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Security Council Reiterates its Condemnation of Trafficking in Persons, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2388 (2017)

Secretary‑General Underlines Collective Responsibility to ‘Stop These Crimes’

The Security Council reiterated its condemnation of trafficking in human beings today, particularly the sale of people by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), as well as other violations and abuses by Boko Haram, Al‑Shabaab, the Lord’s Resistance Army and other such groups for the purpose of sexual slavery, sexual exploitation and forced labour.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2388 (2017) ahead of a day‑long debate on that subject, the Council underscored the importance of collecting and preserving evidence relating to such acts so as to ensure that those responsible could be held accountable.  It reaffirmed its condemnation, in the strongest terms, of all instances of trafficking in persons, especially women and children, who made up the vast majority of all trafficking victims in areas affected by armed conflict.

Also by the text, the Council stressed that trafficking undermined the rule of law and contributed to other forms of transnational organized crime that could exacerbate conflict and foster insecurity and instability, thereby undermining development.  The Council underscored the importance of cooperation in enforcing international law in investigating and prosecuting trafficking cases.

The Council also expressed, by further terms of the text, its intention to give greater consideration to how peacekeeping and political missions could help host States combatting human trafficking.  It also requested that the Secretary‑General ensure the inclusion of trafficking in assessments of country situations and in the training of mission personnel, which would help in identifying, confirming, responding and reporting on situations of trafficking.

Briefing ahead of the debate were Secretary‑General António Guterres as well as Yuri Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, and Smail Chergui, the African Union’s Commissioner for Peace and Security.

Secretary‑General Guterres declared “it is our collective responsibility to stop these crimes” by bringing perpetrators to justice, increasing humanitarian aid and strengthening national capacity to protect the vulnerable.  There was also an urgent need to ensure more opportunities for regular migration and to restore the integrity of the refugee protection regime.  “Slavery and other such egregious abuses of human rights have no place in the twenty‑first century,” he stressed.  However, reports from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) showed that increasing numbers of victims trafficked from Iraq, Syria and Somalia were appearing in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, he noted.

A framework of action to counter trafficking, rooted in international law, had been built through Security Council resolution 2331 (2016), the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Convention), and the September 2017 Political Declaration on the implementation of the Global Plan of Action.  Cooperation, mutual legal assistance and the sharing of information were critical to that framework’s implementation, he said, adding that his first report on implementing resolution 2331 (2661) demonstrated the ongoing work carried out by Member States and the United Nations system.  “These efforts need to be intensified,” he said.

Data collection, analysis and technical assistance provided by UNODC and others, particularly actors in conflict situations, must be fully utilized, he emphasized, adding that the same applied to coordination through the Inter‑Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons.  Efforts to end poverty and exclusion must also be stepped up.  More must be done to support victims, he said, underlining that they should be treated as victims of crime and not detained, prosecuted or punished.  He called for contributions to the Blue Heart Campaign and the United Nations voluntary trust fund for victims of trafficking in persons, especially women and children.  “The international community’s commitment is being tested,” he declared.  “We need to show the world our determination to end human trafficking, help its many victims and hold those responsible accountable for their crimes.”

Mr. Fedotov said the UNODC had designed tools for United Nations entities in conflict situations, enhanced data‑collection processes, developed training for police officers seconded to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and helped victims.  It was now considering how to strengthen the work of the Inter‑Agency Coordinating Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons, he said.  In more general terms, he said widespread and systematic violations of people’s fundamental rights during mass movements remained a grave concern.  Thanks to efforts by the Council and the wider United Nations system, there was forward momentum against trafficking, but the international community’s resolve must be translated into action across all regional processes and initiatives, he emphasized.

Ms. Giammarinaro said egregious patterns of trafficking, forced labour and slavery were a strategy for terrorist groups, pointing out that such gross human rights violations were perpetrated systematically by criminal or armed groups taking advantage of the breakdown in the rule of law to carry out the “dirty business” of trafficking and become more powerful and dangerous.  Violations such as trafficking were not only a consequence of conflict, but also a cause, she pointed out, saying the Security Council’s agenda on trafficking should therefore be linked with the processes linked to the Global Compact on Migration and Refugees, as well as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Moreover, it should be addressed in tandem with the women, peace and security agenda, and the Six Grave Violations against Children during Armed Conflict Agenda.  Expressing particular concern about the situation of children, she said they were used as child soldiers or sexual slaves during conflict, and were disproportionally affected by displacement.

Mr. Chergui said interventions to prevent trafficking should include measures to reduce vulnerability, build capacity alongside national Governments and strengthen border security, noting that national legal frameworks were inadequate and often needed strengthening.  Immediate actions should include demolishing camps in Libya and destroying criminal networks, he said, declaring: “Our common humanity is at stake.”

With more than 70 speakers participating in the open debate, delegates affirmed the serious violation of human rights represented by trafficking in persons, with many relating the harrowing stories of victims, particularly women and children.  Some speakers outlined national programmes to help victims and root out trafficking through the three‑part effort of prevention, protection and prosecution.

While most delegates hailed the resolution, many others questioned the expansion of the normative framework, some expressing regret that too many frameworks would fragment anti‑trafficking efforts.  Spain’s representative suggested that the UNODC take the lead in creating a global strategy.

In addition, many delegates called for greater legal migration opportunities to reduce the vulnerability of those to whom borders were now closed.  Bolivia’s representative advocated universal citizenship to reduce the vulnerability of migrants.

Many delegates began their statements by expressing disgust over recently disseminated images of African migrants in Libya being auctioned as slaves.

Libya’s representative, condemning such activity, said the authorities had initiated an investigation and would hold perpetrators accountable.  He called on the international community to help his country address challenges posed by irregular mass migration through Libya rather than using such media misrepresentations for defamatory purposes.

Also speaking today were representatives of Ethiopia, Sweden, Ukraine, Russian Federation, France, United States, Bolivia, Senegal, Japan, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Uruguay, China, United Kingdom, Italy, Venezuela (for the Non‑Aligned Movement), Colombia, Ireland, Spain, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Iran, Pakistan, Brazil, Estonia, Belgium, Peru, Indonesia, Slovakia, Germany, Turkey, Switzerland, South Africa, Qatar, Jordan, Israel, Panama, Norway, Morocco, Sudan, Austria, Philippines, Guatemala, Argentina, Canada, Bangladesh, Iraq, Georgia, Bulgaria, Nigeria, Botswana, Botswana, Maldives, Malaysia, Belize, Portugal, Kuwait, Azerbaijan, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Myanmar, Netherlands and Armenia.

Representatives of the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the International Organization for Migration also spoke, as did the observer for the Holy See.

The meeting opened at 10:08 a.m. and closed at 5:09 p.m.

Briefings

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary‑General of the United Nations, said “criminals and terrorists are capitalizing on, and perpetuating, the disorder and mayhem of conflict”, funding their crimes by brutally preying on the vulnerable.  Sexual exploitation, forced labour, the removal of bodily organs and slavery were the tools of their trade.  Citing Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), Boko Haram, