Delegation of the European Union to The Gambia

EU Statement – United Nations 1st Committee: Thematic Discussion on Disarmament Machinery

New York, 18/10/2021 - 23:49, UNIQUE ID: 211018_22
Statements on behalf of the EU

18 October 2021, New York – Statement by the European Union delivered at the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly First Committee on a Thematic Discussion on Disarmament Machinery

Mr. Chair,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.

Promoting effective multilateralism and rules-based global governance is the cornerstone of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy. The EU will continue to do its utmost to protect the integrity of the rules-based international system, which is key to our collective security.

The EU reiterates its support for the three mutually reinforcing fora of disarmament machinery – the UN General Assembly First Committee, the Conference on Disarmament and the UN Disarmament Commission. The international community bears a collective responsibility to respect their integrity and ensure that these fora remain relevant and reach results in line with their agreed mandates. In the context of challenges posed by COVID, we are grateful for the continued support of the UN Secretary-General and the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.

The EU is concerned at the deteriorating security environment as well as the continued erosion of the international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation architecture. We will remain vigilant with regards to attempts to undermine the integrity of international bodies.

We are convinced that the First Committee should focus on disarmament and non-proliferation issues and the current major challenges to our collective security and identify concrete measures to address them. Consideration should be given to reviewing First Committee practices and working methods, including bi-annualising or tri-annualising resolutions. In order to build global confidence and trust, we call on all States to improve dialogue and enhance transparency. We stress the need to prevent further polarisation occurring as a result of divisive new initiatives at the First Committee.

 

The CD remains the world’s single multilateral disarmament negotiating body and its continued relevance to negotiate multilateral disarmament treaties and elaborate other instruments and norms, such as guidelines and codes of conduct, is of utmost importance for the EU. The European Union has one central aim for the CD: to reinvigorate substantive work towards concrete negotiations which have not been possible in this forum for much too long. Moreover, we deeply regret that a small number of CD members have prevented consensus on a technical update of the Rules of Procedure related to gender-neutral language.

The EU’s longstanding priority in the CD is to immediately commence negotiations of a treaty banning the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons or other explosive devices (FMCT) and we support starting such negotiations in accordance with the document CD/1299 and the mandate contained therein. We call on all States to contribute to facilitating the long-overdue negotiations on a FMCT.

The EU supports the enlargement of the CD which currently comprises only 65 members. We call for an early appointment of a special coordinator who could lead substantive consultations on the expansion of membership and lay out possible scenarios for the consideration of CD members. Regrettably, not all UN Member States, who requested to participate in the work of the Conference, have been invited to do so. We are concerned about this worrying development and the blocking of observer status in the CD of individual UN Member States. This goes against the basic principle of multilateralism and harms our collective endeavours, which the European Union has strongly defended.

The EU expresses its concern over the continued stalemate in the UN Disarmament Commission (UNDC). We cannot allow yet another platform of the disarmament machinery to fall victim to issues that are not related to its substantive work. We express our hope that good faith by all States and a focused approach on the most pressing issues will allow the Commission to resume its duties. Furthermore, we encourage engagement with civil society, academia, industry and research institutions and would welcome further initiatives in this regard.

We highly value the work of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) as a stand-alone, autonomous institution of the disarmament machinery producing high-quality research and implementing initiatives that can help to move disarmament processes forward. We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mr. Robin Geiss for assuming the post of the Director of the Institute. We appreciate UNIDIR’s substantive contributions at various disarmament fora, as also demonstrated by the EU and its Member States continued substantive funding within the UNIDIR’s Strategic Plan. A stable and sustainable financial basis in order to uphold core functions and fulfil its mandate is essential for UNIDIR to maintain its independent role. We support the increase in the UN subvention for UNIDIR at the UNGA 5th Committee. The EU notes with appreciation UN Member States' contributions to UNIDIR's annual budget.

The UN disarmament machinery and its various instruments cannot function properly without sound finances. We express our deep concern over the critical financial situation across the UN system and its bodies, treaties and conventions. Once again, we strongly urge those States, which have not yet done so, to pay their contributions in full and on time and to settle their arrears, thereby enabling the effective functioning of multilateral institutions and instruments on which we all depend.

Supporting and promoting gender equality and the full empowerment of women is at the heart of the European Union’s policies, internally and externally. The EU supports the full implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda. We are encouraged that relevant gender considerations are being included in an increasing number of First Committee resolutions and that there is an increasing awareness of the fundamental importance of equal participation of women and men in our work.

We recall that the EU has continued to provide significant political and financial support to a number of treaties, conventions and other agreements in the area of non-proliferation and disarmament which enables also the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and UNIDIR to carry out various project activities and we will continue to do so.

 

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

 


* The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

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