7 October 2005

Growth of Global Military Spending, Relationship between Disarmament, Development Focus of Debate in Disarmament Committee

Speakers, Alarmed by $1 Trillion Devoted to Arms, Say Diverting Military Outlays to Development Could Help Meet Anti-Poverty Goals

NEW YORK, 6 October (UN Headquarters) -- The pivotal role that security played in defining the relationship between disarmament and development, and the importance of restraining rising military spending to release more resources for development were the themes dominating the continuing general debate in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today.

Bangladesh's Foreign Secretary, alarmed at the estimated $1 trillion in global military expenditures in 2004, told delegates that resources had been deployed to devise instruments of death, rather than for growth and prosperity, and there was no doubt about the direct relationship between disarmament and development.  Most of those expenditures had been the result of an unfortunate arms race, which was negatively affecting the development agenda.  The major military Powers should curb military spending and devote part of the resources saved to the development of the developing countries.

Of paramount concern, Thailand's speaker agreed, was the growth of global military expenditure, at the expense of resources that could be used for development. The relationship between disarmament and development was obvious. She supported the United Nations' central role in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and urged the world community to devote the resources freed as a result of disarmament and arms limitation agreements to development.

Cambodia's representative cited two tools for building a peaceful and stable world -- disarmament and development.  By controlling armed conflicts, resources could be freed and allocated for economic and social development.  Concurrently, sound development policies and strategies would play a significant role in efforts to eradicate poverty, promote economic growth, and create an environment conducive for long-term security.  Her country had given special emphasis to the national "Weapon for Development" programme, which offered incentives to communities whose report of illegal weapons stockpiles led to collection and destruction.

Seeking strengthened collective security instruments and a revival of multilateralism, the representative of the Dominican Republic said he had not only been disappointed at the omission of any reference to disarmament and non-proliferation in the World Summit's Outcome Document, but at the fact that the text "barely mentioned" the obligation to support implementation of the Action Programme to combat the illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons.  That omission had been particularly troubling, given the devastating impact that the trafficking was having on the social, political and economic development of his and other countries.

It was more urgent than ever, Cuba's representative said, to preserve multilateralism in international relations, given the current "unipolar" world where military expenditures were rising in step with the dizzying growth of the "sole super-Power's" military budget.  He could not accept that there were 1 billion illiterate people in the world and 900 million went hungry, while military expenditures were rising to $1 trillion.  Immeasurably, more progress could be made towards achieving the modest, but much touted, Millennium Development Goals if those colossal military outlays were diverted to development.

Other speakers in today's debate were the representatives of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Japan, Singapore, Jamaica, Morocco, Congo, Tunisia, Turkey, Bahrain, Serbia and Montenegro, Venezuela, Guatemala, and Myanmar.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 7 October, to conclude its general debate.


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its general debate on the whole range of disarmament and security issues before it.


CHEM WIDHA (Cambodia) said it was indeed discouraging that there had been no significant progress towards the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons.  Although the disarmament community had been dealt some setbacks, United Nations Member States must pursue analysis of the various disarmament issues in light of the current global situation.  The Committee was the necessary forum by which States could continue to create the much-needed international spirit, in order to confront the challenges facing the disarmament process.  Multilateralism would enhance the United Nations' role in global affairs, and contribute to collectively eliminate threats to peace and security.

He cited two important tools for building a peaceful and stable world:  disarmament and development.  By controlling armed conflicts, resources could be freed and allocated for economic and social development.  Concurrently, sound development policies and strategies would play a significant role in efforts to eradicate poverty, promote economic growth, and create an environment conducive for long-term security.  Reiterating his country's unequivocal commitment to general and complete disarmament, he said Cambodia had ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention on 19 July.  It was also a great supporter of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).  It was with deep dismay and concern that the NPT Review Conference had been unable to achieve any substantive results.

While Cambodians had enjoyed peace and a return to normalcy, the population still had to deal with the landmines and unexploded ordnance left behind after years of wars and conflicts, he said.  The Government sought to free Cambodia from all landmines by 2012.  In addition to the eight Millennium Development Goals, his Government had adopted landmine clearance as an additional goal for itself.  Because of the ease of use and availability, small arms were the weapons of choice for today's combatants.  As a post-conflict country, Cambodia fully understood the importance of proper and systematic collection, destruction and registration of those weapons.  As such, the Government had conducted six national projects.   Their focus had included safe storage of weapons, as well as efforts to search for hidden stockpiles.  Special emphasis had been given to the "Weapon for Development" programme, which offered incentives to communities whose cooperation and report of illegal stockpiles led to collection and destruction.

