Disarmament DiplomacyIssue No. 32, November 1998
First Committee Report
UN FIRST COMMITTEE CONDEMNS NUCLEAR TESTING, BACKS FISSBAN NEGOTIATIONS AND SEEKS A 'NEW AGENDA' ON NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT
The First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly (Disarmament and International Security), chaired by Ambassador André Mernier of Belgium, closed its session on 13 November after taking action on 48 draft resolutions and one draft decision, on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). This report consists of a summary analysis of the political trends indicated in the First Committee votes, followed by an appendix listing all the resolutions, detailing their main points, the votes and relevant comments regarding the votes. Voting figures are also given for the General Assembly, which on 4 December adopted all the resolutions passed by the First Committee.
This was the most dynamic and engaged First Committee for several years. Two issues dominated: nuclear testing and nuclear disarmament, particularly a new 'cross-group' resolution identifying the need for a new agenda. In his concluding statement, Ambassador Mernier, whose chairing of this difficult, sometimes tempestuous Committee had been widely admired, commented that 1998 would be viewed as "a year when the world's consciousness was abruptly raised about the magnitude and persistence of the global nuclear threat". Noting that the member States had given "strong support for the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, for the resumption of strategic nuclear arms reductions pursuant to the START process, and for the negotiation of a fissile material treaty", Mernier said the nuclear tests in South Asia had underscored the twin messages that "new nuclear armament begets nuclear arms races, not disarmament" and that "progress on non-proliferation cannot be taken for granted".
In the wake of the failure by the Conference on Disarmament (CD) to mention its debates on the South Asian tests in its report to the General Assembly, Australia, Canada and New Zealand sponsored a resolution deploring the nuclear tests and calling for the CTBT to be signed and ratified (L.22, which became UNGA 53/77 G). Seven amendments were tabled, aiming to widen or dilute the resolution. Since some expressed views shared (in a different context) by a large majority, supporters of the resolution had adopted a strategy of proposing that 'no action' be taken on the amendments. The first vote for no action on an amendment from Sri Lanka on behalf of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was a cliff-hanger, but was narrowly passed, with 63 votes to 60, and 13 abstentions. Subsequently none of the amendments was put to the vote, and the resolution was adopted by the First Committee unamended by 98 votes to 6, with 31 abstentions. In the General Assembly the support swelled to 118, with nine against and 33 abstentions. The lack of support from traditional allies in the non-aligned movement (NAM), together with the overwhelming majority with which the resolution condemning their nuclear tests was adopted unamended, were perceived as significant political defeats for India and Pakistan, which had mobilised intensively and had widely been expected to win one or more of the amendments.
Pakistan had also tabled various amendments to other resolutions, including the CTBT and fissban, giving rise to concerns that the outcome of the testing resolution would impinge on other issues, possibly negatively. A proposed resolution supporting the CTBT fell victim either to the politics of the nuclear tests themselves or to the successful adoption of the testing resolution. During the debate on testing, Pakistan had frequently criticised programmes of sub-critical testing, laboratory and nuclear fusion experiments, carried out by some of the nuclear-weapon States (NWS), notably the United States. Pakistan's amendment (L.53) would have inserted a reference to "all forms of testing for the qualitative development of nuclear weapons", which was unacceptable to the NWS but might have passed. Wanting consensus to back the CTBT and not wishing to risk the possibility of a split vote or successful 'killer amendment', the proposers of the CTBT resolution withdrew it.
A procedural decision to put the CTBT onto next year's UNGA agenda was adopted instead, with India and three others abstaining. Nevertheless, a number of other resolutions strongly backed the CTBT and called on all States to sign and ratify the Treaty. Optimism was expressed by some delegations that India and Pakistan had entered into a moratorium on testing and pledged to sign and ratify the Treaty to enable its entry into force by September 1999. Others, however, were more cautious, noting that India had made its decision regarding the CTBT contingent on the outcome of discussions with "key interlocutors" (i.e. the United States) and on the unconditional accession to the Treaty by all the 44 countries identified in Article XIV.
Fears that the resolution (L.24/Rev.1 which became UNGA 53/77 I) endorsing the CD negotiations on a fissban would likewise have to be withdrawn (as it has in the past four years) were allayed on the final day. Following a rather blatant demonstration of chequebook diplomacy from the United States, Pakistan withdrew its amendment and the resolution was adopted without a vote.
There was a clear sense of relief that the First Committee had managed to get consensus on a fissban resolution at this politically sensitive time in the moves to get negotiations underway in the CD. Nevertheless, the exchange between the United States and Pakistan, the known restrictions of some of the NWS, Israel and India, and the unresolved questions regarding existing stockpiles, suggest that the CD's task will not be smooth. Cuba and Iran, for example, accepted the consensus but "without prejudice to the negotiations". They stressed that the fissban should not be limited to future production and reserved their rights to promote substantive positions regarding treaty scope and objectives when the CD resumes in 1999. Nevertheless, General Assembly consensus for a resolution supporting the fissban negotiations in the CD, is regarded as one of the important victories of this First Committee.
As acknowledged by Ambassador Mernier, there was "growing interest in accelerating the pace of nuclear disarmament" and some "new and innovative approaches". As in previous years, there were several resolutions dealing with nuclear disarmament, but one stood out: L.48/Rev.1 (UNGA 53/77 Y), based on the 9 June 1998 Joint Ministerial Declaration from the Foreign Ministers of Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand, Sweden, Brazil, Egypt, Slovenia and Mexico "Towards a Nuclear Free World: the need for a new agenda". In his introductory statement, Dr. Darach MacFhionnbhairr of Ireland described this eight nation initiative, also known as the New Agenda Coalition (NAC), as intended "to galvanise the international community in common action for the purpose of eradicating [nuclear] weapons for once and for all". The NAC resolution proposed a multistranded approach of bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral actions and sought to unite the middle ground with a text that challenged nuclear doctrines and complacencies in a way that recognised the complexities of undertaking practical steps to move beyond the nuclear prison of the twentieth century.
There was a concerted effort by Britain, France and the United States to persuade their nuclear umbrella allies and the 'wannabe' NATO/EU applicant countries of Eastern Europe to vote against the NAC resolution, including high level delegations (démarches) to capitals. The NATO NWS had marshalled a number of arguments against the NAC resolution, calling it alarmist. They claimed that it undermined the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), equated the five NPT-defined NWS with the de facto nuclear weapon possessors, and that it was inconsistent with NATO's Strategic Concept, in which nuclear weapons are regarded as a key component of NATO's collective defence posture. They called on their "friends and allies" to vote against, raising the spectre of negative consequences if they voted in favour or even abstained.
It was clear that the NWS were far more concerned about the NAC resolution than about the more hard-line recurring resolutions from Myanmar and Malaysia, which called for timebound nuclear disarmament and negotiations leading to a nuclear weapon convention. In the General Assembly, however, 159 States had voted for the first operative paragraph of Malaysia's resolution, endorsing the unanimous conclusion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding the existence of a legal obligation to pursue and bring to conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament. In its third year now, Malaysia's ICJ/nuclear weapon convention resolution (UNGA 53/77 W) as a whole garnered 123 votes in favour, with 25 opposed and 25 abstentions. Myanmar's recurring resolution (UNGA 53/77 X) gained 110 votes, with 41 against and 18 abstentions.
Japan traditionally puts in a very moderate resolution on nuclear disarmament (L.42/Rev.1 which became 53/77 U) calling for the full implementation of the NPT. Japan's resolution generally gets widespread support, including from the NWS, but is perceived by many as little more than "feel-good rhetoric", designed for domestic consumption. Under pressure from the NAC resolution and concerned about the problems in the non-proliferation regime, including the South Asian tests, Japan this year sought to give its resolution more teeth by including paragraphs calling for multilateral discussion on future steps and further efforts from the five NWS. Although some of the NWS insisted on the references being watered down, the resolution was adopted by 160 votes, with 11 abstentions.
The NATO-NWS were more worried by the NAC resolution because it demanded that action be taken, but proposed moderate and pragmatic steps that were hard to dismiss. The first draft of the resolution had explicitly urged the NWS "to examine further interim measures, including the exploration...of an undertaking not to be the first to use nuclear weapons" (OP6). This is little more than the British Labour Party's pre-election pledge (though dropped by the Strategic Defence Review), but after consultations with a number of NATO States and Japan, the specific reference to no first use was replaced by NATO's own language about enhancing strategic stability and "accordingly to review strategic doctrines". A range of NGOs worked hard in the key countries, raising awareness of the resolution with the newly elected German government and especially in Japan, Australia, the Netherlands, Norway, Belgium and Italy, managing to get parliamentary debates in Norway, the Netherlands and Australia. With the revision on OP6 and a determinedly pragmatic strategy from the co-sponsors, 12 out of the 16 NATO members, together with Japan and Australia, felt able to defy the NWS' exhortations and abstain, leaving them with only Turkey and a small group of applicants to NATO and the EU joining their opposition. For many nuclear umbrella States, the decision had to be taken at the highest level, reflecting its importance. Political leaders and officials were divided in several countries, with senior politicians in Japan, Canada and Germany keen to vote in favour. Timid bureaucrats, however, warned against 'going it alone' and offending powerful allies. Canada reportedly would have voted yes if it could have found another NATO country to hold hands with: in the event (and despite a far larger number of NATO defections from 'no' to abstentions than originally predicted), Canada abstained; but its ambassador, Mark Moher, warned that Canada looked forward "to pursuing these issues actively and forcefully in the coming weeks and months with our friends and our allies".
Following the vote, the political debates in many countries over the NAC resolution have already borne consequences, prompting Germany and others to push harder for NATO's current examination of its Strategic Concept to include a serious reappraisal of the role of nuclear weapons, nuclear and 'burden' sharing, and deterrence doctrine based on potential first-use, albeit as a 'last resort'. In Brussels, a prominent activist, Pol d'Huyvetter, undertook a 15 day fast and vigil in front of the Foreign Ministry, focusing on the need for Belgium and other NATO countries to wake up to the new security imperatives and abandon their Cold War doctrines and policy of potential first use of nuclear weapons. Because of the importance attached by so many States and NGOs to this first-time resolution, I have covered the debate surrounding the First Committee vote on L.48/Rev.1 more fully than usual in the appendix, below.
