Report

The 2007 UN First Committee Session: Sign of Hope or Further Stalemate?

The 2007 UN First Committee Session: Sign of Hope or Further Stalemate?

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Kalyan M. Kemburi

The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies

Jean du Preez

The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies

Introduction

The 2007 session of the General Assembly’s First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met in an atmosphere of increased optimism for future progress in disarmament and nonproliferation. Unlike the failures and stalemates that framed the debates of the last number of First Committee sessions, the trend at the 2007 session was slightly different. Developments at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) and the 2007 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) PrepCom, albeit not ground breaking, gave rise to a new sense of optimism for progress during 2008.

The setting for the 2007 First Committee was influenced by various international events, which had both positive and negative impact on progress in nonproliferation and disarmament. Some of the issues that had an adverse effect on this progress include continuing ambiguity surrounding the Iranian nuclear program, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) nuclear weapon test, China’s anti-satellite test (ASAT), the United States deal with India for civilian nuclear cooperation, U.S efforts to globalize missile defense, continuing reliance on nuclear deterrence by the nuclear weapon states (NWS) for their security, and failure of NWS to commit on negative security assurances (NSA). In spite of these hurdles, positive developments that instill confidence and optimism for the future include the establishment of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (NWFZ) in Central Asia; the 40th anniversary of the Treaty of Tlatelolco and the 10th anniversary of Treaty of Bangkok, which emphasizes the importance and viability of NWFZs; and the agreement of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) State Parties to 11 practical measures for promoting the treaty’s entry into force.

The 52 resolutions adopted by the 62nd session of the General Assembly on 5 December 2007, addressed a wide range of thematic and regional issues concerning disarmament and nonproliferation including nuclear disarmament, the NPT, the CTBT, NSA, NWFZ, terrorism, and nonproliferation of WMD technology and material. Although many of the resolutions were introduced repeatedly, there were some notable exceptions, in particular those introduced by New Zealand on reducing operational status of nuclear weapons and ASEAN States on NWFZ in Southeast Asia.

Some argue that the 2007 First Committee session was simply a repeat performance of past years characterized by long standing positions by key states and political groupings; however, the virtue of the First Committee lies in its ability to build consensus on some of the most critical nonproliferation and disarmament challenges, and to lay down principles for future interaction among states. The repetitive nature of the committee is thus important for promoting progress in other fora.

The peace bell rings every year on the International Day of Peace, before the start of the General Debate, to reverberate calls for peace and disarmament.

General Statements During the First Committee Debate

A. Nuclear Issues

i. NPT

While several States expressed their commitment to the NPT, implementation of the 13 Practical Steps and universalization of the NPT became the two major themes during the First Committee deliberations. The European Union (EU) noted that it continues "…to work towards universal accession to the NPT and called on those States not yet Party to join the Treaty as Non Nuclear Weapon States." In calling for the implementation of the 13 practical steps, a clear divide was visible between the stance of the NWS and the non-nuclear-weapon states (NNWS). Whereas NWS and the EU did not dwell on the 13 practical steps in their statements, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and New Agenda Coalition (NAC) member states made every effort to highlight them. NAC reminded the First Committee that "In the Final Document of the 2000 Review Conference, States Parties committed themselves to 13 practical steps to ensure the successful completion of the Treaty's objectives, including the NWS unequivocal undertaking to eliminate their nuclear arsenals." In addition, Argentina, Kazakhstan, ASEAN, and Sri Lanka have urged NWS to make further efforts towards the elimination of nuclear weapons as per their obligations under Article VI of the NPT. In this regard, Brazil recalled its proposal of the Secretariat putting together a comparative table of measures undertaken by NWS in compliance with obligations under Article VI. Other nonproliferation issues that captured the attention of the First Committee were de-altering, transfer of nuclear technology and material to non-NPT states, non-state actors obtaining WMD material, and illicit networks dealing in these materials.

