First Committee Recommends Forty-Eight Disarmament Related Texts

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After the General Debate, the Main Committees of the General Assembly began their deliberations, recommending resolutions and decisions for the Assembly to consider in plenary. On 10 December, the Assembly - in expressing its conviction that the continuing existence of nuclear weapons posed a threat to all humanity," and their use would have "catastrophic consequences for all life on Earth" - underlined the unanimous conclusion of the International Court of Justice that there existed an "obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control".

Acting on the recommendation of its First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), the Assembly, by resolution 51/45 M, also called upon all States to fulfil that obligation immediately and expressed appreciation to the Court for responding to its request, made in resolution 49/75 K of 15 December 1994, to render an advisory opinion on whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons is permitted in any circumstance under international law.

By resolution 51/45 O, the Assembly urged the nuclear-weapon States to "stop immediately the qualitative improvement, development and stockpiling of nuclear warheads and delivery systems", and to undertake the "step-by-step reduction of the nuclear threat and a phased programme of progressive and balanced deep reductions of nuclear weapons", with a view to their total elimination within a time-bound framework.

In other resolutions on nuclear disarmament, the Assembly called for the pursuit by nuclear-weapon States of"systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally" (51/45 G), and reiterated its request to the Conference on Disarmament to "commence negotiations, in order to reach agreement on an international convention prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances", and proposed a draft as a possible basis for that agreement (51/46 D).

Two texts, although they differed on the pace of nuclear disarmament and the recognition of existing agreements, dealt with bilateral nuclear-arms negotiations. Resolution 51/45 R encouraged the Russian Federation, the United States, Belarus, Kazakstan and Ukraine to continue cooperative efforts aimed at eliminating nuclear weapons and strategic offensive arms. Resolution 51/45 1 called upon the Russian Federation and the United States to "accord the highest priority" to their "work for deep reductions in their nuclear armaments".

Five texts were devoted to nuclear-weapon-free zones. In resolution 51/45 B, the Assembly called upon States parties and signatories to the treaties establishing such zones in Latin America and the Caribbean, the South Pacific, South-East Asia and Africa to "explore and implement further ways and means of cooperation, including the consolidation of the status of the nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas".

By resolution 51/42, the Assembly reaffirmed its endorsement of the concept of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in South Asia and welcomed the support of all five nuclear-weapon States for the proposal. It also urged all concerned parties to consider taking the steps needed to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East (51/41); called upon African States to sign and ratify the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (51/53); and welcomed recent steps for consolidation of the regime of military denuclearization established by the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (51/52).

By resolution 51/48, the Assembly called upon Israel to accede without further delay to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and place its nuclear facilities under the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In resolution 51/43, the Assembly reaffirmed the need to reach an early agreement on security arrangements for non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, and appealed to all States, especially the nuclear-weapon States, to work towards a common approach or formula for a legally binding international instrument. …