Marking International Day Against Nuclear Tests, General Assembly Speakers Call for Universal Adherence of Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty
The General Assembly today commemorated the International Day against Nuclear Tests, with speakers underscoring the urgent need for universal adherence and entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.
Abdulla Shahid (Maldives), President of the General Assembly, recalled that the International Day is observed on 29 August to commemorate the closing of Semipalatinsk, a nuclear test site in Kazakhstan, in 1991, and honour all those who lost their lives to nuclear tests. “Twenty-five years after adoption of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, we must redouble efforts to promote its universalization and implementation,” he stressed, highlighting that the ongoing military confrontation in Ukraine has exacerbated the threat of a nuclear catastrophe.
Izumi Nakamitsu, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said that, although the tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was unable to reach consensus on an outcome document, States parties were united in their overwhelming support for a global ban on nuclear testing. Moreover, progress had been made on victim assistance, a focus that had grown out of the International Day against Nuclear Weapons and one that adds a human security dimension to the national and collective security perspectives. She voiced hope that the remaining Annex II States — whose ratification is required for its entry into force — will sign and ratify the Test-Ban Treaty and provide impetus for the rest of the non-Annex II States to join it.
Robert Floyd, Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, also highlighting delegations’ sincere and tireless efforts, said that four weeks of intense negotiations have laid the groundwork for real progress in the future. Noting that Dominica, Gambia, Timor-Leste and Tuvalu ratified the Test-Ban Treaty this year, he said: “With Dominica’s ratification, we have completed adherence to the CTBT in the Latin American and Caribbean region. With Timor‑Leste’s ratification, we have complete adherence in South-East Asia.”
Vivian Okeke, Representative of the Director General to the United Nations and Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Liaison Office, New York, said that, for the past six decades, IAEA has helped to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, while making nuclear science and technology available for peaceful purposes, especially to developing countries. The Agency’s recent mission to Zaporizhzhia has now set up a presence at the plant, she said, noting that IAEA has called for the urgent establishment of a nuclear safety and security protection zone at the plant.
Benetick Kabua Maddison, Director of the Marshallese Educational Initiative, said that, due to the United States’ nuclear testing and forced relocation, Marshallese have some of highest rates of cancer and diabetes in the world. “What we need most today is not only allies but actors,” he said, calling on Government leaders to recognize the dangers of nuclear weapons production and use, take responsibility for the damage such testing has inflicted and then eliminate such weapons.
Many delegations, united in their support for the Test-Ban Treaty, called on the remaining eight Annex II States to ratify it. Speakers also urged all States to abide by the moratorium on nuclear weapon test explosions and to refrain from any action that runs counter to the Treaty, pending its entry into force.
The representative of Mauritius, speaking for the African Group, voiced concern about nuclear-weapon States’ slow pace in eliminating their nuclear arsenals. Pointing to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of those weapons on health, the environment and other resources, he noted that the two failed Review Conferences plunges the Non-Proliferation Treaty into “uncharted waters”, threatening its credibility.
The representative of Papua New Guinea, speaking for the Pacific Islands Forum, spotlighted the unresolved nuclear testing legacy issues in his region that continue to pose a danger to the livelihoods of the peoples there. He called on those responsible to address those issues, warning that the climate emergency and growing frequency of natural disasters across the globe has increased the risk of large-scale nuclear accidents.
Thailand’s delegate, speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), pointed to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s intercontinental ballistic‑missile launch as such a threat in his region. He reaffirmed his bloc’s position against nuclear tests, stressing that diplomatic efforts should remain the goal.
Tunisia’s representative, speaking for the Arab Group, reported that the Arab States have joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Yet, Israel violates all norms and rules set by that Treaty. He called for ridding the region of all weapons of mass destruction and urged all parties to negotiate a legally binding convention that promotes international and regional peace and security.
The representative of Argentina, speaking for the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States (CELAC), spotlighted her region’s commitment to the universalization of the Comprehensive Test‑Ban Treaty, noting that all States in the region have signed the instrument. Voicing concern over the rise, modernization, use and threat thereof of nuclear weapons, she underscored that use of those weapons would constitute a crime against humanity.
The representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, highlighted the Comprehensive Test‑Ban Treaty Organization’s verification regime. “The CTBTO has provided the world with a truly global, high-tech monitoring system for nuclear explosions — something that no single country could do,” he pointed out. To strengthen the verification regime and build capacity in developing countries, the European Union, since 2006, has provided the organization with voluntary contributions of more than €29.5 million.
