Approving 15 Texts, First Committee Spotlights Impact of Illicit Weapons Trade on Women, Value of Gender Perspective in Reducing Armed Conflict
The General Assembly would encourage Member States to better understand the impact of armed violence, in particular the impact of the illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons on women and girls, according to one of the 14 draft resolutions and one draft decision approved today by the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security).
The draft resolution on women, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control, “L.18”, was tabled by the representative of Trinidad and Tobago, who said the text highlights women’s vital contribution to disarmament and the prevention and reduction in armed conflict and violence. It encourages Member States to better understand the negative effects of armed violence on women and girls, and the importance of national action plans, disaggregated data and evidence-based, gender-sensitive policymaking and programming.
The General Assembly, by the terms of the text, would reaffirm the full, equal, and meaningful participation of both women and men as an essential factor for the promotion and attainment of sustainable peace and security. It was approved without a vote. Prior to its approval, separate recorded votes were required on nine provisions, as follows: preambular paragraphs 5, 9, 13, 14 and 17, and operative paragraphs 4, 5, 6, and 11.
Among those provisions is a recognition, in preambular paragraph 9, that women should not only be perceived as victims and survivors of gender-based armed violence, but as essential in preventing and reducing armed violence. The Committee retained the paragraph by a recorded vote of 168 in favour to none against, with 4 abstentions (China, Iran, Russian Federation, Syria).
The Committee also retained preambular paragraph 17, which asks the Assembly to consider the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic on gender equality, multilateral disarmament and arms control, and acknowledge that the pandemic exacerbated the socioeconomic conditions of people in vulnerable situations, resulting in an alarming increase in domestic and gender-based armed violence by a recorded vote of 165 in favour to none against, with 8 abstentions (Belarus, Chile, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Iran, Mauritania, Russian Federation, Syria).
Also, under its cluster on other disarmament measures and international security, the Committee approved a traditional text of the Russian Federation on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security, “L.23/Rev.1”. Among its terms, the Assembly would reaffirm that additional norms and binding obligations for ICTS should be developed, for which States should continue engaging in negotiations of the Open-ended Working Group until 2025, as per its mandate.
The Committee took that decision by a recorded vote of 112 in favour to 52 against, with 10 abstentions (Chile, Colombia, Fiji, Guatemala, Honduras, Lesotho, Malawi, Papua New Guinea, Serbia, Singapore). This resolution also required three separate votes on preambular paragraphs 2, 4, and 7.
In what some delegations referred to as a “divisive” draft, “L.73”, tabled by France, would have the Assembly express concern about malicious activities aimed at critical infrastructure and establish a programme of action to advance responsible State behaviour in the use of ICTs, as a permanent mechanism to discuss existing threats.
The Committee approved “L.73” by a recorded vote of 157 in favour to 6 against (China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syria), with 14 abstentions.
On the issue of promoting international cooperation on peaceful uses in the context of international security, the Committee approved “L.56”, as orally revised, by a recorded vote of 88 in favour to 54 against, with 31 abstentions.
The text recognizes, among other things, the inalienable right of all States to exchange equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for peaceful purposes, and note with concern the persistence of undue restrictions on exports to developing countries of such materials. Separate votes were required on three preambular and one operative paragraph.
Also in its cluster on other disarmament measures in the context of international security, the Committee approved, without a vote, nine draft resolutions: “L.4” on observance of environmental norms in arms control agreements, “L.5” on the relationship between disarmament and development, “L.14” on the international day for disarmament and non-proliferation awareness, “L.15” on United Nations study on disarmament education, “L.18” on women, disarmament, non-proliferation, and arms control, “L.20” on United Nations Disarmament Information Programme, “L.32” on United Nations disarmament fellowship, “L.59” on the role of science and technology in disarmament, “L.63” on objective information on military matters and transparency of military expenditures, and one draft decision, and “L.54” on the Open-ended Working Group of security in ICT.
Speaking in explanation of vote, after the vote, on that cluster were representatives of Iran, Armenia, Mexico, India, South Africa, Viet Nam, Cuba, Sri Lanka, Colombia, New Zealand, United States, Republic of Korea, Belgium, Israel, United Kingdom, Ireland, Indonesia, Australia, Türkiye, Japan, Singapore, Philippines, Pakistan, the Netherlands, China, Switzerland, France, and the Russian Federation.
