67th Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly 70th Session

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07-Dec-2015 02:13:48
On Recommendation of First Committee, General Assembly Adopts More than 50 Drafts, Including New One on ‘Ethical Imperatives’ for Nuclear Disarmament at 67th plenary.

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The General Assembly today, closely following the recommendation of its First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), where delegates increased their participation in debates by 40 per cent from last year, adopted 57 draft resolutions and decisions — 23 on nuclear weapons — requiring 29 recorded votes in all, including on separate provisions.

Loyal to the Committee’s voting pattern, the General Assembly adopted an array of texts on such topics as the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Arms Trade Treaty, and no first placement of weapons in outer space, among others.

A new resolution was tabled during the session, containing a universal declaration on the achievement of a nuclear-weapon-free world [L.52/Rev.1]. Adopted by a recorded vote of 133 in favour to 23 against, with 28 abstentions, the text reiterated the General Assembly’s deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and called on all States at all times to comply with applicable international law, including international humanitarian law. It called on all nuclear-weapon-possessing States to eliminate all types of those weapons and in the meantime diminish their role in security policies.

By the terms of another new draft, adopted by a recorded vote of 132 in favour to 36 against, with 16 abstentions, the Assembly acknowledged the ethical imperatives for nuclear disarmament and the urgency of achieving and maintaining a nuclear-weapon-free world, which was a “global public good of the highest order”, serving both national and collective security interests [L.40].

Concerning the Middle East, the Assembly, in a resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in that region, called for immediate steps towards the full implementation of the resolution on the region adopted by the 1995 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. It was adopted today by a recorded vote of 157 in favour to 5 against (Canada, Israel, Federated States of Micronesia, Panama, United States), with 20 abstentions. [L.2]

Prior to passage on that text as a whole, the Assembly considered a separate provision, preambular paragraph 5, concerning the immediate need for all nuclear facilities in the Middle East to be placed under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. The Assembly retained that paragraph by a recorded vote of 170 in favour to 2 against (India, Israel), with 4 abstentions (Bhutan, Honduras, Pakistan, Panama).

A separate vote was also taken on preambular paragraph 6, which recalled the decision on principles and objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament adopted by the 1995 Review Conference of the Non-Nuclear Weapons Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Among them was the call for universal adherence to the NPT as an urgent priority. That provision was retained by a recorded vote of 171 in favour to 2 against (India, Israel), with 4 abstentions (Bhutan, Honduras, Pakistan, Panama).

According to a related text, adopted without a vote [L.1], the Assembly urged all parties directly concerned to consider taking the practical and urgent steps required for the implementation of the proposal to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, and, as a means of promoting that objective, invited countries concerned to adhere to the NPT.

Urging all States not to carry out nuclear-weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions, the Assembly adopted a draft resolution on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty by a recorded vote of 181 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 3 abstentions (India, Mauritius, Syria). By so doing, the Assembly urged States to maintain their moratoriums and to refrain from acts that would defeat the object and purpose of the Treaty. It called on all States, in particular those whose ratification was needed for its entry into force, to sign and ratify as soon as possible.

Prior to action on the text as a whole, the Assembly retained preambular paragraph 6 by a recorded vote of 177 in favour to none against, with 4 abstentions (India, Israel, Pakistan, Syria). It recalled the adoption by consensus of the outcomes of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, in which the vital importance of the Treaty’s entry into force was reaffirmed as a core element of the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. That provision also included specific actions to be taken in support of operationalizing the Treaty.

The following texts also took recorded votes in the nuclear weapons cluster: 2020 Review Conference of the Parties to the NPT and its Preparatory Committee [L.4/Rev.1]; taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations [L.13/Rev.1]; follow-up to the 2013 high-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament [L.15]; reducing nuclear danger [L.20]; a convention on the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons [L.21]; follow-up to nuclear disarmament obligations agreed at the 1995, 2000 and 2010 NPT Review Conferences [L.23]; a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices [L.25]; united action with renewed determination towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons [L.26], deferring consideration of an amendment to the text; conclusion of effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons [L.32]; nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas [L.35]; humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons [L.37]; humanitarian pledge for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons [L.38]; towards a nuclear-weapon-free world and accelerating the implementation of nuclear disarmament commitments [L.41/Rev.1]; nuclear disarmament [L.44]; and follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons [L.51].

