UNITED NATIONS- 62nd Session of the General Assembly - First Committee - General Debate - Statement by H.E. Ambassador José Júlio Pereira Gomes, Portugal, on behalf of the European Union, New York, 8 October 2007
62nd Session of the General Assembly
Statement by H.E. Ambassador José Júlio Pereira Gomes,
on behalf of the European Union
New York, 8 October, 2007
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
1. I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Croatia* and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
First of all, I would like to congratulate you on your election as Chair of the 1st Committee and congratulate also the members of the Bureau on their election. The EU looks forward to working closely with you. I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome the appointment of Ambassador Sérgio Duarte as High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.
In this statement I will focus on key challenges which we all face. I will elaborate on specific topics later during the cluster debates. For the purpose of efficiency and to save time, I will shorten my oral statement today. The full text of this general statement has been distributed.
2. The European Union is deeply committed to the development of an effective multilateral system based on well-functioning international institutions and a rule-based international order. We want international organisations, regimes and treaties to be effective in confronting threats to international peace and security. Verification mechanisms should be reinforced and new effective verification mechanisms should be created when and/or where necessary to ensure full compliance with the obligations contained in multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation treaties and agreements. Violations of these obligations should be appropriately addressed. That is why the European Union considers that strengthening the authority of the United Nations should be a priority of all nations. In this context, the work done in the First Committee and its ability to interact with other relevant UN bodies is of the utmost importance.
3. In the Outcome Document of the 2005 World Summit, the Member States of the United Nations recognised that development, peace and security, and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing. The European Security Strategy, adopted by the European Council in 2003 already enshrined this broad and comprehensive concept of security. We live in a world where we all benefit from collective security; and all suffer when it is absent. We therefore urgently need to build consensus on the actions and measures to confront common threats and challenges.
4. In our view, conflict and threat prevention cannot start too early. With a view to creating lasting solutions, the root causes of instability have to be addressed, including through efforts to solve political conflicts by diplomatic means, and efforts in the fields, of development assistance, poverty reduction, and the promotion of human rights and the rule of law.
5. Peacebuilding is an integral part of the wide security concept. We should make every effort to guarantee that the Peacebuilding Commission can respond effectively to the challenges of peacebuilding worldwide by assisting countries emerging from conflict.
6. The EU is committed to upholding, implementing and further strengthening the multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation treaties and agreements. The EU is concerned about a possible further weakening of disarmament and arms control treaties and agreements concerning the European area.
Progress is needed in the field of disarmament and non proliferation in accordance with relevant international instruments and by negotiating new ones, such as a FMCT. A stand-off should be avoided between those who give priority to disarmament and those who give priority to non proliferation.
The EU is guided by its Strategy against the Proliferation of WMD which commits the EU to act with resolve, using all instruments and policies at its disposal, to prevent, deter, halt and, where possible, eliminate proliferation programmes of concern world-wide. Meeting the challenge of proliferation risks is a key element in the EU’s relations with other organisations and with third countries. The Proliferation of WMD and their means of delivery is potentially the greatest threat to global security, and the spread of missile technology adds a further element of concern.
7. As stated in our 2003 Common Position on the universalisation and reinforcement of multilateral agreements in the field of non-proliferation we promote the universal ratification of, and adherence to, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, as well as the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.
We believe these instruments effectively contribute to international confidence, stability and peace, including in the effort to counter terrorism. Therefore the EU calls on all States Parties to implement fully their obligations contained in these instruments and calls on those who have not yet become party to them to do so. The EU also calls on those not yet Party to the 1925 Geneva Protocol to adhere to it and on all States Parties to lift their remaining reservations to this topical instrument at the crossroads of humanitarian demands and disarmament and non-proliferation objectives.
8. International treaty regimes and effective verification mechanisms remain essential. They should be upheld and fully implemented. The EU is actively promoting universality and assisting countries with national implementation of all relevant treaties through its Joint Actions. The EU welcomes the recently published report of the Group of Governmental Experts on Verification. To ensure effective detectability of violations and to deter non-compliance, the EU will make best use of, and seek improvements to, existing verification mechanisms and systems. It will also support the establishment of additional international verification instruments and, if necessary, the use of non-routine inspections under international control beyond facilities declared under existing treaty regimes.