ALOUNKEO KITTIKHOUN, (Lao People's Democratic Republic) said today's world was filled with insecurity and injustice:  armed conflicts, acts of aggression and violence, terror, ethnic strife, civil wars, disease, hunger and poverty were all threats to international peace and security.  Weapons of mass destruction posed a great danger to the survival of humankind.  To ensure global peace and security, the international community must exert all-out efforts and act collectively.  One could not seek security for oneself alone.  He, thus, regretted the omission from the World Summit Outcome anything on disarmament and non-proliferation, especially at such a crucial moment for the world community.  There was the need to uphold multilateralism and work for agreed solutions.  It was unfortunate, therefore, that the NPT Review Conference was unable to reach consensus on the substantive questions surrounding the three pillars of the NPT.

His Government also recognized the importance of the CTBT and welcomed the Conference on facilitating the entry into force of the Treaty.  In order for the Treaty to be effective, all States must sign and ratify it, in particular the nuclear-weapon States.  Also, the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones was a positive step towards nuclear disarmament, and he welcomed the convening of a conference of Stats parties to treaties that established such zones.  The most credible guarantor against the use or threat of nuclear weapons was their total elimination.  Only that would prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons.  Further, urgent consideration must be given to the conclusion of a universal, unconditional and legally binding instrument on security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States.  He hoped the ASEAN-sponsored draft resolution on nuclear disarmament would receive support from all Member States.

He regretted that the Conference on Disarmament had again failed to agree on the programme of work, he said.  He hoped that all parties concerned would redouble efforts, demonstrate the necessary flexibility and move forward in efforts to pursue nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation.  Multilateral machinery should be strengthened.  Still, there should be no room for despair or discouragement.  One of the most urgent tasks at the United Nations was for States to seriously work together towards the common objective of achieving general and complete disarmament, in particular, nuclear disarmament.  Disarmament could not be fully attained without the political will and support of all members.

KHUNYING LAXANACHANTORN LAOHAPHAN (Thailand) said that, not only had the world witnessed the failure of the NPT Review, but it also saw the failure of world leaders to include any measures to strengthen disarmament and non-proliferation in the World Summit's Outcome.  In addition, the impasse of the Conference on Disarmament and the Disarmament Commission remained unresolved.  Of utmost concern was the growth of global military expenditure, at the expense of resources that could be used for development. The relationship between disarmament and development was obvious.  She supported the United Nations' central role in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.  She encouraged the international community to devote the resources freed as a result of disarmament and arms limitation agreements to economic and social development.

She said her country had a firm policy not to develop, possess, acquire or proliferate, test or transfer nuclear weapons and related materials.  It also placed high importance on the implementation the NPT, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Biological Weapons Convention, and the several bilateral, regional and multilateral efforts on non-proliferation.  She also supported implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) and had rendered cooperation to other countries in opposing nuclear proliferation and illicit arms trafficking, and in strengthening their capacities for export controls.  The new Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material also had her country's full support.  The Additional Protocol of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was both a confidence-building measure and an effective international verification mechanism, which provided assurances of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and the legal transaction of nuclear equipment.  Thailand signed the Additional Protocol on 22 September, and would spare no efforts to fully implement it, once the constitutional requirements for its entry into force were met. 

YOSHIKI MINE (Japan) said the First Committee was convening at a difficult time.  The international community was facing serious security challenges.  Those problems included:  the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; the increasing threat of international terrorism and of weapons of mass destruction falling into terrorists' hands; the proliferation of nuclear-related technology through underground networks; and the compliance problems of individual countries.  It was extremely regrettable that the NPT Review Conference was unable to produce a consensus document on substantive issues and that the Summit Outcome found no consensus on disarmament and non-proliferation.  The United Nations was at a crossroads, and whether or not it would be able to respond effectively to disarmament and non-proliferation challenges would depend upon the efforts of every Member State.

The task of the First Committee was to decide upon concrete measures to respond to security and disarmament issues by mustering the political will of Member States, he said.  It was also to incite further progress in the area of international security and disarmament.  Positive developments in the field of conventional weapons included the adoption of the Nairobi Action Plan, the conclusion of negotiations on an international instrument on the marking and tracing of small arms, and the success of the second biennial meeting of States on the Programme of Action on such arms.  International efforts to prevent terrorism had included the adoption of an amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, as well as the opening for signature of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, and Japan called upon all Member States to make every effort to ensure the early ratification of that Convention and the ratification of 12 other conventions and protocols on the prevention of terrorism without delay.

He said Japan reiterated its call for countries that had not yet ratified the CTBT to do so immediately.  The strengthening and universalization of existing regimes was a realistic and effective means of tackling problems faced by the world today, he said.  In order to not undermine the credibility of those regimes, consistency in mid- to long-term policies was of particular importance.  Countries should heed the will of the international community and the voice of the public, rather than solely pursue their own national interests.  Dialogue with civil society and collaboration with non-governmental organizations with expertise in that field was invaluable, as was the promotion of disarmament and non-proliferation education.  International frameworks, such as the NPT, CTBT, IAEA Safeguard Agreements and the Additional Protocol, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development 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) were of the utmost importance.  The lack of an agreed substantive document at the NPT Review must not erode the authority and credibility of that Treaty.

