Delegation of the European Union to Nicaragua

EU Statement – United Nations 1st Committee: Thematic Discussion on Conventional Weapons

New York, 12/10/2021 - 23:20, UNIQUE ID: 211012_24
Statements on behalf of the EU

11 October 2021, New York – European Union Statement at the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly First Committee: Thematic Discussion on Conventional Weapons

Mr. Chair,

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

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

Security is a precondition of development. Conflict not only causes human casualties but also destroys infrastructure, including social infrastructure; it also encourages criminality, deters investment and makes normal economic activity impossible. A number of countries and regions are caught in a cycle of conflict, insecurity and poverty. The EU considers that, in line with the 2030 Agenda (SDG Targets 16.1 and 16.4) a sustainable development cannot be realised without peace and security, and that peace and security will be at risk without sustainable development.

The EU recalls that the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and its constituent Protocols, is an important instrument of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and one of the major instruments for conventional disarmament. The EU reiterates the commitment of the European Union and its Member States to respect and comply fully with IHL, including through full implementation of the EU Guidelines on the promotion of compliance with IHL.

In view of the upcoming 6th Review Conference of the CCW, the EU supports efforts to universalise and strengthen the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) and stresses the importance of compliance with all CCW provisions and annexed Protocols. We trust that appropriate time will be allocated to a structured debate on the most relevant issues, in particular the importance of compliance with the provisions of the Convention and its annexed Protocols, including Protocol III. We strongly support efforts to strengthen this important instrument of International Humanitarian Law in order to reduce the humanitarian harm and minimise the risks and effects in particular of landmines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and explosive remnants of war. In this regard, we welcome an update of the Political Declaration on IEDs. We remain concerned at the humanitarian impact and the heavy consequences on social and economic development arising from the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of Mines Other Than Anti-Personnel Mines (MOTAPM) and believe that MOTAPM should remain on the CCW agenda.

The EU has most recently shown its support for the CCW in its Council Decision CSFP 2021/1694 in support of the universalisation, implementation and strengthening of the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (CCW) of 21 September 2021. In this decision the EU has pledged over 1.6 million Euro to UNODA for the implementation of projects in support of the Convention.

The EU welcomes the substantive contribution by the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on emerging technologies in the area of lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS). We would like to see the remaining session of the GGE in 2021 focused on reaching consensus on recommendations in relation to the clarification, consideration, and development of aspects of the normative and operational framework on LAWS. We call upon all High Contracting Parties to engage constructively ahead of the CCW Review Conference in order to achieve substantive results. The CCW remains the relevant international forum in this regard, combining diplomatic, legal and military expertise.

 

Mr. Chair,

The Anti-Personnel Landmine Convention (APLC) is a transformative milestone for disarmament, and an example of what the EU stands for: a rules-based international order, rooted in respect for human rights and international humanitarian law. The European Union stands united in its support for the universal ban on anti-personnel mines. The Convention is a crucial international instrument providing a comprehensive response to end the suffering and casualties caused by anti-personnel mines, including by prohibiting their use, stockpiling, production, trade and transfer and ensuring their destruction, as well as mine clearance and  making provision for victim assistance. We are concerned by the potential humanitarian impact arising from the failure of Eritrea to comply with its Article 5 obligations, and call upon it to take the necessary steps to ensure full compliance with its obligations.

We appeal to all actors to refrain from the production, stockpiling, trade and transfer of anti-personnel mines and strongly condemn their use anywhere, anytime, and by any actor, whether States or non-State actors. We urge all States that have not yet done so to join the Convention without delay, and as an interim step, to comply with the norms of the Convention.

Implementing the Convention is fundamental for peace, stabilisation and economic recovery. We continue to honour our commitments with a view to achieving a world free of anti-personnel mines, as set out in the Oslo Action plan. The EU and its Member States have a long history of support, through their various instruments, to countries affected by mines in their efforts to clear mines and destroy stockpiles, to promote education on the risks of mines, and to provide assistance to victims, their families and communities. For example the recently adopted EU Council Decision 2021/257/CFSP provides 2.6 million EUR over a period of four years to the full implementation of the Oslo action plan and the universalisation of the Convention. In addition to this, the EU and its Member States have contributed more than 400 million EUR to mine action since 2019.

