Saturday, 16/12/2017 | 3:25 UTC+0
Libyan Newswire
  • Europe and Eurasia: Joint Statement to the Media

    MODERATOR: (In progress) ladies and gentlemen, and welcome. High Representative Vice President Federica Mogherini and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson just had a bilateral meeting and will deliver press statements to update you on their discussions.

    High Representative, you have the floor.

    HIGH REPRESENTATIVE MOGHERINI: Thank you, Maja, and it’s a pleasure to welcome you, Rex, Secretary Tillerson, to Brussels, the heart of the European Union, after the good visits we received in spring of President Trump and of Vice President Pence. It’s a pleasure to welcome friends and work together. We just had a good exchange of views, and after this press point discussions will continue together with the foreign ministers of all the European Union member-states.

    Our meeting today has confirmed the importance that the European Union and the United States attach to their close partnership and cooperation. I believe we can say that it’s also an opportunity to renew collectively our commitment to a close cooperation on a number of important points.

    During our bilateral meeting we discussed mainly four issues; first of all, the Middle East peace process, the European Union support, the resumption of a meaningful peace process towards a two-state solution. We believe that any action that would undermine these efforts must absolutely be avoided. A way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states so that the aspiration of both parties can be fulfilled.

    We will discuss this further with Prime Minister Netanyahu next Monday here in Brussels and with President Abbas later, at the beginning of next year, as we will host both of them separately at our next foreign affairs councils. We will also continue to engage with our international and regional partners, including within the Quartet, to support the prospectus of a resumption of negotiations towards the two states.

    We also discussed Iran, in particular the implementation of the nuclear deal with Iran. I have reaffirmed the European Union view that continued implementation of the Iran nuclear deal is a key strategic priority for European security but also for regional and global security. We have discussed the fact that there are other issues that we should discuss and tackle together, but they are not under the scope of the nuclear agreement and therefore we are willing to address them outside of the agreement itself. The European Union is willing to work closely with the United States on these issues on the basis of continued U.S. implementation of the nuclear deal. It was decided that nuclear deal would have been purely on nuclear issues back some 14 years ago, so now dismantling an agreement on nuclear issues that is working, as the IAEA has certified for nine times, would not put us in a better position to discuss all the rest on the country.

    Third, we discussed the situation in Syria, looking at the wider Middle East. We share the belief that it is urgent to rapidly advance towards a negotiated political transition process in Syria based on Geneva peace talks and the UN Security Council Resolution 2254. I’ve used this opportunity to inform Secretary Tillerson about the preparations for the second ministerial conference that we will host here in Brussels in spring next year on the future of Syria and the region that will look at ways to continue supporting the Syrian people and their hosting communities not only from a humanitarian point of view but also guaranteeing political and economic support to the UN-led negotiations in Geneva, offering incentives towards a political solution to be reached under UN auspices in Geneva.

    Last but not least, we discussed the Western Balkans. We have both reaffirmed our commitment to the region, which has a clear European Union perspective, and encouraged continued reforms and negotiation process in the region.

    We will now continue these conversations together with our colleagues, EU member-states’ foreign ministers. I expect other issues will be addressed. Some of them actually were already subject to our conversation, including the situation in the Korean Peninsula, our cooperation in support of peace and stability in – and territorial integrity in Ukraine, and latest developments in the wider region of the Middle East or in Libya.

    We also, I would expect, will discuss with the foreign ministers of the 28 member-states our cooperation in international fora, as the European Union, as you know well, is and remains a strong and reliable supporter of multilateralism, UN system, and a rules-based global order.

    Thanks. Thank you again for the visit and for the good exchange.

    MODERATOR: Secretary Tillerson.

    SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, thank you very much. It’s indeed a pleasure to be back in Brussels, and I think meetings like the one that was just held between the high representative and myself illustrate again the strong commitment that the U.S. has to the European alliance and the important role that the European alliance plays in our shared security objectives, and vice versa as well. The partnership between America and the European Union, I think as everyone knows, is longstanding. It is one that’s based upon shared values, shared objectives for security and prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic, and we remain committed to that.

    I think during our meetings today, as the high representative mentioned, there were a number of important issues discussed and views exchanged. And in particular on North Korea, we appreciate the resolute stance of our European allies to send a message to the regime in North Korea of our we do not accept the nuclear weapons program that they have undertaken and we view that it is an important objective for all that there be a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. And again, this economic pressure will continue until either North Korea reverses its course, certainly to encourage talks to get underway to do so.

    Our shared objectives in terms of defeating ISIS are important, but not just defeating ISIS in Iraq and Syria but defeating ISIS globally. And I think continuing our discussion on joint efforts to combat terrorism wherever it raises its head, and we certainly see the results of ISIS’ caliphate and this long reign of terror that they have carried out in Iraq and Syria which is now coming to an end.

    We also discussed, as the high representative mentioned, our joint efforts under the JCPOA to hold Iran fully compliant with the terms of the JCPOA, fully enforce that agreement, but at the same time recognizing that Iran is carrying out a number of other destabilizing actions in the region. And we’ve seen this recently with ballistic missiles being fired from Yemen, which it’s our belief are sourced from Iran; their support for the Houthis, and the destabilizing effect that that has in Yemen. We also know of Iran’s destabilizing effect of exporting weapons and militia to Syria, an area of conflict, and their ongoing support for Hizballah, a terrorist organization. These issues and activities of Iran cannot be ignored and cannot go unanswered, and we intend to continue to take action to ensure Iran understands this is not acceptable to us, and we look forward to working with European partners in that regard as well. It’s a threat, I think, to many of our shared values.

    As a NATO member, the United States is very happy and pleased to see NATO-EU cooperation continuing to evolve and deepen since the joint declaration was signed last year, and we’ll certainly have an opportunity for further discussions around that today during the NATO meetings. We know our security is strongest when allies and partners shoulder their fair share of the burden, and that’s why we continue to call on others to increase their defense spending that is towards a shared objective and serves everyone well.

    Our European allies are also steadfast supporters of the peace process in Syria. And as the high representative just confirmed, our support for the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254, a significant effort has been underway as the defeat-ISIS campaign succeeds to move Syria to a process of reconciliation as called for under 2254. And we’re pleased to see talks resume in Geneva under the leadership of the UN Representative Staffan de Mistura and we’ll support those talks in all ways possible to keep those parties at the table to find and chart a new course forward for Syria that will serve the will of the Syrian people.

    Like any good relationship, this one requires a lot of attention, and I know the high representative is very committed to this relationship. Her tireless efforts at communication with the United States and the United States Government at all levels is important, and we view it the same. And that’s why I’m here as well today and appreciate the time that she’s given me and the important exchanges we’ve had, and much of this will continue throughout the day as we have a full agenda ahead of us. So thank you.

    MODERATOR: Thank you very much. This concludes this press conference.

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  • Press Conference by Security Council President on Work Programme for December

    Priorities of Japan’s December presidency of the Security Council would include non‑proliferation, small arms and current challenges to maintaining peace and security, the country’s Permanent Representative said this afternoon.

    Briefing correspondents at Headquarters on the Council’s work programme, Koro Bessho pledged to be as transparent as possible and speak to the press following consultations.  Completion of scheduled meetings was planned for 21 December to allow, as usual, for a holiday schedule, barring unforeseen developments.

    Non‑proliferation was on top of the agenda, he said, after this week’s launch of a long‑range ballistic missile by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  As a result, a ministerial‑level meeting on that country’s nuclear and missile programmes was planned for 15 December with several ministers already committed to participating.  “This is a very strong threat to security and the awareness of the international community has been heightened”, he said.

    As for contemporary challenges to peace and security, he said an open debate was slated for 20 December that would focus on how well the United Nations was addressing the new landscape, given that many conflicts today were not between countries and had diverse causes, and that a long‑term approach to peacebuilding and conflict prevention was needed.  The meeting would address many of the issues the Secretary‑General had focused on in his reports on reform.

    Turning to small arms, he noted that while the issue was not often discussed in the Council, the body requested every two years a report on the proliferation of those weapons, which killed many civilians around the world each year.  The report would be discussed on 18 December, a timely arrival, he commented, given that Japan was on the bureau of the Arms Trade Treaty organization.

    Regarding Syria, he said monthly briefings on the political and humanitarian situation would be held, given the slow start to intra‑Syrian dialogue now ongoing in Geneva.  Humanitarian access had been seen to improve, but was still not adequate, and extending mechanisms to do that would be discussed.

    Recalling last month’s failure to renew the Joint Investigative Mechanism that aimed to determine the perpetrators of chemical attacks in Syria, he said there was consensus in the Council that use of chemical weapons was not permissible in any circumstance, and that the Council must prevent impunity.  However, differences remained on how to do that and he expressed hope there would be a related resolution by the end of the month.

    Other meetings included a 12 December briefing on the Secretary‑General’s report on the situation in Myanmar, which he foresaw provoking an active discussion.  Responding to questions on that topic, he said the Under‑Secretary‑General for Political Affairs would brief.  Recalling the Presidential Statement last month, he said he hoped for a constructive meeting to determine the way forward.

    To questions on the weapons programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said pressure had been brought to bear on the country, not simply condemnations but also measures to prevent that Government from acquiring the materials needed to build its military arsenal.  The last resolution on the issue was robust and should have an effect if all Member States implemented it, he commented.

    Several foreign ministers had already committed to attending the ministerial meeting and the Secretary‑General had been asked to brief, he said.  The Council would seek to produce an outcome, but he was uncertain as to what that would be.  The discussion would be open only to Council members but he could foresee serious bilateral meetings as well, as they were already occurring.  If there was a request for representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to participate, that would be handled in the normal manner.

    Some members had requested a briefing on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, possibly on 11 December, he said in answer to questions.  The subject had not yet been decided.  It was important that the link between the human rights situation in the country and the threats to peace and security in the region be understood.  He did not foresee any specific action coming out of that meeting.

    When asked why discussions on the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea had been “one sided”, given the threats it faced from military exercises, Mr. Bessho said Pyongyang had violated treaties and was the only Government in the world that had conducted nuclear tests in the twenty‑first century.  Authorities were depriving people of resources they needed to live.  The Council’s message, he said, was to stop the nuclear and missile development, and instead, use the resources to build a peaceful democratic nation in which people were provided the public services they deserved.

    Asked why the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should end its nuclear programme, given the experiences of Iraq and Libya, he said those countries had a very different history.  There had been many attempts to address the issue, including through previous agreed frameworks and the Six‑Party Talks.  All members agreed they wanted a change in the country’s policy.  “What we would like to see is a de‑nuclearized North Korea,” he said.  “If they denuclearized they could live in peace with their neighbours.”  Asked about the danger of war over the issue, he said he refused to speculate on hypotheticals.

    Finally, asked about the prospects for Israeli‑Palestinian peace, he said the Council still embraced the necessity of the two‑State solution and a conducive environment for negotiations to restart.  It was true, he acknowledged, that some members thought prospects were eroding and wanted changes in the way forward.

    For the full programme of work, please see www.un.org/en/sc/programme.

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  • Security Council Members Decry Ruin of Cultural Heritage to Fuel Armed Conflict amid Calls for Greater Cooperation in Holding Profiteers Accountable

    Head of Counter-Terrorism Office Urges Involvement of Private Art Dealers, Auction Houses in Preventing Trafficking

    With the obvious goal of undermining national identity and international law, terrorists — particularly in armed conflict situations — were not only destroying lives and property, but also historical sites and objects, the head of the United Nations Office of Counter‑Terrorism told the Security Council today.

    Under‑Secretary‑General Vladimir Voronkov pointed out that when terrorist groups targeted World Heritage Sites, they attacked common historical roots and cultural diversity.  Illicit trafficking in cultural objects also led to the financing of terrorism and criminal networks.  The protection of cultural heritage had therefore become a vitally important task for the international community.

    Citing numerous international legal and normative frameworks to address those crimes, he underscored the need to focus on investigation, cross‑border cooperation and exchange of information, as well as involving public and private sector partners, including collectors, art dealers, auction houses and tourism agencies.  With United Nations support, Member States had strengthened their legal frameworks and criminal justice systems, and enhanced collaboration to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks against their cultural heritage, he said.

    Audrey Azoulay, Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said the adoption of Council resolution 2347 (2017) testified to a new awareness of the importance of culture in reducing conflict, preventing radicalization and fighting violent extremism.  Already, 29 Member States had shared information on new actions taken to protect cultural heritage, strengthening tools and training of specialized personnel.

    She reported that of the 82 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Arab region, 17 were on the list of those endangered by armed conflict.  All six Syrian World Heritage Sites had been severely affected, and more than 100 cultural heritage sites across Iraq had been damaged.  To stem the destruction, awareness must be raised, notably through the UNESCO Unite4Heritage movement.

    Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) called for greater implementation of the almost universally agreed conventions against transnational organized crime, against corruption and for the suppression of terrorist financing.  Cooperation in investigating and prosecuting trafficking cases must be strengthened, and more information exchanged.  The art market and museums should pay special attention to the provenance of cultural items they were considering acquiring.

    Jürgen Stock, Secretary‑General of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), called the destruction and trafficking of cultural heritage in armed conflict serious transnational crimes, which financed terrorist groups, hindered reconciliation through attempts to erase and desecrate public assets, and caused loss to the global community.

    He said INTERPOL had been fighting those crimes on behalf of law enforcement worldwide since 1946.  Its efforts focused on the collection and exchange of operational information across borders, including in conflict and post‑conflict zones.  He stressed the imperative of exchanging information as rapidly and widely as possible, and of creating both specialized police units and national databases dedicated to protecting cultural property and investigating trafficking.

    Alessandro Bianchi, Project Leader of Cultural Heritage Protection in Italy’s Ministry of Culture, said such assets were in the cross‑hairs of the enemy, viewed as symbols of identity that deserved desecration and destruction.  Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) had demolished 36 of 80 notable buildings in Mosul in June 2014 because they were legacies of the Shia community.  He advocated better coordination between law enforcement and judicial bodies in preventing illegal excavations, harmonizing customs procedures and inspecting the trade in artefacts.

    In the ensuing debate, Council members underlined the importance of preserving cultural heritage, with Senegal’s delegate describing it as the identity of peoples and nations, and a source of cohesion.  Its organized looting and illicit trafficking had become a war strategy of terrorists who used proceeds to finance their criminal activities.  Kazakhstan’s representative said cultural heritage carried “civilizational codes”.  Protecting it and fostering pluralism were essential for ensuring peace.

    Several delegates called on Governments to ratify and harmonize multilateral legal instruments, fully implement resolution 2347 (2017) and deepen cooperation with UNESCO and INTERPOL.  The representative of the Russian Federation suggested that those involved in destroying or trafficking cultural property be added to the Council’s various sanctions lists.

    Underlining the need to combat impunity, delegates welcomed the International Criminal Court’s decision to prosecute those responsible for destroying cultural heritage in Timbuktu with war crimes.  Several cited the cooperation between Mali and the United Nations stabilization mission there, with Bolivia’s representative recommending the replication of that positive experience by other countries and missions.

    Others noted the primary responsibility of States to protect cultural heritage, and the importance of international support to help some build capacity.  Sweden’s delegate drew attention to the “demand side” of illicit trafficking, noting that the burden of such activity could not be solely borne by countries affected by war or terrorism.  Egypt’s delegate added that international support must respect national sovereignty.  He objected to any interference in State internal affairs and to the removal of objects from a country to safe havens.

    Representatives of Japan, France, United Kingdom, Ethiopia, China, Uruguay, Ukraine, United States and Italy also spoke.

    The meeting started at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 12:17 p.m.

    Briefings

    VLADIMIR VORONKOV, Under‑Secretary‑General of the United Nations Office of Counter‑Terrorism, said terrorists, particularly in situations of armed conflict, not only destroyed lives and property, but also historical sites and objects, with the obvious goal of undermining national identity and international law.  When terrorist groups targeted World Heritage Sites, it was an attack on common historical roots and cultural diversity.  Illicit trafficking in cultural objects also led to the financing of terrorism and criminal networks.  The protection of cultural heritage had therefore become a vitally important task for the international community.

    He said there was already a strong international legal and normative framework to address those crimes.  Council resolution 2347 (2017), for example, encouraged Member States to ratify the 1970 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) convention on illicit trafficking and the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two Protocols.  Other legal frameworks included the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the United Nations Convention against Corruption, the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, and the International Guidelines for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Responses with Respect to Trafficking in Cultural Property and Other Related Offences.

    He said there was a need to focus on investigation, cross‑border cooperation and exchange of information, as well as on bringing in private and public sector partners, including collectors, art dealers, auction houses and the tourism sector.  The Counter‑Terrorism Office, through the inter‑agency Working Group on Countering the Financing of Terrorism, supported State efforts to curb illicit trafficking.  UNESCO and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) were already working together, along with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), the World Customs Organization and other partners.  He also had asked the Counter‑Terrorism Implementation Task Force entities to propose projects, and would welcome new proposals by States and regional organizations.

    With the support of United Nations entities, he said Member States were strengthening their legal frameworks and criminal justice systems, and enhancing their collaboration to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks against their cultural heritage.