A further new resolution was tabled by India, entitled 'Reducing Nuclear Danger' (L.16/Rev.2, becoming 53/77 F). This purported to address the de-alerting of nuclear weapons, but was widely viewed as a political gesture to distract attention from India's nuclear tests. It attracted 108 votes in favour, with 45 against and 17 abstentions. A number of countries which opposed or abstained, however, indicated that they were supportive of de-alerting in the right context, but feared that India's attempts to politicise the issue (as well as its timing, deemed cynical) would be counterproductive.
Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS)
Once again the NAM countries called for re-establishment of a CD committee to address outer space issues (L.40), but this year there was a significant shift of NATO countries from abstention to join the 165 GA votes in favour. Only four countries, including the United States and Israel, abstained. The increased support for addressing PAROS issues, which follows strong statements by China and France in the CD this year, has largely been fuelled by worries about the implications of US plans for missile defence, as well as the growing numbers of ballistic missile-capable States and military satellites. At the same time, the UN Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonisation) discussed the work of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), including the forthcoming conference known as UNISPACE III, scheduled for July 1999.
Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones (NWFZ) and Regional Security
Of the five resolutions on nuclear-weapon-free zones, L.2 (UNGA 53/77 A) on establishing a NWFZ in Central Asia was widely regarded as the most immediately significant. For the second year, the five countries in that region, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, received consensus endorsement as they move closer to a legally binding agreement. Mongolia, located between two NWS (Russia and China) was also given consensus backing for its efforts to declare its territory a NWFZ. Noting that the Tlatelolco Treaty is now in force for 32 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Parties concerned got consensus support for their attempts to consolidate the regime. More controversially, Brazil's resolution calling for a nuclear-weapons-free Southern Hemisphere (UNGA 53/77 Q) is still opposed by Britain, France and the United States, who fear that it will be used to restrict the passage of nuclear ships and submarines. In the GA the resolution achieved 154 votes.
There were two resolutions on the Middle East, introduced by Egypt. The most moderate, calling for a NWFZ to be established in the Middle East (UNGA 53/74) and supporting the peace process, received consensus on the basis stressed by Israel that the NWFZ must be freely arrived at through negotiations among the States in the region directly concerned. A second resolution, on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, was opposed by the United States and Israel, who regarded it as singling out Israel in a counter-productive and confrontational manner.
Belarus proposed a resolution (L.23/Rev.1, becoming 53/77 H) on regional disarmament which raised concerns about the possibility of nuclear weapons being deployed in the future in Central or Eastern Europe through the expansion of NATO. Twelve countries from the region issued a joint statement rejecting the resolution as a backdoor attempt by Belarus to pursue its idea of a nuclear weapon free 'space' in Central and Eastern Europe. Because of the opposition of so many relevant countries, even States which in principle supported the concept of a Central and Eastern European NWFZ were reluctant to vote in favour, and the resolution gained only 63 votes, including Russia and China, with 44 against and 47 abstentions.
Transparency and Conventional Weapons
The attention devoted to conventional weapons, including small arms and landmines, has continued to grow. The overwhelming support for the resolution backing the Ottawa Treaty (L.33, becoming 53/77 N), which garnered 147 votes in the GA, shows clearly how the complete ban on anti-personnel landmines is becoming embedded as an international norm, despite its unorthodox origins. The resolution supporting further work on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) was again adopted without a vote. No attempt was made to follow last year's resolution by Australia for landmines to be dealt with in the CD, although the United States continued to argue for this approach.
Consensus was achieved on two resolutions dealing with illicit traffic in small arms: L.41/Rev.1 (53/77 T), which backed the ongoing work of the Group of Governmental Experts on Small Arms, and L.7/Rev.2 (53/77 B), which focused on the problem in the Saharo-Sahelian subregion. Japan's resolution seeking international action to control and reduce small arms and light weapons was overwhelmingly supported with 169 votes in the GA (L.13/Rev.1, becoming 53/77 E).
Once again, there were two resolutions on transparency in armaments. The Netherlands-sponsored call for universal participation in the UN Register on Conventional Arms (L.43, becoming 53/77 V) achieved 159 votes in favour. Egypt's attempt to have the Register expanded to include weapons of mass destruction (WMD) received only 95 votes (L.39/Rev.1, which became 53/77 S). While some, including the US, rejected the linkage made between conventional arms and WMD, others were more sympathetic with the goal of transparency for nuclear weapons, but thought that this objective should be pursued separately and not risk undermining the existing UN Register. Germany introduced two resolutions on related topics, which both achieved consensus: L.30 (53/72), calling for transparency in military expenditures; and L.31/Rev.1 (53/77 M) which supported practical disarmament measures, including the decommissioning of small arms and light weapons, demobilisation of former combatants and conversion of military facilities to peaceful uses. A resolution on strengthening security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region received consensus, though Iran and Israel expressed differing reservations. Several resolutions stressed the importance of confidence building and 'good neighbourliness', although in some cases delegations expressed confusion about their appropriateness or focus.
Consensus support was given to resolutions endorsing and strengthening the regimes for abolishing chemical and biological weapons, and also to annually recurring resolutions supporting the various aspects of UN work on disarmament, training, regional security and confidence building. South Africa on behalf of the NAM introduced the recurring resolutions on disarmament and development and environmental norms. India again spearheaded NAM calls for science and technology 'for disarmament-related purposes' to be more widely shared, without undue export controls and restrictions (L.15, becoming 53/73). Russia proposed a new resolution raising concern about the misuse or exploitation of information technologies and calling for promotion of information security. This received consensus, although several delegations regarded it as 'ambiguous' and overly diverse.
Coming up for the fourth time, NAM calls for a fourth special session of the General Assembly on disarmament (UNSSOD IV) received consensus, charging the UN Disarmament Commission (UNDC) once again to determine the date and agenda. Since the principal opponent, the United States, which long argued against SSOD IV taking place prior to the year 2000, has stalled sufficiently to make that impossible, it is now thought likely that the 1999 session of the UNDC will finally come to agreement, and that SSOD IV may well take place in 2001 or 2002.
The South Asian nuclear tests and credibility problems of the non-proliferation regime following the disastrous second PrepCom of the NPT in April have clearly acted as a wake up call for many States, and it will be important to gauge how the First Committee dynamics and results are likely to play in the coming year. Hopes for reconvening the CD negotiations on a fissile material treaty were given a boost by the consensus adoption of the fissban resolution. Given the circumstances, it is thought unlikely that there will be any overt blocking from Pakistan, India or Israel, although it is likely that some States will want to see what the CD work programme offers on PAROS and nuclear disarmament before agreeing to appoint a Chair and reconvene the fissban Committee. Although there are divergent views about how much India and Pakistan have promised on the CTBT, intensified efforts to convene the Article XIV Conference in 1999 will ensure that a political spotlight is directed towards getting ratifications in the key countries, with a view to entry into force by the end of the year.
The overwhelming support given to outer space concerns may confront the United States, as incoming President of the CD in January, with a difficult dilemma if a large number of CD delegations press for an ad hoc Committee on PAROS to be re-established, instead of a special coordinator, as last year. Although the US and a few others continue to advocate CD work on landmines, the lack of interest for this suggests that attempts to convene an ad hoc committee will be doomed. No doubt a special coordinator would again be acceptable, although few can expect anything significant to come of this. It can be expected that there will again be calls for the establishment of a CD committee on nuclear disarmament, ranging from NAM demands for negotiations, to more practical approaches such as that put forward by South Africa last year. Belgium, Japan, Canada and others may also renew their proposals for nuclear disarmament discussions in the CD. It is likely that the CD President will propose continuing the consultations begun in 1998 under the auspices of the troika of past, present and future presidents. For the sake of speedy agreement on a work programme to enable the fissban negotiations to get started, many if not all delegations are likely to accept this, as a compromise; but in view of the increasing intensity of demands for more concrete engagement and more progressive, practical steps on qualitiative issues like no first use, as well as reduction of the arsenals, as expressed by the New Agenda Coalition, such a compromise is unlikely to satisfy for long. Expect an interesting but difficult year.
The CD will re-open in Geneva on 18 January 1999.
Appendix: Summary of Resolutions
Voting is given as for:against:abstentions
'Consensus' is used when a resolution is adopted without a vote. Some countries state that they have not participated in the consensus. The First Committee votes are shown first, followed by the votes in the UN General Assembly on 4 December. Comments following the votes refer to debate in the First Committee only. The resolutions have been grouped according to subject, resembling but not corresponding exactly to the clusters used by the UN.
Some resolutions were taken in parts. In this case, 'PP' refers to preambular paragraph and 'OP' refers to operative paragraph. Occasionally, representatives informed the Committee that they had been absent or that their votes had been wrongly recorded. Numbers given here are from the immediate official records. A '*' on some resolutions is part of the identifying First Committee number. 'Rev' denotes an agreed revision incorporated before action was taken.
A few votes may switch sides between the First Committee and General Assembly, but the main reason why numbers are higher in the UN GA votes is because a few delegations (usually from non-aligned States) are not able to attend the First Committee. Countries that are in serious arrears with their payments to the UN are recorded as absent, whether or not they voted, which explains why the co-sponsors of some resolutions are not able to record their votes in favour. There may also be discrepancies in voting figures due to requests by delegations for their votes to be recorded after missing or making mistakes during the electronic voting procedure.
In general, the State introducing a resolution is its leading sponsor, responsible for trying to negotiate wording that might obtain consensus or, alternatively, for getting as many co-sponsors and votes as possible. The summary below identifies the major points of the resolutions rather than excerpts from proposing statements. More space has been given to significant or controversial debates, which does not necessarily reflect the priority given to an issue by the international community, but can indicate issues likely to come to the fore over the next year. This appendix attempts to represent the 'flavour' of the debate and explanations of votes and is by no means a verbatim record. It does not necessarily mention all co-sponsors, statements or voting preferences, but aims to concentrate on those of political significance, based on country, representation or distinguishing characteristics. Statements were seldom issued in written form, so this summary is compiled from my own notes and from any statements I managed to obtain. Quotes are therefore indicative and may not be exact. The full list of co-sponsors, text of resolutions, summary of statements, and voting details can be obtained from the UN press releases at its website at: http://www.un.org/News
Nuclear Arms Control and Disarmament
Introduced by New Zealand.
