Historical archive

General assembly 56th session 1st committee: general debate

Historical archive

Published under: Stoltenberg's 1st Government

Publisher Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Statement by Ambassador Leif A. Ulland Special Adviser on Disarmament Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oslo

Ambassador Leif A. Ulland
Special Adviser on Disarmament
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oslo

General assembly
Fifty-sixth Session
First Committee:
General Debate

NEW YORK, 10 October 2001

Mr. Chairman,

I would like to join speakers before me in congratulating you on your election as chairman of the First Committee. I can assure you of Norway’s support and co-operation.

The appalling act of terror that struck this city and Washington on 11 September gives cause for the strongest condemnation and our full solidarity with the American people and the US government. This attack has demonstrated the need for international coalition-building and a determined effort to combat terrorism. We are all affected by the events of 11 September. That is why we must make common cause in the fight against international terrorism.

The work of this committee is highly relevant to our efforts to make the world a safer place. Weapons of mass destruction could pose an even darker threat in the hands of terrorists. We are convinced that close international co-operation and a multilateral approach to non-proliferation and disarmament are essential if we wish to reduce the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction and the terrorist threat to international peace and security. Our response to those who disrupt and destroy should be a new resolve to make fuller use of the UN, to break the stalemate in the Conference of Disarmament, and to strengthen the international non-proliferation and disarmament regimes. This is not the time for business as usual in dealing with non-proliferation and disarmament, but for a radical look at how peace and security can best be assured in the new millennium.

We already have a broad framework to build on, which consists of multilateral and bilateral arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation regimes. Effective implementation and continued strengthening of these regimes must form an integral part of any future strategy. We need to make a fresh effort for universal membership of key existing treaties such as the NPT and the CTBT. And we need to establish new regimes to address new issues, such as the production of weapons-grade fissile material, the proliferation of ballistic missiles, a verification and control regime to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention, and measures to prevent an arms race in outer space.

Mr. Chairman,

I will now focus on a limited number of issues we believe are important to address at this stage. The landmark outcome of the 2000 NPT Review Conference set the international community an ambitious nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament agenda for the

next five years. The Final Document identified 13 steps for the systematic and progressive achievement of nuclear disarmament. But progress has been disappointingly slow since then. Let us make use of this session of the First Committee to reconfirm our commitment to the NPT Plan of Action, and take steps to make the first Prepcom in April 2002 a success.

One of the agreed steps in the Final Document of the NPT Review Conference is "the early entry into force and full implementation of START II and the conclusion of START III as soon as possible while preserving and strengthening the ABM Treaty as a cornerstone for strategic stability and as a basis for further reductions of strategic offensive weapons". We welcome the signs that the USA and Russia are prepared to considerably reduce their strategic nuclear arsenals. We will welcome deep cuts, and prefer to see such reductions enshrined in formal, verifiable agreements. This would be in line with the principles of irreversibility and transparency of the NPT Final Document.

We believe that continuation of the ABM Treaty, in an adjusted form if necessary, or the establishment of a similar and agreed framework, is important for maintaining global strategic stability. We hope the US and Russia will be able to reach mutual understanding on the elements of a new strategic framework, which will take into consideration the security concerns of all nations that are affected by the relations between these two countries.

The NPT Final Document called for steps by the nuclear-weapon states to further reduce their arsenals of non-strategic nuclear weapons, based on unilateral initiatives and as an integral part of the nuclear arms reduction and disarmament process. We continue to stress the need for further reductions in these weapons arsenals and for increased transparency. We note in this context that NATO recently proposed a set of transparency measures to Russia, and support efforts by NATO and Russia and the US and Russia to pursue a dialogue on this important subject.

The proliferation of ballistic missile systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction is causing growing international concern, and a number of initiatives have been taken to curb and reverse this trend. The emphasis must be on a broad approach and a comprehensive strategy. Political, economic and diplomatic means are all important in this respect. Global and multilateral steps are needed. Norway supports the establishment of an International Code of Conduct as a basis for strengthened international efforts in this field, and encourages all countries to join this important initiative. We look forward to receiving the report of the UN Group on missiles before the next session of the General Assembly.

Mr. Chairman,

Negotiation of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty continues to be a key priority for Norway within the CD. If we are confident that no new fissile material for nuclear weapons will be produced, this will facilitate the efforts to ensure effective and verifiable disarmament. Negotiation of a FMCT would be an extremely important non-proliferation measure. We therefore make an urgent appeal to all states to contribute to overcoming the deadlock in the CD. This would be a clear sign that it is not just business as usual in the wake of September 11, but that a new political will has been created. Pending such a development we welcome activities outside the CD that can help to maintain interest in and expertise on FMCT-related issues and that can be useful in preparing future negotiations in the CD.

Norway attaches the greatest importance to achieving universal adherence to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and its early entry into force. Bringing the Treaty into force will be essential for broader efforts to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons. The up-coming Article XIV Conference should be instrumental in achieving this end.

