UN General Assembly Tackles Nonproliferation and Disarmament After Disappointing Summit

UN General Assembly Tackles Nonproliferation and Disarmament After Disappointing Summit

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Anna Langenbach

The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies

Jean du Preez

The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies


The 60th session of the General Assembly adopted on 5-8 December no less than 60 resolutions recommended by its First Committee (Disarmament and International Security). These resolutions addressed a wide range of disarmament and nonproliferation issues among which the major trends were: effectiveness of the global disarmament machinery, multilateralism, nuclear disarmament, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), terrorism, compliance, negative security assurances, nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZ), and conventional weapons. Some of the new resolutions this year revealed divisions in voting patterns due to their controversial content. Two of the main disarmament resolutions received more support than last year, but had also been significantly weakened in terms of language. Most of the resolutions adopted by the General Assembly remained unchanged in content from past years' resolutions.

Considered against the backdrop of the failure by the State parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to produce a final declaration at the Treaty's 7th Review Conference in May 2005, and the inability of the September 2005 United Nations World Summit to address nonproliferation and disarmament in its final Outcome Document, the wide range of the disarmament and nonproliferation resolutions adopted by the General Assembly is welcomed. However, many of these resolutions simply build on concepts and wording of past General Assembly resolutions without addressing in a sufficiently collective manner, ways to deal with today's nonproliferation and disarmament challenges. This "business as usual" approach of voting for or against resolutions, or introducing alternative resolutions (to counter those that are not favorable to a member state's policies), is evident of the complacency among UN members states to seriously tackle today's non-proliferation and disarmament challenges.

Instead of celebrating the collective successes of the United Nations at the time of its 60th anniversary, UN Members seem to have run out of options, from a nonproliferation perspective, on how to fulfill the solemn mandate in the UN Charter to "save succeeding generations of the scourge of war…. (and), to unite (their) strength to maintain international peace and security." Contrary to numerous national statements of concern during the First Committee's opening debate, and the references by the Security Council[1] that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction continues to be a threat to international peace and security including, the United Nations remains unable to collectively prevent the further proliferation of WMD and to finally eliminate the weapons.

Several important developments in the field of nonproliferation and disarmament set the context for the 60th session of the General Assembly. The 7th Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) concluded its work in May without producing agreements to further nonproliferation efforts and disarmament measures. The inability of a multilateral forum to achieve substantial progress played out again at the United Nations World Summit Meeting on 14-16 September 2005 when the final version of the Outcome Document was adopted without any reference to nonproliferation and disarmament.

Verification and compliance issues of the global disarmament regime received renewed attention over events concerning the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs. On 24 September 2005, the IAEA Board of Governors adopted a resolution that found Iran in non-compliance with its safeguards agreement. The resolution did not lead to Iran's referral to the United Nations Security Council at the Board meeting in November, but outstanding issues regarding Iran's enrichment program remain under IAEA investigation. Iran has so far rejected proposals by the European Union, Russia, South Africa, and the United States to place its enrichment activities under foreign control abroad.

At the fourth round of Six-Party Talks, on 19 September 2005, North Korea agreed to dismantle its nuclear program, return to the NPT and resume safeguards. Director-General ElBaradei welcomed North Korea's commitment to abandon its nuclear weapons program. However, the details of the joint statement require further negotiations for its effective implementation, and Pyongyang has not undertaken any concrete steps to demonstrate its commitment to disarm.

While verification and compliance were highlighted by many, equally strong expressions of concern were expressed about the lack of concrete and verifiable progress towards the elimination of nuclear weapons. In this regard many states expressed concerned about the nuclear doctrines of some nuclear-weapon states (NWS), and the potential development of new types of nuclear weapons aimed at threatening non-nuclear-weapon states (NNWS).

