News

4 June 1999


Press Release

DCF/370


SITUATIONS IN KOSOVO AND KASHMIR DISCUSSED IN CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT

19990604

GENEVA, 3 June (UN Information Service) -- The situations in Kosovo and Kashmir were discussed this morning in the Conference on Disarmament which heard statements from the representatives of the United States, China, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

The President of the Conference, Ambassador Mohamed-Salah Dembri of Algeria, said his intensive consultations to promote agreement on the Conference's programme of work had once more brought to light a desire shared by all to resolve pending problems on nuclear disarmament and prevention of an arms race in outer space and to begin substantive work.

Mr. Dembri said his consultations had also shown that the process required concessions by all. Without wishing to minimize the present difficulties which the Conference was confronting, he believed that he could state that the members appeared to be on the right track and that their collective efforts would ultimately result in compromises, hopefully as soon as possible.

Concerning the situation in Kosovo, the representative of the United States, in response to issues raised by the representative of China in previous plenary interventions, said that the humanitarian crisis in the region had been generated through the deliberate and inhumane policies of the Serbian Government, not through the actions of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

In response, the representative of China said the ethnic conflict in Kosovo was an internal affair of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and should be resolved internally. The United Nations Charter said countries could not intervene with military force in the internal affairs of other countries. The United States and others were using the issue of human rights to trample on the sovereign rights of a country and to intervene in its internal affairs.

On the fighting between India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir, the representative of Pakistan said that the situation along the line of control was serious and there was an obvious and inherent danger of escalation.


Pakistan continued to act with self-restraint, but the danger of escalation could not be overlooked. Regardless of the outcome of India's air and ground operations against the Kashmiri freedom fighters, it was obvious that the Kashmir issue could be constructively addressed and eventually resolved only if India halted its brutal campaign of repression and ceased its artillery and ground attacks on Pakistani positions on the line of control.

The representative of India said the crossing by Pakistani-backed intruders of the line of control in Jammu and Kashmir was yet another instance of Pakistan's persistent efforts to infiltrate terrorists in pursuit of its designs on Jammu and Kashmir which were an integral part of India. The Indian defence forces had been conducting operations on their side of the line of control and these operations would continue until the objective of putting an end to the armed intrusion was attained.

The representative of Bangladesh warned that the situation along the line of control in Kashmir was serious. As a country which was friendly to both States, Bangladesh urged restraint. The values and elements which united South Asian people were deeper than those which divided them, he stated.

The representatives of Hungary and Brazil also addressed the meeting.

The next plenary of the Conference on Disarmament will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 10 June.

Statements

ROBERT GREY (United States) said he wished to respond to certain political issues raised by the representative of China during his last two plenary interventions. In his statements, the Chinese representative had raised the issue of military actions taking place in Serbia, had condemned the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for "outright military intervention against a sovereign State," and had accused NATO of creating the humanitarian crisis in the region. That was wrong. It was not NATO actions that had brought about the humanitarian crisis in the region; it was the humanitarian crisis, generated through the deliberate and inhumane policies of the Serbian Government, that had brought about NATO actions. The United States noted that the Chinese statements did not mention the hundreds of thousands of refugees made homeless and worse by those appalling policies.

Mr. Grey also noted that the indictment of the leader of Serbia for war crimes by the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal stood as one of the strongest affirmations to date for the actions undertaken by NATO countries to end the humanitarian crisis caused by Serbian policies. The indictment had firmly upheld the principle that States did not have the right to act with impunity in ways that violated humanitarian law and the human rights of their own or others' citizens.


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On another topic, Mr. Grey said the Chinese statements claimed that the United States had breached the Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) by "announcing its decision to accelerate the research and development of missile defence systems." This was not correct. This research and development did not conflict with ABM treaty provisions, and as for deployment, the United States would not make a decision until the year 2000 or thereafter.

Mr. Grey said further strategic stability could be achieved were the Conference on Disarmament to proceed to negotiate a ban on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other explosive devices. It served no purpose to create linkages which suggested that all the items the Conference was considering had equal support among its members. This was not conducive either to the Conference's work or to its reputation as an effective multilateral negotiating body. The Conference should focus on the business at hand and it would be both wise and prudent to leave alone the larger political issues which were not within the mandate of the Conference.

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said his country continued to hope that the greatest achievements of the Conference in promoting disarmament were ahead it and not behind it. The post Cold War era had offered a golden opportunity to collectively realize peace and security and progress towards nuclear and conventional disarmament. There had been some achievements. Yet the focus had remained limited to measures of nuclear non-proliferation. Complete nuclear disarmament remained a bridge too far. Pakistan was concerned that recent developments might signify that the golden opportunity may be ending. The past few months had witnessed a significant deterioration in the relations between the major global powers. There was also determination in some circles to abrogate or erode the Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM). This, along with the launching of the companion programmes for National Missile Defences and Theatre Missile Defences and the pursuit of new military technologies and weapons for deployment and use in outer space, threatened to scuttle existing strategic nuclear arms control agreements.

