16 October 2001


NEW YORK, 15 October (UN Headquarters) -- If the international community continued on its current course –- more arms and more poverty -– the result would be human disasters even greater than those endured on 11 September, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) this morning.

Addressing the Committee during its general debate, he said a disservice would be done to those who died in the September tragedy if the world failed to search out the causes. Global economic disparity was fundamentally incompatible with global security and poverty, along with other forms of marginalization that engulfed the lives of so many people, was a breeding ground for terrorists.

The representative of Kenya said that events of 11 September had brought into sharp focus the need to agree on measures to check the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, leading to their elimination. He hoped those events would tilt the balance towards the incorporation of certain vital elements into the outcome document of the July United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects -- namely the private possession of those weapons and their supply to non-State actors.

Yugoslavia’s representative added that the illicit small arms trade was inextricably linked to the problem of terrorism. In his region, that problem -- plus the related ones of transnational organized crime, trafficking in drugs and human beings, and money laundering -- called for a regional response. Meanwhile, the importance of collective engagement in countering the threats of biological and toxin weapons could not be overemphasized. Further action should reconfirm the world's determination to eliminate, once and for all, chemical weapons.

The illicit small arms trade and its global proliferation had thwarted human development, violated human rights, and compromised security and stability, the representative of Bahrain said. At the same time, the great Powers must "nip in the bud" the desire to possess ever more destructive weapons, lest those fall into the hands of terrorist groups. He supported global efforts to combat terrorism, but the "Muslim-Afghani" people should not be punished for actions they did not perpetrate. Also, the world must distinguish between terrorism and the struggle of people under the yoke of foreign control.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Mozambique, Myanmar, Morocco and Thailand. The representative of Israel spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. Tuesday, 16 October, to continue its general debate.


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its general debate on a wide range of disarmament and arms limitation measures. Questions of global stability and strategic security will also be examined in the context of the recent terrorist attack on the United States.

Today's debate was expected to focus on a number of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation agreements, among them the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). At the 2000 Review Conference, the nuclear-weapon States agreed to an "unequivocal undertaking" to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.

The delayed entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) will also be examined. The Treaty -- which outlaws all nuclear tests in all environments -– has still not received the number of ratifications it needs to enter into force. Thus, the Secretary-General is expected to convene a second Conference to facilitate its entry into force in November.

Under an unusual provision, the Treaty requires ratification by 44 States listed in an Annex. Of the 13 pending ratifications critical to its success, two are nuclear-weapon States -– China and the United States. The others are Algeria, Colombia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and Viet Nam. (The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India and Pakistan still have not signed the Treaty).

Also in the context of nuclear disarmament, the Committee has before it a report of a group of States that call themselves the New Agenda Coalition. The coalition is a group of seven countries –- Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, Sweden, New Zealand and South Africa –- which introduced a resolution, at the fifty-third General Assembly session, aimed at a nuclear-weapon-free world.

The 1972 Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems –- the ABM Treaty -– by which the United States and the Russian Federation agreed to limit the deployment and development of anti-ballistic missiles, will also dominate the debate. The declared intention of the United States to build a national missile defence system prompted the introduction and adoption since 1999 of a resolution calling for continued efforts to strengthen and preserve the Treaty.

Multilateral agreements banning the development of other weapons of mass destruction will also be stressed, such as: the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention); and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and of Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention).

The creation and consolidation of nuclear-weapon-free zones will also be considered. Existing zones include the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco), the South Pacific Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga), the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Bangkok), and the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba).


CARLOS DOS SANTOS (Mozambique) said that the First Committee was meeting at a time when international security was disturbingly uncertain. Despite progress in curbing the use of landmines and small arms, conventional arms and weapons of mass destruction remained global threats. The priority task of the Committee should be to translate the words of the Millennium Declaration, in which States renewed their vow to eliminate the scourge of war, into deeds.

The first major concern was the presence of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, he said. Retention of those weapons was based on outdated ideas. In 2000, he had applauded the NPT and its 13 practical steps, which augured well for the idea of total nuclear disarmament. The lack of progress since then was a cause for serious concern. The moratorium on testing was holding, but the CTBT needed universal ratification, especially from nuclear-weapon States. The possible abrogation of the ABM Treaty threatened peace and stability and the development of missile defence systems could spark a new arms race. The fear of the use of biological and chemical weapons was now of even greater concern and the universal acceptance of the conventions on chemical and biological weapons was necessary.

