Seventy-seventh Session,
8th & 9th Meetings (AM & PM)

World Living on Borrowed Time with Geopolitical Tensions between Major Powers Setting Stage for High-Intensity Conflict, Say First Committee Speakers

African Representatives Rebuff Strategic Competition among Nuclear-Armed States

The gravity of the problems threatening the global village were so immense that it was living on borrowed time, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard as it concluded its general debate.

The representative of Eritrea highlighted a convergence of multiple crises, not least, geopolitical tensions between major Powers, which were “polarizing and destabilizing”.  The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons was illegal and immoral.  Multilateral platforms were the pillar and catalysts of peace, and the United Nations was the appropriate platform for monitoring and regulating disarmament through global solidary, trust and understanding.

A return to strategic competition between great Powers and the resulting prospect of a high-intensity armed conflict between them could only lead to the world’s self-destruction, warned Niger’s speaker.  The major international arms‑control treaties concluded bilaterally or multilaterally were supposed to function as “locks”, delaying or even preventing the rise to extremes between the great Powers.  But those were breaking down.  The danger of the use of mass destruction weapons grew in line with the unprecedented interdependence between States.

Senegal’s speaker said that the few glimmers of hope that once inspired disarmament were fading by the day.  That trend must be reversed.  It was primarily the responsibility of the nuclear-armed Sates to agree on a more realistic and ambitious programme to reduce their nuclear arsenals.  There could be no effective disarmament if those countries continued to modernize their nuclear weapons and if others circumvented existing instruments to acquire them. There was no alternative but strong multilateral cooperation on all arms control and disarmament issues.

Echoing that sentiment, the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania warned that peace was easily lost if care was not taken.  International security was not a temporary process, but part of the global community’s life choices.  The total elimination of nuclear weapons would prevent the danger of their use, and the nuclear-armed States must recommit to that goal.  The risk of all types of weapons falling into the hands of non-State actors was higher than ever.

The Permanent Observer for the Holy See said the disarmament architecture was “hanging by a thread”.  Leaders should recommit to dialogue and adopt an approach of disarmament, which called on everyone to disarm his or her own heart and to be a peacemaker everywhere.  As Pope Francis said:  “International peace and stability cannot be based on a false sense of security, on the threat of mutual destruction or total annihilation, or on simply maintaining a balance of power.”  Any threat of use of nuclear weapons merited unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.

Also speaking were representatives of Cameroon, San Marino, Argentina, Kuwait, Greece, Brunei Darussalam, Panama, Kiribati, Slovenia, Australia, Venezuela, Antigua and Barbuda, Tunisia, Mauritania, Belgium, Nicaragua, North Macedonia, Croatia, Jamaica, Montenegro, Syria, Guinea, Sudan, Angola, Botswana, Djibouti, Azerbaijan, Equatorial Guinea and Maldives.

Also speaking were the observers for the State of Palestine, League of Arab States, Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean and International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as the Under-Secretary of the Conference on Disarmament.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Israel, Armenia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Syria, Azerbaijan, and Iran.

The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Friday, 14 October, to begin its thematic debate and the introduction of draft resolutions and decisions.

General Debate

ZACHARIE SERGE RAOUL NYANID (Cameroon) said that by pursuing disarmament the United Nations would achieve the peace and security, and development.  Obstacles must be overcome and political will must lead to an environment of trust, a necessary requirement of nuclear disarmament, he added.  He advocated for the establishment of additional nuclear-weapon-free zones, highlighting the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Pelindaba Treaty).  He warned weaponizing outer space and controlling cyberspace and called for legally binding frameworks to prevent it.  Lasting and coherent solutions were needed to reduce small arms trafficking, he said.  He advocated strengthening the institutional capacity of States and awareness-raising.  Trust between countries should also be boosted, he continued, investing in disarmament and arms control was a long-term investment in peace and security.  The world must focus on what united it, not what divided it by taking action-based, inclusive, dialogue-based, and transparent approaches, which served all.

CHEIKH NIANG (Senegal) said that weapons continue to pose a serious threat to international peace and security, and the few glimmers of hope that once were on the issue of disarmament were fading by the day.  It was urgent to reverse this negative trend, he said.  There was no alternative to strong multilateral cooperation on all arms control and disarmament issues.  It was primarily the responsibility of the nuclear-armed Sates to agree on a more realistic and ambitious programme to reduce their nuclear arsenals.  There could be no effective disarmament if those countries continued to modernize their nuclear weapons and if others circumvented existing instruments to acquire those weapons.  Non-proliferation measures should not affect the inalienable right of each State to develop research, produce nuclear energy for peaceful use, without discrimination or hindrance.  He also advocated the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones.  Regarding conventional weapons, proliferation in theatres of conflict required his urgent call on all States, especially arms producing countries, to ensure that the supply was limited to duly authorized governments and entities.  The prohibition of anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions should be respected, given their humanitarian consequences.  De-mining also required technical and financial assistance for affected countries.  Attention should also be paid to rehabilitating the victims and fostering socioeconomic development.

NATASCIA BARTOLINI (San Marino) said that the world has witnessed the indiscriminate bombing of cities, which killed, wounded and trapped civilians in their own homes.  The use of explosive weapons in populated areas was the main cause of civilian suffering in armed conflicts, she said.  The use of those weapons caused indiscriminate harm and devastated individuals and communities, she added.  In addition to the unacceptable number of casualties, civilians suffered from long-lasting physical harm and psychological trauma, she noted, as well as the destruction of critical civil infrastructure vital for services, such as hospitals and schools.  The victims were often forced to abandon their homes and remained displaced for years and even decades.

MARIA DEL CARMEN SQUEFF (Argentina), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said the group supported the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.  It opposed their modernization and development of new ones and urged new strategic documents and policies.  The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was a crucial instrument in that regard, as well as the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).  The continued production, transfer and circulation of small arms and light weapons and ammunition had a broad range of humanitarian and socioeconomic consequences and threatened peace, security, and  sustainable development, she said.  Particular attention must be paid to the danger transfers by non-State actors, she continued, at the same time, the sovereign right of States to defence must be respected.  International cooperation was needed for de-mining and victim assistance.  In closing, she said outer space should be used for peace and sustainable development only. 

