Seventy-eighth Session,
22nd & 23rd Meetings (AM & PM)

Frustration Mounts in First Committee as Reversing Paralysis in UN Disarmament Machinery Defies Political Consensus

Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones Show States’ Refusal to Be Bound by Inaction

The Russian Federation is attempting to “bring down the entire disarmament house” for its immediate geopolitical goals, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard today as its thematic debate concluded on regional security and began on the UN disarmament machinery.

Noting that current problems go far beyond the disarmament machinery’s inadequacies, the United States’ representative said the Russian Federation is exploiting procedural rules to obstruct progress and veto anything with which it does not agree.  Today’s world is characterized by tumultuous competition and potential conflict among shifting Powers, with the tense geopolitical environment making rapid progress difficult, he said.

The Russian Federation’s delegate said certain States misuse the Conference on Disarmament to “settle political scores” and push their priorities.  Western calls to revise the current architecture with non-binding rules is unacceptable and fraught with confrontation.  Member States should adhere to the structure’s rules and procedures. 

The representative of Pakistan said finding a procedural fix for a substantive security problem will not break the impasse.  What is essential is recognizing the principle of all States’ equal right to security.  All discussions and approaches must be grounded in this basic premise.  The Conference on Disarmament’s strength lies in all militarily significant States participating on an equal footing.

Bangladesh expressed deep concern over the erosion of the rules-based multilateral system in disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.  “We can no longer afford to be caught in the never-ending loop”, he said, adding that continued impasse is entirely unsustainable.  He advocates for a more focused First Committee and a review of its working methods to enhance efficiency and relevance. 

The United Kingdom maintained that while the disarmament machinery, like the rest of the multilateral system, “is far from perfect, it is the best we have”, its representative said.  Voicing concern about the prevailing climate of deep mistrust between States, the bad faith of some delegations and the abuse of the practice of consensus, he expressed regret over “our collective failure to identify our common interest” in further strengthening and developing the disarmament and non-proliferation architecture.

It is not “mission impossible”, said China’s delegate, who noted some modest progress.  The UN disarmament machinery does not work in a vacuum, he said, adding that neither the machinery nor its rules of procedure can be blamed for the current problems.  Member States should have confidence in it.  The solution, he said, lies in upholding true multilateralism. 

During the thematic debate on regional disarmament and security, several speakers converged around the complementary relationship between regional and global disarmament efforts. Among them was Brazil’s representative, who deemed nuclear-weapon-free zones as an excellent example of synergy between regional and global efforts toward a nuclear-weapon-free world. Through these zones, non-nuclear-weapon States are turning the tables and exercising their agency, refusing to be shackled to others’ whims.  Regional Powers refused to cross their arms in despair and have been exerting tireless efforts to stave off risk of nuclear contagion, the speaker said.

In the Middle East, however, a nuclear-weapon-free zone has remained elusive despite urgent and persistent appeals. Procrastination in implementing the General Assembly’s 1995 resolution on the issue has negative repercussions, Iraq’s delegate warned.  The region must quickly create such a zone through fundamental steps, including the denuclearization of the “Israeli entity”, he stressed.

The First Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 26 October, to conclude its thematic debate on the disarmament machinery.

Regional Disarmament and Security

IZZAT HAYATI ZAKARIA (Brunei Darussalam), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), called on countries, especially nuclear-weapon States, to fully implement their obligations and commitments, including under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).  She underscored the need to promote an enabling environment for peace and development for all through a culture of dialogue and cooperation, instead of rivalry, in order to enhance mutual trust and confidence and respect for international law.  She welcomed any nuclear-weapon States ready to sign and ratify, without reservations, the Protocol to the Treaty on the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone.  She also called on Member States to support and co‑sponsor Indonesia’s resolution on behalf of ASEAN, which underscores the importance of nuclear disarmament in the region. 

MATTIAS VAREM (Estonia) condemned Hamas’ attacks on Israel and called for the release of hostages.  In Europe, the biggest war since the Second World War continues.  The Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine violates international law, including the Helsinki Final Act , the Charter of the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards agreements. He supported Ukraine’s territorial integrity and condemned Moscow’s missile and drone attacks across Ukraine, including on energy infrastructure.  People in Ukraine are fighting for survival in the cold winter months.  The Russian Federation moved from selectively implementing the provisions of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) to violating all of them.  He urged Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to stop participating in the Russian killing of civilians and end arms transfers to the Kremlin.

BRUCE TURNER (United States) said that this year has seen continued threats to regional cooperation. Hamas must be condemned for the barbaric terrorist attacks against Israel on 7 October.  Hamas has perpetuated the suffering of the Palestinian people in Gaza.  Israel must take all possible precautions to avoid harm to civilians.  This conflict is a reminder not to lose sight of Iran's role in destabilizing the region.  Iran must address unresolved IAEA questions related to its possible undeclared nuclear materials and activities.  Turning to the European continent, he said the Russian Federation’s continued war of aggression in Ukraine is a blatant violation of the Charter of the United Nations.  The Russian Federation has opened a new destabilizing partnership by pursuing arms transfers from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  This must be addressed.  Moreover, he expressed concern over China's lack of transparency in regard to its rapid build-up of nuclear forces.  “We remain deeply concerned about its persistent military, diplomatic and economic pressure campaign against Taiwan,” he added. 

SHIVANAND SIVAMOHAN (Malaysia), stressing that the treaties underpinning nuclear-weapon-free zones help prevent the further proliferation of nuclear weapons, said they also enable the provision of negative security assurances by the nuclear-weapon States through legally binding protocols.  Reaffirming commitment to the Treaty on the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (also known as the Bangkok Treaty), he said the realization of the Treaty’s full promise requires the signature and ratification of its Protocol by the nuclear-weapon States.  Reaffirming support for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, he underscored the importance of the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference decision.  Establishment of such a zone is an integral part of that package of decisions, which enabled the NPT’s indefinite extension.  He expressed concern about recent developments in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, and called on relevant parties to resume dialogue in order to achieve the Korean Peninsula’s irreversible denuclearization. 

MANUEL FLORES TROCHE (Mexico) said that regional steps to further non-proliferation and arms control complement relevant global efforts. Latin America and the Caribbean were pioneers in this regard through the establishment of the first nuclear-weapon-free zone in 1967.  The region became the driving force behind the subsequent establishment of another four zones around the world.  “Nuclear arsenals can in no way be deemed a guarantee of peace and international security,” he said, calling on nuclear-weapon States to withdraw their reservations or interpretative declarations related to the treaties on nuclear-weapon-free zones.  He further noted that such zones must be created with the consent of the parties involved.  In that context, he hoped for progress towards achieving such a zone in the Middle East. 

SARMAD MUWAFAQ MOHAMMED AL-TAIE (Iraq) said that the Israeli regime must end the barbaric bombardment against unarmed civilians in the Gaza Strip.  He also emphasized the need for a ceasefire, the entry of humanitarian assistance and the cessation of all attempts to displace people.  There is an organic link between regional and global disarmament, with one opening the road and promoting the other, particularly in long-suffering regions.  He warned of the negative repercussions of procrastination in implementing the General Assembly’s 1995 resolution on nuclear non-proliferation in the Middle East, which negatively affects the NPT and its universality.  The region must quickly create a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction through fundamental steps that include the denuclearization of the Israeli entity, he said, adding that as it stands, it has been impossible to inspect the Israeli nuclear establishment for military capabilities.

JAN MICHAEL GOMEZ (Philippines) stressed the importance of both international and regional components of governance, as well as the centrality of ASEAN in South-East Asia.  He cited several ASEAN-led initiatives to defuse tensions and reduce risks, including a contact mechanism for defence ministers and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Mine Action Centre Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Mine Action Centre.  He expressed concern about the declining commitments to disarmament and arms control regimes and urged nuclear-weapon States to recommit to them, including to the NPT.  The South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone enhances global peace and security and contributes towards creating a world without nuclear weapons, he said, voicing support for establishing a similar zone in the Middle East.

CAMILLE PETIT (France) said her country has been “profoundly shocked” by the extent of crimes committed by Hamas against Israel and its people.  France unequivocally condemns these terrorist attacks, which have, in their majority, struck civilians, including several victims who were French. France supports a legitimate response in full respect for international law, particularly international humanitarian law.  France has mobilized to assist the people in Gaza and calls for safe, immediate and sustainable access of humanitarian aid to Gaza.  Turning to Ukraine, she said that the Russian Federation’s armed aggression is an illegal act that is in flagrant violation of international law. It runs counter to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and threatens regional stability.  Once again, the Russian Federation is disassociating itself from frameworks that seek to control conventional weapons, calling into question the security architecture in Europe, she stated.

MICHAL KARCZMARZ, representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, reaffirmed support for regional and subregional confidence-building measures, saying that it is regretful that the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and peaceful resolution of disputes are not respected by all States.  Condemning the Russian Federation’s war of aggression against Ukraine, he said that the European Union will continue providing strong financial, military and diplomatic support to Kyiv for as long as it takes.  He condemned ongoing military support from Iran and Belarus to the Russian Federation, adding that Belarus must stop allowing Moscow’s armed forces to use its territory, including for the potential deployment of nuclear weapons. For its part, Iran must stop providing drones to, and manufacturing technology for the Russian Federation. Any initiative for peace must be based on full respect for Ukraine's independence and sovereignty, he added.

Condemning the terrorist attacks against Israel by Hamas, he said that all hostages must be released without preconditions.  Stressing the need to avoid regional escalation, he expressed commitment to a lasting and sustainable peace based on the two-State solution.  On the profound humanitarian and security crisis affecting parts of Sahel, he said that the increase in activity of armed groups — as well as rampant disinformation — have led to political instability.  The European Union has been building national capacities and strengthening regional cooperation against the proliferation of illicit firearms, small arms and light weapons and their ammunition, he continued. He went on to note the bloc’s work with the African Union, including funding to develop an internationally recognized arms and ammunition management validation system.  That system will allow States to make independent validation of compliance with open international standards on a voluntary basis, he said.

ADIB AL ASHKAR (Syria) expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people in the face of the barbaric Israeli attack and called on the international community to take responsibility in halting the Israeli massacres.  He deplored the justification of these crimes as self-defence and the equivalency drawn between the occupier and the occupied.  It is disappointing that three decades after the adoption of a UN resolution on establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, such a zone has not been created due to Israel’s refusal to renounce its large stock of mass destruction weapons and to accede to relevant international instruments.  The United States is protecting Israel’s interest in maintaining military superiority in the region, he said, adding that Israel stands as “the main source of threats to the peace and security” in the Middle East.

KONSTANTINOS CHRISTOGLOU (Greece) underscored the importance of regional initiatives to prevent and control the diversion, illicit trade and unauthorized use of conventional arms, especially small arms and light weapons.  He reiterated support to implement, by 2024, the Western Balkans Small Arms and Light Weapons Control Roadmap as a sustainable solution to arms control.  He also recalled the Secretary-General’s recommendation to boost preventive diplomacy by repairing regional security architectures in danger of collapsing and building them where they do not exist.  Greece steadfastly supports consolidating a regional security framework, primarily through dialogue and cooperation.  His country has advanced a policy of trilateral and multilateral cooperation mechanisms with its Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East neighbours. Deepening these mechanisms is vitally important for regional stability.

AKAKI DVALI (Georgia) said that the Russian Federation’s war in Ukraine has subverted all endeavors to enhance Black Sea security, undermining European and global security.  The Black Sea represents a historic transit route between Europe and Asia, but blocking some essential routes for the import-export activities by Moscow has endangered the wider Black Sea region and the international security environment by compromising global food security.  The Kremlin continues to exercise effective control over 20 per cent of Georgia’s territory through its illegal military presence.  Moreover, recent statements regarding the deployment of a Russian military naval base in the occupied Abkhazia region and the inclusion of both indivisible regions of Georgia in the Russian Federation’s integration processes clearly represent another provocative attempt to further challenge security in the Black Sea region.  He called for the international community’s resolute and consistent strategic response.

ANDREY BELOUSOV (Russian Federation) said that the aggressive policy of the United States and its allies on the post-Soviet space, as well as the backing of the Nazi regime in Kyiv, has compelled the Russian Federation to resort to decisive steps.  “We tried to resolve the situation through diplomatic and political means, but Western States did their most to stoke tensions and provoke a military operation,” he added.  The Russian Federation has always believed that the system of international disarmament and non-proliferation agreements is critical to international security.  However, of late, this system has notably deteriorated.  For several decades, the United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies have continued to dismantle key agreements in arms control and confidence-building.  In 2002, Washington D.C. took a unilateral step by terminating the Treaty between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems.  In 2019 and 2020, it withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and from the Open Skies Treaty, respectively.  The decision of Sweden and Finland to join NATO finally ended the system of limitations that existed, he said. 

MOHAMMAD GHORBANPOUR NAJAFABADI (Iran), expressing unwavering solidarity with the suffering people of Palestine, said that the United States and the Israeli regime have been funding significant military establishments.  The United States is the world's largest military spender, accounting for over 37 per cent of global military spending in recent years, while the Israeli regime ranks among the top 10 spenders with substantial military budgets.  This has contributed to the arms races and conflicts in the Middle East, and diverts funds from critical areas like education, health care and economic development.  United States’ military involvement has led to numerous wars such as in Iraq and Afghanistan, among others.  The Israeli regime is the sole entity in the region that has refused to join international agreements such as the NPT, and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. To foster regional stability, these two countries must control their military spending and abandon their nuclear weapons programme.  Iran, denying any involvement in the war in Ukraine, has the right to meet its security and military needs, in conformity with international law.

KIM IN CHOL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that the shadow of the United States underpins the arms build-up tensions and persistent conflicts around the world.  Drawing attention to the “vicious cycle of deterioration and destabilization” of the situation on the Korean Peninsula, he accused the military alliance of the United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan of targeting his country.  The United States conducted more than 100 joint military exercises in the Korean Peninsula in 2023 and activated a nuclear consultative group with the Republic of Korea, which simulated the use of nuclear weapons against his country.  Also accusing the United States of violating the international non-proliferation and disarmament regime by supplying weapons to Ukraine and Taiwan, he said that country is the main “culprit” undermining peace and stability in North-East Asia. 

FLÁVIO SOARES DAMICO (Brazil) said that nuclear-weapon-free zones are excellent examples of synergy between regional and global efforts towards a nuclear-weapon-free world. Through these zones, non-nuclear-weapon States are turning the tables and exercising their agency, refusing to be shackled to the whims of others.  Refusing to cross their arms in despair, regional Powers have been exerting tireless efforts to stave off nuclear contagion risks and to foster confidence, he added, calling on nuclear-weapon States to withdraw their interpretative declarations of the Protocols to the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (also known as the Treaty of Tlatelolco).  Latin America and the Caribbean still face huge difficulties with criminal gangs, drug trafficking and diversion of small arms and light weapons, a problem that requires intense regional coordination, but the success of a Brazilian-Argentinian agency to control nuclear materials is a source of inspiration and good practice that should be emulated elsewhere.

AHMED ALEMAD (United Arab Emirates) expressed solidarity with the Palestinians and called for an immediate end of hostilities.  Several armed conflicts are raging around the world, threatening the global disarmament and non-proliferation architecture.  The United Arab Emirates attaches great importance to the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and supports the holding of UN conferences to that end.  He expressed regret that the tenth Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference failed to achieve results.  Turning to the Korean Peninsula, he denounced the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s missile launches and called on that country to rejoin the NPT and sign the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).  His country is a model for the peaceful use of nuclear energy and cooperates with the IAEA, he added.

LARBI ABDELFATTAH LEBBAZ (Algeria) strongly condemned the atrocities against Gaza and urged the international community to immediately ensure a ceasefire and help alleviate the suffering of the people there.  The Sahel region is particularly plagued by the dangerous phenomenon of small arms and light weapons, exacerbating in many countries an already fragile security situation.  This calls for a comprehensive and multidimensional response, based on a security track and political process to deal with the root causes of the crisis, he said.  Algeria reaffirms the vital importance of the establishment of a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone, which remains a legitimate demand and should be a priority for sustaining peace both regionally and globally, he said.

ANDRANIK GRIGORYAN (Armenia) said that the integrity of the arms control regime in the Caucasus region has been gravely undermined by the systematic and extensive violations of its core principles by Azerbaijan.  The massive accumulation of armaments and heavy weaponry, as well as the exclusion of a large portion of armed forces from verification, have seriously destabilized regional security.  The unchecked military build-up emboldened Azerbaijan to normalize violence and carry out premeditated large-scale aggressions against Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020 and again in September of this year, with civilian population and infrastructure deliberately targeted, he said. Condemning Azerbaijan’s expansionist policy, he said that such actions are a direct assault on both regional security and international norms.

MARCIAL EDU MBASOGO (Equatorial Guinea), emphasizing the pressing issue of cross-border crime involving armed groups and pirates as well as trafficking in people and drugs, called for enhanced coordinated actions in customs and border control and cooperation among countries in the subregion.  He detailed his country’s role in regional initiatives to prevent conflicts, including participation in regional early warning systems and in the African Standby Force.  He further noted that his delegation has submitted a draft resolution on regional confidence-building measures, which addresses security concerns in Central Africa and aims to promote arms control, disarmament, non-proliferation and development.  He urged all delegations to unanimously adopt the draft resolution, emphasizing the need for collective efforts to establish peace at the regional and subregional levels.

Disarmament Machinery

MOCHAMMAD IQBAL SIRIE (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, stated that the main difficulty lies in some States’ lack of political will to achieve progress, particularly on nuclear disarmament.  He reiterated that a General Assembly special session can set the future course of action in disarmament, arms control, non-proliferation and related security matters.  He underscored the importance of convening the fourth such session, SSOD IV, to review the disarmament process’ most critical aspects and to mobilize international and public opinion.  Regarding the UN Disarmament Commission, he called on Member States, particularly nuclear-weapon States, to display necessary political will and flexibility to enable it to agree on recommendations. 

He called again on the Conference on Disarmament to agree by consensus on a balanced and comprehensive programme of work without delay, accounting for all States’ security interests.  He strongly rejected any politicization of the Conference’s work and called on all Member States to fully respect its procedural rules and agree on working methods.  He also called for transparency and the strict application of the principle of equitable geographic representation, including in the composition of any group of governmental experts.  Noting with concern the increasing trend of competing proposals on the same topics and agenda items, he urged all countries to work together and concretely demonstrate their political commitment to ensure the disarmament machinery can fully achieve its potential.

MARK SEAH (Singapore), speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), recognized the First Committee as the most inclusive platform for comprehensive discussions on disarmament and international security, and called for constructive good-faith dialogue.  ASEAN is concerned by the deadlock persisting for more than two decades on the work programme of the Conference on Disarmament, which has an important role in pursuing substantive negotiations in key areas.  ASEAN calls for the adoption and implementation of a balanced and comprehensive work programme.

He said that the Disarmament Commission, with its universal membership, is an important deliberative body that builds trust and confidence among Member States on disarmament.  ASEAN is encouraged by the consensus adoption of its 2023 report, which includes recommendations to promote the practical implementation of transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities with the goal of preventing an outer space arms race. ASEAN reaffirms its support for the UN Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, which has supported useful regional workshops.

CIARAN JAMES DOYLE (Ireland), speaking on behalf of a group of States, said that the differential gendered impacts of armed conflict on women, men, boys and girls are a critical consideration in the effective implementation of arms control and disarmament agreements.  Indeed, the pursuit of a gender perspective in the work strengthens diverse, inclusive and meaningful participation by women and men in all aspects of arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament.  He stressed the need to understand the mechanisms and obstacles behind the lack of women’s representation.  “We strongly encourage specific, targeted actions so that women and men are equally and meaningfully represented in our work and in decision-making to help achieve effective and sustainable outcomes,” he said, urging States to incorporate a gender perspective in all disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control efforts.  Such engagement will improve the functioning of the disarmament machinery and strengthen international peace and security for all.

SULTAN NATHEIR MUSTAFA ALQAISI (Jordan), speaking for the Group of Arab States, called for an immediate cessation of the Israeli aggression against the defenceless Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.  Stressing the importance of the universalization of the NPT, he looked forward to the special session on disarmament of the General Assembly and hoped that it would keep pace with new and evolving threats to international security. Nuclear weapons are a danger to survival itself, he said, expressing regret at the failure of the NPT’s tenth Review Conference to adopt a document.  This has cast a shadow on the non-proliferation regime, he said, stressing that the Conference, as the only negotiating forum, must play its key role. The current stalemate is due, not the failure of the machinery, but of the absence of political will by some States. Enhancing its negotiating mandate is crucial. 

He urged the international community to agree on practical steps for eliminating nuclear weapons.  He welcomed the work of the Disarmament Commission as the only universal consultative machinery at the UN.  Welcoming its adoption of recommendations for implementation of confidence-building measures in outer space, he said the Arab Group has played a constructive role within the multilateral framework for disarmament.  He called for flexibility and political will.  Further, the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) must concentrate on matters of priority to all States and not just those of donor countries.

Mr. KARCZMARZ, representative of the European Union, in its capacity of observer, expressed concern about the deteriorating security environment as well as the erosion of the international disarmament and non-proliferation architecture, noting in this regard the Russian Federation’s ongoing illegal, unjustified and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The Conference on Disarmament remains deadlocked, having failed to adopt a programme of work and to fulfil its negotiating mandate, he added.  “The Conference should grant observer status to interested Member States without political obstructions and reservations,” he added, noting with concern the Russian Federation’s opposition to a list of observers.

Stressing the need to immediately commence negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, he called for the urgent appointment of a special coordinator who could lead consultations on expanding the membership of the Conference on Disarmament.  On gender equality, he said that the European Union will engage further to transform gendered power dynamics in peace and security as suggested by the Secretary-General in a New Agenda for Peace.  Expressing deep concern over the critical financial situation across the UN system, its bodies, treaties and conventions, he urged Member States to submit their contributions in full and on time to enable the effective functioning of multilateral institutions and instruments.

SHUAIB MAHOMED (South Africa) wondered if this moment calls for a special session on disarmament to holistically revitalize the disarmament machinery to meet this millennium’s demands and opportunities.  Sharing the frustration and concerns of many other Member States about inaction in the Conference on Disarmament, he urged everyone to no longer engage in repetitive past activities that have not brought it closer to agreement.  He also joined the call for equal engagement and meaningful participation of women across multiple disarmament fora. Prioritizing a gender perspective expands knowledge and understanding of challenges, with a view to greater progress. On Gaza and Israel, he said that both Hamas and Israel have violated international humanitarian law.  He called for an immediate cessation of hostilities, hostage releases, lifting the siege of Gaza, opening humanitarian corridors and urgently providing humanitarian aid.

Mr. SIRIE (Indonesia), speaking in his national capacity, said that in the current global security environment, the international community should come together, guided by multilateralism, to fortify collective efforts.  “We cannot simply afford to backtrack,” he said, outlining three key points to reinvigorate the disarmament machinery.  First, flexibility is essential.  All States, particularly nuclear-weapon States, must collaborate and ensure substantial progress.  Second, it is imperative to transform commitments into tangible action. Third, enhancing the effectiveness of the disarmament machinery is a shared responsibility.  He called for the optimal use of disarmament mechanisms to achieve collective objectives, including a nuclear weapons convention, negative security assurances, a ban on an arms race in outer space and a fissile material cut-off treaty.

MATTHEW MOXEY (Bahamas), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that fortitude and political will “must be greater if we are to ever win the disarmament race”.  It is encouraging to witness progress and rich discussions pertinent to multilateral disarmament, even as the international community shoulders the burden of fierce strife and long warfare.  He expressed deep concern that progress on peace, justice and inclusion is “dangerously off-track”.  CARICOM recognizes the crucial role of nuclear-weapon-free zones as confidence-building instruments which bolster nuclear non-proliferation mechanisms and promote nuclear disarmament.  CARICOM is committed to its role in supporting the critical work in relation to the disarmament machinery and shared objectives of the United Nations, he said, calling on all Member States to join in on the collective action required to build a future that is safe and peaceful for all.

Mr. GOMEZ (Philippines) said the ongoing conventional arms race and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction are especially threatening to global stability, at a time of heightened geopolitical tensions and armed conflict.  Underscoring the need to strengthen inclusivity among States in the area of disarmament, he called for enlarging the membership of the Conference on Disarmament.  The involvement of civil society organizations, technical experts and academia in discussions on disarmament is vital to provide Member States with diverse perspectives and enhance public engagement, he added.  Noting that a profound lack of trust is putting enormous strains on the multilateral system, he expressed appreciation for the UN Disarmament Commission and its universal membership, which promotes confidence-building among Member States.  Credibility is a crucial aspect of the effectiveness of the disarmament machinery, he said, stressing that the First Committee is the most inclusive platform for States to comprehensively discuss disarmament and nonproliferation concerns. Its work therefore should not be politicized, he emphasized.

Ms. PETIT (France) said that the Conference on Disarmament remains the only multilateral forum responsible for negotiating universal disarmament treaties.  She expressed disappointment at the obstructionist approach adopted by one delegation, which hindered the Conference from approving the involvement of observers this year.  During French presidency in June, despite the paralysis, the Conference held quality debates including on a fissile material cut-off treaty and on transparency of nuclear arsenals and doctrines.  Noting a retreat organized by France and Germany in Montreal for Conference participants, she said the delegates committed to the rule of consensus. This event demonstrated that “a policy of taking small steps towards revitalization of the Conference” could ultimately breathe new life into it. 