Withdrawn from First Committee 13 November, replaced by a draft decision (L.65)
The draft resolution had expressed support for the CTBT, welcomed the signatures and ratifications so far and the work of the CTBTO towards establishing the Treaty's verification regime, and called upon all other States to become parties to the Treaty as soon as possible. It had also noted the provision for a conference in article XIV.2, regarding the Treaty's entry into force, but stopped short of calling for it to be convened by a certain date (e.g. 1999).
This resolution fell victim to the bitter politics surrounding the resolution criticising nuclear testing in South Asia this year (L.22). Angered by what it viewed as L.22's discriminatory attitude on nuclear testing, Pakistan had submitted an amendment to L.11 (L.53) which, among minor adjustments, sought to strengthen OP3 and challenge the United States and other NWS over sub-critical testing. The original OP3 had urged States 'to maintain their moratoria on nuclear weapons tests and to refrain from acts which would defeat the object and purpose of the Treaty pending its entry into force' (L.11). Pakistan's amendment urged States 'to maintain their moratoria on nuclear weapons tests and to refrain from acts, especially all forms of nuclear testing for the qualitative development of nuclear weapons, which would defeat the object and purpose of the Treaty.' (L.53) This was unacceptable to the NWS and was thus deemed a 'killer amendment' which, if passed, would change the nature and intention of the resolution. Following from its comprehensive defeat over the nuclear testing resolution the previous day, Pakistan refused to back down and withdraw its amendment, despite last minute pleas from several delegations, including the Philippines, Norway, Solomon Islands, Japan and South Korea, some of whom were sympathetic to the amendments but stressed the importance of gaining consensus on the CTBT resolution. Under these conditions, the co-sponsors, led by Canada, withdrew the resolution.
To ensure that the issue did not slip entirely out of sight, a draft decision was agreed, as follows:
"The General Assembly, on the recommendation of the First Committee, recalling its resolution 50/245 of 10 September 1996, decided to include in the provisional agenda of its 54th Session the item entitled 'Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty'."(L.65)
The Draft Decision was adopted in the First Committee (13 November) by 135:0:4, and in the General Assembly (4 December) by 164:0:6.
First Committee Comments: In its explanation of abstention, India reminded delegations that it had opposed the CTBT resolution in 1996, but said it would seek to bring discussions with "key interlocutors" to a "fruitful conclusion" in order to enable the treaty to enter into force by September 1999. Four of the five countries which had abstained on the CTBT resolution 50/245 in 1996 abstained here too: India, Bhutan, Syria and Lebanon. Tanzania was absent.
L.14 (UNGA 53/78 D)
Introduced by India with over 20 NAM co-sponsors
India's recurring resolution against the use of nuclear weapons refers to the 1996 ICJ advisory opinion, the final document of UNSSOD I (1978) and the objective of a nuclear weapons convention. Calls on the CD to commence negotiations on an international convention prohibiting the use or threat of nuclear weapons under any circumstances and to report to the UNGA on the results of such negotiations. A separate vote was taken on PP8 which stressed that an international convention prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons would be an important step in a phased and time-tabled programme for eliminating nuclear weapons.
First Committee, 3 November: PP8 - 72:38:18; Whole
resolution - 82:37:20
First Committee Comments: Many but not all NAM voted in favour. Votes against were primarily NATO plus allies. Russia and China abstained, as did Japan. China said it had voted in favour in the past, but now doubted the sincerity of the main sponsor (an implied reference to India's nuclear tests and posture).
L.16/Rev.2 (UNGA 53/77 F)
Introduced by India
This new resolution, purporting to address the de-alerting of nuclear weapons raises the dangers of hair-trigger alert, doctrines of nuclear use, and the 1996 ICJ advisory opinion. OP1 calls for a review of nuclear doctrines and 'immediate and urgent steps to reduce the risks of unintentional and accidental use of nuclear weapons' and OP2 requests the 5 NWS to undertake measures towards implementation of OP1. There was a separate vote on OP3, which called on UN member States to prevent proliferation and to promote nuclear disarmament.
First Committee, 13 November: OP3 - 67:0:53; Whole
resolution - 68:44:12
First Committee Comments: NATO and Russian allies abstained on OP3, principally because they appeared to fear that the paragraph, taken in the context of the resolution, might possibly confer special status on the non-NPT nuclear weapon possessors, for which India continues to push. These same States formed the main bloc of votes against the whole resolution. China explained that it abstained, despite having some of its suggestions accepted into the text, because the resolution was still "unbalanced, with a number of drawbacks". The United States called it "yet another unrealistic nuclear disarmament resolution which fails to acknowledge the real progress" being made. Listing its own progress in deep reductions, the US said that there was now less possibility of nuclear exchange involving the five NWS that at any time in the last 50 years. Similarly, France listed the steps it had taken, including measures in 1992 to reduce the alert status of its nuclear forces, and said that the resolution contained elements that were "dangerous to international security" and therefore "unacceptable". Few others spoke publicly. Even among strong advocates of dealerting, the resolution was viewed as a political gesture to distract attention from India's nuclear tests. They feared that the timing and political context of this resolution would have a counterproductive effect on de-alerting initiatives which, presently pitched at an operational and technical level, had begun to be taken seriously, at least in the United States and Russia. Some raised doubts as to whether the real objective of politicising the issue via such a resolution was to promote de-alerting or to sabotage it.
L.21/Rev.2 (UNGA 53/80)
Introduced by Egypt on behalf of the League of Arab States
Intended to draw attention to Israel's nuclear capabilities, L.21/Rev.2 refers to the resolution and decisions adopted by NPT parties in 1995 and calls on 'the only State in the region that is not party to the NPT' to accede without delay, renounce possession of nuclear weapons and place all its unsafeguarded nuclear facilities under fullscope IAEA safeguards. A separate vote was called on PP6, which recalled the principles and objectives adopted at the 1995 NPT conference, especially the call for universal adherence to the Treaty.
First Committee 9 November: PP6 -141:2:2; Whole
resolution - 134:2:10
First Committee Comments: On PP6, India and Israel opposed; Cuba and Pakistan abstained. The US joined Israel in voting against the whole resolution, saying that in was inappropriate to single out one country for not joining the NPT. Referring to the recently concluded Wye accords, the US complained that the peace process should be acknowledged and encouraged. Israel agreed and commented that "the proposers openly admit the resolution's purpose is to harass".
L.22 (UNGA 53/77 G)
Introduced by Canada, with Australia and New Zealand
A resolution focusing on the recent nuclear tests in South Asia. Expresses 'grave concern and strongly deplores' the nuclear tests and recalls the security council resolution 1172 (1998) adopted unanimously on 6 June, which contained a variety of concerns and exhortations. Also notes that India and Pakistan have declared moratoria on further testing and said that they would enter into legal commitments not to conduct any further nuclear tests. Reiterates that such commitments should be 'expressed in legal form by signing and ratifying' the CTBT.
Seven amendments were tabled to this resolution, from India, Pakistan, India and Pakistan (jointly), Sri Lanka (for SAARC), and Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Some of these utilised NAM language or generally accepted concepts, while others sought to widen the condemnation of nuclear tests to include all past testing by the NWS and/or sub-critical or laboratory testing or to relate the resolution to nuclear disarmament by the five NPT-NWS. Aware that it would be difficult for NAM States to oppose amendments in language adopted in joint NAM declarations and statements, but fearing also that such amendments would change or dilute the meaning and purpose of L.22, the sponsors of the resolution called for 'no action' on the amendments.
By a very close vote in some cases, the first no action proposals were passed, following which some amendments were also withdrawn. In the end, no amendments were put to the vote at all. The resolution was overwhelmingly passed unamended.
No action was taken on amendments L.52, L.56, L.58, and L.62. India withdrew amendments L.55 and L.57. Pakistan withdrew amendment L.61.
First Committee, 12 November: 98:6:31
First Committee Comments India, Pakistan, Benin, Bhutan, Zambia, Zimbabwe voted against. Abstentions included SAARC members, such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives, a large number of African or Middle Eastern States, including Algeria, Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Eritrea, Kenya, Ghana, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Libya, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Qatar, Oman, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Tunisia, Syria, Sudan, and also Cyprus, Cuba, Viet Nam, Turkey, and Israel.
Opposing the resolution and 'no action' strategy, Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan portrayed the resolution as discriminatory and unfair, even charging the proponents with racism. Pakistan argued that its tests had been conducted from motives of self defence and complained that L.22 did not mention the years of nuclear testing by other States and the modernisation of nuclear weapons through sub-critical tests and 'minute thermonuclear explosions' conducted in laboratories such as the US National Ignition Facility (NIF). Pakistan further accused L.22 of being "backward looking" because it did not take into account the "important progress made since the tests", including recent statements by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. India's Ambassador Savitri Kunadi also complained that the resolution was discriminatory and criticised the co-sponsors for not accepting changes to the text.
Ecuador, which announced its co-sponsorship just before the vote, summed up the position of many NAM countries when it said that it was against nuclear testing, regardless of who conducted it. Ecuador, like many NAM colleagues and others, including Japan, acknowledged that a number of the amendments could have been supported in a different context - and indeed were addressed and voted for in other resolutions to the First Committee; but that it would support 'no action' proposals on these amendments because they changed the meaning of L.22, which was meant to focus specifically on the recent nuclear tests. A number of those who abstained or voted against explained that they had been unable to support the resolution without the amendments. A few criticised the process of voting amendments out through 'no action' proposals anti-democratic.
In addition to the primary sponsors, New Zealand, Canada and Australia, a large number of delegations spoke in favour of the resolution or of no action on the amendments: including Mexico, Costa Rica, the Solomon Islands, Brazil, Japan, Argentina, Hungary, Norway, Ireland, Lithuania, Portugal, Ecuador, the Philippines, the United States, China, Turkey, and Haiti. The main reasons for supporting this resolution unamended included: the necessity to show united international opposition to nuclear testing, particularly since the recent tests challenged the norm being established by the multilaterally negotiated CTBT; that criticising India and Pakistan for testing followed appropriately from previous criticism in the First Committee of continued French and Chinese testing in 1995; and that it was doubly important for the General Assembly to record international dismay about the tests, since the CD annual report had seemed to ignore the issue (the consensus rule having prevented inclusion of such a mention).