He said Japan's fundamental position on nuclear disarmament placed great importance on the realization of a peaceful and safe world free of nuclear weapons, through the steady implementation of concrete measures.  On the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the atomic bombings, as well as the establishment of the United Nations, Japan had decided to review and restructure its previous resolutions, avoiding repetition to create a concise and strong resolution.  The title of the new resolution was "Renewed Determination towards the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons".  The international community must overcome the lack of consensus at the NPT Review and World Summit.  A strong momentum would be created if all Member States solidified their efforts to promote nuclear disarmament.  Strengthening the functioning of the First Committee was an urgent task.  It should also take into account the work of other disarmament bodies, such as the Conference on Disarmament and the Disarmament Commission, which were currently stagnating.

TAN KOK YAM (Singapore) said that words like "lethargy", "paralysis" and "overcast atmosphere" had been used this week to describe the current situation.  The Conference on Disarmament had not achieved consensus on the way ahead, the 2005 NPT Review Conference failed to produce any substantive results, and the entry into force of the CTBT remained far from the international community's grasp, nearly 10 years after its adoption.  Perhaps most indicative of the malaise was the omission of any mention of disarmament and non-proliferation in the 2005 World Summit Outcome.  Those lost opportunities were especially regrettable in light of the urgent security threats facing the world today. 

He said it was starkly clear that collective efforts in international diplomacy to address those issues was in danger of being "outpaced" -- first, by the unrelenting march of science and technology in the creation of more sophisticated and destructive weaponry; and second, by the extremism of terrorists who would have no qualms devising new and more deadly means to inflict death and devastation on innocent civilians.  In view of those new and evolving threats, there was great urgency to act in concert in the field of international peace and security.  Actions could be taken to advance disarmament and non-proliferation.  First, the world should reaffirm its collective commitment to preserve the sanctity of global agreements.  Their credibility was a paramount ingredient in creating trust between Member States.  In that regard, he urged Iran to heed the call of the IAEA Board of Governors in its resolution of 24 September and return to the process of dialogue to resolve outstanding matters.

Second, he said, the international community must pursue progress concurrently on both fronts of disarmament and non-proliferation.  Those two processes were not competing priorities, but mutually reinforcing thrusts.  As Ambassador Sergio Duarte said at the 2005 NPT Review, "there is no possibility of success if each group clings to its narrow perceptions".  All parties should adopt a flexible position to resolve the differences, which would lead to real progress.  Singapore was highly sensitive to the dangers of proliferation because of its size, openness and vulnerability.  The discovery of a sophisticated and clandestine nuclear procurement network in February 2004 was reason enough for everyone to enhance global cooperation to counter proliferation.  Singapore had consistently supported multilateral non-proliferation instruments, as those were crucial to fighting the spread of mass destruction weapons.  It also supported the full implementation of resolution 1540 (2004), which had called on Member States to enhance domestic controls and step up cooperation against weapons of mass destruction proliferation.

STAFFORD NEIL (Jamaica) said the past year was a particular challenge for achieving the objectives of disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation.  He had hoped that the opportunity presented by the World Summit would generate the necessary momentum for the full realization of previous commitments.  Unfortunately, that had not happened.  There was now increased anxiety about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the possibility that those weapons could end up in the hands of terrorists, and he was disappointed that the Summit Outcome did not advance the goals of disarmament and non-proliferation.  There had been agreement on other important matters, such as terrorism, human rights and even on the management reform of the Secretariat, yet on matters of immense consequence to the very survival and existence of all mankind, there had been silence.  That had not been a surprise, since inaction on disarmament was the order of the day, as seen by the failure of the NPT Review Conference, the dismal track record of the Conference on Disarmament and the continuing inability of the Disarmament Commission to agree on its agenda.  So, urgent action was now needed.

He said Jamaica remained committed to the goal of general and complete disarmament.  The great military Powers should take the lead.  It was critical that the nuclear-weapon States fulfil their obligations under multilateral disarmament instruments.  Unless commitments were fully respected and honoured, there would be no progress on non-proliferation goals.  The strengthening of confidence in international security would be dependent on the absence of discriminatory or selective application of the norms and regulations governing arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.  Now was the time for a fresh approach, but it should not be at the expense of previous agreements and it needed to be based on a firm commitment to multilateralism, underpinned by strong political will.

