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

EU Explanation of Vote – United Nations 1st Committee: Arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation treaties/agreements

New York, 07/11/2019 - 00:36, UNIQUE ID: 191106_14
Statements on behalf of the EU

6 November 2019, New York - Explanation of Vote by Finland on behalf of European Union Member States at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly First Committee Resolution on Strengthening and developing the system of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation treaties/agreements


Mr. Chair,

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


  1. The following countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway and Republic of Moldova align themselves with this statement.


  1. After careful consideration, the EU Member States have decided to vote in favour of the draft Resolution L.56 “Strengthening and developing the system of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation treaties/agreements”. In this context, we would like to make the following remarks.


  1. The EU is a staunch supporter of the rules-based global order with multilateralism as its key principle and the UN at its core. Upholding the integrity of this system is indispensable for maintaining international peace and security.


  1. We are deeply concerned over the current tensions afflicting the international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation architecture. We must endeavour to decrease tensions, restore dialogue and trust, explore further transparency and confidence-building measures, and move from confrontation to cooperation, if we are to solve global and regional security challenges. It is important that all parties, including the main sponsor of this resolution, the Russian Federation, contribute constructively to improving the strategic context and preserving and further advancing treaties and agreements for arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation to enhance global security. In this regard, we reiterate our call on all States, including the main sponsor of this resolution, to consider joining conventional arms conventions and treaties without delay, such as the Arms Trade Treaty and the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.


  1. We are gravely concerned about the continued non-compliance by some States with their international obligations in the areas of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control. The viability and effectiveness of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation treaties and agreements require that they be fully complied with and enforced. The international community must ensure accountability and end impunity for violations and uphold global norms. This is why the EU has strongly supported the establishment of an international attribution mechanism to identify and hold accountable the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons. This is why autonomous EU sanctions have been adopted against the use of chemical weapons, but also against nuclear proliferation and other violations of international law, notably the use of force against the territorial integrity or sovereignty of other States. Detailed explanations of our positions on these matters were made in our statements during thematic debates on Other Weapons of Mass Destruction and Regional Security. We regret that these aspects of compliance have not been included in the draft by the main sponsor of L.56.


  1. When talking about compliance, the INF Treaty is a case in point. We have made our views clear in this regard during the general debate and the debate on nuclear weapons. Given the heightened tensions, we must be careful not to enter the path of a new arms race that would offset the significant reductions achieved after the end of the Cold War. We have also stressed the highest importance we attach to the New START Treaty and an early and active dialogue on its future post-2021 as well as on other arms control arrangements. All European countries have benefited from the Conventional Arms control and Confidence and Security Building Measures within the auspices of the OSCE and in particular the commitments in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces, the Vienna document 2011 and the Treaty on Open Skies. We underline the importance of fully implementing these instruments as well as best practices contained in other OSCE documents. 


  1. We are dismayed by the repeated attempts by a few States to challenge the authority and integrity of international organisations, such as the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), including in the debates during this First Committee. There is no doubt that the Director-General and the Technical Secretariat are fulfilling their duties in the service of the international community in a professional, objective and impartial manner. We recall the use of the veto by Russia against the extension of the mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) in this regard. We also recall the cyber-attack targeted at the offices of the OPCW, carried out by the Russian military intelligence service, following the attack in Salisbury. Once again, we underline serious concerns about the attempt to undermine the OPCW. We expect all States to reaffirm their strong political support to the work of these important organisations as well as other relevant treaties and conventions.


  1. We express our utmost concern about the financial crisis facing a number of disarmament and non-proliferation treaties and agreements. The continued failure of some States Parties to comply with their financial obligations puts the functioning of these vital instruments at risk and hampers further progress. We recall that assessed contributions constitute an integral part of States Parties’ obligations under international treaties and agreements and once again urge those States which have not yet done so to pay their contributions in full and on time and to settle their outstanding arrears without further delay.


  1. We emphasise that gender equality and the empowerment of women are an important cross-cutting priority for the EU, and that the Women, Peace and Security Agenda continues to feature prominently in EU external action. Women must be fully involved, through active and equal participation, including in leadership in non-proliferation and disarmament efforts. We are encouraged that relevant gender considerations have been included in an increasing number of First Committee resolutions this year, while regretting that the main sponsor of Resolution L.56 did not accept amendments in this regard. The EU will continue to keep gender issues high on the UN agenda, also bearing in mind the UN Secretary-General’s Agenda for Disarmament and the upcoming 20th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325.


  1. The EU will continue to provide significant political and financial support to multilateral institutions to uphold and strengthen key international treaties and agreements, promoting universal adherence thereto and helping to build capacities in partner countries for effective treaty implementation. Even if the rules-based international system is confronted with multiple challenges, the EU will remain a strong, consistent and reliable partner of the UN. We call on all UN Member States to demonstrate their support for multilateral cooperation in these critical times, not only in words, but through actions.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.


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