by His Excellency Mr. Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury, BB, Foreign Secretary, Government
of Bangladesh at the General Debate in the First Committee
57th UNGA Session on Disarmament
New York, 02 October 2002
are owed to you upon your election to our Chair.
In the same vein, felicitations are also due to
the other members of the Bureau. The Under Secretary
General deserves to be thanked for his comprehensive
statement. We welcome our new members Switzerland,
and Timor Leste to this Committee.
are meeting here for the debate after a rather difficult
and eventful year following the dastardly terrorist
attacks of September 11, 2001. This has led to new
thinking in the concept of security.
efforts to resolve major conflicts in many parts
of the world have shown hopeful progress, we have
seen the emergence of a new sense of unease, tension
and instability. Inspite of considerable initial
success, the war on terrorism remains unfinished
and to a large extent wanting in proper direction
for the next phase. The situation in the Middle
East and the Gulf is seemingly sinking deeper into
the morass of wider conflicts. There is no sign
of lessening of violence in the Middle East as efforts
by the quartet and other influential players fall
badly short of the much needed serious and concerted
push for revival of the peace process. The threat
of new war in the Gulf appears to be looming larger
by the day inspite of efforts by many to avert it.
and security in Afghanistan remain illusive. This,
inspite of victory over the Al-Qaida and the Talibans.
Reconstruction, rebuilding and rehabilitation efforts
are yet to gain any momentum. The situation is fraught
with the danger of slipping back to anarchy if the
international community fails to garner considerably
more resources and efforts under well thought out
and well coordinated plans and programmes.
between the nuclear capable neighbours in South
Asia, festering conflicts in different parts of
Africa, inspite of positive developments in Angola,
Sierra Leone, Sudan and Congo, the hot spots in
Eastern Europe, the slow progress in implementation
of peace building in former Yugoslavia – all
are continuous causes for concern.
security is also under constant threat from continuously
increasing gap between the countries of the North
and the South – the gap between the rich and
the poor, from injustice, inequity and unfairness
– real and perceived – political, economic
and social, from lack of respect for democracy,
human rights and rule of law, from natural calamities,
famines and diseases. Delegations have addressed
all these issues in general terms in the previous
weeks at the General debate in the plenary. Many
of these issues will receive more specific attention
in the other Committees.
this Committee we focus on the issues of disarmament
as they relate to the UN Charter objectives of promoting
peace and security and contributing to socio-economic
and political development across the world, making
it a better place to live in.
predecessors, who founded this august body- the
UN and wrote its charter, in their wisdom realized
the great need and value of disarmament as one of
the key steps towards achieving the above objectives.
They put their faith in the four Ds – detente,
disarmament, de-colonization and development. Major
achievements were recorded in the first half century
of UN in the area of disarmament. Much more remained
to be done to move towards the ultimate objective
of general and complete disarmament.
we are sad to note a reversal in the trend. It appears
that disarmament has gone out of fashion. There
is a discernible reduction of attention and interest
among member countries on these issues. Two apparently
contrary reasons seem to be responsible. One, is
a sort of complacency at whatever have been achieved
so far and two, a sense of frustration, powerlessness
and hopelessness on the part of most member states
that major military powers are not willing or ready
to move seriously towards general and complete disarmament
for all kinds of political and other reasons of
Dean, writing in a UN Association of USA Publication,
says about the last one year, and I quote “The
modest progress achieved in disarmament during the
past year coincided with a number of serious reverses
in multilateral arms control and disarmament”.
Unquote. However, the Secretary General in his report
on the working of the organization perhaps deliberately
tries to look at the little positive developments
witnessed during the period and to largely ignore
the negatives. The first sentence of the relevant
section is but an apology for an admission of the
reality. It reads and I quote, “There was
little international cooperation in multilateral
forums on disarmament the past year”. Unquote.
of the Moscow Treaty by the Presidents of the USA
and the Russian Federation on 24 May 2002 to reduce
strategic nuclear weapons considerably was perhaps
the single most important positive event in disarmament
during the past one year. Very few believe that
this would succeed in counteracting the damage done
by the demise of the ABM treaty. The general feeling
is that the new treaty could prove more useful if
the concepts of transparency, verifiability and
irreversibility were built into it with greater
the other positive developments are increased participation
by member states in the UN Register of Conventional
Arms, regional initiatives in implementing the Programme
of Action adopted by the UN Conference on the Illicit
Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its
Aspects held in 2001, progress in mine action leading
to further reduction in production and transfer
of landmines, some progress in specific conflict
or post conflict zones in practical disarmament
in the form of collection of arms and ammunitions
from former combatants or illegal holders and some
success in DDR in general. In this connection efforts
of the concerned parties including the UNDDA, Group
of Interested States in Practical disarmament as
well as some NGOs are worth commending. The successful
holding, earlier this year, of the first Prepcom
for the next round of NPT review conference is also
event of great positive significance is the recent
declaration by Cuba of its intention to join the
NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state. We welcome their
decision. We call on the remaining three states,
not yet parties to the NPT, to follow Cuba’s
example at the earliest.
the list of negatives is not only much longer, but
also disproportionately more serious and disturbing.
