Index

4 October 2000

Press Release
GA/DIS/3171



PRESERVING 1972 ABM TREATY, SMALL ARMS SCOURGE, NATIONAL MISSILE DEFENCE AMONG ISSUES DISCUSSED, AS FIRST COMMITTEEE CONTINUES DEBATE

20001004

Statements Made by Russian Federation, Belarus, United States, Senegal, Switzerland, Mali, Algeria, Colombia, Chile

A certain contradiction –- defined by two opposing trends -- was emerging in the present stage of disarmament, the representative of the Russian Federation told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today, as it continued its general debate.

He said that one approach sought to reduce strategic nuclear arms while preserving and strengthening the 1972 Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty). It would also prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and advance the disarmament machinery as an integral part of the whole structure of international security. The other trend would revise “everything achieved” in the sphere of arms limitation and reduction, particularly in the area of strategic weapons. It would erode the non-proliferation foundation, reject joint efforts to maintain international security and impose the “primacy of exclusiveness and military force”. His country stood for the first option.

The representative of Belarus said that violating the ABM Treaty could lead to a “very dangerous demolition of the entire architecture of existing international agreements”. A key factor in the security arena was the preservation of strategic parity and the existing global balance of power. In that connection, the preservation of and compliance with the ABM Treaty was a logical basis for maintaining global stability. Other weapons of mass destruction posed no less degree of danger and, thus, required constant attention. Preventing the development of new types of weapons of mass destruction was also of vital importance, along with the elimination of such existing weapons.

The United States representative said that his country’s national missile defence plans did not envisage activities that contravened existing constraints on the placement of weapons in outer space, including those in the ABM Treaty. Following his country’s decision to defer deployment of such plans, government representatives would meet with friends around the world to elaborate on the genuine need for such a defence, which would strengthen strategic stability. Meanwhile, the United States had taken its heavy bombers off alert, and its strategic forces were not targeted on any country.


First Committee - 1a - Press Release GA/DIS/3171 5th Meeting (PM) 4 October 2000

On the issue of conventional weapons, the representative of Senegal said that small arms and light weapons continued to inflict enormous suffering upon civilian populations, intensify conflicts, encourage terrorist acts and trafficking of all kinds, and complicate the application of policies aimed at the consolidation of peace and post-conflict national reconstruction. In that respect, Africa was paying a heavy toll. Making it secure against that scourge went way beyond the borders of the continent, which itself did not produce weapons. “Absolute priority” should be given to curbing those weapons and eliminating their trafficking.

The Permanent Observer of Switzerland -- whose Government had offered to host the 2001 Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects -- said that the Conference would be crucial for the development, reinforcement and coordination of global efforts towards curbing the excessive accumulation and illicit trade in small arms. The Governments of Switzerland and France proposed to include in the conference’s outcome a number of objectives for a future convention on marking, which was the recording and tracing of small arms.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Mali, Algeria, Colombia and Chile.

The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. Thursday, 5 October, to continue its general debate.



First Committee - 3 - Press Release GA/DIS/3171 5th Meeting (PM) 4 October 2000

Committee Work Programme

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to continue its general debate on a wide range of disarmament initiatives and a number of international disarmament agreements.

Bilateral arrangements will likely be a focus of the nuclear disarmament debate. Those include the 1972 Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems –- the ABM Treaty -– by which the United States and the Russian Federation agreed to limit the deployment and development of anti-ballistic missiles. The United States recently deferred a decision, until after its Presidential election in November, on whether to proceed on further development and deployment of an anti-missile defence system. A decision to proceed with the system would constitute a breach of the ABM Treaty. The Secretary-General has repeatedly stated that attempts to revise that strategic document could have certain ramifications, including triggering a new arms race, setting back nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation policies, and creating new incentives for missile proliferation.

Meanwhile, on 14 April, the Russian Duma ratified the Strategic Arms Limitation and Reduction Treaty II (START II), which is the second of two treaties by which the United States and the Russian Federation agreed to significantly reduce the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads. Negotiation on further reductions under START III rests on the precarious future of the ABM Treaty.