The First Committee could provide the opportunity for a discussion on how to reactivate disarmament, he said.  The fourth special session on disarmament would be the best means in which to have a thorough review of the disarmament machinery.  There had been some modest progress in the implementation of the Programme of Action on small arms, but much more needed to be done.  The proliferation of small arms continued to escalate and undermine the stability and the social and economic fabric of many developing nations.  He was profoundly disappointed that the efforts of the open-ended working group on the marking and tracing of illicit weapons in a timely and reliable manner did not produce a legally binding instrument.  Also, he welcomed the implementation of the Nairobi Plan of Action on landmines and was committed to the full implementation of the Ottawa Convention.

Mr. HEMAYETUDDIN, Foreign Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, said that now was the time to reflect on the dismal failures, but it was also time to look forward.  Sheer lack of political will on the part of some had brought the situation to a dangerous deadlock, which had certainly made the world a much more dangerous place than ever before.  The regrettable trend in negotiations on disarmament and non-proliferation had also demonstrated the urgent need to engage in meaningful multilateralism.  The multilateral instruments must be revitalized, if they were to continue to contribute to international peace and security.  His country had long been a strong advocate for establishing the supremacy of the rule of law and multilateralism in all areas of international relations, and more so in matters of disarmament and non-proliferation.  The harmful trend of unilateralism and the wilful interpretation of multilateral instruments and international law must be reversed.

He said that existing and emerging threats had heightened concern about weapons of mass destruction.  Absent a firm commitment to disarmament, the world was witnessing ominous signs, such as non-compliance with nuclear non-proliferation commitments, the existence of a clandestine nuclear network and the threat that mass destruction weapons might fall into terrorists' hands.  Stalled multilateral negotiations in the field must be resumed without further delay, if the international community was serious about addressing those threats effectively.  He called for resumed work in the Conference on Disarmament, in line with the unanimous conclusion of the International Court of Justice on the obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.  He reiterated the need for convening a global conference on the elimination of nuclear weapons, and for the conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention.  The major players in that field should demonstrate their political will to move forward and emerge from the present "miserable" situation. 

The nuclear-weapon States, however, had failed to demonstrate any visible progress to accomplish the elimination of their nuclear arsenals, he said.  The greatest threat to humanity stemmed from the continued existence of those weapons and their possible use or threat of use.  He demanded security assurances by the nuclear-weapon States that they would not use those weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States.  Those nations were not only providing more precision capability to their existing nuclear weapons stockpiles, but they were also developing new types of weapons.  Both would have serious and adverse destabilizing consequences, and contravened the assurances provided by the nuclear-weapon States at the time of the conclusion of the test-ban Treaty.  Had it entered into force, the CTBT would have prevented the improvement of existing nuclear weapons and the development of new types of nuclear weapons.

He said that proliferation of nuclear weapons and their acquisition by States and non-State actors alike were real possibilities.  Providing more precision capability to nuclear weapons only made them more attractive to terrorists.  That could not be allowed to happen.  He reiterated his firm conviction that the best guarantee against nuclear weapons proliferation was their total elimination.  At the same time, he was concerned about undue restrictions on exports to developing countries of nuclear material, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes.  Those barriers must be removed.  Also disappointing had been the use of extraneous reasons by some nuclear-weapon States to deny non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the NPT their right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy and technology.  He called on all concerned to engage in constructive dialogue, in order to implement the provisions of the Treaty's articles I, II, and IV, in an environment of trust and confidence. 

Also worrying was the development and deployment of anti-ballistic missile defence systems and the pursuit of advanced military technologies capable of deployment in outer space, he said.  He called for the resumption of work on the prevention of an outer space arms race in the Conference on Disarmament.  Further, the estimated global military expenditures, in excess of $1 trillion in 2004, had been alarming.  Most of those expenditures had been the result of an unfortunate arms race, which was increasingly negatively affecting the development agenda.  There was no doubt about the direct relationship between disarmament and development.  He urged all countries, particularly the major military Powers, to curb their military expenditures and devote part of the resources saved to the economic and social development of the developing countries.  Resources had been deployed to devise mechanisms to kill each other, rather than to grow and prosper in peace.

LOTFI BOUCHAARA, (Morocco) said he had hoped the international community would benefit from events in 2005 and new momentum would be given to disarmament and non-proliferation.  But, the historic opportunity had been lost.  The lack of any reference to disarmament in the Summit Outcome was indicative of the inability of the international community to reach a common perception of the major challenges to be met in disarmament and non proliferation.  That lack of shared vision should be an additional reason to come up with a collective effort.  Despite successive setbacks, though, Morocco continued to believe it was in the interest of all to promote the revitalization of multilateralism in disarmament and non-proliferation.  That would entail strengthening international instruments, specifically the NPT review.  It also required giving the necessary attention to new challenges, including the risk that terrorists' groups would use weapons of mass destruction.