The General Assembly also resumed consideration of the topic “International Cooperation for Access to Justice, Remedies and Assistance for Survivors of Sexual Violence”, with various delegations speaking in explanation of vote after adoption of the resolution, which took place on 2 September. (For background, see Press Release GA/12438.)
Also speaking on the International Day against Nuclear Tests were the representatives of Kazakhstan, Austria, Ecuador, Hungary, Colombia, China, Italy, Japan, Cote d’Ivoire, Iran, Brazil, Sri Lanka, United States and Kiribati.
Speaking in explanation of vote were the representatives of Guatemala, India, Syria, Belarus, Pakistan, Sudan, Egypt, Algeria, Brazil, Libya, Mauritania, Nigeria, Malaysia, Ethiopia and Japan.
The representatives of the Russian Federation, Israel, Ukraine, Iran and China spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The General Assembly will next meet at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 8 September, to continue its work.
ABDULLA SHAHID (Maldives), President of the General Assembly, said that the International Day against Nuclear Tests is observed on 29 August to commemorate the closing of Semipalatinsk, a nuclear test site in Kazakhstan, on 29 August 1991. The yearly observance commemorates all those who tragically lost their lives to nuclear tests, as well as a reminder of the serious impacts those tests have on human health and environment, which can last generations. “We must ensure that we have a strong and united and most importantly global front in our mission to ban nuclear testing,” he said, calling on the international community to implement all existing instruments towards that end. In that regard, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty provides a strong legal framework, he said, stressing: “Twenty-five years after its adoption, we must redouble efforts to promote its universalization and implementation.” Member States who had not yet signed the Treaty should do so without delay, particularly the remaining Annex II States, as their ratification is needed for the Treaty to enter into force.
He went on to say that the ongoing military confrontation in Ukraine, which has exacerbated the looming threat of a nuclear catastrophe by accident, has increased the urgency of nuclear disarmament efforts. He urged all parties to work to exercise maximum restraint and promote dialogue and diplomacy. With an estimated stockpile of 13,000 nuclear warheads around the world, all Member States without exception must fulfil their commitments towards nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Recalling the holding of the tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in August, he highlighted States parties’ efforts and commitment during intensive negotiations, despite an outcome document not being adopted.
He voiced his hope that States parties will continue to engage in constructive and meaningful dialogue to reaffirm their commitment to that treaty as a corner stone of global disarmament and non-proliferation regime. "As we mark the international day against nuclear tests, let us recommit by working together and taking concrete action. The only way of bringing hope to the people is by delivering a world free of nuclear weapons,” he emphasized. “Let us work together to achieve that world.”
IZUMI NAKAMITSU, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, affirming that “nuclear testing is abhorrent and its legacy is nothing but toxic”, stressed that the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty must remain an urgent priority for all States. She described the inability, last month, of the tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to reach consensus on a substantive outcome as “a lost opportunity” to strengthen the Treaty and advance its goals. While parties had engaged in sincere and meaningful dialogue, and were prepared to join the consensus, only one State party had objections on the draft final outcome document.
Nonetheless, she said a key issue on which States parties were united was their overwhelming support for a global ban on nuclear testing, noting that, in the draft outcome document, the Conference reaffirmed the importance of the entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty at the earliest possible date, as a means to constrain the development and improvement of nuclear weapons. Also in the draft, the Conference welcomed the increased attention in the last review cycle on assistance to the people and communities affected by weapons testing and environmental remediation, building on the obligations contained in the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the work States parties have done to establish a process for their implementation.
A focus on victim assistance is one area of progress that has grown from the International Day against Nuclear Tests, she continued, underscoring that it adds a human security dimension to the national and collective security perspectives. Indeed, the devastation wrought by explosive nuclear tests has lingered for decades, tormenting not just people who lived in the era of unrestrained atmospheric and underwater nuclear tests, but their succeeding generations. Stressing that the global norm against nuclear testing has been firmly upheld in the twenty-first century, with one important exception, she joined others in calling on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to refrain from further nuclear testing, to join the Test-Ban Treaty and to immediately work with relevant parties towards the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Recalling that September 2021 marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Test-Ban Treaty, she spotlighted that, under the “relentless energy” of Executive Secretary Floyd, four States have joined the instrument. She expressed hope that this will motivate the eight remaining Annex II States — whose ratification is required for its entry into force — to sign and ratify the Test Ban Treaty and provide impetus for the rest of the non-Annex II States, of which fewer than 12 now remain, to join it.