EDUARDO ALCIBIADES SÁNCHEZ KIESSLICH (Mexico) appealed for a new special session on disarmament in the General Assembly or any other mechanism to rethink the institutional design of the disarmament forums.  Paralysis or gridlock cannot be accepted as normal or convenient.  The whole disarmament machinery’s institutional crisis cannot be disputed. The Conference on Disarmament has kept itself busy with fruitless exercises for more than 20 years, owing to its members tackling a programme of work without adopting or implementing it. There has been no negotiation on binding agreements.  Every year, it does nothing more than deliberate.  It fails to comply with its mandate and is duplicating — even usurping — the Disarmament Commission’s functions.  It is also inconceivable that the First Committee serves as a forum for delegations to justify continued weapons possession or the development of offensive and deterrent capacities.

RADHA DAY, Chief of the Regional Disarmament, Information and Outreach Branch, the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, said that her office provides support to Member States through the Regional Centres.  The three — in Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific and Africa — provide legal and procedural assistance in support of States’ efforts to adhere to relevant multilateral instruments.  They also bolster efforts to address the illicit trade in conventional weapons and ammunition.  Supporting regional and subregional frameworks is a priority for the Centres, which also engage in a range of education, information and outreach activities. A multilingual disarmament dashboard, which is an e-learning programme, has 25,000 registered users.  The Centres operate on voluntary contributions, she said, calling for continued financial support.

SOLEDAD URRUELA, Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, provided an overview of the Centre’s work, noting that the region has long suffered the consequences of illicit trafficking and the diversion and theft of firearms by organized criminal networks and gangs.  The level of violence in some countries reaches levels comparable to armed conflict settings.  This affects public safety and security, negatively impacting sustainable development.  This year, the Centre is scaling up its assistance to Haiti with a multi-year capacity-building project dedicated to physical security and stockpile management, border security training and the provision of technical support to address violence against women. 

The Centre continues to strengthen its collaboration with UN partners, such as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), she said.  With a view to integrating gender considerations into criminal firearms investigation processes, the Centre continues to offer courses on firearms probes from a gender perspective and finalized training manuals for two new specialized courses tailored to prosecutors and judges. As part of its youth and disarmament education efforts, the Centre is implementing its “firearms in schools” initiative aimed at fostering national dialogues on armed violence prevention in school settings, she added.

DEEPAYAN BASU RAY, Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, highlighted its approach of identifying and strengthening national and regional expertise and establishing collaborative ways of working with Government entities and civil society as well as with United Nations partners.  There is a strong show of support for the Secretary-General's New Agenda for Peace in the region, he said, adding that there is also a need for more formal and informal spaces for inter-State regional dialogue on risk reduction, transparency and confidence-building measures.  Noting that ratifications of, and accessions to, international arms control regimes remained very low in the Asia-Pacific region over the past year, he attributed this to geopolitical realities and technical and financial resource constraints, among others. 

He said his team has been working closely to develop the twenty-second iteration of the United Nations-Republic of Korea Joint Conference on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Issues to be held in Geneva in December.  It will focus on the governance of artificial intelligence in the military domain.  The Centre is also supporting capacity-building activities in Asia and the Pacific as part of the European Union-funded project to support the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons.  Further, it aims to deepen its partnerships with Governments and civil society in the region, he said, adding that its strategic objective to significantly increase universalization of disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation treaties and regimes will remain at the forefront of all efforts.

ANSELME N. YABOURI, Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa, underscored the various challenges facing Africa, such as the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and the availability of ammunition.  These issues are compounded by violent extremism, armed conflicts, governance instability and economic strain due to climate change and geopolitical tensions, particularly in the Sahel Sahara.  While these challenges are significant, there have been positive initiatives, such as the Centre’s provision of support to African Member States, regional and subregional organizations. 

This year, the Regional Centre supported the African Amnesty Month in Mozambique, with a focus on voluntary surrender and destruction of illicit arms held by civilians.  Last year, delegates from the 15 national commissions on small arms and light weapons visited the Centre to discuss efforts in countering the illicit small arms proliferation.  They stressed the need for global cooperation to improve cross-border security. Looking ahead, the Centre is set to collaborate with the UN Development Coordination Office to integrate arms control into national and regional development frameworks in Africa, among other initiatives.  Concluding, he called for increased support from Member States to empower the Centre in advancing the UN’s agenda for a more stable and secure Africa.

AMR ESSAMELDIN SADEK AHMED (Egypt) reiterated firm solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza and called for an immediate ceasefire and unimpeded access for humanitarian relief.  The stalemate in disarmament reflects some States’ lack of political will, as they seek to maintain absolute military dominance and believe in deterrence rather than collective security.  Convening a successful fourth special General Assembly session devoted to disarmament (SSOD IV) is urgently needed to address current inaction.  The Conference on Disarmament’s failure to adopt a balanced and comprehensive programme of work for more than 25 years requires immediate action to rectify the situation.  He called for a refocusing on agreed priorities and the launch of negotiations on the verifiable, irreversible and total elimination of nuclear weapons.  Egypt also expects the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs to use the correct term of nuclear-weapon States, not States possessing nuclear weapons.  The NPT only recognizes five nuclear-weapon States, and Egypt does not recognize any legitimation of nuclear-weapon States beyond the NPT’s framework. 

Mr. SIVAMOHAN (Malaysia) said that the multilateral disarmament machinery must remain “fit for purpose” amid intensified major-Power competition and heightened global tensions.  The full and effective implementation of obligations and commitments under existing disarmament treaties is essential.  Malaysia is concerned by the recent widening “trust deficit” in the First Committee, reflected in the general tenor of debates and the consideration of draft texts, on which consensus is becoming increasingly difficult. The role of diplomacy, dialogue and confidence-building cannot be overstated.  If the Conference on Disarmament is to live up to its position as the single multilateral negotiating forum, it must move past its decades-long institutional deadlock.  The disarmament machinery must keep pace with developments across a range of areas, demonstrating resilience and responsiveness in the face of emerging challenges.

ROBERT IN DEN BOSCH (Netherlands) said that the arms control agreements that are essential to maintaining global peace and stability are under pressure.  Progress on the realization of crucial instruments such as the CTBT and the fissile material cut-off treaty continues to be hampered, while the Conference on Disarmament has not started negotiations on a new disarmament instrument for nearly three decades.  “We have a solemn and collective responsibility to defend, strengthen, but also expand on the norms, principles and agreements that make up the corpus of that multilateral system.”  The Secretary-General’s New Agenda for Peace is a timely and comprehensive vision on how to address the multifaceted challenges we face today, including in the field of disarmament and international security.  Tackling challenges requires a diversity of actors working together in an inclusive manner in the field of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control, he added.

