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UNITED
NATIONS
A

        General Assembly
A/C.1/58/PV.17
28 October 2003

Official Records
General Assembly
Fifty-eighth session
First Committee
17th meeting
Tuesday, 28 October 2003, 10 a.m.
New York

President:Mr. Sareva ........................................................(Finland)

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

Agenda items 62 to 80 (continued )

Action on all draft resolutions submitted under all disarmament and international security agenda items

/...

The Chairman : The Committee will now proceed to take action on the draft resolutions contained in cluster 6, confidence-building measures, including transparency in armaments, beginning with draft resolution A/C.1/58/L.32 and then proceeding to draft resolution A/C.1/58/L.45.

I do not have any requests to make general statements. I call now on those representatives wishing to explain their position or vote before a decision is taken.

Mr. Alhariri (Syrian Arab Republic) (spoke in Arabic ): My delegation wishes to explain its position on draft resolution A/C.1/58/L.45, entitled “Transparency in armaments”. The Syrian Arab Republic completely supports the shared position of the Arab States, members of the League of Arab States, regarding transparency in armaments. Syria reaffirms its complete support for the creation of a world that is free of the use of force or of the threat of force, a world in which peace, equality and justice prevail as principles. We are prepared to participate in any international effort aimed, in good faith, at attaining that objective. Likewise, we wish to draw attention to the fact that the draft resolution entitled “Transparency in armaments” does not take into account the specific situation in the Middle East. The Arab-Israeli conflict continues in the region because of the continued occupation by Israel of Arab territories and Israel’s refusal to implement the relevant Security Council resolutions, and because of Israel’s possession of the deadliest and most sophisticated weapons, its capacity to develop sophisticated weaponry, in particular nuclear weapons, and to accumulate those weapons locally. All this confirms that the transparency Israel claims to want in the field of armaments only covers the tiniest part of its sophisticated arsenals of deadly nuclear weapons.

/...

Mr. Sattar (Secretary of the Committee): The Committee will now proceed to take action on draft resolution A/C.1/58/L.45, entitled “Transparency in armaments” . The draft resolution was introduced by the representative of the Netherlands at the Committee’s 14th meeting, on 23 October 2003. The sponsors of the draft resolution are listed in documents A/C.1/58/L.45 and A/C.1/58/INF/2.

The Committee will now take a decision on operative paragraph 2 of draft resolution A/C.1/58/L.45.

A recorded vote was taken.

In favour:

Afghanistan, Albania, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Monaco, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Republic of Tanzania, United States of America, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Against:

None

Abstaining:

Algeria, Bahrain, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Mauritania, Morocco, Myanmar, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen

Operative paragraph 2 of draft resolution A/C.1/58/L.45 was retained by 138 votes to none, with 22 abstentions.

/...

Mr. Alhariri (Syrian Arab Republic) (spoke in Arabic ): The States members of the Arab League wish to confirm once again the position that they expressed on 2 October 2000 on transparency in armaments, especially as regards the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms as is contained in the report of the Secretary-General, as follows.

A few years ago the States members of the Arab League expressed their position on the subject of transparency in armaments. They have been insistent on the relevance of the United Nations Register. These positions and attitudes are well established and clear and are based on a general orientation as regards disarmament and the special character of the situation in the Middle East. The following points reflect the Arab position in this respect.

Members of the Arab League defend transparency in armaments as a means of enhancing international peace and security and they see that any mechanism of transparency to be successful should be guided by certain guidelines and basic principles, namely, they must be transparent, balanced and non-discriminatory and should enhance the security of all countries in the region and throughout the world in accordance with international law. The United Nations Register of Conventional Arms is the first attempt by the international community, at a very late date, to deal with the subject of transparency at a universal level. We cannot but respect the value of the Register as a universal mechanism and an early warning mechanism. However the Register faces a number of questions, among which is the insistence by almost half the Member States of not providing any information to the Register. In this context the member States of the Arab League consider that despite the very small progress recommended by the group of governmental experts this year, the concerns of the Arab States still exist.

The scope of the Register should be expanded, especially as the experience of recent years has demonstrated that limiting the Register to only seven categories of weapons alone will not lead to the participation of all countries. There are many countries, members of the Arab League, which believe that the Register does not meet their security needs in view of its limited scope. That is why the scope of the Register in future will depend on the desire of the international community to build more confidence and more transparency. In view of the 1991 General Assembly resolution 46/36 L, we think that the scope of the Register should be expanded to include conventional weapons, nuclear weapons, and weapons of mass destruction and advanced technology with military applications. That will make the Register more comprehensive and less discriminatory and will encourage more countries to participate in the Register.

