Seventy-seventh Session,
25th Meeting (PM)

Disarmament Machinery Impasse ‘Cause and Consequence’ of Competing Strategic Priorities, Ruthless Pursuit of Military Advantage, First Committee Told

Lack of Political Will, Eroding Security Contribute to ‘Sorry State of Affairs’

The world’s worst-kept secret is that the United Nations disarmament machinery is falling apart, but by no stretch of the imagination is that the only problem, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard today, as it concluded its series of thematic debates for the session.

Lack of political will and a deteriorating international security scenario play a significant role in this sorry state of affairs, said Brazil’s speaker.  No one should shy away from an in-depth look at what plagues the United Nations disarmament machinery, tasked with promotive verifiable effective disarmament, preventing conflict while precluding the use of mass destruction weapons, and addressing strategic root causes of conflict.  He urged a serious discussion accompanied by a diagnosis of the problem and a joint proposal to address it.

The paralysis of the multilateral disarmament machinery for over two decades was both a cause and consequence of the competing strategic priorities and the relentless pursuit of military advantage, said Pakistan’s speaker.  The arms control machinery remains sound in its design, procedure and methods.  After all, it was able to conclude several landmark treaties in the past.  The problem lay with States that oppose the start of negotiations because they clash with their strategic calculus, while other States champion inherently discriminatory proposals, which they know will be rejected.

The multilateral disarmament machinery will continue to face the impact of the cold war mentality, warned the representative of China.  Its struggles cannot be blamed on the machinery itself, which is a platform for promoting common security, and not a battlefield for political confrontation.  But, some countries use it to suppress those with different views and heighten confrontation and division.  The situation does not generate optimism, especially in light of the fact that the non-proliferation regime is at risk of a breakdown.

The “acute crisis” in the world’s disarmament machinery went beyond the well-known impasse in the Conference of Disarmament, said Austria’s representative.  The crises extend to the Nuclear-Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).  Even without one State blocking consensus on an outcome document at its last review, there was still a profoundly inadequate lowest denominator approach.  Multilateralism and the disarmament machinery cannot work when States interpret consensus as a “license to operate with a veto mind-set".

Prior to the debate, the Committee held a panel discussion on the disarmament machinery, hearing from Emilio Rafael Izquierdo Mino, President of the Conference on Disarmament; Xolisa Mfundiso Mabhongo (South Africa), Chair of United Nations Disarmament Commission; Elissa Golberg, Chair, Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters; and Robin Geiss, Director, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR).  This was followed by a brief informal exchange with delegations.

Additional speakers during the thematic debate were representatives of Singapore (on behalf of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)), Italy (on behalf of a group of countries), Ireland (on behalf of a group of countries), Indonesia, Netherlands, Egypt, France, Philippines, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Russian Federation, India, Malaysia, Bangladesh, United Kingdom, Iraq, Spain, Ecuador, Republic of Korea, Türkiye, Cuba, Belarus, Iran, Ireland and Algeria, as well as the European Union, in its capacity as observer.

Exercising the right of reply were representatives of the Russian Federation and United States.

The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Friday, 28 October, to begin action on all draft resolutions and decisions.

Disarmament Machinery

The Committee opened the afternoon meeting with briefings by a number of key panelists in connection with its thematic debate on the Disarmament Machinery, featuring:  Emilio Rafael Izquierdo Miño, President of the Conference on Disarmament; Xolisa Mfundiso Mabhongo (South Africa), Chair, United Nations Disarmament Commission; Elissa Golberg, Chair, Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters; and Robin Geiss, Director, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR).

Mr. IZQUIERDO MIÑO said the Conference faced difficult challenges this year due to strong politization and a weakened international disarmament and non-proliferation system.  Its outcome document reflected this and lacked consensus on basic elements.  The year began auspiciously, but from February onwards, the serious situation in Ukraine directly influenced the Conference’s work.  Consequently, the report was, in fact, a zero-draft report, without qualifications, and essentially procedural.  The presidency put forward a reduced version with strictly procedural elements and agreed language, but, still, consensus was not reached on one last paragraph.  The result was a technical report with the 2023 Conference dates and without references to observers, agendas, subsidiary bodies, statements or documents.