Landmines continued to be of concern to many countries, including his own, he said. At a recent follow-up conference to the Ottawa Convention held in Nicaragua, States had reiterated their commitments to the total eradication of those weapons and their deadly consequences. Though gains had been made, the goal of universality was still unrealized. He called on all States to adhere to the Ottawa Convention. For its part, Mozambique had clearly 5 million square meters of anti-personnel mines and had destroyed more than 38,000 mines.

Stemming the flow of illicit small arms had always been at the top of Mozambique’s agenda, he said. The program of action adopted at the Small Arms Conference provided a much-needed framework for tackling the problem and was the best option for curbing the destruction and easy availability of those weapons. The measures adopted were solid foundations on which to build. The international community must ensure the full and speedy implementation of the programme of action, which would require the mustering of political will, international cooperation and resources.

Disarmament must be addressed through multilateral negotiations and the United Nations must be the forum for those efforts. In that respect, Mozambique was fully committed to implementation of the Millennium Declaration and called for provision of the necessary resources for its implementation.

KYAW TINT SWE (Myanmar) said he strongly believed that the total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only absolute guarantee against their use or threat of use. At the 2000 NPT Review Conference, he was heartened by the unequivocal undertaking by nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of the nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament. He had great expectations that the undertaking would become a reality in the near future.

He said that the establishment of internationally recognized nuclear-weapon-free zones strengthened the nuclear non-proliferation regime and contributed to the objectives of nuclear disarmament. That had motivated his country, together with other countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), to establish such a zone in South East Asia. Ratifications of all existing nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties was crucial. In that context, he supported the initiatives by Mongolia on its single State nuclear-weapon-free status. The universality of the CTBT and the NPT would greatly contribute to the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.

The conclusion in July of an action programme to combat the illicit small arms trade was a good beginning, he went on. The setbacks of the past year, however, made the convening of a fourth special session of the General Assembly on disarmament even more urgent. The continued impasse in the Conference on Disarmament damaged its credibility and should be overcome. Preservation of the ABM Treaty was crucial to the maintenance and promotion of strategic stability. He favoured a comprehensive approach to missiles in a balanced non-discriminatory manner and looked forward to the summit between the Presidents of the Russian Federation and United States in the near future. Hopefully, that meeting would motivate the nuclear disarmament process.

MEHIEDINE EL KADIRI (Morocco) said that today’s meeting of the First Committee was taking place in the aftermath of the attacks on 11 September. The attacks had earned the unequivocal condemnation of the entire international community. Those events cast a pall over peace and security and should prompt a new resolve from the international community to deal with security. The drawbacks of unilateral approaches to security had been shown.

The search for a new definition of security should include social, economic and cultural dimensions and must a have justice at its centre, he continued. Weapons of mass destruction must be eliminated to build a stable, secure world environment. While there had been progress in disarmament efforts, such as the conclusion of the NPT and its 2000 Review Conference and the agreement on small arms, the overall environment was disappointing. The lack of universal acceptance of the CTBT, failure to implement the 13 steps called for at the NPT review conference and the stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament were troubling examples of the lack of progress.

Agreements between great Powers to reduce their nuclear arsenal were welcomed and should be followed by efforts to eradicate those weapons, he continued. The complete eradication of nuclear weapons must be the result of multilateral instruments, however. Considering the importance of disarmament and non-proliferation to development, Morocco was a strong supporter of multilateral efforts to achieve those goals. Though the NPT was the best means for prevention of the proliferation of nuclear weapons, States had not yet implemented it and were called to do so as a confidence-building measure between nuclear-weapon States and non-nuclear-weapon States.

The establishment of a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East would ensure disarmament and non-proliferation in the region. Israel, the only State in the region that had not ratified the NPT, should do so, in recognition of the fundamental commitment of all nations to peace. The increase in number of States adhering to the Chemical Weapons Convention was a welcome development, but the financial constraints faced by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) should be remedied. Also Morocco would closely follow the steps for implementation of the small arms conference, particularly in Africa, where small arms did so much damage. Further, his Government supported the provisions of the Ottawa Convention and was taking steps to implement its mine-clearing and destruction commitments.

Euro-Mediterranean security was crucially important and could benefit from better coordination, he said. Security problems began at defensive levels and were exacerbated by the development gap between the two sides of the Mediterranean. They were then made worse again by cultural differences. Efforts to reduce economic and social disparities were important to building a stable peace throughout the region, and the provision of development resources would be very helpful. States’ efforts in disarmament should be complemented by the high technology necessary for development and other peaceful uses.

BOB F. JALANG'O (Kenya) said his country knew all too well the horror of the "callous hand" of terrorism, having been a victim of a similar attack in 1998 when the United States Embassy in Nairobi was bombed by terrorists. Two hundred and twenty people had been killed, and many more were left horribly scarred and maimed. The events of 11 September had brought into sharp focus the need to agree on measures to check the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, leading to their elimination. In that regard, the world community should strive to universalize the various multilateral instruments concerning those weapons.