The statements of key states and country groupings during the General Debate of the General Assembly's First Committee explicitly referred to these developments and identified the major trends of this year's session, which included effectiveness of the global disarmament machinery, multilateralism, nuclear disarmament, CTBT, terrorism, NWFZ, and conventional weapons. These major trends were reflected in the more than 60 resolutions recommended by the First Committee to the General Assembly.


i. UN World Summit Meeting / NPT Review Conference

States parties at the opening debate of the First Committee almost universally addressed the outcomes of the NPT Review Conference and UN Summit in their statements. Most states (including Brazil, China, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Norway, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Rio Group, South Africa, United Kingdom) deplored the lack of substantive outcome of the NPT Review Conference and the absence of relevant language in the World Summit Outcome Document. Delegations agreed that these failures demonstrate the serious challenges multilateral fora and instruments currently face in establishing and implementing nonproliferation and disarmament measures.

South Africa cited the lack of political will and "courage to negotiate core issues that would advance disarmament commitments" as the main reasons for the failure of the NPT Review Conference. The statements by Russia and the United States stood out in their differing treatment of this topic. Russia admitted that the outcomes of the Review Conference and the World Summit did not live up to the international community's expectations. The statement went on to say that "Nevertheless, the balance of the UN activities remains positive. We have managed to prevent and settle dozens of armed conflicts, and to prevent WMD falling into the hands of international terrorists." The United States used a similar strategy of pointing out positive developments and explicitly rejected the view that the lack of consensus statements at both the Review Conference and the Summit means the meetings failed: "We consider more significant the fact that these meetings demonstrated overwhelming consensus on certain common goals." These goals, as the U.S. statement laid out, focus on strengthening PSI to prevent the acquisition of WMD by non-state actors.

ii. Disarmament and Nonproliferation Machinery

References regarding the existing disarmament and nonproliferation regime focused on the deadlocked Conference on Disarmament (CD) and support for a fourth special session of the UN General Assembly devoted to disarmament (SSOD-IV). Many states argued for strengthening the disarmament machinery to effectively deal with new emerging threats and challenges. Proposals to strengthen the existing regime included reforming the work of the First Committee and the United Nations, reaffirming the importance of the NPT, and adding new mechanisms to the regime.

Many states made a passing reference to the impasse at the CD, and only a few states used more specific language to talk about the CD. Brazil and Canada labeled the deadlock "unacceptable" and "unconscionable," respectively. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Brazil welcomed the four subsidiary bodies on nuclear disarmament, negotiating a verifiable fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT) and a treaty preventing an arms race in outer space as well as a legally binding instrument on negative security assurances. Brazil stated "These four core issues cannot be evaded; nor can we pick and choose from among them." New Zealand warned "The longer the impasse continues, the more irrelevant the CD will render itself in international mechanisms." Other delegations echoed this sentiment and expressed support for an FMCT and opposition to the weaponization of space. The United States explained in several paragraphs of its statement that while it does support negotiations on an FMCT, it is against the inclusion of verification measures.

Canada, Japan, and the United States noted last year's resolution on reforming the work of the First Committee to increase its effectiveness to deal with issues and expressed hope for its timely implementation. The European Union (EU) defined the First Committee as a "critical element" of the UN, which "must reflect the most pressing contemporary challenges." It also expressed its commitment to "revitalisation of the First Committee." India proposed to strengthen the First Committee's work through dialogue.

The Africa Group, EU, Korea, New Agenda Coalition (NAC), and South Africa reiterated the importance of the NPT as the cornerstone of the international disarmament and nonproliferation regime. Brazil urged that the next Preparatory Committee and Review Conference "must undertake a thorough reassessment of the implementation of the 2000 NPT document," including the 13 Practical Steps. Consistent with Canada's focus on the institutional deficit of NPT Review Conferences, it proposed to hold annual sessions of states parties and a special session in 2006 to "address reform agenda." The delegation from Canada also claimed that "we have to re-invigorate our efforts…to salvage the NPT as the core legal commitment to eliminating all nuclear arsenals and preventing the acquisition of nuclear weapons by new possessors." Very few calls (Egypt, Malaysia, NAC, South Africa) were made for universal adherence to the NPT as a means to strengthen its effectiveness. Pakistan reaffirmed its compliance with NPT norms, and at the same time stated that it will not adhere to the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon state: "Universality is a noble objective but it must respect existing realities."