He called for a special effort to work for results in particular regions, specifically the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  The Middle East, and Israel, needed to accede to the NPT.  Peace and security in the Mediterranean region would entail reducing inequalities between the north and south shores to promote the emergence of sustainable development and shared prosperity.  The considerable ravages caused by the trafficking of small arms, especially in Africa, justified the importance the United Nations gave to the issue.  He commended the marking and tracing of small arms and supported a legally binding instrument.  The existing instrument, although only a policy document, did constitute a step in the right direction.

Morocco had spared no effort to meet all of its international commitments in disarmament and non-proliferation, he continued.  It had submitted its national report under the provision of resolution 1540 under the Security Council.  The First Committee had adopted measures that enhanced its working methods; what it needed now was to demonstrate its political commitment to move forward.  It needed an exchange of views between members, and it needed to achieve political goals to contribute to multilateral disarmament and international security.

ERASMO LARA-PEÑA (Dominican Republic) said that the international community was "still saddled with the baggage of old problems".  In today's world, it was more relevant than ever to strengthen the collective security instruments.  Multilateralism remained the appropriate tool for finding the right solutions, for which the United Nations was the most fitting forum.  The omission of disarmament and non-proliferation from the outcome of the World Summit had been disappointing.  In fact, the text barely mentioned the obligation to support implementation of the Action Programme to combat the illicit trafficking in small arms, which was a matter of key concern to his country.  That omission had been particularly alarming, given the devastating impact that trafficking was having on the social, political and economic arenas of his and other countries.  If a Government could not guarantee the safety and security of its citizens, their development and prosperity could also never be guaranteed.

He said that the illicit small arms trade transcended borders and long ago stopped being the domestic problem of any one country.  Apart from its effect on crime, there were new threats to counter -- more subtle than those of the "naked cruelty and senselessness" of terrorism.  Those threats concerned the crisis in energy resources, which brought in their wake hunger and grinding poverty.  In order to guarantee political stability, governability and global peace and security, he appealed to the world community to make the current energy crisis a priority of the global agenda.  He reaffirmed the call for a gathering of world leaders to present alternative solutions to that serious problem, which might be the ultimate blow to the prosperity of developing nations.  The enormous pressure on those countries from fluctuating and rising fuel prices distorted development plans.  He sought feasible and lasting solutions to the energy crisis and to his country's energy needs.  He also reiterated his concern about the possible damaging effects of the transport of radioactive waste along his country's coastlines, which were the lifeblood of the main income source, the tourist industry.

BASILE IKOUEBE (Congo) said the First Committee was meeting at a time of many challenges and when the goals in disarmament and non-proliferation were far from being achieved.  The challenges stemmed, in particular, from the rise in international terrorism.  Even so, the international community seemed to be moving further and further away from the commitment taken at the Millennium Summit.  That was confirmed at the high-level Summit when States failed to advance the debate on disarmament.  How did the international community reach such a point? he asked.  That needed to be at the heart of the current discussion.  The lack of progress was not surprising; it was in keeping with the succession of setbacks that preceded it.  In its annual report, the Conference on Disarmament announced it concluded the 2005 session without working out its work programme, the same thing that happened the previous eight years.  The NPT Review concluded without a substantive agreement.  That failure would erode the credibility towards the non-proliferation regime, in a world where the nuclear danger was considerable.

Regret by various parties was not enough to get States to make a commitment, he said.  National interests apparently took precedence over the need for a world free of weapons of mass destruction.  That sent a clear message to terrorists.  The international community must demonstrate an unwavering determination.  He was certain that the CTBT was an effective disarmament and non-proliferation measure.  Its prompt entry into force would make a contribution towards peace and security.  The second review meeting on the illegal trafficking of small arms had provided an opportunity for Member States to review progress since the adoption of the 2001 Programme of Action.  It was regrettable that the instrument proposed was political, and made no reference to munitions.

He would be remiss if he did not raise the concerns of Central African States with regard to the illicit trafficking of small arms, he said.  Efforts were being made by States in the region to stop it, but because of several factors, including porous borders and a lack of equipment, it was increasingly difficult.  He reiterated his country's appeal for support from the international community in organizing an effective fight against small arms.  The issue affected the entire Great Lakes region, which needed to be seen as a specific zone for development and reconstruction.

ABDELHAMID GHARBI (Tunisia) said the arms race was pursued to the detriment of the most basic needs of civilian populations.  The bulk of the resources devoted to the military could be diverted to development and economic growth.  At the September Summit, the international community missed another occasion to work out specific goals with respect to relaunching the disarmament and non-proliferation process, which had clearly slowed in recent years.  Beyond the setback of the NPT Review in May, the CTBT had not yet entered force, nearly a decade after its adoption, and both the Conference on Disarmament and the Disarmament Commission were at an impasse.  Still, the agreed multilateral solutions, in accordance with the United Nations Charter, were the best way to settle the many disarmament and international security issues.

