General Assembly: 44th Plenary Meeting, 76th Session

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06-Dec-2021 03:39:08
Adopting 55 First Committee texts, General Assembly addresses myriad security threats, urging joint action to advance stalled denuclearization, disarmament efforts.

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Resolutions on Culture of Peace, Cultural Property Also Adopted

Stressing the enduring and pronounced threat posed by nuclear weapons, the General Assembly, acting on the recommendation of its First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), adopted 55 resolutions and decisions today, addressing the importance of ridding the world of the menace of weapons of mass destruction.

Also calling on Member States to prioritize other risk areas, including conventional arms control, terrorist access to weapons, and weaponization of outer space, the Assembly held a total of 85 separate recorded votes, including 55 on preambular and operative paragraphs. Critical issues involving nuclear-weapon-free zones, illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons, and the role of science and technology in international security and disarmament were also addressed.

Sanna Leena Orava (Finland), Committee Rapporteur, introducing the Committee’s reports containing the texts, noted that during its action phase, the Committee approved 60 draft resolutions and decisions, 37 by recorded vote, with 66 separate votes requested. While convening a full session was challenging due to the pandemic, she pointed out the Committee held all three traditional general, thematic and action segments, completing the former two in record time. She recalled 137 delegations made statements in the general debate, compared to 143 in 2020 — although only 33 were delivered by women, indicating there is a long way to go in achieving equal gender participation and representation.

After two years of pandemic restrictions, she expressed hope that the Committee can resume full attendance in 2022. While cooperation was at an especially high level during the session, she noted there were still over 100 votes requested. “This is a lot,” she said, taking time away from substantive deliberations. She urged the Committee to make its request for votes public, as in other Committees, to enhance transparency of its work, also paying tribute to Committee Chair Omar Hilale of Morocco and his team.

Addressing proliferation of weapons and stalled denuclearization and disarmament efforts, the Assembly took up an array of drafts including “Joint courses of action and future-oriented dialogue towards a world without nuclear weapons” — one of the more ardently debated texts — adopting it by a recorded vote of 158 in favour to 4 against (China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Syria), with 27 abstentions, after voting on 18 separate paragraphs.

By that text, it encouraged concrete measures to enhance transparency and mutual confidence and every effort to start negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. The Assembly also encouraged States possessing nuclear weapons to reduce the risks of nuclear detonation and reaffirmed its commitment to the complete, verifiable and irreversible abandonment of all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

It further adopted a draft titled “Towards a nuclear-weapon-free world: accelerating the implementation of nuclear disarmament commitments”, by which the Assembly called upon the nuclear-weapon States to fulfil their commitments to reduce and ultimately eliminate all types of deployed and non-deployed nuclear weapons. Noting with concern recent policy statements by nuclear‑weapon States relating to modernization of their nuclear weapon programmes, the Assembly encouraged them to take concrete steps to reduce the role and significance of nuclear weapons in all military and security concepts, doctrines and policies, pending their total elimination.

A text on reducing nuclear danger called for a review of nuclear doctrines and for the five nuclear-weapon States to take immediate and urgent steps to reduce risks of unintentional and accidental use of nuclear weapons.

Turning to other areas of concern, the Assembly adopted a text on conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels , by a recorded vote of 186 in favour to 1 against (India), with 3 abstentions (Bhutan, Russian Federation, Zimbabwe). By its terms, the Assembly decided to give urgent consideration to this issue and requested that the Conference on Disarmament consider drawing up principles that can serve as a framework for regional conventional arms control agreements.

Addressing the danger of non-State actors, the Assembly adopted a text on measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, by which it appealed to Member States to consider early accession to and ratification of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. It also requested that the Secretary-General report on measures already taken by international organizations on issues relating to terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Two texts focused on preventing an arms race in outer space. In one, the Assembly called upon all States to contribute to the objective of the peaceful use of that realm. In a related text, “No first placement of weapons in outer space”, the Assembly urged an early commencement of substantive work based on the updated draft treaty introduced by China and the Russian Federation.

The General Assembly also deferred action on the five draft texts pending a report of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) on their programme budget implications: “The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects”; “Problems arising from the accumulation of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus”; “Reducing space threats through norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviours”; “Further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space”; and “Promoting International Cooperation on Peaceful Uses in the Context of International Security”.