The United States and Russia used the First Committee as a platform to debunk various allegations on their nonproliferation and disarmament credentials through delineating their respective initiatives. New Zealand along with Chile, Nigeria, Sweden, and Switzerland introduced a resolution on lowering the operational status of nuclear weapons. This sparked wide-ranging discussions on sidelines of the First Committee at various non-governmental meetings, resulting in calls for de-alerting of nuclear weapons. However, the United States taking advantage of semantics declared that its "…nuclear forces are not and have never been on hair-trigger alert." With regard to the Moscow Treaty, the United States claimed progress based on "percentile" figures and Russia expressed cautious optimism. Russia and the United States emphasized that the NPT remains critical to nuclear nonproliferation and it faces new challenges; however, none of the NWS have come up with any blueprint to strengthen the nonproliferation regime without further impingement on the rights of NNWS.

ii. Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT)

Bangladesh underlined that a FMCT was ready for negotiation and expected the CD to negotiate and conclude the treaty. It was noted that the negotiations should lead to a universal, non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable FMCT (South Africa) based on the Shannon Mandate (Pakistan) and should include existing stockpiles (South Africa and Venezuela). Libya, Mongolia, Qatar, and Senegal also expressed support for the treaty. However, statements from major regional groupings and NWS were conspicuous in their absence of text dealing with the FMCT.

iii. NWFZ

Brazil stated that NWFZs "Have major significance in promoting disarmament and preventing nuclear weapons proliferation." The statements on NWFZ broadly covered three aspects: establishment of zones in various regions, NWFZ in the Middle East, and NWS accession to the protocols to the zones. Several countries and various political groupings (NAM and NAC) supported the idea of establishing and extending NWFZs in other parts of the world. With regard to the Middle East, Mexico on behalf of the NAC noted the lack of progress in establishing a NWFZ in the region. Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, NAM, Libya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Tunisia, Turkey, and Vietnam reiterated their support for the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East. In this context, Israel was urged to place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards (Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen) and join the NPT (Iraq and Qatar). Apart from the NWFZ in Middle East, Pakistan and Bangladesh called for the establishment of such a zone in South Asia. Countries from the respective NWFZs urged the NWS to ratify the protocols to the zones.

iv. Nuclear Security Assurances (NSA)

Security assurances were a key demand by NNWS in the First Committee, stressing that the NWS should grant such assurances (Belarus, Gabon, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, NAC, Indonesia- NAM, Pakistan, and Rio Group). It was further stated that an internationally legally binding security assurance should be concluded (Cuba, Libya, Mongolia, Senegal, CARICOM, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, and Vietnam) as a key element of the NPT (South Africa).

v. Iran

In spite of Iran’s progress in developing its enrichment program, both qualitatively and quantitatively, only Canada, Israel, New Zealand, and the United States expressed concern over the Iranian nuclear program. Israel stressed, "Iran’s endeavors in the nuclear sphere constitute a threat not just to the regional stability but also to the global strategic situation." Most of the countries displayed caution in addressing the Iranian nuclear program, partly not to jeopardize negotiations between Iran and the IAEA. China, Iceland, Indonesia, Kuwait, Mongolia, Nepal, Oman, Russia, and Switzerland welcomed the agreement between Iran and the IAEA and urged Iran to cooperate further. While welcoming the agreement, countries also urged Iran to comply with demands of the international community (Japan and EU), especially in implementing the Security Council resolutions (Mongolia). Only the United States called for further sanctions. In this regard, it was emphasized that the Iranian issue could be resolved only through peaceful means (Russia) and there is a need for all the states to come together to discuss the issue (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela). Pakistan further observed, "Asymmetry, imbalance, and discrimination would ultimately propel proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in this region." Iran reiterated that its nuclear program is completely peaceful and noted the positive development in negotiations with the IAEA.

vi. DPRK

The initiative towards dismantlement of nuclear facilities in North Korea and subsequent developments (Kuwait, Lebanon, Nepal, and Oman) elicited a positive response from many countries. The progress made in the Six-Party Talks regarding the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula was welcomed (Australia, Canada, EU, Iceland, Kazakhstan, NAC, Mongolia, Republic of Korea, Rio Group, Philippines, Switzerland, Togo, the United States). In this regard, China noted that the document "Second-Phase Actions for the Implementation of the Joint Statement" marked a step forward in the Six-Party Talks.

B. Missiles

Increasing global presence of anti-ballistic missile defense systems (Bangladesh), especially the deployment in Czech Republic and Poland (Russia), along with testing and proliferation of ballistic missiles (Republic of Korea) raised concerns among several countries. These concerns resulted in calls for enhanced missile control measures that include strengthening and expanding the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the universalization of the Hague Code of Conduct (Turkey), and strengthening the Treaty on the Elimination of Medium and Shorter-Range Missiles through participation of all countries (Russia). However, Pakistan stated that it considered MTCR and HCOC discriminatory and called for a universal and non-discriminatory missile control regime.

