Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

EU Statement – United Nations 1st Committee: General Statement

New York, 04/10/2021 - 18:48, UNIQUE ID: 211004_17
Statements on behalf of the EU

4 October 2021, New York – General Statement on behalf of the European Union delivered by EU Special Envoy for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Ms Marjolijn Van Deelen at the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly First Committee

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 and Albania, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Georgia, align themselves with this statement.

Today’s multipolar world calls for holistic global solutions. The EU and its Member States will continue to support effective multilateralism and rules-based international cooperation, with the UN at its core, in order to ensure a more safe, stable and sustainable world in the wake of  the COVID-19 pandemic. We can only address global challenges by working in partnership with others, whether States, international and regional organisations, civil society, the private sector and other stakeholders in order to deliver results on issues important to our citizens.

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, which has been challenged further by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. We call on all States to respect, strengthen and uphold international norms, fully implement their international obligations and commitments, restore dialogue and trust, and promote transparency and confidence-building measures.

Mr. Chair,

The European Union welcomes the significant contribution the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) has made to international peace, security and stability. We consider the NPT the cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime, the essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament in accordance with Article VI, and an important element in facilitating cooperation on nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The EU will spare no effort in working towards a successful outcome of the Tenth NPT Review Conference and will work with all States Parties to that end. The EU is firmly committed to upholding and strengthening the NPT, preserving its integrity and promoting its universalisation and full implementation. The EU strongly supports all three pillars of the NPT and will continue to promote comprehensive, balanced, and full implementation of the 2010 Review Conference Action Plan. We recall that all States Parties have committed to pursuing policies that are fully compatible with the Treaty and we stress the need to implement all obligations and commitments under the NPT, including the need for concrete progress towards the full implementation of Article VI, with the ultimate goal of achieving a world without nuclear weapons.

The EU welcomes the various initiatives, including the Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament, as an important contribution towards a sustainable outcome of the NPT Review Conference.

The EU welcomes the extension of the New START Treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation for an additional five years.  The EU attaches the highest importance to the New START Treaty and regards it as a crucial contribution to international and European security. The reduction of deployed strategic nuclear arsenals under the New START Treaty, enhanced notably by its robust verification mechanism, contributes to the implementation of Article VI of the NPT through the overall reduction in the global stockpile of deployed nuclear weapons. By increasing predictability and mutual confidence amongst the two largest nuclear weapon States, this Treaty limits strategic competition and increases strategic stability. The EU stresses the need to preserve and further advance general arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation processes. Recalling the obligations for all States Parties arising from Art. VI of the NPT, we underline that the two nuclear weapon States with the largest arsenals hold a special responsibility in the area of nuclear disarmament and arms control. We encourage seeking further reductions to their arsenals including strategic and non-strategic, deployed and non-deployed nuclear weapons and to pursue further discussions on confidence-building, transparency, risk reduction, including strategic and nuclear risk reduction measures, verification activities, laying the ground for even more robust future arms control agreements, and reporting. We call on China to actively contribute to these processes.  In this regard, the EU acknowledges the efforts of France to demonstrate increased transparency on its doctrine and the nuclear weapons it possesses. The EU recalls Action 5 of the NPT 2010 Action Plan, which calls upon nuclear weapons states to enhance transparency and increase mutual confidence.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the opening for signature of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Promoting universal adherence to and the entry into force of the Treaty is a top priority for the EU. We urge all States that have not yet done so, in particular those listed in Annex II, to sign and ratify the CTBT without any preconditions or further delay. The Treaty is also a strong confidence and security building measure at international, regional and bilateral level. The CTBT has become an effective instrument and we reiterate our full confidence in the Treaty’s verification regime, which has demonstrated its ability to provide independent and reliable data that will help to deter noncompliance with the Treaty once it enters into force, and respond to threats to international peace and security. All EU Member States have ratified the CTBT and are abiding by its obligations. We call on all States to abide by a moratorium on nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosion, and to refrain from any action that would defeat the object and purpose of the Treaty.   

The EU reaffirms at this critical point in time its resolute commitment to and continued support for the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA. The EU acknowledges the issues connected to the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the JCPOA and the re-imposition of sanctions by it. The EU continues to uphold its JCPOA commitments, including on sanctions lifting. The EU expresses its grave concern at Iran's continued actions inconsistent with the JCPOA and with severe and, in the case of R&D activities, irreversible proliferation implications. We strongly urge Iran to reverse all activities violating the JCPOA and return, without delay, to its full implementation, including of all transparency measures. The EU commends the IAEA and the Director General’s efforts to maintain continuity of knowledge over Iran’s nuclear program and to clarify outstanding safeguards issues. We urge Iran to address all of the Agency’s concerns without delay and to resume application of the Additional Protocol and of verification and monitoring commitments under the JCPOA.  The EU supports the intensive diplomatic efforts within the JCPOA Joint Commission and the contacts of the EU High Representative as JCPOA Coordinator with all relevant partners. It is now more important than ever to resume the negotiations. Therefore, the EU calls on Iran to return to negotiations in Vienna without further delay and with a view to their swift and successful conclusion.

The DPRK’s actions and stated intention to continue developing its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes are a matter of grave concern and continues to undermine international work for building trust and establishing lasting peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, free of nuclear weapons. The DPRK must abandon its weapons of mass destruction, ballistic missile and existing nuclear programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, in line with its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions. The EU urges the DPRK to respond constructively to the readiness for dialogue expressed by the United States and the Republic of Korea in order to enable steps aimed at pursuing denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

Mr. Chair,

In recent years, the disarmament and non-proliferation architecture has been under considerable pressure, in particular due to various breaches of its norms. The continued non-compliance by some States with their international obligations is a matter of grave concern to the EU. The viability and effectiveness of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation agreements require that those agreements be fully complied with and enforced. Ensuring accountability and ending impunity is crucial to preserve the integrity of the established norms.

