

LILIANNE SÁNCHEZ RODRÍGUEZ (Cuba), aligning herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said her country sees multilateralism as the essential foundation for discussing disarmament.  She shared the deep concern stated by others over the erosion of multilateral negotiations and agreements.  She expressed regret over the United States’ withdrawal from the Joint Plan of Action and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.  She also noted concern over the proliferation of limited groups of experts and urged States to adhere to the shared principle of equitable representation in those entities.  States should take advantage of the momentum of the Non-Proliferation Treaty to resume negotiations within the context of the Conference on Disarmament, she said, recalling that Cuba is a non-nuclear-weapon State.

MARÍA ANTONIETA SOCORRO JÁQUEZ HUACUJA (Mexico) expressed support for international efforts aimed at nuclear disarmament, a goal to which Mexico attaches a high priority.  The world is currently facing a critical juncture, and many years have passed since the signing of any multilateral agreement due to some delegations’ opposition on methods of work.  She regretted to note that some delegations are vocal about their political issues, hindering the work of the First Committee.  In the face of many global challenges, she called for tangible results in the form of decisions within the Committee.  Indeed, the disarmament machinery is a vehicle and not an end in itself.  As such, Member States must look at which component requires changes so that it can advance.

NIRUPAM DEV NATH (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, voiced concern over the protracted impasse in the Conference on Disarmament and disappointment in the failure to break free from the deadlock.  He noted the Disarmament Commission, the other key pillar in multilateral disarmament machinery, has also regrettably failed to commence its substantive session.  While he recalled efforts by the chairs to advance discussions on nuclear weapons and outer space in informal settings, he said the session was a missed opportunity to build on the progress of 2018.

For information media. Not an official record.