46th Plenary Meeting of General Assembly 74th Session

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12-Dec-2019 02:39:53
Calling for greater disarmament cooperation to reduce arms flows, eliminate banned weapons, General Assembly adopts 60 First Committee texts at 46th plenary meeting.

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The General Assembly, acting on the recommendation of its First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), adopted 57 draft resolutions and three decisions today, including many aimed at reinvigorating multilateral efforts to curb the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, biological and conventional weapons in all corners of the world.

Holding 95 recorded votes on two thirds of the draft resolutions and decisions before it, the afternoon‑long session reflected a growing divergence among Member States on issues as varied as the prohibition of nuclear weapons, the establishment of nuclear‑weapon‑free zones and the spread of small arms and light weapons.

“Every year, there are more and more votes on First Committee resolutions and decisions, and this tends to mirror the conflicts of the world,” Szilvia Balázs, Committee Rapporteur, said as she introduced the Committee’s reports.

“It seems our what our predecessors built up with long and hard work — operating mechanisms that protected generations from world wars — now are being somehow weakened,” she said. “We are close to the edge and risking our future and the future of our children and their children.”

Taking up a number of draft resolutions on nuclear weapons, the Assembly held recorded votes for many of them. By a recorded vote of 160 in favour to 4 against (China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Syria), with 21 abstentions, the Assembly adopted the draft resolution “Joint courses of action and future‑oriented dialogue towards a world without nuclear weapons”, a wide‑ranging text — with Japan as its main sponsor — intended to breathe fresh life into multilateral disarmament efforts.

Further by its terms, the Assembly encouraged all nations — particularly nuclear‑weapon States — to enhance transparency and mutual confidence, reduce the risks of unwanted nuclear detonation and start negotiations on a treaty to ban the production of fissile material for use in atomic bombs. It also encouraged States to immediately sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty, among other actions.

Before taking action on the draft resolution as a whole, the Assembly held separate recorded votes on retaining a dozen preambular and operative paragraphs, including one welcoming recent diplomatic efforts seeking to dismantle the nuclear-weapon and ballistic missile programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

By a recorded vote of 17 in favour to 66 against, with 63 abstentions, the Assembly rejected a draft decision “Improving the effectiveness of the work of the First Committee”, by which it would have requested that the Secretary‑General consider convening the First Committee’s next session in Geneva or Vienna if issues raised by some Member States regarding the issuance of visas to delegates remain unresolved in the Committee on Relations with the Host Country.

Several texts addressed the question of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East on the heels of the first session of the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction, held at Headquarters from 18 to 22 November.

By a recorded vote of 175 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 3 abstentions (Cameroon, Liberia, United Kingdom), the Assembly adopted the draft resolution “Establishment of a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the region of the Middle East”. By its terms, the Assembly urged all concerned parties to seriously consider taking practical and urgent steps to establish such a zone, including by adhering to the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

The Assembly also adopted the draft resolution “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East”, by a recorded vote of 152 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, United States), with 24 abstentions. By that draft, the Assembly called for immediate steps towards full implementation of the resolution on the Middle East, adopted by the 1995 Review and Extension Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The Assembly also reaffirmed the importance of Israel’s accession to that instrument and the placement of all its nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.

It also considered a range of texts on nuclear weapons, including the draft resolution “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”, which it adopted by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 41 against, with 16 abstentions, following its decision, by separate recorded vote, to retain two operative paragraphs. By the terms of the draft resolution, the Assembly welcomed that already 79 States had signed and 32 States had ratified or acceded to the instrument as of 7 October and called on others to do so as soon as possible. By the terms of the draft resolution “Comprehensive Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty”, adopted by a recorded vote of 182 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 4 abstentions (India, Mauritius, Syria, United States), the Assembly condemned testing conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea since 2006 in violation of Security Council resolutions and encouraged all parties to continue talks on the issue.

Turning its attention to chemical weapons, the Assembly adopted — by a recorded vote of 151 in favour to 8 against (Cambodia, China, Congo, Iran, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syria, Zimbabwe), with 21 abstentions — the draft resolution “Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction”, following separate votes on five preambular and operative paragraphs. By the draft’s provisions, the Assembly condemned in the strongest possible terms the use of chemical weapons since 2012 in Iraq, Malaysia, Syria and the United Kingdom. It also stressed the importance of implementing a 2018 decision by States parties to that Convention to establish arrangements for identifying the perpetrators of chemical weapons used in Syria.

The Assembly considered several drafts regarding the weaponization of other realms, adopting the draft resolution “No first placement of weapons in outer space”, by a recorded vote of 128 in favour to 14 against, with 38 abstentions. In so doing, the Assembly urged an early start of substantive work in the Conference on Disarmament on the topic, based on an updated draft treaty introduced by China and the Russian Federation in 2008.

It went on to adopt the draft resolution “Advancing responsible State behaviour in cyberspace in the context of international security”, by a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 10 against (China, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Iran, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe), and 6 abstentions (Belarus, Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Myanmar, Palau). By its terms, the Assembly welcomed the start of the work of the related Group of Governmental Experts and called upon Member States to support measures to address the emerging threats.

The Assembly also adopted three draft decisions. In adopting the draft decision “2020 session of the Disarmament Commission”, as a whole, without a vote, it decided to convene the next session from 6 to 24 April 2020. By a recorded vote of 181 in favour to 1 against (Pakistan), with 4 abstentions (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Israel, Syria), it adopted the draft decision “Treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices”, deciding to include the topic on the provisional agenda of the its seventy‑fifth session. Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted the draft decision “Treaty on the South‑East Asia Nuclear‑Weapon‑Free Zone (Bangkok Treaty)”, deciding to include the item on the agenda during its seventy‑sixth session.

In addition, the Assembly also adopted, without a vote, the Committee’s report on the Conference on Disarmament. As part of its revitalization efforts, it also adopted the Committee’s provisional programme of work and timetable for 2020.

The Assembly also adopted the following draft resolutions by recorded vote: follow‑up to nuclear disarmament obligations agreed to at the 1995, 2000 and 2010 Review Conferences of the Parties to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty; conclusion of effective international arrangements to assure non‑nuclear‑weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons; humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons; reducing nuclear danger; Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons; nuclear disarmament; accelerating the implementation of nuclear disarmament commitments; ethical imperatives for a nuclear‑weapon‑free world; nuclear‑weapon‑free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas; nuclear disarmament verification; follow‑up to the 2013 high‑level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament; and follow‑up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons.

Also adopted by recorded vote were the following texts: Arms Trade Treaty; strengthening of security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region; conventional arms control at regional and subregional levels; assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them; transparency in armaments; promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non‑proliferation; convening of the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament; illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects; implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti‑Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction; implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions; youth, disarmament and non‑proliferation; developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security; objective information on military matters, including transparency of military expenditures; strengthening and developing the system of arms control, disarmament and non‑proliferation treaties and agreements; prevention of an arms race in outer space; further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space; and transparency and confidence‑building measures in outer space activities.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted the following draft resolutions: regional disarmament; confidence‑building measures in the regional and subregional context; United Nations regional centres for peace and disarmament; United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific; United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa; United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean; African Nuclear‑Weapon‑Free Zone Treaty; Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco); Implementation of the Declaration of the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace; and activities of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa.

It also adopted, without a vote, the following draft resolutions: role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament; measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction; observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of disarmament and arms control agreements; relationship between disarmament and development; problems arising from the accumulation of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus; prohibition of the dumping of radioactive wastes; Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction; and Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects.

The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 13 December, to consider reports of and take action on draft resolutions and decisions recommended by its Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization).

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