“Times are not good,” she observed. The risk of nuclear weapons use is the highest since the cold war. Relationships between nuclear-armed States continue to corrode, and nuclear weapons are assuming greater roles in national security doctrines. Further, there are new reports about a possible resumption of nuclear testing by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “If we are to prevent catastrophe, we must urgently correct course and accelerate efforts to achieve nuclear disarmament,” she stressed. Ending testing once and for all, by bringing the Test-Ban Treaty into force and making the legally binding prohibition on nuclear explosive tests a permanent reality, is a step all must strive to take. She called for redoubled efforts towards this outcome, and in turn, realizing the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.
ROBERT FLOYD, Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, said that, although the Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons recently concluded deliberations without consensus on a final document, he saw cause for optimism. Despite the disappointing outcome, he observed many delegations’ sincere and tireless efforts and heard the resounding calls for action. “These four weeks of intense negotiations have laid the groundwork for real progress in the future,” he said. Turning to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, he said that, in this, the twenty-fifth anniversary year of the opening for signature of the Treaty, Dominica, Gambia, Timor-Leste, and Tuvalu ratified the Treaty, with many more States on their way. “With Dominica’s ratification, we have completed adherence to the CTBT in the Latin American and Caribbean region. With Timor-Leste’s ratification, we have complete adherence in South-East Asia,” he reported, highlighting them as historical milestones and commending those countries for their efforts.
The Treaty Organization’s means of verification comprises a state-of-the-art international data centre and a global network of monitoring stations, which have proven their efficacy time and again, he continued. This critical asset will continue to deliver on the promise to detect any nuclear explosion, anytime, anywhere. For that reason, it must be properly sustained. Moreover, the data gathered contributes to tsunami warning systems, earthquake and climate change studies, as well as a multitude of other civil and scientific applications. As such, he has launched the National Data Centres for All Initiative — an effort to ensure that all States signatories of the Treaty can use this data to the fullest, for the benefit of all, particularly the smallest of States. Despite those impressive achievements, the international community’s work is not yet done. The only way there can be an enduring and verifiable prohibition on nuclear testing is through the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. “So, to each of you, and the nations of the world that you represent, let’s recommit ourselves to this noble cause, and let’s finish what we started,” he said.
VIVIAN OKEKE, Representative of the Director General to the United Nations and Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Liaison Office, New York, speaking on behalf of Director General, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said that, for the past six decades, IAEA has helped to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, while making nuclear science and technology available for peaceful purposes, especially to developing countries. In fact, nuclear science and technology contribute directly to more than half of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals — and indirectly to all of them. It cures diseases, helps feed the hungry, protects the environment and powers progress without harming the planet.
Outlining its efforts, she recalled that IAEA responded quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic by delivering to Member States the biggest emergency response programme in its near seven-decade history. It launched the Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action initiative, or ZODIAC, which helps countries prepare and respond to zoonotic outbreak. The “Rays of Hope” project, meanwhile, steps up the Agency’s commitment to cancer control, while the Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellowship offers financial support to women studying towards a master’s degree in nuclear subjects. IAEA also develops safety standards that can be used as the basis for national regulations and provides, upon request, various services, including expert review missions. Countries increasingly seek IAEA help in minimizing the risk of nuclear and other radioactive material falling into the hands of terrorists.
Another core IAEA function is to verify that countries are not working to acquire nuclear weapons, she continued. Agency inspectors conduct verification at nuclear facilities all over the world, bringing back samples which are analysed for possible traces of nuclear material. As the competent authority entrusted to verify States’ compliance with their non-proliferation obligations, the Agency does this by implementing safeguards — internationally approved legal and technical measures — in 187 States, of which 184are States parties to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty. Further, 139 of these States have brought additional protocols into force, giving the Agency greater access to locations and information.
She also noted that the Director General sends letters recalling these obligations, urging States with small quantities protocols based on the old standard text to amend or rescind them. “This is essential to addressing a weakness in the IAEA safeguards system,” recognized by the Board of Governors 15 years ago, she explained. Turning to IAEA’s efforts in Ukraine, she said the Agency’s Support and Assistance Mission to Zaporizhzhia, deployed last week to assess the situation, has now set up a presence at the plant. The Director General’s second report details IAEA’s actions, findings and recommendations for nuclear safety, security and safeguards in Ukraine, including a call for the urgent establishment of a nuclear safety and security protection zone at the plant. She also pointed to the low enriched uranium bank in Kazakhstan, operational since December 2019, as another milestone, as well as assistance offered to States to characterize residual radioactivity in areas affected by nuclear weapons tests.