This report, he said, was not an isolated case and underpinned the urgent need to critically reflect on the Conference’s work and future.  For two decades, delegations had repeated their concerns and frustrations about the Conference’s paralysis, gradually weakening its credibility and legitimacy in the world’s eyes.  The time has come for the international community to act responsibly and preserve the fundamental space that previously achieved meaningful results.  Moreover, the principle of consensus has been distorted and become, rather than an aim, an easy option to use the veto and bypass dialogue and negotiation, thereby removing all the winds from the Conference’s sails.  He endorsed the proposal for a new General Assembly session to evaluate the disarmament machinery and urged States’ support.

Mr. MABHONGO stated that the Commission held its first substantive session in three years and submitted a substantive report to the current General Assembly session.  The Disarmament Commission decided that 2022 would be the second year of its three-year cycle, picking up where it left off in 2018.  It managed to build firmly on its previous work and re-establish a possible path towards a successful outcome in the last year of the cycle next year.  The full three weeks of substantive deliberations were held in person, with both working groups holding 10 meetings each.  As this was the second year of the cycle, neither working group put forward recommendations to the General Assembly, but they agreed to continue their discussions on the respective Chair’s paper at the Commission’s next session.

Looking forward, he said, the Commission will complete its three‑year cycle next year.  He hopes that the working groups will be able to feed in valuable inputs into a new review cycle for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), as well as create a further impetus to the work of the Open-Ended Working Group on outer space, specifically on possible norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviors relating to threats by States to space systems.  The Commission’s success would greatly contribute to revitalizing the disarmament machinery and reinvigorating the work of other disarmament bodies, which is of critical importance for reversing the downward trend in the international security landscape.

Ms. GOLBERG said that, for its current two-year session, the Secretary-General asked the Advisory Board to consider the topic of global military spending and reflect on the best means to reduce arms expenditures in the immediate-, medium- and long-term.  To date, the Board has met in formal session twice and informally twice more and is very mindful of the urgency of its work.  Formal recommendations will be made following the Board’s eightieth session in June 2023, which will be shared with the First Committee.

She said that the Board has considered several potential areas for action to facilitate new and transformative thinking on the topic of military spending.  These areas include pursuing disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation efforts, refreshing available research, data and analysis that could update understanding of military spending in the twenty-first century and foster greater dialogue on policy actions, and examining ways in which notions of what constitutes security should be broadened to include non-traditional, transnational threats and the implications for realigning financial allocations.

In the Board’s role as Trustees of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), it approved the report of the Director on the activities of the Institute for the period from January to December 2021 and the proposed programme of work and financial plan for 2023.  At a virtual intersessional meeting in April, substantive discussions were pursued with UNIDIR’s Heads of Programmes to provide Board members with an overview of new and priority areas of research and analysis.  In June, Trustees were briefed on the activities and initial impact of the New York Liaison Office, and on two initiatives that are part of the UNIDIR four-year strategic framework.  She said the trustees reiterated the need to diversify the Institute’s funding sources and  welcomed UNIDIR’s revamped resource mobilization strategy.

Mr. GEISS provided an overview of the Institute’s activities this year and its research plans and priorities for 2023.  UNIDIR still relies exclusively on voluntary contributions for more than 90 per cent of its activities, as well as for almost all of its staff.  Citing some positive trends, he said that UNIDIR is expecting to have the highest number of total donors that will make cash contributions to the Institute and the highest total revenue of close to $8 million.  There are some worrying trends as well, including the continued reduction in unearmarked funds, UNIDIR’s reliance on five to six European donors to provide more than 50 per cent of its total funding, and a reduction in usual contributions that are made in euros, due to the falling exchange rate.

He said that the Institute is the only United Nations “think-tank” working on the increasingly broad and increasingly complex spectrum of disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation issues.  The breadth of UNIDIR's expertise is reflected in its five core research programmes:  the conventional arms programme; the weapons of mass destruction programme; the security and technology programme; gender and disarmament; and a new programme that focuses on space security.  There are also currently two special research projects.  The first relates to a Middle East zone free of nuclear and other mass destruction weapons, and the second focuses on managing exits from armed conflict.  The Institute is planning to consolidate its current programmes of work and to emphasize the continuous diversification of its expertise, emphasizing in particular advancing nuclear dialogues, focusing on biorisks, new and converging technology, gender and inclusion, and conflict prevention.

The meeting was then suspended for a brief informal exchange with delegations, followed by the continuation of the Committee’s formal debate on the Disarmament Machinery.

BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore), speaking on behalf of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that the First Committee is the most inclusive platform for comprehensive negotiations on disarmament and non-proliferation.  Nuclear disarmament is at an impasse and nuclear-weapon States are making no progress towards eliminating their nuclear weapons. Despite the second failure of the NPT Review Conference, ASEAN remains hopeful and stands ready to negotiate in a transparent and inclusive manner.  He calls for consensus on the Conference on Disarmament’s programme of work, underlining its unique role in building trust and confidence in the disarmament sphere.  The Regional Centres for Disarmament bridge needs and foster cooperation, and the analyses of think-tanks and research institutions enhance disarmament at all levels.

He urged the disarmament machinery to keep pace with the rapid changes in the international environment, as well as the technological developments in outer and cyberspace.  He acknowledges the need for a multi-stakeholder approach and welcomes enhanced engagement with women and youth.  Disarmament and non‑proliferation are cross-cutting and involve political and security to sociocultural issues.  The Committee can count on ASEAN’s collaboration to work towards the world’s common aspiration of complete disarmament.

TANCREDI FRANCESE (Italy), speaking on behalf of a group of countries, highlighted the seriousness of the financial difficulties affecting the disarmament architecture, which hampered its proper functioning.  In recent years, meetings were curtailed due to lack of funds.  Interpretation was sacrificed as was the translation of official documents.  The financial issues endangering the advancement of work and credibility of certain conventions required a lasting solution.  The only sustainable option was to address non-payment and ensure that arrears were paid on time and in full.  Some measures had been considered by States parties to discourage non-payment, which would continue to be monitored.  He encouraged States parties to weigh additional measures with a view to a financially sound disarmament architecture.

CAÍT MORAN (Ireland), speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said that the integration of a gender perspective in the work of the Committee should be strengthened, for it makes for more effective arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament.  Women and girls should be at the heart of disarmament policy, which contributes to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals and the related Beijing+25 process.  The integration of women and girls is also vital because as weapons are often used to perpetrate acts of gender-based violence, with long-term socioeconomic impacts.  A gender perspective allows for more targeted policies, which are more inclusive and impactful.  UNIDIR’s continued research on the matter shows that women remain underrepresented in disarmament forums, yet their diverse perspectives can bring new insights, and States should include them in their delegations.  Civil society also provides advice and ideas, which spur the international community to action.

MICHAL KARCZMARZ, representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, stated that promoting effective multilateralism and rules-based global governance is the cornerstone of the Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy.  The Union is deeply concerned at the deteriorating security environment, as well as the continued erosion of the international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation architecture.  The Russian Federation’s brutal invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated this situation.  He stressed the need to prevent further polarization resulting from the divisive new initiatives at the First Committee.  The Union is deeply concerned at the ongoing deadlock at the Conference on Disarmament and deeply regrets that it was unable to reach agreement on a substantive report this year, owing to the refusal by the Russian Federation to acknowledge security challenges raised by its armed aggression against Ukraine.

He called for the urgent appointment of a special coordinator to lead substantive consultations on expanding Conference membership and lay out concrete scenarios for consideration of Conference members.  The Union is pleased that, after three years, the Disarmament Commission was able to resume its work this year.  The United Nations disarmament machinery and its various instruments cannot function properly without sound finances.  He urged the States which have not yet done so to pay their contributions in full and on time and to settle their arrears.  He appreciated the contributions of Member States to UNIDIR's annual budget.  He recalled that the Union provides significant political and financial support to several treaties, conventions and other agreements in the area of non-proliferation and disarmament, which enables the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs and UNIDIR to carry out their  activities.

MARIA BENEDICTA DIAH KRISTANTI (Indonesia), associating with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the world’s commitment to reinvigorating disarmament is vital.  “We cannot afford any regression,” he said, calling for flexibility and political will.  Nuclear‑armed States lack the political will needed to eliminate their nuclear arsenals, which is a major hurdle for the disarmament machinery.  However, changes do not occur overnight.  The world needs to transform its commitments into actions.  The United Nations disarmament machinery will not be meaningful unless nuclear-armed States undertake their commitments.  Enhancing the effectiveness of the disarmament machinery is a collective responsibility.  These bodies should be optimally utilized to attain the collective aims, and efforts must be redoubled.

ROBERT IN DEN BOSCH (Netherlands), associating with the European Union, said that the Russian Federation’s illegal invasion fundamentally alters the Committee’s discussions.  The world should take steps towards increasing transparency and accountability, and that requires the effective functioning of the disarmament machine.  Multilateralism is the best guarantee of sustainable development.  The international community should uphold international law especially when the rules-based international order is under pressure.  He is deeply concerned about the Disarmament Conference’s continued stalemate, he calls for a diversity of actors, as this will lead to innovative solutions.  The Netherlands, as a proud supporter of its feminist foreign policy, notes the increasing number of the Committee’s resolutions that take gender issues into account.  Through effective and constructive multilateralism, the global community can build a broad middle ground towards a safe and secure world.