He urged all States to join international treaties aimed at enhancing the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, in particular, the NPT. Also, any unilateral measure that would diminish the importance of the ABM Treaty would threaten global security and stability. Such measures could inevitably result in a new arms race, including the use of weapons in outer space. He was also deeply concerned about the stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament. There were several important issues on its agenda including nuclear disarmament, the prevention of an outer space arms race and new weapons of mass destruction. States' unwillingness to engage in negotiations would only deepen the crisis in the Conference, which must be revived now.

With respect to the small arms Conference, he said that the African Group had painfully agreed to delete aspects in the final document dealing with private possession of weapons and the supply of arms to non-State actors, yielding to the opposition of a single State. It was hoped that the events of 11 September would tilt the balance towards the serious consideration and incorporation of those vital aspects into the Programme of Action in the near future. His country associated itself with the report of the fact-finding mission to Kenya in July/August on the magnitude of the small arms problem there, and looked forward to practical cooperation in confronting that menace.

CHUCHAI KASEMSARN (Thailand) joined in the condemnation of the terrorist attacks of 11 September. The response to the attacks would come through the framework of the General Assembly and Security Council resolutions passed in October. It was terrifying to think of the consequences of terrorists gaining access to weapons of mass destruction. The close connection of terrorism to the illegal movement of nuclear, biological and chemical material, as well as small arms, concerned the entire international community.

Article 6 of the NPT required States to eliminate their stores of nuclear weapons, he said. For the international community, there was no alternative to strengthening the non-proliferation regime and safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In pursuit of that goal, the CTBT should enter into force at the earliest possible date. At a time of some lethargy in the nuclear disarmament process, concrete steps could serve as confidence-building measures. In that context, the recent steps taken by the United States and Russia to further reduce their stores of nuclear weapons were welcomed.

His Government supported the creation and furthering of nuclear-weapon-free zones as important steps in the global nuclear non-proliferation initiative, he said. Besides nuclear weapons, other weapons of mass destruction must receive some attention. The impasse in the work on the Biological Weapons Convention should, therefore, be resolved soon. Thailand hoped to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention this year as an indication of support for broader disarmament efforts.

Conventional weapons had killed more people than weapons of mass destruction, and their reduction should be taken seriously, he said. Forward movement in the Ottawa process was welcomed by States that suffered from the effects of anti-personnel mines. Progress had been made in stemming the illicit trade in small arms, but recent efforts had not been enough to satisfy all States. The Programme of Action from the United Nations small arms conference provided a good follow-up and he hoped resources would be provided to States lacking the means needed to implement it. Good faith and political will from nations great and small were required to turn swords into ploughshares.

SALAH ALI HASAN HELAL AL-MALKI (Bahrain) said that despite the end of the cold war, the desire to possess more destructive weapons had become a major goal of communities and States, causing a global imbalance and endangering the human race. The great Powers must control such tendencies and "nip in the bud" the possibility that such weapons could fall into the hands of groups that "ran roughshod" on human life. Those States should also reduce their stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, commensurate with the demands of the world community.

He said that peace and stability in the Middle East would only be achieved through confidence-building, mutual respect, and the non-interference in the internal affairs of States, together with arms control, to keep the region balanced. Israel's excesses in armaments and its possession of a stupendous arsenal of highly destructive unconventional weapons, as well as its categorical refusal to subject those installations to the control of the IAEA, was a flagrant flouting of international norms and demands. That situation had also seriously risked both regional and global security.

Bahrain had closely watched the daily atrocities perpetrated by Israel against civilians, and its use of military equipment against Palestinian towns, he said. They had killed and injured scores of defenceless civilians, whose only goal was to enjoy peace and security. Reason should supersede force and the terrorist acts should be stopped. Israel should return to the negotiating table and comply with all agreements with the Palestinian Authority, in order to save the area from that vicious cycle of terrorism and violence.

The illicit small arms trade and its proliferation worldwide had thwarted human development, violated human rights, and compromised security and stability, he said. That illicit trade was as dangerous to security as the risk posed by weapons of mass destruction. The action plan adopted at the small arms Conference was a first step towards preventing the illicit small arms trade. Also, mines still endangered the people of the world and obstructed development. Thus, he supported the Secretary-General's call on all States to accede to the Ottawa Convention, and the continued work of the United Nations aimed at adopting a programme to eliminate mines and assist victims.