BENETICK KABUA MADDISON, Director of the Marshallese Educational Initiative, said the Marshall Islands has been the home of its people for more than 4,000 years. Marshallese culture is based on principles of sustainability and conservation. Unfortunately, the sustainable way of life is under threat. The Marshallese people are on the front line of climate change, with environmental challenges and exploitation of the Marshall Islands’ resources forcing more families like his own to migrate.
He went on to say that, between 1946 to 1958, the United States used the Marshall Islands to test 67 nuclear weapons, equivalent to 7,200 Hiroshima bonds. In the late 1970s, the United States built a concrete dome on Eniwetak, one of two islands used for nuclear testing. They dumped nuclear waste into the structure, which is now leaking nuclear contaminants into the environment. As a result of the nuclear‑testing programme, the Marshall Islands and the United States signed the first compact of free association in 1986, allowing Marshallese to migrate to the United States for employment, education and the hope of access to health care.
Due to nuclear testing and forced relocation, Marshallese have some of highest rates of cancer and diabetes in the world, he pointed out. They are also especially vulnerable to COVID-19 due to health issues that are a direct result of radiation exposure and forced relocation. With a long history of advocacy for environmental and nuclear justice and with allies worldwide, Marshallese political leaders and community advocates are continuing to fight for nuclear and climate justice. With the help of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, the Marshall Islands sued nine nuclear‑weapon States in 2014. Although the case was not won, the issue received international attention and support.
The Marshall Islands will continue to educate and raise awareness of effects of nuclear testing and climate change, he stated. “What we need most today is not only allies but actors,” he said, calling on Government leaders to recognize the dangers of nuclear weapons production and use, take responsibility for the damage thy have inflicted and then eliminate such weapons. The Marshall Islands and the United States recently restarted negotiations for the next compact of free association, he noted, voicing hope that the next compact will fully and fairly address the nuclear legacy and climate change.
JAGDISH DHARAMCHAND KOONJUL (Mauritius), speaking for the African Group, and adding his support for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, reiterated the urgent need for the planet, including outer space, to be free of nuclear weapons. Also expressing support for the principle of complete nuclear disarmament, he said all parties, especially nuclear‑weapon States and those under the “nuclear umbrella”, must sign and ratify the Treaty. The slow pace of nuclear‑weapon States in eliminating their nuclear arsenals, in accordance with their article VI obligations, was very concerning, he said.
The Treaty of Pelindaba reaffirms the status of Africa as a nuclear-weapon-free zone and shield for the African territory, by preventing the stationing of nuclear explosive devices on the continent, he continued. He underlined the continued validity of the 1995 resolution, which is the basis upon which the Non‑Proliferation was indefinitely extended, calling on all States to consider the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons on health, the environment and other resources. Having two failed Review Conferences back-to-back plunges the Non-Proliferation Treaty into “uncharted waters”, he said, leaving its credibility “in deep trouble”. He called on all States that have yet to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty to do so.
MAGZHAN ILYASSOV (Kazakhstan) stressed that nuclear weapons are now moving from global to regional deterrence, increasing hazardous conditions in the case of an actual nuclear war between State actors. Further, the risk of cybercrime attacks and weapons falling in the hands of terrorists is also challenging. “Even the possibility of using one or two of the 13,000 nuclear warheads existing today, is enough to destroy us and our planet,” he reported. Thus, he urged that new nuclear-weapon-free zones be established, particularly in the Middle East, and similar to what exists in Africa, South America, South-East Asia and the Pacific — the entire Southern hemisphere. In 2009, his country, together with its neighbours, created a Nuclear-Weapon‑Free Zone in Central Asia, the first in the Northern hemisphere, flanked by two mighty nuclear-weapon-possessing States. The entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons earlier this year strengthens Member States’ collective hope for a world free of nuclear weapons. Proposing Member States achieve Global Zero by the United Nations centennial in 2045, he said it was a goal worth striving for and not impossible to reach. “Let us not forget the horrific consequences of nuclear weapons used in 1945 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the haunting tragedies of four decades of nuclear weapons testing in Kazakhstan, the South Pacific, North Africa, North America and other regions,” he said, urging the remaining Annex II States to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty without delay.
