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The meeting was called to order at 10.05 a.m.
Agenda items 57, 58, and 60 to 73 ( 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 draft resolution A/C.1/57/L.48.
Mr. Sattar (Secretary of the Committee): Draft resolution A/C.1/57/L.48, submitted under agenda item 66 on general and complete disarmament, is entitled “ Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction”. The draft resolution was introduced by the representative of Poland at the 15th meeting, on 17 October 2002. The sponsors of the draft resolution are listed in document A/C.1/57/L.48.
The Chairman : The sponsors of the draft resolution have expressed the wish that the draft resolution be adopted by the Committee without a vote. If I hear no objection, I shall take it that the Committee decides to act accordingly.
Draft resolution A/C.1/57/L.48 was adopted.
The Chairman : I give the floor to the representative of Israel, who wishes to make a statement in explanation of position.
Mr. Bar (Israel): Israel signed the Chemical Weapons Convention and participated actively in the Preparatory Commission in order to shape the Convention into a workable mechanism. By signing the Convention, Israel reflected its moral vision and commitment to a world free of chemical weapons.
Unfortunately, while Israel signed the Convention in January 1993, other countries in the region, including those that have used chemical weapons in the past, or are believed to be working to improve their chemical capabilities, have failed to follow suit and have indicated that their position would remain unchanged even if Israel ratified the Convention.
The issue of Israel’s ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention is strongly linked to our unique geopolitical environment. As Israel clearly stated at the signing ceremony in 1993, its decision regarding the ratification of the Convention would be subject primarily to regional considerations, including the security climate in the Middle East.
Since the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention, the threat of chemical warfare against Israel’s population has not diminished and remains no less valid today. In fact, overall regional security concerns have actually increased.
We wish to reaffirm Israel’s view that positive changes in the security climate in the Middle East will be the major consideration for Israel’s reading of the issue of ratification.
The Chairman: The Committee will now proceed to take decisions on those draft resolutions that are contained in cluster 4, “Conventional weapons”.
I call on the representative of Israel.
Mr. Bar (Israel): This is a general statement on cluster 4 on conventional weapons.
History offers us several important lessons with respect to conventional arms. Armaments in and of themselves do not pose threats to the extent that they are not used for hostile purposes. It is, rather, the poisonous combination of extensive armaments and hostile intentions that poses a genuine strategic threat. Israel therefore believes that the best antidote to the threat of armaments is the creation of an environment of confidence and trust.
States must bear in mind that the need for armaments is a direct response to a given situation. Building trust and confidence in the region will necessarily reduce the need for armaments. When nations live together in a spirit of peace and good-neighbourliness, it will be possible to reduce armaments and to increase transparency.
At the same time, it is important that arms controls and restraints be instituted in a way that will create the proper balance between legitimate security needs and preventing unnecessary human suffering and loss of innocent life. That loss results from irresponsible policies with respect to conventional arms proliferation.
The history of warfare is one in which tremendous civilian casualties have resulted solely from the use of conventional weapons. Conventional weapons in the hands of terrorists or countries that support terrorists can have a clear strategic impact. It is for this reason that my Government views the irresponsible use or transfer of conventional arms as a serious threat to regional and global security and stability. The consequences of the spread of these weapons — or worse, their acquisition by terrorists or criminal elements — invariably results in the loss of innocent life.
Israel believes that the humanitarian dimension of this problem must remain foremost in our minds and serve to guide our deliberations on this matter. Israel believes that the best way to curb illicit arms proliferation throughout the world is through strong national commitment and determination. It is our view that States bear the primary responsibility for ensuring that no weapons are transferred from their territory without proper oversight. States must undertake adequate marking and recording procedures of all weapons, stringent export controls and appropriate domestic legislation to prevent the misuse and proliferation of arms.
One important way to reduce tensions is through confidence-building measures. Their objective is to enhance States’ sense of security and to reduce threats and tensions. In considering such steps, however, we must bear in mind the specific nature of conflicts, circumstances and threats in different regions.
In our region, despite the continuing threat and the lack of basic trust between nations, Israel decided to take action for the purpose of building confidence and reducing the humanitarian impact of conventional arms. One step is aimed at increasing transparency in armaments. Although we believe that, in principle, the success of transparency is contingent upon the normalization of political and military relations among regional States, Israel has taken it upon itself to participate in the United Nations Register. Currently, Israel is the only country in the region that regularly reports to the Register and we hope that other countries will join us in participating in this instrument with a view towards its universal application.
Israel also shares the concern of the international community about the humanitarian cost of the irresponsible use and transfer of small arms and light weapons and has taken steps to curb their proliferation. Israel actively participated in the July 2001 United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects and calls on all States to implement the provisions of the Programme of Action. Israel’s national legislation with regard to export controls and marking and record-keeping reflects its commitment to implementing that important document.