In justifying different patterns of support between the 1995 resolution and this on nuclear testing, one or two delegations tried to stress the difference between the earlier nuclear tests, implying a degree of legitimacy for tests conducted by the NWS, and the later tests, conducted by non-NPT States. This argument, however, was not regarded as helpful by the majority of supporters of the resolution, who did not accept that the NPT had ever conferred legitimacy on nuclear weapons or testing. In their eyes, all testing was reprehensible, but by conducting tests after the conclusion and signing of the CTBT by so many, India and Pakistan also threatened the norm that such a treaty was intended to establish. In viewing the tests as violating international norms, they accepted, however, that neither India nor Pakistan had violated any treaties, since they were not signatories to either the CTBT or NPT at the time. Many welcomed the announcements by both countries of their moratoria on testing and their intentions to join the CTBT and urged them to maintain the moratoria and sign and ratify the CTBT without delay.
L.24/Rev.1 (UNGA 53/77 I)
Introduced by Canada
This long-titled resolution is the first attempt since 1993 to get a UN GA resolution backing CD negotiations on banning fissile materials (fissban, FMT or FMCT, depending on how specific an abbreviation you require). It notes the start of negotiations (in August 1998) and encourages the CD to re-establish the committee and resume negotiations at the beginning of its 1999 session. Pakistan had submitted an amendment (L.51) noting the continuing differences over scope and objectives (i.e. stocks) and tying the fissban concept with a time-table for nuclear disarmament.
Pakistan withdrew amendment L.51
First Committee, 13 November: Consensus
First Committee Comments: Canada had proposed the resolution, stressing the importance of bringing the CD negotiations on a fissban to a timely and effective conclusion. Before the vote, the United States appealed to Pakistan to withdraw its amendments, emphasising that L.24 was consistent with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's statement on this issue. With a bluntness which astonished some delegations, the United States Ambassador, Robert Grey, referred to Pakistan's economic frailty and the US willingness to assist, and also to the forthcoming meetings between Sharif and President Clinton, which (he emphasised) would address the non-proliferation and arms control as well as assistance to Pakistan. Ambassador Munir Akram stressed the outstanding differences among States despite the Shannon report and mandate and the necessity for agreeing first on the scope and objectives, noting that the negotiations were likely to be almost "as long as the title of this resolution". Akram reiterated that halting the production of fissile materials could only be acceptable in the context of a treaty dealing with completely banning nuclear fissile materials. In the context of this understanding, and in "appreciation of the spirit" of the US appeal, bearing in mind that the United States had not co-cosponsored the resolution on nuclear testing (L.22), Akram agreed to withdraw Pakistan's amendments and allow the resolution to go through without a vote.
L.36 (UNGA 53/75)
Introduced by Pakistan with co-sponsorship from several NAM States
Notes various statements and previous resolutions on negative security assurances (NSA) and that the CD had 'no objection, in principle' to the idea of an international convention on such security assurances, and appeals for further intensive efforts to find a common approach or formula to overcome the acknowledged difficulties. Recommends the CD to continue 'intensive negotiations' with a view to reaching early agreement and concluding effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.
First Committee, 6 November: 78:0:48
First Committee Comments: Supporters were mostly NAM countries, Japan and China. Abstainers included NATO and EU plus NATO/EU applicants from former Soviet bloc, Russia, Argentina, Israel, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand.
L.42/Rev.1 (UNGA 53/77 U)
Introduced by Japan
This annually recurring Japanese-sponsored resolution on nuclear disarmament, which traditionally focuses on implementing the NPT, was originally strengthened this year with paragraphs calling for 'the commencement of multilateral discussions on possible steps that should follow' the proposed FM(C)T (OP4 -3), and 'further efforts by the five nuclear-weapon States to reduce their nuclear arsenals unilaterally, and the commencement, at an appropriate stage, of their negotiations for the reduction of nuclear weapons' (OP4 -5). Following consultations with the NWS, these paragraphs were watered down to urge 'multilateral discussions on possible future steps on nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation' and 'further efforts by the five NWS to reduce their nuclear arsenals unilaterally and through their negotiations'. Arguing that L.42 was misnamed because it dealt with the NPT rather than nuclear disarmament, Pakistan had submitted an amendment (L.54) to insert a number of commitments to a time-table and negotiations on nuclear disarmament. Pakistan withdrew its amendment after Japan revised the text, leaving out a reference to UN Security Council resolution 1172 (1998), which was replaced with a more general statement 'bearing in mind the recent nuclear tests which pose a/the [there was some dispute over the correct article in different translations] challenge to international efforts to strengthen the global regime of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.'(PP2)
Overall, L.42/Rev.1 backs the START process, welcomes the September 1998 Summit statement from Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin and the 'efforts' of other NWS to reduce their nuclear arsenals 'most recently' by the UK, welcomes Brazil's accession to the NPT and the CD's establishment of a committee to negotiate the FM(C)T, and calls on all States not party to the NPT to accede without delay and without conditions. Utilising the language of the Programme of Action contained in the Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament adopted at the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference (P&O), the resolution calls for the pursuit of five specific actions: early entry into force of the CTBT, pending which all nuclear testing should cease; early conclusion at the CD of the proposed FM(C)T; multilateral discussions on follow-up steps related to nuclear disarmament; early entry into force of START II and early conclusion of US-Russian negotiations on START III; and five-power efforts to reduce their nuclear weapons. Also welcomes ongoing efforts at dismantling nuclear weapons and safely managing the fissile materials and calls on all States to 'redouble their efforts' to prevent the proliferation of all weapons of mass destruction, including strengthening export control policies where necessary.
Separate votes were called on PP2, which referred to the recent nuclear tests, and OP1, which reaffirmed the importance of achieving the universality of the NPT.
Pakistan withdrew amendment L.53.
First Committee, 13 November: PP2 - 125:1 (India):4
(Bhutan, Israel, Pakistan, Nigeria); OP1 - 136:3 (India, Israel,
Pakistan):4 (Bhutan, Cuba, DRCongo, Syria); Whole resolution -
First Committee Comments - Algeria, Bhutan, Colombia, Cuba, DPRK (North Korea), DRCongo, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, Myanmar abstained.
The US said it was pleased to support this resolution, which "is not utopian but acknowledges reality". France was also happy to support but regretted omission of the unilateral steps undertaken in past years but still being implemented, such as the important and irreversible steps undertaken by France, including the closure of its test sites at Moruroa and Fangataufa. France considered that some of the references were most appropriate for the US and Russia to pursue at this time. China said it supported the resolution but continued to believe that those with the largest arsenals needed to reduce them before other steps would become appropriate. China reiterated its view that the other NWS' nuclear deterrence strategies were "counterproductive to the pursuit of nuclear disarmament." Algeria and Iran said they had abstained because the title was not adequately reflected by the substance. Though recognising that Colombia joined other NAM States in wanting greater progress on nuclear disarmament, some delegates regarded the Colombian abstention as somewhat odd, since Colombia is nominated to chair the next NPT PrepCom in New York, April 1999.
L.45 (UNGA 53/77 W)
Introduced by Malaysia, with co-sponsorship from over 40 NAM countries
Invoking the 8 July 1996 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons, especially the obligation to negotiate the elimination of nuclear weapons, calls for multilateral negotiations to commence in 1998 'leading to an early conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention prohibiting the development, production, testing, deployment, stockpiling, transfer, threat or use of nuclear weapons and providing for their elimination.' The resolution also requested all States to report back to the UN on 'the efforts and measures they have taken on the implementation of the present resolution and nuclear disarmament'.
First Committee, 10 November: OP1 - 133:5:5; Whole
resolution - 100:25:23
First Committee Comments: There was a significantly higher vote for OP1, which underlined the unanimous conclusion of the ICJ regarding the legal obligation to pursue and bring to conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament. Only the United States, Russia, France, Monaco and Bulgaria voted against. As in 1997, Britain abstained, joined by the Czech Republic, Israel, FYRO Macedonia and Turkey. Other Western and Eastern European delegations voted with the NAM States in favour. Chile expressed astonishment that any country could vote against OP1.
On the whole resolution, Ireland, Sweden, New Zealand and Ukraine voted with China and the majority of NAM in favour. Most NATO States voted against the whole resolution, with Norway and Denmark joining Japan and Australia in abstaining. In their explanations of vote, many delegations stressed their support for the ICJ opinion, though some, including Britain, the United States, the Benelux countries, Germany and Greece, argued that the resolution was selective. Japan and South Korea were sympathetic with the aims, but considered some paragraphs, including that relating to timebound framework, to be unrealistic. New Zealand said it voted in favour despite certain reservations because the resolution strongly supported the ICJ, stressed the need for greater progress on nuclear disarmament, and recognised that the eventual outcome must be comprehensive, whether a nuclear weapon convention or other legal instruments. The United States said it opposed the resolution because it distorted the ICJ "advisory, repeat advisory opinion" and attention should rather be given to the step by step process currently underway.
L.47 (UNGA 53/77 X)
Introduced by Myanmar and over 40 NAM States
Recurrent resolution which utilises NAM decisions to call for the CD to convene an ad hoc committee to 'commence negotiations early in 1999 on a phased programme of nuclear disarmament and for the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons within a time-bound framework through a nuclear weapons convention'. This year, Myanmar's resolution has adopted some of the language from both the Malaysian and the NAC resolutions, recognising the need to revise nuclear doctrines, halt the qualitative improvement and stockpiling of nuclear warheads and their delivery systems, and de-alert and de-activate nuclear weapons. Backs the START process, CTBT, CD committees on FMT and security assurances and step-by-step progress, though regarding them as insufficient. Notes the ICJ opinion, the relevant references from the Durban Conference of NAM Heads of State and the August 1996 programme of action on nuclear disarmament and subsequent proposals by various non-aligned members of the CD. Calls for a treaty on no-first-use and advocates as a first step a multilateral agreement committing all States to the objective of eliminating nuclear weapons.
First Committee, 4 November: 87:40:15
First Committee Comments: Voting was largely according to group affiliations. China joined the NAM votes in favour. The EU/NATO States and EU/NATO applicants voted against. Russia, Japan, Chile and South Africa joined the abstentions, which included a few NAM, some former Soviet States and a few western allies, such as South Korea.
L.48/Rev.1 (UNGA 53/77 Y)
Introduced by Ireland with over 30 co-sponsors from across the groups: Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, Guatemala, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Samoa, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Swaziland, Sweden, Thailand, Togo, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia.