He said that an assessment of nuclear disarmament in the past 30 years had revealed a lack of any meaningful progress.  States parties were still "very far" from the goals set forth in article VI of the NPT, with respect to nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.  He reiterated the necessary appeals for the full implementation of the priority commitments by nuclear-weapon States undertaken at the 2000 NPT Review to bring about the total elimination of their nuclear stockpiles.  Pending that, it was high time to convene a fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament, in order to identify the means for relaunching disarmament at the multilateral level.

The establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones on the basis of arrangements arrived at freely among the States of the region concerned also had his support, he said.  In that regard, he regretted the delay in creating such a zone in the Middle East, owing to Israel's refusal to accede to the NPT and place its nuclear facilities under the safeguards agreements of the IAEA.  He called on the international community, specifically the Powers with influence, to take urgent, practical measures to establish such a zone.  He also expressed support for the Ottawa Treaty, which his country had promptly ratified.  In addition, Tunisia had completed the destruction of its anti-personnel mines stockpiles.  He also welcomed the work this year of the open-ended working group negotiating an international draft instrument on the tracing and marking of small arms and light weapons.

ERSIN ERÇIN (Turkey) said the global security environment had changed dramatically in recent years.  The delicate balance that the system of treaties had established over the last four decades had been challenged by terrorists, States in non-compliance with non-proliferation and disarmament requirements, and delays in the fulfilment of nuclear disarmament engagements and obligations.  That balance needed to be preserved, and the United Nations should be able to respond to those challenges.  Yet, the United Nations family had failed to take concrete steps on the issues of disarmament and non-proliferation.  Still, the setbacks should not be discouraging.  On the contrary, it should enhance the resolve of the international community to work together.  Particular emphasis needed to be placed on the necessity to reinvigorate the work carried out within the Disarmament Commission.

Despite the failure of the Review Conference, he believed the NPT was still a unique and irreplaceable multilateral instrument, and the IAEA was the indispensable component of the regime.  Its authority should be strengthened and the Model Additional Protocol should be adopted as the universal norm for verifying compliance with the NPT.  He attached great importance to the early entry into force of the CTBT and appealed for the remaining Annex II States to sign and ratify the Treaty.  He reiterated support for the idea of creating a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  The progressive increase in the range and accuracy of ballistic missiles made the proliferation threat all the more frightening.  Conventional weapons proliferation also constituted a serious concern for Turkey.  The accumulation and uncontrolled spread of small arms posed a significant threat to peace and security, as well as to the social and economic development of many countries.  There was also a close relationship between illicit trade in small arms and terrorism.

Proliferation and unauthorized use of Man-Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS) was also a matter of serious concern.  The international community should act decisively to improve stockpile security and strengthen export controls in countries that imported and manufactured MANPADS.  Another major problem was the irresponsible and indiscriminate use of anti-personnel landmines.  Turkey fully supported the efforts for universalization and effective implementation of the Ottawa Convention.

ORLANDO REQUEIJO GUAL (Cuba) highlighted the rejection of language by the United States' delegation on the question of nuclear disarmament during negotiations on the Outcome Document of the World Summit.  That was especially alarming, given the current unipolar world where military expenditures were rising, along with the dizzying growth in the military budget of the sole super-Power and an attempt to validate the doctrine of the pre-emptive use of force.  It was more imperative than ever to preserve multilateralism in international relations, based on strict respect for the Charter and international law.  It was unacceptable that there were 1 billion illiterate people in the world and 900 million went hungry, while military expenditures were rising to $1 trillion.  Immeasurably more progress could be made towards achieving the modest, but much touted, Millennium Development Goals if those colossal military expenditures were to be diverted to development and reducing the gap between rich and poor.

He called firmly for general and complete disarmament, under strict and effective international control, and for the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction.  Cuba, together with the other non-aligned countries, had always accorded top priority to nuclear disarmament.  Some, however, were forcing others to see to it that international attention was focused ever more on horizontal proliferation, to the detriment of nuclear disarmament, while tens of thousands of nuclear weapons remained in existence.  Proliferation in all its ramifications must be resolved within the context of international law.  The only secure and effective way of avoiding the proliferation of mass destruction weapons was to totally eliminate them.  His country continued to take specific steps reflecting its firm commitment to multilateralism and to comply with its obligations under multilateral treaties. 

The lack of substantive agreement in May at the NPT Review had been regrettable, he said.  There, it had become plain that certain nuclear Powers lacked the political will necessary for attaining the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.  The NPT was not an end in itself, but one more step towards achieving nuclear disarmament.  He firmly declared his rejection of selective and double standards in that Treaty's application.  He reaffirmed Cuba's well known stance concerning the inalienable right of States to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  Yet, issues linked to disarmament and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy were relegated to the back burner, while front and centre treatment was given to horizontal nuclear proliferation.  States with nuclear weapons must commit not to use or threaten to use those weapons against States that did not possess them.