Countries also mentioned the 1987 first special session of the UN General Assembly devoted to disarmament (SSOD-1) and deplored the lack of progress in convening the fourth session. The Africa Group labeled SSOD-1 a "turning point in the history of multilateral efforts to achieve disarmament" and called for the convening of SSOD-IV "to give real meaning to nuclear disarmament process." Indonesia also placed emphasis on SSOD-IV: "It holds enormous potential to not only promote the disarmament agenda, but also to review the multilateral disarmament machinery."

A few delegations explicitly dismissed the current status of the regime as ineffective, and urged for new additional measures to complement existing treaties and instruments. Israel remarked "We are of the view that the traditional mechanisms of non-proliferation…have proven to be insufficient to deal with the current challenges." Australia considered the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) as a "pragmatic measure which complements broader multilateral efforts." The United States also held the view that today's multilateral instruments remain inadequate to address new challenges and therefore need to be supplemented by new security strategies such as PSI and UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1540. The country opposed to such an interpretation of today's security realities was Malaysia with its statement that "The international community already possesses the necessary tools to advance the disarmament process. What is required is the strengthening of existing disarmament treaty-based mechanisms with the full support and political will of States." Malaysia was also against the UNSC playing a greater role in this regard, while the EU expressed support for strengthening the UNSC "as final arbitrator of international peace and security."

iii. Multilateralism

Several countries (Australia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Malaysia, NAC, New Zealand, NAM, Norway, Pakistan, Rio Group, South Africa) stressed the importance of multilateralism as a core element of international nonproliferation and disarmament instruments. States either referred to multilateralism at the end of their statement to emphasize its relevance to the work of the First Committee in general, or linked multilateralism specifically to the overarching challenges to the existing treaties and instruments.

Concerning the latter issue, Australia pointed out that "multilateral processes cannot waste opportunities" such as the Summit and Review Conference meetings "remain a viable option for addressing contemporary security threats. The stakes are too high for political point scoring and posturing." The statement by Malaysia echoed the importance of political will in strengthening existing nonproliferation and disarmament mechanisms. The NAM and EU statements stood out in this regard because they begin with a direct reference to multilateralism. NAM "strongly reaffirms that multilateralism and multilaterally agreed solutions…provide the only sustainable method of addressing disarmament and international security issues." The EU cited its deep commitment to "effective multilateralism." Pakistan even quoted references to multilateralism made by Secretary General Annan. While the NAC accused the United States of disarmament failures, claiming that attempts to re-negotiate agreements already reached… contradict the very essence of multilateralism," the United States explicitly rebuked this argument to de-emphasize the importance of today's multilateral instruments. Arguing that these instruments are inadequate to address today's security threats, the United States called for new security strategies.

iv. Nuclear Disarmament

Several states (ASEAN, Brazil, Egypt, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand), if not explicitly mentioning the 13 Practical Steps, mirrored the "systematic and progressive efforts" language of the 2000 NPT Review Conference Final Document in their opening statements. Even India spoke of the total elimination of nuclear weapons "in a progressive and systematic manner."

A number of States and political groupings (ASEAN, DPRK, India, NAC, NAM, Pakistan, South Africa) also linked disarmament directly to nonproliferation and pointed out the lack of balance between these two issues. South Africa argued "Each article of the NPT remains binding on all States Parties at all times and in all circumstances and it is imperative that all States Parties be held fully accountable for strict compliance with their obligations under the Treaty." Malaysia also referred to the issue of non-compliance as it applies to NWS and their disarmament commitments. Pakistan stated that "credible steps by nuclear weapon states within a reasonable time frame are essential to revalidate the bargain on disarmament and non-proliferation and restore a genuine balance between them." Israel presented a notable exception to this trend by claiming the "the conceptual and traditional association between progress in the fields of disarmament and non-proliferation has become irrelevant. These are two issues of different nature to be conceptually and practically de-linked."