TAREQ M A M ALBANAI (Kuwait) welcomed the progress made in disarmament but was concerned with all the failures in fulfilling commitments, despite calls by the international community to respect multilateral treaties and agreements.  The only way to guarantee the non-use of nuclear weapons was their total elimination, he said.  Kuwait had chaired the second meeting of the conference for the creation of a zone free of nuclear and other mass destruction weapons in the Middle East, which was a main element of the NPT agreement that flowed from the 1995 Review Conference.  He asked States that had not participated in the Conference to reconsider their positions.  The process had shown that no one was excluded and that it had not imposed conditions or limitations. Rather, it would build trust among States in the region, he said.

SULEIMAN HAJI SULEIMAN (United Republic of Tanzania), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said the world was enduring a difficult situation, owing the ongoing war in Eastern Europe.  Peace was easily lost if care was not taken.  International security was not a temporary process, but a part of the global community’s life choices.  The plurification of conventional weapons like small arms, light weapons and landmines were most dangerous for individuals.  Civil war, insurgence and terrorism threatened every individual.  He reiterated his full commitment to prevent and combat small arms and light weapons in compliance with existing legal instruments.  The total elimination of nuclear weapons would prevent the danger of their use.  In that, nuclear-armed States must recommit to that goal.  IAEA played a key role in improving the non-lethal and peaceful use of nuclear technology.  The United Nations was an appropriate platform for monitoring and regulating disarmament through global solidary, trust and understanding, he said, but the global community should be united and not divided.  The risk of all types of weapons falling in the hands of non-State actors was higher than ever.  Only political will would address nuclear disarmament.  Multilateral platforms were the pillar and catalysts of peace.

MARIA THEOFILI (Greece) condemned in the strongest possible terms the military aggression against Ukraine, which had severely impacted multilateral negotiations in disarmament, non-proliferation, and arms control.  The UN Charter was the bedrock of the international rules-based order, with multilateralism at its core.  The United Nations system was best suited to negotiate and ultimately resolve the global challenges, she said.  Today, the global community was at a crossroad with a collective security mechanism under the need for revitalizing multilateral disarmament negotiations.  Strengthening the multilateral framework for disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control was more important than at any time.  The war in Ukraine spotlighted the impact of explosive weapons in populated areas.  Negotiations on explosive weapons in populated areas, begun in 2019, had resulted in a draft political declaration based, first and foremost, on international humanitarian law.  The declaration promoted a balanced approach without eliminating the use of those weapons, she added.  Greece remained a strong supporter of the principles that the use of lethal force should be accountable for, and that human control must always be extended over application of lethal force.  Revitalizing strategic arms control diplomacy layed at the heart of our common effort to maintain international peace and security.

AZIZ YAKUUB (Brunei Darussalam) believed that multilateralism was key to addressing global disarmament and non-proliferation.  The past few years had witnessed the continued use of chemical weapons.  The re-emergence of such weapons impacted global disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.  The loss of innocent lives and the suffering of affected populations were serious reminders that more needed to be done to uphold the fundamental tenets of the Chemical Weapons Convention, he said.  To address the threats of chemical weapons nationally, Brunei Darussalam had adopted a whole-of-government approach and was currently in the process of establishing a National Chemical Management Committee and finalizing the comprehensive legislation.  As the world relied more and more on information and communications technology, exposure to cyber threats was on the rise.  He reiterated his support for efforts to promote secure, inclusive and responsible State behaviour in cyber space.

ZORAYA DEL CARMEN CANO FRANCO (Panama), aligning with CELAC, called for dialogue as the only way to resolve conflict and create conditions to fulfil Treaty obligations and  international law overall.  That was a shared responsibility of all States, regardless of size.  The impact of a so-called arms race on the economy, the environment, and life itself was negative and irreversible.  Those resources could instead be used for sustainable development.  The main goal of the United Nations should be to avoid the use of force.  Currently, the world faced diverse, complex, and real challenges, but unlike the past, it also showed greater determination, organization, and unity to overcome them.  The possession of all types of weapons by non-State actors was worrying and must be addressed via multilateralism.  The development of new mass destruction weapons should be prevented, as should modernization of nuclear arsenals.  A new  arms race could undermine the NPT.  Complete elimination of those weapons was the only answer.  Another concern was the development of new technologies in the military field.  She rejected the use of information and communications technology for criminal purposes and supported a legal framework to regulate that.  Outer space could only be used for peaceful purposes with a vision of a shared future that benefits all, she said.  Multilateralism and cooperation would define the world of future generations.  That was not only a right, but a duty.

TEBURORO TITO (Kiribati) reaffirmed his commitment to realize a world free of nuclear weapons, which was the main goal of humanity in the twenty-first century.  He underlined the importance of efforts to address the rights and needs of affected communities through victim assistance and voiced deep concern regarding the catastrophic consequences for humanity and the environment by nuclear‑weapon use and testing.  His country fought hard for a consensus document that included justice for those affected and was deeply disappointed that at the tenth NPT Review Conference State parties could not adopt it.  Indeed, it was very sad for the victim of nuclear legacies, many of which were in his country where a lot of testing had taking place.  The last time State parties were able to adopt a consensus document had been in 2010.  There was a concerning lack of progress regarding the goal of the NPT, including complete disarmament.  He welcomed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapon’s entry into force and the Vienna Declaration that addressed the harm from the past used of nuclear harm and aimed to prevent future harm.  The humanitarian impact was a critical issue, particularly considering the international situation.  “If you are a human, and you believe in human well-being, you should join” these Treaties, he concluded.

BOŠTJAN MALOVRH (Slovenia) stated that current complex challenges in the geopolitical arena were undeniable.  The global non-proliferation and disarmament architecture were under enormous pressure.  The Russian Federation’s invasion of a sovereign country was a gross violation of international law, including the United Nations Charter, and severely undermined global security and stability.  He reiterated his strong condemnation of the unprovoked and unjustified aggression, as well as the illegal referenda, which took place under military force.  The resulting “annexation” of Ukrainian territory by the Russian Federation were gross violations of Ukrainian sovereignty and the Charter.  The illegal annexation should be rejected and not recognized by the international community.  The brutal war against Ukraine must stop.  That would, among other things, motivate progress on the global peace and security agenda.  The promotion of the universality of international treaties and the implementation of their letter and spirit should guide foreign policy.