New resolution, deriving from 9 June Declaration from the Foreign Ministers of Ireland, South Africa, Brazil, Egypt, Slovenia, New Zealand, Sweden and Mexico (although Slovenia was forced by pressure from Britain, France and the United States to withdraw its co-sponsorship before the First Committee vote). Underlines the importance of fully implementing the NPT and its strengthened review process adopted in 1995 and proposes a multistranded approach to nuclear disarmament, utilising unilateral, bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral actions, including: further reductions and progress on START; de-alerting; a moratorium on the production of fissile materials for weapons pending conclusion of the fissban negotiations; entry into force of the CTBT; and an international legal instrument on security assurances. One of the most controversial paragraphs originally called on the NWS to 'examine further measures, including the exploration...of an undertaking not to be the first to use nuclear weapons'. Following considerable consultation with interested parties, including NATO members, Japan and the NWS, this paragraph was revised to utilise language accepted as part of NATO's own examination of its strategic concepts, viz. calling on the NWS 'to examine further interim measures, including measures to enhance strategic stability and accordingly to review strategic doctrines' (OP6)
Separate votes were requested on OP8, which called for full adherence to the NPT, and OP17, which advocated a legally binding international instrument providing security assurances to NPT parties. France called the resolution "nefarious" and joined Russia and the United States in refusing to participate in the paragraph votes.
First Committee, 13 November: OP8 - 132:3:4; OP17 -
130:1:6; Whole resolution - 97:19:32
First Committee Comments: On OP8 (NPT), India, Pakistan and Israel voted against. Bhutan, Cuba, DRCongo and Slovenia abstained. Britain joined the majority in favour. Britain voted against OP17 on legally binding security assurances to NPT parties. Cuba, India, Israel, South Korea, Pakistan and Slovenia abstained. Pakistan explained its abstention, saying it supported unconditional security assurances, and that any effort to restrict such assurances to NPT parties would be discriminatory and unacceptable.
Four NWS (France, Russian Federation, UK, US) India, Israel and Pakistan all voted against the resolution as a whole, together with a number of NATO/EU applicant countries from the former Eastern European bloc and a couple or others: Armenia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Monaco, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Turkey.
32 Abstentions including 12 out of 16 NATO members: Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bhutan, Canada, China, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Myanmar, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Korea, Moldova, Slovenia, Spain, FYROMacedonia, Ukraine.
Before the vote on the whole resolution, France explained its vote against, saying that the resolution was unrealistic and inappropriate because it disregarded the progress already made or underway and cast doubt on the NPT regime. It called into question the principle of nuclear deterrence, which underpinned NATO doctrine and was fundamental to French security. The United States said that L.48/Rev.1 called deterrence, viewed as a fundamental doctrine of the defence of the USA and its allies, into question; and it would not advance nuclear disarmament. The US appeared to equate its deterrence posture with Article 51 of the UN Charter (the right to self defence), accusing the NAC proposers of overly pushing the NWS, undermining the CD, NPT and even SSOD IV (which the US had hitherto opposed) and of failing to mention the South Asian tests, saying that this would "hardly encourage ratification of START II". Akram later picked up the article 51 reference and threw it back at the US, arguing that Pakistan had exercised only this right to self defence when it conducted its nuclear tests in May. Pakistan "appreciated" the motives behind the NAC initiative but opposed the resolution because of its references to the NPT and the fact that "we are obliged to rely on our deterrence capability... like France... deterrence remains a fundamental concept of our security and defence."
Britain said it was "wholly committed to nuclear disarmament... [and] remains ready to support any measure that will make a practical contribution to advancing nuclear disarmament" but would vote against L.48/Rev.1 because "this resolution does not". Ambassador Ian Soutar repeated Britain's commitment to nuclear disarmament and its obligations under Article VI of the NPT, "given practical expression" by the measures undertaken in the Strategic Defence Review. However, the resolution advocated measures that the UK had examined in its SDR and "which we concluded are, at the present time, inconsistent with the maintenance of a credible minimum deterrent". Argentina said that it could not support the resolution because it appeared to recognise a new category of States with nuclear weapon capabilities, which could create further problems.
After the vote, it was noticeable that many of the explanations by abstaining NATO members utilised the criticisms made by the NATO NWS in their attempts to persuade their allies to vote against L.48. On behalf of the Benelux countries and Denmark, Spain, Finland, Iceland and Portugal, Col Assèhe Millim said that those countries abstained with regret. There were a number of positive elements to which they could subscribe, but also three principal flaws: firstly, the resolution was alarmist in tone, implying disappointment in the present non-proliferation regime, which they could not share. They accused the resolution of "passing in silence" over the nuclear tests this year and of introducing an "ambiguity" in the definitions of States with a nuclear capability: for NPT members, Millim said, there were only two categories of States: NWS and NNWS.
Italy gave a similar explanation, saying that it had abstained "in order to avoid any misunderstanding with regard to our commitment to nuclear disarmament, but also to voice our concern as to the means envisaged by a resolution whose goals we share." Ambassador Balboni had wanted the text better to reflect what had already been achieved and, underlining Italy's commitment to the cause of nuclear disarmament, said that this would not be advanced by a resolution which "proposes concepts not consistent with the NPT and considers strategies which might undermine the effectiveness and credibility of that Treaty." Turkey also listed the standard arguments circulated in the previous weeks against the resolution: alarmist, against the NPT, against NATO and deterrence, impractical, didn't mention nuclear testing, and so on.
Canada said it endorsed the NAC premise that the NPT-based non-proliferation regime was "under severe strain". Ambassador Moher said that the resolution was a "timely and pointed reminder of the urgent need for more progress" on nuclear disarmament. Canada's abstention was explained in terms of not wanting to prejudge the study the Canadian Parliament has undertaken into Canada's non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament policy, due to report in a few weeks. However, in face of the "pressing and potent challenges", Canada expected to continue to push these issues with its friends and allies and looked forward to the resolution being reviewed next year. Norway supported the reasoning behind L.48/Rev.1, but was not convinced that the resolution in its present form would be "conducive to progress", due to 5 "problematic aspects": (i) its language was too confrontational with regard to the NWS and would not be conducive to constructive dialogue with them; (ii) it did not duly recognise the significant steps already undertaken; (iii) lack of balance, because too critical of the NWS and not addressing the South Asian nuclear tests; (iv) doesn't like the international conference idea, regards it as redundant, and having the potential to derail the NPT review process; and (v) the envisaged possible role for the CD is too ambiguous - Norway did not believe the CD could be mandated to pursue nuclear disarmament negotiations, but hoped that the CD could serve as a forum for information exchange etc. on this issue.
Ambassador Günther Seibert of Germany welcomed the commitment to the disarmament of nuclear weapons with the goal of ultimately eliminating those weapons, but considered that this can best be achieved through "speedy continuation of the present step by step process". Ambassador John Campbell of Australia said the resolution was "not practical or realistic." Australia rejected any implication that the NPT regime had failed or was in "dire need of reanimation" and opposed the call for a new international conference on nuclear disarmament, with "an ill-defined agenda", which would "distract attention and energies away from the priority tasks" e.g. CTBT, fissban, successful 2000 NPT review conference and so on.
Japan noted that there were a number of common ingredients in L.48/Rev.1 and Japan's own resolution, L42./Rev.1 and said its delegation's decision to abstain had not been easy. Japan abstained because L48/Rev.1 "went just a little too far and contained some elements that are a little premature." These included references to the prospect of the indefinite possession of nuclear weapons and criticism of the NWS: Japan considers that the NWS have committed themselves to the elimination of nuclear weapons and have made significant reductions already. Japan was especially concerned about OP14 (the call for an international conference on nuclear disarmament) and OP19 (which affirms that a nuclear-weapon-free world would ultimately require the underpinnings of a universal and multilaterally negotiated legally binding instrument or a framework of mutually reinforcing instruments, which is regarded by many as code for advocating a nuclear weapon convention, although some of the co-sponsors have stressed that that is only one possible interpretation). Japan wanted to nurture a new consensus involving the NWS, to make steady step-by-step progress towards the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons.
South Korea said it could support elements but abstained because L48/Rev.1 contained "unrealistic and drastic elements" and went too far. Algeria abstained because the resolution appeared to put forward new definitions, and was not really a new agenda. The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) essentially repeated the NATO-NWS' objections and called for future consultations to engage in more dialogue with the NWS.
Ambassador Kunadi said that India had positively assessed the 9 June 'Dublin Declaration', but that L48/Rev.1 went "far beyond the parameters of the original declaration". In particular, India rejected the "extraneous prescriptive parts" and fallacious concepts such as 'those States that have nuclear weapon capabilities...', which, she averred, are "analytically hollow and do not correspond to reality". She criticised the resolution for its lack of mention of doctrines of nuclear deterrence or refinements of nuclear weapons by the "self-anointed NWS" and criticised the sponsors for trying to revive core understandings of the NPT, while being silent on the "multifarious sources of problems which the NPT has failed to stem". India would have preferred more references from the Durban document on NAM positions and, in conclusion, India was "unconvinced of the utility of [such] an exercise bound by the flawed NPT".
China reiterated its basic position on nuclear disarmament, saying that the NWS should intensify their efforts to fulfil Article VI of the NPT and calling on the largest two NWS to do more to cut their arsenals, abandon the doctrines of deterrence and halt research and development of outer space weapons and missile defence systems that undermine the global strategic balance, saying that such actions would create favourable conditions for the other NWS to participate in the process of nuclear disarmament. China could support some specific steps in the resolution but judging from the enormous differences between the NWS' nuclear forces, and the fact that they still have deterrence doctrines based on potential first use, China considered it premature to ask all the NWS to take the same measures.
L.49/Rev.1 (UNGA 53/77 Z)
Introduced by the United States, co sponsored by Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine
26 paragraph resolution which focuses on the START process, lists positive developments, welcomes the various US-Russian initiatives, such as those expressed at the Presidential Summits in Helsinki in March 1997 and Moscow in September 1998, and urges the signatories to START II to "take the steps necessary to bring that Treaty into force at the earliest possible date". Also "encourages and supports" the US and Russia in further efforts to reduce and eliminate their nuclear weapons "on the basis of existing agreements" and invites them to keep other UN members informed of progress in their discussions and the implementation of the START agreements and related unilateral decisions.