9. Other important elements include national and internationally coordinated export controls; cooperative threat reduction programmes; control and security of sensitive materials, facilities, and expertise; interdiction of illegal procurement activities including through the Proliferation Security Initiative, also known as the Cracow Initiative and as a last resort, coercive measures in accordance with the UN Charter.
10. Terrorism continues to be a serious threat to international peace and security. The adoption of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy by the General Assembly last year (Res 60/288) sent a strong signal of the unity of UN Member States in condemnation of terrorism in all its forms.
The international community must do everything possible to prevent access by terrorists to WMD or sensitive materials. It is important that the implementation of the Strategy is now pursued and international cooperation in this field is intensified, while ensuring that any measures taken by States to tackle terrorism comply with their obligations under international law, in particular human rights law, refugee law and international humanitarian law. In this respect, we welcome the principles adopted by the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.
The speedy adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism will contribute to the counter terrorist effort.
11. The EU last year welcomed the reiteration of the Security Council resolution 1540(2004) and the extension of the mandate of the 1540 Committee for a further two years by the Security Council resolution 1673(2006). We call for the full implementation of these legally binding resolutions which are an essential mechanism to prevent WMD, their means of delivery or manufacture falling into the hands of non-state actors world-wide. The EU is ready to continue to provide assistance, in particular in building legal and administrative infrastructure, training respective national authorities and sharing our experience of implementation. It is important that the mandate of the 1540 Committee is further extended. We would welcome timely preparations in this respect.
12. The NPT remains the cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime, the essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament in accordance with its Article VI, and an important element in the further development of nuclear energy applications for peaceful purposes. The Treaty is as vital as ever. We continue to defend that consensus on the basis of the framework established by the NPT, by supporting the Decisions and Resolution adopted at the 1995 Review and Extension Conference and the final document of the 2000 Review Conference, and shall bear in mind the current situation. The EU is fully committed to the current review cycle of the NPT and stands by its Common Position, agreed on 25 April 2005, relating to the NPT Review Conference.
13. Despite the unjustifiable objections raised by Iran that prevented a smooth start of the current NPT review cycle the EU is encouraged by and determined to build on the positive spirit which in the end prevailed during the substantive discussions of the first session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2010 NPT Review Conference, which took place in Vienna last May.
14. The EU has actively contributed to the deliberations of the session by submitting detailed views and proposals on all three areas of review: nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The EU trusts that the contributions it has made will be built upon in the further work during the review cycle. The first session of the preparatory committee was the first step on the way to the Review Conference in 2010 and the EU will continue to promote and work for its successful outcome. We are committed to contribute to a structured and balanced review in all areas of the Treaty and help build consensus in 2010.
We continue to work towards universal accession to the NPT and call on those States not yet Party to join the Treaty as Non Nuclear Weapon States.
15. The IAEA Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements and the Additional Protocols constitute the current IAEA verification standard. The EU considers the Additional Protocol to be an integral part of the IAEA Safeguards System and adherence to it should be considered an essential means of verifying the fulfilment of States Parties’ obligations under Art. III of the NPT. The role of the UN Security Council, as the final arbiter of international peace and security, should be strengthened in order that it can take appropriate action in the event of non-compliance, inter alia, with NPT obligations.
16. The NPT regime is under pressure from several challenges, in particular those posed by Iran’s nuclear programme and by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) self-declared possession and testing of nuclear weapons. Both issues continue to be a matter of profound concern for the EU and could entail serious risks for global security.
17. The EU is deeply and directly involved in finding a negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue and rebuilding international confidence in Iran's intentions. The EU calls upon Iran to respond positively and swiftly to the demands of the international community in complying with the decisions and resolutions of the IAEA and of the Security Council, in particular by suspending its enrichment related and reprocessing activities thus creating the conditions for the resumption of negotiations. In this regard, the European Union supports the statement on Iran issued on 28 September 2007 in New York, by the Foreign Ministers of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States with the support of the High Representative of the European Union.
The EU hopes that the discussions between the IAEA and Iran on outstanding issues will, at least by November, meet the targets laid down by the “work plan”. The EU is united in its resolve not to allow Iran to acquire military nuclear capabilities and to see to all consequences of its nuclear programme, in terms of proliferation, resolved.
18. We condemn the DPRK’s nuclear test of 9 October 2006 announced by the DPRK. However, we welcome steps taken by the DPRK to implement the agreement reached by the Six-Party Talks participants on 13 February this year. However, much is still to be achieved in order to eliminate the dangers posed by its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
We again urge the DPRK to comply fully, unconditionally and without delay with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718, in particular with paragraph 6, as well as with all its relevant international obligations, and especially with its IAEA Safeguards Agreement under the NPT and the 1992 agreement on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, in a complete and verifiable manner. We call on the DPRK to officially state its full commitment to the NPT and to re-establish the moratorium on long-range missile testing. The EU is committed to the complete, peaceful and negotiated settlement of the North Korean nuclear issue and is exploring the possibility of making a specific contribution to IAEA’s monitoring and verification activities in the DPRK.
19. The EU places the utmost importance on the earliest possible entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) to prohibit all nuclear weapon test explosions and other nuclear explosions. We reaffirm our commitment to the CTBT, as expressed in particular in the Final Declaration, delivered on behalf of States that have ratified and State Signatories of the Treaty, at conclusion of the Article XIV Conference held last month in Vienna.
20. The EU is convinced that a fissile material cut off treaty (FMCT),by banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, will constitute a significant achievement to nuclear disarmament efforts in accordance with Art. VI of the NPT. Logically, an FMCT constitutes the next multilateral instrument to be negotiated in the nuclear disarmament field.
21. We were encouraged by the constructive, structured and substantive discussions that took place during the first part of this year’s session of the Conference on Disarmament and by the momentum created by these discussions. This momentum was developed as a result of the initiative taken jointly by the six Presidents of the CD last year. The P6 efforts have clearly been taken up and brought to an even higher level this year, leading to the appointment of coordinators for seven items of the CD agenda and culminating in the presentation of a Presidential Draft Decision on a programme of work (L.1), and two further documents (CRP.5, CRP.6) issued in a serious patient and strenuous process to add clarity and to provide answers to questions raised by a few delegations as regards document L1. These three documents have fostered our hope that finally the stalemate in the CD could be overcome. We regret that no consensus on these documents could be established so far. We continue to urge those very few remaining states members of the CD to go along with the consensus on the basis of the documents on the table (i.e. L1, CRP.5 and CRP.6) in order for the CD to resume its negotiating role in early 2008.
22. The EU recognises that an arms race in outer space must be prevented given the international community’s increased involvement in space-based activities aiming at global development and progress. Such prevention is an essential condition for the strengthening of strategic stability and for the promotion of international cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. For this reason, the EU recently forwarded its joint reply to UNGA Resolution 61/75 “Transparency and Confidence Building Measures in Outer Space Activities”, containing concrete proposals by the European Union in the interest of maintaining international peace and security and promoting international cooperation and the prevention of an arms race in outer space. Indeed the EU and its Member States are actively engaged in space programmes and increasingly dependent on outer space for their economic and industrial development as well as for their security. The EU is very concerned about a test of an Anti Satellite weapon early this year and the amount of dangerous space debris caused by it.
23. The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) gained a new impetus in the Sixth Review Conference, which took place last year. We welcome the Final Document adopted by the Review Conference, and in particular the decision on the new Intersessional Programme 2007-2010 and the establishment of the Implementation Support Unit. We are sure that the work still to be carried out at the Meetings of Experts and Meetings of State Parties until 2011 will contribute to the effective implementation and strengthening of the Convention.
24. The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) has an essential role in countering the threat of chemical weapons. The CWC is unique amongst disarmament and non-proliferation treaties in banning, in a verifiable way, an entire class of WMD. In this year of the 10th anniversary of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) the EU commends the Organisation's remarkable success in the effective discharge of the functions entrusted to it. The EU considers the OPCW to be an inspiring example for effective multilateralism in the field of non-proliferation and disarmament. In this light, we welcome the High Level Meeting, held on 27 September 2007, which underlined the importance we attach to the objectives and purpose of the CWC and our commitment to the multilateral treaty system.
25. The EU remains guided by its commitment to uphold, implement and also further strengthen the multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation treaties and agreements. Based, inter alia on the EU Security Strategy and its Strategy against the proliferation of WMD, the EU will continue to work together with its partners and other countries or groups of countries engaged in disarmament and non-proliferation. This will facilitate a better understanding of each other’s position, easing tensions and promote dialogue and cooperation.