MITCHELL PETER FIFIELD (Australia) said the Committee met at a time when international security was undermined by States prepared to disregard well‑established international rules and norms in pursuit of power and aggression.  The international community could not accept a situation where large countries determined the fate of smaller ones.  The Russian Federation’s unilateral, illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine must not be normalized nor minimized.  Nuclear warfare had appalling consequences for humanity, the environment and civilization as a whole.  Australia sought a world without nuclear weapons and would redouble its efforts in that regard.  The NPT delivered tangible security benefits for all, and the global community could not be deterred by the bad-faith actions of one State.  Australia, United Kingdom and the United States worked closely with IAEA to ensure the highest possible safeguarding of Australia’s naval nuclear‑propulsion programme.  The full and meaningful participation of all genders and young people would strengthen international security fora.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must not resume nuclear testing and comply fully with Security Council resolutions.  He was deeply concerned about Iran’s failure to resolve outstanding NPT safeguards.  He supported support for the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions, the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons, and the Political Declaration on Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas.

JOAQUIN PEREZ AYESTARAN (Venezuela) stated that humanity was going through an alarming stage, marked by the growing and dangerous deterioration of international agreements on security, disarmament and non-proliferation.  The increase in inequalities, the persistence and generation of systemic crises at all levels, and the increase in armed conflicts together with a new type of war.  It was an era of dramatic transformations marked by instability, uncertainty and mistrust, he said.  In the face of that complex reality, the Committee should direct its efforts to halting the erosion of trust among the members of the international community, renew multilateralism and international law, and safeguard the Charter’s purposes and principles.  It should facilitate a general de-escalation of conflicts, with the sole objective of safeguarding the maintenance of international peace and security.  Disregarding those issues in light of unilateral calculations aimed at strategic supremacy, regardless of the resurgence of nuclear confrontation scenarios, could lead humanity into a tragic impasse.  Avoiding the catastrophe that had been brewing was the responsibility of the United Nations, and in particular, the First Committee.

WALTON WEBSON (Antigua and Barbuda) called on Member States to move beyond broad platitudes towards tangible commitments to peace and security.  He warned against not doing so.  The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons also had devastating impacts, and he repeated the refrain that the countries in the Caribbean region were not manufacturers or significant importers of either those weapons or ammunition. However, they continued to experience their use, which was on the rise and which resulted in violence and suffering, and affected economies.  Tangible steps must be taken, including a concerted effort to remove the silos between the discussions on development and disarmament.  He said he was well aware of the mounting costs of military spending on national and regional security.  It was also clear that an assessment of the impact of nuclear weapons provided unassailable proof that those caused loss of life and displacement on a catastrophic scale.  That also led to permanent damage to health and the environment, and impeded irreparably socioeconomic development and the social order.  As a small island developing States, his country was well aware that its strategic location, porous marine borders and socioeconomic reality made it a soft target for nuclear terrorism.

ALI CHERIF (Tunisia) stressed the need to rebuild trust between the various actors of the international community, as that could facilitate negotiations and help overcome the mutual misunderstandings and scepticism that undermined disarmament.  Trust based on transparency and good faith in the implementation of commitments could create a positive dynamic.  Humanity was aware of its fragility and yearned for peace.  He emphasized the contribution of nuclear-weapon-free zones to disarmament and non-proliferation.  In that, he noted the successful second Conference on establishing such a zone in the Middle East.  He remained deeply concerned about the security, humanitarian and socioeconomic consequences of the illicit arms trade, and proliferation and trafficking of conventional weapons, in particular small arms and light weapons, which continued to  seriously threaten international peace and security.

SIDI MOHAMED LAGHDAF (Mauritania) noted that his country hosted the permanent secretariat of the Sahel group, which sought to protect territorial integrity and promote joint action for cooperation, aimed at ensuring peace and security in the region.  Mauritania had been ranked among the best performing countries in the field of combating anti-personnel mines and anti-mine remnants of war.  He welcomed the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in all regions of the world, including the convening of Conference in 2019 for a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, under Jordan’s chairmanship.  He also valued the important outcomes of the second session to be headed by Kuwait and looked forward to the success of the third session under Lebanon’s leadership.

PHILIPPE KRIDELKA (Belgium) said that the Russian Federation had shaken the world order and undermined global peace and security.  The illegal annexations were blatant violations of international law.  Nations could not stay neutral, but needed to take a stance and counter Moscow’s intention of redrawing the world’s map by force.  She was concerned about the attacks on nuclear facilities and supported IAEA efforts to preserve security.  She also condemned the Russian Federation’s cyberattacks.  While it was paramount for the international community to reaffirm their commitments, the tenth NPT Review Conference had failed.  The CTBT should be strengthened and universalized. India, Israel and Pakistan should choose the right side of history and join the NPT as non-nuclear‑weapon States.  By refusing full compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran was at odds with legally binding obligations and weakened the NPT verification regime.  Regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s absurd missile tests, she urged the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and strict application of sanctions by all States.  Underlining that no NPT member State was exempt from its obligations, she voiced regret regarding China’s rapidly increasing nuclear stockpiles and its failure to commit to a moratorium.  The Test-Ban Treaty was a priority. She also strongly supported the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions, as well as responsible behavior in cyberspace.

JAIME HERMIDA (Nicaragua), aligning with Non-Aligned Movement, the Central American Integration System and CELAC, said it was unjustifiable that in the midst of an unpresented health crisis, nuclear arsenals continued to be modernized and developed, endangering the human race and all living species.  Those resources could be used to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda, eradicate poverty and achieve better human development.  Nicaragua was committed to complete nuclear disarmament, highlighting the special importance of fulfilling the NPT.  He deplored that, despite efforts, the international community had not arrived at a final document at the tenth NPT Review Conference, but noted progress regarding the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  Nuclear-weapon-free zones strengthened international peace and security and he called for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  The legal framework on outer space activities needed to be strengthened, referring to the draft treaty by the Russian Federation and China as a good basis.  Moreover, the illicit traffic of small arms and light weapons needed to be prevented and combatted.  Nicaragua was the safest country in Central America, and it continued to fight against crime, terrorism as well as arms and human trafficking with international assistance and cooperation as indispensable conditions.