C. Outer Space

Growing reliance on space-based assets for military and civilian applications combined with the Chinese ASAT generated considerable attention and discussion. On weaponization of space, Russia and China expressed their strong opposition. Russia used the occasion to reiterate President Putin’s statement at the 2007 Munich Conference on Security Policy, in which he stressed that the placement of weapons in outer space "…can have unpredictable consequences for the international community of no less significance than the beginning of a nuclear era." Several countries urged the CD to initiate work on the prevention of an arms race in outer space (EU, Mexico, Pakistan, Rio Group and Sri Lanka). While China called for a new international legal instrument concerning the weaponization of outer space, Turkey supported strengthening the existing system. Russia suggested transparency and confidence building measures to discourage weaponization of outer space.

D. Terrorism

Many believe that the threat of nuclear terrorism looms greater today than ever. The threat rises not just from the risk of nuclear weapons falling into wrong hands but even greater risk of non-state actors gaining access to nuclear material and technology, a possibility made viable with revelations of the extent of the A.Q. Khan illicit network. This view was reflected in the statements made by several states during the First Committee debate. The EU noted, "Terrorism continues to be a serious threat to international peace and security" and further emphasized that "the international community must do everything possible to prevent access by terrorists to WMD or sensitive materials." In this regard, it welcomed the adoption of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy by the UN General Assembly in 2006. Australia, Russia, and the United States noted the progress achieved by the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, the initiative that was initially put forth by Russia and the United States. Currently the initiative has 60 countries that seek to prevent the acquisition of nuclear materials by terrorists.

Although member states spoke of the threat of WMD terrorism and the necessity of a global effort to mitigate the threat, a consensus was lacking regarding the efforts that are required and the procedures that are to be followed to confront the threat. In fact, statements of several countries and political groups, including ASEAN, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, NAM, Russia, and South Africa, lack references either to UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1540 or other counter-proliferation tools including the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). On the other hand, the United States regarded UNSCR 1540 "As an excellent example of how the international community can work together to create effective tools to combat proliferation." UNSCR 1540 and PSI did receive support and endorsement from various countries including Australia, Japan, and Pakistan. The dichotomy in approach to, if not support, for initiatives to counter the threat of terrorism is indicative of the deep divide between nations on the seriousness of this threat.

E. Disarmament and Nonproliferation Machinery

During the First Committee deliberations, attention was also focused on efforts that are necessary for strengthening and revitalizing the disarmament and nonproliferation machinery, especially the CD, the UNDC, Special Session on Disarmament (SSOD), and the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA). Iran and Sri Lanka stressed the importance of the CD agreeing on a practical, less ambitious and more balanced program of work. Several countries urged the CD to agree on negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile materials (Canada, China, Egypt, Japan, Kazakhstan, NAC, Republic of Korea, Rio Group, South Africa, Switzerland, Togo, Turkey, and the United States) and make progress on outer space. The Rio Group and Mexico expressed concern about the lack of substantive progress within the UNDC and proposed a more pragmatic approach, including informal consultations. Convening of the SSOD IV was a recurring theme in the First Committee statements and a resolution for the same was adopted with an overwhelming majority for the second year in row. Only the United States was not favorable towards convening such a session.

Statements regarding the 2010 NPT Review Conference cycle showed both enthusiasm and caution. While commending the progress, albeit limited, made at the 2007 NPT PrepCom, countries called for concerted efforts for making the 2010 NPT RevCon a success. Almost unanimous support was expressed for the early-entry into force of the CTBT. Echoing the general sentiment, ASEAN "Urged all States, particularly the remaining NWS, whose ratification is required for its entry into force, to do so." Of the two NWS (U.S. and China) that have not yet ratified the treaty, China stated that the National People’s Congress was reviewing the CTBT with a view to ratification at the earliest date. However, the United States maintained a marked silence on this issue.

Although there was broad support for the reorganization of the former Department for Disarmament Affairs into the Office for Disarmament Affairs, caution and hope was expressed regarding its agenda. Egypt’s statement, for example, stated: "The restructuring of the DDA has to lead to enhancing the ability of the department to present substantive proposals to the member states aimed at activating the effective dealing of the international community with the disarmament agenda, in particular, nuclear disarmament." With regard to the regional disarmament machinery, the political groupings and countries from various regions commended the work pursued by their respective regional disarmament centers. They also used the occasion to urge for more financial support for these centers and enhanced efforts in addressing disarmament issues.