SURIYA CHINDAWONGSE (Thailand), speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said solidarity on nuclear issues is essential, particularly amid the unsettling global geopolitical landscape. Describing current concerns as “real and existential”, he called on all States to show good faith, promote mutual understanding and take responsible, collective actions to promote a peaceful world. He also reaffirmed ASEAN’s position against nuclear tests and underscored the importance of achieving universal adherence to the Test-Ban Treaty. Noting that all ASEAN member States have ratified that instrument, he urged remaining Annex II States to sign and ratify the treaty as soon as possible. He deplored the conduct of nuclear tests, recognizing their dire humanitarian consequences on health, the environment and sustainable development. Further, he voiced his regret that the tenth Review Conference of the Parties was unable to produce an outcome document.
Recognizing the role of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in efforts to foster peace, security and sustainable development, he urged all States parties to renew their adherence to the Treaty, including its article VI. ASEAN is committed to maintaining its region as a zone free from nuclear weapons, he said, as outlined in the Treaty of Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, or “Bangkok Treaty”. Recalling that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons — an historic accord — held its first meeting of States parties in June, he expressed support for the Secretary-General’s disarmament agenda to advance these goals in a holistic and integrated manner. He also cited the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile launch as a threat to the region, stressing that diplomatic efforts — including the creation of a conducive environment for peaceful dialogue — should remain the goal.
SILVIO GONZATO, representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, said all European Union member States have ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. He called upon the remaining eight Annex II States: China, Egypt, Iran, Israel and the United States who still need to ratify the Treaty, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India and Pakistan who still need to sign and ratify the Treaty in order to bring it into force, to do so without any preconditions or further delay. He also called on all States to abide by the moratorium on nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions, and to refrain from any action contrary to the object and purpose of the Treaty, pending its entry into force. Voicing regret that, due to one country’s objection, it has not been possible to achieve consensus on a final outcome document at the tenth Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he said the bloc will continue to promote the full and effective implementation of that Treaty, as well as its universalization, and called on all States Parties to do the same.
Turning to the current security environment, he called on the Russian Federation to end its aggression immediately and withdraw its troops from Ukraine. He also urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to cease its unlawful and destabilizing actions that undermine regional and international peace and security. He recalled that, following that country’s nuclear tests, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization quickly provided reliable and independent data, enabling the international community to respond appropriately and swiftly. “The CTBTO has provided the world with a truly global, high-tech monitoring system for nuclear explosions — something that no single country could do,” he said. Moreover, the Treaty Organization’s integrated capacity-building assists States in using “IM35S data” for civil and scientific applications and research associated with Treaty-related verification technologies, including tsunami and volcanic ash cloud warning. Since 2006, the European Union has provided the Treaty Organization with voluntary contributions of more than €29.5 million to fund a variety of technical projects to strengthen the verification regime and build capacity in developing countries.
MARÍA DEL CARMEN SQUEFF (Argentina), speaking for the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States (CELAC), recalled resolutions 64/35 of 2009 and 72/51 of 2017, declaring 29 August as International Day against Nuclear Tests. She condemned the conduct of any nuclear tests, insisting that all States refrain from carrying them out, including through simulations seeking to improve their efficiency. These actions contravene the purpose of the non-proliferation regime, the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, she said, recalling that 186 Member States signed and 174 ratified the latter instrument, and welcoming ratifications completed this year by the Gambia, Timor‑Leste and Tuvalu — an important step towards universalization.
She also welcomed Dominica’s signing and ratification of the accord. In Latin America, all States have signed the instrument, demonstrating the region’s commitment to universalization. She underscored the urgency of implementing the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, pressing Annex II States to take measures to do so without delay. She expressed deep concern over the rise, modernization, use and threat thereof of nuclear weapons, stressing that these weapons should not be used under any circumstances, as this would constitute a crime against humanity. Drawing attention to the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean — known as the Treaty of Tlatelolco — she reiterated the bloc’s commitment to maintaining the region as a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone.
MAX HUFANEN RAI (Papua New Guinea), speaking for the Pacific Islands Forum, said the unresolved nuclear testing legacy issues in the Pacific region continue to pose a clear and present danger to the livelihoods of the peoples there. He called on those responsible to take urgent and meaningful steps to address these lingering issues. A preliminary independent review relating to nuclear contamination in the Pacific will support the evidentiary basis for actions that his region continues to take on nuclear testing legacy issues. The nuclear-free zone in the South Pacific represents a key contribution to protecting all of humankind from nuclear weapons and testing. The Treaty of Rarotonga successfully eliminated nuclear weapons and testing from the Pacific 26 years ago and has helped to denuclearize a number of regions of the world, he said, calling on the United States to ratify the Rarotonga Treaty’s Protocols.