General statements on regional disarmament, on which action was scheduled for 4 November, were made by Iran, and the European Union, in its capacity as observer.
Representatives of the Russian Federation and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea exercised their right of reply.
The First Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 4 November, to continue taking action on all draft resolutions and decisions before it.
Point of Order
On a point of order, the representative of the Federated States of Micronesia, also on behalf of the Marshall Islands, Palau, Nauru, Papua New Guinea and Samoa, said that, yesterday, they came prepared to register their positions and waited 2 hours and 45 minutes to do so. However, voting was postponed to today. Today, many competing meetings are being held at the same time, meaning that small delegations must scramble to go from room to room. These delegations are being put in the unacceptable position as they must choose. Yesterday, there was enough time left to at least start with voting, and perhaps, like Friday, 28 October, postpone only part of the voting to the next day. He also raised concern about the broader pattern that showed a lack of coordination between the Committees and the plenary, disadvantaging small delegations.
The Chair apologized for this inconvenience and said he was aware that small delegations were stretched thin. The representative’s concerns would be recorded and communicated. He would try to ensure the least amount of inconvenience.
Action — Other Disarmament Measures and International Security
First, the Committee approved without a vote a draft resolution, entitled “Observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control” (document A/C.1/77/L.4), introduced by Indonesia, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Among its provisions, the Assembly would call upon States to adopt measures on all levels to ensure the application of scientific and technological progress in the framework of international security, without detriment to the environment. It would also invite Member States to communicate to the Secretary-General on measures they adopted to promote the objectives of this resolution and to the Secretary-General to provide a report containing that information.
Also acting without a vote, the Committee approved a draft resolution titled “Relationship between disarmament and development” (document A/C.1/77/L.5), introduced by Indonesia, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, by which the Assembly would urge the international community to devote part of the resources made available by the implementation of disarmament and arms limitation agreements to economic and social development, to reduce the ever-widening gap between developed and developing countries.
Next, it approved the draft resolution titled “Promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation” (document A/C.1/77/L.8), by a recorded vote of 124 in favour to 6 against (Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, North Macedonia, United Kingdom, United States), with 49 abstentions. It was also introduced by Indonesia, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Among its terms, the Assembly would reaffirm multilateralism as the core principle in negotiations in the area of disarmament and non-proliferations, call on States to renew and fulfil their commitments to multilateral cooperation and request States parties of relevant instruments to cooperate among themselves in resolving concerns on non-compliance and implementation, and refrain from resorting to unilateral actions, or unverified non-compliance accusations.
The Committee then turned to a draft resolution titled “Effects of the use of armaments and ammunitions containing depleted uranium” (document A/C.1/77/L.10), also introduced by Indonesia, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.
It approved the text by a recorded vote of 144 in favour to 4 against (France, Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 24 abstentions.
The Assembly, by the text, would ask the Secretary-General to request international organizations to update their studies on the effects of armaments and ammunitions containing depleted uranium on human health and the environment, invite Member States that have used such armaments to provide information to the relevant authorities, and to provide assistance to affected States.
Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft resolution entitled “International Day for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Awareness” (document A/C.1/77/L.14), by which the Assembly would declare 5 March as the International Day for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Awareness.
Next, it took up the draft resolution entitled “United Nations study on disarmament and non-proliferation education” (document A/C.1/77/L.15), by which the Assembly, among its provisions, would ask the Secretary-General to maintain and update the disarmament education website.
By a recorded vote of 164 in favour to none against, with 4 abstentions (Iran, Israel, Russian Federation, Syria), it retained operative paragraph 4, by which the Assembly would express its appreciation to the Secretary-General for Securing Our Common Future: An Agenda for Disarmament, and note the proposed actions therein to further advance disarmament and non-proliferation education.
It then approved “L.15” without a vote.
The Committee turned to the draft resolution titled “Women, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control” (document A/C.1/77/L.18). By its terms, the Assembly would urge Member States to support and strengthen women’s full, equal, meaningful and effective participation in disarmament organizations at the local, national, subregional, regional and global levels.