Mr. Akram said the adoption of a renewed strategic concept by a regional military alliance was bound to generate considerable concern in a wide spectrum of nuclear and non-nuclear States. While Pakistan was not a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it seemed that the operational sharing of nuclear weapons between nuclear and non-nuclear weapon members of this alliance constituted a violation of the NPT's most basic obligations. The expansion of this military alliance also represented de facto horizontal nuclear proliferation. No State, or group of States, could assume the license as a matter of standing policy to use force against other States. Unless the assertions of this alliance were formally qualified or rescinded, they could unravel the entire concept of collective security which was the basis set out in the United Nations Charter for the maintenance of international peace and security. All these concerns should be considered within the Conference of Disarmament.


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Mr. Akram said the proceedings of the Conference could not remain impervious to the international political and strategic environment. It was disingenuous to express surprise at the difficulties encountered this year in arriving at an agreement on the programme of work, especially if there was no desire to ensure that it was balanced and comprehensive. Intensive consultations were needed to address nuclear disarmament and prevention of an arms race in outer space. The Group of 21 had submitted a draft programme of work envisaging the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee on nuclear disarmament, but this did not prove acceptable to a few Member States. The Group did not accept the assertion that the Conference could not advance beyond the so-called "delicate compromises" of 1998. The Conference had to devote more serious attention to nuclear disarmament. In a spirit of compromise and flexibility, the Group of 21 had accepted the suggestion put forward by the Ambassador of Venezuela to establish a Working Group on nuclear disarmament with an appropriate mandate. Pakistan remained committed to its agreement to commence negotiations within the Conference on a Fissile Material Treaty. But its early conclusion could not be guaranteed in view of the continuing differences regarding the scope of the Treaty. Pakistan noted that the creation of permanent Ad Hoc Committees were contrary to the rules of procedure of the Conference.

Mr. Akram said his delegation had previously outlined the reasons why it believed the item on prevention of an arms race in outer space required urgent attention in the Conference, and it did not comprehend the reasons which prevented the Conference from creating an Ad Hoc Committee to address this issue seriously. Pakistan believed that efforts towards militarization of outer space, or deployment of other weapon systems relying on a space dimension, would create new and dangerous instabilities. They would deal a serious blow to efforts for nuclear disarmament and would possibly lead to a new race for more lethal and dangerous weapon systems, including nuclear weapons. The international community should take action now to prevent outer space from being transformed into the new arena in the quest for global dominance and hegemony.

The representative of Pakistan said it was a year to the day that the Conference had held an unprecedented special session to address the implications of the nuclear tests in South Asia. At the time, Pakistan had said it had to be acknowledged that the danger of conflict between Pakistan and India, whether conventional or non-conventional, arose from the underlying dispute over Jammu and Kashmir, and urged the international community to take collective action to try and implement the UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir. The present crisis in Kashmir had been caused by India's over reaction to a military reversal in its Kashmir war, and by its effort to involve and attack Pakistan in an attempt to explain this reversal to its own public opinion. From the outset, the Prime Minister of Pakistan had taken several initiatives to defuse this crisis.


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Mr. Akram concluded by noting that the situation along the line of control was serious and there was an obvious and inherent danger of escalation. Pakistan continued to act with self-restraints, but the danger of escalation could not be overlooked. Regardless of the outcome of India's air and ground operations against the Kashmiri freedom fighters, it was obvious that the Kashmir issue could be constructively addressed and eventually resolved only if India halted its brutal campaign of repression and ceased its artillery and ground attacks on Pakistani positions on the line of control.

PETER NARAY (Hungary) said that on 1 June, the National Assembly of Hungary had ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) which was affirmative proof of Hungary's dedication to the cause of nuclear disarmament and to regional and global peace and security.

CELSO LUIZ NUNES AMORIM (Brazil) thanked the President of the Conference and other colleagues for their kind words of welcome. He was particularly pleased to be back in Geneva. There had been general concern expressed that the Conference on Disarmament had not been able to start on its substantive work, and the implications of the current stalemate were laid out. Inaction could not but call into question the relevance of what the Conference on Disarmament was doing. At the same time, the work of the Conference could not be disassociated from the stalemate in nuclear disarmament and from international developments. This called for the redoubling of efforts for disarmament, especially nuclear disarmament. Brazil continued to believed that a compromise within the Conference on nuclear disarmament as well as on preventions of an arms race in outer space should be sought.

SAVITRI KUNADI (India) said it had not been her intention to speak but she had been constrained to do so by the remarks made by the Ambassador of Pakistan about the situation in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Conference was not the forum for the discussion of such issues, but since Pakistan had sought to raise this subject today, India felt that the facts of the case had to be set out clearly.

Ms. Kunadi said that India had been the subject of armed intrusion amounting to aggression on its territory. Since the beginning of last month, Pakistani-backed armed intruders had crossed the line of control. This was yet another instance of Pakistan's persistent efforts to infiltrate terrorists across the line of control in pursuit of its designs on Jammu and Kashmir which were an integral part of India. The international community had been made aware of the causes for the current developments in the Kargil sector and the direct responsibility of Pakistan in the aggravation of tensions in the region. In spite of the grave provocations, India had repeatedly shown restraint in exercising its legitimate right of self defence and its inalienable right to vacant aggression from its territory. The Indian defence forces had been conducting operations on their side of the line of control and these operations would continue until the objective of putting an end to the


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armed intrusion was attained. The present situation had been created entirely by Pakistan's provocative actions and it was for Pakistan to make amends.

