The Civil Society Statement to the UN General Assembly on Nuclear Disarmament
October 10, 2017
The Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy
UN Member States are meeting in New York during the month of October to discuss and adopt disarmament resolutions. Civil society has been invited to give two presentations to the UNGA First Committee on October 10. "The present confrontation between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is extraordinarily perilous. It is profoundly disturbing that in the General Assembly Hall the two countries exchanged unlawful threats of total destruction and of use of intercontinental rockets."
The Civil Society Statement to the UN General Assembly on Nuclear Disarmament
Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy
(October 9, 2017) -- Member States of the United Nations are meeting at the UN First Committee in New York during the month of October to discuss and adopt disarmament resolutions.
Civil society has been invited to give two presentations to the UNGA First Committee on October 10.
The first statement will be on the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and will be presented by a member of ICAN, which was just announced as the 2017 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
The second presentation is on other key nuclear risk-reduction and disarmament issues. The Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy and Basel Peace Office have drafted this statement (attached). Given the time constraints (it’s only a couple of days until the Oct 10 session of the UNGA First Committee), minor edits are possible, but not substantive changes.
Consultant, Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy
Director, Basel Peace Office
Draft NGO Presentation, First Committee,
October 10, 2017 [Oct 8 version]
Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy and Basel Peace Office [with endorsing groups to be listed at the end]
The present confrontation between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is extraordinarily perilous. It is profoundly disturbing that in the General Assembly Hall the two countries exchanged unlawful threats of total destruction and of use of intercontinental rockets.
It is urgent that diplomatic overtures replace threats and personal insults. In the nuclear age, the first principle of diplomacy should be that adversaries talk to each other to the maximum possible extent, and in moments of crisis directly and unconditionally.
We learned during the Cold War that even when the prospects for any tangible progress seem dim, negotiations between nuclear-armed adversaries have other positive results. They allow the military and political leaderships of the adversaries to better understand each other’s intentions, and their fears.
We urge the Secretary General to work together with relevant states to open a new diplomatic channel with the DPRK. The aim would be to defuse tensions, address the DPRK’s security concerns, and halt and eventually reverse the DPRK’s nuclear and missile programs while also ending reliance on nuclear arms in the Korean context by the United States and other states.
It is not only in Northeast Asia that tensions are rising and the regime intended to control nuclear weapons is at risk. Opportunities in all existing forums, including this committee, should be seized for serious dialogue.
One such forum will be the UN High-level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament planned for 2018. We urge all states, and particularly states with nuclear arsenals, to participate at a high level of representation.
In keeping with the intent of the initiative, the conference will be an opportunity to build on the outcomes of NPT Review Conferences and the 2016 Open-ended Working Group, especially those relating to nuclear-risk reduction, disarmament and the legal and institutional framework for a world free of nuclear weapons.
The High-level Conference should put in motion concrete measures, including to lower the operational readiness to use nuclear weapons; to freeze the development, acquisition, and modernization of nuclear arms; to establish additional regional nuclear-weapon-free zones; and to commence multilateral negotiations on the global abolition of nuclear weapons.
The conference should also provide a space to advance the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. In this connection, I am happy to end on an optimistic note, by congratulating the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons on the award of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Disarmament and International Security (First Committee)
The First Committee deals with disarmament, global challenges and threats to peace that affect the international community and seeks out solutions to the challenges in the international security regime.
It considers all disarmament and international security matters within the scope of the Charter or relating to the powers and functions of any other organ of the United Nations; the general principles of cooperation in the maintenance of international peace and security, as well as principles governing disarmament and the regulation of armaments; promotion of cooperative arrangements and measures aimed at strengthening stability through lower levels of armaments.
The Committee works in close cooperation with the United Nations Disarmament Commission and the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament. It is the only Main Committee of the General Assembly entitled to verbatim records coverage.
The First Committee sessions are structured into three distinctive stages:
1. General debate
2. Thematic discussions
3. Action on drafts
It is the only Main Committee of the General Assembly entitled to verbatim records coverage pursuant to Rule 58 (a) of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly.
Over the years, efforts have been made to rationalize the work of the Committee, concentrating on rearranging its agenda and improving its organization of work (see resolution 42/42 [N] of 30 November 1987).
During the 48th session of the Assembly, in 1993, the item entitled “Rationalization of the work and reform of the agenda of the First Committee” was included in the agenda of the Assembly.
Thereafter, the Assembly has focused on improving the effectiveness of the methods of work of the First Committee (see resolutions 48/87 of 16 December 1993, 49/85 of 15 December 1994, 57/300 of 20 December 2002, 58/41 of 8 December 2003, 58/126 of 19 December 2003, 58/316 of 1 July 2004 and 59/95 of 3 December 2004).
During the 59th session, in response to a request of the Secretary-General to seek the views of Member States on improving the effectiveness of the methods of work of the First Committee, a report compiling those views was submitted by the Secretariat (see A/59/132 and addenda 1 to 6).
Since the 60th session, under the item “Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly”, the Committee has adopted its programme of work and timetable for the forthcoming session. Please also see the note by the Secretariat (A/C.1/68/INF/4).
Resolution 1 (I): The very first General Assembly resolution, entitled “Establishment of a Commission to Deal with the Problems Raised by the Discovery of Atomic Energy”, was adopted on recommendation by the First Committee on 24 January 1946, in London.
Resolution 1378 (XIV): The very first General Assembly resolution that was co-sponsored by all Member States at that time.
Special sessions on disarmament (resolutions and decisions adopted at the 10th, 12th and 15th special sessions of the General Assembly)
o A/S-10/4 (23 May – 30 June 1978)
o A/S-12/6 (7 June – 10 July 1982)
o A/S-15/6 (31 May – 25 June 1988)
In line with General Assembly resolution 66/246, the formal meetings of the First Committee are webcast live on UN Web TV.
Live coverage of the formal meetings is available in the six UN official languages plus the original language of the speaker. Archive videos are also available on a dedicated Committee page.
The First Committee is taking part in the implementation of PaperSmart meetings arrangement as a way of modernizing the working methods of the General Assembly and as a means of promoting sustainability and cost-effectiveness.
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