MOHAMED KAMAL ALI ELHOMOSANY (Egypt) said arms control is an integral part of the United Nations mandate and of peace and security.  The failure of disarmament efforts is a reflection of a lack of political will by some States.  The inability of the Conference on Disarmament to adopt a programme of work for more than 25 years requires balanced action, and the launch of negotiations on the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.  There is also a need to revitalize the Disarmament Commission, he said, adding that UNIDIR is of value and should have more financial independence to promote new ideas and practical solutions to disarmament.  Promoting synergy between all relevant United Nations bodies should motivate the disarmament machinery, given the intergovernmental nature of the process of disarmament.  Egypt will not recognize any nuclear-weapon States other than those States parties to the NPT.

CAMILLE PETIT (France) said that the disarmament machinery and its institutions provide a robust framework that is essential for progress on the path to general and complete disarmament.  The Conference on Disarmament is the only multilateral body responsible for the negotiation of universal disarmament treaties.  A fissile material cut-off treaty is a priority for France.  It is also the most promising in terms of launching negotiations in the Conference.  The Russian Federation blocked the adoption of a substantive final report of the Conference.  What undermines the credibility of collective work was using these bodies for disinformation, twisting rules of procedure and abusing the speaking time.  In doing these things, the Russian Federation is trying to exhaust efforts to achieve concrete progress to strengthen international peace and security.  France is very concerned by the budget deficit facing the disarmament bodies for years.  Multilingualism, among other things, is jeopardized by this unstable financial situation.

ARIEL PEÑARANDA (Philippines), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said the global community should reject every attempt to revise the world’s common understanding of the principles that underpin the global governance regime.  The Conference on Disarmament brings Member States together to enhance international peace and security and she calls for a consensus agreement on a balanced and comprehensive programme of work, without further delay.  Also associating herself with the statement by Canada, she added that States should incorporate gender perspectives in arms control and disarmament.  Multistakeholder approaches play a vital role by raising awareness.  Civil society, academia and youth stimulate discussions and forge meaningful dialogue in all fora.  States should take advantage of the work of the UNIDIR and other think-tanks to enhance their efforts on the local, regional and global levels.

Ms. Jawaravdana (Sri Lanka) said the Conference on Disarmament and the Disarmament Commission have not gained the envisaged traction.  Sri Lanka noted with concern, together with many delegations here, the steady deterioration of cooperative and constructive dialogue in the field of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.  Global security tensions have been exacerbated by the inability to agree on a common understanding of the core values and objectives.  The erosion of political will must be addressed, she said, reiterating the importance of continuing serious dialogue in good faith among all parties concerned in the interest of the security of all peoples.  Sri Lanka supports the regional disarmament mechanisms and processes to promote dialogue, create trust and build confidence at regional and subregional levels.  The multilateral machinery, especially for something as fundamental as disarmament, should be designed to work in all conditions.

Ms. MOYO (South Africa) said it is essential for the disarmament machinery components to fulfil their respective mandates.  “Was this not a Special Session on Disarmament moment?  A time to holistically revisit and revitalise the disarmament machinery to meet the demands and opportunities of this millennium?” she asked.  South Africa remains committed to a functioning Conference on Disarmament and has been pushing it to get back to substantive work, fulfilling its mandate to negotiate multilateral disarmament treaties. South Africa has also been calling for its expanded membership to ensure inclusiveness given that this affects all states.  Today’s geopolitical environment requires innovative perspectives able to respond to the collective security concerns.

FRANZISKA CHARIAH (Austria), associating herself with the European Union, says that the world’s disarmament machinery was in acute crisis, going beyond the well-known and lamented Conference of Disarmament stalemate.  The crises extend to the NPT.  Even without one State blocking the tenth NPT Review Conference’s outcome document, there was still a profoundly inadequate lowest denominator approach, which simply is not commensurate with the urgency the world faces.  Other bodies are hamstrung by tendencies to abuse the consensus principle by procedural manoeuvers to prevent substantive work and stifle meaningful processes.  Multilateralism and the disarmament machinery cannot work when States interpret consensus as a “license to operate with a veto mind-set”.  In addition, the disarmament machinery is woefully behind when it comes to including civil society, academia, and industry from its deliberations. She urges concrete actions towards their participation.  Austria fully subscribes to the Joint Statement by Ireland on gender equality, and she hopes to see progress on this important issue.