He urged all States to not carry out nuclear-weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions; maintain their moratoria in that regard; and refrain from acts that would defeat the object and purpose of the Treaty. Condemning the six nuclear tests conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea since 2006, he urged full compliance with obligations under relevant Council resolutions. Further, the climate emergency and growing frequency of natural disasters across the globe has increased the risk of large-scale nuclear accidents. He called on the international community to join his bloc in pursuing the highest standards of nuclear safety through international consultation, international law and support for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), voicing hope for global solidarity to safeguard against further nuclear contamination and injustices.
TAREK LADEB (Tunisia), speaking for the Arab Group, called for the complete, verifiable and irreversible ban on nuclear weapons and expressed regret that the tenth Review Conference of State Parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty was unable to adopt an outcome document. States are developing nuclear weapons in line with their military doctrines and carrying out tests, an existential threat that the international community must diligently address. The full elimination of nuclear weapons is a realistic, achievable goal, he stressed, adding that the real threat was the non-implementation of the Treaty’s article VI or commitments adopted at various Review Conferences. He rejected the argument that the possession of nuclear weapons is a pretext for global stability, calling on States to ensure the complete elimination of their arsenals along a defined timeline as “the very least” they can do to address the impact of their testing.
He called for continued international and regional efforts to facilitate the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which has been signed for more than 25 years. Arab States have joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty, participated in negotiations for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and supported efforts of the preparatory committee. The region was a striking example of the persistent challenges, as Israel violates all norms and rules set by the Non‑Proliferation Treaty. He called for ridding the region of all weapons of mass destruction, in line with the 1995 and 2010 Review Conferences, and Security Council resolutions 487 (1981) and 678 (1990). He urged all parties to negotiate a legally binding convention that promotes international and regional peace and security.
Right of Reply
The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, objected to politicized statements on the unprovoked aggression against Ukraine, despite the fact that explanations have been presented on several occasions. The most flagrant threat to the Zaporizhzhia plant stems from Ukraine’s unceasing shelling. “This bombardment continues daily,” targeting the most vulnerable part of the station, he pointed out. The Russian Federation has released statistics to the Security Council, which he encouraged all to analyse. While Western delegations understand where the shells come from, they refuse to recognize that Kyiv has turned the plant into a target of nuclear blackmail.
He said claims that the shelling does not emanate from Ukraine “simply contradict common sense because the station is under Russian control”. To claims about the outcome of the tenth Review Conference, he said his delegation worked constructively with all partners, yet Western countries took the forum “hostage” in their desire to punish his country “at all costs”, making it impossible for the outcome to be adopted. He recalled, however, that, in 2015, the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, guided by selfish considerations, blocked the outcome of the ninth Review Conference. The Russian Federation has always supported and ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in 2000, he said, urging all Annex II States to support the instrument and stressing that nuclear tests must be considered through a holistic approach. He also recalled that 1,054 tests had been carried out by the United States.
The representative of Israel, recognizing the importance of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, said all States have the sovereign right to determine whether to join any international instrument. Iran obstructs such international efforts. Some claim a security architecture can be established in the Middle East without recognition of Israel’s right to exist and in disregard of norms and principles agreed upon in arms control forums. “This position is untenable,” he said.
The representative of Ukraine said the Russian Federation is promoting its classic narrative around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. “We are not surprised,” he said, noting that the Council meeting on 6 September revealed again how isolated the Russian Federation is, a point confirmed by its delegate who said there was no time to consider the IAEA report. Only one delegation — the Russian Federation — is responsible for nuclear threats and risks around the plant. The IAEA report confirmed the presence of Russian military and equipment at the plant, and violation by the Russian Federation of the seven IAEA pillars of nuclear safety and security. “It is only Russa that uses military force,” he said, insisting that Ukraine has been very clear, including at the tenth Review Conference and in the Security Council — that the Russian Federation bears full responsibility for its actions and presents a clear threat to nuclear safety and stability.
The representative of Iran categorically rejected the outrageous accusation made by Israel against his country, describing it as a policy of deflection and emphasizing that weapons of mass destruction in the hands of this regime are the real risk to regional security. He encouraged the international community to force Israel to ban weapons of mass destruction.
