Thursday 8 October

The first day of the General Debate opened with an introductory statement from the Chair of First Committee, Ambassador van Oosterom of the Netherlands, followed by an address from the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Mr. Kim Won-soo. Ambassador van Oosterom emphasized the importance of First Committee, which is highlighted by the number of resolutions adopted each year. Mr. Kim Won-soo, while discussing the need for sustained resourcing of the international legal architecture for disarmament, highlighted the successful entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and stated that its entry into force demonstrated that when the international community is united, it can produce great results. He further called on member states who have supported but not yet ratified the treaty to do so expeditiously.

The floor then opened to member states to make statements. Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Myanmar of behalf of the Association of South East Asian States (ASEAN), Finland on behalf of the Nordic countries, Trinidad and Tobago on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Nigeria on behalf of the African Group, Oman on behalf of the Arab States, the European Union (EU), Mexico and Switzerland addressed issues related to small arms and light weapons (SALW). Nordic Countries noted that tackling the illicit and unregulated trade of SALW and their ammunition are paramount to securing the conditions for development. Further, the full implementation of international instruments aiming to control these weapons was deemed necessary, especially regarding ammunition because “without ammunition, weapons are inoperable.”

The African Group, the Arab Group, ASEAN, CARICOM, Mexico, and NAM emphasized the importance of and their commitment to the Programme of Action (PoA). Multilateralism and international cooperation and assistance was greatly emphasized, while NAM further underlined the need for a balanced, full and effective implementation of the PoA, in addition to the International Tracing Instrument (ITI), in order to curb the illicit transfer of SALW. The African Group, ASEAN, and NAM reaffirmed the importance of the sovereign rights of States to acquire, manufacture, export, import, and retain conventional arms and their parts and components for their self-defense and security needs and emphasized that no undue restriction should be placed on the transfer of such arms. Furthermore, NAM highlighted its concern over a wide range of security, humanitarian and socio-economic consequences arising from the illicit manufacture, transfer and circulation of SALW, and called on all States, in particular major arms producing States, to ensure that the supply of SALW is limited only to governments or to entities duly authorized by them. NAM also reiterated the importance of the reduction of military expenditures by major arms producing countries and urged those arms producing countries to devote resources to global economic and social development, in particular the fight against poverty.

The African Group, ASEAN, CARICOM, EU, Mexico, Nordic countries, and Switzerland discussed the entry into force of the landmark ATT. CARICOM noted that the ATT can contribute significantly to reduce the suffering of many around the world, particularly women and children, who live in devastating circumstances because of SALW. The substantive outcome of the first Conference of State Parties on the ATT was welcomed, with Nordic Countries noting that the Treaty provides a solid foundation for a functioning ATT regime. Nordic Countries and the EU made specific mention of one landmark feature of the ATT- the concept of gender-based violence as a factor to be considered when making export assessment. Universalism regarding the ATT was noted as a priority by many States. Switzerland highlighted the long process for the full implementation of the ATT, and urged more States to ratify to endure increased effectiveness.