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Delegates Differ over Talks on Legally Binding Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons

Shaping a new sustainable security paradigm would hinge on finding common ground on modernizing the concept of general and complete disarmament for the twenty-first century, the Disarmament Commission heard today.

The panel’s mission was more valid now than ever before, said Kim Won-soo, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, as the Commission opened its 2017 session.  “There are high expectations for progress in 2017, including from this body,” he continued, citing ongoing negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, and the start of the 2020 review cycle relating to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  “We have good opportunities for action on numerous fronts in a busy disarmament agenda,” he noted.  “Success in your deliberations at this Commission can set a positive tone and provide new impetus for achieving progress on our collective efforts to strengthen disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation.”

He went on to emphasize that “we need to work harder to reverse those trends” amid rising global and regional tensions, arms competition in strategic and conventional weaponry, worrying policy trends, and a dearth of outcomes from disarmament institutions.  Cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and hypersonic missiles were among a range of concerns from which had arisen a double-blurring of the line between strategic and non-strategic weapons, and between nuclear and conventional arms, he said.  The present session was an opportunity to revitalize the concept of general and complete disarmament for the twenty-first century, he said, describing the Commission as the only universal deliberative body in that regard.

Commission Chair Gabriela Martinic (Argentina) said two working groups would focus, throughout the three-week session, on recommendations concerning nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and on practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons, with a view to sending them to the General Assembly.  Hopefully, Member States would engage constructively in advancing discussions.

With the Commission having adopted its agenda and begun its general debate, many speakers underlined that political will and flexibility must guide the discussions to fruition and advance progress.  Others called for the Commission to break the current deadlock that had left an array of disarmament processes hamstrung by the inability to find consensus on issues and threats requiring urgent attention.  Several offered examples of efforts to combat the illicit weapons trade, and to promote transparency and confidence-building measures in preventing an arms race in outer space.  Some speakers mentioned the United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination, held in March and due to continue in July, pursuant to General Assembly resolution 71/258, adopted in December 2016.

Yet, divergent views emerged on a range of issues, including the question of whether consensus was necessary for progress.  The representative of the United States said both nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon States had opposed the negotiations in that conference.  Any treaty emerging from it would come with an enormous cost, without achieving the elimination of a single warhead, and with the risk of deepening the divide.  As such, the United States would not participate in the negotiations, he said, emphasizing the need for a culture of consensus.

The Russian Federation’s representative said the Commission’s work had been stymied by the same problems plaguing other elements of the disarmament machinery — the inability, and sometimes the banal lack of will, to allow reasonable compromises for the sake of reaching consensus.  “Delivering humanity from the nuclear threat is extremely complex and multifaceted,” he stressed.  “It has no simple solutions.  It would be a big mistake to assume that the problem of eliminating nuclear weapons could be sorted out by a simple vote for their blanket ban.”

Expressing a different perspective, some speakers pledged their active involvement in the conference, with Cuba’s representative saying that a convention banning nuclear weapons was a step in the right direction.  Cameroon’s representative pointed out, on behalf of the African Group, that nuclear arms were the only weapons of mass destruction that were not prohibited.  It was essential to free the world of all nuclear arms, he said, highlighting the impact of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, known as the Treaty of Pelindaba.  A similar zone should also be created in the Middle East, he added, voicing a common view.

Indeed, Qatar’s representative stressed, on behalf of the Arab Group, the importance of a multilateral process to negotiate such a zone.  Meanwhile, Israel’s representative said a nuclear-weapon-free zone could be established only by all countries of the region, and not through a multilateral path.

Indonesia representative, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, emphasized that proliferation concerns were best addressed through multilaterally negotiated, universal, comprehensive and non-discriminatory agreements that should be transparent and open to participation by all States.  Nuclear disarmament should not be conditional on confidence-building measures, non-proliferation efforts or so-called strategic stability, he said, emphasizing rather the importance of humanitarian considerations in all deliberations on nuclear weapons.

Other speakers supported that view, with El Salvador’s representative saying, on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, that the use of nuclear weapons would constitute a crime against humanity and a violation of international law.  It was in the legitimate interest of non-nuclear-weapon States to receive guarantees from those in possession of such arms that they would not use, or threaten to use them.

Concerns were also shared about negative disarmament and non-proliferation trends.  Pakistan’s representative said they were fuelled by lack of progress on the part of nuclear-weapon States in fulfilling their legal disarmament obligations, and exacerbated by recent vows by some of them to greatly strengthen and expand their nuclear capabilities.  Pakistan had been left with no option but to follow suit by introducing nuclear weapons in order to restore strategic stability and deter all forms of aggression, she said.  “Our conduct continues to be defined by restraint and responsibility, and avoidance of an arms race.”

Several speakers emphasized that the only path to progress on those and other issues rested on a foundation of constructive dialogue.  Kazakhstan’s representative said that in light of the paralysis and divisions within multilateral disarmament bodies, it was no wonder that many delegations sought progress outside traditional United Nations forums.  However, the Commission had considerable potential to demonstrate that the existing disarmament machinery could produce results.

Many speakers expressed their condolences to the Government and people of the Russian Federation for today’s bombing attack in Saint Petersburg.

In other business, the Commission elected the following Vice-Chairs:  Asha Challenger (Antigua and Barbuda), Anda Grinberga (Latvia), Rosita Šorytė (Lithuania), Yasar Ammar (Pakistan) and Hamza Alokly (Libya).  It also elected Ali Robatjazi (Iran) Rapporteur, as well as Wilmer Mendez (Venezuela) and Lachezara Stoeva (Bulgaria) as Chairs of Working Group I and Working Group II, respectively.

Comprising all United Nations Member States, the Disarmament Commission was created to consider and recommend action on various disarmament issues, usually taking up two substantive items each year.  The 2017 session will conclude on 21 April.

Also delivering statements today were representatives of the Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Peru, Argentina, Ukraine, Sudan, Venezuela, Cyprus, Turkey, Spain, Algeria, Austria, Côte d’Ivoire, China, Libya, Australia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Bangladesh and India.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Iran, Syria, Israel, United States, Republic of Korea, Ukraine, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation.

The Disarmament Commission will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 4 April, to continue its work.

Opening Remarks

GABRIELA MARTINIC (Argentina), Chair of the Disarmament Commission, said that during the present session — the last phase of the three-year cycle — two working groups would focus on recommendations concerning the realization of nuclear disarmament and on practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons.  Hopefully Member States would work constructively towards common ground, she added.

KIM WON-SOO, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, noted that 2017 marked the sixty-fifth anniversary of the Commission, emphasizing that its mission was more valid now than ever before.  At a time of rising global and regional tensions, arms competition in strategic and conventional weaponry, worrying policy trends and a dearth of outcomes from disarmament institutions, “we need to work harder to reverse those trends”.  Cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and hypersonic missiles were among a range of concerns from which had arisen a double-blurring of the line between strategic and non-strategic weapons, and between nuclear and conventional arms.  Addressing those trends would require a comprehensive approach, he said, adding that the goal had always been broader than merely eliminating or restricting certain categories of weapons.  Disarmament was intended to take an integrated approach to the larger problem of war and to facilitate arrangements for the collective maintenance of international security.  Creating a new paradigm for sustainable security required an examination of how to modernize the concept of general and complete disarmament for the twenty-first century, he said, describing the Commission’s current session as an opportunity to revitalize that approach by considering the two recommendations of the working groups.  As the only universal deliberative body, the Commission could make a meaningful contribution in revitalizing general and complete disarmament.

Turning to outer space issues, he said the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence-building Measures had successfully concluded its work in 2013, and the subsequent General Assembly resolution had been a rare display of unity on a strategic issue of such magnitude.  Realizing implementation of transparency and confidence-building measures would be an indispensable step towards preventing an arms race in outer space, he said, pointing out that the Secretary-General’s report on implementation efforts, issued in March, had identified gaps and should serve as a practical guide to the Commission’s informal discussions.  They in turn could help in exploring ideas to ensure that space remained free of conflict and unsustainable practices.  “There are high expectations for progress in 2017, including from this body,” he said, citing ongoing negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons and the start of the 2020 review cycle relating to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  “We have good opportunities for action on numerous fronts in a busy disarmament agenda,” he noted.  “Success in your deliberations at this Commission can set a positive tone and provide new impetus for achieving progress on our collective efforts to strengthen disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation.”