    AUDREY AZOULAY, Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, introducing the report on the implementation of resolution 2347 (2017), said that its adoption testified to a new awareness on the importance of culture to reduce conflict, prevent radicalization and fight violent extremism.  Already, she said, 29 Member States had shared information on new action taken to protect cultural heritage, strengthening tools and training of specialized personnel.  Italy had launched the Unite4Heritage Task Force and developed a database of illegally removed heritage, the largest of its kind.  Japan, France, Slovakia and the Russian Federation had reported improvements in their records of stolen objects, officers in Canada had received training on import‑export controls, and both Uruguay and Sweden had created new mechanisms.  “These are positive signals of deep change,” she said.

    “We need to do more,” she added, reporting that of the 82 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Arab region, 17 were on the list of those endangered by armed conflict.  All six Syrian World Heritage Sites had been severely affected, with Palmyra and Aleppo, two of the oldest cities in the world, now reduced to rubble.  More than 100 cultural heritage sites across Iraq had been damaged.  To stem the destruction, awareness must be raised, with initiatives also targeting young people building on the UNESCO Unite4Heritage movement.  In addition, information on trafficking and damage must be collected and shared, and peacekeepers trained on protection of heritage.

    She pledged the determination of UNESCO to support Member States with the necessary tools and policy advice, pointing to guidelines around the fundamental link between respect for cultural diversity and human rights.  A holistic approach to protection of culture was needed.  She called for ending trafficking, protecting sights and working in cultural education to counter such lies as Palmyra being a monument to Roman occupation rather than the rich cultural crossroads it had been for centuries.  She welcomed cooperation with UNESCO in the rebuilding of Timbuktu in Mali, and the development of new legal tools, stressing that protection‑oriented mandates afforded by the Security Council would foster the continued existence of the world’s cultures.

    YURY FEDOTOV, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, urged the international community to maintain focus on strengthening the implementation of the almost universally agreed instruments represented by the conventions against transnational organized crime, against corruption and for the suppression of terrorist financing.  He said his Office worked closely with UNESCO, INTERPOL, the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law and other partners to assist Member States in promoting comprehensive responses to stop looted or stolen cultural property from being trafficked from the affected countries.

    More must be done to support countries, with a view to dismantling criminal networks, he said.  International cooperation in investigating and prosecuting cases of trafficking in cultural property must be strengthened, and more information exchanged.  The art market and museums also should pay special attention to the provenance of cultural items they were considering acquiring.  To help countries build capacity, UNODC offered advanced training for port control and continued to support anti‑corruption and anti‑money‑laundering action, providing technical assistance to counter terrorist financing in particular.  UNODC had also developed a tool to help put into practice the crime prevention guidelines adopted by the General Assembly in 2014, and he urged all Member States to use that expert resource.

    “Even as we welcome news that groups such as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) are losing control over territories, we must take the opportunity to further strengthen efforts to better safeguard vulnerable cultural property.  Only this way can we protect precious cultural heritage from being lost forever,” he said, assuring that UNODC’s assistance and network of field offices were at the disposal of the international community for that purpose.

    JÜRGEN STOCK, Secretary‑General of the International Criminal Police Organization, addressing the Council via videoconference, said the destruction and trafficking of cultural heritage in armed conflict were serious and transnational crimes affecting international peace and security.  Those practices financed terrorist groups, hindered the processes of reconciliation and return to democratic governance — notably by attempting to erase and desecrate social, cultural and economic assets — and causing loss to the global community.

    He said INTERPOL had been fighting those crimes on behalf of law enforcement worldwide since 1946.  Its efforts focused on the core of its mandate:  the collection and exchange of vital operational information across borders, including with law enforcement in conflict and post‑conflict zones.  However, essential criminal information on foreign terrorist fighters, identity documents and trafficked property were often dispersed across actors in those areas.  Consolidating it into a single operational flow was the primary goal of INTERPOL.  Coordinating the gathering and sharing of information into one centralized hub avoided intelligence gaps, he explained, and promoted national sovereignty and ownership of data.

    Recently, INTERPOL had collected information from its bureaus in Baghdad and Damascus, he said, identifying objects of invaluable cultural value stolen from Raqqa and Palmyra in Syria, and Mosul in Iraq.  That information had immediately been disseminated to law enforcement and other stakeholders.  Intelligence was used to identify trafficking routes, especially new destination countries.  INTERPOL was working to enhance real time access to that intelligence through upgrading its database and developing mobile applications.

    He stressed the imperative of exchanging information as rapidly and widely as possible, while preventing the duplication of channels.  There was also a need to create specialized police units and national databases dedicated to the protection of cultural property and investigation of heritage trafficking cases.  Italy’s model was an example to follow, he said, as it ensured coordination through a single national point of contact and created opportunities to seize stolen objects.

    ALESSANDRO BIANCHI, Project Leader, Cultural Heritage Protection, Ministry of Culture of Italy, attached great importance to resolution 2347 (2017) as it updated the international framework in defence of heritage at risk.  Monuments in conflict areas were currently in the cross‑hairs of the enemy, viewed as symbols of identity that deserved desecration and destruction.  Looting and illegal excavations were sources of income for criminal gangs and terrorist groups, who not only carried out such acts for financial gain, but to destroy the identities of a people.  For example, in June 2014, ISIL/Da’esh had demolished 36 of 80 notable buildings in the centre of Mosul because they were legacies of the Shia community.

    Given such experiences, resolution 2347 (2017) outlined the growing importance of three areas of action, he continued.  Firstly, it underscored the need for the collection of technical data on monuments and archaeological sites and the increased use of modern technology, including satellite remote control of territory to assess possible damage.  Next, resolution 2347 (2017) underscored the need for improved coordination between law enforcement and judicial bodies in fighting international crime, preventing illegal excavations, coordinating customs procedures and inspecting the trade in artefacts.  Lastly, the resolution highlighted the support required to administrations of affected territories by facilitating the rapid recovery of their pre‑crisis capacities.

    Statements

    KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan) said all States must realize the importance of preserving and regenerating cultural and historical heritage, stressing that it carried the “civilizational codes” of a nation.  Protecting cultural heritage and fostering pluralism were essential for ensuring peace, security and sustainable development. All States Parties should ratify and harmonize multilateral legal instruments related to cultural heritage, as artefact smuggling was a transnational phenomenon.  In addition, sanctions regimes should be rigorously enforced, while joint efforts with antiquities markets and private dealers must be strengthened, and the inventory and documentation of artefacts and heritage sites put in place.

    TOSHIYA HOSHINO (Japan) condemned the destruction of cultural heritage as a war tactic used by terrorist groups, stressing that protection of that property was a peace and security issue.  Japan was committed to universalizing and implementing international norms, he said, calling resolution 2347 (2017), the 1954 Hague Convention and the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime — known as the Palermo Convention — productive legal frameworks.  A global criminal justice response that held perpetrators accountable was needed, as was enhanced coordination within the United Nations.  Capacity‑building was also essential to safeguarding cultural heritage.  Japan had established the UNESCO Japanese Funds‑in‑Trust for the Preservation of World Cultural Heritage, he said, emphasizing the importance of enhanced partnerships to promote a multifaceted response, information‑sharing and coordination among a broad range of stakeholders.

    FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) said his country and Italy had always shared the objective of protecting the heritage of humanity and had worked together in developing resolution 2347 (2017).  He listed the wide variety of groups that had attacked cultural heritage in recent years, with armed groups deriving funding from looting cultural goods, which thus fuelled conflicts.  It was imperative to ensure that the international community as a whole was mobilized to address the situation.  He described France’s work within the European Union for that purpose, and at the international level, coordination with INTERPOL, and partnership with the United Arab Emirates on the 2016 Abu Dhabi conference, which had brought together actors in many sectors to create an international alliance to protect threatened cultural heritage.

    JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom), noting terrorist attempts to annihilate cherished values and cultural diversity, welcomed the International Criminal Court’s sentencing related to cultural destruction in Timbuktu.  In addition to legal and security action, practical actions were needed from the international community.  Funding from the private sector and Governments was needed to protect the shared heritage for the benefit of humanity.  The United Kingdom had ratified the 1954 Hague Convention, tightened control over the sale and movement of cultural goods and developed expertise for national and international purposes.  A fund protecting cultural sites and artefacts in many countries would be extended to further regions.  “Our shared cultural heritage will prevail,” he vowed.

    MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia) affirmed that the looting and exploiting of cultural sites and artefacts were of great concern, and welcomed efforts carried out since the adoption of resolution 2347 (2017).  States had the primary responsibility to protect their heritage and prosecute violators, but they required international cooperation to effectively carry out that obligation.  She welcomed UNESCO’s collaboration with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and other missions in that context, underlining the importance of fully implementing Council resolutions and the Convention on protecting cultural heritage.

    WU HAITAO (China) affirmed that cultural heritage was important for many reasons, including representing diverse civilizations.  Looting and destruction of such heritage must end, particularly since it financed terrorism, and resolution 2347 (2017) must be fully implemented for that purpose.  The United Nations should support capacity‑building for the prevention of trafficking and the financing of terrorist groups.  At the national level, security policies should be strengthened, with the international community providing constructive support with full respect for national sovereignty.  Mutual respect and dialogue between civilizations should also be promoted, as should reconciliation within groups in conflict areas to ensure respect for all cultural heritage.

    IRINA SCHOULGIN NYONI (Sweden) brought attention to the “demand side” of illicit trafficking in cultural property, noting that the burden of such activity could not be solely borne by countries affected by war or terrorism.  For that reason, she welcomed that the Secretary‑General’s report addressed the role of the arts and antiquities market, noting that the National Heritage Board had opened a dialogue with Swedish art and antiques dealers, with the aim of strengthening the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property.  Revised anti‑money‑laundering and counter‑terrorist financing legislation also created stronger incentives for the private and public sectors to work together on those issues.  She took note of the Secretary‑General’s recommendations regarding the training of personnel on the protection of cultural heritage and on planning processes ahead of the establishment of new peacekeeping missions or mandate renewals.  Where preventive efforts failed, accountability for attacks against cultural heritage sites was essential and perpetrators must be held accountable.

    FODÉ SECK (Senegal) said cultural heritage was one way of preserving the identity of peoples and nations; it was a source of cohesion.  The organized looting and illicit trafficking of cultural goods had become a war strategy of terrorist groups who used the proceeds to finance their criminal activities.  Humanity had suffered massive destructions perpetrated in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Libya and in Timbuktu, Mali.  Protecting world cultural heritage in conflict situations was a major challenge requiring a rapid response from the international community.  It was important to draw up an accurate inventory of cultural property and objects of religious significance that had been illegally removed.  He welcomed the decision of the International Criminal Court stating that the destruction of a religious or cultural site constituted a war crime, noting that MINUSMA had been authorized to assist authorities in protecting historical sites.

    VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said the fight against ISIL was nearing its end, thanks to the involvement of the Russian Air Force.  Addressing the damage to cultural heritage caused by terrorists, however, would take years.  Implementation of resolution 2347 (2017) raised some questions, as terrorists used all kinds of loopholes when trafficking in cultural heritage, including through anonymous dealers and the Internet.  He called on all States to provide to the sanctions committees all information available, suggesting that people and entities active in such trafficking be included on the committees’ lists.  The issue of mine clearing and preserving cultural heritage in Syria was acute, he said, noting that Russian forces had cleared more than 2,000 hectares of explosives.  Describing efforts to preserve heritage sites in Palmyra, he said restoring the memory of ancient civilizations was a common task of the international community.

    PEDRO LUIS INCHAUSTE JORDÁN (Bolivia) condemned the systematic looting, trafficking and destruction of cultural heritage goods by Da’esh and other terrorist groups to finance their activities.  The huge economic gains those groups had made had been enabled through governance gaps, weak law and order institutions and the absence of border controls.  Those situations, in turn, had been created by interventionist policies.  Cooperation among States and international organizations must be a priority in the implementation of resolution 2347 (2017), he said, stressing that joint action between special United Nations missions in conflict areas would help build capacity to counter illicit trafficking in cultural heritage.  He also recommended a focus on restoring cultural sites, which must include mine action, and replicating the positive experience between Mali and MINUSMA in coordinating efforts.  Policies for redress and return of property should be addressed as well, while perpetrators must be prosecuted, he said, welcoming the sentence handed out by the International Criminal Court, which was a benchmark in combating impunity.

    ELBIO OSCAR ROSSELLI FRIERI (Uruguay) said cultural goods represented the identity of people and their history, and thus should be protected.  World cultural heritage had an exceptional value, and the international community had recognized the need to protect it by adopting several legal instruments.  Indeed, an attack against one site was an attack against all cultural heritage sites.  Underscoring the important work of UNESCO, he recognized the value of coordinating efforts with the World Customs Organization.  He also welcomed the letter of intent signed by the International Criminal Court and UNESCO to formalize cooperation.  Stressing that States bore the primary responsibility for protecting cultural heritage, he described measures Uruguay had taken in that regard.

    VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said resolution 2347 (2017) drew attention to the destruction of cultural heritage and related antiquities trafficking, which were increasingly features of armed conflict.  Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Yemen were among the most vulnerable to such threats.  “Actions of terrorists in pursuit of easy profit can lead to a wholesale obliteration of a country’s archaeological record,” he said.  However, resolution 2347 (2017) was still far from being fully implemented, as States needed time to adjust legislation.  He proposed broadly criminalizing offenses against cultural heritage and imposing stiff penalties, as well as strengthening import‑export regimes and national institutional frameworks, with international coordination between law enforcement and customs agencies.  States should also ensure wider information sharing on trafficking routes and criminal modus operandi.  Close public‑private partnerships were necessary to track sales of illegally imported artefacts, and he urged that special attention be paid to supervising online auctions.

    IHAB MOUSTAFA AWAD (Egypt) said his Government was well attuned to the importance and sensitivity surrounding the protection of cultural heritage, given the wealth of sites in his country and its geographical location.  Welcoming progress in protection that had occurred following the adoption of resolution 2347 (2017), he stressed the primary role of each State in protecting its own heritage.  International support must recognize that role and respect national sovereignty.  He objected to any interference in internal State affairs and to the removal of objects from a country to safe havens.  The Council must only address the topic when addressing international terrorism and other topics under its purview of international peace and security.  States should prepare lists of their properties that had been transferred from their sites during conflict, with cooperation from relevant agencies to secure their return.

    MICHELE J. SISON (United States) presented examples demonstrating that looting cultural artefacts had become integral to ISIL/Da’esh operations, with Internet communications making that criminal enterprise much easier.  Looting and trafficking of cultural heritage was unacceptable.  The United States countered such trafficking through specific measures blocking illegal import of artefacts, particularly related to armed conflict situations.  She described the activities of the cultural antiquities task force and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in that regard, and cited funding of organizations that documented and tracked looting of artefacts, among many other measures taken by her country.  She looked forward to building stronger coordination with Member States and other organizations towards the full implementation of resolution 2347 (2017).

    SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy), Council president for the month of November, speaking in his national capacity, said attacks on cultural heritage were linked to violence against local populations, in addition to multiple other harms.  All forms of trafficking in cultural property must be stopped, which was a main priority for Italy.  In that context, he described Italy’s support for the Blue Helmets of Culture initiative, the Unite4Heritage campaign, and the working groups on Da’esh financing and the smuggling of cultural artefacts, as well as its cooperation with UNODC, UNESCO and INTERPOL to address illicit trafficking.  Italy also had worked with France in bringing about the adoption of resolution 2347 (2017), and continued to work on the issue because preservation of cultural diversity was vital to peacemaking and equitable development.