The original treaty, START I, was signed in 1991 and called for a 30 per cent reduction in strategic weapons over seven years, with stringent verification. In 1993, START II provided for the elimination of heavy intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and all other multiple-warhead ICBMs, as well as a two-thirds reduction of the total number of strategic nuclear weapons deployed by both sides.

Multilateral agreements, such as the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), will also dominate the Committee’s disarmament debate. The Treaty still requires the ratification of 14 countries critical to its success. Of the necessary ratifications by nuclear-weapon States, two are pending -- United States and China. Other States whose ratification is required under article 14 of the Treaty -- namely, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India and Pakistan -- still have not signed the Treaty, which opened for signature in 1996. Last fall, the United States Senate rejected ratification of the Treaty. A conference to facilitate the Treaty’s entry into force was held last October, in Vienna. In a Final Declaration, the participating States parties and signatories to the CTBT called upon all States that had not yet done so to sign and ratify the Treaty as soon as possible and to refrain from acts which would defeat its object and purpose. The Treaty currently has 155 signatories and 51 parties.

A focus of the nuclear non-proliferation debate will likely be the outcome of the 2000 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The final document marked only the second time that the five-year Review produced a consensus. The outcome, according to the Under-Secretary- General for Disarmament Affairs, had expressed the world’s “unambiguous” lack of confidence in the ability of either deterrence or defence to prevent another Hiroshima or Nagasaki. The NPT provides the legal foundation for multilateral actions to prohibit the proliferation of nuclear weapons and to advance nuclear disarmament. Considered by many experts to be the bedrock of the non-proliferation regime, it is the most universal of all disarmament agreements, with 187 parties.

Treaties banning the production and stockpiling of other weapons of mass destruction are also expected to be a focus of debate, among them the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention). The call continues to intensify for a protocol that would establish effective verification of, and compliance with, that 1978 Treaty.

The entry into force on 29 April 1997 of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and of Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention) triggered the operation of a complex verification mechanism -- the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) -- which has completed more than several hundred inspections and has witnessed the destruction of more than several thousand metric tons of chemical agents. So far, 129 States have ratified or acceded to the Convention.

The Committee is also expected to focus on the establishment of nuclear- weapon-free zones. The zones, already in existence, are governed by the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco), the South Pacific Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga), the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Bangkok) and the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba). Committee drafts are anticipated for the establishment of such zones in the Middle East, Central Europe and South Asia.

Discussions will continue on the subject of landmines, in the context of the two instruments to ban or limit their use. The first was Protocol II of the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed To Be Excessively Injurious or To Have Indiscriminate Effects (Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons), a partial ban negotiated in the Conference on Disarmament. The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (Ottawa Convention), a total ban, was agreed to in Oslo as part of the so-called “Ottawa process” and entered into force on 1 March 1999.

(For detailed background, see Press Release GA/DIS/3168 issued 29 September).

Additional Report Before the Committee

In a report on Illicit traffic in small arms (document A/55/323), the Secretary-General provides an overview of his broad-based consultations following the General Assembly’s adoption by consensus of resolution 54/54 R of 1 December 1999. The report presents the results of meetings convened under United Nations auspices, as well as those convened by regional and subregional organizations, and by States or group of States. Meetings convened under United Nations auspices included the Regional Seminar on Illicit Trafficking in Small Arms and Light Weapons held in Jakarta from 3 to 4 May; the Conference on Small Arms and Light Weapons Proliferation in South Asia, held in Kandalama, Sri Lanka, from 20 to 23 June; and the Conference on Conventional Arms in South Asia: Promoting Transparency and Preventing Small Arms Proliferation, which was held in Kandy, also in Sri Lanka, from 23 to 25 June. Regional and subregional organizations that also convened meetings included the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Organization of American States (OAS), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe and the South Pacific Forum.