It first retained preambular paragraph 5 by a recorded vote of 168 in favour to none against, with 3 abstentions (Iran, Russian Federation, Syria), by which the Assembly would note the Secretary-General’s Disarmament Agenda’s Action 36 on full and equal participation of women in decision-making processes and Action 37 on gender parity on disarmament bodies established by the Secretariat.
By a recorded vote of 168 in favour to none against, with 4 abstentions (China, Iran, Russian Federation, Syria), it retained preambular paragraph 9, by which the Assembly would recognize that women should not only be perceived as victims and survivors of gender-based armed violence, but are also essential in preventing and reducing armed violence, and are active and key players in advocating for arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.
By a recorded vote of 139 in favour to none against, with 28 abstentions, it retained preambular paragraph 13, which would have the Assembly recall the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty and reiterate the need for States parties to ensure women’s and men’s full, equal and meaningful participation in pursuing the object and purpose of its provisions.
By a recorded vote of 165 in favour to none against, with 5 abstentions (Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syria), it retained preambular paragraph 14, which would have the Assembly welcome the outcome of the eighth Biennial Meeting of States to Consider Implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons.
By a recorded vote of 165 in favour to none against, with 8 abstentions (Belarus, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Iran, Mauritania, Russian Federation, Syria), it retained preambular paragraph 17, which would have the Assembly take into consideration the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the progress made in gender equality, multilateral disarmament and arms control, and acknowledge that the pandemic has further exacerbated the socioeconomic conditions of people in vulnerable situations, which has results in the intensification of tensions and an alarming increase in cases of domestic and gender-based armed violence.
By a recorded vote of 164 in favour to none against, with 5 abstentions (India, Iran, Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Syria), it retained operative paragraph 4, by which the Assembly would encourage Member States to better understand the impact of armed violence, in particular of the illicit small arms and light weapons trafficking on women and girls, through, among others, the development of national action plans on women, peace and security.
By a recorded vote of 165 in favour to none against, with 5 abstentions (Belarus, Iran, Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Syria) it retained operative paragraph 5, which would have the Assembly call on Member States to take account of the differing impacts of the illicit arms trade on women, men, girls and boys, and to strengthen or develop response mechanisms to address such impacts.
By a recorded vote of 162 in favour to none against, with 8 abstentions (Algeria, Belarus, Iran, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria), it retained operative paragraph 6, by which the Assembly would encourage Member States to mainstream a gender perspective into its implementation efforts to address the differential impact of the illicit trade on women, men, girls and boys.
By a recorded vote of 168 in favour to none against, with 5 abstentions (Belarus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Russian Federation, Syria), it retained operative paragraph 11, by which the Assembly would urge Member States to voluntarily share good practices and experiences of the successes of the role of women at all levels, in order to promote cooperation in disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.
It then approved “L.18” as a whole without a vote.
The Committee then approved, without a vote, the draft resolution entitled “United Nations Disarmament Information Programme” (document A/C.1/77/L.20), introduced by Mexico.
By its terms, the Assembly would stress the United Nations Disarmament Programme’s importance in enabling all Member States to participate in disarmament negotiations, and in assisting in Member States’ compliance with treaties and transparency mechanisms. It would recommend that the Programme continue to generate public understanding of multilateral action’s importance in the field of arms control and disarmament.
Next, the Committee took up the draft resolution, entitled “Developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security” (document A/C.1/77/L.23/Rev.1), introduced by the Russian Federation.
By its text, the Assembly would call upon States to further engage constructively in the negotiations and meetings of the Open-ended Working Group, which will make present recommendations, adopted by consensus, to the Assembly. It would also confirm that, taking into account the concerns and interests of all States, the aspects in the Group’s mandate should be further elaborated within the Group, and encourage States to exchange views on a regular institutional dialogue on information and communications technology (ICT) security, to be established after the Group’s conclusion.
Before taking action on the draft as a whole, the Committee first retained preambular paragraph 2, by a recorded vote of 103 in favour to 53 against, with 8 abstentions (Chile, Fiji, Guatemala, Honduras, Lesotho, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Singapore).
According to that provision, the Assembly would stress that it was in the interest of all States to promote the use of ICT for peaceful purposes, with the objective of shaping a community of shared future for humankind for peace, security and stability in the information space.
Next, the Committee retained preambular paragraph 4, by a recorded vote of 102 in favour to 52 against, with 10 abstentions (Bhutan, Chile, Fiji, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Lesotho, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Singapore), by which the Assembly would reaffirm that, given the unique attributes of ICT, additional norms could be developed over time. It would also note the possibility of future elaboration of additional binding obligations.
Thirdly, the Committee retained preambular paragraph 7, by a recorded vote of 101 in favour to 52 against, with 11 abstentions. By the provision, the Assembly would underline the importance for the global community to shape a system of international information security and a democratic and inclusive negotiating process within the Open-ended Working Group, while recognizing its centrality as the mechanism within the United Nations for dialogue of security in the use of ICT.
The Committee then approved “L.23/Rev.1” as a whole, by a recorded vote of 112 in favour to 52 against, with 10 abstentions (Chile, Colombia, Fiji, Guatemala, Honduras, Lesotho, Malawi, Papua New Guinea, Serbia, Singapore).
Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft, entitled “United Nations disarmament fellowship, training and advisory services” (document A/C.1/77/L.32), by which the Assembly would note with satisfaction that the programme has trained 1,033 officials from 170 Member States throughout its more than 40 years of existence, many of whom hold positions of responsibility in the field of disarmament within their own governments.
Also acting without a vote, it approved a draft decision entitled, Open-ended working group on security of and in the use of information and communications technologies 2021-2025 established pursuant to General Assembly resolution 75/240 (document A/C.1/77/L.54). By its terms, the Assembly would decide to endorse the annual progress report and convene inter-sessional meetings of up to five days each in 2023 and 2024 to advance discussions.
Next, the Committee took up the draft resolution, entitled Promoting international cooperation on peaceful uses in the context of international security (document A/C.1/77/L.56), as orally revised.
By its terms, the Assembly would urge all Member States to take concrete measures to promote international cooperation on materials, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes, in particular not to maintain any restrictions incompatible with their non-proliferation obligations.
By a recorded vote of 85 in favour to 51 against, with 27 abstentions, it first retained preambular paragraph 15, by which the Assembly would note with concern that undue restrictions on exports to developing countries of materials, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes persist.
By a recorded vote of 87 in favour to 51 against, with 26 abstentions, it retained preambular paragraph 16, by which the Assembly would emphasize that proliferation concerns are best addressed through multilaterally negotiated, universal, comprehensive and non-discriminatory agreements.
By a recorded vote of 84 in favour to 51 against, with 30 abstentions, it retained preambular paragraph 17, by which the Assembly would emphasize that non‑proliferation control agreements should be transparent and open to the participation of all States and ensure that no restrictions are imposed on access to technology for peaceful purposes required for sustainable development.
By a recorded vote of 87 in favour to 52 against, with 24 abstentions, it retained operative paragraph 2, by which the Assembly would encourage Member States to promote peaceful uses of said material and relevant international cooperation, including by identifying gaps, challenges, ideas and opportunities to strengthen cooperation and explore possible ways forward.
It then approved “L.56” as a whole, as orally revised, by a recorded vote of 88 in favour to 54 against, with 31 abstentions.
Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft resolution, entitled “Role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament” (document A/C.1/77/L.59), introduced by India.
By its provisions, the Assembly would invite Member States to apply developments in science and technology for disarmament-related purposes, including the verification of disarmament, and to make those technologies available to interested States. It would also call on Member States to remain vigilant in understanding developing in science and technology that could imperil international security.
The Committee also approved, without a vote, a resolution entitled “Objective information on military matters, including transparency of military expenditures” (document A/C.1/77/L.63), introduced by Germany and Romania. By its terms, the Assembly would call on Member States to provide the Secretary-General with a report on their military expenditures, and invite them to provide explanatory remarks, such as military expenditure as a share of gross domestic product, major changes, and information reflecting their defence policy, military strategies and doctrines.
The Committee also approved a draft resolution entitled “Strengthening and developing the system of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation treaties and agreements” (document A/C.1/77/L.66), introduced by the Russian Federation, by a recorded vote of 168 in favour to 1 against (Ukraine), with 10 abstentions (Bulgaria, Estonia, Fiji, Georgia, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania). By the text, the Assembly would urge States to implement all provisions of arms control Treaties, strengthen them, and preserve their integrity.