I shall only mention some of the more serious ones
to flag our deep concern, e.g. the scrapping of
the ABM treaty, shifting emphasis on missile defence
systems, Nuclear posture review by Nuclear Weapon
States, renewed emphasis on tactical nuclear weapons,
nuclear targeting of non-nuclear Weapon States,
CTBT remaining far from entering into force, continuing
efforts to develop new and more deadly conventional
and nuclear weapons, renewed arms race, particularly
among major military powers including nuclear powers,
dramatic increase in Military spending by major
military powers, continuing deadlock in negotiations
at the Conference on Disarmament on nuclear disarmament
and a treaty on fissile materials, as well as on
efforts to prevent arms race in the outer space,
suspension of the review of the Biological Weapons
Convention etc. Disarmament has taken so much of
a back seat that this year the Disarmament Commission
could not even hold its regular annual session.
progress achieved in recent times, Bangladesh remains
among the vast majority of developing countries
constantly pre-occupied with the struggle to maintain
their relevance in this world of globalization by
confronting the challenges of socio-economic and
political development in the face of lack of resources,
widespread poverty, diseases and natural calamities.
We can neither afford nor do we want to spend large
amounts on armaments and military budgets. We are
fully aware of the value of disarmament as an essential
and important factor for achieving peace and security
within and among nations as well as for creating
conducive environment for and contributing directly
towards development. I am sure all countries, big
or small rich or poor have the same realization
of the value of disarmament, even if some may not
like to publicly acknowledge it.
can be no debate that disarmament is closely linked
to development as is security. Disarmament involves
– non proliferation and end to arms race,
reduction in armaments and military personnel, bilateral,
regional and international treaties, other confidence
building measures, reduction in military expenditure
freeing resources for other development activities.
It also involves DDR. All these contribute directly
and significantly to enhanced security as well as
political economic and social development. Sustainable
disarmament is also a precursor and pre-condition
for sustainable security and sustainable development.
Disarmament leads to lessening of tension, reduces
prospect of war and allows people to focus more
fully on other developmental challenges.
therefore, calls on all member states of the UN
big and small, rich and poor, to seriously consider
the growing negative trends in the area of disarmament
and coordinate their efforts to bring renewed vitality
in its pursuit keeping in view the ultimate goal
of general and complete disarmament. It should be
pursued multilaterally, bilaterally as well as unilaterally.
It should be pursued Globally, regionally as well
To this end my delegation would like to particularly
call for a few concrete steps e.g.
Revitalization of the Conference on Disarmament
by pushing seriously for progress on deadlocked
negotiations. The CD should be used as the primary
forum to negotiate all global treaties and convention
on disarmament. Attempts to by-pass the UN system
in such negotiations would give rise to questions
of legitimacy and credibility.
Ensuring regular holding of meetings of the Disarmament
Commission in order for it to be able to complete
the tasks assigned to it by the GA and to undertake
new tasks as they arise,
Ensuring implementation of the 13 step Action Plan
adopted at the 2000 NPT Review Conference,
Taking steps to ensure early entry into force of
Putting greater emphasis on improving monitoring
and verification regimes in respect of all disarmament
and non-proliferation related treaties and conventions
by increasing transparency.
Ensuring irreversibility of all disarmament measures.
Strengthening safeguard measures to ensure that
nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction
as well as chemical and biological weapons and related
technology do not fall into the hands of terrorists.
Promoting regional disarmament arrangements by encouraging
dialogue in different regions. The UNDDA and the
Regional Centres for Peace and disarmament could
play a pro-active role to facilitate such dialogues.
In this context I must mention that the continued
failure of the concerned authorities to shift the
Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific to Kathmandu,
its designated location, defies our comprehension.
The concept of zones free from Nuclear Weapons and
other weapons of Mass Destruction should be pursued
to cover more regions. Particular emphasis should
be given to the early achievement of such status
in the Middle East. In this context we emphasize
the urgent need to persuade Israel to join the NPT
as a non-nuclear weapon state and place all its
nuclear installations under international monitoring.
Like other states in the region they must also be
persuaded to give up procurement, production, stockpiling
and use of all other forms of weapons of mass destruction
including chemical and biological weapons.
Inspite of the demonstration of nuclear capability
by two member states in South Asia, renewed efforts
should be made to persuade them to relinquish nuclear
option and to join the NPT as non nuclear weapon
Renewed efforts should be made to reverse the trend
of increasing military expenditure, particularly
by major military powers. The concepts of peace
dividend and creation of a global fund for poverty
alleviation should be seriously reconsidered in
is committed constitutionally to the goal of general
and complete disarmament. We are already party to
almost all disarmament related treaties and conventions,
including NPT, CTBT, CWC, CCW, APMT, and the Biological
Weapons Convention. I wish to reiterate our firm
commitment to actively pursue disarmament in cooperation
with our neighbours as well as all other members
of this august Body. However, in concluding I would
like to emphasize that Bangladesh, like many other
countries, individually has only a marginal ability
to influence the global issues of disarmament inspite
of its commitment. But those who can, must do more.
And of course, by pooling our efforts, countries
big and small – rich and poor – we definitely
can achieve much more.
you Mr. Chairman.
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