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  • Report – Annual Report on the implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy – A8-0350/2017 – Committee on Foreign Affairs

    on the Annual Report on the implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy

    (2017/2121(INI))

    The European Parliament,

    –  having regard to the Annual Report from the Council to the European Parliament on the common foreign and security policy,

    –  having regard to Articles 21 and 36 of the Treaty on European Union,

    –  having regard to the Charter of the United Nations,

    –  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management,

    –  having regard to the declaration by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on political accountability,

    –  having regard to the 2016 European External Action Service (EEAS) communication on a Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign And Security Policy and the 2017 Commission and EEAS joint communication on a Strategic Approach to Resilience in the EU’s External Action,

    –  having regard to the key principles enshrined in the Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy, particularly those pertaining to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, and the inviolability of borders, being equally respected by all participating states,

    –  having regard to the joint communication from the Commission and VP/HR of 12 December 2011 entitled ‘Human rights and democracy at the heart of EU external action – towards a more effective approach’ (COM(2011)0886),

    –  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

    –  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0350/2017),

    Introduction

    1.  Is convinced that no single Member State alone is able to tackle the challenges we face today; emphasises that common EU action is the most effective way to preserve Europe’s interests, uphold its values, engage in a wider world as a united and influential global actor and protect its citizens and Member States from increased threats to their security, including in a global digital sphere; is concerned about the EU’s security architecture, which remains fragile and fragmented in the face of continued and fresh challenges every day and in which a ‘hybrid peace’ has become an unsatisfactory reality; urges the Member States to take action and fulfil the wishes of those European citizens who have repeatedly stressed that EU foreign and security policy based on fundamental values and human rights is one of the most important and most necessary of all EU policies; considers that it is high time that Member States implement Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) tools, instruments and policies to enable the EU to respond to external conflicts and crises, build partners’ capacities and protect the European Union;

    2.  Recalls the EU’s commitment to develop a Common Foreign and Security Policy guided by the values of democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and compliance with the UN Charter and international law; considers that, in order to live up to this commitment and to contribute to advancing human rights and democracy in the world, the EU and its Member States need to speak with a united voice and ensure that their message is heard;

    3.  Takes the view that, in order for the EU to succeed in addressing and overcoming the challenges it faces, and in particular security threats, it needs to be an effective, credible and values-based global player, with a capacity for action and effective dialogue with other global players, which implies the EU speaking with one voice, acting together and focusing its resources on strategic priorities;

    4.  Stresses the need for the EU’s external policies to be consistent with each other and with other policies with an external dimension, and to pursue the objectives set out in Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union;

    5.  Believes that the core milestones for the European Union to deliver on the expectations of its citizens are:

    –  coordination of an assessment of profound threats and challenges within the EU and a common approach in how to address them; taking into account in particular the prevention of radicalisation, which can lead to recruitment by terrorist groups,

    –  consolidation and deepening of the European project and its external action by, inter alia, enhancing the EU’s cooperation and capabilities in the field of its common foreign and security policy, including information warfare,

    –  cooperation between Member States, partners, and international organisations and institutions protecting peace within clearly defined and carefully chosen conditions to strengthen the rules-based, global political and economic order, including the protection of human rights, and working together with partners to play a leading role in reconciliation, peacemaking, peacekeeping and, where needed, peace enforcement;

    Coordination of an assessment of profound threats and challenges: facing the current political and security environment

    6.  Emphasises that guaranteeing the security of EU citizens and the integrity of the EU’s territory, stabilising the neighbourhood, especially in the Western Balkans with a focus on more visibility of the EU in this region, promoting reforms to preserve a rules-based, cooperative political and economic international order, tackling the root causes of armed conflicts and enhancing policies of conflict prevention, peaceful conflict resolution and dialogue with pluralist democracies committed to the defence of human rights, are the key conditions for the stability of the EU; calls on more active EU public diplomacy and greater visibility for projects implemented by the EU;

    7.  Is of the view that, in an increasingly conflict-ridden and unstable international environment, only a combination of effective multilateralism, joint soft power and credible hard power can be capable of confronting major security challenges, notably the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the violation of the security order in Europe, terrorism, conflicts in the Eastern and Southern neighbourhood, proxy wars, hybrid and information warfare, including digital aggression, and energy insecurity; highlights that these challenges also include the refugee crises in its humanitarian dimension, challenging aggressive behaviour by North Korea, the violation of international law by Russia and China’s growing military power, for which only a strong diplomatic response will suffice;

    8.  Is of the opinion that a more effective common foreign and security policy depends primarily on the establishment of common strategic priorities and visions; takes the view that it is necessary to tackle the root causes of instability, spread largely because of failed or fragile states, and of forced and irregular migration: poverty, the lack of economic opportunities and access to education, social exclusion, armed conflicts, undemocratic and inefficient governance, corruption, climate change, increasing sectarianism, the threat of radicalisation and the spread of extremist ideologies; recalls the action plan adopted at the Valletta Summit calling for a shared responsibility of countries of origin, transit and destination; emphasises the importance of breaking the economic model of smuggler networks;

    9.  Underlines the need to counter autocratic and nepotistic trends, to intensify support for democratic forces and to fight against Islamist terrorism in the Southern neighbourhood and among the neighbours of our neighbours and partners, and to target those groups which seek to encourage EU citizens to fight for their extremist cause; recalls that the Sahel region and other connected geographical areas are priority regions for ensuring the security of the European Union; reiterates the need for concerted diplomatic efforts on the part of the EU, the US and other international partners, to work with players in the region, such as Turkey, the Gulf states and Iran, on the need for a clear position against religious extremism and terrorism, and to establish a common strategy to address this global challenge in line with the commitment undertaken at UN level to uphold international law and universal values; believes that diplomatic efforts should be accompanied by the wide range of other tools and instruments at the EU’s disposal, including those for the improvement of political, social and economic conditions conducive to the establishment and preservation of peace;

    10.  Believes that tackling violent extremism should go hand in hand with upholding universal human rights; stresses that the EU must counter and condemn state sponsors of radicalisation and terrorism, particularly where such support is given to entities listed by the EU as terror organisations; underlines the importance of strengthening cooperation with our partners experienced in combating terrorism;

    11.  Stresses that a sustainable solution to the Syrian crisis can only be achieved under the existing UN-agreed framework and needs to be based on an inclusive, Syrian-led political settlement involving all relevant stakeholders; continues to urge all members of the UN Security Council to honour their responsibilities with regard to the crisis; supports the call of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria on the ceasefire guarantor states to undertake urgent efforts to uphold the ceasefire regime;

    12.  Welcomes the EU strategy on Syria adopted in April 2017, which includes extending sanctions to persons involved in the development and use of chemical weapons; encourages the further extension of sanctions to those responsible for human rights violations; stresses that all those responsible for breaches of international law must be held accountable; reiterates its call for the EU and its Member States to explore with partners the creation of a Syria war crimes tribunal, pending a successful referral to the ICC; stresses the need for the EU to demonstrate full commitment in assisting the reconstruction of Syria after the conflict;

    13.  Calls on all parties involved, within and outside Libya, to support both the Libyan political agreement signed on 17 December 2015 and its resulting Presidential Council, which is the only authority recognised by the international community and the UN; underlines that solving the Libyan crisis is a prerequisite for stability in the Mediterranean; emphasises the importance of the Southern neighbourhood and the need to achieve a euro-Mediterranean space of peace, prosperity, stability and integration; underlines its strong support for the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with an independent, democratic, viable and contiguous Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with the secure State of Israel; stresses the importance of ensuring coherence of EU policy on situations of occupation or annexation of territory;

    14.  Welcomes the continued successful implementation by all parties of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), agreed by the EU3 +3 with Iran; stresses that the continued full implementation of this agreement by all parties is key to global efforts on non-proliferation and conflict resolution in the Middle East; highlights that the JCPOA is a multilateral agreement that was endorsed by a UN Security Council resolution and cannot be changed unilaterally; stresses the security risk posed by Iran’s ballistic missile programme and underlines the need for full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which calls on Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology;

    15.  Notes that the US Treasury Department has officially updated its Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) counter-terrorism list to include the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC);

    16.  Expresses its deep concern about the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Yemen; emphasises once again that there can be no military solution to the prolonged conflict in Yemen and supports efforts undertaken by the EU and UN towards achieving the ceasefire and laying the ground for peace negotiations; takes the view that the EU must act to ensure the continued existence of ethnic-religious minorities in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Syria;

    17.  Condemns the repeated use by Russia of its veto powers on the UN Security Council and considers it to undermine international efforts for peace and conflict resolution in Syria and the European Union’s southern neighbourhood more widely;

    18.  Acknowledges that further efforts should be made to make legal migration and mobility possible, including at bilateral level, by fostering well-managed mobility between and within continents, and by encouraging policies that promote regular channels for migration while fighting illegal networks that profit from vulnerable people; underlines the efforts taken by individual Member States in this regard and considers it essential to strengthen the legal and secure access path to Europe; regrets, in this regard, the lack of a genuine, balanced and credible European migration and asylum policy, as demonstrated by the ongoing crisis in the Mediterranean, and calls on the Council and the Member States to act accordingly;

    19.  Strongly believes that a new approach to the EU’s relations with its Eastern neighbours is needed; believes that supporting those countries that wish to have closer ties with the EU must be a top priority for EU foreign policy; believes that the prolongation of sanctions against individuals and entities in Russia is an inevitable outcome of the failure to implement the Minsk agreements and continues to see such implementation by all sides as the basis for a sustainable political solution to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine;

    20.  Emphasises that the possibility of more cooperative relations with Russia is contingent on Russia fully abiding by the European security order and international law; insists that the EU should keep open the option of further gradual sanctions if Russia continues to violate international law; reiterates its commitment to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and all the other Eastern Partnership countries within their internationally recognised borders; stresses that Russia’s decision of 21 March 2014 to incorporate Crimea into the Russian Federation remains illegal under international law and deplores the subsequent decision by the Russian authorities to forcefully impose Russian passports on all inhabitants of Crimea; calls on the VP/HR and the Council to play a more active and effective role in solving protracted and frozen conflicts;

    21.  Deplores Russia’s multiple violations of international law and its hybrid warfare; recognises, however, the possibility of reasoned and coherent selective engagement and dialogue with Russia in areas of common interest, in order to ensure accountability and respect for international law; stresses the need to maintain and encourage the possibility of future cooperation on resolving global crises where there is a direct or indirect EU interest or an opportunity to promote EU values;

    22.  Believes that normalised relations are a necessity for both the EU and Russia, and that any future EU-Russia strategy should emphasise reinforced commitment and support for the EU’s Eastern Partners; stresses that the EU should keep the door open for deepening the bilateral political and economic relationship with Russia, subject to Russia complying with international law and subscribed agreements, and halting its increasingly assertive attitude towards its neighbours and Europe;

    23.  Reiterates that sovereignty, independence and the peaceful settlement of disputes are key principles of the European security order which apply to all states; condemns unreservedly, therefore, Russian aggression in Ukraine, including the illegal annexation of Crimea and the Russian-sponsored conflict in Eastern Ukraine; calls on the EU, its Member States and the international community to demand that Russia must halt its aggression and release all political prisoners; calls for the international community to play a more active and effective role in the resolution of the conflict and to support all efforts for a lasting peaceful solution which respects the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, in particular by the deployment – with the consent of the Ukrainian authorities – of a peace-building and peace-keeping mission to the whole territory;

    24.  Reiterates the need for a strategic refocus on the Western Balkans, recognising that the EU should follow through with its ambitions in the region, as doing so would give a fresh impetus to a credible EU enlargement policy based on the Copenhagen criteria, and strengthen the rule of law and the resilience of state institutions; believes that the stability of the Western Balkans must continue to be a major priority; calls for more efforts in improving the socio-economic and political conditions of the region; is convinced that European integration and regional reconciliation are the best means to address the dangers stemming from destabilising foreign interference and influences, the funding of large Salafist and Wahhabi networks and the recruitment of foreign fighters, organised crime, major state disputes, disinformation and hybrid threats; stresses the need to remain dedicated to fostering highly effective political societies in the region;

    25.  Reiterates that once all those criteria have been met, the doors of the EU are open for membership; welcomes recent efforts undertaken as part of the Berlin Process and Trieste Summit to give additional impetus to the convergence of Western Balkan countries towards EU membership; reiterates that special attention and support should be given to the implementation of crucial institutional and political reforms in the Western Balkans and calls on the Commission to rethink the possibility for additional allocation of financial resources for the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA), as one of the most important tools for aiding the implementation of those reforms;

    26.  Recalls that the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) calls for the involvement of neighbouring third countries; calls for stronger support for the neighbours of our neighbours, on the basis of shared values and interests, in order to tackle global issues and address common challenges; highlights the need to promote the empowerment and protection of women, vulnerable social groups and minorities, in particular in Africa, where close cooperation between European and local SMEs, in partnership with civil society, and where support for building democratic, transparent and effective institutions and the promotion of a rule-based global order, are needed;

    27.  Considers international cooperation and development policies to be fundamental instruments for achieving such objectives and urges a more transparent, improved, efficient and effective allocation and use of EU funding, and greater synergies with other international organisations; emphasises the need to address the major security threats in Africa with a view to eradicating the terrorist threat posed by any terrorist group, to guarantee the prevention of the recruitment of individuals, to combat radical ideologies and to address energy security by means of environmentally friendly and sustainable energy sources while at the same time promoting off-grid solutions;

    28.  Strongly condemns any attempt by incumbent presidents to overstay in power by violating, evading or unlawfully amending electoral laws, and constitutions in particular; condemns, by the same token, any strategy to abolish or circumvent term limits; urges all governments to take measures to ensure the transparency and integrity of the entire electoral process, and to take all necessary measures and precautions to prevent the perpetration of fraud or any illegal practices; expresses its concern, in this regard, about the political crises, and related violence and violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular in countries in the Great Lakes Region; reiterates its belief in strong electoral observation missions, and, where necessary, financial, technical and logistical support as a means of achieving fair, credible and democratic electoral processes;

    29.  Encourages the development of a coherent, robust strategy for the Sahel region aimed at improving governance and the accountability and legitimacy of state and regional institutions, at boosting security, at tackling radicalisation and the trafficking of people, arms and drugs, and at strengthening economic and development policies;

    30.  Reiterates the need for an updated strategy for EU-Asia relations; voices support in this context for stronger cooperation within the framework of the Asia-Europe Meetings, including in terms of its parliamentary dimension; encourages support for closer regional cooperation and trust-building measures in South Asia with a view to reducing tensions between India and Pakistan; recommends continued support for EU peace mediation in the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process; stresses that preserving peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region is of substantial interest to the EU and its Member States; considers it vital and of great urgency to develop an updated EU strategy for the North-East Asia region in the light of the continued military build-up and the aggressive and irresponsible attitude shown by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK); condemns the tests and provocations by the DPRK, and its multiple violations of UN Security Council resolutions and international obligations; urges the EU’s diplomatic power to be used to apply pressure on the DPRK to persuade its leaders to abandon weapons of mass destruction; calls for the mobilisation of all diplomatic tools, including sanctions, in order to prevent an escalation of this crisis; calls for the irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula by peaceful means and for the full implementation of all relevant UN Security Council resolutions;

    31.  Stresses that preserving peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region is of substantial interest to the EU and its Member States; calls on all the parties concerned to resolve differences through peaceful means and to refrain from taking unilateral action to change the status quo, including in the East and South China Seas and the Taiwan Strait, in order to safeguard regional security; reiterates its commitment to supporting Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organisations and activities;

    32.  Recalls that Latin America shares with the EU common values, principles and trust in effective multilateralism and believes that the EU-Latin American partnership is important and should be strengthened in order to jointly address major global challenges; expresses its grave concern about the attacks carried out against members of the judiciary and the democratically elected opposition and civil society leaders in Venezuela; emphasises that respect for the rule of law, the fight against corruption, progress towards democracy, and fundamental freedoms and human rights are cornerstones for deeper integration and cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC);

    33.  Reiterates its support for the peace process in Colombia, which is critical for the future of Colombians and for stabilisation in the region; demands that all FARC assets, including the treasure obtained from drug smuggling, be used to indemnify victims of the conflict;

    Consolidation and deepening of the European project through enhanced EU capabilities

    34.  Urges the Commission, the EEAS and the Member States to adopt an EU comprehensive approach at every relevant opportunity, and believes that coherent, coordinated action across EU polices, while taking into consideration and implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in particular in the areas of humanitarian aid, agriculture, development, trade, energy, climate, science and cyber defence and security, should be applied in the EU’s external action in a consistent and structured manner in order to harness the EU’s collective force; believes that energy security, the respect for human rights and climate diplomacy remain important complementary aspects of the EU’s common foreign and security policy to be addressed as part of the comprehensive approach, and that the Energy Union should be further advanced;

    35.  Recognises that climate change could have a serious effect on regional and global stability, as global warming disputes over territory, food, water and other resources weaken economies, threaten regional security, and act as a source of migratory flows; further encourages the EU and its Member States to consider how national and EU military planning can include climate change adaption strategies and what would be considered an appropriate capability, priority and response;

    36.  Stresses that the future of European defence cooperation is significantly affected by the decision of the United Kingdom to withdraw from the EU, and calls for the continued engagement of the EU and UK as major international partners in order to maintain European security; stresses that the presidential elections in the United States introduced uncertainty into the transatlantic partnership and highlights the need for a counterweight for EU defence and the establishment of strategic autonomy;

    37.  Takes the view, that in order to make the Common Foreign and Security policy more assertive, effective and values-based, the EU should enhance its energy security, by immediately reducing its dependence, at present, on oil and gas supplied by authoritarian regimes, and by stopping it altogether in the medium term;

    38.  Stresses that the current decision-making process for the CFSP, based on unanimity in the Council of the EU, is the main obstacle to effective and timely external EU action; is of the opinion that qualified majority voting should also be applied for the CFSP; takes the view that the EU institutions must improve their ability to anticipate conflicts and crises, including by means of short- and long-term impact assessments of its policies, in order to address the root causes of the problems; believes that the EU needs to be able to react more swiftly and effectively to developing crises and should place greater emphasis on preventing conflicts by primarily using civilian tools at an early stage; calls on the Member States to put into practice Parliament’s recommendations to embrace the principle of Responsibility to Protect; stresses the need to deepen cooperation between the Member States, partner countries and international organisations, and underlines the importance of an effective exchange of information and coordination of preventive actions;

    39.  Calls on the VP/HR, the Commission and the Member States to step up their efforts to increase the EU’s ability to confront hybrid and cyber threats, to further strengthen the capacity of the EU and its partner countries to fight fake news and disinformation, to draw up clear criteria to facilitate the detection of fake news, to allocate more resources and turn the Stratcom task force into a fully-fledged unit within the EEAS; calls, in this regard, for the development of joint, comprehensive risk and vulnerability analysis capacities and methods, and for the EU’s resilience and strategic communication capabilities to be bolstered; stresses the role of independent media – both on- and offline – in promoting cultural diversity and intercultural competences, and the need to strengthen such media as a source of credible information, especially in the EU and its neighbourhood, and underlines that common EU TV and radio stations should be further enhanced; calls on the Commission to coordinate better with the EEAS and Member States on those issues;

    40.  Is of the view that Europe’s power resides in its ability to strengthen a community of values and respect for the diversity of culture that binds together all Europeans; believes, in this context, that the EU plays a major role as a promoter of democracy, freedom, the rule of law, human rights and equal opportunities, and should continue to promote its values outside the EU; recalls that human rights are an integral part of the CFSP and should form a central conditionality of external policies, and furthermore that these policies must be consistent and principled; highlights that cultural diplomacy should become a substantial part of the EU’s external action and urges the Commission to expand the Erasmus+ programme and foster the development of ambitious science diplomacy; calls for closer coordination with ​the ​UNESCO and World Heritage Committee and with non-state actors and civil society organisations as key partners of the EU;

    41.  Points out that it was noted in UN Security Council Resolution 1820(2008) of 19 June 2008 that rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute a war crime, a crime against humanity, or a constitutive act with respect to genocide, and that women must be afforded humanitarian protection in situations of armed conflict;

    42.  Considers that the development of a strong defence industry is strengthening the technological independence of the EU; calls for the industrial and technological resources needed to improve cybersecurity to be developed, including through the promotion of a single market for cybersecurity products; calls for significantly increased financial and human resources to be made available within the EU institutions in order to increase the EU’s cyber security and cyber defence capacity; emphasises the need to mainstream cyber defence into external action and common foreign and security policy, as well as the need for an improved ability to identify cybercrime;

    43.  Notes that information and cyber warfare, targeting EU Member States and other Western countries, is a deliberate attempt to destabilise and discredit political, economic and social structures; recalls that the security of EU Member States which are NATO members is guaranteed under Article 5 of the Alliance; calls for closer coordination on cyber defence between EU Member States, EU institutions, NATO, the United States and other credible partners;

    44.  Stresses the role of independent media in promoting cultural diversity and intercultural competences, and the need to strengthen such media as a source of credible information, especially in the EU and its neighbourhood, and to further strengthen the EU’s capacity to fight fake news and disinformation; highlights in this context the need to develop stronger resilience at EU level against such information spread over the Internet; calls on the Commission to coordinate better with the EEAS on those issues;

    45.  Believes that Europe should further strengthen cooperation on common defence, in order to defend its common values and principles and strategic autonomy; stresses the importance of the link between external and internal security, better use of resources and risk control in the periphery of Europe; recalls that the link between development and security is a key principle underpinning the Union’s approach to external crises and conflicts; calls on the Member States to unleash the Lisbon Treaty’s full potential with regard to the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and welcomes in this context the Implementation Plan on Security and Defence; encourages a review of the EU’s approach to civilian CSDP missions in order to ensure they are properly devised, implemented and supported; considers that European Defence Agency (EDA) capabilities and permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) and the EU Battlegroups should be used to their full potential; urges the Member States to provide additional funding to that end;

    46.  Believes that the European Union and its Member States must develop effective foreign and security policy, and must work together with NATO and other international partners, the UN, NGOs, human rights defenders, and others on issues of shared concern and in order to promote peace, prosperity and stability around the world; highlights the importance of raising awareness and political commitment for an urgent implementation of an ambitious, effective and structured CSDP; urges the Council, the Commission and the Member States to address the EU’s communication problems by making EU external action more accountable and visible; calls on the Member States and the EU institutions to deliver on defence following the EU Global Strategy and the Commission’s plans to improve EU defence research and capability development;

    47.  Calls on the Commission to fully reflect the growing security challenges in its proposal for the next multiannual financial framework (MFF); considers that both the size and the flexibility of the CFSP budget must match EU citizens’ expectations about the EU’s role as a security provider; insists on the need for a global vision for EU policy and instruments in the field of security, including fruitful coordination with the proposed European Defence Fund; calls on the Member States to aim for the target of spending 2 % of GDP on defence, and to spend 20 % of their defence budgets on equipment identified as necessary by the EDA; points out, in addition, that any new policy must be backed by funding from new sources; notes that various Member States have difficulty in maintaining a very broad range of fully operational defensive capabilities, mostly because of financial constraints; calls for more cooperation and coordination, therefore, about which capabilities should be maintained, so that Member States can specialise in certain capabilities and spend their resources more efficiently; believes that interoperability is key if Member States’ forces are to be more compatible and integrated; recalls that CFSP appropriations represented 3.6 % of the Heading 4 commitments in 2016 and 0.2 % of the whole EU budget; regrets that the size and under-implementation of and systematic transfers from the CFSP chapter reveal a persistent lack of ambition for the EU to act as a global player;

    48.  Notes that deadlocks within the UN Security Council are impeding action by the international community and preventing crisis resolution; calls once again on the Member States to support reforms in the composition and functioning of the Security Council;

    Cooperation within coalitions and with institutions delivering security

    49.  Underlines that it is in the EU’s strategic interest to preserve and deepen its transatlantic relations based on respect for common values, international law and multilateralism; calls for the EU to continue to develop its strategic autonomy and create its own capabilities to better address regional and international conflicts that have an impact on the EU; believes that the EU and US should focus on adapting transatlantic structures to today’s challenges, such as defending human rights, tackling climate change, combating international terrorism and corruption, the prevention of radicalisation, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and countering third-party countries’ efforts to destabilise the EU and NATO; further stresses the importance of continued and reinforced cooperation between the EU and US bilaterally and through NATO on common issues; recalls that the EU and the US are each other’s most important partners and that unilateral moves serve only to weaken the transatlantic partnership; believes that Europe must further enhance a virtuous alliance between the private and public sectors and should reinforce the strategic relationship with the US; calls on the Council and the EEAS to consistently raise the issue of US extraterritorial sanctions in their dialogue with the US Government;

    50.  Strongly supports the 2016 Warsaw Summit Declaration, particularly on EU-NATO cooperation, and welcomes decisions on closer cooperation between NATO and the EU in numerous areas as well as the placement of US, Canadian and other multinational forces at the Eastern flank of the EU;

    51.  Calls for increased intelligence sharing between Member States, increased interinstitutional intelligence sharing, and coordination between the EU, Member States and NATO, and insists that they must continue to cooperate as closely as possible in a complementary manner while fully respecting European core values and norms; acknowledges that information sharing and coordinated action between the EU, its Member States and NATO will produce results in areas such as terrorism response to hybrid threats, situational awareness, resilience building, strategic communications, cyber security and capacity-building vis-à-vis the EU’s partners; believes that further coordination and closer cooperation with other existing multilateral entities such as Eurocorps is needed in order to increase the EU’s security; reiterates that a revitalisation of the strategic partnerships should be a priority for the EU;

    52.  Underlines the role of Parliament in shaping a genuinely common foreign policy in line with the expectations of European citizens; calls on the Council to act in concert with Parliament during the main phases of foreign policy decision-making;

    53.  Acknowledges the work of the VP/HR and calls for her to continue to ensure that future annual reports will be more concise and forward-looking, focusing on the most important priorities for the year ahead and an evaluation of the measures launched in the previous year, including their financial implications, in order to provide a comprehensive overview on the EU’s performance;

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    54.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the Member States.

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  • Nuclear Energy Could Hold Key to Sustainable Development Gains, Delegates Tell General Assembly, as it Considers international Atomic Energy Agency Report

    Nuclear energy could help countries to achieve sustainable development, Member States said today, with many also expressing concern about recent nuclear testing activities by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as the General Assembly took up the latest report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

    Adopting the resolution “Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency” (document A/72/L.6) — transmitted in a note by the Secretary‑General (document A/72/221) and introduced by the representative of Indonesia — the 193‑member Assembly took note of several resolutions recently approved by the Vienna‑based IAEA.  Those texts were aimed at strengthening international cooperation in areas including nuclear science, technology and nuclear, radiation, transport and waste safety.

    The Assembly also took note of several IAEA resolutions on the application of nuclear safeguards in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Middle East, while reaffirming its strong support for the Agency’s activities.  In addition, it welcomed a resolution on the approval of the appointment of Yukiya Amano as Director General of the Agency from 1 December 2017 to 30 November 2021.

    Many delegates, including those from India and the Russian Federation, commended IAEA for assisting developing countries in related development programmes.  China’s representative said that with the recent adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, nuclear energy would play an increasingly important role in the generation of energy around the world.

    Echoing that view, Ecuador’s delegate said nuclear energy — properly used and with the necessary security measures — could be a way to increase great progress and well‑being for the benefit of humanity.  For its part, Ecuador had enjoyed invaluable IAEA support and critical supplies and equipment following the 2016 earthquake.

    Briefing the Assembly, Mr. Amano said that transferring peaceful nuclear technology to developing countries was the Agency’s core business and one of the most important aspects of its work.  “The Agency now helps countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in energy, food and agriculture, industry, water management and health,” he said.

    Meanwhile, IAEA was also committed to other efforts, he said, including verifying and monitoring implementation by Iran of its nuclear‑related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  “Iran is now subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime,” he said, noting Iran’s compliance with all related measures.  The Agency’s inspectors had expanded access to sites and now had more information about Iran’s nuclear programme, which was smaller than when the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action had been launched in 2015.

    On the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent activities, he said nuclear tests in September were “extremely regrettable” and called on the country to comply fully with its obligations under all relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the Agency.  While IAEA inspectors had been required to leave the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 2009, the Agency continued to monitor the country’s nuclear programme through satellite imagery and open source information.  It was also working to maintain its readiness to return when political developments made it possible.

    In the ensuing discussion, several delegates echoed Mr. Amano’s concerns, with the representative of the Republic of Korea strongly condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s “reckless” nuclear tests.  Far from revealing any signs that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was abandoning nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, the Agency’s report had indicated troubling activities at several sites.  “We call on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing programmes,” he said.  Until the Agency could resume monitoring and verification there, the Republic of Korea would work with partners in maintaining vigilance and coordinating a constructive response by the international community.

    Similarly, Japan’s representative said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programmes constituted an unprecedented, grave and imminent threat to international security.  The international community must never succumb to a nuclear threat by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea nor accept it as a nuclear‑armed State.

    The representative Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the Agency’s report was a “seriously distorted picture of the reality”.  The nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula was the product of the United States’ hostile policy and nuclear threat against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

    “If the IAEA truly wishes peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, it should take issue with the United States first,” he said.  Despite serious concerns of the international community, the United States continued to stage its aggressive joint military exercises with the aim of conducting a pre‑emptive nuclear attack against his country.  Pyongyang had opted to possess nuclear weapons to safeguard its sovereignty and would not put them on the negotiating table unless the United States’ nuclear threat against his country was eradicated.

    Delegates, including the representative of Brazil, also highlighted the benefits of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme.  Australia’s representative said it was “the best option”.

    Iran’s delegate said his country’s compliance with all obligations had been confirmed in numerous IAEA reports.  “Thus, any claim that Iran is not complying with its Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action commitments lacks relevance and credibility,” he stressed.  As a valid international instrument, the Plan of Action “neither can be renegotiated nor unilaterally annulled”.  Iran would remain fully committed to the Plan of Action “inasmuch as all other Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action participants also fully and timely fulfil their related commitments”.

    The representative of the European Union said the Agency had verified eight times that Iran was implementing all its commitments under that agreement.  The European Union and the wider international community had clearly indicated that the deal would remain in place, he said, calling on all parties to implement all its elements.

    Before adjourning the meeting, the Assembly postponed the appointment of members of the Committee on Conferences, which had been originally scheduled for Friday, 17 November, to a later date to be announced.

    Also speaking today were the representatives of Indonesia, Monaco, Belarus, Jamaica, Libya, Malaysia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Syria, Ukraine, Cuba, Algeria, Iraq, El Salvador, Paraguay, Argentina, Bangladesh, South Africa and the Philippines.

    The representatives of Lithuania, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Belarus, Republic of Korea and Japan spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

    The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 13 November, to take up sport for development and peace and other matters.

    Briefing by International Atomic Energy Agency Head

    YUKIYA AMANO, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that transferring peaceful nuclear technology to developing countries was the Agency’s core business and one of the most important aspects of its work.  The Agency’s technical cooperation programme, which was central to delivery of its “Atoms for Peace and Development” mandate, had improved the health and prosperity of millions of people and delivered huge benefits to entire communities.  “The Agency now helps countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in energy, food and agriculture, industry, water management and health,” he said.

    The modernization of IAEA nuclear applications laboratories near Vienna continued to produce excellent results, he noted, emphasizing that those eight laboratories provided assistance to more than 150 countries in areas such as food and agriculture and health.  The new Inspect Pest Control Laboratory aimed to help countries to use nuclear techniques to better control pests such as mosquitoes and fruit flies.  Turning to the kind of energy used worldwide, he said that by 2050, if climate change goals set under the Paris Agreement were to be met, approximately 80 per cent of electricity would need to be low-carbon.  Increased use of nuclear power, as well as renewables, would help countries to achieve their climate change goals.  On nuclear verification, he said that the number of States with Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements in force stood at 182 and encouraged all countries to implement the Additional Protocol.

    IAEA continued to verify and monitor implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he said, noting that Iran was complying.  “Iran is now subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime,” he added.  The Agency’s inspectors had expanded access to sites, and now had more information about Iran’s nuclear programme, which was smaller than it was before the action plan was established in 2015.  The Agency continued to verify the non-diversion of nuclear materials declared by Iran under its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements.  Evaluations regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran continued.

    Expressing serious concern about the nuclear programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said that the country’s nuclear tests in September, its sixth and largest to date, were “extremely regrettable”.  “I call upon Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to comply fully with its obligations under all relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the Agency,” he stressed. While IAEA inspectors were required to leave the country in 2009, the Agency continued to monitor the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear programme through satellite imagery and open-source information.  It was also working to maintain its readiness to return when political development made it possible.

    Underscoring the importance of safety and security in the use of nuclear technology, he said lessons from the Fukushima Daiichi accident in 2011 had now been incorporated into all IAEA nuclear safety requirements.  Safety must always come first and the safety culture must continue to be strengthened, he underscored, noting that the Agency’s Board of Governors adopted the Nuclear Security Plan 2018-2012 by consensus in September.  IAEA continued to expand its assistance to enable countries to minimize the risk of nuclear and other radioactive material being used in a malicious way.

    Sound management of limited resources was essential if the Agency was to meet the growing needs of Member States, he noted, emphasizing the importance of striking a balance between real needs and the reality that Member States faced financial constraints.  He also emphasized the need to take the issue of gender parity at the Agency very seriously.  “We have significantly increased the proportion of women in the Professional and higher categories,” he added, noting that it now stood at 29 per cent.  “But we can and must do better.”

    Introduction of Draft Resolution

    INA H. KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia), introducing the draft resolution titled, “Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency” (document A/72/L.6), said the Agency continued to play a vital role in fostering international cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and technology as well as nuclear safety and security.  Noting that it also provided technical assistance and necessary support to Member States in their pursuits in those areas, she urged the Agency’s Secretariat to pursue its work programme in a balanced manner to meet the needs of States and ensure that the benefits of nuclear science and technology for socioeconomic development were spread effectively.

    Noting that 13 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals related directly to IAEA areas of competence — including those concerning food, fuel, agriculture, nuclear technology, power generation and health — she went on to underline the Agency’s critical role in nuclear safety and security.  However, the responsibility for nuclear security within a State “rests entirely with that State”, and nuclear security should not be a condition or a prerequisite for technical cooperation projects.  The draft resolution before the Assembly today had been approved by consensus following consultations held in both Vienna and New York.  As in previous years, it took note of the resolutions and decisions adopted by the Agency’s General Conference.  It also appealed to Member States to continue their support for the Agency’s activities.

    Statements

    GUILLAUME DABOUIS, European Union, reiterated the bloc’s support for the full, complete and effective implementation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as the cornerstone of the international non-proliferation regime as well as the essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament.  Also expressing support for the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems in the Middle East, he underlined the Security Council’s primary responsibility in cases of non-compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the “Iran Nuclear Deal” and endorsed by the Council in its resolution 2231 (2015), represented a key and functioning pillar of the international non-proliferation architecture that was even more important in the context of current acute nuclear threats.  The Agency had verified eight times that Iran was implementing all its nuclear-related commitments under that agreement, he said, stressing that the European Union and the wider international community had clearly indicated that the deal would remain in place and calling on all parties to implement all its elements.

    Strongly condemning the latest nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, along with all its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile activities, he urged that country to reverse course, immediately cease those actions and abandon its nuclear weapons programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.  Underlining IAEA’s critical role in verifying Pyongyang’s nuclear programme, he also urged the Syrian regime to cooperate with the Agency promptly and transparently to resolve all outstanding issues.  Calling for the universalization of Comprehensive Safeguard Agreements together with their Additional Protocols, he said nuclear safety remained a key priority for the European Union.  Through the framework of its strategy against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the bloc was activity supporting relevant Security Council resolutions and other agreements including the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.  Voicing support for IAEA’s central role in the global nuclear security framework, he called on the Agency’s Member States to ensure reliable and sustainable resources for it work in preventing nuclear terrorism and the misuse of nuclear and radioactive material.

    ISABELLE F. PICCO (Monaco) commended the Agency for its contributions in helping countries implement the Sustainable Development Goals.  On the environment, she said that IAEA evaluations could help prevent land degradation and help restore soil.  Noting myriad programmes Monaco had implemented in collaborating with the Agency, she emphasized one focusing on the training of 400 scientists and another that helped improve food security by detecting and combating animal disease.  She further commended the Agency’s work in increasing access to clean, reliable and affordable energy.  Scientific research with the support of the Agency could lead to policies that combat climate change, she added.  Acidification of the oceans was another area where IAEA and Monaco had deployed joint efforts.  Moreover, the Agency’s environment laboratories in partnership with Monaco had continued to focus efforts on addressing ocean acidification.

    TATYANA FEDOROVICH (Belarus) said that the Agency had managed to achieve substantial progress in facilitating the safe use of nuclear technology, welcoming its efforts to continue to focus on developing that sector in a safe and secure manner.  “Belarus has also opted for nuclear energy,” she said, expressing support for the Agency’s work in nuclear security “from planning to decommissioning”.  She recalled that Belarus had suffered greatly from the Chernobyl disaster and would continue to work with IAEA in all relevant areas to improve safety and security standards.  She emphasized the Agency’s role in helping States to achieve sustainable development particularly in the areas of energy, medicine and agriculture.  With the Agency’s help, Belarus had been able to increase the effectiveness of nuclear training and make significant progress in medicine.

    DIEDRE MILLS (Jamaica), stressing the importance of the Agency’s work, said her country had benefitted from a range of technical and other assistance that had been instrumental in several key priority areas like education, health and research, including the programme of action for cancer therapy.  The Agency’s work in promoting peaceful uses of nuclear technology and applying a safeguards regime for verification, safety and security remained critical.  She encouraged States to accede to legally binding international conventions and commit to working towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  The adoption in July 2017 of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was a significant milestone achievement towards de-legitimizing nuclear weapons.

    ELMAHDI S. ELMAJERBI (Libya), voicing support for IAEA work in pursuing global nuclear disarmament as well as nuclear safety, recalled that his country had voluntarily given up its nuclear weapons programme in 2002 and acceded to the Agency’s safeguards.  Voicing concern about the continued use or threat of use of such weapons by some States — which continued to maintain or even update their nuclear stockpiles — he said the Agency’s role should not be limited to reviewing the peaceful uses of nuclear energy but should also help to verify the reduction and ultimate destruction of the nuclear arsenals of nuclear weapons States.  Indeed, the equitable application of the Non-Proliferation Treaty would mean total nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and a fair distribution of the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.  Strengthening the Agency’s safeguards regime should never adversely affect the technical cooperation and assistance provided to States, he stressed, voicing concern over the policy pursued by some States to impose restrictions on technology transfer and assistance to others, which constituted a violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Among other things, he also expressed support for Security Council resolutions calling for the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, which was still challenged by Israel’s refusal to adhere to the Non-Proliferation Treaty or to subject its nuclear facilities to the Agency’s inspections.

    DELFINA JANE DRIS (Malaysia) said that collaboration between her country and the Agency had been fruitful in several areas related to nuclear security and that her Government appreciated the Agency’s support in strengthening national detection capabilities in combating nuclear terrorism as demonstrated at the 2017 Southeast Asian Games held in Kuala Lumpur.  Malaysia enjoyed on-going cooperation with the Agency in radiation protection and safety, research reactor safety, radiological emergency response, environmental monitoring and radioactive waste management.  The Peaceful Uses Initiative was a very important vehicle to support the Agency’s activities related to the peaceful applications of science and technology, she said, adding that research and development played a critical role in realizing the long-term goals of nuclear science and technology for the collective benefit of Member States and the Agency.

    GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran) underscored the importance of the inalienable right of any State to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  That included the inherent right of each State to participate in the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials, and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  He emphasized that the primary responsibility of the Agency was to assist Member States in researching and practically applying nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  Iran stressed the need for IAEA to meet the expectations of developing countries.  As the authority responsible for the verification of the fulfilment of nuclear safeguards, the Agency must carry out its functions in full conformity with relevant legally-binding instruments, taking into account the concerns and interests of Member States.

    Iran remained determined to exercise its inalienable right to develop, research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, he stressed.  Iran’s compliance with all obligations under its Safeguards Agreement had been confirmed in numerous IAEA reports.  “Thus, any claim that Iran is not complying with its Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action commitments lacks relevance and credibility,” he stressed.  As a valid international instrument, the Plan of Action “neither can be renegotiated nor unilaterally annulled”.  Likewise, any unilateral claim to extend the duration of Iran’s voluntary confidence-building measures ran counter to the Plan and more importantly, was in clear contradiction with the inalienable rights of States under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  “Iran had been and will remain fully committed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action inasmuch as all other Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action participants also fully and timely fulfil their related commitments,” he said.

    HAHN CHOONGHEE (Republic of Korea) noted that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on 3 September had conducted its sixth nuclear test on the heels of two nuclear tests in 2016 and several ballistic missile launches, including two with intercontinental range, in clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.  His Government strongly condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s “reckless and irresponsible nuclear test”.  Far from revealing any signs that it was abandoning nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, the IAEA Director General’s report indicated troubling nuclear activities at the Yongbyon site and Pyongsan Mine and Concentration Plant.  “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s continuous negative response to the international community’s diplomatic efforts underlines the need to reiterate a strong and unified message that the path to peace, stability and prosperity hinges on its willingness to engage in meaningful dialogue and honour its denuclearization commitments,” he said.  It was essential that all Member States made clear to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that it would face serious consequences unless it faithfully implemented all relevant Security Council resolutions.

    “We call on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing programmes in a complete, verifiable and irrelevant manner, and to refrain from any further provocative and destabilizing acts,” he said.  The Republic of Korea appreciated recent efforts of IAEA to enhance its readiness to verify that country’s nuclear programme.  Until the Agency was able to resume monitoring and verification there, the Republic of Korea would work with partners in maintaining vigilance and coordinating a constructive response by the international community with a view to a peaceful resolution.  Noting that the Republic of Korea contributed to the IAEA Technical Cooperation Fund, he stressed the need for sufficient funding in order to maximize the contribution of the Agency’s technical cooperation programmes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

    GOH YAN KIM (Singapore), reaffirming full support for the IAEA Director General’s work, noted that his country joined the Agency 50 years ago shortly after gaining independence and had developed a strong partnership with it.  The country was now paying back the assistance from which it had benefitted in such areas as public health and radiation protection by providing technical assistance to fellow developing countries and serving on the Board of Governors, he said, describing other formal arrangements with the Agency and Singapore’s support to ASEAN regional initiatives.  Supporting IAEA’s central role in ensuring a strong and sustainable global nuclear safety and security framework, he welcomed the outcome of the International Conference on Nuclear Security and the most recent review meeting on the Convention of Nuclear Safety.  Affirming that cyberattacks on nuclear installations presented real risks, he supported the Agency’s work in developing guidelines and training programmes for cyber resiliency.  He looked forward to his country’s further strong relationship with IAEA in the years to come.

    SANDEEP KUMAR BAYYAPU (India) said nuclear power was an important energy source to meet increased demand and address volatile fuel prices and climate change concerns.  He took note of the Agency’s efforts on the role of nuclear power in meeting the “climate-energy challenge” and mitigating against greenhouse gas emissions.  Moreover, his delegation attached great importance to the Agency’s work in different fields of nuclear science.  In that connection, the Agency’s achievement in food and agriculture, human health, water resources management and the protection of the environment were helpful in meeting the needs of developing countries.  He went on to welcome the role of the Agency in nuclear security and encouraged all Member States that had not yet done so to ratify the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.

    WU HAITAO (China) voiced support for IAEA and the effective fulfilment of its mandates, including by strengthening nuclear safety and security and working towards global nuclear non-proliferation.  With the recent adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change, nuclear energy would play an increasingly important role in the generation of energy around the world.  However, the risks posed by nuclear proliferation remained severe, and nuclear security threats were increasing.  In that context, he said the Agency should focus on several critical areas, including enhancing the universality and fairness of its safeguard system based on the principles of impartiality, fairness and in consultation with Member States; establishing a weapons of mass destruction-free zone in the Middle East; promoting technical support and assistance to developing countries in support of their peaceful uses of nuclear energy; strengthening nuclear safety and security; following and assessing the handling of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station incident; and addressing regional hotspot issues.  Expressing support for the Agency’s work with regards to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he said it should also play its due role in monitoring the nuclear activities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

    SAOD RASHID AL MAZROUI (United Arab Emirates), spotlighting his country’s close work with IAEA in the area of nuclear safety and its compliance with the standards of nuclear safety and non-proliferation, also commended the Agency for its work in transferring technology and knowledge to support Member States’ development needs.  Those programmes helped contributed to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, promoted cooperation through the exchange of best practices and strategic partnerships and provided valuable support in the development of infrastructure and human resources for a safe and successful nuclear programme.

    NIKOLAY LOZINSKIY (Russian Federation) said that IAEA must increase efforts to develop nuclear energy around the world while also improving and strengthening the global non-proliferation regime.  Underscoring the importance of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he said the Agency was monitoring all aspects of that agreement’s implementation.  The Director General had earlier that morning mentioned that Iran was implementing all its nuclear commitments.  He welcomed the improvement of control mechanisms, including the adoption of Additional Protocols on safeguards, which must always remain objective and depoliticized.  The Russian Federation was active in IAEA, he said, noting that it was making financial contributions in myriad sectors and working to facilitate the development of nuclear energy in developing countries.  In the Russian Federation, an international uranium enrichment centre was open to all countries wishing to develop nuclear energy in a safe and secure manner.  He added that it was unacceptable to bring the non-proliferation agenda into issues of physical nuclear security.  The Russian Federation had signed relevant documents, he continued, encouraging States that had not yet done so to accede to relevant international instruments.

    ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil) commended the impartial and objective manner in which the Agency had been carrying out its verification duties in Iran in accordance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  He also recognized the Agency’s efforts in promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, a role for which it was uniquely positioned.  He expressed appreciation for the effective cooperation between the Agency and the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials, a unique and constructive partnership between multilateral and bilateral verification bodies.  Given its technical capabilities, impartiality and professionalism, he stressed that the Agency could play an important role in nuclear disarmament verification.  As such, he regretted the IAEA Director General’s decision not to send a representative to the negotiating conference of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

    FERNANDO LUQUE MÁRQUEZ (Ecuador) said that nuclear energy — properly used and with the necessary security measures — could be a way to increase great progress and well‑being for the benefit of humanity.  IAEA had provided Ecuador with invaluable support as well as critical supplies and equipment following the country’s 2016 earthquake.  At the regional level, he noted Ecuador’s participation in dozens of relevant projects.  For its part, Ecuador has recently signed a national programme framework on technology and technical cooperation, outlining the country’s needs and priorities.  Seriously concerned about the recent testing of nuclear weapons, he expressed support for the three pillars of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty without discrimination or double standards.  Most States had reiterated their deep concern about the humanitarian consequences of any nuclear accident or intentional detonation.  “Any use of nuclear weapons would be a crime against humanity,” he underscored, noting that the Non‑Proliferation Treaty had established the legal basis to eliminate such weapons.  He also commended the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as a clear example of what could happen through diplomacy and dialogue.

    BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria) said that, once again, the world faced a dangerous difficult situation emanating from the threats posed by Israel’s nuclear arsenal.  Meanwhile, other nuclear weapons States were also increasing their threats.  Emphasizing that global nuclear non-proliferation was a key priority for Syria, he recalled that it had acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty early on, long before many of the European Union States that now claimed to be on the vanguard of the global non-proliferation regime.  Many of those nations, along with Turkey, kept nuclear weapons on their territories in violation of the Treaty.  Syria, meanwhile, had long had IAEA safeguard agreements in place.  As a non-permanent member of the Security Council, Syria had also drafted a resolution mandating the establishment of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East, but that text was never taken up as the United States had threatened to veto it.  Such actions revealed the lies behind the claims of Western countries, he said, adding that they had for decades provided Israel with the materials needed to develop nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

    For its part, he said, Israel had spared no effort to attempt to divert attention from its nuclear arsenal.  Recalling Israel’s attack on the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor in 2007, he said Israel continued to refuse to allow IAEA inspectors to visit its nuclear facilities.  Such actions damaged the credibility of the global non-proliferation regime, undermining peace in the region, he stressed, pointing out that IAEA had been aware of those events but failed to cover them in its report.  Quoting from a memoire titled “The Age of Deception” — written by former IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei — he said the book demonstrated Western countries’ “nuclear hypocrisy” and raised questions about the information the Agency had received from them.  Among other things, it discussed the United States dossier on Iraq’s nuclear programme, which had served as a false pretext for the former’s 2003 invasion of the latter.  In addition, a book recently published by the Stockholm Institute contained an entire chapter on Israel’s nuclear forces, while no such chapter existed on Syria’s nuclear programme.  In light of such sources, he called on IAEA to immediately address Israel’s nuclear weapons programme.

    KORO BESSHO (Japan), recalling that his country had contributed more than $28 million to the Agency’s Peaceful Uses Initiative, pledged to seek ways to further utilize national relevant expertise.  Japan’s efforts included working to enhance nuclear safety, drawing on lessons learned from the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station incident and reforming its regulatory structures.  Turning to concerns about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent activities, he said its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programme constituted an unprecedented, grave and imminent threat to international security and the global non‑proliferation regime, and operated in flagrant violation of Security Council resolutions and other multilateral commitments.  “The international community should never succumb to a nuclear threat of North Korea and accept a nuclear‑armed North Korea,” he said, voicing support for IAEA efforts to resume inspections in that country.  The international community must also remain united in its full implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions in order to maximize pressure on Pyongyang.

    VOLODYMYR LESCHENKO (Ukraine), associating himself with the European Union, said the 2016 annual report provided a comprehensive and well‑balanced analysis of major achievements of the Agency’s work and its main priorities in promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  Drawing attention to the legal framework for IAEA safeguards agreement application in Ukraine, including in Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, he said it was based on the comprehensive safeguards agreement and additional protocol, which was in compliance with relevant Assembly resolutions.  The 2016 annual report reaffirmed the vital role the Agency played in meeting today’s challenges.

    ILEIDIS VALIENTE DÍAZ (Cuba), commending the work of IAEA, stressed the need to use nuclear energy to improve living conditions, promote sustainable development and protect the environment.  IAEA had an important role to play in achieving sustainable development and in implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change.  Technical cooperation remained particularly essential for Cuba, she added, recognizing the importance of applying nuclear technology in human health, food security and agriculture, and the environment.  She reaffirmed Cuba’s commitment to ensuring that all countries could use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  She also emphasized the importance of nuclear physical security, adding that the establishment of relevant measures to strengthen and secure their safety was the responsibility of each State.  She also welcomed the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as a clear example that dialogue was the best way to solve international disputes.

    JA SONG NAM (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said the report of the Agency presented a “seriously distorted picture of the reality” regarding the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.  The nuclear issue was the product of the United States hostile policy and nuclear threat toward the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Had it not been for the hostile policy enforced by the United States for more than 70 years against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea since the first day of that country’s founding in 1948, the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula would not exist.  For the Korean people who had experienced war imposed on them by the United States, “the powerful war deterrence for national defence was an inevitable strategic option” and would never be bartered for anything.

    He recalled that IAEA, at the instigation of the United States, had brought up suspicions regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s peaceful nuclear facilities in the 1990s.  That had compelled Pyongyang to leave the Agency and withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  “If the IAEA truly wishes peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, it should take issue with the United States first, which is the nuclear war criminal and ringleader of the nuclear threat,” he said.  The Korean Peninsula was now on the brink of nuclear war because of the hostile policies of the United States.  Despite serious concerns of the international community, the United States continued to stage its aggressive joint military exercises with the aim of conducting a pre-emptive nuclear attack against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  He said his country had opted to possess nuclear weapons to safeguard its sovereignty and it would not put them or the ballistic missiles on the negotiating table unless the United States’ nuclear threat against his country was eradicated first.

    MOHAMMED BESSEDIK (Algeria), underscoring the importance of the IAEA Technical Cooperation Programme and welcoming its convening of a meeting in Vienna in 2017, expressed hope that meeting would be organized again at the ministerial level.  Noting that Algeria regularly contributed to the Agency’s regular budget, he called for the allocation of sufficient and predictable resources to the Agency’s efforts to support countries in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.  Algeria was integrating and using nuclear techniques in the field of health, especially to combat cancer, and with the help of IAEA it had improved its training facilities and the maintenance of its nuclear equipment.  Voicing support for bolstered cooperation among African States in the areas of nuclear technology and training, he said nuclear safety and security were of paramount importance and underlined IAEA’s critical role in assisting States to develop national frameworks in those areas.  Nevertheless, issues of security and safety must not be used as a condition to restrict the provision of technical cooperation or assistance to States.  Calling for universalization of international instruments on nuclear safety, he expressed support for the establishment of nuclear-weapons-free-zones around the world, and voiced concern over continued impediments to the creation of such a zone in the Middle East.  States had been calling for such a zone since 1995, but no progress had been made, he said.

    MOHAMMED SAHIB MEJID MARZOOQ (Iraq) said his country had recently undertaken many positive steps in the field of nuclear energy despite its many challenges in combating Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) forces.  Among other things, it was currently developing the institutions necessary to safeguard sites previously under the control of terrorist groups, some of which still contained radioactive waste.  Iraq had also ratified the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.  Underlining the importance of the Agency’s work in providing assistance to developing countries in the field of nuclear technology, and of establishing the Middle East as a zone free of nuclear weapons, he recalled that the United Nations had a “cardinal role” to play in that regard.  The dismantling of Israel’s nuclear arsenal and its accession to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapons State were critical, he stressed, adding that the pursuit of peaceful nuclear programmes by all countries was an inalienable right and remained crucial for the pursuit of sustainable development.  Those rights must therefore not be impeded by the imposition of conditions by other States.

    HECTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador) said that today’s draft resolution and the report of IAEA reaffirmed the Agency’s indispensable role.  He called on Member States to continue to support the Agency and welcome decisions adopted at its annual sessions.  Nuclear energy must be used for peaceful purposes.  In that context, it was crucial to avoid the proliferation of nuclear weapons and focus nuclear energy efforts towards sustainably developing agriculture, health, and other essential sectors.  He urged Member States to pool their efforts with IAEA to use nuclear energy to improve the quality of health, ensure food security and reduce and prevent climate change.  Commending IAEA for helping El Salvador strengthen several national sectors, he noted that his country had recently established a national framework plan to align the Agency’s work with its national priorities.

    ENRIQUE JOSÉ MARÍA CARRILLO GÓMEZ (Paraguay) said the development of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy must be conducted in a transparent manner with IAEA supervision, and called on States to comply with international best practices.  Paraguay’s National Commission for Atomic Energy was researching approaches to peacefully using nuclear energy to help to improve the lives of its citizens.  Reiterating concerns over efforts by some States to improve nuclear weapons and develop new ones, he fully rejected the testing of such weapons.  Highlighting the importance of technical assistance and cooperation provided by the Agency to developing countries, he thanked IAEA for helping to improve nuclear medicine in Paraguay.

    GABRIELA MARTINIC (Argentina), describing her country’s decades‑old nuclear sector that had been backed up by a consistent State policy and international safeguards, said that while IAEA safeguards were essential, they must not impede States from obtaining nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  The Quadripartite Safeguards Agreement between Argentina, Brazil, the Brazilian‑Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials and IAEA had, since 1991, guided the application of nuclear safeguards and had helped to consolidate the Latin American and Caribbean region as a zone free of such arms.  With regard to physical nuclear security architecture, she welcomed the Agency’s 2016 International Conference on Nuclear Security and upcoming conference on physical nuclear installations and materials.  The Agency must continue to act as a main coordinator for global efforts to help to consolidate efforts involving safety, security and counter‑terrorism strategies.  States should also work to harmonize both binding and non‑binding measures, she said, adding that Argentina had become the first country to commit to designing, locating and building all its new nuclear plants in line with article 1 of the Convention on Nuclear Safety.

    FAIYAZ MURSHID KAZI (Bangladesh) expressed full confidence in the Agency’s guiding role in coordinating international efforts to strengthen global nuclear security.  Noting that security considerations must not hamper the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, he said the Agency’s work maintained and improved emergency preparedness and response mechanisms worldwide.  Welcoming IAEA activities to improve nuclear infrastructure development, he underscored the importance of building regulatory and management functions to improve the safety of such projects.  Nuclear energy was safe, environmentally friendly and an economical source of electricity, he said.  IAEA was his country’s main partner for the promotion of safe and secure applications of nuclear science and technology for peaceful purposes, he said, adding that Bangladesh was actively engaging with the Agency’s technical cooperation programme and regional cooperation agreements.

    MARTIN ERIC SIPHO NGUNDZE (South Africa) said IAEA had a pivotal role to play in global efforts to promote international peace, security and development.  The Agency’s nuclear applications in areas like agriculture, food security, human health, water resource management, nuclear technology and animal health had contributed to socioeconomic progress in developing countries, assisting them in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  South Africa had immensely benefitted from the Agency’s scientific and technological support, especially in strengthening the clinical management of oncological, neurological and cardiovascular diseases.  He also underscored the central role IAEA played in implementing its safeguards verification system, which was essential in verifying nuclear energy programmes.

    DARREN HANSEN (Australia), commending IAEA for its efforts to champion gender equality, provided a snapshot of his country’s efforts.  Australia had ratified the new Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training in Nuclear Science and Technology for the Asia and Pacific Region, constructed a molybdenum processing plant that would help to secure the global supply of life‑saving nuclear medicine, and had planned an integrated regulatory review service mission for 2018.  Australia would also continue to assist States to enhance nuclear security.  Regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Australia would not accept illegal development and testing of nuclear weapons, he said, urging the international community to fully implement related Security Council resolutions.  In addition, he expressed support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which remained the “best available option” to address Iran’s nuclear programme.

    ARIEL R. PEÑARANDA (Philippines), recalling that IAEA was the sole United Nations body promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, commended the Agency’s Atoms for Peace and Development initiative.  The Philippines strongly supported the Agency’s efforts related to gender equality and balanced geographic representations at all levels, and encouraged it to maintain the balance between the promotional and non‑promotional aspects of its work.  The relevance of IAEA had become all the more pronounced given the increased importance of dealing with nuclear non‑proliferation and disarmament issues from a technical and scientific perspective.

    Action

    The Assembly then adopted draft resolution A/72/L.6 without a vote.

    Right of Reply

    The representative of Lithuania, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said each country had the right to develop nuclear power as long as all international safety regulations were met.  Newcomer countries must be especially diligent in that regard, she said, warning that manipulative, declarative and selective approaches still existed.  Expressing concern about the new nuclear power plant in Ostrovets, Belarus, near the Lithuanian border, she said the facility was being created without regulation, transparency or consultation with neighbouring countries, and IAEA specialized missions could bring important benefits if they were involved in all stages of such projects.

    The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected reckless statements that had been made by the delegations of the European Union, Australia, Japan, Republic of Korea and the Philippines as part of a politicized plot aimed at defaming his country.  Parties on the Korean Peninsula had agreed to an armistice and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had long urged the United States to sign a peace agreement to no avail.  “The nuclear weapons in [the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] are a war deterrent,” he said, noting that they had contributed to maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula following more than half a century of nuclear blackmail and hostile policies by the United States.  Noting that the United States armed forces remained stationed on the Korean Peninsula while the head of its regime travelled across Asia making reckless, hostile, warlike remarks, he said if that country truly wished to fulfil its responsibilities, it should dismantle its command in the Republic of Korea and fully withdraw its troops.  He reminded Japan’s delegate that Japan had been the victim of the only nuclear attack in human history and that it should address the threats posed by the United States — the world’s largest nuclear war criminal.  In addition, he emphasized that his country’s proper name was “the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” and not “North Korea”, as Japan’s representative had mistakenly stated.  To the delegate of the Republic of Korea, he said that country was a colony of the United States.  Emphasizing that such a country could never be considered a sovereign State, he called on Seoul to abandon its reliance on foreign Powers.

    The representative of the Russian Federation regretted ongoing speculation regarding infrastructure in Crimea and reiterated that his country’s position on the matter was well known.

    The representative of Belarus said nuclear safety was a priority and her country was cooperating with relevant international mechanisms.  IAEA had assessed its energy infrastructure and concluded that Belarus was committed to the highest possible level of nuclear security.  Claims alleging poor security measures were politically motivated and unjustified, she added, expressing interest in fostering cooperation with all interested parties, including Lithuania.

    The representative of the Republic of Korea, deeply regretting to note the “groundless statements” of his counterpart from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said her country would take all measures to protect its people.  Distorting facts would not change the nature of Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.

    The representative of Japan said the missile development programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was in clear violation of Security Council resolutions.  Pyongyang must refrain from provocations and comply with relevant resolutions.

    The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said Japan was unqualified to discuss issues of nuclear concern, and Tokyo had yet to apologize and provide compensation for its past war crimes.  Japan had forced 200,000 Korean women and girls into sex slavery and committed genocide against the Korean people, with over 1 million killed.  He urged the Republic of Korea to learn from history, adding that nuclear deterrence was guaranteeing the prosperity of the Korean people.

    The representative of Japan said mentioning history was inappropriate at a meeting focused on issues related to the Agency.  Japan had always upheld the principles of the United Nations Charter and championed freedom, democracy and the rule of law.  He again urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to comply with relevant Council resolutions.

    The representative of the Republic of Korea said Seoul remained open to talks with Pyongyang and stressed it was the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that refused to engage in dialogue.  She urged Pyongyang to do so with a view to promoting the prosperity of all Koreans.

    Read more
  • Seoul slaps fresh sanctions on Pyongyang, blacklisting 18 North Korean bankers

    NNA – South Korea on Monday announced a fresh set of unilateral sanctions against Pyongyang, a day before U.S. President Donald Trump arrives in Seoul on an Asian tour dominated by the North’s nuclear program.

    A total of 18 North Korean bankers stationed in China, Russia and Libya with suspected links to the regime’s weapons programs have been blacklisted, a statement posted on the South’s government website showed.

    “Those individuals have worked overseas, representing North Korean banks and getting involved in supplying money needed to develop weapons of mass destruction,” an official at Seoul’s foreign ministry said, according to Yonhap news agency.

    All 18 have already been sanctioned by the U.S., and the announcement came a day before Trump — who has accused South Korean President Moon Jae-In of “appeasement” was due to arrive in Seoul.

    The latest move bars South Korean individuals and entities from transacting with those on the list. It will be largely symbolic given a lack of inter-Korean economic ties, but is likely to draw an angry response from Pyongyang.

    It also follows a new round of sanctions adopted by the U.N. Security Council in September following the North’s sixth nuclear test and a flurry of missile launches in recent months.

    Last year, South Korea unilaterally closed operations at the jointly-run Kaesong Industrial Complex saying the cash from the factory zone was being funneled to the North’s weapons program.

    The Kaesong Industrial Complex was the last remaining form of North-South economic cooperation, as Seoul banned nearly all business with the North in 2010 after blaming Pyongyang for the sinking of one of its naval corvettes.–AFP

    =================R.H.

    Follow the latest National News Agency (NNA) news on Radio Lebanon 98.5, 98.1, and 96.2 FM

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  • Closing Session, First Committee Approves Draft on Chemical Weapons Convention, Sending Total of 58 Texts to General Assembly

    Sending a total of 58 draft resolutions and decisions to the General Assembly, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today concluded its seventy‑second session with the approval of a draft on the implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and of Their Destruction.

    First Committee Chair Mouayed Saleh (Iraq) said a number of critical challenges had presented themselves during the session.  Grave concerns had been raised about a range of concerns, especially those related to nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

    Indeed, progress and failures in the field of disarmament had been clearly reflected during the thematic debates and the Committee’s action on drafts, including 30 approved by recorded vote, he said in closing remarks.  Despite differences on the right approach to take, Member States had made clear their commitment to nuclear disarmament and to overcoming obstacles with a view to finding common ground toward the shared objective — a nuclear‑weapon‑free world.

    Divergent views were expressed today, as the Committee approved the draft resolution “Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction” (document A/C.1/72/L.26), by a recorded vote of 150 in favour to 6 against (China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Russian Federation, Syria, Zimbabwe), with 12 abstentions.

    By the terms of the draft, the General Assembly would, among other things, reaffirm its condemnation of the use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances, and express its strong conviction that those individuals responsible for their use must and should be held accountable.

    Yet, prior to approving the text as a whole, it held separate recorded votes on whether or not to retain several operative paragraphs.

    By a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 9 against (Belarus, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe), with 27 abstentions, the Committee approved the retention of operative paragraph 15.  By that paragraph, the Assembly would express grave concern that the OPCW Technical Secretariat was not able to resolve all identified gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies in Syria’s declaration and, therefore, could not fully verify that Syria had submitted a declaration that could be considered accurate and complete.

    By a vote of 122 in favour to 11 against, with 24 abstentions, the Committee decided to retain operative paragraph 2.  That provision would have the Assembly condemn in the strongest possible terms the use of chemical weapons in Syria, as reported by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)‑United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism.  Among the findings cited in that paragraph, the Joint Investigative Mechanism’s 26 October 2017 report had concluded that there was sufficient information to be confident that Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Daesh) had been responsible for the use of sulfur mustard at Umm Hawsh, on 15 and 16 September 2016, and that Syria had been responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Shaykhun, on 4 April 2017.

    Expressing scepticism of the report’s findings, the representative of the Russian Federation, explaining his country’s position on “L.26/Rev.1”, said evidence the Joint Investigative Mechanism had provided had distorted facts, had been gathered with incredible speed and was impartial.

    Several representatives, including those of Algeria and Viet Nam, expressed regret that “L.26/Rev.1” had not recognized the progress made by Syria, which faced a difficult security landscape in destroying its chemical weapon stockpile and cooperating with OPCW initiatives.

    Agreeing, Syria’s delegate said his country adhered to the Chemical Weapons Convention, supported OPCW efforts and had always cooperated sincerely with the Joint Investigative Mechanism.  The politicization and bias of “L.26/Rev.1” did not reflect reality, he stressed.

    As the sponsor of the draft resolution, Poland’s representative said that given the current situation, the comprehensive implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention was needed now more than ever before.  Despite the Convention’s provisions, chemical weapons were still being used, and efforts to address it should not stop.  Changes included in “L.26/Rev.1” reflected that approach.

    The representative of the United States said the draft resolution accurately reflected the goals of the Chemical Weapons Convention and supported the extraordinary work done in Syria by OPCW and the Joint Investigative Mechanism.  The international community must continue to condemn the use of chemical weapons by any actor; anything less would be utterly irresponsible, he said.

    Some delegates regretted the addition or absence of incidents involving the alleged use of chemical weapons.

    The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had proposed to remove language referring to an attack in Malaysia on one of its citizens.  It was illegal and contrary to the Charter of the United Nations to include in “L.26/Rev.1” the “Malaysian case”, which was unrelated to the draft, he said, insisting on deleting any mention of the case in operative paragraph 3.

    That paragraph would have the Assembly reiterate the grave concern expressed by the OPCW Executive Council in its decision EC-84/DEC.8 of 9 March 2017 that, according to statements by the Government of Malaysia, a chemical weapon — the Schedule 1 nerve agent VX — was used in a fatal incident on 13 February 2017 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

    By a recorded vote of 116 against to 5 in favour (Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Syria, Vanuatu), with 23 abstentions, the Committee rejected the proposed amendment to operative paragraph 3.

    China’s representative referred to abandoned chemical weapons Japan had placed in his country, noting that they remained a grave threat to the Chinese people and environment.  Even though the situation should be afforded more attention by the intentional community, China had proposed to include that issue in “L.26/Rev.1” to no avail.

    The Committee also approved its draft provisional programme of work and timetable for 2018 (document A/C.1/72/CRP.6).

    Speaking in explanation of vote were representatives of Iran, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Montenegro, Egypt, France, Ecuador, Bangladesh, Lebanon, India, Venezuela, Japan, Israel and Nigeria.

    Delivering closing statements were representatives of Nigeria (for the African Group), Mexico, China, Mauritania (for the Arab Group), Indonesia (for the Non‑Aligned Movement), Venezuela and Cuba.

    Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Poland, United States, United Kingdom, Syria and Turkey.

    Background

    The First Committee met this afternoon to take action on all draft resolutions and decisions before it.  For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3571 of 2 October.

    Action on Draft Texts

    The Committee considered the issue of other weapons of mass destruction.

    The representative of Poland, making a general statement, said his country was a sole sponsor presenting the draft resolution “Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction” (document A/C.1/72/L.26/Rev.1).  Having gained unanimous support in past sessions, the draft resolution had regrettably lost its consensual character in 2016.  However, given the current situation, the comprehensive implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention was needed more than ever before.  “L.26/Rev.1” accurately reflected the current status of implementation by States.  Chemical weapons were still being used despite the Chemical Weapons Convention’s provisions.  The situation was dynamic and efforts to address it should not stop.  The amendments introduced in the revised version reflected that approach and considered updated language stemming from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) fact-finding mission in Syria.  Asking the First Committee to consider “L.26/Rev.1” in its entirety, he said the revised draft resolution was the result of an open, transparent and meaningful process.

    The representative of Syria said his country had fulfilled the obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and had made unprecedented achievements by terminating its chemical weapons programme.  Rejecting the false accusations and allegations of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian armed forces, he emphasized that Syria did not possess such weapons.  Terrorist groups were still using chemical weapons and Syria had provided detailed information on that, including a message requesting that the OPCW‑United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism send a fact-finding mission to Khan Shaykhun.

    The representative of Iran said his country had been a victim of the frequent use of chemical weapons and still suffered from the related consequences.  Iran had not retaliated after those attacks and had supported the Convention by signing it and ratifying it.  Attaching paramount importance to the Convention and its implementation, he welcomed the Russian Federation’s achievement of fully eliminating its chemical weapons arsenal and urged all non-States parties and Israel to join the instrument.  The original goal of “L.26/Rev.1” was to promote the Convention’s implementation, however, in recent years, technical issues had been politicized, making its approval by consensus impossible.  He called for an end of that politicization and for “L.26/Rev.1” to be approved unanimously.

    The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said operative paragraph 3 of “L.26/Rev.1” mentioned the “Malaysian case”, which was an example of putting political pressure on his country.  It was illegal and contrary to the Charter of the United Nations to include the “Malaysian case”, which was unrelated to “L.26/Rev.1”, he said, insisting on deleting any mention of the case in operative paragraph 3.

    The representative of the Russian Federation said “L.26/Rev.1” had undergone significant changes for the worst, becoming a document that undermined the Chemical Weapons Convention and had led to an unnecessary confrontation.  In addition, “L.26/Rev.1” had moved to the “backburner” the universality of the Convention and the complete elimination of chemical weapons in his country, the latter being the most important event of 2017.  It was unfortunate that the authors of the draft did not have any kind words for the Russian Federation or for the State partners that had offered their assistance.  Operative paragraph 10 was put together as through the main achievement was simply the OPCW announcement of the elimination of his country’s stockpile.  Further, operative paragraph 11 welcomed the progress on the destruction of category 2 chemical weapons in Libya.  Those two events were incompatible in importance.  The draft resolution also attempted to discredit the confirmed positive results of Syria’s chemical weapon demilitarization activities.  The Government of Syria, under difficult circumstances, had eliminated its entire military chemical weapon capacity, he said, adding that no State had ever accomplished such an achievement under such circumstances and under such a tight time frame.  The Joint Investigative Mechanism had not done anything to investigate the real circumstances of what had taken place in Khan Shaykhun.  His delegation would reject attempts to mislead the international community through a remote investigation based on the manipulation of facts.  Those in favour of “L.26/Rev.1” would become accomplices in enshrining a flawed practice in international relations.  The Russian Federation would vote against “L.26/Rev.1”, as it undermined the Chemical Weapons Convention and the very basis of intergovernmental cooperation in disarmament and arms control.

    The representative of the United States, speaking on behalf of several countries, said he was amazed at the lengths to which the Russian Federation would go to defend the regime in Damascus.  His delegation would vote in favour of “L.26/Rev.1”, as it accurately reflected the goals of the Chemical Weapons Convention and supported the extraordinary work done in Syria by OPCW and the Joint Investigative Mechanism.  Underscoring the need to hold accountable those responsible for the use of chemical weapons, he said the use of such arms was a threat to everyone everywhere.  The Joint Investigative Mechanism had released a report that had confirmed the use of sarin by the Syrian Government in April 2017 in Khan Shaykhun and the international community must hold Syria accountable.  He also condemned the use of chemical weapons by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and non-State actors.  He expressed support for the extension of the Joint Investigative Mechanism to investigate further cases.  Recent events had made it clear that the international community must maintain the integrity of the Chemical Weapons Convention and of related international norms and laws.  It must also continue to condemn in the strongest terms the use of chemical weapons by any actor; anything less would be utterly irresponsible.

    The representative of Cuba said her delegation fully supported the Chemical Weapons Convention and had complied with all its provisions.  However, Cuba would be unable to support “L.26/Rev.1” because on the Convention’s twentieth anniversary, her delegation had made an appeal to approve by consensus the draft resolution to send a signal of unity to the international community.  During consultations, Cuba’s proposals to restore the balance of “L.26/Rev.1” had not been considered.  The draft resolution lacked balance, had been politicized and failed to reflect the work accomplished during the past year within the Convention’s framework.  As such, Cuba would vote against operative paragraph 2 and abstain on preambular paragraph 4, operative paragraph 15 and the draft as a whole.  On operative paragraph 2, she emphasized that the First Committee was not mandated to take action on a report that had been submitted to the Security Council.  That issue must be resolved without being politicized and within the OPCW framework.

    The representative of Saudi Arabia said “L.26/Rev.1” included the exceptional work done by the Joint Investigative Mechanism and the OPCW fact-finding mission and reaffirmed the importance of holding accountable those responsible for the use of chemical weapons.  Concerned by reports of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, he emphasized the importance of taking a strict position against those responsible for their use.

    The representative of Syria said some delegations, such as the United States, had disregarded accomplishments, resorting to duplicity by highlighting matters unrelated to “L.26/Rev.1”.  While those same countries had expressed an interest in a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, all studies indicated that Israel was the only possessor of such weapons in the region.  The United States and other countries should insist that Israel complied with international obligations.  Further, Israel had used biological and chemical weapons against the people of the region.  Syria adhered to the Chemical Weapons Convention and supported the draft resolution calling to make the Middle East a zone free of weapons of mass destruction.  Syria also supported OPCW efforts and had always cooperated sincerely with the Joint Investigative Mechanism.  The politicization and bias of “L.26/Rev.1” did not reflect reality, especially language used in preambular paragraph 4 and operative paragraph 15.  As such, his delegation would vote against those paragraphs and against “L.26/Rev.1” as a whole.

    The representative of Malaysia said the main sponsor had provided opportunities to engage in discussions on “L.26/Rev.1”.  The current formulation of operative paragraph 3 included input from OPCW and a factual reference of the Government of Malaysia’s statement on the use of nerve agent VX.  Endorsing “L.26/Rev.1”, Malaysia also supported the retention of that paragraph.

    The representative of Iran said his delegation would vote against “L.26/Rev.1” because it had been politicized, serving the short-term interests of certain States.  In referring to contentious and politicized issues, the draft resolution shifted attention from the Chemical Weapons Convention real objective.  In addition, “L.26/Rev.1” deliberately ignored the accession of Syria to the Convention and provided in a misleading manner inaccurate and biased information on the use of chemical weapons in that country.  Noting that OPCW inspectors had not taken samples, he said the Joint Investigative Mechanism’s conclusion was based on speculations, assumptions and remote assessments, instead of relying on scientific information.  Thus, the Joint Investigative Mechanism lacked reliability and its conclusions and related report had no credibility.

    The representative of Montenegro associated her delegation with the statement made by the United States, on behalf of several countries.

    The Committee then took up the draft resolution “Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction” (document A/C.1/72/L.26/Rev.1).  By the text, the Assembly would reaffirm its condemnation in the strongest possible terms of the use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances and expressing its strong conviction that those individuals responsible for the use of chemical weapons must and should be held accountable.

    Prior to approving that text as a whole, the Committee held a separate recorded vote on an oral amendment to operative paragraph 3 proposed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, followed by recorded votes to retain preambular paragraph 4 and operative paragraphs 2 and 15.

    By a recorded vote of 116 against to 5 in favour (Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Syria, Vanuatu), with 23 abstentions, the Committee rejected the proposed amendment to operative paragraph 3.

    That paragraph would have the Assembly reiterate the grave concern expressed by the OPCW Executive Council in its decision EC-84/DEC.8 of 9 March 2017 that, according to statements by the Government of Malaysia, a chemical weapon — the Schedule 1 nerve agent VX — was used in a fatal incident on 13 February 2017 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

    By a recorded vote of 134 in favour to 7 against (Belarus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syria, Zimbabwe), with 19 abstentions, the Committee approved the retention of preambular paragraph 4.

    That paragraph would have the Assembly re-emphasize its unequivocal support for the decision of the OPCW Director‑General to continue the mission to establish the facts surrounding allegations of the use of chemical weapons for hostile purposes in Syria.

    By a recorded vote of 122 in favour to 11 against, with 24 abstentions, the Committee approved the retention of operative paragraph 2.

    That paragraph would have the Assembly condemn in the strongest possible terms the use of chemical weapons as reported by the Joint Investigative Mechanism in:  reports of 24 August 2016 and 21 October 2016, which had concluded that there was sufficient information to determine that the Syrian Arab Armed Forces were responsible for the attacks which released toxic substances in Talmenes, on 21 April 2014, and in Sarmin and Qmenas, on 16 March 2015, and that ISIL had used sulfur mustard in Marea, on 21 August 2015; and the report of 26 October 2017, which had concluded that there was sufficient information to be confident that ISIL was responsible for the use of sulfur mustard at Umm Hawsh, on 15 and 16 September 2016, and that Syria was responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Shaykhun, on 4 April 2017.

    Also by operative paragraph 2, the Assembly would demand that the perpetrators immediately desist from any further use of chemical weapons.

    By a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 9 against (Belarus, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe), with 27 abstentions, the Committee approved the retention of operative paragraph 15.

    By that paragraph, the Assembly would express grave concern that the OPCW Technical Secretariat was not able to resolve all identified gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies in Syria’s declaration and, therefore, could not fully verify that Syria had submitted a declaration that could be considered accurate and complete.  The Assembly would also underscore the importance of such full verification.

    The Committee then approved the draft, as a whole, by a recorded vote of 150 in favour to 6 against (China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Russian Federation, Syria, Zimbabwe), with 12 abstentions.

    The representative of Egypt, explaining his position, said his delegation had participated in negotiations leading up to the adoption of the Chemical Weapons Convention and supported its objectives.  To reiterate its firm position against chemical weapons use, Egypt continued to vote in favour of the related draft resolution.

    The representative of France, associating himself with the United States, said chemical weapons were being used in Syria and the Joint Investigative Mechanism had concluded that the Syrian armed forces were responsible.  The members of the fact-finding mission and Joint Investigative Mechanism had proven their worth, he said, emphasizing that France would not accept the deconstruction of the non-proliferation regime.  Priority should be given to the full dismantling of the Syrian chemical weapons programme.  In that context, he called on States to build the necessary consensus before the Joint Investigative Mechanism’s mandate ended.

    The representative of Ecuador, noting that his country was a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention and did not possess any such arms, condemned their use.  Ecuador had voted in favour of “L.26/Rev.1”, as a whole, but had abstained on preambular paragraph 4 and operative paragraph 15 because their inclusion had politicized the draft resolution, preventing the First Committee from reaching a consensus.  Incorporating contentious paragraphs that were accepted by some States weakened the Chemical Weapons Convention.

    The representative of Bangladesh said that as a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, his delegation was concerned about the alleged use of chemical weapons in Malaysia and Syria.  Having voted in favour of retaining operative paragraph 2 and preambular paragraph 4 of “L.26/Rev.1”, Bangladesh believed the information was factual.  However, his delegation had abstained on operative paragraph 15, as the text did not consider progress Syria had made in eliminating its stockpile.  He encouraged collaboration to resolve outstanding issues.

    The representative of Lebanon said her delegation was fully committed to the objectives and principles of the Chemical Weapons Convention, to which it was a party.  The use of such weapons was a blatant violation of international law. However, her delegation had abstained on operative paragraph 2, in keeping with the Government of Lebanon’s policy on the Syria crisis and despite its appreciation for the work of OPCW and the firm belief in the need for cooperation to rid the world of such weapons.

    The representative of China, reaffirming the significance of the Chemical Weapons Convention, said that in Syria, his delegation supported the OPCW in conducting an impartial investigation.  However, there were still differences over the use of chemical weapons in Syria.  Operative paragraphs 2 and 15 had not taken into consideration proposals made by China and other countries.  The lack of objectivity in “L.26/Rev.1” was not conducive to finding solutions on chemical weapons.  On the issue of abandoned chemical weapons Japan had placed in China, such weapons remained a grave threat to the Chinese people and environment and the situation should be afforded more attention by the intentional community.  China had proposed to include that issue in “L.26/Rev.1” to no avail.  For those reasons, China had voted against the draft resolution, as a whole, and operative paragraphs 2 and 15.  The draft’s sponsors should pay more attention to concerns in the interest of maintaining unity among State parties to the Convention.

    The representative of India, having voted in favour of “L.26/Rev.1”, expressed regret that consensus had not been possible.  Particularly concerned about reports on terrorist groups using chemical weapons, she said the international community must take actions to prevent the future use of such arms by non-State actors.

    The representative of Venezuela expressed concern that controversial elements had politicized “L.26/Rev.1” and tried to establish conclusions when no definite results had been reached.  Such divisive factors made it impossible to reach consensus and thus, Venezuela had abstained.

    The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his delegation had voted against “L.26/Rev.1” and denounced the inclusion in operative paragraph 3 of a reference to the death of one of its citizens from the use of chemical weapons.  The policy of his Government was not to produce or use or stockpile chemical weapons.  To include the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea into the draft was an intentional plot by the United States, he said, rejecting the draft, particularly operative paragraph 3.

    The representative of Japan, having voted in favour of “L.26/Rev.1”, expressed support for the OPCW fact‑finding mission and the Joint Investigative Mechanism in determining responsibility for the use of chemical weapons in Syria.  They were fair and accurate and had made concrete achievements, he said.

    The representative of Israel, aligning herself with the United States, said the latest OPCW report had indicated that the use of chemical weapons was widespread in Syria and the Government of Syria was responsible for the use of sarin in Khan Shaykhun.  Indeed, there was a consistent and unacceptable pattern of chemical weapons use by the Syrian regime against its people and it was evident that its residual chemical capabilities must be fully dismantled, or else it would continue its shameful pattern and rehabilitate its chemical weapons programme.  Israel had voted in favour of “L.26/Rev.1” because it supported the goals of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

    The representative of Nigeria expressed support for “L.26/Rev.1” and its ability to further international peace and security, but had abstained on operative paragraphs 2 and 15.  His delegation had been concerned about accusations that had not been fully substantiated.  However, despite raising those issues during the consultative process, they had not been considered.

    The representative of Viet Nam said his delegation condemned the use of chemical weapons and all actions causing harm to innocent civilians.  Their use was a violation of international law and went against all moral and ethical principles of humanity.  His delegation had continued its tradition of voting in favour of “L.26/Rev.1”.  However, it would abstain on operative paragraph 15, as that text failed to recognize efforts that had been made by the Syrian Government to eliminate its chemical weapons programme.

    The representative of Algeria expressed commitment to the principles of the Chemical Weapons Convention, to which his country was a party.  However, his delegation had hoped “L.26/Rev.1” would have had a general nature based on the Convention and the positive elements of its implementation.  He regretted to note that the draft resolution had not recognized the progress made by Syria in destroying its chemical weapon stockpile and cooperating with OPCW, even with the difficult security situation in the country as the result of attacks by terrorist groups.  As such, the draft was unbalanced.  He also took issue that delegations did not have access to the latest report mentioned in operative paragraph 2 and that the fact-finding mission had not visited a site mentioned in its report.  Algeria had abstained on operative paragraphs 2 and 15, as they contained elements that could not be verified.

    The representative of the Russian Federation, referring to “L.26/Rev.1”, said his country was a strong supporter of the Chemical Weapons Convention and favoured concrete action.  Calling on delegates to refrain from confusing two different and incompatible elements, he said, on the one hand, there was consideration of the Convention and, on the other hand, a desire of the United States and its allies to remove the legitimate Government of Syria from power.  Evidence provided by the Joint Investigative Mechanism was a distortion of the facts, with incidents having been staged by anti-Government forces that had no relation to the actions of the Syrian armed forces.  Certain partners would continue to blame the Syrian Government because of their goal to remove President Bashar Al-Assad by any means possible.  Even the most despicable claims had been examined with incredible speed and the result always bore the same bias, he said, emphasizing that the Syrian Government had not been involved in the incident in Khan Shaykhun.  Further, the Joint Investigative Mechanism had decided field visits were not necessary, as they might contradict information they had already received.  The United States had a major military political interest in the Middle East and President Assad had, at one point, been its partner.  But, as soon as he refused to take instructions from Washington, he had been turned into a monster, he said, emphasizing that the Russian Federation, unlike the United States, did not support or remove any regimes.

    The Committee then approved its draft provisional programme of work and timetable for 2018 (document A/C.1/72/CRP.6).

    Right of Reply

    The representative of Poland, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said “L.26/Rev.1” was not about States, but exclusively about the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.  Just as positive developments in the instrument’s implementation were highlighted, serious problems had been included.  That was the only way to address the implementation process in an open and transparent way.

    The representative of the United States said the Russian Federation’s delegate needed to end the propaganda, which added nothing to the discussion, and pay attention to the vote on “L.26/Rev.1”, which was supported by the majority of States.

    The representative of the United Kingdom, noting that there were no British citizens in leadership roles in the Joint Investigative Mechanism, encouraged States who questioned the presented evidence to thoroughly read the latest report.  Also, the Security Council had unanimously agreed on the Joint Investigative Mechanism’s mandate and had ensured that the process would result in an objective outcome.

    The representative of Syria said it was ironic that Israel’s delegate had made accusations against other States when it had rejected the appeal of the majority of countries to adhere to the Chemical Weapons Convention.  All reports and studies had documented the facts, including the Report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, known as the Goldstone Report, issued in 2009.  France had delivered to terrorist groups a range of munitions that included toxic chemical substances.  His delegation understood the pressure western States had put on Poland, but that did not exempt it from having tabled a politicized and biased draft resolution that focused almost exclusively on Syria.  Such draft resolutions targeting one State had no place in the First Committee.

    The representative of Turkey reminded the Committee that there were two independent bodies:  one to investigate if chemical weapons had been used in Syria and another to investigate who had deployed them.  The Syrian regime now found itself in an uncomfortable position by accusing others, he said, pointing out the voting results.