The Committee approved a draft resolution, entitled Programme of Action to advance responsible State behaviour in the use of information and communications technologies in the context of international security (document A/C.1/77/L.73), introduced by France, by a recorded vote of 157 in favour to 6 against (China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syria), with 14 abstentions.
By it, the Assembly would welcome the proposal to establish a United Nations programme of action to advance responsible State behaviour in the use of ICT, as a permanent mechanism to discuss existing threats, guided by the framework for responsible State behaviour, which includes voluntary non-binding norms. It would also request the Secretary General for Member States’ views on the scope, structure and content of the programme.
The representative of Iran, noting his delegation’s vote in favour of “L.66”, said that the United States, as a result of its non-compliance with disarmament and non-control agreements, has created a complicated situation that undermines trust in those instruments. That country also opposes the Convention on Biological Weapons and the implementation of its provisions. Israel is not a party to any weapons of mass destruction treaty, which represents a threat to other States in the Middle East. On “L.59”, he said that the text still requires more improvement to put it back on track to being a balanced resolution.
The representative of Armenia registered his delegation’s reservations and disassociation with paragraphs in several draft resolutions which refer to the final document of the Non-Aligned Movement summit held in Baku in 2019. That document contained biased and one-sided distortions regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, he noted.
The representative of Mexico, welcoming the report of the Open-ended Working Group on security of and in the use of ICT 2021-2025, said his delegation voted in favour of both “L.23/Rev.1” and “L.63” despite the fact that they duplicate each other. On “L.56”, he said there is no doubt that science and technology must only be used for peaceful ends.
The representative of India, explaining his country’s decision to abstain on “L.56”, cautioned against undue tinkering with processes that deal with international cooperation in science and technology. Turning to “L.23/Rev.1 and “L.73:”, he welcomed the report of the Open-ended Working Group as an inclusive platform for intergovermental discussions in this important area. Moreover, “L.54” provides a solid foundation for its work in the coming year. Finally, India abstained on the paragraph in “L.18” referring to the Arms Trade Treaty, as it applies to States parties.
The representative of South Africa, welcoming efforts to elaborate a plan of action as part of the work of the Open-ended Working Group, said that his delegation voted in favour of “L.73” on the understanding that the Group’s work will not be undermined or the plan of action prejudged.
The representative of South Africa, explaining his positive vote for “L.73”, said he welcomed efforts towards a programme of action as part of the Open-ended Working Group. The drafters of “L.73” made efforts through an inclusive and transparent process and took on board the views of delegations, particularly those raising concerns about it setting up a parallel track to the Working Group. With the challenging global security environment, the Working Group made laudable progress in finding consensus for its annual progress report. South Africa supported “L.73”, based on the understanding that the Working Group will not be undermined or prejudged by the action programme. The Working Group must be given room to develop, including further institutional dialogue.
The representative of Viet Nam supported “L.23/Rev.1”, “L.73” and “L.54”, as an affirmation of her country’s efforts to provide a safe cyber environment under international law. Duplications should be avoided, especially when discussions about current mechanisms are still taking place. The establishment of a permanent mechanism should be done on the basis of consensus and take into account all views. Looking forward, Member States should work together in a constructive spirit and arrive at a mechanism that meets the challenges of promoting responsible state behaviour in cyberspace.
The representative of Cuba supported the goal of responsible State behaviour in ICT. However, “L.73”, in proposing the creation of a programme of action, despite its good intentions, might hinder that goal. Thus, his delegation abstained. Cybersecurity should be discussed in an appropriate forum, he said, pointing to the Open-ended Working Group on ICT. He rejected creating parallel mechanisms and felt a programme of action was premature. It was the Committee’s responsibility to ensure the appropriate use of finite resources, especially by developing countries. Moreover, the voluntary norms of the proposed action programme would have harmful effects on a future legally binding instrument, which is the only way to achieve responsible behaviour in cyberspace.