LJUBOMIR DANAILOV FRCHKOSKI (North Macedonia) said his country attached special attention to regional stability and cooperation in its foreign policy.  It had again submitted a draft resolution regarding the further promotion of good‑neighbourly cooperation and integration in the region of South-East Europe — of critical value to security, lasting stability and sustainable development there.  Through the Prespa Agreement, the 27-year-old identity dispute with Greece was resolved by mediation and effective diplomacy.  That Agreement was one of the bright spots in the United Nations recent history.  The second agreement between North Macedonia and Bulgaria confirmed that dialogue and diplomacy was the best way to settle disputes and was a milestone that should serve as a catalyst for the transformative processes in South-East Europe.  It was time to establish a new era in the Balkans, he said.  The resolution on good neighbors in South-East Europe should encourage bold decisions and diplomatic initiatives to resolve identity issues.  His country supported the Arms Trade Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention and had adopted a national strategy on cybersecurity.  In light of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine, he underlined that the potential use of nuclear weapons would be catastrophic in humanitarian and environmental terms.  It also would be hard to reestablish trust in the NPT regime and its pillars.

ABDOU RAOUF SALISSOU LABO (Niger) said that the major international treaties concluded bilaterally or multilaterally in the field of arms control  were supposed to function as “locks”, delaying or even preventing the rise to extremes between the great Powers.  But those instruments were breaking down one after the other, without new treaties in their place.  The return of strategic competition between great Powers and the resulting prospect of a high-intensity armed conflict between them with very sophisticated technology could only lead to the world’s self-destruction.  Now was a decisive moment, when, more than ever, the world needed to remain united and supportive.  The actions of all should be guided by reason and not passion.  Weapons of mass destruction, whether nuclear, chemical or biological, had no reason to exist.  The danger grew in line with the unprecedented interdependence between States.  The immense economic, environmental and sanitary challenges required collective action. 

He said that the legitimate concern over mass destruction weapons should not obscure the daily devastation caused by certain conventional weapons, particularly in geographical areas plagued by terrorism and organized crime.  Niger, like other Sahelian States, paid a heavy daily price in terms of human losses, whether civilian or military, due to those weapons uncontrolled spread.  Since the early 2000s, the issue of small arms and light weapons had been a matter of great concern to the Sahelian States in general, and to Niger, in particular, largely because of the enormous destabilizing potential of institutions and societies.  The acute nature of that threat had recently increased with the proliferation of violent extremist groups in the area, who played an active role in those weapons large-scale use.

BLANKA GLASENHARDT (Croatia), aligning with the European Union, said war had returned to Europe and “the world as we know it” had changed.  The Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unjustified aggression against Ukraine challenged the global security architecture and eroded the rules-based order with profound consequences for future generations.  She unequivocally rejected the Russian Federation’s aggression, illegal annexations and equally illegal referenda.  It was disappointing that the tenth NPT Review Conference had been unable to adopt an outcome document, owing to the Russian Federation’s blocking of consensus.  Croatia remained engaged in all efforts to the universalization of the NPT and CTBT as crucial paths to nuclear disarmament.  The Security Council must take bolder steps in countering Pyongyang’s proliferation pursuits.  The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was another important part of the non-proliferation framework, curbing both regional and global security risks.  She supported the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions, OPCW and the Arms Trade Treaty.  Regarding cyberspace, the international community should work jointly to ensure respect and implementation of international law and international humanitarian law.  She commended the progress made by the Disarmament Commission after a three‑year deadlock, as well as the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons, in addition to the continued implementation of the women, peace and security agenda.  The world may have changed permanently, but in those new circumstances, international cooperation had no alternative.

BRIAN WALLACE (Jamaica) described the current challenges as varied and urgent.  From the nuclear disarmament pillar to work on small arms and light weapons, from cyberspace to outer space, pressing matters affecting security and safety demanded attention, cooperation and action.  The big picture might make some to think all was lost.  However, it was important to recognize where progress had been made, such as in conventional weapons and ammunition.  The pervasive presence of illicit small arms and ammunition was a daily threat to the health, safety, security and development of the Jamaican people.  Preventing the diversion of conventional weapons and ammunition to the illicit market or to unauthorized end users was a priority for his country.  He reiterated his call for greater action by manufacturing countries to ensure that those items did not make their way into illicit use or trade.

ELSA HAILE (Eritrea), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that the United Nations was created with the aim of saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war and ensuring justice and development for all.  Yet, peace and development remained elusive.  Most important was the full observance of all principles and norms.  The relationship between nuclear disarmament and the peaceful use of nuclear energy should be addressed.  The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons was illegal and immoral.  Negative security assurances, nuclear-weapon-free zones, the universalization of the CTBT, and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons were critical steps towards denuclearization.  Humanity was facing a convergence of multiple crises at a time when international cooperation and solidarity was most needed:  geopolitical tensions between major Powers were polarizing and destabilizing the world.  The gravity of the problems facing the world’s global village were so immense that it was living on borrowed time.  The resources and technical know-how were at the disposal of humanity, if the world set its mind to an inclusive and compassionate world order.

DRAGANA ŠĆEPANOVIĆ (Montenegro), aligning with the European Union, said that the European and global security architecture was critically undermined due to the unprovoked, unjustified and premediated war of aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine.  Escalation and nuclear sabre-rattling posed a great threat to humankind.  The ever‑growing geopolitical rupture was seen at the tenth NPT Review Conference.  IAEA efforts to preserve European nuclear security through its current noteworthy activities in Ukraine were particularly appreciated, she said.  She highlighted the importance of the CTBT and a fissile material cut-off treaty, and pending the latter’s conclusion, urged all States to declare an immediate moratorium on the production of fissile material.  She remained firmly committed to the non-use of chemical and biological weapons.  She also called on all States to join, unconditionally, and implement the Arms Trade Treaty and Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons for the sake of collective security.  She emphasized the potential of use of nuclear energy as an essential component for low-carbon transition in the world’s endeavours to systematically address the climate crisis.  Lasting partnerships with different stakeholders, like civil society, academia and the private sector should be upheld.  Montenegro would remain a forward-looking actor, unequivocally committed to strengthening the world order with international law, human rights and fundamental freedoms at its core.