The Secretary-General said that an increasing number of States, regional organizations and representatives of civil society were proposing and, in some cases, implementing prevention and reduction measures to combat the illicit traffic in small arms. Others had assessed the impact of illicit trafficking, but had yet to identify the most appropriate measures for their circumstances. The growing attention to the issue was, in part, attributable to the momentum building towards the 2001 Conference and the desire of States and regions to develop common priorities or common positions on issues related to the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. While illicit trafficking in small arms was recognized as an international phenomenon, discussion made it clear that States and regions experienced the problem in different ways. Some of those divergences were being exploited by armed groups, criminals, terrorists and others involved in illicit trafficking. The ability of States to combat illicit arms trafficking depended not only on national measures, but also on the cooperation of their neighbours in the subregion, region and the international community.

Annexed to the report are the views submitted by a number of Member States on illicit small arms trafficking in response to a note verbale transmitted by the Department of Disarmament Affairs. Another annex contains the highlights of activities of various representatives of civil society on the issue and a questionnaire transmitted by the Department of Disarmament Affairs to regional groups and organizations, research institutes and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Statements

CHRISTIAN FAESSLER, Permanent Observer of Switzerland, said that the realization of true progress in arms control and disarmament negotiations remained difficult to achieve, despite a number of recent positive developments. Switzerland acknowledged the ratification of START II and the CTBT by the Russian Federation and welcomed the fact that the NPT Review Conference was able to adopt a Final Declaration that was balanced. In that Final Declaration, the nuclear States notably engaged themselves to intensify their efforts in the field of disarmament.

He welcomed the decision by the President of the United States to postpone the decision on the deployment of a national missile defence system. His country had always expressed itself in favour of an agreement between the United States and the Russian Federation, taking into account their bilateral treaty of 1972 to limit missile defence systems and also giving due consideration to the stability of the international strategic and security system.

His Government had offered to host the 2001 Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in all its Aspects, he said. His country was ready to cover the cost difference between Geneva and New York, as well as make the necessary resources available in order to guarantee full participation in the Conference. That Conference would be crucial for the development, reinforcement and the coordination of international efforts against the excessive accumulation and illicit trade in small arms. The Governments of Switzerland and France proposed to include in the plan of action of the Conference a number of principles and objectives for a future convention on marking -- the recording and tracing of small arms. Switzerland had also initiated a project for the publication of a yearbook on small arms and light weapons. A number of other States had associated themselves with that project.

Switzerland welcomed the fact that due attention was given to the humanitarian aspect of arms control and to the protection of the civilian population, he said. Nevertheless, those developments would be in vain if the big Powers and other States did not double their efforts and strive for a complete, total and verifiable elimination of all weapons of mass destruction. Efforts of the United Nations in the field of nuclear disarmament, notably negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, were essential elements for the maintenance of international security and stability, he said.

CHEICKNA KEITA (Mali)said that, at the start of the new millennium, freeing the world of weapons of mass destruction and small arms and light weapons was a most important task. Despite the moratorium undertaken two years ago by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), following the Mali initiative on small arms, several countries had developed strategies to control the illegal possession of arms by civilians. Programmes of community assistance created by ECOWAS had sought to strengthen security and development schemes. Some progress had been made towards achieving the objectives of the moratorium.

For example, he continued, all of the member States of ECOWAS last year undertook the following commitments, among others: the creation of commissions to fight the proliferation of small arms; the creation of an arms register; border control to combat trafficking; strengthening and controlling technology for information and communication; and the organization of workshops. In Guinea- Bissau, a plan for the collection of weapons to finance development was devised. In Niger, a flame of peace was organized with the support of the Department of Disarmament Affairs division of United Nations, and a similar ceremony was organized in Liberia. He said that, in addition to holding workshops on the preparation of a register of small arms and light weapons, Ghana had hosted a conference on the possession of small arms by children. Also, Mali would host a similar conference in the near future. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone had been working towards overcoming the dangerous security situations.