The representative of Sri Lanka recognized the Open-ended Working Group as the appropriate forum to deliberate the subject of cyberspace. Although he voted in favour of “L.23/Rev.1” and “L.73”, he emphasized that no pressure should be placed on the Working Group, whose mandate is clear.
The representative of Colombia voted in favour of resolution “L.66”, as her delegation did every year. International law should always be the foundation of international relations. It should govern all areas, physical or virtual, States or peoples. Only full adherence to international law, international customary law and norms will guarantee peace, security and prosperity for all. As a peace-loving country and a founding State of the United Nations, Colombia will continue to participate in the development of international law, on the conviction that the only path to the flourishing of humanity was through cooperation and solidarity.
The representative of New Zealand said that her country does not support initiatives which undermine export control regimes. They must, however, uphold shared non-proliferation efforts. “L.56” is one such initiative, she said, adding that her delegation voted against it. While New Zealand voted in favour of “L.66”, it is difficult to reconcile its constructive aspects with the intentions of its main sponsor, the Russian Federation, given its illegal invasion of Ukraine.
The representative of the United States, pointing to “L.4” and “L.5”, said that disarmament and development are two distinct issues. Moreover, the United States sees no direct connection between environmental standards and arms control. Speaking about “L.66”, also on behalf of a group of countries, he said his delegation voted in its favour despite the disingenuous actions of the text’s author. Resolutions belong to the General Assembly, not a draft’s original author, he said, adding that the Russian Federation’s brutal invasion of Ukraine shows its disregard for its international obligations.
The representative of the Republic of Korea said his delegation voted in favour of “L.66” as it supports the goals reflected in the text. At the same time, it rejects actions that run counter to the draft resolution, he said, condemning the Russian Federation’s armed invasion of Ukraine and warning that its dangerous rhetoric threatens the non-proliferation regime. Turning to “L.23/Rev.1”, he said his country supports the need for a programme of action to implement agreed norms, best practices and capacity-building. On the other hand, the draft resolution tabled by the Russian Federation is duplicative.
The representative of Belgium, referring to “L.10”, noted that her country was the first to have decreed a prohibition on weapons that contain depleted uranium. Hopefully, this text will lead to greater international understanding of the consequences of the use of depleted uranium.
The representative of Israel, explaining his delegation’s vote in favour of “L.73”, said that there are several potential advantages to creating a plan of action for discussing cybersecurity issues at the international level. However, it is imperative that all decisions be made by consensus and that the plan of action is objective, neutral and non-politicized.
The representative of the United Kingdom took the floor to explain the votes of France and the United Kingdom on “L.4” and “L.5”. They joined consensus on “L.5”. Domestically, both countries operated under stringent environmental impact regulations. She saw no direct connection between general environmental standards and multilateral arms control. Climate change is the world’s most serious threat, endangering global security and economic prosperity. France and the United Kingdom are strongly committed to the fight against climate change. The 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement, and the Glasgow Climate Pact are the world’s common road map to transforming economies, and they are fully committed to their implementation.
On “L.4”, she said France and the United Kingdom support the linkages between development and disarmament, particularly in the field of conventional weapons, specifically, small arms and light weapons. However, “symbiotic relation” between disarmament and development seems questionable. The idea that military expenditure diverts funds from assistance to developing countries should be nuanced, she said, pointing to the response of international peacekeeping operations to natural disasters with maritime and airborne equipment.
The representative of Ireland voted in favour of “L.66”. He supports the principles and norms outlined in the text and is committed to upholding the global arms control architecture. However, a vote in favour of the resolution’s values in no way implies support for the Russian Federation. A resolution belongs to the Assembly, and not to its original author. The Russian Federation has blatantly and repeatedly contravened the principles of its own resolution, with its unjust war in Ukraine. Its blocking of consensus at the tenth Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, undermining of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and misusing the Biological Weapons Convention undermine the credibility and effectiveness of the international legal system. He urges the Russian Federation to cease its war and return to its obligations.
The representative of Indonesia said she abstained from “L.73”, due to several considerations. The Open-ended Working Group is the main platform for discussion of ICT-related issues, and she was concerned a programme of action would duplicate the work. She also spotlighted the limited capacity of smaller countries. Regional consultation should be State-led in nature. She appreciates France’s initiative, active engagement, and significant revising of the draft resolution based on inputs. She also recalls that the programme of action was already mentioned in the Working Group’s annual progress report, and she looks forward to engaging constructively.