BASSAM SABBAGH (Syria) believed that multilateral agreements consistent with the United Nations Charter were the only sustainable way to deal with questions of disarmament and international security.  Those agreements were increasing in importance as the world faced many challenges, among which was the development and modernization of nuclear arsenals, and among others, the spread of terrorism.  He called for renewed respect for the rule of law, the Charter and implementation of the bilateral and multilateral commitments in the fields of disarmament, non‑proliferation and arms control, devoid of double standards and politicization.  He reaffirmed that the main obstacle to the establishment of a zone free from nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East was Israel.  That was despite all the calls made to it by the majority of Member States.  Israeli intransigence was based on encouragement by the United States and its allies, and their protection of Israel's nuclear programme and its military chemical and biological programmes.  Israel was the only country in the region that possessed mass destruction weapons.

ALASSANE CONTE (Guinea) said that nothing could justify the arms race.  It was high time to slow its dizzying pace.  The planet needed stability, peace and tranquillity.  Existing stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction should be exhaustively identified for systematic elimination.  In recent years, there had been colossal investments in nuclear weapons, while some populations barely earned enough to eat.  Others were confronted with the harmful effects of climate change, and many faced poverty in all its forms and dimensions.  With each passing day, the horizon darkened, replacing the joy of living, and the future became more uncertain.  The international community should change its approach to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  No nation could wage nuclear war alone and emerge victorious.  Hence, the joint efforts of all countries, big or small, rich or poor, should avert a merciless fight using weapons of mass destruction.

For Africa, he said, the circulation of small arms and light weapons remained a serious concern.  More than 800 million weapons were in circulation worldwide, including 100 to 150 million in Africa.  To illustrate their magnitude, available statistics indicated that, out of 500,000 deaths per year directly attributable to small arms, 300,000 occurred in conflict situations and 200,000 in so-called "peaceful" situations.  He urged the international community to vigorously combat that phenomenon, which threatened the security of Africa and the world.  In order to reverse that trend, information‑sharing and cooperation among all countries concerned were indispensable in the fight against the proliferation, illicit trade and detour of stolen weapons.

AL-HARITH IDRISS AL-HARITH MOHAMED (Sudan), associating with Non-Aligned Moment, Arab Group and African Group, expressed deep concern regarding the current geopolitical tensions, particularly between nuclear-weapon States.  “Danger was looming over humanity.”  Peace and security would remain an illusion unless more efforts were made towards the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.  Multilateral frameworks were the only sustainable constructs in which solutions to those crises could be found.  Despite the failure to make any progress on nuclear disarmament during the ninth and tenth NPT Review Conferences, that Treaty remained crucial.  Zones free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destructions also remained key pillars.  He called on all States to engage in constructive discussions regarding such a zone in the Middle East.  His country had ratified the CTBT and NPT and had played an active role in efforts leading to adoption of the Pelindaba Treaty.  Sudan had suffered from the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, and welcomed United Nations efforts in that regard.  Those weapons must not be allowed to fall into the hands of terrorists and armed groups.  In addition, he called for a substantive legally binding instrument to prevent an outer space arms race.

JOÃO IAMBENO GIMOLIECA (Angola) said that, at a time when the world grappled with numerous challenges to peace and security, multilateralism was crucial to addressing disarmament.  Nuclear weapons posed a growing catastrophic danger to humanity, and the achievement of their total elimination depended on the commitment of nuclear-weapon States.  Underscoring the importance of the inalienable right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, he supported IAEA’s role in that regard.  Nuclear-weapon-free zones, central to the NPT, should be strengthened and new ones created as a crucial step towards a world free of nuclear weapons.  The illicit traffic of conventional arms and ammunition had profoundly destabilizing effects and fueled violent crimes, conflicts and terrorism, in particular in Africa.  He remained committed to the implementation of the United Nations Plan of Action on those weapons.  The contemporary challenges facing the world in disarmament and non-proliferation were global and critical, and required political will and transparency among all Member States.

COLLEN VIXEN KELAPILE (Botswana), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that the international security environment reflected a weak commitment to the Charter, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.  Botswana would demonstrate unwavering commitment through adherence to traditional and new obligations.  He voiced disappointment regarding the failure of the tenth NPT Review Conference to have adopted an outcome document, but was encouraged by the emphasis on the promotion of the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  IAEA was a key player in fostering peace and a partner in attaining the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.  As the fortieth country to have ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, Botswana implored all other States to sign and ratify it.  Regarding the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, he worked with the United Nations’ Office for Disarmament Affairs, United States and the European Union to strengthen national implementation capacity.  The Open-Ended Working Group’s discussions on ICT were critical.  Botswana had formulated a national cybersecurity strategy to promote cooperation on all levels.  It was committed to the global security and disarmament agenda and the multilateral framework within which that noble goal was pursued.

ZEINAB ISMAËL ASSOWEH (Djibouti), associating with the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, observed an increase in the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the malicious use of ICT and the lack of trust between States.  She condemned the failure of the tenth NPT Review Conference to achieve an outcome text and expressed concern over obstructed implementation of the CTBT.  She called on the international community to come together to find solutions to disarmament problems.  On that, she welcomed the General Assembly President’s emphasis on scientific solutions, which could allow nations to find common ground towards a peaceful, secure world.  For its part, Djibouti supported the peaceful settlement of disputes through multilateral dialogue, rather than through an arms race.  She also spotlighted the Treaty of Pelindaba and supported the establishment of a similar zone in the Middle East.

TOFIG MUSAYEV (Azerbaijan), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, was strongly committed to its obligations in the areas of arms control, non‑proliferation and disarmament, as well as in ending the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons, and in addressing challenges stemming from new technology and cyberspace.  The country also respected international humanitarian law.  He said the Armenian aggression had seriously destabilized the region.  Armenia had occupied a significant part of Azerbaijani territory and used it to conceal military activities from verification mechanisms.  Armenia’s indiscriminate missile attacks and cluster bombs had killed and wounded hundreds of civilians and destroyed numerous civilian structures.  Armenia had shown long‑standing denial of its responsibility for aggression, occupation and non‑compliance with the arms control regime.  After the 2020 conflict, Azerbaijan had initiated normalizing inter-State relations.  However, Armenia had done everything to obstruct the process and backtrack from agreements.  Last month’s border escalation was not an isolated episode, but another link in a chain of destabilizing actions.  Armenia violated the ceasefires, failed to prevent operations of racist hate groups and indiscriminately planted hundreds of thousands of mines and other explosive devices.  More international support was needed to strengthen mine action efforts, save lives and ensure the safe return of internally displaced persons.