BOŠTJAN JERMAN (Slovenia), reaffirming support for the work of the First Committee, the Conference on Disarmament and the Disarmament Commission, expressed concern at the continued impasse in the Conference, and called for efforts to reinvigorate it and the commencement of its substantive work.  He also voiced support for the immediate start of negotiations for a treaty banning the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons or other explosive devices.  Noting that Slovenia participates in the work of the Conference as an observer, he expressed regret that it was not able to participate this year due to the unprecedented decision to not allow observer participation. Calling for an inclusive approach, he added that there is room for enlarging the Conference, because new members would bring fresh ideas.

ALEXANDER KMENTT (Austria) said that the disarmament machinery is neither effective nor flexible, noting that “it is a mirror of the geopolitical tensions, and the decreasing will by some actors to seek constructive multilateral solutions”.  Abuse of the consensus principle reflects a veto mindset which fundamentally undermines multilateral cooperation.  Pointing to the increased diversity of positions as well as security and humanitarian concerns, he said the latter are contradicted by an outdated world view among a few countries and is contrary to the spirit of the United Nations. Pointing to the failure of the machinery to include affected communities and survivors, he called for broadening the discourse and including different stakeholders.  He urged Member States to start discussions on the larger reform, noting with concern a need for a stronger focus on gender-specific impacts of disarmament. 

JORGE VIDAL (Chile), stressing that disarmament and nuclear threats can have a different impact on women and girls, urged Member States to better understand the negative effects of armed violence on them.  Recalling that inclusion of gender issues is essential, especially in the area of international security, he emphasized that the process must be equitable and inclusive. Chile values texts that speak of gender parity and equality, strengthening the promotion of women’s and girls’ human rights, in multilateral forums and international organizations. He welcomed recommendations in various resolutions on gender, diversity and inclusion.

VILMA THOMAS RAMIREZ (Cuba) expressed support for the central role of the United Nations in promoting multilateralism as the basic principle and the only effective approach to negotiations on disarmament.  In this regard, she highlighted the need to preserve existing agreements on disarmament and arms control and to deepen international cooperation.  Cuba opposes attempts to erode the disarmament architecture. Member States must renew their commitment to preserve the Conference on Disarmament as the only body for negotiating legally binding instruments on disarmament.  The Conference has shown its will to negotiate multiple texts simultaneously, including a legally binding instrument to prevent an arms race in outer space, and a fissile material cut-off treaty.

MD RAFIQUL ALAM MOLLA (Bangladesh) said that there is no alternative to multilateral cooperation, stressing the need to bolster the role of the UN in this arena.  He is deeply concerned over the erosion of the rules-based multilateral system in the field of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.  The key problem is a lack of political will by some countries to achieve progress, he said, adding, “we can no longer afford to be caught in the never-ending loop.” The continued impasse is entirely unsustainable.  Furthermore, Bangladesh strongly advocates for a more focused First Committee dedicated to non-proliferation and disarmament and minimizing redundancy. “We emphasize the critical need to review the Committee’s working methods to enhance efficiency and relevance,” he said.

YOON SEONGMEE (Republic of Korea), regretting the lack of negotiation on substantive matters in the Conference on Disarmament, said the retreat co-hosted by the French and German presidencies offered useful insights for the body’s revitalization. The annual report fell short of capturing important developments, she said, adding that States that support the Conference's annual budget should be better informed with a more detailed report. The next logical step for the Conference is to embark on the long overdue negotiations to conclude a fissile material cut-off treaty.  She appreciated the United States for tabling the draft resolution on prohibiting the use of radiological weapons, as the text can contribute to reinvigorating the Conference through negotiations over a concrete issue on which Member States are likely to agree.

Mr. BELOUSOV (Russian Federation) called for progressive and constructive efforts within the disarmament triad, stressing that Member States should adhere to the rules and procedures of these structures.  He described as “unacceptable” calls by the Western countries to revise the current architecture of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation and replace it with non-binding rules.  Such calls foster confrontation, division and increased tensions, he said.  In this regard, he highlighted the Conference on Disarmament as a prime example of such trends, where certain States misuse the forum to settle political scores and push their priorities.  He further rejected attempts to reform the working methods of procedure of disarmament forums as counterproductive.  He renewed a call to draft an international convention for the suppression of chemical and biological terrorism, which will launch the negotiation process at the Conference.

Mr. GHORBANPOUR NAJAFABADI (Iran), condemning the Israeli regime’s atrocious crimes in Gaza and the international community’s inaction in the face of this barbarism, regretted that the disarmament machinery, particularly the Conference on Disarmament, has been hindered by a glaring lack of genuine political will among certain nuclear-weapon States and their supporters.  It is crucial to strengthen the Conference’s role and mandate as the sole multilateral disarmament negotiating body.  It should resume substantive work and initiate negotiations on a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention.  He added that in the First Committee, negative votes by the United States and the Israeli regime undermine the cherished practice of consensual decision-making and reflect a divisive approach.  The foremost priority should be achieving consensus, he said.

SILVIA GREVE (Switzerland) expressed concern about the deadlock at the Conference on Disarmament, adding that there is nothing to suggest that it is moving in the right direction.  On the contrary, the Conference has been unable to agree on the participation of non-Member States in its work for the first time.  It would be appropriate to put into place a process for conducting an in-depth review of the functioning of the disarmament machinery. Switzerland is open as to the form that such a process should take, she added.  Any forum or mechanism should be subject to a regular assessment of its functioning.  This would enable the identification of the changes needed to existing processes and structures.

LEONARDO BENCINI (Italy) said that the entire disarmament machinery needs to be harmonized and streamlined.  To begin with, it is important to look at the respective mandates of the Conference on Disarmament and the UN Disarmament Commission and review them accordingly to create a coherent system.  “We favour greater interaction between the General Assembly and this Committee and the Conference on Disarmament.”  Furthermore, every disarmament body should interact more and better with the rest of the UN system, civil society and the private sector. While Italy remains open to any new proposal or measure to ensure financially sound management, it believes that the only sustainable option is to address non-payment.  As long as there are arrears, financial problems will persist. “We call upon States to pay their dues on time and in full as this is a legal obligation,” he said.