He said he shared the humanitarian concerns about the unbridled possession of small arms and light weapons, and the irresponsible and indiscriminate use of anti-personnel landmines.  The Committee should take real steps to prevent countries from developing and using ever more deadly and sophisticated arms, causing so-called "collateral damage" -- a phrase that concealed the devastation caused to innocent civilians.  Regarding resolution 1540 (2004), he said that the Security Council should not interfere with functions not included in its mandate.  Questions involving mass destruction weapon proliferation should be dealt with in the context of the multilateral disarmament machinery, and not the Council.

ABDULRHAMAN HASHEM (Bahrain) said the world aspired to reaching the agreements set forth in the Millennium Declaration.  But, despite the passage of five years since its adoption, the situation was still marked by dreadful misgivings, as a result of 2005 Summit failure on renewing international commitments.  There was a strong need for collective cooperation, especially with regard to weapons of mass destruction.

Initiatives with regard to the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones had met with success in certain parts of the world, he said.  That was a positive step towards a world free from weapons of mass destruction.  But, it was urgent to turn the Mideast region into such a zone.  His peoples aspired to do that.  Yet, Israel's refusal to accede to the NPT or subject its nuclear facilities to the IAEA safeguards system stood in the way.  Hence, the international community was not fulfilling its responsibility.

His country supported the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice that all States were duty bound to continue negotiations with the purpose of eliminating nuclear weapons.  Efforts designed to stop nuclear non- proliferation would help prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.  The NPT remained the cornerstone and main pillar, despite the obstacles it encountered, including non-accession and how some States were threatening to withdraw.  That should raise the concern of the international community.

NEBOJSA KALUDJEROVIC (Serbia and Montenegro) said that, despite awareness of the need to reform the United Nations, divisions persisted about the priorities and major challenges to international peace and security.  The United Nations disarmament framework had hardly been more relevant, particularly against the background of a growing threat of proliferation of mass destruction weapons and their possible acquisition by terrorists.  The link between the proliferation of those weapons and new forms of terrorism, as well as transnational criminal networks, posed a real threat to international peace and security and required a collective response.  His country was committed to making a full contribution to all regional and global initiatives aimed at fighting terrorism.  Last month, it signed the Convention against nuclear terrorism, which added to the list of the  12 related conventions it had already ratified.

He said that of particular concern in his region was the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and its direct connection to organized crime and terrorism.  That problem had been especially acute in the territory of Serbia's autonomous province of Kosovo and Metohija, temporarily administered by the United Nations.  Full implementation of the Action Programme on small arms and light weapons should be ensured, particularly through the strengthening of export controls and regional and international cooperation.  In February, his Government adopted a law on Foreign Sales of Arms, Military Equipment and Dual-Purpose Goods, and the law on hand-held firearms, devices and ammunition testing was already in force.  Another, on arms and military equipment production, was being prepared, and the draft would be submitted to the Parliament for adoption by the end of the year.  In line with the binding provision of the Ottawa Convention, his country had begun a project to destroy its anti-personnel mine stockpiles.  By 2010, it should be able to proclaim South-east Europe "anti-personnel mines-free".

Serbia and Montenegro was party to the NPT, and it deposited its ratification instruments for the CTBT in May 2004 as a non-nuclear-weapon State, he said.  It also fully honoured the provisions of the Biological Weapons Convention and it was a current member of the Executive Board of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.  As a sign of its commitment to that Convention, his country eliminated and destroyed all of its chemical weapons stockpiles and installations by 2004.  Although not a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime, it voluntarily committed itself to respecting some of its documents.  As one of five parties to the agreement on the subregional arms control article of the Dayton Peace Agreement, Serbia and Montenegro consistently implemented its provisions and destroyed surplus weapon stockpiles.

IMERIA NUÑEZ DE ODREMAN (Venezuela) said the elimination of nuclear weapons was necessary for avoiding a nuclear war, or accident.  There should be a universalization of the NPT, as well as negotiations which would lead to a multilateral instrument whereby nuclear Powers would commit themselves not to use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons against non-nuclear States.  That was of the essence in a world divided between States that had nuclear weapons and those that decided not to produce or acquire them.  Nuclear States must implement and comply with the 13 practical steps set forth in the outcome document of the 2000 NPT Review and bring to a halt programmes designed to develop new nuclear weapons.  It was the inalienable right of countries to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  Venezuela complied with the CTBT, and on its territory were two seismic stations, as part of the international monitoring system.