MARCIAL EDU MBASOGO (Equatorial Guinea) said that the only effective way to avoid the terrible impact of nuclear weapons was their total, verifiable, transparent and irreversible elimination.  Nuclear-armed States, meanwhile, should provide universal, legally binding, unconditional and non-discriminatory assurances that they would not use or threaten to use those weapons, under any circumstances, against those States that did not possess them.  He remained concerned about the illicit trade, transfer, manufacture, possession and circulation of small arms and light weapons, their excessive accumulation and uncontrolled spread in many regions of the world, particularly on the African continent.  Many African countries had been engaged in continuous wars since their independence, which destabilized the continent.  Despite calls for support from the international community by African institutions, assistance had never been provided.  He called for the resources used for an arms race to be allocated instead to augment achievement of the 2030 Agenda, and for a more just and peaceful and stable world.

IBRAHIM ZUHUREE (Maldives) said his country had advocated for disarmament and non-proliferation.  It did not manufacture weapons, nor did it aspire to do so, and had been among the original signatories of the NPT.  Maldives also had acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Arms Trade Treaty.  True security could only be achieved through investment in the well-being of a people and the environment.  Maintaining international peace, upholding the principles of humanity and realizing the 2030 Agenda could only be achieved through disarmament.  In times of heightened international tensions and conflict, there was a false belief that security could only be achieved by taking up arms.  Not only was that perspective dangerous, but it was also primitive.  He called on all countries to work towards a world free of nuclear weapons, stressing the significance of universal adherence to the CTBT.  All States should refrain from excessive spending on their military and redirect resources to more pressing social and economic initiatives, such as the climate crisis and  the post-pandemic global recovery.

RIYAD H. MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and Arab Group, underscored the importance of the full commitment to international and international humanitarian law.  The existence and use and threat of use of weapons of mass destruction were a flagrant violation of the Charter and those laws.  The only solution to removing the risk was the full elimination of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.  The State of Palestine was very concerned about the failure of tenth NPT Review Conference to have reached consensus.  The creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones was important, and he welcomed efforts aimed at building such a zone in the Middle East.  The conference hosted in that regard would allow for the participation of all parties, with all decisions made by consensus — without exception.  If a party did not participate, namely Israel, it showed that that it wanted to possess nuclear weapons in an illegal manner and that it placed itself above the law.  That constituted a threat to peace and security of the region, as well as to the international disarmament regime.  The threat of conventional weapons must not be forgotten, especially when used by countries or parties that did not respect laws or treaties.  Effective mechanisms must be found to prevent the export of those weapons to countries that would use them for war crimes and crimes against humanity — such as what was being done by the occupying Power in his country.

GABRIELE CACCIA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, stated that, 60 years ago, humanity stood on the precipice of nuclear annihilation as the United States and the former Soviet Union came perilously close to war in the Caribbean Sea.  It was only through their leaders’ commitment to dialogue and recognition of the devastating impact of nuclear war that the world averted destruction.  Writing shortly after the crisis, Pope John XXIII observed “that true and lasting peace among nations cannot consist in the possession of an equal supply of armaments but only in mutual trust”.  On the basis of such trust, he called for the banning of nuclear weapons and for disarmament under “an effective system of mutual control”.  Over the ensuing decades, States began to construct the disarmament architecture.  However, the goal of general and complete disarmament remained elusive, owing to,  in the words of Pope Francis, “a lack of vision for the future and shared consciousness of our common destiny”.  The disarmament architecture hung by a thread.  Leaders should recommit to dialogue and adopt an approach of disarmament, which called on everyone to disarm his or her own heart and to be a peacemaker everywhere.  As Pope Francis said:  “International peace and stability cannot be based on a false sense of security, on the threat of mutual destruction or total annihilation, or on simply maintaining a balance of power.”  Any threat of use of nuclear weapons merited unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.

MAGED A. ABDELAZIZ, Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States, associating himself with the Arab Group, said that increased tension between major nuclear Powers on strategic, tactical and operational issues had negatively affected the multilateral system’s ability to maintain international peace and security.  Further, the Security Council had become paralyzed because of those tensions.  Noting that the Secretary‑General presented proposals in Our Common Agenda aimed at restoring balance, the speaker hoped that it would also provide a solid basis for a new era of international consensus and cooperation towards achieving development objectives that digressed from the spectre of nuclear confrontation.  League members had worked to implement the NPT and to establish a Middle East free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.  Nuclear Powers must intensify efforts to implement their disarmament commitments.  He expressed the concern of non-nuclear-armed States over the possible eruption of “nuclear conflagration” between nuclear Powers due to recent military and political developments.  Those include the enlargement of military alliances, the placing of nuclear weapons on the territory of members of such alliances, and the occupation of territory by force.  Against that backdrop, he underscored the Committee’s responsibility to ensure global security through consensus.

RONALDO COSTA FILHO, speaking on behalf of the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL), said that the world had not seen this risk of nuclear war since 1962, when his region was on the verge of becoming a stage for nuclear confrontation.  Following that situation, the regional States regions promoted the establishment of the first nuclear-weapon-free zones in a densely populated zone.  That zone became an essential component of the disarmament and non-proliferation regime.  States living in nuclear free zones, impose on themselves the need to preserve that.  The Member State of OPANAL believed that any use of nuclear weapon were violations of international law and the Charter.  He condemned all nuclear threats, whether explicit or implicit.  On 26 September, the international day for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, the 33 OPANAL Member States had issued a joint position expressing their concerns regarding nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  They demanded that nuclear weapons could not be used under any circumstance or by any actor.  The only assurance was prohibition and elimination.  He appealed to the United States, United Kingdom, France, and the Russian Federation to withdraw or modify their interpretive declarations on the additional Protocols I and II to the Treaty of Tlatelolco, as it went against the spirit of the Treaty.  The Member States of OPANAL also took part in the first meeting of the States parties of Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  He regretted the lack of progress at the NPT Review Conferences but reiterated his commitment.  OPANAL was working on initiatives open to all Member States of the United Nations.  He voiced full support for the implementation of the principles and goals of the existing nuclear-weapon-free zones Treaties and his support for the establishment of more zones.