International Cooperation/Access to Justice for Sexual Violence Survivors
Following the Assembly’s adoption on 2 September of a resolution titled “International Cooperation for Access to Justice, Remedies and Assistance for Survivors of Sexual Violence” (document A/76/L.80), it resumed consideration of the topic today, with various delegations speaking in explanation of vote after action. (For background, see Press Release GA/12438.)
The representative of Guatemala said her country, in accordance with the provisions of its Constitution regarding the protection of life from conception, dissociates itself from operative paragraph 6. It contains references to sexual and reproductive rights, as well as to abortion in conditions of safety when such services are allowed by national legislation; that could be interpreted as abortion practices, which is counter to its national legislation. Her Government implements a comprehensive care model for women victims of violence, which offers immediate and comprehensive care.
The representative of Syria voiced regret that the amendments proposed by Nigeria were not included in the text. His delegation has always been against instrumentalizing the text to deviate from “survivors of sexual violence”. However, the resolution is full of references to "gender-based violence" which cannot substantiate nor substitute the terms “sexual violence” and “violence against women”. Citing various paragraphs and terms from which his delegation has disassociated itself, he said the adoption of the resolution cannot be interpreted as creating a new right or creating any international legally binding obligations.
The representative of India said his country joined consensus on the resolution. However, due to the use of phrases and terminology which do not have agreed definitions, and given that India is not part of some of the international conventions and instruments contained in the text, his delegation disassociates itself from preambular paragraphs 2, 10, 11 and 16, and operative paragraph 6.
The representative of Belarus said her delegation could not support the full draft, due to wording that is not universally supported and that shift the issues from the legal element to concepts that are not agreed upon internationally. Belarus co-sponsored the amendments in effort to create a more balanced text. She expressed regret that they were not adopted. While expressing full support for the goals of the resolution, she said Belarus will interpret the text in line with its national legislation and international legal obligations. She called on partners to respect the decisions of all Member States and avoid to terms that sow divisions among Assembly delegations.
The representative of Pakistan voiced regret that non-consensual language and controversial terms, although not agreed upon, were retained in certain paragraphs of the resolution. Those terms are also not recognized by his country’s domestic laws, he said, stressing that the negotiations process should be inclusive and consensual. While his delegation fully supports the overarching theme of the resolution, it reserves its position and disassociates itself from preambular paragraphs 8 and 16 and operative paragraphs 2(a) and 6 for the same reason that it voted in favour of the amendments to those paragraphs.
The representative of Sudan, spotlighting paragraphs 2(a) and 6 — said she attached great importance to the advancement of women’s rights and participation in society at all levels. However, the text deviated from its goal with the inclusion of contentious wording and terminology. She emphasized the principle of respect for sovereignty and non-interference in internal State affairs, explaining that Sudan voted in favour of the amendments to make the resolution “balanced, acceptable and agreed upon”. As they were not retained, she expressed reservations on operative paragraphs 8, 16 and 6.
The representative of Egypt said that, while her delegation joined consensus due to importance of the topic at hand, the resolution would have been improved in terms of legal accuracy, including of the word “victims” in the title. She lamented the lack of transparency and fairness in the negotiation process, stressing that programme budget implications were used as bargaining chip. This method is unprecedented and threatens common ownership. She cited preambular paragraphs 8, 16 and 3, and operative paragraphs 2 and 6, noting that her delegation does not consider the language as consensual or agreed.
The representative of Algeria expressed regret that the amendments were not included in the text, as they would have made it more balanced as a whole, representing the positions of several countries expressed since its tabling. She expressed reservations on terms such as “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination” and “intimate partner”, which can be interpreted in various ways. “We should not promote abortion as a means of family planning,” she added, cautioning agencies from interfering in the domestic policies of States. Further, the concept of sexual and reproductive health and rights is considered part of health care, in line with Algeria’s national legislation, she pointed out.
The representative of Brazil said his delegation decided to support adoption of the resolution. However, it contains important aspects that do not belong in the text and would be better addressed by domestic constituencies. In particular, his country does not support references to reproductive rights or abortion in the draft and has called for their deletion from the text. The resolution should not be interpreted in any way as condoning or supporting abortion as a matter of family planning. In Brazil, abortion is illegal except in specific cases prescribed by law or high court decisions, such as pregnancy resulting from rape.
The representative of Libya said his delegation joined consensus in adopting the entire resolution. However, he said that he cannot accept text that has been incorporated in some of the paragraphs of the resolution, as they do not take into consideration the cultural and religious specificities of certain countries, including his own. With respect to various terms, including “intimate partner” and “gender-based violence”, his delegation does not accept its interpretation, except as violence against girls, boys, men and women. Also, it does not accept references to “safe abortion” because it runs counter to the right to life — a foundation for all human rights. His delegation supported the four proposed amendments to the draft and voted against operative paragraph 6.