Voting Results in 2007: Reflection of Time-Hardened Positions

The voting pattern in 2007 for the 52 resolutions, including four decisions, reflected time-hardened positions of the member states. Of the 52 resolutions on international security and disarmament adopted by the General Assembly, 23 were adopted without a vote including more than 25 resolutions that dealt with nonproliferation and disarmament of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, proliferation of missiles, and security of outer space (see Table 1). An analysis of the voting pattern of the five NWS and the three nuclear weapon possessors (India, Israel, and Pakistan) not only reveal their stance on nonproliferation and disarmament but also enable in framing future strategies for expediting the disarmament process. As in 2006, the resolutions that were most opposed by these eight countries in 2007 include reducing nuclear danger, follow-up to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) advisory on threat or use of nuclear weapons, nuclear disarmament, Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons, and missiles.

Table 1: Voting Results for the Resolutions Adopted in 2007

Among the five NWS, France, the United States, and the United Kingdom opposed the most number of resolutions (refer Figure 1). As in the past, the United States was prepared to vote in many cases on its own even if key resolutions received overwhelming support. In 2007, the United States opposed 25 resolutions, of which it stood alone in 10 cases, including the resolutions on convening SSOD IV; NWFZ in Southeast Asia; CTBT; and transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space. In fact, the only resolution that the United States supported, other than the consensus resolutions, was the resolution on conventional arms control at the regional and sub-regional levels, which was almost adopted without a vote except for India’s opposing vote and Bhutan’s abstention.

China and Russia took the moral high ground during voting preferring to abstain or not to participate in voting in cases of disagreement rather than to vote against the resolutions. China was the only NWS not to vote against any resolution; Russia opposed only one resolution- follow-up to the ICJ advisory on threat or use of nuclear weapons. In case of nuclear weapon possessors, Israel opposed 10 resolutions including the resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.

Synopsis of the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Resolutions Adopted by the General Assembly on 5 December 2007

Iran sponsored the resolution Follow-up to Nuclear Disarmament Obligations Agreed to at the 1995 and 2000 Review Conferences of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Although there are no substantive changes, the resolution includes a new preambular paragraph (paragraph 10) that highlights the successful conclusion of the first meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the 2010 NPT Review Conference. The resolution sought to pursue practical steps for the implementation of Article VI of the NPT and paragraphs 3 and 4 (c) of the decisions and objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament of the 1995 Review and Extension Conference of the Parties to the Treaty. The resolution urges the NPT state parties to follow up on the implementation of the treaty’s nuclear disarmament obligations, as agreed at the 1995 and 2000 Review Conference, within the framework of the 2010 Review Conference. The resolution was adopted by a recorded vote of 109 in favor, 55 against, and 15 abstentions. Among the states that voted no were Canada, Japan, the EU, and all NWS except for China, who abstained. Compared to 2005 the resolution received more favorable votes, although there was little change in the "no" votes. The resolution’s overemphasis on disarmament and the fact that it is being sponsored by Iran could be reasons that several countries voted against the resolution.

The notable resolutions on nuclear disarmament that were reintroduced by NAC and Japan are Towards a Nuclear-Free World: Accelerating the Implementation of Nuclear Disarmament and Renewed Determination towards the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. The resolution on a nuclear-free world has two new operating paragraphs (OP)—1 and 8. OP 1 welcomes the First PrepCom for the 2010 NPT Review Conference and looks forward to a constructive and successful preparatory process leading to the 2010 Review Conference, which would contribute to strengthening the treaty and achieving its full implementation and universality. The text on the CTBT that was removed last year was reinserted. OP 8 recognizes the vital importance of the early entry into force of the CTBT for the achievement of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. The resolution had a similar voting pattern as last year—153 in favor, five against (India, Israel, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, and the United States), and 20 abstentions. The resolution on total elimination of nuclear weapons has two new aspects—a new preambular paragraph and a new OP2—as compared to 2005. The last preambular paragraph giving eminence to prudence recognized the importance of implementing Security Council resolution 1718 (2006) and welcomed the progress made by the Six-Party Talks, rather than reprimanding the DPRK’s nuclear test. The OP2 stresses the importance of an effective review process of the NPT and welcomes the successful start to the 2010 review process. The resolution encourages transparency, irreversibility, and verifiability as the key elements in the efforts towards the elimination of nuclear weapons. It calls for a reduction in the operational status of nuclear weapons systems and underlines the importance of a diminished role for nuclear weapons in security policies. The resolution also urges for entry-into-force of the CTBT and calls for immediate commencement of negotiations for an FMCT. It was adopted with 170 in favor, three against (India, North Korea, and the United States), and nine abstentions.