The Middle East is a special region in this context because the imbalance in weaponry is great. There will be no transparency or confidence in the Middle East unless there is a balanced and comprehensive transparency. The application of transparency in the Middle East to seven categories of weapons, while ignoring the more lethal and destructive weapons such as weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, is neither balanced nor comprehensive and will not have the desired results. In particular, the Register does not take into consideration the situation in the Middle East where Israel continues its occupation of Arab land, still possesses the most lethal weapons of mass destruction, and is the only State in the region that has not acceded to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), while insisting on challenging and refusing all international calls from the international community for it to accede to the NPT and to subject all its facilities to the safeguards regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency. That has led the members of the NPT at the 2000 Review Conference to call upon Israel to take those steps.

Member States of the Arab League express their regret that the group of governmental experts was unable to expand the scope of the Register or to put weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, on the Register. That contradicts General Assembly resolution 46/36 L by which the Register was established. This failure means that the Register has failed and cannot in its current form be a good means of confidence-building or early warning.

In view of all this, the member States of the Arab League believe that it is necessary to take their concerns into consideration effectively and in a manner that would guarantee universal participation in the Register so that the Register can play its role as a means of early warning and a mechanism of confidence-building that can be counted upon.

/...

Mr. Bar (Israel): I should like to give an explanation of vote on draft resolution A/C.1/58/L.45, entitled “Transparency in armaments”.

The Chairman : I call on the representative of the Syrian Arab Republic on a point of order.

Mr. Alhariri (Syrian Arab Republic): As a sponsor of the draft, the representative of Israel has no right to make an explanation.

The Chairman : The representative of the Syrian Arab Republic is correct. Sponsors of draft resolutions are not allowed to explain their vote before or after the voting but are allowed to make general statements before action is taken.

Mr. Bar (Israel): Israel is not a sponsor of the draft resolution. If the list is checked carefully it will be found that Israel is not a sponsor of the draft resolution.

The Chairman : The representative of Israel equally is correct. I call on him now to proceed with his explanation of vote on the draft resolution just adopted.

Mr. Bar (Israel): As in previous years, we have again been forced to listen, in the context of a discussion on the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, to a long list of baseless allegations against Israel’s security policy and its alleged capabilities. These accusations have nothing to do, of course, with the Register. Most of the countries that criticized Israel are unwilling to subject their own arms transfers to any transparency measure.

The one important advantage of the Register in our opinion is its modesty. It does not pretend to be a solution for all conflicts or for the security challenges many of us face. It is a confidence-building measure that can be used as a basis for a continuation or extension, primarily in a regional context. That is the reason for Israel’s participation in the Register. But, for some previous speakers, gradual confidence-building seems to be a reason for concern. They are especially unhappy about Israel’s determination to maintain its ability to defend itself.

Israel’s self-defence policy is not a source of concern to global peace. There are other real sources of concern in the Middle East. Also, it should not be a source of concern for countries in our region which do not have aggressive intentions against my country. If countries that do have such intentions are concerned by Israel’s ability to defend itself, it should be seen as a contribution to regional stability.

Moving from today’s environment of heightened tensions to a safer Middle East requires the willingness to seek peace and reconciliation as well as agreements on mutual confidence-building measures. Participating in the Register is an important step in the right direction and we call upon our neighbours to adopt this measure. As in other regions, only when regional transparency measures can be agreed upon between Middle Eastern countries will it be possible to improve and develop the global Register in a substantial manner. At the same time, we view the changes introduced in the Secretary-General’s report as an important contribution to the relevancy of the Register, especially the inclusion of man-portable air defence systems, as a result of terrorist attempts to use them against civilian aircraft.

In addition to our support, and to relax my Syrian counterpart, we wish to inform the Chairman and the Secretariat that Israel wishes to add its name to the list of sponsors of draft resolution A/C.1/58/L.45.

/...

The meeting rose at 11.45 a.m.

This record contains the text of speeches delivered in English and of the interpretation of speeches delivered in the other languages. Corrections should be submitted to the original languages only. They should be incorporated in a copy of the record and sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned to the Chief of the Verbatim Reporting Service, room C-154A. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.



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