Statements

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, called on the nuclear-weapon States to eliminate their nuclear arsenals totally, in accordance with their Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations.  Nuclear disarmament should not be conditional on confidence-building measures, non-proliferation efforts or so-called strategic stability, he said, emphasizing rather the importance of humanitarian considerations in all deliberations on nuclear weapons.  The Non-Aligned Movement, he said, reaffirmed the urgent need for a universal, unconditional, non-discriminatory and legally binding instrument to effectively assure all non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances, pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

He went on to reaffirm the inalienable right of each State to develop, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and to participate in the exchange of related equipment, materials and information.  Emphasizing that proliferation concerns were best addressed through multilaterally negotiated, universal, comprehensive and non-discriminatory agreements that should be transparent and open to participation by all States, he called upon all parties concerned to take urgent and practical steps for the establishment of a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East.  In the interim, he said, the Non-Aligned Movement demanded that Israel accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty without precondition or delay, place its nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, and conduct its nuclear-related activities in conformity with the non-proliferation regime.

AHMED MOHAMED AL-THANI (Qatar), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said there could be no promotion of peace, security and stability as long as nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction threatened the world.  Ridding the Middle East of nuclear weapons was a collective responsibility to be borne by the international community, he said, detailing how Arab States, through a group of elders, had untaken a comprehensive review of various positions regarding a nuclear-weapon-free zone.  Emphasizing the need to redouble multilateral efforts towards the elimination of nuclear weapons, he said Arab States would continue to work tirelessly in all multilateral disarmament forums.

In signing up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Arab States had submitted all their nuclear facilities to IAEA safeguard regimes, he said, pointing out that Israel had failed to do so.  Describing the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free Middle East as the fourth pillar of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, he said there had been no progress in that regard.  Commitments adopted voluntarily could help to build confidence among States, emphasizing also the importance of international instruments to prohibit illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.

RUBÉN IGNACIO ZAMORA (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), recalled that the Community had declared the region a zone of peace during a summit in Havana.  CELAC was deeply concerned about the threat to humankind posed by the existence of nuclear weapons, the use of which would be a crime against humanity and a violation of international law, he said, calling for their total elimination by a clearly established deadline.  Welcoming the General Assembly’s adoption of resolution 71/258, he reiterated CELAC’s intention to participate actively in negotiations on a legally binding instrument prohibiting nuclear weapons.

It was in the legitimate interest of non-nuclear-weapon States to receive guarantees from those possessing such weapons that they would not use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons, he continued.  Welcoming the fiftieth anniversary of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco), he asserted the commitment of CELAC member States to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its three pillars, and to the inalienable right of States to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  CELAC stressed the universality of that instrument, and urged States that had not yet done so to accede to it as non-nuclear-weapon States.  As for conventional weapons, he said confidence-building measures would contribute to greater stability and security, and invited States to extend such measures at all appropriate levels.

MICHEL TOMMO MONTHÉ (Cameroon), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said disarmament and non-proliferation issues were best addressed through multilateral, non-discriminatory processes.  Despite some challenges, the Commission had in the past advanced such discussions.  However, a lack of political will and flexibility had stymied efforts to agree on issues before it.  Nuclear arms were the only non-prohibited weapon of mass destruction, he said, condemning any instrument that justified their use or threat of use.  In fact, the humanitarian consequences of their use would be a violation of the United Nations Charter.  Welcoming the General Assembly resolution on taking forward multilateral negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, he said the 2017 negotiations represented a rare opportunity that would help to complement and strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  The Group also recognized the right of all States to benefit from the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Africa, he continued, remained committed to honouring its disarmament commitments and urged all States to do the same.  He regretted to note that the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons had failed to achieve its goal.  As a nuclear-weapon-free zone, African States would continue to honour its status, he said, stressing that the establishment of such zones reinforced disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.  He expressed dissatisfaction that such a zone had not yet been established in the Middle East and disappointment that the mandated conference in 2012 had not been held.  Turning to other concerns, he said the Conference on Disarmament must break the current deadlock.  On small arms and light weapons, he emphasized the need to tackle their illicit proliferation, which had ravaged communities across Africa, and to support the work of all United Nations regional disarmament centres.  The Commission must do its part and undertake meaningful dialogue during the session.

BARLYBAY SADYKOV (Kazakhstan) said that, given the paralysis and divisions within multilateral disarmament bodies, it was no wonder that many delegations looked outside traditional United Nations forums for progress.  That could be seen in the effort to craft a nuclear-weapons-ban treaty.  However, the Commission — as the only representative body of all Member States — had considerable potential to demonstrate that the existing disarmament machinery could produce results.  Underscoring the need to appreciate the dedication and passion of delegates, he said the best way forward would be to aim for constructive but modest outcomes.

MAOR ELBAZ-STARINSKY (Israel) expressed support for a vision of a Middle East free from wars, conflicts, weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means, but said arms control and disarmament processes were inseparable from the context in which they existed.  As the region had recently been further destabilized and radicalized, the erosion of State sovereignty had never been so apparent.  Amid terrorist attacks, chemical weapon use and Iran’s ballistic missile testing, regional arms control processes required all regional States to engage in an inclusive dialogue to create a new security paradigm.  Likewise, with regard to establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, all States in the region must arrive freely at arrangements to do so.  Israel recognized that the threat of the spread of small arms and light weapons could only be addressed through collaborative efforts, he said, expressing support for international instruments including the Arms Trade Treaty.

HAHN CHOONGHEE (Republic of Korea) said old threats were growing more entrenched and new challenges were emerging.  In 2016 alone, North Korea [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] staged two nuclear tests and launched 24 ballistic missiles, violating Security Council resolutions.  In 2017, it fired six ballistic missiles and tested a ballistic missile engine.  If not urgently addressed, the foundation of the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime would be irreparably shaken.  North Korea should abandon its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.  During the first working group discussion on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, he urged nuclear “haves” and “have-nots” to make recommendations ahead of next month’s preparatory committee meeting for the 2020 Review Conference.  There needed to be a step-by-step approach to nuclear disarmament which considered each country’s security environment, he said, stressing that progress should not be hindered during the second working group on confidence-building measures for conventional weapons.  He welcomed ideas for including an item on transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities as a way to revitalize discussions.

AMRITH ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the momentum created by the United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons should be used to eliminate the sense of defeatism that permeated international disarmament deliberations and to revive the diminishing interest of States towards general and complete disarmament.  The elimination of nuclear stockpiles by nuclear-weapon States remained slow, nuclear weapon tests compromised the world’s peace and stability and there was a serious danger of nuclear material falling into terrorist hands.  While outer space exploration and use offered abundant opportunities, it was incumbent on those who undertook such activities to prevent outer space from becoming the theatre for an arms race, he stressed, recalling that Sri Lanka and Egypt had tabled a First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) resolution on that issue.  He also underlined as critical the implementation of and compliance with conventional weapons agreements, as well as ongoing discussions on lethal autonomous weapons systems.

FRANCISCO TENYA HASEGAWA (Peru), associating himself with CELAC and the Non-Aligned Movement, emphasized the serious challenge posed by the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, reiterated his country’s full commitment to the United Nations Programme of Action and stressed the value of international assistance, particularly with regard to border controls and capacity-building.  Noting that trafficking and diversion of such weapons promoted other illicit activities, he summarized the measures taken by Peru, including its ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty.  He added that relaunching the Conference on Disarmament was a matter of priority which needed to be addressed, and expressed concern that Member States had been unable to agree on a work programme.

MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina), associating himself with CELAC, said the general scenario on disarmament and non-proliferation was rife with challenges that required the international community to work towards broad consensus.  Inclusive and constructive dialogue which took into account the concerns and interests of all States was the best way to make progress.  In that regard, the Commission was a forum where agreements could be reached and deadlock broken.  He underscored the need to identify measures that would enable progress and proposed that delegations move away from “sterile pillarization” so as to ensure a fruitful session.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Commission was meeting against a turbulent global security backdrop.  The negative trends in the disarmament and non-proliferation landscape were due largely to the lack of progress on the part of nuclear-weapon States in fulfilling their legal nuclear disarmament obligations, and could be further impeded by recent vows by some such States to “greatly strengthen and expand nuclear capabilities”.  Another key challenge was the granting of discriminatory waivers to some, and making exceptions for power or profit reasons, all of which constituted nuclear double standards and opened up the risk of diversion of materials intended for peaceful uses to military purposes.

