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

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

New York, 31/10/2019 - 14:38, UNIQUE ID: 191031_13
Statements on behalf of the EU

30 October 2019, New York – European Union Statement by Ms. Marketa Homolkova, First Secretary, Delegation of the European Union in Geneva, at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly First Committee 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* 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.

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. We are grateful for the continued support of the UN Secretary-General and the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs in this regard.

As we have stated in the EU general statement, we are deeply concerned over the erosion of the rules-based multilateral system, including the frequent attempts, also during this First Committee session, to undermine the integrity of international bodies and even the disarmament machinery which was created by the First Special Session of the General Assembly devoted to Disarmament (SSOD-I) in 1978.

We consider that the First Committee should focus on non-proliferation and disarmament issues and the current major challenges to our collective security and identify concrete measures to address them - rather than mechanically updating previously adopted resolutions. Further consideration should be given to reviewing the First Committee practices and working methods, streamlining its work, for example by bi-annualising or tri-annualising resolutions that require only technical updates, and refraining from requests for routine reporting.

We would like to emphasise the importance of the full and equal participation of women and men in the disarmament machinery. We are encouraged that relevant gender considerations are being included in an increasing number of First Committee resolutions, notably in the cluster on conventional weapons, and that there is an increasing awareness of the importance of equal participation of women and men in our work.

We are of the view that the Conference on Disarmament should fulfil its crucial function to negotiate multilateral disarmament treaties and it could also elaborate other instruments and norms, such as guidelines and codes of conduct. 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 deeply regret that it has not been possible to reach consensus on a negotiating mandate for this treaty in the CD for more than 20 years. We cannot allow to further damage the credibility of the CD. Political will of its members, increased trust among them as well as flexibility are urgently required, if we are to bring the CD back on track. We should advance technical, substantive work and broaden areas of agreement so that we are better prepared to start negotiations when the overall context so allows. We should build on the work of the five subsidiary bodies, which proved useful in identifying elements of convergence on core issues during the 2018 CD session, and aim at even more structured, focused and in-depth work.

We must modernise the CD’s working methods. The Working Paper submitted by the Netherlands during the 2019 session of the CD provides an excellent starting point to see how we can avoid protracted procedural debates on the organisation of work at the beginning of each year. We welcome the commitment and early engagement between the six countries holding annual presidency functions in 2020 (P6) and their intention to increase synergies and cooperation among them.

The EU supports the enlargement of the CD which currently comprises only 65 members. Since the last expansion in 2002, more than 40 countries, including 12 EU Member States, are waiting to become CD members, and the number of observer States is growing each year. 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.

Furthermore, we encourage engagement with civil society, academia, industry and research institutions and would welcome further initiatives in this regard, building on the Civil Society Forum initiative of the former Secretary-General of the CD.

The EU expresses its concern over the recent developments in the UN Disarmament Commission (UNDC). We deeply regret that in spite of the tireless efforts of the outgoing and the incoming Chairs, it was not possible to hold a formal meeting of the UNDC this year. We cannot allow yet another platform of the disarmament machinery to fall victim to issues which 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 of the global disarmament agenda will allow the Commission to resume its duties next year.

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 appreciate UNIDIR’s substantive contributions, including at the Conference on Disarmament, the Space Security Conference and the Cyber Security Conference this year. We welcome the new multi-year programming and the opportunity to exchange views at the donor briefing forum, in which the EU participates. In view of UNIDIR’s 40th anniversary, to be marked by a First Committee resolution in 2020, we would like to appeal to all UN Member States to consider a more sustainable funding structure and operating model that would make UNIDIR less dependent on voluntary contributions.

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. While financial measures have been taken and further options are being examined to increase the cash flow, the only sustainable solution to the crisis is that all parties comply with their financial obligations. 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.

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.

Thank you, Mr. Chair


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

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