Statement by Ambassador Zamir Akram, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, Geneva, at the First Committee General Debate, 68th Session of the UNGA, New York (16 October 2013)

Mr. Chairman,

I congratulate you on your election as the Chairman of the First Committee’s 2013 session. We have full confidence in your experience and diplomatic skills for carrying out this task successfully. I assure you of the support and cooperation of my delegation.

We associate ourselves with the statement of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) delivered by Indonesia.

Mr. Chairman,

Since the end of the Cold War, contrary to the general expectations, the global security environment has increasingly deteriorated. A just and secure world order continues to elude us. While decades old disputes continue to fester in several regions of the world, new conflicts have started to flare up in others.

The cardinal principle of aspiring for equal and undiminished security for all states is being trumped by narrow selfish interests, as a zero-sum game. The ambitions for world domination and hegemony are not giving way to accommodation and engagement as the basis of a rule-based cooperative multi-polar world. Absolute security for one state or a group of states cannot come at the cost of diminished security for others.

These developments, coupled with the trend of granting waivers and exceptions to long-held principles, is putting the arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament regime under a great deal of stress. The aspirations and pretences for a world free of nuclear weapons do not match practical action on the ground. We continue to observe the application of double standards, exceptionalism and revisionism based on narrow security, political and commercial considerations.

Mr. Chairman,

At the same time, new weapons systems are being developed, deployed and used. These include Anti-Ballistic Missiles (ABMs), non-nuclear strategic weapon systems with destructive capacity equal to nuclear weapons, armed drones, and Lethal Autonomous Robots (LARs). Outer space, the common heritage of all humankind, continues to be threatened by the increasing prospect of weaponization. The hostile use of cyber technologies including for espionage and surveillance on other states is growing.

The use of armed drones in the territory of another state outside the zone of conflict is contrary to international law. It challenges the security and sovereignty of a state, and also has grave human rights and humanitarian implications due to the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians including women and children. Similarly, Lethal Autonomous Robots (LARs) – that would choose and fire on pre-programmed targets on their own without any human intervention – pose a fundamental challenge to the protection of civilians and the notion of affixation of responsibility.

Pakistan therefore calls for evolving international norms, rules and laws to ensure that armed drones are only used in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations charter, international human rights and humanitarian law.

Mr. Chairman,

We welcome the successful convening of the High Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament by the General Assembly last month. The high level participation in this first ever disarmament summit of the UN General Assembly reinforced the priority of nuclear disarmament. The HLM was also unique in its clarity of message i.e. the priority for the international community remains early commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a comprehensive Nuclear Weapons Convention.

Mr. Chairman,

The existing and emerging challenges to arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament need to be addressed collectively on the basis of cooperative multilateralism. Pakistan, therefore, has consistently called for evolving a renewed global consensus on disarmament and non-proliferation in all its aspects. In his statement at the High Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament, the Prime Minister of Pakistan reaffirmed the need to evolve a new consensus on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation on the basis of equity, balance, restraint and cooperation among states.

We recognize that consensus building will be a difficult task, but we take this opportunity to put forward some ideas that we feel are essential to promote greater global security:

Mr. Chairman,

Within this big picture, there is also an urgent need for negotiations on the balanced reduction of armed forces and conventional armaments. As laid down in the Final Document of SSOD-I, these negotiations should be conducted with particular emphasis on militarily significant states. The disturbing trend of escalation in the number and sophistication of conventional weapons has to be arrested as it has a causal relationship with the continuing reliance on nuclear weapons.

In addressing conventional asymmetries, we must adhere to another cardinal principle of the SSOD-I, i.e. “The adoption of disarmament measures should take place in such an equitable and balanced manner as to ensure the right of each State to security and to ensure that no individual State or group of States may obtain advantages over others at any stage.”

We consider the adoption of Arms Trade Treaty as a first step towards regulating trade and transfer of conventional weapons. But trade and transfer are only one part of the larger landscape where equally important factors of ‘excessive production’, ‘sale’ and ‘arms control’ need to be addressed sooner rather than later. Such a comprehensive approach can truly halt human suffering, prevent conflicts and promote international security.

Mr. Chairman,

In the statements delivered during the last few days since the start of this session, we have heard the oft-repeated lament over the failure of the disarmament machinery. It appears that the success of the disarmament machinery is solely being equated with the start of negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile materials. In order to objectively evaluate the causes underlying the impasse at the Conference on Disarmament (CD), it is important to first acknowledge the following basic facts:

Therefore, any solution that is being offered for revitalizing the CD should focus on its causes and not the symptoms. Any forward movement in the CD is only possible by addressing the security concerns of all states.

An FMCT that only bans the future production of fissile materials is cost-free for those nuclear weapon states that already posses vast stockpiles of fissile material. For the non-nuclear weapon states, it entails no additional obligation beyond those that they have already assumed. However, for Pakistan, FMCT has a direct bearing on our national security. The National Command Authority (NCA) of Pakistan, chaired by the Prime Minister, in a statement issued after its meeting on 5 September 2013 reiterated that “while maintaining its principled position on various arms control and non-proliferation issues, Pakistan would continue to oppose any arrangement that is detrimental to its security and strategic interests. As for the proposed Fissile Material (Cut-Off) Treaty, Pakistan's position will be determined by its national security interests and the objectives of strategic stability in South Asia”.

Mr. Chairman,

The challenges facing the international disarmament agenda and the machinery are not exclusive to the CD. The UN Disarmament Commission and the First Committee confront similar challenges. The UNDC has not been able to evolve an agreed document for more than a decade and a half. The resolutions adopted by this Committee are adopted almost mechanically without any progress towards their implementation. Why blame then the CD alone for its inaction?

A comprehensive revitalization effort is therefore required. A new bargain for the 21st century is needed that reflects the existing realities. Pakistan reiterates its support for the long-standing call of NAM countries, which comprise almost two-third of the UN membership, to convene the Fourth Special Session on Disarmament (SSOD-IV). This session should aim at an integrated and holistic approach towards achieving the goals of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in a balanced and non-discriminatory manner, keeping in view the security interests of all states.

Mr. Chairman,

Pakistan delegation shall outline its views on some of the topical disarmament and international security issues in greater detail during the thematic debate.

I thank you.