    The representative of Poland reiterated that “L.26/Rev.1” was not about States, but about the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

    The representative of Syria said his counterpart from Poland had refused to include in “L.26/Rev.1” references to the progress mentioned in the OPCW Director-General’s report.  He said the representative of Turkey had always tried to hide and deny its responsibility in transferring chemical substances to Syria.

    Closing Remarks

    MOUAYED SALEH (Iraq), Chair of the First Committee, said it had finished its work in four weeks and four days, hearing 131 statements during the general debate and 312 interventions in the thematic discussion segment.  The Committee approved a total of 58 draft resolutions and decisions, 30 by recorded vote.

    The representative of Nigeria, speaking on behalf of the African Group, underscored the value of the Committee’s important mandate in reaching the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

    The representative of Mexico, welcoming the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, expressed pride for the Committee’s work that had led to the awarding of a Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a civil society organization that had supported the effort.  He raised a concern that the Committee had worked in violation of rule 103 of the Rules and Procedures, which, among other things, ensured the election of the Bureau on the basis of equitable geographic distribution.  In fact, the Committee had not guaranteed the representation of all regional groups, casting doubt on the principle of equitable geographic representation.

    The representative of China said that in the present international security environment, every Member State should hold high the banner of multilateralism and seek win-win solutions.

    The representative of Mauritania, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, commended the chairmanship and the Secretariat staff and Bureau for their work.

    The representative of Indonesia, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, urged all States to display the required political will and cooperation to ensure a safe world.

    The representative of Venezuela expressed satisfaction over the work done during the session.  However, he was surprised by comments made by his counterpart from Mexico, who had tried to shift responsibility of Committee elections to the Bureau and the Secretariat.  That responsibility rested with the countries that had attempted to block, for political reasons, the election of Venezuela as Vice-Chair.  He regretted to note that facts were being distorted and doubt was being cast on the Secretariat and the Bureau.

    The representative of Cuba expressed full support for the selection of Venezuela as Vice-Chair of the First Committee.

    Mr. SALEH said the Committee had faced a number of critical challenges in its seventy-second session.  Progress in the field of disarmament, as well as failures, had clearly been reflected during thematic debates and in the draft resolutions and decisions the Committee had approved.  Grave concerns had been raised about a range of challenges, especially those related to nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.  Despite differences on the right approach to take, Member States had made it clear that they were committed to nuclear disarmament and overcoming obstacles to find common ground towards the shared objective of a nuclear-weapon-free world.

    Highlighting several important moments of 2017, he pointed to the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the Nobel Peace Prize that had been awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.  The current First Committee session had proven that numerous disarmament components were vital.  Various proposals had been submitted to expert groups dealing with a wide array of concerns.  Meanwhile, developments in the field of technology and science had provided many societal benefits, but work needed to be done to tackle their potential adverse effects to peace and security.

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  • Fourth Committee Approves Draft Resolution Urging States to Identify Areas in Their Territories Containing Landmines, Unexploded Remnants of War

    Mine Action Standards Must Adapt to Evolving Conflict Stresses Assistant Secretary-General, as Delegates Recount Explosive Horrors

    The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) approved a draft resolution today, by which the General Assembly would urge all States affected by landmines to identify all areas under their jurisdiction or control containing anti-personnel mines and explosive remnants of war, as it concluded its consideration of assistance in mine action.

    By other terms of that draft (document A/C.4/72/L.12), approved without a vote, the Assembly would also urge support for mine-affected States through assistance in developing mine action capacities; support for national programmes; and reliable, predictable and timely multi-year contributions for mine action activities.  It would also urge States to provide necessary information, as well as technical, financial and material assistance to locate, remove, destroy and otherwise render ineffective minefields, anti-personnel mines and explosive remnants of war.

    The Assembly would also, by further terms, urge States to provide humanitarian assistance for victims of anti-personnel mines while striving to spare civilians.  It would stress the importance of cooperation and coordination in mine action, and emphasize the primary responsibility of national authorities in that context, while also stressing the supporting role of the United Nations.

    Before action on the draft resolution, Alexandre Zouev, Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, delivered a statement on behalf of Under-Secretary-General Jean-Francois Lacroix in the latter’s capacity as Chair of the United Nations Inter-Agency Coordination Group on Mine Action.

    Mr. Zouev emphasized the importance of adapting mine action standards to evolving methods and devices used in conflict, and said that the draft resolution reflected realities on the ground.  Mine action was a critical component and driver of humanitarian action, crucial for building peace and accelerating the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he said.  Noting that the dynamics of the Organization’s deployments had adapted to the evolution of conflict, he said individuals and communities received mine-action assistance even in the midst of active hostilities.  In Iraq, the United Nations was supporting the Government’s stabilization efforts in areas liberated from Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh).  Despite falling anti-personnel mine casualty numbers, however, there had been a 40 per cent rise in the number of casualties recorded in 2016 resulting from the full range of devices, he said.  “The world cannot afford complacency,” he stressed.

    Libya’s representative said his country had suffered much damage from anti-personnel mines and unexploded remnants of war since its occupation by Italy and during the world wars waged on its territory.  Today, mines were again affecting civilians, he said, highlighting the situation in Benghazi.  That city still suffered the effects of anti-personnel mines planted in houses and populated streets from which people had been evacuated, he said, adding that mines and unexploded remnants of war had killed entire families following their return.

    The representative of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic said explosive remnants of war had become a daunting challenge to his country’s socioeconomic development after the war in Indochina, and continued to kill and maim innocent people.

    Japan’s delegate stressed that humanitarian actions could not, in fact, be undertaken without mine action.  The representative of the European Union delegation pointed out that the draft’s humanitarian dimension was particularly strengthened by its reference to humanitarian access and its inclusion of mine action in humanitarian appeals.

    Austria’s representative expressed concern about reports of recent use of anti-personnel mines in Myanmar, which was not a State party to the Mine-Ban Convention.  As President of that instrument, Austria had asked the Government of Myanmar to clarify the situation and consider an independent fact-finding mission with international participation.

    Also speaking today were representatives of Poland, Thailand, Egypt, Germany, Canada, Algeria, United Arab Emirates, China and Saudi Arabia.

    The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 2 November, to take up the effects of atomic radiation.  It will also conclude its general debate on special political missions, and to take action on related draft resolutions.

    Opening Statement

    ALEXANDRE ZOUEV, Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, delivered a statement on behalf of Under-Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman in the latter’s capacity as Chair of the United Nations Inter-Agency Coordination Group on Mine Action.

    He said 2017 was particularly significant for mine action because it marked the twentieth year since the creation of the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and of the Coordination Group.  Since the entry into force of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction — commonly referred to as the Mine Ban Treaty — more than 51 million stockpiled anti-personnel mines had been destroyed and 30 States parties had completed their clearance obligations.  One of the most important achievements had been the dramatic drop in the number of anti-personnel mine casualties over the past 20 years, he said, citing Afghanistan and Colombia as having seen a notable decline in the number of victims.

    He went on to commend the global leadership, innovation and creativity of the Mine Action Service, noting that it had recently received the Secretary-General’s recognition as well as other honours.  Emphasizing the importance of adapting mine action standards to evolving methods and devices used by parties in conflict, he said United Nations programmes were also achieving high levels of adherence to the Gender Guidelines for Mine Action Programmes, resulting in a growing number of women being employed in that sector at various levels.

    The draft resolution on mine action reflected realities on the ground, he said, urging humanitarian action to clear improvised explosive devices.  Mine action was a critical component and driver of humanitarian action, crucial for building peace and accelerating the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  More than 185 square kilometres of suspected contaminated land had been rendered safe from anti-personnel mines and explosive remnants of war in 2016, he said, adding that over 140 hospitals, 220 schools and almost 500 markets had therefore been made safe from contamination by explosive hazards.

    Noting that the dynamics of the Organization’s deployments had adapted to the evolution of conflict, he said individuals and communities received mine-action assistance even in the midst of active hostilities.  In Iraq, the United Nations was supporting the Government’s stabilization efforts in areas liberated from Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), he said, adding that water and electricity had been restored to Mosul shortly after the end of the conflict there, following explosive hazard assessments at more than 270 electricity and water sites.  Despite falling anti-personnel mine casualty numbers, however, there had been a 40 per cent rise in the number of casualties recorded in 2016 resulting from the full range of devices, he said.  “The world cannot afford complacency,” he stressed.

    General Debate

    JESÚS DÍAZ CARAZO, European Union delegation, said the regional bloc was the leading donor of financial assistance to mine action, but its effort alone was not enough; combined assistance by international actors could increase the impact of different kinds of support, he noted.  Turning to the draft resolution on assistance in mine action, he said it would play a crucial role in reaffirming the normative framework for humanitarian mine action activities carried out by the United Nations system.  The draft’s humanitarian dimension was strengthened in particular by its reference to humanitarian access and its inclusion of mine action in humanitarian appeals, he said.  Furthermore, the text addressed concerns about the impact of mines on refugees and displaced persons, he said, adding that it also recognized the contribution of mine action to the 2030 Agenda.

    BOGUSŁAW WINID (Poland), associating himself with the European Union, noted that the draft resolution called upon States to ensure they were in compliance with their international mine action obligations.  Recognizing the contribution of mine action to the 2030 Agenda, he said consultations had led to streamlined terminology on explosive devices and strengthened clarity relating to the text’s humanitarian aspects.  With 2017 marking the twentieth anniversary of the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty and the United Nations Mine Action Service, he said, Poland hoped the draft resolution would contribute in practical ways to efforts in the field of humanitarian mine action.

    KITTITHEP DEVAHASTIN NA AYATHAI (Thailand) said assistance in mine action was “not a stand-alone policy” but rather, an essential component of the Organization’s work, which cut across diverse issues of peace, security, humanitarian assistance and development.  Thailand was committed to the Mine Ban Treaty and to the goal of mine-clearance, he said, adding that it was also active in assisting mine victims, having integrated that aspect into the broader legal framework as well as national plans and programmes for persons with disabilities in general.  In addition, Thailand had accorded priority to promoting mine risk education in order to reduce the potential for injury from mines and unexploded ordnance by raising awareness, he said, reaffirming his country’s commitment to ending the suffering caused by anti-personnel mines.

    AHMED ELSHANDAWILY (Egypt) said landmines had posed a significant challenge over the past 70 years, with more than 22 million of them having been left in his country after the Second World War.  Egypt exerted substantial efforts in clearing landmines, but still experienced major technical challenges, he said, adding that it needed advanced detection and clearance technologies capable of accurately locating landmines.  The Government was fully aware of the humanitarian ramifications associated with the production, transfer and use of anti-personnel mines, and for that reason, it had applied a voluntary moratorium on the transfer and production of mines to any other State.  Turning to the Ottawa Convention, he expressed regret that its final text lacked acknowledgment of responsibility for removing landmines placed on Egyptian territory on the part of the States involved in planting them.  Furthermore, the Convention’s time frame for demining was extremely difficult to meet, especially for States like Egypt, he pointed out.

    SOULIKONE SAMOUNTY (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) recalled that more than 2 million tonnes of bombs had been dropped on his country’s territory during the war in Indochina, including approximately 270 million sub-cluster munitions of which 30 per cent had failed to explode on impact.  Explosive remnants of war had therefore become a daunting challenge to the country’s socioeconomic development and continued to kill and maim innocent people, especially in rural areas, he said.  A huge amount of resources was required to clear them, including public awareness campaigns and assistance for victims.  With assistance and collaboration from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and others, the clearing of unexploded ordinance had officially begun in 1996, he recalled.  Under a multilateral project signed with UNDP recently, six humanitarian demining operators and 13 private companies were active in the sector, he said, adding that bilaterally, the Government was working closely with countries such as the United States, Japan, Norway, China, India and others that had provided surveying, clearance and mine risk education, among other forms of assistance.

    KOJI MIZUMOTO (Japan), pointing out that his delegation was a co-sponsor and strong supporter of the draft resolution, said that in the face of expanding violent extremism and terrorism, the threat of explosive hazards was growing.  The diversification of explosives devices, improvised explosive devices in particular, demanded a different approach.  Humanitarian actions could not be undertaken without mine action, he said, adding that Japan had made assistance to mine action one of its diplomatic priorities, and was proud to be the second largest State contributing to the cause.  He went on to underline the importance of triangular cooperation, including South-South cooperation, comprehensive support to victims, risk education, partnerships and gender mainstreaming.

    JUERGEN SCHULZ (Germany), associating himself with the European Union, said that despite meaningful progress in mine action, much work remained.  Recalling that his country had held the presidency of the Cluster Munitions Convention in 2016, he said it had focused on initiating dialogue with States that had not yet joined that instrument, among other things.  Germany was proud to be one of the main donors to mine action.  He went on to note that large amounts of legacy contamination remained in many countries and current conflicts had led to new contamination, much of it consisting of improvised explosive devices.

    MICHAEL DOUGLAS GRANT (Canada) said that although significant progress had been made in demining, much work lay ahead before the goal of a mine-free world by 2025 could be attained.  In many cases, contamination was the work of non-State actors with no regard for humanitarian principles, he said, pointing out that mines continued to cause devastating casualties and prevent civilians from returning after conflict.  Canada supported an evidence-based approach that would respond better to the needs of those affected and prioritized gender equality in mine action, he said, emphasizing that, as a donor to mine action, his country would ensure that programmes were adapted to local realities and aligned with key principles.

    MUSTAPHA ABBANI (Algeria) said his country had acceded to various conventions related to anti-personnel mines, based on its commitment to disarmament and international humanitarian law.  In September, it had completed the final stage of destroying its remaining stockpile, totalling 5,970 mines, which had been kept for training purposes, thereby fulfilling its international commitments as a party to the Mine-Ban Convention, he said.  As for the humanitarian aspect of the Ottawa Convention, Algeria had cleared its territory of anti-personnel mines dating back to the colonial period, he said, noting that its efforts had succeeded in destroying 9 million anti-personnel mines, thereby enabling the launch of development projects in contaminated regions.  Moreover, the Government had worked to rehabilitate and ensure the social and professional reintegration of those with disabilities resulting from anti-personnel mines.  He noted that the Secretary-General’s current report referred to a 40 per cent increase in casualties from anti-personnel mines between 2014 and 2016, due to a rise in the number of armed conflicts in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.  In that regard, he emphasized that mine action helped to prevent conflict by clearing devices, disposing of them and preventing their use in constructing new weapons.

    ESAM BEN ZITUN (Libya) said his country had suffered much damage from anti-personnel mines and unexploded remnants of war since its occupation by Italy and the world wars waged on its territory.  Today, mines were again affecting civilians, he noted, paying tribute to United Nations efforts to raise awareness about dealing with mines among the returning population of Sirte after that city’s liberation.  Highlighting the situation in Benghazi, he said it still suffered the effects of anti-personnel mines planted in houses and populated streets from which people had been evacuated.  Following the return of the displaced, mines and unexploded remnants of war had killed entire families, he said, noting that the mine detonators were connected to cell-phones and disguised as unexpected objects.  Noting that such technology was developed locally, he expressed hope that the United Nations would investigate the situation and provide lessons for all States.  Those killed and maimed during the clearing of mined areas included civil defence forces whose primitive resources could not match the sophisticated technology used in the devices, he said, adding that he looked forward to further coordination among Libyan authorities, the Mine Action Service and the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), with a view to providing the necessary technology and securing the safety of all technicians and experts involved.

    Mr. HAMADI (United Arab Emirates) recognized that landmines caused huge damage to infrastructure and thwarted development efforts, making their eradication a prerequisite for sustainable development.  Mine action played an important role in building confidence and peace, and for that reason, the United Arab Emirates supported mine action efforts and initiatives throughout the world.  In Lebanon, for instance, it had carried out successful demining projects in coordination with UNMAS and the national military, he said.  The United Arab Emirates had also actively participated in numerous relevant international meetings and conferences, and continued to work with regional and international partners to protect civilians, he said, adding that it would help to promote the ability of the United Nations to provide assistance on mine action.

    HUANG DA (China) said mine action efforts should be carried out with due consideration for the national conditions and requirements of the recipient States.  Highlighting the importance of enhancing the concrete effects of assistance in mine clearance, he said that as a former mine-effected country, China understood the concerns of mine action well, and was an active participant in international demining assistance.  Through its own programme of international demining assistance, China had provided assistance to more than 40 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, he said.

    GEORGE WILHELM GALLHOFER (Austria) expressed concern about the reported recent use of anti-personnel mines in Myanmar, which was not a State party to the Mine-Ban Convention.  As President of the treaty banning landmines, Austria had asked the Government of Myanmar to clarify the situation and consider an independent fact-finding mission with international participation, he said, reminding delegates that the success of the Mine-Ban Convention rested on the “fragile cooperation” among States, civil society and international organizations.  Together with the Convention’s next and previous presiding delegations, Austria had tabled the traditional draft resolution on its implementation in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), which had approved the text, he noted.

    The representative of Saudi Arabia said his delegation would provide a written statement.

    Action on Draft Resolution

    The Committee then took up the draft resolution “Assistance in mine action” (document A/C.4/72/L.12), approving it without a vote.

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