GUL QAISER SARWANI (Pakistan) said that the paralysis of the multilateral disarmament machinery for over two decades was both a cause and consequence of the competing strategic priorities and the relentless pursuit of maintaining military advantage.  The arms control machinery remains sound in its design, procedure and methods.  After all, the same machinery was able to conclude several landmark treaties in the past.  Any legally binding measures should be considered and agreed strictly on the basis of consensus with the participation of all stakeholders.  Some States oppose the commencement of negotiations simply because they clash with their strategic calculus.  Some of them champion cost-free and inherently discriminatory proposals, which they know would be rejected.  The reality today is that there is no consensus on the start of negotiations or any issue on the Conference’s agenda among the oldest agenda items.  Seeking pathways outside the established forum, especially when pursued on a non-consensual basis and without the participation of all stakeholders, was even more counterproductive.  Only at the Conference on Disarmament where all militarily significant States participate on equal footing and are able to protect the wider security interest under the consensus rule can meaningful progress be achieved.

Ms. SHESTOPOLOVA (Russian Federation) stated that the continuous attempts by Western States to shatter the multilateral disarmament fora and use the United Nations for their own mercenary ambitions require special attention.  The recent Conference on Disarmament session is a clear manifestation of those destructive trends.  In violation of the Conference’s mandate, the Western States use this forum to settle political scores and consolidate their adverse preferences on the disarmament platform.  This is the reason for the low efficiency of the work of the Conference this year.  He is submitting a biennial draft resolution on “Strengthening and developing the system of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation agreements for consideration. It is designed in the spirit of a unifying agenda (document A/C.1/77/L.66).

Mr. KULKARNI (India) stated that it accords a high priority to the Conference on Disarmament, which has the mandate, membership, and rules for negotiating legally binding instruments.  Despite its best efforts, however, it has not been able to adopt a programme of work.  Instead of questioning its relevance and effectiveness and looking for alternative forums, States must demonstrate political will and focus their efforts on the Conference's negotiating mandate.  The Disarmament Commission's role as a platform for dialogue and cooperation, bringing together universal membership of all Member States, is also significant.  The Commission has made several important achievements in its past, having successfully adopted guidelines and recommendations.  India also values the important efforts by United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).  It hopes the First Committee this year will galvanize the disarmament machinery in its pursuit of collective solutions.

Mr. NOOR RAHINMIN (Malaysia), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, says the global disarmament and non-proliferation architecture plays a crucial role in safeguarding the world form the horrors of weapons of mass destruction, but its continued integrity and credibility cannot be taken for granted.  This Committee embodies the long-standing endeavours to address salient issues and there is a need to move forward in the spirit of mutual respect, through dialogue and diplomacy, in the interest of peace for all.  The Conference on Disarmament must overcome the prolonged impasse to avoid damaging its credibility.  Amid the institutional deadlock, it is heartening that the landmark instrument — The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons — was successfully negotiated in 2017.  Moreover, the Disarmament Commission has timely discussions on nuclear disarmament and the prevention of an arms race in outer space. He reiterates Malaysia’s strong support for the Regional Centres for Peace and Disarmament.

LI SONG (China) stated that the international political and security situation was undergoing complex and profound changes.  The cold war mentality is running rampant.  The obsession with the so-called great Power strategic competition is worsening relations among major countries.  These are severely impacting global strategic security and stability and international peace and security.  The multilateral disarmament machinery will continue to face the impact of the cold war mentality.  Their struggles cannot be blamed on the machinery itself, which is a platform for promoting common security, not a battlefield for political confrontation.  Some countries use the multilateral machinery to suppress those with different views and heighten confrontation and division, which seriously interferes with the normal work of those bodies.  The situation does not allow for much optimism, especially in light of the fact that the international non-proliferation regime faces the risk of a breakdown.

MD RAFIQUL ALAM MOLLA (Bangladesh), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, says the complex security challenges in today’s world leave no alternative to multilateralism.  The international community bears the collective responsibility to ensure the disarmaments machinery delivers on the agreed mandates.  He shares profound frustration over the prolonged state of paralysis at the Conference on Disarmament, whose protracted deadlock reflects a lack of political will among States.  All must show their utmost flexibility and political will to agree on a programme of work.  They must enable the Disarmament Commission to advance the discussions on outer space and nuclear disarmament.  The First Committee should streamline its work to reduce duplication.  Lastly, enhanced and predictable resources are needed to ensure that UNIDIR delivers on its mandate.