Israel attaches particular importance to action aimed at preventing and minimizing human suffering resulting from the indiscriminate use of anti-personnel landmines. Israel believes that an integral component of the effort to address this threat is cooperation. Cooperative initiatives in the areas of mine clearance, mine awareness and victim rehabilitation are of tremendous importance and contribute greatly to efforts aimed at alleviating the humanitarian problem associated with mines.
Israel has taken a number of unilateral steps, as well, including ceasing all production of anti-personnel landmines, declaring a moratorium on the export of all types of anti-personnel mines and ratifying the amended Protocol II annexed to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. Israel hopes that other nations in the region will join with it in establishing cooperative mechanisms aimed at reducing this threat, preferably within the context of a comprehensive regional peace. It is our view that the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons is a good example of how States can act to restrain the use of arms, while not causing harm to their vital national security interests.
Israel is participating in the current deliberations aimed at finding the proper balance between the legitimate security needs of States and our moral imperative to reduce human suffering. Although Israel shares the humanitarian objectives of the Ottawa Convention, due to regional circumstances and the continuing threat of terrorism, it cannot commit itself to a total ban on the use of anti-personnel landmines. However, we have taken part in several international initiatives aimed at promoting mine awareness and support for the victims of those terrible weapons.
South Lebanon provides an illuminating example of both the challenges and the opportunities Israel is facing with respect to anti-personnel mines. Even following Israel’s full compliance with Security Council resolution 425 (1978), the area along the blue line continues to be a source of great danger and instability due to the ongoing crossborder violations by the terrorist organization Hizbullah. At the same time, despite a clear and present security threat, Israel has taken steps in cooperation with the United Nations forces in the area to help protect civilians from the danger of landmines. Israel has provided the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon with all information in its possession regarding the location and types of known landmines, as well as information regarding suspected locations of landmines, and continues to cooperate with the United Nations forces in that regard.
Since the start of deliberations this year here in the First Committee, we have witnessed numerous acts of terrorism against innocent civilians that underscore the humanitarian impact of the irresponsible use and transfer of conventional arms. Only yesterday, Palestinian terrorists blew up a public bus in northern Israel, killing 14 civilians and injuring more than 40 others. We repeat our call upon our neighbours to cease all support for the perpetrators of such crimes, including by supplying them with weapons and explosives. After all, terrorism is only viable if countries allow and even support its fortification through weapons transfers. The loss of innocent life is always painful. Terrorism does not distinguish among its victims. All of us are threatened by this phenomenon. And all of us have a responsibility to stop it. We therefore hope that the international community will focus its efforts on ensuring the compliance of States with their international obligations. The fundamental commitment of States to resolve disputes peacefully, to cease support for terrorism and to live peacefully within secure boundaries can lay the foundation for a future disarmament of conventional arms.
The Chairman : The Committee will now proceed to take action on draft resolution A/C.1/57/L.25. I call on the Secretary of the Committee to conduct the voting.
Mr. Sattar (Secretary of the Committee): The Committee will now proceed to take a decision on draft resolution A/C.1/57/L.25, submitted under agenda item 66, “ General and complete disarmament”, entitled “Assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and collecting them”. The draft resolution was introduced by the representative of Mali at the 16th meeting, on 18 October. Sponsors of the draft resolution are contained in document A/C.1/57/L.25, as well as in document A/C.1/57/INF/2. In addition, the following country has also become a co-sponsor of the draft resolution: Slovenia.
The Chairman : The sponsors of draft resolution A/C.1/57/L.25 have expressed the wish that it be adopted by the Committee without a vote. If I hear no objection, I shall take it that the Committee wishes to act accordingly.
Draft resolution A/C.1/57/L.25 was adopted.
The Chairman : I now call on those delegations wishing to explain their vote or position on the draft resolution just adopted.
Mr. Assaf (Lebanon) ( spoke in Arabic ): My delegation has joined the consensus on the draft resolution that we have just adopted out of its conviction of the need to curb the illicit trade in small arms. However, I regret that while dealing with this item, we have listened to the representative of Israel, who attempted to politicize this issue and to enter into matters that are not directly or politically related to the issue. In that context, the representative of Israel seemed to regret the mines planted in South Lebanon. Everyone knows that those mines were planted by Israel — 450,000 mines in southern Lebanon. Israel is the country that planted them, as was recognized by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. We listened to the representative of Israel, who follows the example of a man who kills and then attends his victim’s funeral. We regret that the representative of Israel is dealing with political issues that are not directly related to this draft resolution. We wish he had not done that.
The meeting rose at 11 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.