Conference on Disarmament Holds Thematic Discussion on Item 7 of its Agenda on Transparency in Armaments
The Conference on Disarmament today held a thematic discussion on item 7 of its agenda on transparency in armaments.
Ambassador Leslie Norton of Canada, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said that enhancing transparency on armaments could contribute to building an international atmosphere of trust and confidence that could help States achieve their disarmament goals. Between nuclear weapon States, increasing transparency in terms of greater clarity on nuclear doctrines, arsenals and capabilities could contribute to an atmosphere conducive to negotiations on reductions to arsenals.
In the discussion on transparency in armaments, delegates said that transparency was of fundamental importance in arms control and disarmament. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty had made a meaningful contribution in terms of enhancing transparency. Some speakers spoke about their national efforts to contribute to increasing transparency regarding nuclear weapons, including by submitting draft resolutions to the United Nations General Assembly. Others outlined their national security policies concerning nuclear and other weapons. Some speakers were concerned about the growing threat to international peace and security as a result of the increasing lack of transparency in nuclear disarmament. Speakers said that transparency in arms control regimes relating to other types of weapons was equally important, in particular in the field of conventional weapons. Measures to enhance transparency in armaments must respect the inherent right of States to self-defence as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.
Speaking in the meeting were the Russian Federation, Japan, Nigeria, Ukraine, United States, India, France, China, Australia, Philippines, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Turkey, Cuba, Pakistan, and Venezuela.
At the beginning of the meeting, the President welcomed the new Permanent Representatives of Nigeria and Ukraine to Geneva.
The Conference on Disarmament will hold an informal plenary at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 3 August, to discuss a linguistic/technical update to the Conference on Disarmament Rules of Procedure to reflect the equality of men and women.
Opening Remarks by the President of the Conference on Disarmament
Ambassador LESLIE NORTON of Canada, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said that enhancing transparency on armaments could contribute to building an international atmosphere of trust and confidence that could help States achieve their disarmament goals. Between nuclear weapon States, increasing transparency in terms of greater clarity on nuclear doctrines, arsenals and capabilities could contribute to an atmosphere conducive to negotiations on reductions to arsenals. Increased transparency provided reassure that States parties were committed to implementing their duties under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear weapons. It could also boost international standards governing outer space as it could help assess space activities to reduce risk of poor interpretation of these actions. The Arms Trade Treaty also gave clarity to movements of conventional weapons across borders.
Discussion on Transparency in Armaments
Delegates said that transparency was of fundamental importance in arms control and disarmament. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty had made a meaningful contribution in terms of enhancing transparency. Enhancing the transparency and reporting mechanism within the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty review process was important for accountability of both nuclear weapon States and non-nuclear weapon States. Some speakers spoke about their national efforts to contribute to increasing transparency regarding nuclear weapons, including by submitting draft resolutions to the United Nations General Assembly. In order to foster trust among countries and to enhance credibility in arms control regimes, including the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, efforts taken by each Member States had to be as accountable and transparent as possible. However, some speakers were concerned about the growing threat to international peace and security as a result of the increasing lack of transparency in nuclear disarmament. There was a growing threat to international peace and security, particularly from certain nuclear possessing States and non-State actors, including terrorists.
Speakers said that transparency in arms control regimes relating to other types of weapons was equally important, in particular in the field of conventional weapons. Some speakers spoke of the importance of mechanisms to exchange information within the United Nations and other fora. One speaker expressed concern about the illicit transfer of armaments, causing significant threat to life and security. Conventional arms regimes could play an important role, but only when implemented properly. The United Nations Register of Conventional Arms had established a global norm of transparency and accountability in military matters and reinforcing civilian control of the military. Unfortunately, the level of participation in the Register since 2008 had declined significantly. At the same time, the Conference on Disarmament had not been able to do its part on this topic.
One delegation said that measures to enhance transparency in armaments must respect the inherent right of States to self-defence as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. As to transparency with respect to nuclear weapons, it could not be a standalone factor but should form part of an agreed multilateral framework covering all States possessing nuclear weapons, consistent with their national security interests.