Japan, in introducing its resolution "Renewed Determination toward the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons," stressed that it was designed to gain "strong momentum" for disarmament efforts. ASEAN and Norway referred to the Moscow Treaty to reiterate the importance of irreversible and transparent disarmament measures. Iran started out its statement with a discussion on the lack of disarmament and launched a direct attack on the United States. The United States devoted the end of its statement to its disarmament progress by providing facts that prove "fresh evidence of the fulfillment by the United States of its obligations under Article VI of the NPT." Russia followed a similar strategy by listing figures of arms reductions, announcing that it "fully complies" with its disarmament commitments, and is moreover "attached to the principles of irreversible nuclear weapon reduction." The other NWS that referred to disarmament, China, simply stated "There is still a long way to go in nuclear disarmament."

v. Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)

Several states (ASEAN, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, EU, Japan, Indonesia, Iran, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Russia) referred to the CTBT Article XIV Conference, which took place in early September 2005. Most states agreed that the Conference declaration reiterated the importance of the early entry into force of the CTBT.

Brazil devoted several paragraphs of its statements to the CTBT, urging states to ratify the protocols and calling the ratification a "crucial step towards the complete elimination of nuclear weapons." Brazil also noted that the CTBT "will contribute to balance the inherent asymmetry of the NPT." ASEAN and Canada were more specific regarding their work and commitment to the CTBT. ASEAN mentioned the 12 concrete measures agreed to in 2003, while Canada recalled that it "was responsible for introducing the concept of regional action on ratification into the final declaration, and will be following up on implementation of the concept."

A few states parties expressed skepticism about the early entry into force. China called the prospect of this "blurry," Indonesia used the "fate of the CTBT" as an illustration of the wider problems surrounding the NPT, and Iran again attacked the United States' commitment to its test moratorium. Japan and Russia also mentioned the importance of upholding a global moratorium on testing, however, without singling out any specific countries.

vi. Iran

Considering the recent developments regarding the IAEA Board of Governors resolution on Iran, it is surprising that only a few states (Canada, European Union, Kuwait, Mexico, NAM, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, United States) expressed concern over Iran, and even fewer referred to the IAEA September 24 resolution. The EU, in a matter-of-fact tone, described the resolution as an "opportunity now to address the clear concerns of the international community" and announced its readiness to continue negotiations under the Paris Agreement. The United States "applauded" the resolution, and while mentioning the EU-3 negotiations, placed more emphasis on the possibility of Iran's referral to the UN Security Council. Norway used very direct language to tell Iran "It is up to Iran to allow diplomacy to do its jobs in removing our justified concerns." Canada, Mexico, and New Zealand urged Iran to cooperate with the IAEA, and to restore confidence in its nuclear program by providing transparency. Iran chose not to comment on the issue of the recent IAEA resolution. The delegation instead reaffirmed Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy under Article IV of the NPT and cited a recent NAM statement that the international community should respect each state's decisions on nuclear energy.

vii. DPRK

More states (Canada, China, EU, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico, Mongolia, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Switzerland, Thailand, United States) brought up the DPRK, mainly referring to the outcome of the recent round of Six-Party Talks. The EU and U.S. statements stood out in that they used strong language to condemn the DPRK's violation of the NPT and safeguards agreement. The EU viewed the DPRK in violation of the NPT, its IAEA safeguards agreement, the 1994 Agreed Framework and the Joint North-South Declaration. The statement went on to say "We continue to deplore the DPRK's stated intention to withdraw from the NPT and urge the adoption of measures to deal with the withdrawal from the Treaty." The United States argued that developments regarding the DPRK nuclear program "exemplify [the] alarming breakdown of compliance with the core non-proliferation undertakings contained in Articles II and III of the NPT that we confront today." The U.S. statement also labeled the DPRK as one of the "most serious proliferation threats today" and insisted on the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of its nuclear program and nuclear weapons. Mirroring the language on threats, the DPRK statement made clear that it still perceived the United States as a major security threat, but assured that "Our nuclear weapons are not to threaten or strike others. We have no intention to keep them permanently." In reference to the joint statement, the DPRK reiterated its request for the United States to provide a light water reactor "as soon as possible as evidence of removing nuclear threats against us." Other parties involved in the Six-Party Talks refrained from laying out their own interpretation of the joint statement and simply labeled the latest round of talks as a positive step towards a peaceful resolution. Korea even used the joint statement as an example that "nothing is insurmountable if we have the resolve to overcome it," optimistically linking this achievement to possible progress on the CTBT issue.