Noting that many States — in particular in South Asia — continued to pursue those policies, she stressed that Pakistan had been left with no option but to “follow suit” in the introduction of nuclear weapons in order to restore strategic stability in the region and deter all forms of aggression.  Indeed, the country had made a number of proposals to keep South Asia free of such weapons but none had elicited a positive response.  “Our conduct continues to be defined by restraint and responsibility, and avoidance of an arms race,” she emphasized.  Outlining a number of factors to guide States to consensus in the Commission, she said agreement must proceed from the universally recognized premise that security was indivisible and based on the right of all States to equal security, both in the conventional and non-conventional fields.  She also emphasized the discriminatory nature of the proposed fissile material cut-off treaty and the urgency of providing legally binding assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States.

ANDRIY TSYMBALIUK (Ukraine) underscored the need for both nuclear and non-nuclear-weapon States to be involved in the non-proliferation regime, noting that his country had abandoned its nuclear capability and acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, as well as removed all stocks of highly enriched uranium from its territory in 2012.  Ukraine’s decision to renounce nuclear weapons was primarily based on the international security guarantees provided by the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, which remained valid.  Expressing support for universalization of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, he urged finding common ground on the issue of existing fissile material stocks and starting negotiations on the fissile material cut-off treaty.  He also expressed support for implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, stressing that the issue of illicit transfer of conventional arms should also remain a priority, as the Russian Federation continued to transfer military goods to Ukraine’s territory.

ANA SILVIA RODRÍGUEZ ABASCAL (Cuba) said the Commission must take advantage of the current climate, including recent negotiations on a nuclear-weapon-ban treaty.  Meanwhile, she expressed concerns that some States were modernizing their nuclear arsenals and continuing to deploy them in other countries.  She regretted to mention other setbacks, including the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference’s inability to agree to an outcome document and the failure to hold a conference to negotiate the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Nuclear disarmament should no longer to be postponed, ending up at the bottom of the Commission’s agenda.  Only the complete elimination of nuclear weapons would suffice, she said, emphasizing a need for a convention banning them as a step in that direction.

OMER DAHAB FADL MOHAMED (Sudan) said weapons of mass destruction threatened humanity as a whole and efforts must address issues including the proliferation of chemical weapons and other related arms.  Noting the failure of the most recent Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference to agree to an outcome document, he said efforts must now be made to get on track towards disarmament and non-proliferation.  Sudan had supported action to prevent the spread of small arms and light weapons, which had led to thousands of deaths in the region, and had taken part in national, regional and international initiatives.  There was a clear link between the spread of those weapons and organized crime and terrorism, he said, underlining Sudan’s role in border control and other related efforts.  Combatting the spread of those arms must begin with the countries producing them.  As for States in need of help in tackling the scourge, technical assistance must be provided.

Right of Reply

The representative of Iran, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said he rejected the allegations made by the representative of the Israeli regime against his country.  Such lying and disinformation was intended to divert attention from Israel’s destabilizing actions and policies in the Middle East.  Israel had continued to flaunt all international regimes governing weapons of mass destruction, he said, adding that Israel was the only obstacle in the way of creating a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.  Nuclear weapons in the hands of the Israeli regime posed the most serious threat to the security of all States in the Middle East and to the non-proliferation regime, he said, adding that Israel had “arrogantly and flagrantly” violated at least 86 Security Council resolutions since 1948 in addition to well-documented atrocities and war crimes against the Palestinian and Lebanese people.

The representative of Syria, also referring to the statement of Israel’s representative, said those who lived in glass houses should not throw stones.  The Israeli regime had introduced nuclear, chemical, biological and radioactive terrorism to the region, he said.  It had also provided toxic weapons training and information to terrorist groups in Syria, in particular to Al-Nusrah and related agents.  It had moreover violated Security Council resolutions regarding counter-terrorism, while international reports had confirmed beyond a doubt its use of biological and chemical weapons.  He went on to say that Syria had declared that it was completely against any use of chemical weapons and had acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention.  By his statement, the Israeli entity’s representative had sought to draw attention away from the danger of its nuclear weapons, he said, adding that Israel had also been responsible for trafficking in small arms and light weapons.

Statements

RAFAEL RAMÍREZ (Venezuela), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and CELAC, said he was worried about a new arms race and the implications that would have.  The challenge for the Commission in 2017 would be to break 18 years of deadlock caused by the position of a minority of Member States.  It was imperative to achieve real results, he said, urging nuclear-weapon States to show flexibility.  More than 70 years after atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the main priority was the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  The momentum, enthusiasm and participation showed by delegations at the recent United Nations conference to negotiate a nuclear weapons prohibition treaty demonstrated the commitment of a majority of States to address the most serious threat to mankind.  Adoption of such an instrument would strengthen Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and provide a direction towards nuclear disarmament, he said, calling on all parties to put aside their own interests in favour of denuclearization, particularly in the Middle East.

JOHN A. BRAVACO (United States) said the 2016 Open-ended Working Group taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations had not achieved consensus, yet had called for a nuclear-weapon-ban treaty and negotiations, which had been launched in March.  Such negotiations had been opposed by a number of countries, both nuclear weapon and non-nuclear-weapon States.  A nuclear-weapon-ban treaty would come with an enormous cost without achieving the elimination of a single warhead and risked deepening the divide between States, while ignoring the essential connection between disarmament and security.  The United States opposed the Working Group’s report and the General Assembly’s related resolution and would not participate in negotiations for such a convention.

Looking forward to the 2020 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference, he urged all States parties to recognize how the instrument had and would strengthen common interests.  There was a need to restore balance to dialogue, all with a view to enhancing national security.  A respectful dialogue must also consider all points of view with respect to issues such as non-compliance, the difficult national security environment and applying nuclear energy to meet sustainable development goals.  More broadly on the disarmament and non-proliferation field, the culture of consensus was needed, he said.  Deliberations on the Commission’s working group topics had been frank and useful in past sessions.  Some of the language in existing non-papers should be altered or removed with a view to achieving consensus at the end of the current session.  His delegation was prepared to engage constructively in discussions and expected all Member States to do the same.

KORNELIOS KORNELIOU (Cyprus) emphasized his country’s commitment towards progress in all disarmament forums.  It aspired to accede to the Missile Technology Control Regime and the Wasenaar Arrangement and, in that regard, expected objections raised by one country to be lifted.  That would spare all parties from unmerited politicization which only jeopardized the purpose of those treaties, he said, expressing also his country’s efforts to be vigilant vis-à-vis the threat of the spread of weapons of mass destruction in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.  With regard to outer space, he said his nation valued the contribution of confidence-building measures, adding that it was essential for States to work collectively to keep outer space safe and secure for the benefit of mankind.

FERIDUN SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey) said the Commission had a very important role to play by providing a platform for enhancing dialogue and cooperation as well as a sincere exchange of views.  He said his country wanted to build upon what had been done in the past two years, and that its delegation stood ready to contribute to consensual outcomes in the working group on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and in the working group on practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons.

JAVIER GUTIERREZ (Spain) said the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was the basis of nuclear disarmament and the peaceful use of energy applications, anticipating a constructive preparatory meeting for the 2020 Review Conference.  The goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world must rest on concrete actions, including nuclear-weapon States eliminating their arsenals.  Nuclear-weapon-free zones were another important step, he said, expressing support for such a zone in the Middle East.  The Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty had reinforced a de facto prohibition on testing, he said, urging all States to sign and ratify the instrument so it could enter into force.  On verification, he hoped the Commission would pay due attention to the issue.  Sharing other concerns, he said weapons of mass destruction were the biggest threat facing the world, particularly if terrorists and other non-State actors obtained and used those arms.  In addition, conventional weapons and small arms had triggered the highest death toll and impact on States’ security and development, he said, expressing full support for the Arms Trade Treaty and related instruments.