He said his country had always fought terrorism and supported efforts by the international community in that regard. It had also supported an investigation of the causes of terrorism. Proceeding from that presence, he supported international efforts aimed at combating terrorism. At the same time, he reconfirmed his interest in protecting the Muslim-Afghani people who should not be punished for actions they did not perpetrate. He also reiterated the germane importance of the right of Palestinians to protect themselves and recover their territories. The world must distinguish between terrorism and the struggle of people under the yoke of foreign control.

DEJAN ŠAHOVI’C (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) said that the gruesome message sent by terrorists on 11 September required the international community to make a united front to eliminate terrorism. The United Nations should be the centre of the efforts as it provides the framework for addressing terrorism and its root causes. The same was true for the issues of disarmament and the maintenance of international peace and security.

There was a real possibility that terrorists could acquire weapons of mass destruction, he continued. The importance of collective engagement in countering threats of biological and toxin weapons could not be emphasized enough. Additional action was needed to reconfirm the dedication of the international community to eliminating, once and for all, chemical weapons, as envisaged in the Chemical Weapons Convention. For its part, Yugoslavia had become party to several important disarmament agreements, such as the CTBT, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Ottawa Convention. Yugoslavia had also been an active participant in the United Nations small arms Conference. There was an inextricable link between the illicit trade in small arms and terrorism. In his region, the trade in illicit small arms was also related to transnational organized crime, money laundering and the trafficking in both drugs and human beings.

Yugoslavia was committed to strengthening regional stability and promoting regional cooperation, he continued. Problems in the region were complex and tough to tackle, making the importance of close cooperation with the international community more evident. The time had come for the region to make a joint effort, together with other interested international actors, to address a future security framework for the region. Putting out a fire in one corner of the region would do no good, if fire re-emerged in another.

RENATO R. MARTINO, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said that those responsible for the evil act of terrorism on 11 September must be apprehended and brought to justice in a way that did not expose even more innocent civilians to death and destruction. Violence on top of violence would only lead to more violence. It was a time for wisdom and perseverance. Justice, not vengeance, must be the goal. A disservice would be done to those who died in that tragedy if the world failed to search out the causes. Here, a broad canvas of political, economic, social, religious and cultural factors emerged, of which the common denominator was hate -- which transcended any one people or religion.

He said that although poverty was not, by itself, the cause of terrorism, combating it could not be done successfully without addressing the worsening disparities between the rich and poor. Global disparity was fundamentally incompatible with global security. Acts of revenge would not cure such hatred. Rather, the most obvious elements that spawned the conditions of hatred and violence must be removed. Poverty, along with other situations of marginalization that engulfed the lives of so many of the world's people -- denial of human dignity, lack of respect for human rights, social exclusion, intolerable refugee situations, and physical or psychological oppression -- were breeding grounds only waiting to be exploited by terrorists.

To date, he continued, efforts to respond to the problem of small arms, which killed more than 10,000 people each week, had resembled a "loose web" of initiatives with varying interests and objectives involving many countries and organizations. Unlike the effort to ban anti-personnel mines, no country had taken the lead in a comprehensive approach to small arms and many States had only grudgingly engaged the issue. The small arms Conference had placed the spotlight on the issue, but the meeting was limited from the beginning, since it had set out only to discuss the illegal aspects of the small arms trade. The agreement reached was a non-binding voluntary declaration with no enforcement mechanism. Unfortunately, it had not included provisions that would have regulated civilian gun ownership and restricted arms transfers to legitimate States.

The lack of full agreement on a protocol to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention was another setback for the international cooperation that was so necessary to prevent terrorism, he said. He called for intensified efforts to ensure universality, verification and full implementation of key treaties related to weapons of mass destruction, including those outlawing chemical and biological weapons, and the NPT, whose continued success required the entry into force of the CTBT. A weakened NPT and an inoperable CTBT would force the world to continue "wandering through a dangerous morass of tensions and recriminations" and the security of all States would continue to be severely jeopardized. The present course -- more arms and more poverty –- would lead to human disasters even greater than those endured on 11 September.

Right of Reply

JEREMY ISSACHAROFF (Israel), speaking in a right of reply, said that the delegation of Bahrain had chosen to devote his speech almost entirely to attacking his country. Sadly, that delegation had chosen the opportunity to voice false accusations against Israel, particularly at a time when the region was so desperately in need of more positive contributions to peace and stability. He should have outlined his own country's policies in that regard, rather than malign other countries.

He said he would not dignify those false remarks, but if he had stated that all terrorism should be condemned other than terrorism against Israel, then that statement was worthy of condemnation. There was no reason for terrorism. Those who tried to justify it, as that representative had, would only ensure its perpetuation.

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