The EU welcomes the humanitarian achievements of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), which has celebrated its 10th anniversary since its entry into force. We are deeply concerned by the unacceptable impact on civilian populations of the indiscriminate use of cluster munitions, including the extensive use of cluster munitions in Syria, as well as uses in Yemen, Libya and most recently in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. We call upon all actors to refrain from such use and to fully observe the principles of International Humanitarian Law. The EU is grateful to Switzerland for successfully hosting the Second Review Conference of the CCM, where States Parties adopted by consensus the Lausanne Declaration and the Lausanne Action plan, which will serve as a key guide for States Parties in realising the objectives set out in the Convention over the next 5 years.

 

Mr. Chair,

The EU and its Member States reaffirm their strong support for the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). It is a key international instrument aimed at establishing the highest possible common international standards for regulating the international trade in conventional arms and preventing and eradicating the illicit trade of conventional arms and preventing their diversion. Universalisation and the full implementation of the ATT ranks high among priorities of the EU. In this light, we call on all UN Member States, especially the major arms importers, exporters and transit States, to ratify or accede to the ATT without further delay.

Transparency is key to the proper implementation of the ATT. The EU calls on all States Parties to fulfil their treaty obligations regarding regular reporting and to make their reports publicly available, which would act as a further confidence building measure.

In line with the 2018 EU Strategy against illicit firearms, small arms and light weapons (SALW) and their ammunition, the EU has committed to prevent and curb the illicit trade in SALW and their ammunition and to promote accountability and responsibility with regard to their legal trade. Furthermore, the EU has adopted a uniform approach to the export of SALW and their ammunition, while establishing a set of common features that end-user certificates will have to respect in order to diminish the risk of diversion to illicit or unintended users (Council Decision 2021/38/CFSP).

The EU strongly encourages the full implementation of the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (UN PoA). In this respect we welcomes the results of the Seventh Biennial Meeting of States (BMS7) in July this year. The EU is a committed supporter of the International Tracing Instrument (ITI), one of the most important achievements of the UN PoA and an essential tool in the fight against diversion, un-authorised re-export and the illicit trade in SALW. However, the ITI must adapt to technological developments to keep its relevance and full effectiveness.

The EU underscores the importance of a gender sensitive approach to SALW-control, highlights the differing impacts of armed violence on women, men, girls and boys, and promotes the role of women in the implementation of the UN PoA and gender mainstreaming in SALW control actions as a condition for their effectiveness.

Terrorist attacks all around the world, including on European soil, illustrate the link between organised crime and terrorism, notably in the trafficking of firearms. The EU recognizes the role of the UN PoA in the fight against terrorism, including in connection to Man-Portable Air-Defence Systems (MANPADS) as these weapons pose a very specific risk when diverted into unauthorised hands. We also welcome the recognition of the successful model of regional and sub-regional roadmaps that the EU supports.

The EU continues to believe that the implementation of the UN PoA must be supported by synergies with other international and regional instruments focused on similar objectives such as the Arms Trade Treaty and the UN Firearms Protocol. In order to reinforce international cooperation and effective implementation of the UN PoA we need to build on the momentum generated by the successful outcome of the BMS7 and the Seventh Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty.

 

Mr. Chair,

We welcome the ongoing consultation process Protecting Civilians in Urban Warfare which Ireland has launched with the aim of contributing to the elaboration of a Political Declaration to address the humanitarian harm arising from the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of explosive weapons in populated areas

The EU also welcomes the agreement of a consensus report in September in the UN Group of Governmental Experts on Problems arising from the accumulation of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus with substantial recommendations as an important success for conventional arms control and look forward to the timely continuation of the process. The GGE report is rich in substance — from exploration of safety and security considerations, and existing gaps in through-life ammunition management to key overarching issues such as international cooperation and assistance and gender mainstreaming. This report also recommends to elaborate  under the auspices of the General Assembly a new global framework which should address existing gaps in through-life ammunition management, including international cooperation and assistance, without prejudice to national legal systems, regarding national ammunition ownership, possession and use, as a set of political commitments which will be part of a comprehensive framework to support safe, secure, and sustainable through-life ammunition management at the national, sub-regional, regional and global levels, building upon and complementing existing frameworks.

I 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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