Her delegation supported “L.23/Rev.1” and joined consensus on “L.54”, reflecting her country’s strong support for multilateral, inclusive, and consensus-driven processes, led by Member States. She also voted in favour of “L.56”, because of the important role of international cooperation on peaceful uses in the facilitation of economic development for developing countries. Indonesia joined consensus on “L.18” as a whole, but had reservations on preambular paragraph 13, as it is not in line with national legislation and should not become accepted language.
The representative of Australia explained her country’s support of “L.66”, which stemmed from its merits. It is well-known that Australia is committed to a rules-based international order in the field of disarmament. However, the Committee’s work does not take place in a vacuum. The lead sponsor’s hypocrisy cannot be ignored. The resolution says that it is the Member States’ responsibility to refrain from steps that negatively affect the security environment, however, the Russian Federation’s invasion is a gross violation of international law and the Charter. She calls on that country to withdraw from the territory of Ukraine and halt actions that undermine the non-proliferation architecture.
The representative of Türkiye said he voted in favour of “L.66”, underlining the importance of genuine implementation of arms control instruments by States parties. In recent years, the world witnessed a negative trend, straining the global arms control architecture and its instruments. The world’s collective security is an urgent task that requires full compliance with the Charter. Words and actions should align with the world’s common aspiration of strengthening arms control and treaties “if we want a credible system”.
The representative of Japan said that his delegation voted against “L.23” as it needlessly overlaps with “L.54” and contains language that was not agreed by consensus. Turning to “L.66”, on which his delegation abstained, he echoed the views expressed by the United States, the European Union and others, most importantly Ukraine, in their explanations of position.
The representative of Singapore, noting that her country is Chair of the Open-ended Working Group, said her delegation abstained on “L.23/Rev.1” and “L.73” to demonstrate a neutral, independent and balanced approach to both texts.
The representative of the Philippines, which abstained on “L.56” and “L.73”, said multilateral export control regimes make international cooperation on peaceful uses possible. Dialogue can be undertaken in existing processes, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), she said, adding that her country has yet to be convinced that new mechanisms are required.
The representative of Pakistan said that proliferation concerns should not be a pretext for restricting trade in dual-use technologies, especially when States are prepared to make assurances of peaceful purposes. The right to access technology should be upheld without discrimination, especially for developing countries, he emphasized.
The representative of the Netherlands, also speaking on behalf of Norway, said he voted in favour of “L.10”. However, the resolution’s reference to “potential harmful effects” of armaments and ammunition on human health and the environment, so far, cannot be substantiated scientific studies. The armed forces of Norway and the Netherlands have not used ammunition containing depleted uranium. However, in the context of international missions, it is not impossible that service personnel may operate in areas in which munitions containing depleted uranium are being or have been used by allies. The health and well-being of the soldiers is under continuous scrutiny by the respective Governments, and exposure to hazardous materials must be avoided.
The representative of China said he voted against “L.73”. China supports the creation of one permanent mechanism on ICT under the United Nations framework, namely, the Open-ended Working Group, for establishing regular institutional dialogue. States reached consensus on this issue, evidenced by the Group’s annual progress report. He did not understand why some countries tabled “L.73”, which ran contrary to consensus and may cause a reversal of progress made on ICT. The international community should cherish and preserve hard-won momentum. Regrettably, some countries disregard the Working Group’s process and consensus and seek to establish a programme of action. The post-2025 process should be decided by States in the Working Group, instead of imposed on the process, and prejudging its outcome and potentially paralyzing work on ICT. Moreover, preambular paragraphs 12 to 14 only contain selective references to the framework of responsible State behaviour as a whole. He does not support such a selective approach and calls on States to respect the Working Group’s authority.
The representative of Switzerland welcomed the Open-ended Working Group’s annual progress report. There is currently no need to revise its work, which is why he voted “no” on “L.23/Rev.1”. Moreover, he has several issues with the text, including the omitted references to human rights and fundamental freedoms, and its “pick and choose approach”. He was concerned that this would be detrimental to the important progress of the Working Group over the past years. He voted in favour of “L.66”, because of the importance of a rules-based international system. He underscored the stark contrast between the resolution and the actions taken by its lead author. On “L.10,” speaking also on behalf of Sweden, he voted in its favour and said his 2016 explanation of vote on the resolution remains valid.