viii. Terrorism

Terrorism presented one of the major themes in the states parties' opening statements. States not only discussed different types of terrorism – international, domestic, conventional, nuclear, or WMD terrorism – but also referred to recent efforts to strengthen the fight against terrorism through treaties, and other measures such as UN Security Resolution 1540. Many states also focused on the link between non-state actors and WMDs.

Israel was the most explicit state with its assertion that "It is obvious that the establishment of a linkage between terrorism and WMD is only a question of time: terrorist groups that will acquire the technological capability to develop any type of WMD will use it." Brazil, Cuba, NAM spoke out against resolution 1540, arguing that it falls outside the framework of the UN and international law. The NAM insisted that threats related to WMD and non-state actors have "to be addressed within the framework of the United Nations and through international cooperation consistent with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and international law." In contrast, Australia and China simply indicated the importance of resolution 1540 in supplementing existing international treaties and norms. Sri Lanka and the United States were the only states to highlight their accomplishments of domestic implementation of resolution 1540. India referred to its national "Weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems (prohibition of unlawful activities) Act" and the resolution "Measures to Prevent Terrorists from Acquiring Weapons of Mass Destruction" it introduced in 2002. India, Japan, and Norway explicitly mentioned both the amended Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. These states also called for ratification of the latter. In relation to terrorism, Australia, the EU, and Israel brought up the possible use of Man-Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS). Israel took note of last year's resolution that provided guidelines for measures to prevent the unauthorized proliferation of MANPADS.

ix. Nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZ)

Most of the states (Africa Group, ASEAN, Brazil, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Uzbekistan) that discussed nuclear-weapon-free zones in their statements, made the point to welcome the outcome declaration of the Conference of States Parties and Signatories to the Treaties that Establish Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones held in Tlatelolco, Mexico on 26-28 April, 2005. Delegations urged NWS to sign and ratify the NWFZ treaties protocols, and called attention to the importance of negative security assurances (NSAs) in this context.

Several states also specifically talked about establishing a NWFZ on the Middle East. Egypt saw "the desperate need for progress towards the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East." By referring to the 1995 resolution on this issue and UN Security Council resolution 687, Egypt called into question the consistency in effort of the international community in working towards a Middle Eastern NWFZ. Israel acknowledged that a mutual and effectively verifiable "WMD free zone" is an "ambitious goal," which could nevertheless be attained through confidence-building measures and regional dialogue. Malaysia singled out the establishment of a NWFZ in the Middle East as a particular focus of its efforts geared toward NWFZ worldwide.

Malaysia also pointed out its current work towards the full implementation of the Southeast Asian NWFZ (SEANWFZ or Bangkok Treaty). The ASEAN statement, which devoted several paragraphs to NWFZs, calls more specifically on the NWS to sign the protocol to the SEANWFZ treaty. It took note of current consultations with the NWS, welcomed China's readiness to sign the protocol, and attempted to pressure the NWS by urging all five NWS to sign the protocol together. Similarly, Indonesia sought adherence to the Bangkok Treaty by all NWS "whose cooperation, recognition and support for the zone is an essential pre-requisite to ensure its effectiveness." Indonesia then continued to mention NSAs and that a legally binding international convention "without conditions or loopholes" is imperative. Cuba also explicitly cited NSAs and the need to codify such assurance in a multilaterally negotiated instrument. Brazil declared the April conference a "development that certainly strengthens the international community's determination to continue working towards freeing the entire Southern Hemisphere of nuclear weapons." Brazil announced its intent to submit together with New Zealand a resolution on this issue.

