UN General Assembly First Committee, 71st Session, New York Statement by Mr. Usman Jadoon Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the United Nations in Geneva and the Conference on Disarmament Thematic Debate on Disarmament Machinery (26 October 2016)
The UN Disarmament Machinery was set up by consensus in 1978 at the First Special Session of the UNGA on Disarmament (SSOD-I). The key principle set forth by SS
OD-I in the context of this machinery was that, I quote, “The adoption of disarmament measures should take place in such an equitable and balanced manner as to ensure the right of each State to security and to ensure that no individual State or group of States may obtain advantages over others at any stage.” Unquote.
This cardinal principle requires that legally binding measures be considered strictly on the basis of consensus, with the participation of all stakeholders, allowing all States to safeguard their national security interests. Working on this basis, the UN disarmament machinery has produced landmark disarmament trea ties, including those that have comprehensively prohibited two entire categories of WMDs.
The current impasse of the UN Disarmament machinery is a consequence of the competing priorities and approaches of different member states.
Some states are opposing the commencement of negotiations on new treaties simply because they clash with their prime objective of perpetuating their strategic advantage. Some states are rejecting certain instruments – which because of their inherent discriminatory nature – would negatively affect these states’ security disproportionately. Other states want progress at any cost, regardless of the impact that it would have on international peace and security, and regardless of whether it will lead to equal and undiminished security for all.
The interplay of these factors has resulted in a deadlock of the disarmament machinery. Pakistan shares the disappointment and frustration felt by many over this state of affairs. However, we do not blame the disarmament machinery for this. Simply condemning the disarmament machinery or trying to find ways around it would amount to addressing the symptoms only, without tackling the root causes. The root cause is the prevailing strategic and political realities in the world around us.
The lack of progress on nuclear disarmament is the principle reason behind the criticism faced by the disarmament machinery. Unfortunately, there is no consensus today on the commencement of negotiations on any issue on the CD’s agenda. Among the four core issues, while the vast majority supports substantive work on the over-ripe issues of Nuclear Disarmament, Negative Security Assurances, and the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space, certain powers are only prepared to advance a partial nonproliferation measure in the CD in the form of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. Without addressing the asymmetry in existing stockpiles, a cut-off only treaty will make no contribution to nuclear disarmament and therefore only have a marginal effect on revitalizing the international disarmament agenda and the machinery.
The challenges confronting the international disarmament agenda are not exclusive to the CD. The First Committee and the Disarmament Commission face a similar situation. The UNDC has not been able to agree on any recommendations and guidelines for 17 years.
The solution to the impasse in the disarmament machinery cannot be found by seeking action outside established forums. It would only lead to pseudo progress without bringing any real change on ground. The failure of the ill-conceived GGE on FMCT is a case in point. Nor can a meaningful breakthrough be achieved by reorienting a security-centric discourse into a humanitarian or ethical issue.
It is only the CD – the sole multilateral disarmament negotiating forum – where all militarily significant states participate on an equal footing and are able to protect their vital security interests under the consensus rule.
Instead of selective piecemeal efforts, Pakistan calls for evolving a new consensus to achieve the goals of general and complete disarmament. We therefore support NAM’s long-standing call to convene the Fourth Special Session on Disarmament (SSOD-IV) to address all relevant substantive and procedural issues in a comprehensive manner.
Pakistan is a strong supporter and admirer of UNIDIR. We greatly value the significant contribution made by this institute over the years in developing a better understanding of key disarmament issues and emerging challenges, in accordance with its mandate. We are concerned about the critical financial constraints faced by UNIDIR. Among other consequences, this has resulted in the skewing of its programmatic priorities and affected its responsiveness to meeting the expectations of all UN member states. Pakistan consistently makes a modest but un-earmarked voluntary contribution to UNIDIR. We hope for an increase both in the regular budget funding for UNIDIR and un-earmarked contributions by member states.
The real challenge for revitalizing the disarmament machinery is how to deal with the political dynamics outside UN conference rooms. As long as the quest for attaining equal security for all states is trumped by hegemonic designs at the regional and global levels, real headway will continue to elude us.
Discriminatory revisionism of the global nuclear order, exercise of double standards, and carving of waivers and exceptions driven by strategic and economic motivations, will continue to stand in the way of progress. We have to return to consensus-based, cooperative and non-discriminatory approaches that lead to equal and undiminished security for all.
I thank you.