Verification is a key to the effectiveness of all arms control and disarmament treaties. Norway has made a substantial contribution to CTBT verification. We are hosting and running 6 facilities in the International Monitoring System. We have a strong interest in the early entry into force of the Treaty. We look forward to the continued co-operation and support of all signatory and ratifying states in the build-up of all the elements of the CTBT’s verification system.

The position of the nuclear powers is of crucial importance to the CTBT. Self-imposed moratoria on nuclear testing are a useful measure pending the entry into force of the Treaty, but cannot replace the legally binding commitments represented by signing and ratification. We were disappointed by the recent announcement by the United States to withdraw from certain activities under the Treaty and not to reconsider its position on ratification. We appeal to all countries that have not done so to sign and ratify the Treaty unconditionally and without delay, and hope in particular that the US and China will soon follow the UK, France and Russia.

Mr. Chairman,

We are strongly committed to the universality of the Chemical Weapons Convention and expect full and effective implementation of its provisions by all states parties. Another landmark treaty in the international non-proliferation regime is the Biological Weapons Convention. Norway is giving high priority to the efforts to achieve an effective protocol to strengthen this Convention. It should include mechanisms for verification and confidence-building. A multilateral, legally binding instrument is needed to fill the existing gap in the non-proliferation regime. Norway regrets the lack of results in the Ad Hoc Group in Geneva so far. Despite the lack of an agreed protocol after six years of negotiations, we believe we still have a vehicle that could bring the process forward. The Ad Hoc Group’s mandate remains in force. We should therefore make use of the Review Conference in November to reconfirm the states parties’ commitment to the aims set out in the mandate.

Let me now turn from the weapons of mass destruction to the weapons that are responsible for the largest number of casualties.

Norway welcomes the Programme of Action agreed at the UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects in July. Even though the outcome could have been more ambitious in certain respects, we believe that the Programme of Action is a good starting point and a foundation on which we can build. We hope that the General Assembly will confirm and consolidate the Programme of Action, so that we can focus on active follow-up and implementation. To be successful in our efforts we need to mobilise governments and civil society, the UN and its agencies, regional organisations and NGOs. We look forward to concrete follow-up measures from the UN Secretary General. The first meeting of States should take place in 2003. We welcome the Security Council’s involvement and the decision to request a report by September next year on how the Council can help prevent and combat illicit trade in small arms.

In our national efforts we will give high priority to assisting affected countries and regions. A UN feasibility study on an international instrument to enable states to identify and trace illicit arms should be undertaken as soon as possible and governmental experts nominated in the course of this year. We want to work with interested governments and NGOs to consider further steps to enhance international co-operation on brokering. We believe that international instruments on tracing and brokering should be the ultimate aim of these efforts.

Mr. Chairman,

Norway continues to have a strong commitment to the implementation of the Convention banning anti-personnel mines. We have come a long way towards universalisation and in implementation of the Convention in a short time. We are pleased to see a decrease in the use of mines as well as in the number of new mine victims and countries producing anti-personnel mines. The active participation of particularly the mine-affected countries and NGOs through the International Campaign to Ban Landmines is impressive and most encouraging.

Despite these positive developments, anti-personnel mines continue to maim people and threaten societies in many countries and undermine efforts to achieve social and economic progress. Mine clearance and awareness, assistance to victims and stockpile destruction must continue. Norway maintains its commitment to allocate 120 million USD over a five-year period to practical mine action activities. We congratulate the Government of Nicaragua for organising the successful Third Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention. Nicaragua will introduce the resolution on the implementation of the Ottawa Convention in the Committee this year, and we ask all delegations to support it. We align ourselves with the comprehensive statement of the European Union on this particular subject and have also associated ourselves with the EU intervention in general.

Norway welcomes initiatives aimed at minimising the humanitarian problems caused by the indiscriminate effects of weapons in conflicts. We support proposals to extend the scope of application of the Convention on Prohibition or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons, the CCW, to include internal conflicts. We are also in favour of proposals to improve the standard of weapons and to extend the Convention to cover new types of weapons and munitions.

In this connection I would like to commend the International Committee of the Red Cross for its active role in drawing attention to the issue of explosive remnants of war. Recent conflicts have confirmed that this is an enormous humanitarian problem. We believe it needs to be addressed urgently and in a credible way. Thus Norway supports the idea of a new protocol to the CCW that specifically aims to reduce the indiscriminate effects of explosive remnants of war. The upcoming Review Conference should mandate a group of government experts to look into the various aspects and make proposals. A time frame for the group’s work would be helpful and the group’s report should enable the states parties to take the process forward. This will clearly be in line with the Convention’s objective, and may also contribute to a much-needed revitalisation of the CCW.

Mr Chairman,

Extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary efforts to eliminate threats from weapons of mass destruction. In the aftermath of the senseless terrorist attack on the United States it is more important than ever to make progress in the areas of non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. My delegation is looking forward to working closely and constructively with other delegations to achieve this in the time ahead.

Thank you.