MOHAMMED BESSEDIK (Algeria) said the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty must be universalized.  Alarmed by the consequences caused by the detonation of a nuclear warhead, Algeria had endorsed the Humanitarian Pledge, which had emerged from the 2014 Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons.  Welcoming the United Nations Conference aimed at negotiating a nuclear-weapon-ban treaty, he encouraged Member States to participate in the process to consolidate other existing disarmament instruments.  Universal adherence to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty was also essential, as was establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones, including in the Middle East.  Turning to conventional arms, he said the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons continued to threaten peace and stability in many countries.  On the basis of national experience, Algeria reaffirmed that the Programme of Action and the International Tracing Instrument were more relevant than ever before.

GEORGE WILHELM GALLHOFER (Austria) provided a snapshot of the first session of negotiations on a nuclear-weapon-ban treaty, saying that discussions had demonstrated a strong, united will to achieve a clear prohibition on those arms and a strong sense of urgency.  Such urgency should also be reflected in the Commission’s deliberations on recommendations to send to the Assembly.  “Extending the status quo or even accepting the strengthening of nuclear arsenals by modernization is clearly unacceptable to the overwhelming majority of States,” he said.  The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was the foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament and an important element in the further development of applications for peaceful purposes.  On conventional weapons, he said Austria valued the contribution that practical confidence-building measures could make to the maintenance and enhancement of regional and international peace and security and supported relevant arms-related treaties.

FEH MOUSSA GONE (Côte d’Ivoire), associating himself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said a complex situation had unfurled against a backdrop of 15,000 nuclear warheads, the spread of conventional weapons destabilizing countries and the Commission’s continued failure to make recommendations to the General Assembly.  “We must move forward,” he said, emphasizing an urgent need to settle differences.  Nuclear weapons remained the only weapons of mass destruction that were not prohibited by a legally binding instrument.  The strategies of nuclear deterrence must be excluded from national security efforts.  Debate must move forward to eliminate and shrink arsenals would lead to the universalization of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Nearly 20 years after its creation, the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty had not yet entered into force, a precedent that might spread to other disarmament instruments.  Small arms and light weapons were another scourge and for its part, Côte d’Ivoire had taken steps, including in weapons control, arsenal management and care for victims.

SUN LEI (China) said nuclear disarmament could not be achieved overnight.  Rather, it could only be taken forward through a step-by-step approach, following the principles of maintaining global strategic stability and undiminished security for all.  “Negotiations on nuclear disarmament should only take place within the existing international disarmament and non-proliferation regimes, such as the Conference on Disarmament,” he said.  Countries with the largest nuclear arsenals should take the lead in reducing those weapons substantially and substantively, he said, thus creating the conditions for the complete destruction and total elimination of nuclear armaments.  Turning to conventional weapons, he said China hoped that the Arms Trade Treaty could contribute to solving problems resulting from the illicit trade of such arms, without prejudice to the security, sovereignty and reasonable national defence requirements of each country, as well as the legal arms trade between States.

HAMZA A. B. ALOKLY (Libya), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Group and the Arab Group, said disarmament remained both a priority and a legal commitment that must be multilateral.  The elimination of nuclear weapons by way of a legally binding document was the only reliable guarantee against their use, he said, expressing concern over a lack of progress on the part of nuclear-weapon States towards eliminating those stockpiles.  Nuclear-weapon-free zones, especially in the Middle East, would lead to significant progress in the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, he said, expressing hope that a review conference in 2020 would strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Furthermore, he encouraged all nations, including nuclear-weapon States, to participate in the negotiations which began in March on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons.

DAVID YARDLEY (Australia) said the fissile material cut-off treaty would be the next logical step in advancing nuclear disarmament.  It would be the most practical and effective way of contributing to “global zero” in the current strategic environment.  Noting that 2016 marked the twentieth anniversary of the opening for signature of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty, he said voluntary moratoriums on nuclear explosive tests were no substitute for a permanent and legally binding commitment to end nuclear testing and all other nuclear explosions, something that could only be achieved through the Treaty’s entry into force.  On conventional weapons, he said Australia would continue to work towards universalization of the Arms Trade Treaty, including working closely with States across the Indo-Pacific region.

PETR ILIICHEV (Russian Federation) said the Commission’s effective work was being stymied by the same problems affecting other elements of the United Nations disarmament machinery — the inability and sometimes a banal lack of will to allow reasonable compromises for the sake of reaching consensus.  Expressing the Russian Federation’s full support of the noble aim of building a nuclear-weapon-free world, he said that it was carrying out an unprecedented reduction of its nuclear arsenals.  It was also heading towards the full-scale implementation of the Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START Treaty).  The question was how to achieve the goal of nuclear disarmament.  Going forward, certain States must abandon attempts to ensure their security and military superiority at the expense and to the detriment of others, he said, emphasizing that serious joint work was urgently needed to create conditions conducive to nuclear disarmament.  Drawing attention to an alarming situation that had been caused by the unilateral and unconstrained deployment of United States missile defence assets in various regions, he said the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence systems’ deployment in the Republic of Korea had negatively affected the state of play in the region and no answer had yet to be provided with regard to what those systems were targeting.

Citing other concerns, he pointed to the development of conventionally armed strategic offensive weapons, weaponizing outer space and the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.  Those problems must be addressed; otherwise, further nuclear disarmament would be unconceivable.  “Delivering humanity from the nuclear threat is extremely complex and multifaceted,” he said.  “It has no simple solutions.  It would be a big mistake to assume that the problem of eliminating nuclear weapons could be sorted out by a simple vote for their blanket ban.”  The Russian Federation supported the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, including one in the Middle East, and championed efforts towards a conventional arms control treaty in Europe.  His country was also proposing new constructive ideas to revitalize the Commission’s work, including with regard to confidence-building measures and preventing an arms race in outer space.  With respect to the statement that had been made by his counterpart from Ukraine, he said Crimea had joined the Russian Federation through a referendum.

KIM IN RYONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the danger of nuclear war was growing day by day, with nuclear-weapon States increasing their arsenals in both quantity and quality.  Comprehensive and complete disarmament would only be possible when the United States no longer sought to bring down sovereign States by force, he said, adding that that country had pursued a strategy of dominating the world while modernizing its nuclear weapons.  Describing the Korean Peninsula as the world’s most dangerous hotspot, he said that the largest-ever joint military drills by the United States and the Republic of Korea were currently under way.

Self-defence was a sovereign country’s legitimate right, he said, adding that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had no other choice than to go nuclear in the face of a consistent nuclear threat from the United States.  His country’s access to nuclear weapons had reduced the danger of nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula, he said, and it would continue to build up its nuclear forces so long as the United States and vessel forces conducted nuclear blackmail and war games on its doorstep.  Turning to allegations made earlier in the day by the representative of the Republic of Korea, he said they were “ridiculous” and intended to mislead the world.

FAIYAZ MURSHID KAZI (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, recalled forward-looking pronouncements made at the General Assembly’s 2013 high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament, which indicated there was sufficient political will to take the disarmament agenda forward.  What was perhaps missing was leadership and courage to turn that political will into demonstrable results and action.  Expressing support for negotiations on a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention, he said that non-nuclear-weapon States deserved legally binding assurances from nuclear-weapon States on refraining from the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against them.  That remained a priority for Bangladesh in the contest of the draft programme of work of the Conference on Disarmament and overall multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, he said.

DEVIKA LAL (India) said her delegation continued to believe in the inherent value of the Commission.  Emphasizing the value of multilateral outcomes, she urged it to show renewed commitment to the General Assembly’s call to revitalize its work.  She reiterated India’s support for a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons as proposed by the Non-Aligned Movement, and called for a trust-building dialogue among all States with nuclear weapons.  With regard to conventional weapons, she recommended practical confidence-building initiatives, adding that such measures must remain the prerogative of States concerned.

Right of Reply

The representative of Israel, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said Iran was in violation of its obligations under relevant treaties, and that the Government of Syria used chemical weapons against its own people.

The representative of the United States said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s weapons programmes posed a grave threat to peace and security and violated United Nations resolutions.  That country’s actions had increased the international community’s resolve to address its weapons programmes, he said, urging it to fulfil its international obligations and return to serious talks.  Emphasizing that the United States would not accept the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as a nuclear-weapon State, he said there were consequences to Pyongyang’s actions, adding that the United States would continue to increase its readiness against that growing threat.

