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        General Assembly
25 October 1999

Official Records

General Assembly
Fifty-fourth session
First Committee
15th meeting
Monday, 25 October 1999, 10 a.m.
New York

Chairman: Mr. Gonzalez.........................(Chile)

The meeting was called to order at 10.15 a.m.

Agenda items 64, 65 and 67 to 85 (continued)

Thematic discussion on item subjects; introduction and consideration of all draft resolutions submitted under all disarmament and international security items


Mr. Mesdoua (Algeria) (spoke in French): I have great pleasure in introducing once again a draft resolution entitled, “Strengthening of Security and Cooperation in the Mediterranean Region”, contained in document A/C.1/54/L.15. I do so on behalf of the following sponsors: Algeria, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritania, Monaco, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The regular presentation by the group of sponsors of this draft resolution demonstrates the collective will of the States of the Mediterranean basin and Europe to make the Mediterranean region a zone of peace, security and cooperation, and consequently to give it its true vocation as a lake of peace.

As everyone knows, for some years the Mediterranean and European countries have been engaged in a process of dialogue and partnership, intensifying their joint efforts to promote and consolidate peace and security in the region, and to lay the foundations of a cooperation taking many forms and of a beneficial partnership, with the final objective of securing the prosperity and stability of all the Mediterranean countries.

The Euro-Mediterranean Conference held in Barcelona in 1995 laid the foundation for a new relationship between the two sides of the Mediterranean. The second, held in April 1997 in Valletta, Malta, consolidated and strengthened this foundation by giving the opportunity to appraise the process and give the necessary political impetus to the dynamic of this partnership.

In the context of efforts made in the framework of dialogue and consultations between the two sides, ministerial meetings of the Mediterranean Forum held in Algiers in July 1997, Palma de Mallorca, Spain, in April 1998, and Valletta, Malta, in March 1999 contributed greatly, through another, complementary framework, to further strengthening these efforts.

The draft resolution is identical to resolution 53/82, adopted by this Committee and then, on 4 December 1999, by the General Assembly. It continues to address central aspects of security and cooperation in the Mediterranean. In this spirit, it recalls in its preambular part the initiatives taken by the countries of the region to consolidate peace, security and cooperation, and reaffirms the responsibility of all States to contribute to the stability and prosperity of the Mediterranean region. It also reaffirms their commitment to respect the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and emphasizes the indivisible character of security in the region.

In its operative part the draft resolution reaffirms the fundamental principles set out in paragraphs 1 and 2, and in paragraph 4 it stresses the need to eliminate the economic and social disparities between the Mediterranean countries and to promote mutual respect and greater understanding among cultures in order to enhance peace, security and cooperation among the countries of the region.


Mr. Zahran (Egypt) (spoke in Arabic): I have the pleasure of introducing the draft resolution contained in document A/C.1/54/L.7, entitled “Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East”.

A similar draft resolution has been adopted annually by the General Assembly since 1974. Since 1980 the Assembly has adopted it by consensus. The consensus that has emerged in the General Assembly over the years with respect to this proposal and the steadfast support it has received in bilateral declarations and in various multilateral forums — most recently during the 1999 substantive session of the Disarmament Commission, with the adoption by consensus of the principles and guidelines on the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among the States of the region concerned — are undoubtedly clear testimony to the viability and relevance of this concept in the Middle East.

The establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East would greatly contribute to arresting the proliferation of the threat and dangers of nuclear weapons and to strengthening the security of all States of the region, and consequently would be deemed an important confidence-building measure towards the achievement of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East.

During the forty-fifth session of the General Assembly the study on effective and verifiable measures which would facilitate the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East was presented for this Committee’s consideration. The study was well received, as a useful and balanced approach to attaining an important objective. I wish to refer to its conclusions, where it is stated:

(spoke in English)

For over 18 years now the Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone has been universally anticipated, a record that testifies to the overwhelming support for its creation. However, the plain truth is that this objective seems to be eluding us; no concrete measures, no operational measures and no serious talks have yet been held, formally or informally, between regional parties with a view to putting into practice what all of us here seem to want.

Despite the general frustration over the stagnation of the efforts to establish the Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone, Egypt firmly supports the implementation of the draft resolution that the Committee annually adopts. Nevertheless, our endorsement of it must not be misconstrued or misinterpreted as tacit acquiescence.

To the contrary, Egypt continues to be committed to the earliest establishment and implementation of the principles and provisions for a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, and indeed, of a zone free from all weapons of mass destruction. In a region fraught with tension such as the Middle East, the zone cannot be looked upon as an a posteriori peace dividend; instead, it must be seen as an essential confidence-building measure, facilitating and leading the way towards a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East.

In the light of the welcome adoption by consensus by the Disarmament Commission of the principles and guidelines on the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, we deemed it appropriate to introduce a new twelfth preambular paragraph, noting the report of the Disarmament Commission at its 1999 substantive session and welcoming the adoption of the principles and guidelines contained therein. It would be remiss of us not to do so, as this remarkable work reflects, in the final analysis, our common beliefs reached by mutual consent and understanding.

It is our considered opinion that the time is now more than ripe to proceed towards the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. For this reason, operative paragraph 10 endeavours once again to utilize the good offices of the Secretary-General to give the process the required impetus. It seems to be timely today that we seriously embark on laying the solid foundations on which to proceed. In this regard, the same operative paragraph requests the Secretary-General to pursue his consultations with the States of the region and other concerned States.

I also draw attention to the eighth preambular paragraph and operative paragraph 9, in which reference is made to the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. This initiative is aimed at broadening the scope of the 1974 initiative by adding to it the chemical weapons and biological weapons dimension.

Since the announcement of this initiative by President Mubarak on 9 April 1990, later encompassed by his broader initiative in June 1998 to convene an international conference to free the world from all weapons of mass destruction, the 1990 initiative has been attracting ever growing support. The Security Council, for example, adopted on 8 April 1991 resolution 687 (1991), paragraph 14 of which reiterates, in essence, the need to work towards the establishment in the Middle East of a zone free from all weapons of mass destruction.

Finally, in commending this draft resolution to the First Committee, I earnestly hope that it will receive the same support as previous similar draft resolutions and will be adopted, as before, without a vote.

The meeting rose at 11.05 a.m.

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