The EU reaffirms its strong support to two key norms, the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) as well as of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC). The BTWC is a fundamental pillar of the international community’s efforts to prevent disease from ever being used as a weapon, and the EU is fully committed to contributing to the success of the forthcoming Meeting of States Parties in November and the Ninth Review Conferences of the BTWC in 2022. The EU also strongly supports the UN Secretary-General’s Mechanism for Investigation of Alleged Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons, which is currently the only independent international instrument for investigating alleged use of biological weapons.

The EU continues to demonstrate its commitment through the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons. It is imperative to identify and hold accountable the perpetrators of chemical attacks in the Syrian Arab Republic. The EU reiterates that the use of chemical weapons constitutes a serious breach of international law. Impunity can never be accepted and those responsible for their use must be held to account. We denounce the Syrian Arab Republic’s violation of its obligations as a State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and we strongly condemn the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Arab Air Force. The EU welcomes the decision adopted by the 25th Conference of the States Parties to the CWC suspending the voting rights and privileges of the Syrian Arab Republic due to its failure to comply with the Convention. The decision is an appropriate response by the Conference to the clear violation of the core principles of the Convention by the Syrian Arab Republic.  The European Union supports the efforts of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) to identify the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. We are looking forward to the release of the next reports of the IIT. Its work constitutes an important contribution to the fight against impunity for the use of chemical weapons.

The European Union has also condemned in the strongest possible terms the attempt to assassinate Mr Navalny, through poisoning using a chemical nerve agent of the “Novichok” group. More than one year on from the attack, the EU continues to call on the Russian Federation to investigate this assassination attempt in full transparency and without further delay, and to fully cooperate with the OPCW to ensure an impartial international investigation. Those responsible must be brought to justice.

The EU is committed to promoting the full application of existing international law in cyberspace and will work with international partners to prevent conflict and advance cooperation and international peace and security through the normative framework for responsible State behaviour, the implementation of confidence building measures and support for cyber capacity building. The EU highlights that the agreement on two consensus reports this spring, in the UN Group of Governmental Experts and in the Open-Ended Working Group, was an important success for multilateralism in cyber issues. In this regard, the EU stands for the early establishment of a UN Programme of Action for Advancing Responsible State Behaviour in Cyberspace.

The EU and its Members States are historically engaged to concretely improve space security and remain strongly committed to the prevention of an arms race in outer space, which is essential for strengthening international security and stability and for safeguarding the long-term use of the space environment for peaceful purposes. We regard outer space as a common good, to be used for the benefit of all. Satellites and other space-based assets and services are essential for the functioning of modern societies, global economy, international trade and security. The EU stresses the importance of transparency and confidence-building.  Without excluding the possibility of a new legally binding instrument in the future, we believe that voluntary measures constitute a pragmatic way forward at the moment. We especially encourage further international cooperation on norms of responsible behaviour in outer space and appreciate last year’s resolution and welcome this year’s follow-on resolution in this regard.

The European Union reaffirms its unequivocal support to key conventional instruments, such as the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) and the Arms trade treaty (ATT). The EU recognizes the valuable humanitarian contribution of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM). In view of the upcoming Sixth CCW Review Conference the EU supports efforts to universalise and strengthen the Convention, including its constituent Protocols as an important instrument of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). The EU reiterates its commitment to respect and comply fully with IHL, including through full implementation of the EU Guidelines on the promotion of compliance with IHL. The EU recognises that the CCW offers the appropriate framework to address the potential challenges arising from emerging technologies in the area of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems. We will seize every opportunity to keep the Convention responsive to new developments and to strengthen its implementation. Ahead of the Sixth Review Conference of the CCW to be held in 2021, we will work to strengthen the implementation of all the Convention’s protocols. We will continue to support the GGE in the clarification, consideration and development of aspects of the normative and operational framework for emerging technologies in the area of LAWS. We emphasise that human beings must make the decisions with regard to the use of lethal force, exert control over lethal weapons systems they use, and remain accountable for decisions over the use of force in order to ensure compliance with International Law, in particular International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law.

The European Union stands united in its support for the universal ban on anti-personnel mines. 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 Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention without delay, or as an interim step, to comply with the norms of the Convention.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions celebrated the 10th anniversary of its entry into force at the Second Review Conference. The EU supports the Convention’s humanitarian goal and calls upon all actors to refrain from the indiscriminate use of cluster munitions affecting civilian populations and to fully observe the principles of International Humanitarian Law.

We welcome the ongoing consultation process Protecting Civilians in Urban Warfare which Ireland has launched with the aim to contribute 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 strongly encourages the full implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) in All Its Aspects and in this respect welcomes the results of the Seventh Biennial Meeting of States in July this year.

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 continuation of the process.

We call on all UN Member States, in particular the major arms exporters, importers and transit countries to join the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which is the only legally-binding international instrument to regulate the trade and transfer of conventional arms and ammunition, and to prevent and eradicate their illicit trade and diversion.

Mr. Chair,

Gender equality and the empowerment of women are important cross-cutting priorities for the EU. We commend the UN Secretary-General for the promotion of the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda and welcome/support his efforts to promote gender equality and improve women’s full, active, equal and meaningful participation and agency, including in leadership positions in disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control fora. In this regard, the EU is a supporter of Actions 36 and 37 aimed at full and equal participation of women in decision-making processes.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

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