The 2001 Conference on the Illicit Trade of Small Arms and Light Weapons in all its Aspects should allow the global community to end the proliferation of those arms, he said. It should also build confidence and increase transparency. The outcome of the 2000 NPT Review Conference, the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention and accession to other treaties, as well as the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones, were other important, confidence-building initiatives. The United Nations should spare no effort in achieving universal adherence to the NPT. In the world -- and in Africa, in particular -- disarmament should progress in all its aspects, ranging from weapons of mass destruction to small arms and light weapons.

JOHN D. HOLUM, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security of the United States, said that his country had taken its heavy bombers off alert and its strategic forces were not targeted on any country. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) had also reduced the number of nuclear weapons for its sub-strategic forces in Europe. The United States worked with the international community to extend indefinitely the NPT. Since the last NPT Review Conference, the United States and Russia had agreed to a broad initiative to promote further cooperation on strategic stability; intensified discussions on START III and on strengthening and preserving the ABM Treaty; taken steps towards establishing a joint data exchange centre to exchange data for early warning; and agreed to each dispose of 68 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium withdrawn from nuclear programmes.

The United States would continue to support nuclear-weapon-free zones to advance non-proliferation and regional security objectives, he said. His country had ratified the Latin America protocols and signed the African and South Pacific protocols. Along with the Latin American Treaty, the number of non-nuclear weapons States eligible for legally-binding negative security assurances from all five nuclear-weapon States was almost at 100. The United States demonstrated its commitment to ending, for all time, nuclear explosive testing by being the first to sign the CTBT. That had allowed it to participate fully in international efforts to prepare for the Treaty’s eventual entry into force.

He said that his country’s national missile defence plans did not envisage activities that contravened existing constraints on the placement of weapons in outer space, including those in the ABM Treaty. On 1 September, President Clinton announced that he would leave the decision on deploying the plan to his successor. The United States would use that time to meet with its friends around the world, to elaborate on why it believed there was genuine need for such a defence and that it would not threaten, but would strengthen, strategic stability.

“We will never reach the top of the ladder if we stumble on the lower steps,” he said. The international community had a broad arms control agenda waiting completion, not only the fissile material cut-off treaty and the Biological Weapons Convention Protocol, but strengthening the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), improving fissile materials controls and transparency, addressing small arms proliferation, promoting confidence-building measures and negotiating in the Conference on Disarmament a ban on transfer of anti-personnel landmines.

SERGEI MARTYNOV (Belarus) said that international peace, security and disarmament was not a gift. His country had always perceived those as matters of practical action for a common goal. Belarus had sacrificed one third of its population -- the lives of its best sons and daughters –- to bring about the common victory of the United Nations over the Nazis in the Second World War. The disintegration of the former Soviet Union had posed a strategic danger, with the collapse of control over the nuclear arsenals of the super Power and the emergence of four nuclear-weapon States. Belarus had been the first to declare an unconditional renunciation of the nuclear arsenal and unconditionally acceded to the NPT. Thus, nuclear proliferation in the post-Soviet area had been prevented.

He said that the year 2000 had been an important one in terms of further practical contributions made by his country towards strengthening regional and global security. It had joined the CTBT, became the first nation in the world to ratify the Agreement on the Adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe and a full member of the Nuclear Supplies Group, one of the key international export control regimes. His country also presided over the Conference on Disarmament this year and tried to help end its stalemate. It also ratified Protocol IV, on blinding laser weapons, of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

The United Nations should exert every effort to create a safe world, he said. Accordingly, it should focus on reducing the nuclear threat and eliminating the destabilizing imbalance in the field of conventional arms. Such an approach was demonstrated at the 2000 NPT Review Conference, which approved a programme of further steps towards nuclear disarmament and reaffirmed the principles and goals of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. It was critical to extend just and legally-binding guarantees to all non-nuclear-weapon States. Renunciation of the nuclear option was a well-considered contribution by each of them towards stability and international security. Also of crucial significance was the prohibition of the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, on which negotiations must begin.