FLAVIO DAMICO (Brazil) said the “world’s worst‑kept secret” is that the United Nations disarmament machinery is failing.  But, by no stretch of the imagination is that the only problem.  Lack of political will and a deteriorating international security scenario play a significant role in this sorry state of affairs.  No one should shy away from an in-depth look at what plagues the disarmament machinery.  A serious discussion should be had accompanied by a clear diagnosis of the problem and a joint proposal to address it.  The disarmament machinery should perform three main tasks:  promote verifiable effective disarmament; prevent conflict while precluding the use of weapons of mass destruction; and address strategic root causes of emerging conflict to make way for a peaceful solution as quickly and as effectively as possible.  Everyone agrees that respect for the United Nations Charter is at an all-time low.  Fortunately, the tools are here.  The opportunity should be seized to initiate a process of informal consultations on convening a preparatory committee for a fourth special session of the General Assembly on disarmament by next year.

ELEONORA SAGGESE (United Kingdom) stated that the Russian Federation’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine has placed the disarmament machinery under unprecedented strain.  While the United Kingdom supported the creation of subsidiary bodies for the first time since 2018, their indistinct mandates, the lack of time available for their work and the bad faith shown by some delegations in the process of negotiating their reports meant they did not live up to their potential.  The consensus rule in the Conference on Disarmament is a recognition of the fact that States need to know that their fundamental interests are protected in negotiations on issues of the highest sensitivity.  The United Kingdom was pleased that the Disarmament Commission was able to resume its substantive work this year, allowing for in-depth deliberations on two important disarmament issues:  preventing an arms race in outer space; and achieving the shared goal of a world without nuclear weapons.  The Commission is a unique forum with truly global membership. Against a deteriorating security backdrop, it is more important than ever to make use of it for the purpose it was established — to discuss issues, find common ground and make recommendations to the First Committee and the Conference on Disarmament.

AMMAR ADNAN SHAMRAN ALBAI (Iraq) believed in the multilateral approach and improvements to it.  It is important to stress the vital role played by the Conference on Disarmament as the sole multilateral negotiation forum.  It has a track record of success, he said.  But, it is no secret that the ongoing deadlock of more than two and a half decades is due to the failure to reach an agreement on a comprehensive balanced programme of work that responds to the needs of all countries.  Iraq urges Member States to shoulder the full responsibility of showcasing the necessary flexibility and political will for the Conference to continue its role.

IGNACIO SÁNCHEZ DE LERIN (Spain), associating with the European Union, said it is the responsibility of States to ensure that the disarmament fora fulfil their mandates.  He regretted the disruptive attitudes of some and is concerned about the Conference on Disarmament’s paralysis.  Some States’ claims that it needs a negotiated mandate are unfounded.  He regrets that negotiation on a ban on fissile-material-production has not started and also underlines the importance of negotiations on negative nuclear security assurances.  Every year, the Conference’s reports become progressively less substantive.  States have a misconception of consensus as they mistake it for a veto right.  This is not sustainable, particularly in view of the current security environment.  The substantive work must be resumed as soon as possible, he said, warning that this trend is also visible in the First Committee.  New resolutions and languages move the Committee farther away from consensus.  “Any failure is a failure by us as delegates, as representatives of our States,” he said, urging constructiveness in seeking solutions through dialogue and respect for difference.  The return to the disarmament machinery depends on the Committee’s determination and ability.

ANDRÉS EFREN MONTALVO SOSA (Ecuador) said that, since 1997, the Conference on Disarmament has failed to agree on a multilateral instrument or even on a Programme of Work.  The mechanisms for arms control face challenges, with an ongoing erosion of the machinery.  The almost three-decade-old stalemate is compounded by an international security situation that is the worst since the cold war.  Against this difficult backdrop, Ecuador has been as constructive as possible in facilitating the draft resolution on the report of the Conference on Disarmament (document A/C.1/77/L.25).  The text is the result of broad consultations begun in Geneva and continued in New York, with an inclusive and transparent process. An effective disarmament machinery is key to survival, and Ecuador will continue to protect and defend international law and the respect for a norms-based international order.