The representative of the Republic of Korea stressed that seven major Security Council resolutions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, including some adopted in 2016, reflected the views of the international community.  Underlining that no one was threatening that country, he urged Pyongyang to realize that no country would ever recognize it as a nuclear-weapon Power.

The representative of Syria said his counterpart from Israel had manipulated and distorted facts about certain actions.  The largest weapons dealers were predominantly Israeli military officers, and Israeli weaponry was fuelling crises around the world through involvement in illicit trade, pairing up with separatist movements, organized crime networks and organ traffickers.  The Israeli entity possessed chemical and other types of weapons, and had transported toxic chemical substances to terrorist groups in the region.  Syria had provided information on those actions and was now awaiting Security Council action, he said, adding that Israel had also trained and financed armed terrorist groups, including Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Nusrah Front.

The representative of Iran said that Israel’s delegate had levelled unfounded allegations against his country.  Noting that Israel’s history included occupation, atrocities and aggression against neighbours, he pointed out that it was not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or any other similar convention, causing many States to express great concern over its nuclear programme.  A regime with such a history could not be trusted to have nuclear weapons, which posed a serious threat to international security.  Additionally, it had no respect for international law, flagrantly disregarding and violating the 86 Security Council resolutions, he said, describing those actions as realities, not allegations or lies.

The representative of Ukraine, responding to remarks by his counterpart from the Russian Federation, said the conflict in parts of eastern Ukraine had been caused by Russian aggression that had begun with the occupation of Crimea.  However, Ukraine was fully committed to implementation of the Minsk Agreements, he said, adding that if Russia stopped military support for its proxies, the Donbass situation would be settled soon.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected as “ridiculous” remarks by the United States and the Republic of Korea, saying they were a distortion of reality.  The United States had maintained a large number of nuclear weapons in the Republic of Korea since the 1950s, and had conducted annual joint military exercises with that country for more than 40 years.  With the United States upgrading its nuclear weapons, Pyongyang was forced to accelerate the development of its own nuclear arsenal, he emphasized.  Turning to the Republic of Korea’s statement, he said it was a wanton violation of his country’s sovereignty and dignity to call its defences a provocation and a threat.

The representative of the Russian Federation “completely refuted” Ukraine’s accusations about the 2014 referendum in Crimea and the presence of Russian military forces in that country.  At the time of the referendum, those forces had been legally present in Crimea, in accordance with an agreement between the two countries regarding the Black Sea fleet, he said, adding that Russian soldiers had not taken part in organizing the referendum.  Had the Ukrainian delegation been committed to implementing the Minsk Agreements and relevant Security Council resolutions, the conflict in eastern Ukraine would have ended long ago.

The representative of the Republic of Korea said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should realize that by totally rejecting unanimously adopted Security Council resolutions, it was telling the international community that it rejected the Council’s authority.  Did Pyongyang think that all Security Council members who had joined the last seven unanimously adopted resolutions had made unreasonable and wrong decisions?

The representative of the United States reiterated his country’s demand that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea fulfil its international obligations and return to serious talks.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected allegations by his counterparts from the United States and the Republic of Korea, warning that Pyongyang had no choice but “to go nuclear”.  As for the Security Council’s sanctions resolutions, he said there were no prohibitions on the type of testing undertaken by his country, and demanded clarification of the basis for those unfair and unjust resolutions.

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This will not be the end of “The Jungle”

This week France started the long-awaited shutdown of the notorious Jungle refugee camp outside the city of Calais. Billed as a humanitarian measure, the eviction of nearly 7,000 refugees and asylum seekers in the camp is becoming just as controversial as the camp itself as questions remain about what will happen to those who once called the Jungle home.

As the main seaport connecting France and the UK, Calais has long attracted migrants who wished to make a new life across the Channel. The opening of the Channel Tunnel in 1994 increased the number of migrants who tried to use Calais as a jumping off point, hoping to stow aboard one of the hundreds of a freight trucks that pass through the Channel Tunnel every day. But as Europe continued to tighten its borders, the situation for those trying to make it to the UK became even more precarious.

As the ability of people to cross to the UK slowed, the number of migrants in and around Calais rose. Following a particular surge in numbers, the French Red Cross opened Sangatte, a formal reception center near Calais in 1999. Quickly filled beyond capacity and politically contentious in France, the government shut down the reception center in 2002. Through a burden sharing agreement with the UK, the migrants houses at Sangatte at the time were placed in alternative accommodations throughout France and the UK, but no plans were made for how to deal with new arrivals to Calais.

A treaty signed with the UK in 2003 placed an even higher burden on French officials as it moved British border controls for the Channel Tunnel to Calais, making it even harder for migrants to cross to the UK. Thus, shortly after the Sangatte reception center closed the original Jungle camp was born in the surrounding forest as a series of piecemeal squatter villages that new migrants called home. Not an official refugee camp under international law and therefore not entitled to international assistance, the Jungle has existed in a legal gray area that many activists have likened to purgatory here on Earth.

jungle

Since that time, very little has changed. Although the location of “the Jungle” has changed over the years, conditions have always remained deplorable for those calling it home. And with little in the way of formal services or immigration options, the migrants of Calais have resorted to desperate measures to try and reach the UK while tensions have repeatedly flared between the migrants and local police. The Calais Migrant Solidarity project has documented dozens of migrant deaths in the tunnel and around the port, but given the isolated nature and high security around the Channel Tunnel, the actual number of those killed over the years is unknown.

Given all this, it is understandable that the French government would want the camp gone. But it would appear it is set to make the same mistakes it did in 2002 when it closed the Sangatte reception center.

As before, the existing migrants at the Jungle are being disbursed to alternative reception centers throughout France while the UK processes many of the unaccompanied children living in the camp who claim to have family in the country. Many of the migrants living in the Jungle likely qualify for refugee or asylum seeker status, and have been told they will have the opportunity to apply to legally stay in France once they are resettled. But there is also a serious lack of information provided to the migrants about where they are going at what will happen next. As a result, many migrants left the camp before the evictions started, therefore still remaining outside the system, while others are refusing to leave at all.

This is not the first time the camp has been cleared, but each time it has popped back up again as old migrants return and new arrivals come. Without a comprehensive plan and migration policy, there is little reason to think the same thing will not happen again.

The growing anti-immigrant backlash throughout the EU also complicates the ability of officials to address the plight of these migrants. Several of the towns where the Jungle’s inhabitants are being relocated to have been openly hostile to the idea. Last month in the Paris suburb of Forges-les-Bains where 91 migrants are to be resettled, a proposed reception center was flooded by unknown assailants, then set on fire days later in a suspected arson attack, and saw 61 per cent of the town vote categorically against allowing any migrants to resettle there.

With French President Francois Hollande facing an open primary due to his low approval ratings ahead of next year’s presidential election and the UK still dealing with the fallout from its vote to leave the EU, there is little appetite to launch the reforms that are needed to address the issues in Calais. Immigration, and the acceptance of refugees in particular, are major political issues in both countries with politicians on both sides of the Channel clamoring to appear tough on migrants in the face of anti-immigration sentiments and the rise of far-right parties.

The dismantling of the Jungle is expected to be completed this week. Yet history suggests that this will not be the end of the Jungle of Calais, but rather just a new chapter in its sordid history.

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Bolstering Support to ‘Silence the Guns’ in Africa, General Assembly Adopts Resolution Targeting Root Causes of Conflict, Promoting Peace, Development

Concluding Debate on Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, Member States Share National Plans for Countering, Preventing Scourge

The General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution that welcomed progress in Africa in conflict prevention and peacebuilding while pointing to ways to address the root causes of conflict and promote durable peace and sustainable development.

By the terms of the resolution on “causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa” (document A/70/L.50/Rev.1), the Assembly took note of the Secretary-General’s 2015 report, which had taken stock of major peace and security developments in Africa during the past year, highlighted the growing links between political, social and economic exclusion and violent conflict and reviewed progress in implementing the recommendations set forth in the Secretary-General’s 1998 report on the subject.