Mr. GISEL, observer for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), expressed concern over the failure of the tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear NPT Weapons to adopt an outcome document by consensus.  Urging all States parties to fully implement the Treaty, he also called on those that had yet acceded to it to do so.  He spotlighted the devastation caused by conventional weapons, noting that hostilities often occurred in densely populated cities and were fought with weapons ill-adapted for use in urban environments.  Civilians were the main victims of such weapons. All States must avoid the use of heavy explosive weapons in populated areas.  New technology in warfare also presented serious legal and ethical dilemmas, and there was an urgent need for States to adopt new rules governing autonomous weapons.  That would ensure sufficient control and judgment over their use.  It was encouraging that a growing number of States considered it necessary to regulate those weapons, he said.  As societies’ reliance on digital technology presented a new risk for the civilian population, States must ensure sufficient protection for civilians, along with their infrastructure and data, especially during armed conflict.

TATIANA VALOVAYA, Director-General of the United Nations at Geneva and Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament, noted that the Conference started its work shortly after the Security Council’s permanent members issued a joint statement affirming that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must not be fought”.  Against that positive backdrop, the Conference began its session by reversing its trend of rejecting requests for observer participation, demonstrating its commitment to ensure effective multilateralism through inclusivity.  It also had established five subsidiary bodies, which enabled a structured, substantive discussion throughout the year.  However, despite a promising beginning, the session was disrupted by the outbreak of geopolitical tensions.  Yet, even in that context, the Conference adopted reports pertaining to preventing an arms race in outer space and to new weapons of mass destruction.

She regretted that that Conference had been unable to agree on its usual report to the General Assembly.  Even if, in past years, that report only had a few paragraphs reflecting the Conference’s substantive work, it still gave an indication of the Conference’s proceedings in a given year.  A one-page report for 2022 — making no reference to substantive discussions was a “regrettable development”.  Rising global tensions, growing distrust, politicization of disarmament fora and an overall erosion of disarmament structures made it difficult to achieve progress in the Conference’s multilateral setting.  The same was a crucial element of the global disarmament architecture.  The Conference’s historical significance did not safeguard it from the need to adapt to current realities, she added, calling for collective work to ensure that body produced effective solutions to today’s challenges in disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.

Rights of Reply

The representative of Israel, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said she wished to respond to Iran, Syria and the Palestinian authorities.  Iran was accountable for the distrust in arms control in the Middle East.  It was the world’s primary terrorism-sponsoring State and the world’s biggest proliferator of small arms and light weapons, heavy weapons, missiles, rockets and other related technology, such as unmanned aerial vehicles.  That was in the name of promoting its radical agenda and destabilizing the entire Middle East and beyond.

She said that Syria was yet to answer IAEA’s open questions relating to its clandestine nuclear programme.  It was violating its commitments to the NPT and the Safeguards Agreement.  The existence of undeclared nuclear activities in Syria remained relevant and worrying, as well as the open questions relating to the nature and operational status of specific sites and materials in Syria.  Syria allowed Iran to establish bases within its borders and a radical terrorist organization to act freely in the country.  Both those actors sought to destabilize the region, she said, noting that Syria had used chemical weapons against its own population, killing hundreds of women and children.  The international community must remain vigilant to prevent the erosion of norms against the use of chemical weapons.  Moreover, it must continue to investigate Syria’s current capabilities regarding its chemical weapons programme.  Her Iranian and Syrian colleagues would follow her statement with some “wild and preposterous” accusations, which were nothing but their reflex to point fingers at Israel in order to distract from the hideous crimes of their own Governments.  She also categorically denied the false accusations of the Palestinian authorities.

The representative of Armenia, also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, responded to the statement made by the representative of Azerbaijan.  It was not a surprise that that delegation attempted to misuse this international forum for the mere purpose of disseminating well-known fabricated and false narratives.  “Facts are stubborn things,” he said, citing a famous quote, “whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”  Azerbaijan distorted reality and misled the international community with its tactics, such as victim blaming, he added.  In September, Azerbaijan had attempted a new large-scale military aggression against the sovereign territory of Armenia to spread terror and create a new fait accompli.  As in 2020, military aggression was preceded by massive military build-up and provocative rhetoric and accompanied by deliberate targeting of civilian populations and criminal conduct.  Videos showing the brutal killing of Armenian prisoners of war on social media shocked the world and had been condemned widely.  Before the hostilities, numerous calls to establish the international monitoring mechanisms could not prevent the escalation.  Unsurprisingly, Azerbaijan had rejected those mechanisms.

Grave violations of conventional arms control regime and confidence and security building measures continue to pose a serious security threat to the region.  Azerbaijan exceeded its ceilings in four out of five categories of major conventional arms established by the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.  For decades, Azerbaijani armed forces located along the Armenian border have been excluded from inspection and verification undermining the credibility of data provided by Azerbaijan.  It enabled Azerbaijan to concentrate large numbers of unverifiable forces and military equipment along the borders of Armenia and in conflict zones. Armenia has called for increased attention from the international community to these violations 

Throughout the last two decades, Azerbaijan never refused force to project its expansionist policy on Armenia.  Any call from the international community to refrain from the use of force, to establish confidence building measures, to adhere to conventional arms control were regarded by that country as unnecessary hindrances to their expansionist policies and ignored or violated continuously.  Armenia warned many times how Azerbaijan aggression policy threatened the peace and security in the region.  Specifically, the continuous violations of arms control regimes and massive military buildup, which made his small region one of the most militarized zones in the world.  The inability to properly address this by the international community allowed Azerbaijan to launch new aggressions.  The relevant international bodies should raise their voice regarding the blatant violations of Azerbaijan.  All atrocities should be fully investigated, and perpetrators be brought to justice, he said.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected allegations by Australia and European countries designed to demonize his country.  He urged them to refrain from pursuing a cold war mentality and double standards.  Australia, in pursuit of its partnership with the United Kingdom and United States, was responsible for international proliferation, and it was therefore preposterous that it found fault with Pyongyang’s legitimate exercise of the right of self-defence.  Such reckless behaviour, if Australia “pokes its nose” into the Korean Peninsula, would only invite undesired effects.  The United States continued its menacing sabre-rattling in the Peninsula, and the Republic of Korea was “running wild” to mobilize armaments and increase its deterrence capacity, which was aggravating military tensions in the region.  The aim of the United States was to overthrow his Government by pressing Pyongyang to disarm and give up its right to self-defence.  However, as a responsible nuclear-weapons State, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would fulfil its nuclear-proliferation commitments in good faith.