LEE HYUN GOO (Republic of Korea) stated that the trinity of disarmament machinery, namely the First Committee, the Conference on Disarmament and the Disarmament Commission, must operate hand in hand to facilitate mutually reinforcing discussions and outcomes.  The Conference fell far short of expectations in terms of breaking the impasse and advancing substantive work on a single item.  The unprecedented brevity of its annual report speaks loudly about the abject state it had fallen into over past decades.  This has led many to question its raison d'etre as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community, she warned.  It is time to follow up on the long-overdue implementation of the 1995 Shannon Mandate consensus to begin negotiations of a comprehensive, balanced and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty for the cessation of production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.  She reminded the Committee that the Disarmament Commission is the sole and unique deliberative body for submitting recommendations to the General Assembly.  She appreciated UNIDIR’s contribution to in-depth research across a wide range of disarmament issues, especially in such areas as cybersecurity, space and chemical and biological threats, as well as disarmament-related gender and youth issues.

İSMAIL AYDİL (Türkiye) welcomes the introduction of draft resolutions as a valuable exercise, but cautions against unnecessary duplication, or even worse, putting forward competing resolutions.  The Conference on Disarmament possesses the necessary mandate, rules of procedure and membership to deliver on its duties and could return to its crucial role if members demonstrate the necessary political will.  It is high time to overcome polarization and realize the Conference’s potential.  An atmosphere of trust and flexibility is needed to reach consensus on its 2023 programme of work, and he said Türkiye will maintain its active and constructive approach in that regard.  The Disarmament Commission plays an important role as the only specialized deliberative subsidiary body, and he hopes it will advance towards concrete recommendations for the remainder of the current cycle.

Mr. PADILLA GONZÁLEZ (Cuba) fully supports the United Nations’ central role in promoting multilateralism as a basic principle and the only effective way of conducting international negotiations.  His country supports the work of the disarmament machinery and spotlights the need to preserve existing agreements on disarmament and weapons regulation to further international cooperation and ensure their strict adherence.  He said his country opposes any attempt to erode the disarmament architecture or to undermine or halt multilateral negotiations.  Member States must renew their commitment to the Conference, he said, noting that he is encouraged by the decision to revive its work, which is a key component of the United Nations disarmament machinery.  Now it is time to fulfil the negotiating mandate to foster its vitality and to preserve its rules, procedures and practices.  In particular, the method of consensus is a fundamental basis for its activities.  The Conference's ability to contribute decisively to the aim of achieving general and complete disarmament depends on the political will of all its Members, he said, adding that the body has the capacity to simultaneously negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit an arms race in outer space.

SIARHEI MAKAREVICH (Belarus) noted that ensuring the sustainable development of peace and security were interlinked goals that would ensure the future of humanity.  He regretted the deterioration of the international security architecture, which has negative consequences for the entire world order.  He advocated restoring trust, consolidating the international community and renewing the negotiating process on disarmament.  Belarus voluntarily rejects nuclear weapons and fulfills its obligations to reduce its arms as part of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty.  In good faith, his country has reduced its anti-personal landmines.

SEYED MAHDI SAJJADIEH (Iran) reaffirmed that the international community should continue to focus on achieving the ultimate goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world in a manner that was verifiable, verifiable, irreversible and transparent.  The major problem with the nuclear disarmament machinery, in particular the Conference on Disarmament, is the lack of genuine political will on the part of certain nuclear-weapon States and their supporters.  He said it is imperative to preserve and reinforce existing treaties and agreements and norms against the testing, proliferation and use of nuclear weapons.  He strongly supports the early commencement of negotiations in the Conference and welcomes the resumption of the work in the Disarmament Commission.  The United States and Israeli regime continue to damage the wider practice of consensual decision-making, which was paramount to disarmament agreements.  Furthermore, he stressed that the United States’ arbitrary compliance reports on arms control is undermining the authority of 11 international instruments and organizations.

CAÍT MORAN (Ireland) said that the Committee was a vital part of the disarmament machinery, and as such, Ireland is concerned that its proceedings are often impeded by procedural matters.  Ireland is also concerned about the stagnation in disarmament forums, noting that the presence of women should be the norm.  Integrating disarmament considerations into the women, peace and disarmament agenda and vice versa should be a top priority.  Ireland deeply regrets the lack of substance this year in the report of the Conference on Disarmament, which is totally unacceptable.  The Conference should be at the core of the work to strengthen the multilateral disarmament machinery, he said, adding that the collective responsibilities in this regard could not be ignored.  Ireland also strongly supports the important role of the Disarmament Commission as a deliberative body of the General Assembly.  More broadly, there should be proactive engagement with youth in the disarmament machinery.  The links between disarmament and international peace and security are as clear as ever, he concluded, and in the current security environment, more work is required.