Welcoming progress in Africa in peacemaking and development and the adoption of the first 10-year implementation plan (2014-2023) of the African Union Agenda 2063, the Assembly called for intensified, coordinated efforts among national Governments, the African Union, subregional organizations, the United Nations system and relevant partners to address challenges and support the goal of a conflict-free Africa.  It also called on Member States and the United Nations system to bolster support for the African Union’s goal to “silence the guns” by 2020.

The Assembly called upon the United Nations system and Member States to support peace consolidation mechanisms and processes, such as the African Peace and Security Architecture, the African Governance Architecture, the Panel of the Wise, the African Union Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development Framework and the continental early warning system.  It also called for support of African countries’ efforts to promote political, social and economic inclusion.

Expressing grave concern over the growing threat posed by terrorism to Africa’s peace, security and social and economic development, the Assembly encouraged the United Nations to support the development and implementation of regional and national counter-terrorism action plans and called on Member States to provide assistance and capacity-building towards Africa’s efforts to counter violent extremism and terrorism.

Expressing deep concern over violence against children, including sexual violence, during conflict and post-conflict, and their recruitment and use by parties to armed conflicts, the Assembly urged further progress in implementing protection policies and guidelines, including more systematic monitoring and reporting, and stressed the need for post-conflict counselling, reintegration, rehabilitation and education.  The Assembly also welcomed the decision of the African Union to declare 2016 as the African Year of Human Rights with Particular Focus on the Rights of Women.  Further, the Assembly called for the safeguarding of the principle of refugee protection in Africa and the resolution of the plight of refugees, calling for concrete action to meet their protection and assistance needs.

Noting the completion of the review of the implementation of the recommendations in the Secretary-General’s 1998 report, the Assembly asked the Secretary-General to develop, in consultation with relevant partners, policy proposals on issues identified in that document, including enhancing cooperation among the United Nations, the African Union and subregional organizations, particularly in conflict prevention and resolution, peacekeeping, post-conflict peacebuilding and recovery and promoting socioeconomic development, good governance, the rule of law and human rights.  The Secretary-General was also asked to continue to monitor and report to the General Assembly annually on persistent and emerging challenges to the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa and on the approach and support of the United Nations system.

Also today, the General Assembly concluded its debate on the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  Several speakers outlined national action plans to combat terrorism aligned with the Global Strategy.  They also expressed condolences to the victims and their families of the recent terrorist attacks in Bangladesh, Turkey and Iraq. 

Speaking during the debate were the representatives of Armenia, Lebanon, Philippines, Albania, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Iran, Morocco, Kazakhstan, Jordan, Tunisia, Somalia, Pakistan, Qatar, Cameroon and Algeria.  A representative of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) also spoke.

The General Assembly also took note of an addendum to the report of its Second Committee (Economic and Financial) on the revitalization of the world body’s work (document A/70/518/Add.1). 

The General Assembly will meet again on Tuesday, 12 July, to convene a high-level thematic debate on the theme “UN@70 — Human Rights at the centre of the global agenda”.

Statements

TIGRAN SAMVELIAN (Armenia) expressed regret that the resolution reflected the principles of international law in a selective manner, failing to embrace the spirit and letter of the United Nations Charter, including self-determination.  He supported the Secretary-General’s call for more concerted efforts to mainstream human rights and the rule of law into counter-terrorism policies, especially welcoming Security Council resolutions 2133 (2014), 2170 (2014) and 2178 (2014).  The international community should stand united to strengthen the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  Foreign terrorist fighters threatened States to which they travelled in addition to their countries of origin and transit.  Further, he said, those who encouraged intolerance should recall that such behaviour might constitute incitement to extreme violence and breed terrorist ideologies.  He supported the call to contribute to security sector reform, noting that Armenia had engaged in initiatives of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), European Union and others.

NAWAF SALAM (Lebanon) condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, welcoming the adoption of the resolution, which reaffirmed the Assembly’s central role in combating the scourge and underscored the importance of an integrated, comprehensive and balanced approach in implementing its four pillars.  “This is critical”, he said, stressing that Lebanon was mourning the loss of families and friends after two attacks in Qaa last week.  Party to most existing counter-terrorism conventions, Lebanon was at the front line of efforts to defeat the phenomenon.  Welcoming the resolution’s reference to youth empowerment, he highlighted the positive contributions women made to stable, peaceful societies, also underscoring the importance of protecting cultural heritage.  In closing, he denounced attempts to label the right to resist foreign occupation as terrorism.

IGOR GARLIT BAILEN (Philippines) condemned in the strongest terms all acts of terrorism, pledging to bring to justice members of Abu Sayyef responsible for recent murders and expressing condolences to the families and friends of the victims.  The Philippines had prepared a framework for countering violent extremism through a “whole of nation” approach, engaging various actors in implementing community awareness campaigns, among other initiatives.  Intercultural and interfaith dialogue was at its core.  It continued to develop its capacity to win hearts and minds by training local communities to recognize and respond to such acts.  An anti-money laundering council trained policymakers, law enforcement officials and intelligence authorities to counter the financing of terrorism.  Further, the Philippines had adopted a national action plan, hosting in August an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional workshop to promote cooperation in managing the risks of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons.  It also had finalized a national counter-terrorism strategy, which aimed to prevent, protect, prepare and respond through a “whole of nation” and rule of law approach.

ARBEN IDRIZI (Albania), associating himself with the European Union, said all Member States must commit to tackling international terrorism, adding that international cooperation was required to implement all four pillars of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  Regional cooperation was essential to ending terrorism and to properly assessing and reintegrating, where possible, returning terrorist fighters.  Albania had adopted the Global Strategy and was working to improve regional cooperation in that regard, he said.  Inter-agency efforts were under way to draft a national strategy for 2016-2020 that would harmonize the energy of the Government, civil society and religious communities to make the fight against terrorism more efficient, he said, emphasizing his country’s commitment to efforts aimed at removing the root causes of terrorism.

AMRITH ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka) expressed solidarity with Bangladesh, Turkey and Iraq, saying the recent heinous terrorist attacks in those countries were a rallying call to action in the scourge of terrorism.  Voicing deep concern over the growing threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters, he emphasized that all Member States must pool resources and share intelligence to defeat international terrorist networks.  As violent terrorism in many parts of the world targeted vulnerable and marginalized communities, it was vital to proactively include and engage United Nations entities dealing with children, minorities, women and girls, he said, adding that the large number of children victimized in the Baghdad attack underscored the urgent need for engagement.  All Member States must demonstrate the political will to conclude a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, he stressed, declaring:  “The search for an ideal and a perfect instrument must not become the enemy of the good and result in a collective failure of this Organization and its Member States.”

JAMES NDIRANGU WAWERU (Kenya) said a national counter-terrorism strategy and action plan was enhancing preventive efforts, particularly through local and grassroots early warning systems, as that was a highly effective way to snuff out the terrorist supply chain of new recruits.  Prevention would also delegitimize the violent extremist narrative before it gained ground.  The international community must fully unite to address terrorism.  For its part, Kenya had set up a National Counter-Terrorism Centre, an inter-agency organization that coordinated the implementation of the national strategy and action plans.  Noting that those efforts had been inspired by the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, he said enhanced national coordination had already resulted in a dramatic reduction in the number and intensity of terrorist attacks in Kenya.  Through increased public engagement, he said, the war against terrorism was being executed by law enforcement agencies, citizens and local communities.

GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran) said terrorism could only be defeated with a comprehensive plan that was implemented in a coordinated manner with cooperation among all actors at the regional level.  Violent extremism was the most critical challenge and the Takfiri ideology, which had nothing to do with Islam, was at its core.  He urged a focus on that concern because Al-Qaida and the Taliban were the first so-called “achievements” of that extremist ideology, while Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Al-Nusra were the latest.  Thousands of people from more than 100 countries had joined those groups, mainly in Syria and Iraq.  “We could have avoided the current situation,” he said, urging a focus on prevention.  States must also devise national plans to deal with the drivers of violent extremism, he said, citing the unlawful use of force against States, foreign aggression and foreign interference in internal affairs among the root causes of terrorism.  He opposed attempts to equate the legitimate struggles of people under colonial or alien domination with terrorism and rejected the unilateral preparation of lists accusing States of so-called “sponsoring terrorism”.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco) condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, stressing that it could not be associated with any religion, nationality or ethnic group.  Associating himself with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), he said the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy had marked a turning point.  Since 2014, however, a new reality had emerged, with Da’esh taking control of swaths of Iraq and Syria.  That group had no Islamic legitimacy, only an ideology of death, recruiting more than 30,000 foreign terrorist fighters and funding itself through illicit oil trafficking and exploitation of common means of communication.  He welcomed the resolution as a compromise text, citing its focus on foreign terrorist fighters, stemming financing, countering terrorist ideologies and reaffirming the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and the unity of States in that regard.  Touching on national efforts, he cited a 2006 initiative to develop human potential, training programmes for preachers in the authentic teachings of Islam and an initiative aimed at the deradicalization and reintegration of foreign terrorist fighters.

KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV (Kazakhstan) said that, being party to all major international conventions to root out terrorism, national efforts had aimed at strengthening capabilities and were being guided by the Global Strategy and other relevant universal instruments.  Kazakhstan was enhancing cooperation, including with the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force and the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee, and had adopted a joint action plan to implement the Global Strategy in Central Asia.  A State programme to counter religious extremism and terrorism from 2013 to 2017 was closely aligned with the Global Strategy and the President had led an initiative to set up a United Nations-led counter-terrorism coalition and a common mechanism for tracing, detaining and extraditing perpetrators of violent extremism and terrorism.  Efforts also included establishing a unified list of terrorist organizations.  The Assembly’s adoption of the resolution was as step forward towards that end, he concluded.

MOH’D KAIS MUFLEH ALBATAYNEH (Jordan) regretted that terrorism was on the rise.  Noting the dastardly acts that had been committed last month against Jordan and its soldiers, he said Member States should develop their own plans to combat terrorism, the threat of foreign terrorist fighters and the exploitation of mass media by terrorist networks.  It was essential to pay attention to youth, give them a proper role in combatting violent extremism and protect them from terrorist networks that aimed at destroying them.  All Member States must take proper steps before granting asylum to people seeking it.  Combatting terrorism required collective efforts and support to countries leading the fight against the scourge, such as Jordan.

NOUR ZARROUK BOUMIZA (Tunisia) said the Assembly must take a central role in actions to counter terrorism and violent extremism, underscoring the importance of dialogue, including by civil society, in that regard.  Tunisia had adopted a new constitution, held presidential elections in 2014 and won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2015.  It was resolved to fight terrorism based on the primacy of law, she said, noting that a 2015 law to fight terrorism and money laundering had been harmonized with international instruments and Security Council resolution 2178 (2014).  Further, a judicial body and a national commission had been created, the latter of which aimed at following up on commitments to fight terrorism.  Tunisia’s national strategy, which was based on the United Nations approach, focused on prevention, protection, follow up and response.  The Government was working to counter terrorist doctrines and promote dialogue, peace and tolerance.  More broadly, global efforts required common actions at all levels, she said, welcoming that the resolution had prioritized capacity-building and the need for resources.

MOHAMED RABI YUSUF (Somalia) said the vast majority of citizens had rejected violent extremism, welcoming the United Nations efforts to raise global awareness of preventing and countering such behaviour.  Working across Government, with the involvement of regional administrations and civil society, the Federal Government of Somalia, with support from the European Union and the “blueprint Somalia project”, had developed a Somali-owned, Somali-led national strategy and action plan for preventing and countering violent extremism.  With efforts showing the importance of working with international partners, the strategy and plan of action had included all of the Secretary-General’s recommendations, laying out a vision for Somalia and initiatives to better understand and then prevent and counter extremist influences.  That initiative had complemented efforts to address national security threats within a framework of good governance, human rights and the rule of law, he said.

NABEEL MUNIR (Pakistan), condemning terrorism in all its forms, said huge national sacrifices had been made in the battle against that scourge.  Yet, Pakistan had persevered.  Since the Global Strategy’s adoption 10 years ago, Pakistan had accorded high importance to its implementation.  Few countries could match its efforts for counter-terrorism or its sacrifices.  The law enforcement operation, Zarb-e-Azab, one of the largest national counter-terrorism operations in the world, had resulted in significant successes.  He pointed to the creation of special courts for terrorist offenders, arms control measures and the strengthening of the National Counter Terrorism Authority and the Financial Monitoring Unit.  Last year, the United Nations Financial Action Task Force had acknowledged that Pakistan’s counter-terrorism financing steps were in line with United Nations recommendations.

Pakistan’s 20-point national action plan to counter terrorism, he said, had focused on prevention and included measures to end hate speech and sectarian violence, protect minorities, prevent exploitation of the media and Internet by terrorists and violent extremists, develop an effective counter-narrative campaign against terrorist propaganda, reform the education system and register and regularize madrasas, he said.  The plan also included political reconciliation and economic revitalization programmes for targeted areas, criminal justice sector reform and the registration of refugees.  In line with a “whole of society” approach, the Government had taken steps to promote and protect women rights, enhance the capacity of law enforcement agencies and harness youth’s potential.  Pakistan was also working with the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force on youth skills development and the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate to enhance the criminal justice sector’s capacity.

TALAL RASHID S. A. AL-HAJRI (Qatar), aligning himself with the OIC, condemned all terrorist attacks, which were contrary to all Islamic teachings.  Terrorism had no religious or national identity and must be fought at all levels in a manner that respected the right to self-determination, international humanitarian law and human rights law.  Youth affected by violent extremism must be supported and reintegrated into society.  In addition, security responses should complement efforts to address the root causes of terrorism, with national and international mechanisms to both combat the scourge and address its causes.  Among various efforts, Qatar had set up a national counter-terrorism institution to stamp out money laundering and terrorism financing.  The Syrian regime had labelled as terrorists Syrians that were demanding their legitimate rights, he said, noting that it was ironic that the representative of a regime that was practicing State-sponsored terrorism was labelling as terrorists countries known within the United Nations for their active contribution to solve disputes peacefully.

MICHEL TOMMO MONTHE (Cameroon) said Boko Haram had staged attacks in the Lake Chad region.  On 29 June, in the north of Cameroon, the terrorist group had attacked Jakana, killing 11 people and wounding 4.  Noting that defence and security forces had confronted the group, he said Cameroon was working with a multinational joint force in combat areas and creating local self-defence committees.  Soldiers respected human rights and international humanitarian law and, in the eastern region, Cameroon had hosted refugees and displaced persons.  On the diplomatic front, the African Union and the Security Council had mobilized on several occasions, with support that had enhanced related efforts in the Lake Chad region.  Cameroon’s emergency plan included development projects in the region to ensure that poverty was not used to catalyse conflicts, while religious leaders in Cameroon had organized sermons on peace, equity, tolerance, charity and moderation — the true values of Islam.  He urged the international community to stand against Boko Haram and the Security Council to use all means possible to counter terrorist movements that abused Islam.

MOHAMMED BESSEDIK (Algeria) aligning himself with the OIC, said terrorism understood no religion, homeland or borders and in no way should be associated with any culture, religion, civilization or community.  He urged preserving the biennial review process of the Global Strategy, noting that the resolution had reflected that need.  He also underlined the importance of consolidating efforts by enhancing cooperation at bilateral, regional and international levels, strengthening capabilities and exchanging best practices.  Algeria had always urged respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and unity of all States, he said, rejecting any selective approach towards those principles.  Citing national efforts, he said the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation had been adopted by an overwhelming majority of Algerians.  The battle against terrorism must be waged in all areas of political, institutional, economic, cultural, religious, education and social activities.  Algeria’s strategy aimed to protect society from any influence by advocates of violent extremism and terrorism and was based on democracy, the rule of law and social justice.

ANNA-KATHARINA DEININGER, of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), said several key steps had been taken since 2014 to prevent and combat terrorism and to address the movement of foreign terrorist fighters.  Among those steps, OSCE had adopted a declaration and action plan, convened conferences and strengthened engagement with the United Nations and regional organizations.  OSCE was helping several States develop and implement national anti-terrorism strategies and had set up the “Leaders against Intolerance and Violent Extremism” initiative to build grassroots capacity by empowering local civil society leaders to speak up and mobilize their communities.  It had also developed social media training for youth and was developing a training programme for police officers on the role of community policing to prevent and counter terrorism.