First Committee, 12 November: 136:0:8
First Committee Comments: Cuba, DPRK, Lebanon, Pakistan, India, Iran, Syria and Tanzania abstained. China voted for but reiterated its view that the States with the largest arsenals should make the first efforts to implement START II and move on to START III. China interpreted the resolution's reference to the 10 May 1995 statement on the ABM Treaty as support and emphasised the necessity to "strictly abide" by the Treaty and refrain from doing anything that might harm it, for example, by developing high performance theatre missile defence systems which China viewed as undermining the global strategic balance and risking giving rise to a new nuclear arms race. China expressed reservations, however, on the consideration of extending the bilateral agreement on early warning and exchange of information on missile launches to a possible multilateral regime (OP8), saying that this was more relevant in the bilateral context. Britain strongly supported the resolution and its "many important initiatives", listed various measures undertaken following the SDR, and quoted UK policy that it would include its arsenal in negotiations "when satisfied with progress" in reducing the largest arsenals.
While appreciating the reductions, Pakistan gave five main reasons for its abstention: the resolution appreciated the indefinite extension of the NPT, which had been "construed" by some of the NWS to confer an "indefinite right to possess nuclear weapons"; it did not contain a firm commitment to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons; it seems to support "highly destabilising developments in ballistic missile systems"; it welcomes the reductions without mentioning that they were down from very high numbers and that "even now, there are more nuclear weapons than at the time of the Cuban Missile crisis" and its lack of mention for the role of multilateral fora, such as the CD. Iran said it abstained for four principal reasons: nuclear disarmament "is an international concern and should not be confined to bilateral negotiations" just on reductions; the resolution does not recognise the role of the CD; some parts of the resolution are unsubstantiated; and though bilateral negotiations on nuclear reductions were "a great achievement in the period of the Cold War", there is now no justification of excluding the majority of UN members from nuclear disarmament negotiations.
L.2 (UNGA 53/77 A)
Proposed by Kyrgyzstan on behalf also of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan
Commends the various steps taken towards establishing a NWFZ in Central Asia, calls for support from other States and encourages the five Central Asian States to continue their dialogue with the five NWS and requests UN assistance in the preparation of the form and elements of an agreement establishing a NWFZ in Central Asia.
First Committee, 6 November: Consensus
L.3* (UNGA 53/74)
Introduced by Egypt
Calls for serious consideration of practical and urgent steps to implement a nuclear-weapon-free zone (NWFZ) in the Middle East and invites 'all countries concerned' (without naming Israel) to adhere to the NPT. The resolution also notes the importance of the ongoing Middle East peace negotiations. It calls on "the only country which has not yet done so" to place all its nuclear activities under IAEA safeguards and invites all countries in the region not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or permit them to be stationed on their territory.
First Committee, 9 November: Consensus
First Committee Comments: Israel said that it had joined consensus in this resolution since 1980 because of the "flexibility and respect" shown in consultations with the sponsors and despite L.3's "deficiencies". Israel would like to see the "eventual establishment" of a mutually verified NWFZ, as well as including chemical and biological weapons and ballistic missiles.
L.10/Rev.2 (UNGA 53/77 D)
Introduced by Mongolia
Welcomes the decision of Mongolia, located between two NWS, to declare its territory a NWFZ. Endorses Mongolia's good-neighbourly relationship with its neighbours, noting the statements made by both these NWS in connection with Mongolia's declaration, and invites UN Member States including the NWS to cooperate in consolidating Mongolia's NWFZ status, as well as its independence, sovereignty, security and ecology.
First Committee, 10 November: Consensus UNGA: Consensus
First Committee Comments: China said it respected and supported Mongolia's NWF status. The United States said it supported the resolution but noted that it was broader than just establishing a single-State NWF zone.
L.19 (UNGA 53/83)
Introduced by Mexico with co-sponsorship from the countries covered by the Treaty of Tlatelolco.
Notes that the Treaty is now in force for 32 States in the region, welcomes the steps taken to consolidate the regime and urges countries of the region that have not yet done so to deposit their ratification of the amendments to the Treaty as soon as possible.
First Committee, 3 November: Consensus
L.37 (UNGA 53/77 Q)
Introduced by Brazil with support from a large number of African, Latin American and Pacific countries, including New Zealand and South Africa.
Fourth year for this resolution, which calls for full ratification of the treaties and relevant protocols of Tlatelolco, Rarotonga, Bangkok and Pelindaba, welcomes initiatives on further NWFZ, and stresses the 'value of enhancing cooperation' among the NWFZ treaty members by means such as joint meetings of States parties, signatories and observers to those treaties. Calls on States within the region to facilitate adherence to the protocols to NWFZ treaties by relevant States that have not yet done so, and to 'promote the nuclear-weapon-free status of the southern hemisphere and adjacent areas' and to explore and implement further cooperation among themselves. Stresses the role of NWFZ in 'strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime and in extending the areas of the world that are nuclear free' and (referring especially to the NWS) calls for support for 'the process of nuclear disarmament, with the ultimate goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons'.
Paragraph vote called by India on OP3, which welcomed initiatives on other NWFZ proposals, including the Middle East and South Asia. Pakistan called for a separate vote on the three words 'and South Asia' in OP3, which caused confusion since the rules of procedure did not cover votes on specific words within a paragraph except by means of an amendment to delete those words, which Pakistan had not proposed. Despite concerns about setting a precedent, the Chair permitted the paragraph to be taken in parts, but the region-specifying words were adopted nonetheless.
First Committee, 4 November: vote on three words 'and
South Asia' in OP3 - 118:2 (India, Pakistan):21; OP3 (including the
approved words) - 125:1 (India):18; Whole resolution -129:4:14
First Committee Comments: On the whole resolution, France, United States, UK and Monaco voted against. Israel, India, Russia, Micronesia, Marshall Islands and a sprinkling of former Eastern bloc countries abstained.
In explanation, France on behalf also of Britain and the United States, said that despite some "useful improvements", the purpose of the proposers appeared to be to create a new zone, covering the high seas: or if not, then what does L.37 add to existing NWFZ resolutions? China, the only NWS to vote in favour, said that the establishment of NWFZ should be in line with recognised international norms but should not cover maritime rights, and that its vote was based on the understanding that L.37 did not seek to create additional obligations for the NWFZ already in operation. India complained that since there was no consensus in South Asia for a NWFZ, OP3 did not correspond to reality.
Other Weapons of Mass Destruction
L.6/Rev.1 (UNGA 53/84)
Introduced by Hungary with over 60 co-sponsors
Notes that the BTWC now has 141 States parties, supports the work of the Review Conferences and negotiations in the Ad Hoc Group on a protocol to strengthen the Convention. Calls for these negotiations to be accelerated to conclude an efficient, cost-effective and practical regime and calls on all States parties to participate in the exchange of information, as agreed.
First Committee, 3 November: Consensus
L.9 (UNGA 53/77 C)
Introduced by Nigeria on behalf of the Group of African States
Expresses concern about radiological warfare and the dumping of nuclear or radioactive wastes and calls on the CD to include radwastes as part of any convention on the prohibition of radiological weapons, which it is encouraged to negotiate.
First Committee, 3 November: Consensus
L.28 (UNGA 53/77 L)
Introduced by South Africa on behalf of the NAM
New resolution, which welcomed the withdrawal of some reservations to the 1925 Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, and called for the withdrawal of all remaining reservations.
First Committee, 3 November: 136:0:3 (Israel, South Korea
and United States)
L.38/Rev.1 (UNGA 53/&& R)
Introduced by Poland, together with Canada
Supports the CWC, appreciates the ongoing work of its implementing organisation, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and stresses the importance of all possessors of chemical weapons or chemical weapons production or development facilities to adhere to the Convention. Stressing the importance of full and effective implementation of all provisions of the CWC, urges all States Parties to meet in full and in a timely manner their obligations under the convention and calls on States which have not yet done so to becomes parties to the CWC without delay.
First Committee, 3 November: Consensus
First Committee Comments: Egypt said it had not joined consensus, principally because of reservations over OP5, which called for universal adherence to the CWC. Citing Israel's continued possession of nuclear weapons, Egypt said it declined to join the CWC until Israel signs the NPT. Other Arab States, including Libya, Yemen and Algeria noted similar reservations, while Israel welcomed the entry into force of the CWC.
L.40 (UNGA 53/76)
Introduced by Egypt with co-sponsorship by a number of NAM countries and China
Reaffirms the importance and urgency of preventing an arms race in outer space, emphasises the 'paramount importance' of strict compliance with existing arms limitation and disarmament agreements, including bilateral agreements, relevant to outer space and considers that 'wide participation in the legal regime applicable to outer space' could enhance its effectiveness. Raises concern that the growing use of outer space increases the need for greater transparency and better information. Calls especially upon States with major space capabilities to contribute to the peaceful uses of outer space and the prevention of an arms race in space, and 'to refrain from actions contrary to that objective and to the relevant existing treaties in the interest of maintaining international peace and security and promoting international cooperation'.
Notes that during 1997 there were 'no objections in principle' in the CD for re-establishing the PAROS ad hoc committee and calls on the CD to 'finalise the examination' of the 13 February 1992 mandate, updating as appropriate and thus providing for the re-establishment of the PAROS committee in 1999.
First Committee, 5 November: 140:0:5
First Committee Comments: There was a big transfer of NATO votes, including Britain and France, from abstaining (in previous years) to voting in favour. Only the US, Israel, Argentina, Marshall Islands and Micronesia abstained.
The United States said that there was 'unprecedented cooperation [and]... certainly no arms race in outer space; we see no prospect of an arms race in outer space' The US believed that the CD should concentrate on the FMCT and on further work to ban the transfers of anti-personnel landmines, which two efforts "would absorb available resources" at the CD. The US did not however rule out discussing further proposals relating to transparency in outer space. Germany on behalf also of Britain said that they recognised the validity of the issue and would support the re-appointment of a CD Special Coordinator, but considered that the CD had other priorities, particularly the fissban, and should not establish a PAROS committee without having agreed on "substantive issues" for it to address.
L.7/Rev.2 (UNGA 53/77 B)
Introduced by Mali
Principally concerns Mali and other States of the Saharo-Sahelian subregion, welcomes Mali's initiative to curb the illicit circulation and destroy thousands of small arms collected from ex-combatants. Encourages further progress on this issue and appeals for further action and support from the region and from the international community.
