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        General Assembly
31 October 2001

Official records
General Assembly
Fifty-sixth session
First Committee
20th meeting
Wednesday, 31 October 2001, 3 p.m.
New York

Chairman:Mr. Erdös ............................................................................... (Hungary)

The meeting was called to order at 3.15 p.m.

Agenda items 64 to 84 ( continued)

Action on all draft resolutions submitted under all agenda items

The Chairman : This afternoon the Committee will take action on those draft resolutions that are contained in informal working paper No. 3, which has just been distributed. But, as life can always be unexpected, I have been informed that draft resolution A/C.1/56/L.24, “Nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas”, is not yet ready for action. We will get back to cluster 1 on nuclear weapons on Friday. I ask for the Committee’s understanding.

We will proceed to the other clusters. In cluster 2, other weapons of mass destruction, we have draft decision A/C.1/56/L.11, “Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction”.

I shall now call on those representatives who wish to explain their votes or positions on draft decision A/C.1/56/L.11 before the voting.


Mr. Babaa (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) (spoke in Arabic ): As Chairman of the Arab Group for this month, my delegation wishes to explain the Group’s position on draft resolution A/C.1/56/L.40, entitled “Transparency in armaments”. As in successive previous years, members of the League of Arab States have already stated their position on transparency in armaments, including on the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms. Our position is clear and consistent and is based on the general principles of our position on international and regional disarmament, specifically the particular nature of the situation in the Middle East. The position of the Arab States in that regard may be summarized as follows.

First of all, the States members of the League of Arab States favour transparency in armaments as a way to strengthen international peace and security. The League of Arab States reaffirms that to be successful any transparency mechanism should be guided by specific principles that are balanced, global and non-discriminatory and should strengthen regional, national and international security for all States in conformity with international law.

Secondly, the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms was the fruit of a first, long-awaited attempt to address the issue of transparency at the international level. As an important international confidence-building measure and as an early warning tool, the Register is entirely non-controversial. But there have been a number of problems with the Register, in particular the fact that nearly half of the States Members of the United Nations have consistently failed to provide information to the Register.

Thirdly, States members of the League of Arab States believe that the scope of the Register should be broadened, especially in view of the fact that experience in recent years has shown the Register to be limited to seven categories of conventional weapons and is thus incomplete in its international scope. States members of the League of Arab States and other States believe that the Register is insufficient to meet all security concerns. The success of the Register is thus linked to the position of those States that truly wish to attain transparency and confidence-building. We believe that a broadened Register that would conform to the provisions of General Assembly resolution 46/36 L, which established it, should include information on sophisticated conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction, specifically nuclear weapons and sophisticated technologies with military applications. That would make the Register more balanced, more comprehensive and less discriminatory, and would attract a greater number of permanent participants.

The Middle East is a special case in that regard. We note in particular a lack of qualitative balance in armament in that region. Transparency and trust should be based on a complete and balanced approach. In the Middle East, transparency in conventional weapons alongside a lack of transparency in more sophisticated and more modern weaponry — in particular more destructive arms such as weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons — constitutes an unbalanced, incomplete approach that cannot attain the desired results.

With respect to the present situation in the Middle East, we note that Israel continues to occupy Arab territories and to possess the most sophisticated weapons, including the most deadly weapons of mass destruction. Israel is the only State in the region that is not a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Israel continues to ignore repeated international appeals to accede to that Treaty and to subject all its nuclear facilities to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. At the 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the NPT, parties to the Treaty reaffirmed the need for Israel to accede to the Treaty and to submit all its nuclear facilities to comprehensive IAEA safeguards.

Fourthly, the States members of the League of Arab States regret that the Group of Governmental Experts tasked to report in 2000 on the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and other expert groups have failed to formulate a way to broaden the scope of the Register to include the possession of military hardware, domestically manufactured or internationally acquired, and sophisticated weapons and weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. That is inconsistent with resolution 46/36 L, which established the Register.

As a result of that failure, the Register in its present form is not a real tool for achieving the kind of trust we want. We believe that these concerns should be addressed in order to ensure proper international cooperation in this area so that the Register can play a role as an early warning tool and as an instrument for confidence-building that we can all count on.


Mr. Atieh (Syrian Arab Republic) (spoke in Arabic ): My delegation aligns itself with the statement made by the representative of Libya on behalf of the Group of Arab States. With regard to transparency in the area of disarmament, my delegation would like to reaffirm its total support for the position adopted by the Group of Arab States members of the League of Arab States. That position was reflected in document A/55/299/Add.2.

The Syrian Arab Republic wishes to reiterate its full support for the general concept of developing an international environment free from the use of force or the threat of the use of force, a community regulated by the principles of peace, equity and justice. While reaffirming our readiness to participate in all international efforts grounded in good will and the need to address that goal, we would like to draw the First Committee’s attention to the fact that the draft resolution entitled “Transparency in armaments” does not take into account the special situation in the Middle East, where the Arab-Israeli conflict is continuing because of Israel’s continued occupation of Arab territories.

Israel continues to refuse to accept the pertinent resolutions of the Security Council. It also possesses the most destructive and sophisticated of weapons. It is capable of manufacturing all sorts of sophisticated weapons and of maintaining arsenals of such weapons in the region, including nuclear weapons. All of this shows that the transparency claimed by Israel in the area of armaments covers only a small portion of what it actually possesses in the way of the most destructive and sophisticated weapons.

It is for this reason that my delegation will abstain in the voting on the draft resolution contained in document A/C.1/56/L.40.


The meeting rose at 5 p.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-178. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.

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