Uzbekistan highlighted the establishment of the Central Asian NWFZ as a contribution to regional security and the international nonproliferation regime.

Nonproliferation and Disarmament related resolutions adopted by the 60th General Assembly:

As in past years, the texts of many resolutions adopted by the General Assembly remained the same, with only slight updates. From a weapons of mass destruction non-proliferation and disarmament perspective, the more interesting resolutions addressed disarmament progress and compliance issues, including Towards a nuclear-free world: Accelerating the implementation of nuclear disarmament and Compliance with non-proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements. A group of six states[2] introduced but did not table a controversial resolution on Initiating work on priority disarmament and non-proliferation issues. Other WMD-related resolutions included Reducing Nuclear Danger, Measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction and Conclusion of effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.

The following provides a brief synopsis and voting results of the nonproliferation and disarmament resolutions adopted by the General Assembly on 8 December.

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, sponsored by Iran, represented one of the most controversial developments at this year's First Committee. In an attempt to avoid political isolation in the aftermath of the IAEA resolution that found Iran in noncompliance with its safeguards agreement, the draft resolution closely follows the language of the 13 Practical Steps used in the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference. Its adoption took place only after Iran revised the text several times, and gained last-minute support from NAM states. The revised resolution no longer includes the establishment of an ad-hoc committee of the General Assembly to review the implementation of disarmament obligations under the NPT. The resolution was adopted with a very narrow margin (87 states voted in favor, 56 against, and 26 abstained). Among the states that voted no were Canada, Japan, the European Union, and all NWS except for China, who abstained. Most of the no votes and the high number of abstentions can be attributed to widespread opposition to the current Iranian nuclear program.

The U.S sponsored resolution Compliance with non-proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements was adopted with a vote of 163 in favor, 0 against, and 10 abstentions, most notably including China, Indonesia, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela. The NAM states and Russia regretted the resolution's loss of objectivity. Likely with regard to Iran, Russia expressed doubts that U.S. "claims about non-compliance, not substantiated by facts, are too serious to be formally recorded in a UNGA resolution." The U.S. resolution urges states to "comply fully" with their obligations and urges those states "not currently in compliance with their respective obligations to make the strategic decision to come back into compliance with their obligations."

While several resolutions addressed nuclear disarmament, it is notable that the two most prominent resolutions in this area received stronger support than last year. Although the increase in support for these resolutions is a direct reaction by the vast majority of NNWS of the NPT to the failure of the 2005 Review Conference, the texts of these resolutions have been watered down significantly (compared to similar resolutions in the past) in order to consolidate support for nuclear disarmament in the aftermath of both the failed Review Conference and the World Summit. The resolution Towards a nuclear-free world: Accelerating the implementation of nuclear disarmament, sponsored by the NAC, was adopted by a vote of 153 in favor, 5 against (India, Israel, Pakistan, United Kingdom, United States), and 20 abstentions. The resolution reaffirms the outcome of the 2000 NPT Review Conference as "the framework of systematic and progressive efforts towards nuclear disarmament." While it does not list the 13 Practical Steps of 2000, it calls on the NWS to fully comply with their disarmament commitments. The resolution traditionally sponsored by Japan Renewed determination towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons, was supported by more states, including two NWS (France and United Kingdom). The resolution adopted with 168 in favor, 2 against (India, United States), and 7 abstentions refers to the disarmament commitments agreed upon at the NPT Review Conferences in 1995 and 2000, but no longer reaffirms them. It is notable that unlike in years past, the NAC states supported the Japanese resolution (166 in favor, 2 against – China, India-, and 7 abstentions).

The resolution Nuclear Disarmament traditionally promoted by a large group of NAM states was more critical about the lack of progress towards nuclear disarmament and contains a long list of initiatives in support of this goal. The voting result of 113 in favor, 45 against, and 20 abstentions is unfortunately representative of the restricted support for the resolution. Most of the yes votes came from NAM states, with New Zealand also supporting it.