First Committee, 6 November: Consensus
L.13/Rev.1 (UNGA 53/77 E)
Introduced by Japan, with over 50 co-sponsors from across the groups
Seeks international action to control and reduce small arms and light weapons, described as "the weapons that are actually killing people in the hundreds of thousands". Calls for an international conference on the illicit arms trade by 2001, which Switzerland has already offered to host.
First Committee, 6 November: PP4 - 127:0:11; Whole
resolution - 136:0:3
First Committee Comments: There were two controversial aspects of the resolution: preambular paragraph 4, referring to the right to self determination of people under colonial domination or foreign occupation, which was voted on separately; and the focus on a large international conference, which some delegations, notably Norway, expressed scepticism about. Norway preferred less high profile but more systematic and thorough programmes of research and practical disarmament, regarding such ongoing governmental and NGO work to be more effective than large international conferences.
Russia, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia abstained on the whole resolution. Russia explained that the positive vote on PP4 on the right of self determination prevented it from supporting the resolution, also it endorsed the concerns it raised. While Britain, France, India, Israel, Spain, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania, Monaco and the United States had joined Russia in abstaining on PP4, they all voted for the final resolution. France described the various measures it had undertaken or supported in pursuit of the objectives of L.13/Rev.1, but said that it was unable to co-sponsor because of the way in which PP4 had been inappropriately inserted "to justify contemptible activities", including terrorism.
L.20/Rev.1 (UNGA 53/81)
Introduced by Sweden, with co-sponsorship from a large cross-group of States, including France, Russia, US, UK, Canada, South Africa and Finland.
Supports the CCW, calls on all States to adhere to amended Protocol II (mines, booby traps etc.) and Protocol IV (blinding laser weapons). Welcomes decisions to convene a further review conference to the CCW by 2001 and requests the UN Secretary General to convene in 1999 the first annual conference in accordance with Article 13 of Amended Protocol II. The Secretariat issued a Note noting that there would be additional requirements for conference servicing costs which had not been provided for and that these would have to be borne by the CCW Parties and conference participants.
First Committee, 6 November: Consensus
L.33 (UNGA 53/77 N)
Introduced by Canada with over 100 co-sponsors from all groups
Notes the signatures and ratifications to the Ottawa Treaty banning landmines, since its conclusion in 1997 and welcomes that it will enter into force on 1 March 1998. Urges further accessions and ratifications to the Treaty and invites participation in the first meeting of the States Parties scheduled for Maputo in May 1999, including also NGOs and non-parties as observers.
First Committee, 4 November: 124:0:19
First Committee Comments: In explanation of vote, Finland and Singapore, which voted in favour, and Pakistan which had abstained, emphasised their preference for addressing landmines through the CCW. Some, like Finland, believed that work in the CD on the transfers of landmines could complement the Ottawa Treaty. Egypt made a lengthy statement calling for international assistance in demining. Egypt criticised the Ottawa Treaty for containing no binding legal framework for States to remove the mines they had laid and for not recognising the right of States to self defence and the importance of mines for protecting borders against terrorists, bandits, drug traffickers, etc.
L.41/Rev.1 (UNGA 53/77 T)
Introduced by South Africa and co-sponsored by over 50 delegations from all groups
Raises concern about the illicit circulation of small arms and the 'interface between violence, criminality, drug trafficking, terrorism and illicit trafficking in small arms', the resolution requests the UN Secretary General to hold 'broad based consultations' (utilising existing financial resources and taking into account the ongoing work of the Group of Governmental Experts on Small Arms) to ascertain the magnitude and scope of the problem, possible measures to combat illicit trafficking, and the role of the UN in collecting, sharing and disseminating information on this problem.
First Committee, 3 November: Consensus
Regional Disarmament and Security
L.23/Rev.1 (UNGA 53/77 H)
Introduced by Belarus, supported by several NAM countries
This resolution addresses the future possibility of nuclear weapons being deployed in Central or Eastern Europe through the expansion of NATO. In text, it welcomes that nuclear weapons have been withdrawn from Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, notes NATO's statements regarding 'no intention, no plan and no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new members' and urges the States in Central and Eastern Europe to abide by their non-proliferation obligations and to 'exert efforts to continue making it possible to have no intention, no plan and no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of the non-nuclear States' of the region.
First Committee, 10 November: 57:41:39
First Committee Comments: When the resolution was tabled, Poland read a statement on behalf of 12 countries from Central and Eastern Europe (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia), which rejected the resolution as "yet another manifestation" of Belarus' attempts to "pursue the idea of a NWFZ in Central and Eastern Europe" (Belarus and Ukraine had formerly sponsored a resolution calling for a NWF 'space' in the region). With their applications to NATO and/or the EU in mind, the 12 countries argued that Belarus' concept of a NWFZ in that region "is incompatible with [our] sovereign resolve to contribute to, and benefit from, the new European security architecture..." Given the stated "lack of interest" from the majority of countries in the region, they considered this issue inappropriate for the General Assembly to consider at present.
Russia, Belarus, China and many NAM States voted in favour, while many NAM abstained. NATO/EU States and wannabes opposed. Austria on behalf of the EU said that it opposed because the States in the region had not been properly consulted and that NWFZs should be "based on agreements freely arrived at among the States of the region concerned", a position echoed by the United States and many other speakers. Even Ukraine, a co-sponsor with Belarus in recent years of resolution endorsing the concept of a NWF-space in Central and Eastern Europe, abstained, citing "ambiguities".
L.34 (UNGA 53/77 O)
Introduced by Pakistan and co-sponsored by 18 States from all groups
Gives generalised support to proposals for disarmament and confidence-building at global, regional and subregional levels.
First Committee, 3 November: Consensus
First Committee Comments: South Korea said this resolution was important because it understood that global and regional approaches complemented each other and that regional disarmament should be based on the specific characteristics of the region concerned, including the crucial role of sub-regional disarmament and arms control efforts.
L.35 (UNGA 53/77 P)
Introduced by Pakistan with several co-sponsors from all groups, including Bangladesh, Norway, Nepal, the Czech Republic and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Aimed rather obviously towards India, the resolution notes the importance of conventional arms control at regional and subregional levels and various initiatives in this regard, including the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) and proposals made in the context of Latin America and South Asia. Refers to the need for balance in defence capabilities 'at the lowest possible level of armaments and military forces' and the 'special responsibility' of those States with larger military capabilities in promoting arms control and regional security. Calls for urgent consideration of these issues and for the CD to consider 'the formulation of principles that can serve as a framework for regional agreements on conventional arms control'.
First Committee, 3 November: 129:2 (India,
Confidence-Building Measures Including Transparency-in-Armaments
L.4/Rev.1 (UNGA 53/78 A)
Proposed by Cameroon on behalf of the members of the Economic Community of Central African States
Supports the work of the standing advisory committee, particularly activities aimed at confidence-building measures, the promotion of peace, and the prevention, management and settlement of political crises and armed conflicts in Central Africa at regional and sub-regional levels. Appeals for voluntary contributions to the Trust Fund for implementing the standing advisory committees work and requests continued assistance from the UN for continuing its work.
First Committee, 12 November: Consensus
First Committee Comments: Several delegations, including Algeria, Cuba and Viet Nam said that had there been a vote they would have abstained on PP11 on the Bata Declaration on promoting lasting democracy, peace and development and/or OP8, which referred to setting up a subregional centre for human rights for human rights and democracy in Central Africa, saying that such references to human rights and democracy were "out of context".
L.30 (UNGA 53/72)
Introduced by Germany
New resolution supporting the guidelines on reporting military expenditure, as reported by the UN Secretary General (A/53/218). Calls on States to report to the UN annually on their military expenditure and calls for international bodies and regional organisations to promote transparency in military matters, support education on these issues and dissemination of the reports. Calls for further ideas to broaden, develop and strengthen participation in the standardised reporting of military expenditure.
First Committee, 4 November: Consensus
L.39/Rev.1 (UNGA 53/77 S)
Introduced by Egypt
Recognises that the UN Register of Conventional Arms 'constitutes an important first step towards the promotion of transparency in military matters' but calls for expansion of the Register's scope to apply to all weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, 'and to transfers of equipment and technology directly related to the development and manufacture of such weapons'. Separate votes were called for PP8, which stressed the need for universality of the NPT, the CWC and the BWC, and for OP3b, which calls for States to submit their views on developing the Register to increase transparency related to WMD, especially nuclear weapons, including the transfer of equipment and technology directly related to manufacturing such weapons.
First Committee, 10 November: PP8 - 137:2:2; OP3b -
80:46:17; Whole resolution - 82:44:17
First Committee Comments: On PP8, India and Israel voted against because of the reference to the NPT, while Pakistan and Cuba abstained. On OP3b and the resolution as a whole, NATO/EU and wannabes, together with Russia and Israel, voted against; China, India and Pakistan joined Japan, South Korea, and a few Eastern European and NAM States in abstaining. Brazil and South Africa abstained on OP3b but voted yes on the whole resolution.
In explanation, South Africa said it had voted for the whole resolution because it believed that transparency should be extended to nuclear weapons, but abstained on OP3b because it disagreed with linking the aim of a register covering WMD with the current Register, which it fully supported and which rightly dealt with conventional weapons. A number of delegations, including the US, Australia and Israel, rejected the linkage made between WMD and conventional arms, which the US representative said provided a "convenient excuse" not to provide practical information on conventional arms. China repeated its position that the largest NWS should take the lead.
L.43 (UNGA 53/77 V)
Introduced by the Netherlands with over 70 co-sponsors
Annual TIA resolution backing the UN Register of Conventional Arms, calls for universal participation and further development of the Register to provide additional information on procurement from national production and military holdings, including types and models. Refers to its previous request for a group of governmental experts to be convened in 2000 to prepare a report on the continuing operation of the Register and its further development, taking into account the work of the CD (OP4b) and invites the CD to continue its work on TIA (OP6). Also calls for cooperation among States at the regional and subregional levels and for the UN to ensure sufficient resources to operate and maintain the Register.
First Committee, 5 November: OP4b - 100:0:11; OP6 -
102:0:12; Whole resolution - 112:0:12
First Committee Comments: It was clear from the co-sponsors and vote that this resolution was strongly supported, although few spoke in debate. In favour were all NATO/EU States and wannabes, a number of NAM States, including India, Pakistan, South Africa, The abstainers included those which pushed for the Register to be expanded to include WMD and States unhappy with the principle of transparency and the Register's requirements, including China, Myanmar and several Middle Eastern States, such as Algeria, Iran and Egypt.