26. In parallel to preventing the spread of WMD and their means of delivery we are committed to curbing the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons (SALW) and their ammunition, which cause hundreds of thousands of human deaths every year. We have committed ourselves to addressing this problem through the United Nations Programme of Action (UNPoA), to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. We will need to assess together our achievements and shortcomings in implementing the UNPoA. In this respect, the EU welcomes the report of the Group of Governmental Experts on Enhancing International Cooperation to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate Illicit Brokering in Small Arms and Light Weapons and endorses the recommendations contained therein. We look forward to meeting on a biennial basis, as established both in UNPoA and in the International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons (the International Tracing Instrument). The review cycle should culminate in a Review Conference.
The recent informal meeting organized by the Government of Canada in Geneva contributed to a better understanding of issues related to transfer control principles for SALW.
27. The EU welcomes the growing awareness for the importance of the ammunition problem. The EU looks forward to supporting the work of the Group of Governmental Experts on Conventional Ammunition Stockpiles in Surplus to be established in 2008 pursuant to resolution 61/72.
28. The EU welcomes the growing support, in all parts of the world for an International Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). This support was expressed, notably during last years’ General Assembly, where 153 States voted to establish a Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on a treaty. The support is also apparent in the volume of replies received by the UN Secretary General in response to his request for Member States’ views.
The EU firmly supports the elaboration of a comprehensive legally binding instrument establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms within the framework of the United Nations. The EU and its individual Member States are committed to play an active role in this process. The EU calls upon all UN Members States to continue to express their support for an ATT and to engage fully in the ATT process, particularly the work of the GGE to be established next year. The EU firmly believes that such an instrument; consistent with existing responsibilities of States under relevant international law would be a major contribution to tackling the undesirable and irresponsible proliferation of conventional arms which undermines peace, security, development and full respect for human rights.
29. The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) constitutes an essential and integral part of international humanitarian law. The EU is encouraged by the success of the Third Review Conference held last year, and commends its results as contained in the Final Document. The EU reiterates its call for the full implementation and universalisation of the CCW Convention and hereby calls upon all States not yet Party to the Convention to ratify or to accede to it as soon as possible.
30. The EU is deeply concerned about the humanitarian impact caused by cluster munitions. We consider that this issue is a vital element of the work of the CCW. With this in mind, the EU has submitted at the CCW GGE meeting last June a proposal for a negotiating mandate on cluster munitions. The GGE meeting then recommended to the Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the CCW to decide how best to address the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions as a matter of urgency, including the possibility of a new instrument, and taking into account all the documents put forward at the GGE including our proposal. We have submitted this proposal with the aim of concluding a legally-binding instrument by the end of 2008 that prohibits the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians and includes provisions on co-operation and assistance. We did so with the aim of enabling the CCW to clearly show its relevance to matters of International Humanitarian Law in general and humanitarian concerns of cluster munitions in particular. We call upon all High Contracting Parties to the CCW to support the EU proposal for a negotiating mandate. (CCW/GGE/2007/WP.3) The EU will make every effort for its proposal to meet the support of the High Contracting Parties to the CCW at their meeting next month.
31. We would like to reiterate the EU's continuous commitment to mine action and support for the full implementation and universalisation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction. We welcome the progress achieved so far. We call upon all States that have not yet done so to ratify or accede to the Convention as soon as possible.
This is necessary to achieve our goal for a mine free world without any new anti-personnel mine victims where better care is provided for the victims of these weapons. In order to assess and reflect on the progress made and to overcome the remaining challenges we welcome the Meetings of States Parties, held in Zagreb in 2005 and in Geneva in 2006, and look forward to the next meeting in Jordan later this year.
32. With respect to the UN Register of Conventional Arms, the EU welcomes the implementation of the recommendations of the 2006 GGE to broaden the scope of the UN Register. The EU would like to underline the importance of effective transparency in armaments and of Member States’ continuing participation to the UN Register.
33. The UN and its Member States will be judged by their ability to respond to the most pressing threats to international peace and security. In order to tackle these, the EU will work together with its partners and other countries or groups of countries.
Thank you, Mr Chairman.
* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.