Some speakers noted that African countries had negotiated the Treaty of Pelindaba in pursuance of a nuclear free world. This Treaty represented Africa’s repudiation of nuclear weapons as well as the continent’s determination to ensure that the continent was totally free of any weapon of mass destruction.
Some speakers said that despite the Conference on Disarmament’s past historic achievements in nuclear disarmament, it was rather sad and unfortunate that it had since become redundant and had for over two decades failed to negotiate any legally binding instrument.
Speakers spoke about the defence strategies of their countries, saying that the publication of such strategies was an unprecedented effort to be transparent. They strongly encouraged States to continue to make information on their security policies available. One speaker said that it was essential to preserve freedom of exploration, access to, and peaceful use of outer space.
The Cold War was still haunting the world and still affecting international relations. Speakers said all countries should uphold sustainable security principles and avoid the Cold War mindset, committing themselves to common and lasting security.
Transparency must also reflect the concerns and security interests of other countries. Greater transparency in armaments was a fundamental tenant of all multilateral efforts towards disarmament non-proliferation. A speaker noted that transparency was a flagship issue for the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, which considered that the principle of transparency – like those of irreversibility and verifiability – was indispensable for nuclear disarmament. It was hoped that the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty could proceed as envisaged in January 2022 and that it would
resolve that during the Review Cycle all States parties reported with accurate, up-to-date, and complete information on their fulfilment of obligations and commitments under the treaty.
Progress on disarmament and confidence-building were crucial for international peace and security. Transparency in armaments had long been recognised as an important stepping stone for disarmament efforts and it was important for the Conference on Disarmament to continue working on it. Building confidence and trust between States, at regional and international levels, could help establish a common ground for dialogue and negotiation that could facilitate further reductions in nuclear weapons towards their total elimination. Transparency between nuclear weapon States was one of the core elements in advancing nuclear disarmament. The Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty was the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation regime and speakers expressed their commitment to its full implementation and further strengthening. The security situation around the world today was volatile and complicated and it was necessary to strengthen transparency in this regard.
One speaker said that no single State should be able to strive for levels of armaments that were not related to its self-defence needs. Military world spending was seeing the biggest increases. Serious concerns were expressed about the transfer of armaments to volatile areas.
Russia expressed condolences to all delegations from countries that over the past two months had been victims of further natural disasters, including flooding caused by torrential rain that had caused severe destruction and human loss in 10 countries in Europe, Russia and China. Nature was showing how fragile and weak the world and humans were in the face of natural disasters. The world had not yet managed to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to eliminate it, the world would need to mobilise human and material resources. The fight against natural disasters was a priority for States that had suffered from the flooding. An atmosphere of mutual understanding and cooperation was the ideal environment to overcome this. They could try to build such an atmosphere at the United Nations in Geneva.
Several speakers also extended condolences to all countries affected by natural disasters in Europe and around the world. The need for increased international cooperation to deal with such natural disasters was underlined.
Ukraine was gravely concerned that the illicit transfer, destabilising accumulation and misuse of armaments caused threats to international peace and security, leading to a significant loss of life and contributing to instability in many parts of the world. The conventional arms regime and confidence- and security-building measures could play an important role when fully implemented in Europe and beyond. The current regional security landscape had undergone transformation as fundamental principles of commitments and imperative norms of international law had been undermined. Russia remained the biggest source of these negative developments by waging armed aggression against Ukraine and Georgia. Russia held huge amounts of unaccounted weapons and military personnel in occupied territories in Ukraine and Georgia. Ukraine called for unconditional and immediate de-occupation and de-militarisation of Russia from these territories.
Cuba denounced the terrorist attacks using Molotov cocktails against the Cuban Embassy in Paris. A hate campaign in the media against Cuba was leading to violence, destabilisation, threats and manipulation and could have very serious consequences for diplomatic personnel and staff, as well as for international peace and security in general. Cuba was strongly committed to disarmament.
Venezuela conveyed its solidarity and support to combat the hate campaign against the Cuban Government. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela was fully committed to combatting all terrorist acts. It strongly rejected all manifestations of terrorism, including State terrorism. Venezuela had also been the victim of aggressions and attacks against its diplomatic offices.
For use of the information media; not an official record