The representative of the Russian Federation, responding to Western delegations’ accusations regarding his country’s special military operation in Ukraine, said that the primary issue was the transformation that had taken place in Ukraine since the start of the 2014 coup d’état, which was supported by Western countries.  The Russian Federation began its operation to protect those living in the Donbass region after the Kyiv regime — with a nod from its Western sponsors — buried the Minsk process.  Noting that, shortly after the operation began, the Russian Federation and Ukraine were close to achieving peace negotiations, he said that the West did not approve of that development.  Ukraine was only a pawn in the geopolitical fight to weaken the Russian Federation, and therefore, peace did not suit the interests of the United States or the United Kingdom.  Having created a Russophobic State on the Russian Federation’s border, the West had left Moscow with no choice.  “We did not start this war, we are ending it,” he said.

The representative of Syria said that the true danger for the non‑proliferation regime and regional and international security was Israel’s aggressive behaviour in the Middle East.  Israel’s refusal to join the NPT or any international agreement related to the disarmament of weapons of mass destruction and its large-scale nuclear capabilities, did not allow it to speak about non‑accession to the NPT.  It stubbornly remained outside of the system, relying on the support of its allies.  International action was required to lead Israel to join the NPT and to establish a zone in the Middle East free from nuclear and others weapons of mass destruction.  The other States in the region were committed to that goal.

He condemned Israel’s 2007 aggression against the territories.  That was used as a starting point for attacking Syria’s reputation.  Israel’s recognition of its responsibility for the aggression against Syria had taken a decade of denial and lies.  Israel, claiming that Syria was not attached to peace and security, while violating international agreements on non-proliferation, would not allow Israel to hide an unshakable truth.  Israel was not a party to any disarmament or non-proliferation instrument.  The Israeli representative might not be familiar with the bloody history of the entity she represented.  Israel had been the first to use chemical weapons in the Middle East.  All Israel’s lies were a desperate attempt to divert attention from the dangers of its nuclear programme.  Israel’s criminal behaviour had exhausted the Organization since its creation, he said, which had heard thousands of resolutions against the occupation, both in New York and Geneva.

The representative of Azerbaijan said the representative of Armenia’s remarks had been misleading and provocative.  While Azerbaijan was trying to create an environment for normalization of relations, those efforts were not symmetric, despite strong international support.  The dangers associated with Armenia’s position had been manifested in serious border escalation earlier this month.  The countermeasures taken by Azerbaijan were limited and targeted military objects.  Armenia continued to spread disinformation about Azerbaijan, aimed at confusing the international and Armenian society.  Armenia had no legal, political or moral ground to make claims on his territories.  Any attempt to sustain that country’s territorial claims and historical narratives was invalid.  That territory was part of Azerbaijan, which was consistently reaffirmed by relevant Council and General Assembly resolutions.

He said the presence of Armenian armed forces in Azerbaijan remained another source of danger.  Their complete withdrawal from the region and disarmament was needed.  Over the years, Armenia had provided inaccurate and incomplete disinformation about its armed forces in the annual exchange of military information under the 2011 Vienna Document.  That was also reflected in the Secretary‑General’s report on conventional arms control.  Unlike Armenia, Azerbaijan had taken its international obligations seriously to investigate alleged cases.  The Armenian Government had not taken any effective measures to prevent more crimes or to bring the relevant persons to justice for the crimes committed.  Not a single person in Armenia had been brought to justice for the numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity that had occurred since the start of the 1990s.  In just one night, on 26 February 1992, more than 600 people were brutally killed, and no information had been given on the fate of the many missing Azerbaijanis.  In that same period, crimes against humanity were committed by Armenia’s missile attacks against civilians.  Most notably, a mass grave with 12 people had showed signs of torture.  Incoherent statements from the Armenian side had done nothing to normalize relations, he said.

The representative of Iran rejected the “baseless allegations of the apartheid Israeli regime”, stating that those were an attempt to conceal the regime’s destabilizing, malicious activities in the region.  It was ironic, he said, that that terrorist regime, with a track record of developing and stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, had accused Iran of violating relevant Security Council resolutions.  The Israeli regime had used every opportunity to dismantle the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and undermine the implementation of Council resolution 2231 (2015), and therefore, its allegations against Iran were absurd, irrelevant and baseless.  The international community must compel that regime to cease its destabilizing, adventuristic activities in the region.

The representative of Armenia said that Azerbaijan continued to fabricate reality.  The Security Council discussed Baku’s recent aggression in September, and many had spoken about attacks against Armenian territory.  However, one country still maintained that it was Armenia that had started the aggression.  Detailing the war started by Azerbaijan’s aggression against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh in the 1990s, he noted that Azerbaijan ironically tried to prove its own allegations by referencing parts of the Secretary-General’s reports reflecting national statements.  That was nothing more than another attempt by Azerbaijan to try to “justify the unjustifiable” and present a distorted reality.

The representative of Azerbaijan said that the Armenian delegate once again preferred to lie, confirming that peace was alien to Armenia.  The conflict of 1980 was not over.  Serious violations of international humanitarian law amounted to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide by Armenian forces in the course of its aggression, which had killed thousands of citizens, including more than 700,000 Azerbaijanis.  It was no coincidence that Armenia had not mentioned the Council resolutions, which clearly condemned the use of force against Azerbaijan.  The country demanded clear communication from Armenia, in accordance with the post-conflict normalization process.

For information media. Not an official record.