Strengthening common security at the global level must be complemented by regional efforts, he said. His country’s proposals to establish a nuclear-weapon- free space in Central and Eastern Europe met the security interests of both the European continent and the world as a whole. The historic opportunity provided by the geopolitical transformations of the early 1990s should not be forfeited. The withdrawal of nuclear weapons from the territory and the absence of nuclear weapons in Eastern and Central European States should be consolidated through legally binding commitments. Such a joint undertaking would provide a serious impetus to setting up a genuine security system for Europe. Although present political factors made it difficult for the majority of his European partners to accept the proposal, he would continue to seek consensus on that issue, including at the current General Assembly session.

A key factor in the security arena was the preservation of strategic parity and the existing global balance of power, he said. In that connection, the preservation of, and compliance with, the ABM Treaty was a logical basis for maintaining global stability. Any violation of that Treaty could lead to a “very dangerous demolition of the entire architecture of existing international agreements”. Thus, he would again co-sponsor the resolution on the ABM Treaty. Other weapons of mass destruction posed no less a degree of danger and, thus, required constant attention. Preventing the development of new weapons of mass destruction continued to be of vital importance, along with the elimination of existing weapons. Establishing a control mechanism to prevent their development was a “much cheaper and more adequate” path than the creation of new arsenals.

ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said that nuclear disarmament remained the priority for the Conference on Disarmament. Further, outer space was the heritage of all mankind, and the international community must act urgently to prevent the utilization of outer space for military ends. Also, States parties to the ABM Treaty should respect their obligations.

On 30 July 1999, he continued, his Government had made a concrete proposal for the creation of a special committee on disarmament and for a special committee on the prohibition of the production of fissile materials for the manufacture of arms and other nuclear explosives. Those proposals remained pertinent and merited new consideration. In addition, no obstacle should be placed on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy when used for economic development. His country had chosen to develop research for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. That effort was being carried out with the full application of IAEA guarantees. He said that the current concept of international security, in which the centre enjoyed economic prosperity and the periphery suffered economic uncertainty, had shown its limitations and dangers. It was imperative to re-examine the question of security with a multidimensional approach, taking into account both military aspects and other priorities, particularly economic and social development.

SERGEY V. LAVROV (Russian Federation) said that the current Assembly session had set a high standard of responsibility. Russian President Vladimir Putin told the Millennium Summit that the new century of the United Nations should “prolong itself into a millennium of effective stability”. It had to enter the annals of history as the period of real disarmament, the President had said. To a large extent, that would depend upon the decisions taken at the multilateral forums, including the First Committee.

He said that previous speakers had already pointed out a certain contradiction inherent in the present stage in disarmament. Two opposite trends were evident. One was aimed at the reduction of strategic nuclear arms while preserving and strengthening the ABM Treaty, preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and furthering the development of disarmament mechanisms as an integral part of the whole structure of international security. The other trend aimed at a revision of “everything achieved” in the sphere of arms limitation and reduction, in particular, of strategic weapons, the erosion of the non-proliferation foundation, rejection of cooperative efforts to maintain international security, and imposition of the “primacy of exclusiveness and military force”.

He said his country “stands for the first option”. It observed and intended to continue to consistently observe its obligations in the terms of the reduction and elimination of weapons of mass destruction, conventional arms, confidence- building measures, and the promotion of zones free of weapons of mass destruction. It had ratified the CTBT and hoped that other States, whose ratification was necessary for its entry into force, would also speed up their ratification processes, paving the way for the effective operation of that most important Treaty. The Russian Federation also ratified START II, as well as a package of agreements on START and the ABM Treaty, signed in New York in 1997. Those had provided for the reduction, by more than two times, of the Russian and American strategic arsenals.

The Russian Federation was prepared to further reduce its nuclear weapons on a bilateral basis with the United States, he said, as well as on a multilateral basis with other nuclear-weapon States. That would only be possible, however, if the strategic arms balance was preserved as a guarantee against the return to global power confrontation and an arms race, under the conditions of preserving and strengthening the 1972 ABM Treaty. At the same time, his country suggested moving to an “even more drastic reduction of strategic warheads” than those earlier agreed to by the Russian and United States Presidents -– down to 1,500 pieces, instead of 2,000 to 2,500 pieces. The agreement on such additional reductions would correspond to the expectations of the world’s peoples and to the final document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference.