L.1 (UNGA 53/79 A)
Proposed by Belarus with co-sponsors from all groups
Pledges support for the UN Disarmament Commission (UNDC) to continue to work according to the mandate in UNSSOD I (1978) and relevant UN decisions and urges enhanced dialogue and cooperation among the First Committee, UNDC and the Conference on Disarmament
First Committee, 5 November: Consensus
L.5/Rev.1 (UNGA 53/78 B)
Introduced by Nepal on behalf of most of the Asian and Pacific States
Supports the Regional Centre's activities and meetings and the 'Kathmandu process' for enhancing openness, transparency and confidence building in the Asia-Pacific region. Appeals for continued UN support and for government and NGO voluntary contributions to support the Centre's work.
Bangladesh had submitted an amendment (L.46) requiring the Office of the Director to be located in Kathmandhu, but after negotiations between delegations and with the personnel concerned, withdrew it.
Bangladesh withdrew amendment L.46
First Committee, 10 November: Consensus UNGA: Consensus
L.8 (UNGA 53/78 C)
Introduced by Nigeria on behalf of the Group of African States
Acknowledges the financial difficulties but supports the revitalisation of this African Regional Centre to promote confidence-building and sustainable development. Appeals for continued UN support and for voluntary contributions to strengthen the Regional Centre's programmes and activities.
First Committee, 5 November: Consensus
L.12/Rev.1 (UNGA 53/79 B)
Introduced by the UK, as current President of the CD.
Considers the report (A/53/27) and work of the Conference on Disarmament and reaffirms its role as the 'single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community'. Welcomes the convening of ad hoc committees on security assurances and to negotiate a fissile materials ban. Also welcomes the Presidential consultations regarding agenda item 1 (nuclear disarmament), and hopes these consultations and further work on procedural and substantive issues will continue to make progress in 1999. Notes the recommendations that both ad hoc committees and the Presidential consultations be resumed early in 1999.
First Committee, 10 November: Consensus
First Committee Comments: Portugal, on behalf also of Greece (both CD applicants), called for expansion of the Conference to be a "dynamic and phased" process, commenting that reviewing its membership at 'regular intervals' did not mean every ten or twenty years. Noting the "tension between the limited membership of the Conference...and the universal scope of its task... to negotiate multilateral agreements in the field of disarmament designed to be adhered to by all States", Portugal said they supported the CD's enlargement by five countries (as nearly decided in 1998) but wants a special coordinator to be reappointed in 1999 to continue the process towards achieving a Conference that is open to all States that apply.
L.18 (UNGA 53/78 E)
Introduced by Mexico with over 15 NAM co-sponsors
Notes that UNDIP replaced what prior to 1992 had been called the 'World Disarmament Campaign' and calls for continuing support of its work in disseminating information on arms limitation and disarmament to governments, the media, NGOs, educational communities and research programmes by a variety of means.
First Committee, 5 November: Consensus
L.25 (UNGA 53/78 F)
Introduced by South Africa on behalf of the NAM
Reiterates the importance of UN activities at the regional level to increase stability and security, backs the work of the three regional centres in carrying out educational programmes on these issues, and appeals for UN, governmental and NGO support.
First Committee, 5 November: Consensus
L.29 (UNGA 53/78 G)
Introduced by Nigeria and co-sponsored by a cross group of countries, including NAM, China, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, USA, Romania.
Supports the work of the programme (A/53/426), notes that it had trained public officials from various regions, thanks Germany and Japan for promoting studies in 1997 and 1998, and requests continuing implementation of the programme, utilising existing UN resources.
First Committee, 5 November: Consensus
L.50/Rev.1 (UNGA 53/77 AA)
Proposed by South Africa on behalf of the NAM.
Similar to last year's resolution, decides 'subject to the emergence of consensus on its objectives and agenda', to convene UNSSOD IV, but mentions no date, although the year 2001 now looks likely (when the NAM wanted UNSSOD IV in 1998 or 1999, the United States had held out for after 2000). Noting the progress in the fields of WMD as well as conventional arms, the resolution charges the 1999 session of the UNDC with determining the date and agenda, which should 'start the process of reviewing the state of affairs in the entire field of disarmament and arms control in the post-Cold-War era.' As in 1997, the language of this resolution was watered down in order to overcome objections by some of the NWS.
First Committee, 10 November: Consensus
First Committee Comments: The United States said that SSOD IV should be convened "only when its purpose is clear and balanced and covers not only nuclear weapons but also transparency in armaments, conventional weapons, small arms" and so on. Australia raised concern that the UNDC has a rule not to discuss an issue without agreement at more than three consecutive meetings and hoped that if UNSSOD IV went on to its agenda a fourth time in 1999 that agreement would be forthcoming.
Other Disarmament Measures
L.15 (UNGA 53/73)
Introduced by India with over 15 NAM co-sponsors
Relates to dual (military-civilian) use goods and technologies, emphasises that transfers of high technology with military applications should take account of States' 'legitimate defence requirements', and criticises 'undue restrictions' on exports to developing countries. Calls for greater efforts to apply and share science and technology 'for disarmament-related purposes' and urges multilateral negotiations for 'non-discriminatory' guidelines for the international transfer of dual use goods and technologies.
First Committee, 5 November: 77:43:16
First Committee Comments: NATO, the EU and associated States oppose this resolution, which is viewed as hostile to the export control regimes and providing too broad a justification for seeking to develop hi-tech weapons. Because the resolution did not recognise the contribution of control regimes to enhancing cooperation, countries such as Argentina and also a number of NAM members abstained.
L.17/Rev.1 (UNGA 53/70)
Introduced by the Russian Federation
New resolution raising concerns about the 'misuse or exploitation of information resources or technologies for criminal or terrorist purposes'. Calls for promotion of information security, prevention of unauthorised interference or misuse and the development of 'international principles' to 'enhance the security of global information and telecommunications systems and help combat information terrorism and criminality'.
First Committee, 5 November: Consensus
First Committee Comments: The US welcomed the 'balanced approach' of this resolution and said that the UNGA should begin to address these issues, drawing on the experience of delegations to the 2nd and 6th Committees. Australia and Egypt, however, spoke for a number of countries in voicing reservations about the "ambiguous language" and mixed coverage of "diverse issues", saying that they hoped for clarifications in the future.
L.26 (UNGA 53/77 J)
Introduced by South Africa on behalf of the NAM
Raises concerns about the 'detrimental environmental effects' of the use (without mention of the production and testing) of nuclear weapons and calls for measures to 'ensure the application of scientific and technological progress' in international security, disarmament and related areas without harming sustainable development or the environment.
First Committee, 5 November: 138:0:4
First Committee Comments: The US, Britain, France and Israel abstained. The US representative said that though this year's resolution did not include 'overtly objectionable' language, his country abstained because of confusion regarding the purpose and objectives of this 'vague' resolution.
L.27 (UNGA 53/77 K)
Introduced by South Africa on behalf of the NAM
Stresses the 'growing importance of the symbiotic relationship between disarmament and development' and urges resources from arms limitation and disarmament agreements to be put towards economic and social development, in order to reduce the widening gap between developed and developing countries.
First Committee, 5 November: Consensus
First Committee Comments: The US did not join consensus because it believes that disarmament and development are two 'distinct issues that do not lend themselves to being linked'. The EU and associated States joined consensus but wanted to clarify that while recognising the benefits from disarmament and reaffirming EU commitment to development and cooperation, there was no simple connection between disarmament and development. Israel joined consensus but disassociated itself from PP4 which referred to the final document of the Durban NAM summit (September 1998) and contained references to Israel and the Middle East which Israel could not accept.
Disarmament and International Security
L.31/Rev.1 (UNGA 53/77 M)
Introduced by Germany with over 60 co-sponsors from all the groups
In its third year, this resolution stresses the relevance of the UNDC deliberations on 'Guidelines on conventional arms control/limitation and disarmament' and the Panel of Governmental Experts on Small Arms and calls on the group of interested States which formed in New York in 1998 to continue 'to analyse lessons learned from previous disarmament and peace-building projects' and to 'promote new practical disarmament measures to consolidate peace'. Supports arms control, especially of small arms and light weapons, confidence building measures, demobilisation and the reintegration of former combatants, demining and conversion, and encourages support for States seeking to collect and destroy small arms and light weapons.
First Committee, 5 November: Consensus
L.32/Rev.2 (UNGA 53/82)
Introduced by Algeria with co-sponsorship from almost all the countries bordering the Mediterranean
Raises concerns about 'persistent tension and continuing military activities' in parts of the Mediterranean region and reaffirms the responsibility of all States to contribute to the stability and prosperity of the region. Recognises that security in the Mediterranean is closely linked with European security and that the elimination of the economic and social disparities with contribute to peace, security and cooperation. Calls on all States to adhere to the multilaterally negotiated legal instruments related to disarmament and non-proliferation (this covers those holding out on the BWC and CWC as well as NPT and arguably covers also the CCW and even the Ottawa Treaty). Calls for greater transparency on all military matters, including the UN Register of Conventional Arms, and for cooperation to deal with problems and threats such as terrorism, international crime, arms and drug trafficking.
First Committee, 5 November: Consensus
First Committee Comments: Israel, which had not co-sponsored, explained that the security of the Middle East depended on the peace process, and that it was satisfied with consensus on this resolution providing that it complemented the peace process and was 'not harnessed to other issues'. Iran joined consensus but expressed reservations.
L.44/Rev.1 (UNGA 53/71)
Introduced by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Intended to address the issues related to the violent disintegration of States such as occurred this decade in the Balkans, calls for enhancement of the UN's conflict prevention and resolution capabilities, stresses good neighbourliness and friendly relations among States, as well as affirming the principles of territorial integrity, international cooperation, and solving disputes by peaceful means.
First Committee, 5 November: OP3 - 144:0:0; OP6 -
143:0:0; Whole resolution - 136:0:7
First Committee Comments: Jordan, for reasons known only to itself, called for a separate vote on OP3, calling on States to solve their disputes by peaceful means in accordance with the UN Charter, and on OP4, which affirmed the need for strict compliance with the principle the inviolability of international borders, following which no-one voted against or abstained. Seven delegations (Armenia, China, Chile, DPRK, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Pakistan) abstained on the resolution, arguing that the resolution was worthy but confused, or inappropriate for the First Committee.
© 1998 The Acronym Institute.