Myanmar introduced the resolution Nuclear Disarmament with co-sponsorship from a large group of NAM States. The resolution underlines the interrelated and reinforcing nature of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. It also recommends various initiatives for achieving nuclear disarmament including the establishment of NWFZs, implementation of the 13 practical steps, the need to diminish the role of nuclear weapons in strategic doctrines, and de-alerting of nuclear weapons. Although there are no substantive changes, paragraph 12 contains new text. Previously the resolution noted the measures taken by NWS for nuclear arms limitation and urged further measures, with new text it continues, "…while reiterating deep concern over the slow pace of progress towards nuclear disarmament and the lack of progress by the NWS to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals." The voting result of 117 in favor, 47 against and 17 abstentions followed the traditional voting pattern. The resolution received support from most of the NAM States; India and Pakistan abstained due to references to the NPT. Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Republic of Korea, Russia, and Sweden are other notable abstentions. The NATO member states (France, the United Kingdom, and the United States in particular) tended to vote against the resolution.

Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons, introduced by India, was adopted by a recorded vote of 120 in favor, 52 against and 10 abstentions. The resolution does not propose any new changes to the text. It notes that a multilateral, universal, and binding agreement prohibiting the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons would contribute to elimination of the nuclear threat. It also underlines that this would enable the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons. The resolution states that an international convention would be an important step towards the phased elimination of nuclear weapons and urges the CD to initiate negotiations on this subject.

The resolution Reducing Nuclear Danger, sponsored by India, highlights the dangers associated with the current operational status of nuclear weapons and urges the review of nuclear doctrines and implementation of measures for reducing the risks associated with the unintentional and accidental use of nuclear weapons. Except for updating OP 4, the resolution had no substantive changes. It was adopted by 117 in favor, 52 against, and 12 abstentions. The voting pattern for the resolution on Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons and the resolution on Reducing Nuclear Dangers followed similar trends as in the previous years. In fact, the same set of countries oppose or support both the resolutions; most of the NAM states support these two resolutions and the EU and NATO member states oppose them.

Malaysia sponsored the resolution Follow-up to the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons. The preambular paragraphs emphasize the importance of the decisions adopted at the 1995 and 2000 NPT Review Conferences, the adoption of the CTBT, and the establishment of NWFZs. The operating paragraphs underline that according to the opinion of the ICJ, there is an obligation to pursue negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament, and calls upon all states to immediately fulfill this obligation by commencing negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention banning their use and development and leading to their elimination. The resolution was adopted with 127 votes in favor, 27 against (including France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), and 27 abstentions. The only change in the voting pattern this year is that OP 1 was not taken up for voting.

The resolution Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty followed a similar voting pattern of wide-ranging support—176 yes votes, one against (United States), and four abstentions (India, Colombia, Syria, and Mauritius). Except for the new OP 5 the resolution has the same content. OP 5 calls "… for a peaceful solution of the nuclear issues on the Korean Peninsula through successful implementation of the Joint Statement, and the initial and second-phase actions to implement it, agreed upon in the framework of the Six-party talks." Although there was no major change in the voting pattern, there was a decrease in the number of states sponsoring the resolution as compared to 2006. North Korea’s decision not to participate in the vote left the United States as the only no vote.

Resolutions on WMD terrorism—Measures to Prevent Terrorists from Acquiring Weapons of Mass Destruction and Preventing the Acquisition by Terrorists of Radioactive Materials and Sources—were adopted without a vote. The resolutions urge the states to take measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring WMD and radioactive materials and sources. They also welcome all states to sign and ratify the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism adopted in April 2005 and underline the importance of the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management.