The representative of France, also on behalf of the United States and the United Kingdom, said she supported “L.59”, because she believes in the benefits of developments in science and technology in the field of disarmament. The resolution rightfully highlights the need for collective action and the importance of regulating the transfer of sensitive technology. The rights referred to in preambular paragraph 5 are also noted in a limited number of treaties, like the Biological Weapons Convention and the NPT. States must exercise those rights in accordance with their international obligations, including under those treaties. As States parties to those treaties, the United Kingdom, France and the United States will comply with their respective international obligations, including with regard to technologies and sensitive materials, and invite all other States parties to do the same.
Explaining the countries’ negative vote on “L.10”, she said that investigations by organizations like the World Health Organization, the United Nations Environmental Programme, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the European Commission do not find long-term environmental or health effects attributable to depleted uranium munitions. The resolution ignores these studies. States should not be restricted in their use of depleted uranium, other than restrictions stemming from international humanitarian law.
The representative of the Russian Federation, explaining his position on “L.54”, said the Open-ended Working Group was able to complete its first year this year with the adoption of an annual progress report. The Russian Federation joined this consensus, with reservations. The report contains important provisions allowing for shaping an international legal regime on ICT and developing inter-State cooperation. His country submitted a concept paper to the Working Group and looks forward to substantive discussions. The unhindered participation of States is key for the future effectiveness of the group’s work.
He said that the world faces blatant violations by the United States, as the country hosting the United Nations Headquarters. Its unscrupulous actions are not only harmful to the Russian Federation, but to the United Nations as a whole. He said that broad support for “L.23/Rev.1” is a testament to delegations’ high regard for the Working Group on ICT.
Action — Regional Disarmament and Security
The representative of the European Union, in its capacity of observer, noted that operative paragraph 5 of the draft resolution, entitled Strengthening of security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region, calls on all countries in that region to adhere to relevant legal instruments regarding disarmament and non-proliferation. In the European Union’s view, these instruments include the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which all its member States have ratified. Those that have not yet done so should sign and ratify that Treaty, including the eight Annex II States whose ratification is needed to bring the Treaty into force. In the interim, all States should refrain from actions that undermine the Treaty’s objectives.
The representative of Iran said his delegation will vote in favour of operative paragraph 2 of “L.24” and its call for the withdrawal of foreign forces of occupation. However, it will not vote on the text as a whole as it fails to factually reflect the situation in the region, including the killing of innocent Palestinians and the Israeli blockade.
Right of Reply
The representative of the Russian Federation, in exercise of the right of reply, categorically rejected the accusations from Western countries, which were “baseless and absurd”. The Russian Federation complies fully with its international obligations in arms control and non-proliferation. He is committed to all provisions of international instruments and provides information regularly on how his country was honouring these obligations. With regard to the special military operation in Ukraine, exhaustive explanations have been given and he sees no need to once again repeat himself. He will simply say that the special military operation in Ukraine is carried out in full accordance with international law, international humanitarian law and the Charter.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, also in exercise of its right of reply, took the floor in response to “baseless allegations” by the representative of the European Union. His country’s self-defence capabilities are part of every State’s sovereign right to safeguard its sovereignty, development and existence, and is fully recognized by the Charter. He, once again, totally rejects the European Union’s allegations, but is not going to reiterate what he has said in previous meetings. The security situation on the Korean Peninsula is the result of the United States’ decades-long hostile policy. The European Union is well advised to refrain from making baseless accusations against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and should refrain from blindly following the United States’ hostile policy. It should maintain its independence in its foreign policy, he added.
On a point of order, the representative of Yemen said that although the Chair indicated he wanted to adjourn the meeting, the Committee could continue voting before the time was up and perhaps go a little overtime.
The Chair said that was a great idea and asked if he had the consensus of the Committee.
The interpreters accommodated five more minutes, but the Chair concluded that there was not enough time, so he adjourned the meeting until tomorrow morning.