The representative of Mauritania, stressing that abortion is not a human right, said her country disassociates itself from operative paragraph 6. It is a prerogative of national policies that the Government must provide necessary social support and health care prior to and after delivery. Citing objections to language in other paragraphs of the resolution, she voiced regret that language, which has not garnered international consensus and is not provided for in its national policies or laws, are included in the text.
The representative of Nigeria, citing highly problematic language, said his delegation could not join consensus on the text. Certain terms contravene Nigeria’s laws and he denounced the inflexibility of the co-sponsors. “We never agreed to a single paragraph by consensus,” he said. The proposed amendments were based on well-known positions, in the spirit of compromise. However, the co‑sponsors would not entertain them, and he urged them to do better in the future. He announced Nigeria’s withdrawal from the core group, as it introduced controversial language. He also said that some delegations felt intimidated and pressured, a sign that “the negotiations were deeply flawed”.
Because of his objection to the introduction of controversial language by the co-sponsors that had no basis in international human rights law, he disassociated his delegation from operative paragraph 6, which promotes access to safe abortion as an element of human rights. “We should not be creating new rights,” he said, noting that abortion is illegal in his country. He also objected to “access to sexual and reproductive health services”, noting that operative paragraph 6 is misinterpreted by donors and partners.
In addition, he disassociated from references to “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination” in preambular paragraphs 8 and 2(a), and the phase “intimate partner violence” in paragraph 16, which includes ideas that are not recognized in Nigeria’s laws. He clarified that the term “gender” has no meaning beyond “male” and “female”. Nigeria’s opposition to these paragraphs is in defence of its values, domestic laws and sovereignty, he added.
The representative of Malaysia welcomed the presentation of a stand-alone resolution on the important topic, a sign of the shared international recognition of the need to address sexual violence. He voiced regret that the text includes “divisive, contentious terms” that are inconsistent with positions of many countries. While his delegation would like to support the text to provide survivors with proper access to justice, the inclusion of problematic terms “by choice” prevented it from so doing. Therefore, his delegation disassociates from such terms as “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination” and “diverse situations” found in preambular paragraph 8 and operative paragraphs 2(a), 2(k) and 6. Malaysia does not recognize these terms as agreed language, despite the consensual adoption of the text as a whole, he said.
The representative of Ethiopia pointed out that no consensus was reached due to a lack of openness to listen and accommodate the concerns of several delegations. The process could have been inclusive and not involved non‑consensual language. Every process must aim at consensus, be inclusive and seek a focused outcome. Each nation has a right take sovereign position on issues, depending on their national context. His delegation disassociates from terms such as “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination” in preambular paragraph 8 and operative paragraph 2(a), as well as “intimate partner violence” in preambular paragraph 16.
He said he understood “sexual and reproductive health service, and reproductive rights”, as access to health care to ensure the health of mothers, new-borns and young people by improving treatment, family planning and information on sexually transmitted diseases, among other issues. As well, he defined the term “gender” as referring to the male and female sex. Further, Ethiopia is not a party to the Rome Statute and does not recognize the International Criminal Court, its jurisdiction or reference to the tribunal in the text, he said.
The representative of Japan said his delegation voted against the four draft amendments presented by Nigeria to the draft resolution since the relevant paragraphs to which the amendments were proposed are based on language adopted by consensus or by vote in past resolutions. He thanked all delegations that supported the original language and all delegations that joined consensus in adopting the first‑ever resolution on the topic. He also thanked delegations, which had some issues on the text, but did not ask for a vote for the sake of consensual adoption.
Noting the “somewhat politicized references” to his country by two delegations during the debate and explanation of vote on 2 September, he said his country decided to contribute to the process in light of its “responsibility to continue to inherit the past in all humbleness and pass it on to the future”.
Right of Reply
The representative of China, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said it is outrageous that Japan has denied and distorted its history of aggression, evaded its historical response and failed to acknowledge State responsibility on the issue of comfort women. She recounted the experience of a then 13-year-old girl who became a victim of the Japanese comfort women system, and who, on 30 June 2021 at the age of 96, passed away without an apology from Japan. She urged Japan to face up to its history, address the forced recruitment of comfort women, and take actions to win the trust of its Asian neighbours.