He noted that, in July, the Russian President handed over to the United States President detailed proposals on the main directions of the START III talks. There were presently no obstacles for an immediate commencement of such talks. Nonetheless, the Committee could not ignore the problem of the ABM Treaty, for the threat of its “breaking apart” -- along with the destruction of the whole system of major disarmament agreements -- was of concern to the world community. The decision of the United States President not to commit himself to the deployment of the national missile defence system was viewed, in Russia, as “a thoughtful and responsible step”. The fact was, however, that that same decision also provided for accelerated development of the national missile defence, which was being carried out at full speed.

The issue of preserving the viability of the ABM Treaty could not be a matter between Russia and the United States alone, he said. Rather, it was of concern to all States interested in strengthening the security of the planet. His delegation would soon introduce a draft resolution in support of the ABM Treaty, which was nearly identical to last year’s text. Its adoption should be another signal for the world community to mobilize in favour of preserving and strengthening strategic stability and the inadmissibility of undermining the process of non-proliferation and disarmament. He counted on broad support for his draft.

Another important direction of the Committee’s work, he said, concerned issues of information security -– steps to counter the use of scientific and technical developments for purposes inconsistent with the tasks of preserving world peace. He would, thus, present a draft resolution entitled “Developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of the international information security”. Hopefully, it would be adopted by consensus, as in previous years.

On another matter, he said that his country had proposed to implement, with the IAEA, a project to phase out weapons-grade materials -- namely, enriched uranium and pure plutonium -- from use in civilian nuclear power production. The aim was to create a principally new nuclear energy cycle designed to radically resolve the problems of nuclear non-proliferation, to ensure sustainable development and to considerably improve the global environment. At the Millennium Summit, his delegation distributed a document explaining the initiative. He hoped it would form the basis of a substantive discussion.

He said that while humankind was exploring outer space more and more actively, the task of preventing its “militarization” had become even more crucial. His country, thus, proposed the convening of an international conference in Moscow in 2001 on preventing the “militarization” of outer space. Its objective was to draw the attention of the international community to the problem with a view to jointly preventing -– before it was too late -– an outer space arms race. The catastrophic consequences of such a development were difficult to imagine, even for writers of science fiction. The proposal did not target any particular State and would not hinder the peaceful exploration of outer space. The absence, so far, of weapons in outer space had increased the feasibility of the Russian initiative.

ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said that an international instrument to prevent and eradicate the illicit traffic in weapons should be focused on measures that guaranteed the legitimate trade of weapons and prevented its deviation to illicit channels. He was confident that the 2001 Conference on the Illicit Trade of Small Arms and Light Weapons in all its Aspects would involve the international community in an effort to find the solution to a problem that could no longer be delayed.

Anti-personnel mines continued to interrupt the lives of many Colombians with increased frequency, he continued. As a State party to the Ottawa Convention, the Government of Colombia had resolved to put an end to the suffering and deaths caused by those weapons, which killed and maimed mainly innocent and defenceless civilians, especially children, and hindered economic and social development. His country was developing programmes to provide assistance for the rehabilitation and reintegration of victims into social and economic life.

He said that the conflict in Colombia had led the Government to formulate a strategy known as Plan Colombia which had, as its central element, the political settlement of the armed conflict. It included a strategy against drug trafficking, as well as complementary strategies of economic and social recovery, institutional strengthening and protection of human rights. The plan was formulated with the objective of achieving peace through the strengthening of the capability of the State to fulfil its responsibilities. For the achievement of that goal, Colombia had requested the cooperation of the international community, based on the principle of co-responsibility, in the fight against drug trafficking and international support to the country’s peace process.

IBRA DEGUENE KA (Senegal) said that the question of disarmament occupied a central place in the collective security of the United Nations, in order to protect future generations from the scourge of war. Despite the significant progress of the last two decades towards general and complete disarmament, much still remained to be done to implement the disarmament ideal. In the area of conventional weapons, small arms and light weapons continued to constitute a true scourge. Those inflicted enormous suffering upon civilization populations, intensified conflicts, encouraged terrorist acts and trafficking of all kinds, and complicated the application of policies aimed at the consolidation of peace and post-conflict national reconstruction.