THOMAS FETZ (Canada) expressed concern about the attempts by some States to erode international disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation instruments.  He called on the Russian Federation to accept the United States’ invitation to engage in talks towards a follow-up treaty before the expiry of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START Treaty) in 2026.  After three decades of deadlock, the Conference on Disarmament is in urgent need of revitalization, he said, highlighting its failure to agree on a programme of work, accept any observer States this year or even have formal plenary discussions on revitalization.  “If the CD [Conference on Disarmament] cannot muster enough energy to agree on basic procedural issues, how can it possibly negotiate substantive disarmament instruments?” he asked.  Noting that the Conference’s working methods have also contributed to the stalemate, he said that consensus is not and never was intended to create a de facto veto.  He supported opening up the Conference to all States and incorporating a gender perspective into the disarmament machinery overall.

BRUCE TURNER (United States) noted that his country has put forward modest ideas for improving the working methods of the Conference on Disarmament without altering the rules of procedure.  It is difficult in the current tense and competitive geopolitical environment to make rapid progress.  The world of today is characterized by tumultuous competition and potential conflict among shifting Powers.  Some of the current problems go far beyond inadequacies in the disarmament machinery, he said, pointing to the Russian Federation’s attempt to “bring down the entire disarmament house in the name of its immediate geopolitical goals”. He accused the Russian Federation of exploiting the rules of procedure as a way to obstruct progress and to veto anything with which that country does not agree.

ANMOL SHER BEDI (India) stated that the Conference on Disarmament has the mandate and membership to start negotiations on a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention.  India also supports the immediate start of negotiations in the Conference on a non-discriminatory, multilateral and verifiable fissile material cut-off treaty on the basis of CD/1299 and the mandate therein.  He reiterated that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), negotiated outside the Conference, does not create any obligations for India.  This Treaty does not constitute or contribute to the development of customary international law, but India stands ready to work with all countries to achieve nuclear disarmament.

SHEN JIAN (China) said that the disarmament machinery remains deadlocked, but it achieved some modest progress.  The Conference on Disarmament is in paralysis, the First Committee sees the declining willingness of Member States to achieve consensus, and the first preparatory meeting for the eleventh NPT Review Conference failed to make any real progress.  However, the Conference on Disarmament adopted its annual report by consensus. The Disarmament Commission adopted a recommendation on outer space by consensus.  Member States should have confidence in the existing machinery.  It does not work in a vacuum, and neither the machinery nor its rules of procedures can be blamed for the current problems.  He rejects attempts to undermine it or start new such bodies.  The machinery made progress.  It’s not “mission impossible”.  The solution lies in upholding true multilateralism.

GUL QAISER SARWANI (Pakistan) said that while conflicts rage throughout the world, it is no wonder Member States cannot seem to find common ground on matters that directly pertain to their security.  Trying to find a procedural fix for a substantive security problem will not break the impasse. What is essential is the recognition of the principle of equal right to security of all States.  The strength of the Conference on Disarmament lies in all militarily significant States participating on an “equal footing” and are able to protect their wider security interests under the consensus rule. He stressed the need to respect international law as well as the principles in the UN Charter.  All discussions and approaches must be grounded in a basic premise:  recognition of the right to equal security for all States, both in convention and non-conventional themes at the regional and international levels.

IAN FLOYD (United Kingdom), welcoming the Disarmament Commission’s consensus recommendations this year on the implementation of transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space, said the work of the Conference on Disarmament has not lived up to its promise.  The impasse on launching new negotiations persists, he said, also lamenting its failure to admit observers to its 2023 session owing to the Russian Federation’s insistence that the applications be considered one by one.  The Conference's continued legitimacy rests on its transparency and inclusivity, and this situation must not repeat itself in 2024.  “While the disarmament machinery, like the rest of the multilateral system, is far from perfect, it is the best we have,” he said.  Voicing concern about the prevailing climate of deep mistrust between States, the bad faith of some delegations and the abuse of the practice of consensus, he expressed regret about “our collective failure to identify our common interest” in further strengthening and developing the disarmament and non-proliferation architecture. 

INDIRA GOHIWAR ARYAL (Nepal) said that the continued stalemate at the Conference of Disarmament undermines its credibility and stability.  Pointing to a number of competing resolutions, she emphasized that this situation is indicative of the prevailing distrust and inaction extended to the Disarmament Commission, NPT Review Conference and the First Committee.  As a host to one of the United Nations Regional Centres, she said her country attested to the contribution of these Centres in confidence- and capacity-building, awareness-raising and the implementation of disarmament instruments.  Recalling that Nepal partnered with the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in organizing regional meetings under the “Kathmandu Process”, she said her country was committed to resuming this process to foster confidence and common understanding for peace and disarmament in the region.

Mr. LEBBAZ (Algeria) reiterated condemnation of the attacks by the occupation’s forces against Palestinian civilians, who are randomly and continuously bombed.  He called for those attacks to immediately cease without precondition.  Regarding the disarmament machinery, the stalemate is due to the lack of necessary political will, not the mechanisms’ performance or working methods.  He called on all Conference on Disarmament members to agree on a balanced and comprehensive programme of work addressing all of its agenda items, especially nuclear disarmament.  He also stressed the importance of the Conference, as the only multilateral negotiating forum, the UN Disarmament Commission, as a universal deliberative body and the First Committee.  It is important to maintain and strengthen the role and mandate of all disarmament mechanisms. 

Right of Reply

The representative of Canada, in exercise of the right of reply, said that some statements made by some delegations in respect of the conflict taking place in the Middle East were unbalanced.  Canada unequivocally condemns the brutal terrorist attacks perpetrated by Hamas against Israel.  Nothing can justify these acts of terror and the killing, maiming and abduction of civilians.  Canada stands with Israel and fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself in accordance with international law.  Canada is deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and its impact on civilians.  Rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access to civilians is essential.  Canada strongly supports the people of Israel and Palestine in their right to live in peace, security, dignity and without fear. Canada is committed to a two-State solution.   

The representative of China, in right of reply, said that the United States’ representative leveled unjustified accusations against China with regard to the Taiwan question and China’s nuclear policy. “The Taiwan question is purely China’s internal affair,” he said, rejecting the United States’ “manipulation” of the Taiwan question and its provocation of confrontation in the region. “Resolving the Taiwan question is a matter for us, Chinese,” he said, warning:  “We will never allow interference in China’s internal affairs by anyone or any force under the pretext of peace.”  If the United States really cares about peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, it should abide by the “One China” principle and stop aiding and abetting the Taiwan independence separatist forces. 

The United States keeps “hyping” China’s nuclear policy when really it is the United States that is obsessively invested in a cold war mentality, treating China as a rival to justify the expansion of its military power, he continued.  China’s limited nuclear deterrent capability is for the sole purpose of deterring countries that attempt to use nuclear weapons against it.  China values peace and will never seek hegemony and expansionism. 