LI CHANGHE (China), in response to the statement made by the representative of the United States, pointed out that many countries had different views from those held by the Unites States and others concerning the military action against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The representative of the United States had said the military action was for humanitarian reasons and was aimed at defending human rights. But the facts were that the military action was 70 days of indiscriminate bombing on a small and weak country, causing blood shed and the death of thousands of civilians, and seriously damaging the economy and living conditions. The most basic human right of the Yugoslav people, the right to survival, had been trampled upon. Following the bombing of the country, there had been a massive exodus of hundreds of thousands of refugees, so in fact the indiscriminate bombing had led to the biggest humanitarian disaster in Europe since World War II.

Mr. Li said the ethnic conflict in Kosovo was an internal affair of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and should be resolved internally. The United Nations Charter said countries could not intervene with military force in the internal affairs of other countries. The United States and others were using the issue of human rights to trample on the sovereign rights of a country and to intervene into its internal affairs. This was an attempt to build a new international order of hegemonism. Such actions had serious consequences for international security and disarmament.

Mr. Li said the representative of the United States had also admitted that his country was researching and developing its defence missile systems. What was the objective of such research and development. The fact that a decision of deployment had been postponed to after the year 2000 did not exclude the possibility of future deployment. After all, since it spent such resources on the development of these systems, could the world believe that it was only for "play"? Concerning the Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty, China was glad to hear the reaffirmation of the United States that the treaty remained the cornerstone of international disarmament efforts. It hoped that the United States would take concrete actions to abide by the Treaty so as to safeguard strategic stability and balance for the whole world.

Mr. AKRAM (Pakistan) said he had asked for the floor to respond to the remarks made by the representative of India. Jammu and Kashmir were not Indian territory but were disputed territory. Any official United Nations map portrayed them as disputed territory. The Security Council had prescribed that the future of Jammu and Kashmir should be determined by their people through plebescite supervised by the United Nations. Indeed, the oldest United Nations peacekeeping force was deployed in Jammu and Kashmir, but only on the Pakistani side of the line of control as India refused to allow them onto its side.


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Mr. Akram said Pakistan supported the Kashmiri independence struggle which had been met by brutal suppression by 700,000 troops of India in an area the size of Belgium. Pakistan supported the legitimate freedom struggle of the Kashmiri people and apologized to none for doing so. There had been no infiltration in Kashmir. Kashmiris had the right to be in their homeland. The truth was that India was engaged in a war with the Kashmiri people. The international community was asked to apply the same standards for Kashmir as it upheld for Kosovo. Pakistan had raised this issue here because it directly affected international peace and security and the work of the Conference. Pakistan had offered to send its Foreign Minister to India, but not to make amends. If there were amends to be made, they should be made by India for cruelty against the Kashmiri people. India talked about peace in international forums, but at home, it threatened its smaller neighbours one and all. There was an urgency to establish contacts at the highest level and to avoid the escalation of war and India was called upon to respond urgently to this call.

Mr. GREY (United States) said he wished to respond to China's statement very briefly. It was very clear that China and the United States had very different views on humanitarian and human rights issues. The upcoming anniversaries of events in China reinforced these differences. However, despite these differences, the two countries needed to work in the Conference in a spirit of compromise.

Mr. LI (China) said the representative of the United States had referred to an issue indirectly which had nothing to do with the Conference. That was why China had to ask for this right of reply. China would not accept comments on some internal matters on which judgement had already been made.

IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said he was not responding to anyone's speech but to the situation. Concerning the developments in South Asia, the situation along the line of control in Kashmir was serious. As a country which was friendly to both States, Bangladesh urged restraint. The values and elements which united South Asian people were deeper than those which divided them. South Asian countries were democracies and they needed to work more to provide the economic emancipation that their people deserved. Last year, the Prime Minister of Pakistan had travelled to India and Pakistan to stress these commonalities. Pakistan was heartened by the assertions of leaders in both countries that the present situation would be contained.

MOHAMED-SALAH DEMBRI (Algeria), who is also the President of the Conference, said that as he had informed members at the last plenary, he had commenced a process of intensive consultations to promote agreement on the Conference's programme of work. At the time, he had said that agreement implied acceptable solutions with respect to appropriate mechanisms relating to nuclear disarmament and the arms race in outer space. He had devoted all his efforts to the search for a compromise on these two pending issues, on the


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basis of all existing proposals. These consultations had once more brought to light a desire shared by all to resolve these pending problems and to begin substantive work within the Conference.

Mr. Dembri said his consultations had also shown that the process required concessions by all. Without wishing to minimize the present difficulties which the Conference was confronting, he believed that he could state that the members appeared to be on the right track and that their collective efforts would ultimately result in compromises, hopefully as soon as possible. These would take into account the concerns and priorities of all and thus would be accepted by all.

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