She said there was deep concern that initiatives had been launched in disarmament and non-proliferation outside the United Nations, such as the Proliferation Security Initiative and the Global Threat Reduction Initiative launched by the United States in 2003 and 2004.  Disarmament and non-proliferation issues should not be transferred to the Security Council, where not all countries could participate on an equal footing.  An example of that was Security Council resolution 1540, which concerned the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  On 24 September 2003, Venezuela completed the destruction of 47,189 mines and retained only a small quantity.  Venezuela also contributed to the process of demining in Central America by dispatching military experts to assist with mine removal.  In April 2005, Venezuela deposited its instrument of accession to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.  Also, her country did not have ballistic missiles, but to support the efforts of the international community and to close the legal vaccuum, it did sign the international code of conduct in The Hague.

Outer space should be considered as common patrimony of humankind, and it must be used peacefully, she said.  Further, the illicit traffic of small arms and light weapons ratcheted up violent acts in many countries and hampered efforts at resolving conflict.  Her country joined multilateral efforts to fight the problem, and continued to carry out measures to prevent, combat and wipe out small arms.  It was important to speak out once again against the clear and daily threat posed by State terrorism.  She endorsed the representative of Cuba, when he spoke of the twenty-ninth anniversary of the terrorist attack on an aircraft that had departed from Venezuela.  Luis Posada was the criminal behind it, and he was now residing in the United States.  She hoped he was brought to justice.

LUISA BONILLA GALVAO DE QUEIROZ (Guatemala) said that the problems in disarmament and non-proliferation had loomed large, and the international community's expectations for progress had not been met.  She bore witness to the paralysis in the work of the disarmament community and the impossibility of reaching consensus.  Clear disagreements had arisen over security concepts, priorities and approaches, and had cast a shadow on the world's basic aspiration for disarmament.  This year had seen more than one lost opportunity, in that regard.  The developments at the NPT Review, the Conference on Disarmament, the Disarmament Commission and even the World Summit had demonstrated the seriousness of the deadlock.  Understanding and cooperation should be improved, so better results could be achieved in the available disarmament mechanisms.  Traditional and novel security problems in the spheres of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation deserved attention, for which time and effort and leadership were required.

She said that a first step in that direction had been the Norwegian-led initiative, which presented an opportunity to forge a new dialogue and promote consensus.  Conventional weapons also deserved full attention and effort.  In the short term, she expected progress in implementation of the small arms Programme of Action at its review in 2006.  That was an opportunity, of a multilateral nature, to reconcile conflicting interests and bestow special attention on a problem affecting all.  The action plan should be enriched.  Accordingly, she supported the elaboration of effective global rules on small arms, with the final aim of promoting global security.  She regretted the limited scope of the recently drafted international instrument on tracing and marking of those weapons, as its nature and purposes did not match the needs of the most seriously affected countries.  She hoped that would be corrected in the future.  Guatemala also supported the Ottawa Convention.

A new collective security scheme was needed, which would enable the international community to overcome the difficulties in meeting old and new challenges, she said.  The current Committee session provided one opportunity, and a fourth special session of the General Assembly on disarmament would be another.  She thanked the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean for its willingness to assist Guatemala in the destruction of small arms and light weapons, as provided for in the 2001 Action Programme.

On behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), NYUNT MAUNG SHEIN (Myanmar) stressed that the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons had been a very important contribution to international efforts for peace and security.  In view of the recent political developments, there were now conditions for the establishment of a world free of nuclear weapons.  For several years, the ASEAN countries had co-sponsored resolutions, initiated by Myanmar, which called upon nuclear-weapon States to stop improving, developing, producing and stockpiling nuclear weapons.  Myanmar and Malaysia would table such a text again.  The ASEAN countries had consistently stressed the importance of achieving universal adherence to the CTBT and the NPT.  Nuclear-weapon States should make further efforts towards the elimination of all nuclear weapons.

She regretted that the 2005 NPT Review did not achieve any substantive result.  All parties concerned should muster their political will and work for action on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  The only absolute guarantee against the use, or threat of use, of nuclear weapons was their total elimination.  She called for a full and effective implementation of the practical steps set out in the 2000 final document of the NPT Review.  Nuclear-weapon States should take concrete measures to fulfil their obligations under the NPT. Also, a comprehensive approach towards missiles, in a balanced and non-discriminatory manner, was urgently needed.  Concerns related to missile proliferation were best addressed through multilaterally negotiated, comprehensive and non-discriminatory agreements.

The Moscow Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions between the Russian Federation and the United States should be implemented in accordance with the principles of transparency.  She hoped the United States and Russia would reduce the level of their operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads by the end of 2012.  For the 1997 South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone Treaty to be fully effective, nuclear-weapon States should sign the Protocol soon.  Although there were still a few outstanding issues, consultations with those countries were moving in the right direction.  She welcomed China's readiness to sign the Protocol and hoped to see all five nuclear-weapon States sign it.  She reiterated support for convening the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament.

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