The representative of Israel, in right of reply to the representatives of Iran and the Arab Group, urged the members of the Group to condemn Hamas’ attack and call for the release of all hostages.  “Your silence is deafening,” he said. Iran is “unstable at home and hated abroad,” he added, questioning that country’s statement that it maintains cordial relations with its neighbours.  Iran trains Hizbullah in Lebanon, which coordinates with Hamas, all in clear violation of Security Council resolutions.  It also controls Iraq through various paramilitary groups. Further, he stressed, nuclear-weapon-free zones should be established on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at by States of the region. 

Speaking in right of reply, the representative of Azerbaijan accused Armenia of advancing its false narrative and denying decades of international law violations.  Actions undertaken by Armenia, especially those post-dating the agreement reached on 10 November 2020, are concerning. Pointing to the militarization of areas within Azerbaijani territory as well as the illegal transfer of weapons and ammunition from Armenia, he said those actions illustrated a lack of sincerity by Armenia in pursuing a peaceful settlement.  Instead, Armenia relied on the use of illegal forces.  Recalling the September events, which involved the killing of civilians by mines planted by Armenia, he said Azerbaijan’s countermeasures were inevitable.  He further accused Armenia of disseminating disinformation with the aim of creating conditions conducive to further provocations.  Armenia did not cease its territorial claims.  Its narrative contradicts its recent verbal recognition of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.  He clarified that Azerbaijan targeted specifically long-term battle positions, combat equipment and military infrastructure as well as refrained from using force against the civilian population.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in right of reply, rejected unsubstantiated allegations by the United States.  Washington, D.C. is seeking to tarnish the image of his country by demonizing Pyongyang and diverting the international community’s attention from its anti-humanity, anti-peace crimes.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has built up its national defence capabilities through its own efforts and technology.  Its industry has grown enough to be able to develop and produce any kind of advanced armament.  The failure of the American policy towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is attributable to its failure to understand the indomitable will of Pyongyang to defend its fatherland.  The United States is misleading the world by presenting the good neighbourly relations between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation as a threat to international peace and security.  He denounced the hegemonic interest of the United States, urging it to understand how dangerous its confrontation is with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The representative of the Russian Federation said that the Ukrainian crisis did not arise in February 2022.  During the entire period after the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States and its satellites cultivated in Ukraine anti-Russian and neo-Nazi sentiment. They “fomented hate toward Russia and everything Russian”.  They suppressed the Russian language, culture and history, and seized its territory by force. In 2014, an unconstitutional coup d’état took place in Kyiv.  In the years to come, Ukrainian armed forces carried out artillery shelling against residences in Donbas.  The Russian Federation, throughout that time, supported dialogue between Kyiv and Donbas. 

Also during this period, he said, NATO countries were increasingly militarizing Ukraine, he continued.  The Russian Federation had no choice but to launch its special military operation in Ukraine, which is being carried out in full compliance with the UN Charter and international law.  The United States and its allies unceremoniously interfered in the internal and foreign affairs of Kyiv and have constantly forced it towards a Western-oriented future.  “They dragged it into a bloc confrontation with Russia,” he said.

The representative of Kuwait, noting that more than 6,500 civilians, including more than 2,000 children, have been martyred in the span of 18 days, condemned Israel’s savage crimes in the name of defence.  Highlighting the humanitarian and medical needs of Palestinians, she said the Security Council should put an end to this brutal war and stressed the importance of lifting the blockade.  Creating a zone free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East is crucial for preventing the international community from falling into the abyss of a nuclear war.  Some may reject this proposal, but it is crucial for defending international peace, she said, reaffirming the importance of the NPT and CTBT. 

The observer for the State of Palestine urged the Israeli occupying Power to stop its “monstrous and indiscriminate” bombing of innocent Palestinian civilians and their houses. He recalled a recent bombing of an old Greek Orthodox church in Gaza by the Israeli war machine, where civilians were seeking refuge.  He further urged the Israeli occupying Power to lift its siege of Gaza and open humanitarian corridors.  “There is no more food, no more medicines,” he said, stressing that hospitals struggle to provide medical services for thousands of patients.  Pointing to the forced displacement of the Palestinians in Gaza, he said “what we are witnessing now are crimes of ethnic cleansing”.

The representative of Egypt, in right of reply to a statement just made by Israel and some unbalanced remarks made in this “right of reply” segment, recalled that a few days ago Israel’s delegate spoke about the impact of terrorism on the Middle East and stated that terrorism is evil.  Yes, terrorism is evil.  He urged his Israeli counterpart to “open the bracket and add the following”:  bombing hospitals is evil, bombing churches is evil, seizing civilians is evil, calling Palestinians human animals and the children — children of the dark — is evil, foreign occupation is very evil, nuclear weapons are evil, unsafeguarded nuclear facilities are evil, genocides, violence and mass killings in the course of history have always been evil. What’s happening in Gaza should not be perceived as less evil.  Double standards are evil.

The representative of Jordan said he wished to respond to some unbalanced statements about Gaza.  Israel violates international law and does not respect Security Council resolutions.  It constructs settlements in violation of international law. Palestinians are also deprived of medicine and water.  The Arab Group’s position with respect to the war of Gaza is clear.  “We condemn this war.”  The taking of innocent civilian lives cannot be justified as an act of self-defence.  As of today, the death toll stands at over 6,000 Palestinians.  This brutal and inhumane war against civilians must cease immediately.  International law cannot be selective.  Only a just peace can ensure security for all.  He expressed support for establishing an independent Palestinian State in accordance with relevant UN resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative. 

The representative of Saudi Arabia, denouncing the Israeli occupation’s continuous attacks on civilians, said the international community must set aside double standards.  He also called for an immediate ceasefire to allow humanitarian relief to enter and an end to the forced displacement of the Palestinian people.

The representative of Syria, in right of reply, said that the Israeli regime continues to escalate its criminal acts against Palestinians, killing more than 6,000 people.  The regime continues to push the region to the unprecedented levels of instability, he said, noting that it has been built on mass displacement and acts of terror.  Pointing to the link between the regime and the Al-Nusra Front terrorist group in Syria, he called on the UN to “shoulder its responsibilities to put an end to the criminal and barbarous acts of aggression against the Palestinian people”. The region will never see stability as long as the Arab territories are occupied and the international resolutions remain unfulfilled.  He dismissed as propaganda accusations by the Israeli delegation of chemical weapon use in Syria.

For information media. Not an official record.