The Assembly adopted the following texts by recorded vote: “Implementation of the Declaration of the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace”; “Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East”; “Conclusion of effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons”; “Ethical imperatives for a nuclear-weapon-free world”; “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 the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction”; “Humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons”; “Follow-up to nuclear disarmament obligations agreed to at the 1995, 2000 and 2010 Review Conferences of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons”; “Compliance with non-proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments”; “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”; and “Follow-up to the 2013 high-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament”.

Also by recorded vote, the Assembly adopted the following texts: “Promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation”; “Nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas”; “Nuclear disarmament”; new draft decision, “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions”; “Universal Declaration on the Achievement of a Nuclear‑Weapon‑Free World”; “The Arms Trade Treaty”; “Treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices”; “Follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons”; “Nuclear disarmament verification”, as orally revised; “Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons”; “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East”; and “Strengthening of security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region”.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted the following texts: “African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty”; “Developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security, and advancing responsible State behaviour in the use of information and communications technologies”; “Role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament”; “Assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them”; “Prohibition of the dumping of radioactive wastes”; “Relationship between disarmament and development”; “Convening of the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament”; “Observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control”; “Regional disarmament”; “Confidence‑building measures in the regional and subregional context”; “Youth, disarmament and non‑proliferation”; new draft resolution, “Brazilian‑Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials”; and “Transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities”.

Also acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted these subsequent texts: “Countering the threat posed by improvised explosive devices”; “Treaty on the South‑East Asia Nuclear‑Weapon‑Free Zone (Bangkok Treaty)”; “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”; “United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific”; “Regional confidence‑building measures: activities of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa”; “United Nations regional centres for peace and disarmament”; “Report of the Conference on Disarmament”; “Disarmament Commission”; “Convention on the Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects”; “Comprehensive Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty”; and “Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction”.

The Assembly also adopted a draft decision on its provisional programme of work and timetable for 2022 and took note of its report on programme planning, which contained no draft resolutions or decisions.

General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid (Maldives), in closing remarks, thanked Mr. Hilale, members of the Committee bureau, and all delegates for the work accomplished in the session. Noting the decisions and resolutions adopted by the Assembly address the most important global issues, including consequences of the global pandemic, he called for continued focus and tireless efforts towards their implementation to inspire hope and deliver for the peoples of the world.

In an earlier meeting prior to taking action on First Committee texts, the Assembly adopted four resolutions by consensus, including one on “Return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin”. By its terms, the Assembly deplored damage to the cultural heritage of countries in situations of crisis, conflict and post-conflict, particularly recent attacks on world cultural heritage sites, calling for an immediate end to such acts.

Addressing that draft, speakers said antiquity trafficking has become a global industry, especially in the Middle East, urging the international community to eradicate it as a tool to finance terrorism. Observing that Cambodia has lost cultural properties to decades of civil war, its delegate urged museums and private collectors with Khmer cultural properties to repatriate those treasures. Syria’s representative lamented that a terrorist campaign in his country has targeted public and private properties, historic areas, works of Syrian scholars and graves of historic people.

By a text on “Follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace”, the Assembly encouraged Member States, United Nations entities, regional and subregional organizations to assist youth in understanding and respecting human dignity, pluralism and diversity in discouraging their participation in terrorism, violent extremism, xenophobia and discrimination.

Adopting a draft on “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace”, the Assembly called on Member States and relevant actors, including political and religious leaders, to promote inclusion in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and combat racism, xenophobia, hate speech, violence, and discrimination.

Also adopted was a text containing the report of the Credentials Committee, introduced by its Chair, Anna Karin Eneström (Sweden).

Also speaking were the representatives of Sweden, Greece, Egypt, Iran, Cyprus, United States, Israel, Turkey, Cyprus, Bangladesh, Philippines, Brunei Darussalam (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Maldives, El Salvador, Venezuela, Morocco, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Ecuador, Singapore, Kuwait, Cuba, India and Haiti.

The General Assembly will convene again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 7 December, to take up oceans and the law of the sea.

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