Further, she said, OSCE had organized training on border controls to detect foreign terrorist fighters and it was a partner in a global project led by the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre to raise awareness about the use of advance passenger information.  She called for more political will to establish automated data cross-checking against the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) databases and noted that OSCE activities required a mechanism that allowed funding to be shared among organizational structures.  The aim over the next two years should be to increase confidence and efficiency in transforming words into action as a way to match development goals with sustainable counter-terrorism action.

Action

The representative of Thailand, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced the resolution on “causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa” (document A/70/L.50/Rev.1), saying the text recognized notable progress in attaining peace on the continent, and called for enhancing both national and regional initiatives to address the root causes of conflict and resolve conflicts a peaceful manner.

The Assembly then adopted resolution A/70/L.50/Rev.1 without a vote.

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Germany Blocks Border With Austria

This is a big deal. The refugee crisis has apparently caused Germany to reinstate controls along a border that had long been totally open. “Germany introduced border controls on Sunday, and dramatically halted all train traffic with Austria, after the country’s regions said they could no longer cope with the overwhelming number of refugees entering the country. Interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, announced the measures after German officials said record numbers of refugees, most of them from Syria, had stretched the system to breaking point. “This step has become necessary,” he told a press conference in Berlin, adding it would cause disruption. Asylum seekers must understand “they cannot chose the states where they are seeking protection,” he told reporters. All trains between Austria and Bavaria, the principal conduit through which 450,000 refugees have arrived in Germany this year, ceased at 5pm Berlin time. Only EU citizens and others with valid documents would be allowed to pass through Germany’s borders, de Maizière said.’ The decision means that Germany has effectively exited temporarily from the Schengen system. It is likely to lead to chaotic scenes on the Austrian-German border, as tens of thousands of refugees try to enter Germany by any means possible and set up camp next to it.” (Guardian http://bit.ly/1KkAk9g)

Mexican Tourists Killed in Egypt…Egypt’s police and military killed 12 Egyptians and Mexicans and injured 10 when they accidentally shot at a Mexican tourist convoy whilst engaging militants in the country’s western desert, the ministry of interior said on Monday. (NYT http://nyti.ms/1KkzUQf)

The New York Times Discovers the War in Yemen…”More than 4,500 people have been killed in the war. Hundreds have died in street battles between the Houthis and their rivals for control of Yemen’s most important cities, like Taiz and Aden, where residents have accused the Houthis in particular of resorting to brutal force. The ground war and harsh Saudi restrictions on imports have deepened humanitarian suffering in Yemen, causing shortages of fuel, water and medical supplies while inflating prices of food and other goods. The majority of civilians have been killed by coalition warplanes, often dropping American munitions ranging from 250 to 2,000 pounds. There are no comprehensive tallies of the deaths. But the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner said on Friday that of 1,527 civilians who died between the start of the Saudi offensive and June 30, at least 941 people were killed by airstrikes.” (NYT http://nyti.ms/1KkABsM)

Africa

Suicide bombers attacked a northern Cameroon town on Sunday morning, killing at least seven people and severely wounding 18, a local official said. (AP http://yhoo.it/1OoJJ1i)

Unidentified attackers ambushed a police post in the central Mopti region of Mali on Saturday, killing two police officers standing guard, an army spokesman said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1Y0YN9F)

Democratic Republic of Congo’s leading opposition party said on Sunday it was breaking off talks with representatives of President Joseph Kabila, leaving the two sides deadlocked ahead of next year’s presidential election. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Y0Yvzu)

South Sudan’s rebels and government say they will both send senior officials to a special meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly on September 29. (VOA http://bit.ly/1gkn4Wd)

A South African school principal, bludgeoned to death 25 years ago for refusing to take part in a witchcraft-related ritual, was beatified by the Roman Catholic Church on Sunday, moving him a step closer to sainthood. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1OoJGmf)

Mozambique’s opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama escaped unhurt after his convoy was hit by gunfire as he returned from a rally in the central Manica province, police said Sunday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1gkn6x5)

West Africa’s ECOWAS regional bloc on Saturday extended a security force in Guinea-Bissau into 2016 to help protect state institutions amid a political crisis that has left the country without a government. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Y0Vhfx)

MENA

Clashes broke out Sunday morning between Israeli police and Palestinians at the Al Aqsa mosque compound, leaving more than 20 Palestinians injured and damaging the windows and carpet of the mosque, according to police and Palestinian officials. (LAT http://lat.ms/1KkzCJd)

Russian forces are expanding the tarmac of a major airport in Syria’s coastal province of Latakia, a stronghold of President Bashar Assad and his minority sect, a prominent Syrian monitoring group said Sunday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Y0Y5Jz)

Yemen’s exiled government said it would not attend planned UN-brokered peace talks unless Shiite rebels first agree to withdraw from territory they have captured in accordance with a UN resolution. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Y0Yz2j)

A U.N. special envoy says Libya’s rival governments have reached a “consensus” on the main elements of a political agreement. (AP http://yhoo.it/1K7Nvai)

Asia

Indian police said on Sunday they were hunting for the owner of illegally stored explosives which accidentally detonated in the center of a crowded town, killing at least 88 people. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Y0YQSV)

A powerful bomb went off in central Pakistan Sunday evening, killing at least 10 people and injuring around 60 others, police and witnesses said. (VOA http://bit.ly/1KkzGZs)

The Americas

Chileans took to the streets Sunday to honor the victims of Augusto Pinochet’s 1973-1990 regime and to demand the closure of a special “luxury” prison for ex-dictatorship officials. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Y0Y8Fg)

An opposition group that has led recent anti-government protests in Honduras says it rejects creation of a national commission using foreign judges and prosecutors to investigate corruption. It says only an international commission is acceptable. (AP http://yhoo.it/1K7NCT7)

The United States is expressing outrage at the jailing of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. (VOA http://bit.ly/1K7NyTk)

A rapidly spreading wildfire has destroyed hundreds of structures as it roars through the northern California towns of Middletown and Cobb, chasing thousands of residents from their homes in and around those communities, fire officials said on Sunday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1K7NvXL)

…and the rest

Record temperatures and changes to climate patterns in the world’s oceans are among signs that a global warming pause is coming to an end, Britain’s Met Office said in a report on Monday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1gknD24)

Thirty-four refugees, almost half of them babies and children, drowned when their boat sank off a Greek island on Sunday, almost certainly the largest death toll in those waters since the migrant crisis began, the coastguard said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1gkn3S8)

Munich mayor Dieter Reiter vowed he would not give up in the face of the daunting challenge posed by a record influx of refugees, but made a plea on Sunday to give his city a chance to catch its breath. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Y0Y5sX)

Germany reintroduced border controls on Sunday after admitting it could no longer cope with a record influx of migrants and refugees, raising the stakes ahead of a key EU meeting on sharing the burden of the crisis across the bloc. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1gknFHa)

Austrian authorities said they were expecting another wave of migrants and refugees coming over the border from Hungary on Sunday, after a brief lull in arrivals gave them a chance to re-stock reception centers. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1OoJIuh)

Opinion/Blogs

5 Hillary Clinton emails you actually should read (Devex http://bit.ly/1Y11hF1)

We Must Stop Xenophobic Attacks On Refugees to Avoid More Conflicts, War (Nation http://bit.ly/1OoHX0c)

Kenya: Who and How ICC Witnesses Were Bribed (The Star http://bit.ly/1KkpLTD)

Analysis: Singaporeans fall back on tried and tested party (AP http://yhoo.it/1Y0Ywnd)

South Sudan: Why a Political Crackdown Accompanies a Peace Agreement (Reinventing Peace http://bit.ly/1Y113Ob)

Development must target the millions of children affected by humanitarian crises (Guardian http://bit.ly/1M5vjkv)

Why Australia is Accepting so Few Syrian Refugees (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1FGtDcp)

Are developing country institutions a help or a hindrance to post-2015 financing? (Devex http://bit.ly/1K7PV8R)

The Powerful Photos That Rocked Getty Images’ First Instagram Grant (Goats and Soda http://n.pr/1K7OJST)

Who are Uighurs? A look at group from restive China region (AP http://yhoo.it/1Ny3moz)

Discussion

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