Reducing Nuclear Danger, sponsored by India and unchanged from last year, singles out the NWS to review their nuclear doctrines and take measures to reduce the risk of accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons. The resolution followed the same voting pattern as last year (115 yes, 49 no, 15 abstentions) with most no votes coming from the EU and NATO states, including France, United Kingdom, and United States. China and Russia abstained.

Follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons was adopted with 126 votes in favor, 29 against (including France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), and 24 abstentions. The divided vote likely came as a result of the resolution's call in operational paragraph 2 for the early conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention. A separate vote was taken on operational paragraph 1, which states "the unanimous conclusion of the International Court of Justice that there exists an obligation leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspect under strict and effective international control." This paragraph received 165 yes votes (including India and Pakistan), 3 votes against (Israel, Russia, and the United States) and 4 abstentions.

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, with similar content than last year, received wide support with 172 yes votes, 1 against (United States), and 4 abstentions (India, Colombia, Syria and Mauritius). The resolution was revised to omit the preambular paragraph that stated "the importance of the Treaty for the continued systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally, with the ultimate goal of eliminating those weapons, and of general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control."

Measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction was adopted without a vote. This resolution urges states to take measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring WMD and to sign and ratify the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism adopted in April 2005.

Conclusion of effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons received 120 votes in favor, 0 against and 59 abstentions, including France, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States. For the second year in a row, China voted in favor of the resolution, and remains the only NWS in support of legally binding security assurances. The resolution appeals in particular to NWS to work actively towards an early agreement on a common approach and formula that could be included in an international, legally binding instrument.

The First Committee adopted five resolutions regarding regional NWFZ, three of which without a vote. These include "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" was adopted with 164 yes votes, 5 against (including Israel and the United States), and 5 abstentions (including Australia, Ethiopia, India, Cameroon). The resolution calls on Israel to join the NPT as a non-nuclear weapons state. "Nuclear-weapon-free Southern Hemisphere and adjacent areas areas" received 167 yes votes, 3 no votes (France, the United Kingdom, and the United States), and 8 abstentions (including Bhutan, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, and Spain).

Promotion of Multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation" introduced by Indonesia on behalf of NAM was adopted with 122 votes in favor, 8 against (including Israel, the United Kingdom, the United States), and 50 abstaining (including Australia, Canada, France, Japan, Sweden). The resolution affirms the importance of multilateralism both in negotiating norms and in resolving disarmament and nonproliferation concerns.

Convening of the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament, sponsored by Indonesia on behalf of NAM, and Report of the Conference on Disarmament, sponsored by Peru, were adopted without a vote. Many states called in their opening statements to the committee for the convening of the fourth special session. The resolution on the Conference on Disarmament (CD) reaffirms the importance of the CD as the only international disarmament negotiation forum.

While its co-sponsors (Brazil, Canada, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, Sweden) decided to withdraw the draft resolution Initiating work on priority disarmament and non-proliferation issues, the draft represented a welcomed attempt to provide specific measures to break the deadlock in the CD. Facing suspicions that some of the sponsors faced strong opposition from the United States, the sponsors explained that they decided not to table the draft to provide "the incoming CD Presidents with sufficient space and time to develop their plans" On 12 October, the deadline for resolution submissions, Ambassador Meyer of Canada emphasized that "if, for whatever reason, the CD turns in another sterile year in 2006, we will retain the option of reintroducing this initiative as a way of ensuring that there are democratic and multilateral alternatives to a situation where the security interests of the many are being held hostage by the policies of a few." The draft resolution called for four open-ended ad hoc committees under the General Assembly to convene in Geneva to address and negotiate on nuclear disarmament, an FMCT, a treaty preventing an arms race in outer space, as well as a legally binding instrument on NSAs. Strong opposition came from the five nuclear-weapon states, as well as India, Israel, and Pakistan. The United States warned that the proposals contained in the resolution would "likely spell the end of the CD."


[1] See United Nations Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) and the 1992 Security Council presidential statement
[2] Brazil, Canada, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, and Sweden

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