Acting without a vote, drafts in that cluster were adopted on the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty [L.55]; the prohibition of the dumping of radioactive wastes [L.56]; and the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone [L.58].

Concerning other weapons of mass destruction, the Assembly urged all States parties to meet in full and on time their obligations and to support the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in its implementation activities, when it adopted a resolution on the Chemical Weapons Convention [L.27/Rev.1] by a recorded vote of 174 in favour to none against, with 4 abstentions (China, Iran, Russian Federation, Syria).

Before adopting the text as a whole, the Assembly, by a recorded vote of 152 in favour to 3 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Syria), with 17 abstentions), retained preambular paragraph 5, which reaffirmed the broad support for the decision of the Director-General of the OPCW to send a mission to establish the facts surrounding the allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in Syria

By a recorded vote of 150 in favour to 3 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Syria), with 20 abstentions, the Assembly also retained operative paragraph 10, which underscored the substantial unresolved issues, including the gaps, inconsistencies, and discrepancies identified by the OPCW Technical Secretariat in its report, stressing the importance of verifying that the Syrian declaration and related submissions were accurate and complete.

Without a vote in that cluster, the Assembly adopted texts on the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention [L.12] and measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction [L.19].

A recorded vote was taken as well on the prevention of an arms race in outer space [L.3] and no first placement of weapons in that domain [L.47]. Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted a related text on transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities [L.48].

For the cluster on conventional weapons, the Assembly adopted, by recorded votes, texts on: implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions [L.49/Rev.1], the Mine-Ban Treaty [L.50] and the Arms Trade Treaty [L.54].

Acting without a vote in that group, drafts were passed on: assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them [L.6]; problems arising from the accumulation of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus [L.16]; the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons [L.24]; countering the threat posed by improvised explosive devices [L.36]; and the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons [L.39].

On other disarmament measures and international security, the Assembly took recorded votes on a draft promoting multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation [L.9]. Without a vote in that cluster, it adopted drafts on the observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control [L.7]; the relationship between disarmament and development [L.10]; objective information on military matters, including transparency of military expenditures [L.17]; and the role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament [L.22].

Action on a draft on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security [L.45] was deferred pending consideration by the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).

The Assembly, also acting without a vote, adopted texts on regional disarmament and security, strengthening security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region [L.5]; confidence-building measures in the regional and subregional context [L.31]; and regional disarmament [L.33]. It adopted, by recorded votes, texts on the implementation of the Declaration of the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace [L.18], and conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels [L.34].

Turning to the disarmament machinery, the Assembly adopted, without votes, drafts on the United Nations regional centres for peace and disarmament [L.8]; the reports of the Conference on Disarmament [L.14] and of the Disarmament Commission [L.29]; the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) [L.30]; the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean [L.42]; regional confidence-building measures and activities of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa [L.43/Rev.2]; the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific [L.53]; and the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa [L.57].

Finally, the Assembly adopted a draft decision on its proposed programme of work for 2016 without a vote and took note of the report of the First Committee, specifically, items on revitalizing the work of the Conference on Disarmament and General Assembly. It agreed to consider an item on programme planning.

In other matters, the General Assembly decided to postpone consideration of a number of items, including on global health and foreign policy to its plenary meeting, to be held on 14 December; the dates of its recess to 24 December; and extend the work of its Second Committee (Economic and Financial) to 14 December and of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) to 23 December.

Speaking during the course of the meeting were representatives of Iran, Italy, Zimbabwe, South Africa and the Netherlands.

The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 8 December, to take up issues of oceans and the law of the sea.
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