He said that Africa was paying a heavy toll with the proliferation and uncontrolled circulation of small arms, which were an ongoing source of destabilization among the States of the continent. Thus, his country shared the view of many regarding the “absolute priority” which should be given strategies and policies designed to curb those weapons and eliminate their trafficking. As a member State of ECOWAS, Senegal was firmly resolved to seek a regional solution to that scourge. The political will and action in the subregion had led to specific achievements, including the adoption last year by ECOWAS of a moratorium on the manufacture, import and export of small arms in West Africa. The long-term objective of the programme was the creation of a real culture of peace and security in the subregion.

The flame of peace ceremony in Niger, which had followed similar ceremonies in Mali and Liberia, had demonstrated the will of the member States of ECOWAS to eliminate the proliferation and accumulation of small arms on their territories. Such actions had not been isolated. Rather, those were part of the broad international campaign to halt the accumulation, circulation and illicit use of small arms. In Africa, the OAU had adopted specific decisions to take charge of that delicate question. The application of those decisions had led to the first continental meeting of experts last May, with the participation of the United Nations and government representatives of Sweden, Netherlands and Switzerland. The meeting sought to prepare for a ministerial conference to define a common African approach for the 2001 global conference.

The need to make Africa secure against that scourge went way beyond the borders of the continent -– which itself did not produce weapons, he said. He, therefore, called upon the entire international community, namely the producer countries, to carry out sustained and coordinated action in order to resolve the problem. Initiatives by Latin America and the European Union in that regard were welcome. Nevertheless, any action, no matter how relevant, could not obtain its objective unless the United Nations complemented it. Last September, the Security Council had held a highly edifying debate, which noted that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons had been a destabilizing factor, which undermined the good application of peace accords and obstructed policies of economic and social development. The relevance of that “diagnosis” had underscored the importance of the forthcoming world conference.

He said that global action to combat the proliferation of small arms and light weapons should include strengthened rules and regulations in the transfer of those weapons and greater transparency in commercial transactions. More decisive cooperation in implementing national and regional programmes for the collection and destruction of those weapons was also crucial. The 2001 conference should adopt an action programme containing provisions, which were legally binding. Measures to control the production, stockpiling and transfer of small arms and light weapons should not prejudice the right of States to legitimate national defence, as noted in the United Nations Charter.

JUAN GABRIEL VALDES (Chile) expressed his country’s support for the convening of an international conference on small arms in all its aspects in 2001 in an effort to encourage a truly global approach to the problem of the proliferation of small arms. In order to achieve the objective, it was important to involve civil society, including the private sector. The conference must be successful in order to reduce the risk faced by those people who were most threatened by those weapons, particularly children who were frequently recruited as soldiers in various conflicts.

He drew attention to the outcome of the last NPT Review Conference and to the unambiguous commitment given by the nuclear-weapon States to work towards the complete elimination of their nuclear arsenals. That commitment, he said, needed to be translated without delay into a process of negotiation and implementation of practical measures to gradually and systematically move towards that objective. “We cannot continue to accept an international order based on the perpetuation of a small group of States with the right to possess nuclear weapons and the vast majority without this right.” His Government insisted on the validity of the findings contained in the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice when it underscored the obligation to enter into, in good faith, and conclude negotiations on nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict international control. He added that Chile believed that the mere possession of nuclear weapons, in situations of intense hostility, could give rise to what constituted a threat of the use of force.

The last NPT Review Conference had highlighted the importance of security in the international transport of radioactive materials, he went on. There was a need to continue to adopt measures to regulate international maritime transport based on the highest level of security applicable, and thus ensure the safety of

people and the corresponding ecosystems and natural resources. As evidence of the importance it attached to the issue, Chile was sponsoring the organization of a seminar on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, which would be held in 2001 at the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Lima.

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