Conclusion of Effective International Arrangements to Assure Non-Nuclear-Weapon States against the Use or Threat of Use of Nuclear Weapons received 121 votes in favor, one against (the United States), and 56 abstentions, including France, Russia, and United Kingdom. The resolution appeals to all states, especially the NWS, to work towards a common approach to establish an international, legally binding convention on NSA and recommends that the CD continue intensive negotiations to reach such an agreement. Although the NWS remain in principle committed to NSA, they are not prepared to make a legally binding commitment. In fact, the United States in explanation of the vote stated that it opposes a treaty on NSAs or any other legally binding instruments. Only China, a NWS, continues to support the resolution and offer unconditional assurances on the non-first use of nuclear weapons against NNWS or NWFZs.

The First Committee adopted six resolutions regarding regional NWFZ, three of them without a vote: Consolidation of the Regime Established by the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco); African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty; Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East. The Risk of Nuclear Proliferation in the Middle East resolution was adopted with 170 in favor, five against (including Israel and the United States), and seven abstentions (including Australia, Canada, India, Cameroon). The resolution calls on Israel to join the NPT as a non-nuclear weapons state. The resolution Nuclear-Weapon-Free Southern Hemisphere and Adjacent Areas was passed with a recorded vote of 169 in favor, three against (France, the United Kingdom, and the United States), and eight abstentions (including India, Israel, Pakistan, and Russia). The Treaty on the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (Bangkok Treaty) was introduced for the first time on occasion of the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the Bangkok Treaty. The resolution received 174 yes votes, one no vote (the United States), and five abstentions (including France, Israel, and the United Kingdom).

Promotion of Multilateralism in the Area of Disarmament and Non-proliferation introduced by Indonesia on behalf of NAM was adopted with 123 votes in favor, six against (including Israel, the United Kingdom, the United States), and 51 abstentions (including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and Japan). The resolution affirms multilateralism as a core principle both in negotiating norms and in resolving disarmament and nonproliferation concerns.

Indonesia on behalf of NAM introduced the resolution on Convening of the Fourth Special Session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament. The resolution was adopted by overwhelming support of 179 votes in favor, one against (the United States), and one abstention. Several countries and regional grouping in their opening statements to the committee urged for the convening of the fourth special session.

Historically the issue of reducing the operational status of nuclear weapons was dealt by the resolutions on: Renewed determination towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons, Nuclear Disarmament, and Reducing Nuclear Danger. However, a new resolution introduced by New Zealand—Decreasing the Operational Readiness of Nuclear Weapons Systems—explicitly raised the issue and sought practical steps for mitigating the situation. The preamble expresses concern that "several thousand nuclear weapons remain on high alert," in spite of the end of the Cold War, and underlines that this increases the risk of accidental or unintentional use of nuclear weapons. The operating paragraph calls for practical steps for reducing the operational readiness of nuclear weapons, especially their removal from high alert status. The resolution also welcomes the bilateral initiative between the U.S and Russian Federation in establishing the Joint Centre for the Exchange of Data from Early Warning Systems and Notification of Missile Launches. The resolution received 139 votes in favor, three against (France, United Kingdom, and the United States), and 36 abstentions. The Russian Federation did not exercise its vote.

Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space and Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space Activities were introduced by Sri Lanka and Russian Federation respectively. The resolution on arms race in outer space reiterates the importance of peaceful use of outer space and reaffirms that states should confirm with the principles of the Outer Space Treaty in preventing an arms race in outer space. It also urges the states conducting activities in outer space to keep the CD informed of the progress of bilateral and multilateral negotiations on this matter. The resolution was adopted by a recorded vote of 178 in favor, one against (the United States), and one abstention (Israel). The resolution on transparency and confidence-building measures (CBMs) calls for increased transparency and underlines the importance of confidence-building measures in outer space activities as a means to prevent the arms race in outer space. Although there were no substantive changes, the resolution includes a new preambular paragraph 7, which notes the submission of concrete proposals on international CBMs pertaining to outer space by member states to the SG. The resolution received 179 votes in favor, one against (the United States), and one abstention (Israel).

RESOURCES

  • United Nations General Assembly 62nd Session, www.un.org
  • United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, https://disarmament.un.org
  • United Nations Disarmament Yearbook, https://disarmament.un.org/e-yearbook.html
  • First Committee Resolutions adopted by the General Assembly, https://disarmament.un.org/vote.nsf

Sources:

[1] The CTBT State Parties met at Vienna on September 17-18, 2007, for the Conference on Facilitating Entry into Force of the CTBT, www.ctbto.org.
[2] The First Committee resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly, https://disarmament.un.org/vote.nsf.

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