MOHAMED ENNADIR LARBAOUI (Algeria), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, said that multilateralism is the only viable way to deal with international peace and security.  The disarmament fora give States the chance to resolve problems, disputes and build confidence through international cooperation.  The multilateral disarmament machinery, made up of the Conference on Disarmament, Disarmament Commission  and the First Committee, must be preserved.  Their inertia relates to the lack of political will, especially regarding nuclear disarmament.  Improvement is needed, he said, welcoming the Commission’s resumption of substantive work.  More political will would spur the Conference on Disarmament, which has been unable to fulfil its mandate for more than two decades.  He called on Member States to agree on a work programme.  In this Committee, he said, constructive cooperation would reverse the trend towards competition.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, rejected the accusations against her country in the context of its actions at the Conference on Disarmament.  In the Conference’s already complex situation, things became extremely tense this year.  This could lead to the Conference’s inability to carry out its function, even at a minimum level.  The large-scale anti-Russian Federation campaign by Conference participants representing the collective West, became a barrier to its normal functioning.  Only by the efforts of the Russian Federation’s delegation and other responsible States was it possible to preserve the Conference’s viability, she said.

Throughout the 2022 session, she said, her country, unlike Western countries, demonstrated a constructive approach to cooperate and come up with common understandings on various elements of arms control and disarmament and to pursue areas of convergence on the Conference’s agenda.  Western States subjected the work to their own interests, transforming it into an instrument for advancing unilateral priorities by imposing on the Conference functions that are not inherent to it.  They used various schemes and manipulations, ranging from putting pressure on the Conference President and coordinators of the subsidiary bodies to gross violations of the rules of procedure, including the fundamental rule of consensus.

A glaring example was the 3 March plenary session, when delegations shamelessly scorned the position of a number of States that objected to this, she said.  Western countries dealt a crushing blow to the fundamentals of the Conference.  They are attempting to enshrine this hazardous precedent into relevant documents including into the draft resolution.  They provoked a situation whereby the resolution that is traditionally adopted by consensus, will now be brought to a vote.  This development will have most negative consequences for the Conference’s future work and impact the prospects of the resolution next year.

Against this backdrop, she said, for a second year in a row, one or more delegations insisted on bringing issues on the agenda that did not relate to the Conference’s mandate.  This was done under various pretexts, for example, the need for technical updates to the Conference’s rules of procedure.  For the States parties from the “Western camp”, the Conference has long ceased to be a negotiating body on disarmament and arms control.  Those States are using the Conference to “settle political scores”.  Continuation of this trend will exacerbate confrontation, erode the Conference’s integrity and further deteriorate its work, she said, warning that all of this could lead to the collapse of this important forum.  She urged States of the West to consider the consequences of their actions on the integrity and resilience of the Conference.

The representative of the United States, also speaking in exercise of the right of rely, rejected the Russian Federation’s disingenuous claims that it is a “devoted guardian” of the world’s disarmament machinery and that the West is responsible for the current state of affairs.  The reality is that the Russian Federation is openly, blatantly and actively repudiating disarmament cooperation.  At a time when the world needs tangible actions and results, the Russian Federation is wasting the world’s time with never-ending procedural rebuttals in the Open-Ended Working Group on outer space , abusing the consultation provision of the Biological Weapons Convention, with repeatedly engaging in blanket disinformation and by ensuring that the tenth NPT Review Conference could not deliver a final report.  Let there also be no doubt as to who is responsible for the Conference on Disarmament ending so poorly; it was the Russian Federation.

He said that, with the its last-minute insertions to the subsidiary body’s draft texts, its disrespectful behavior to the presidency chaired by Colombia, by denying that the Conference met on 3 March to discuss the impact of the Russian Federation’s aggression in Ukraine and its refusal to allow the Conference’s final report to reflect any substance, the Russian Federation made a mockery “out of all of us and of our efforts in Geneva”.  Contrary to the words in the Russian Federation’s resolution on strengthening arms control, the author and some if its partners have not enhanced, but clearly abused, the consensus nature of multiple disarmament bodies.  He called on the Russian Federation to live up to the values it purports to espouse.

The representative of the Russian Federation rejected the accusations against her country by the United States.  If the assertion of many Western States about their efforts to comprehensively strengthen the work of the Conference on Disarmament are sincere, she proposed that they back up their words with actions and not violate the consensus nature of the related resolution, which, for many years, was adopted without a vote.

For information media. Not an official record.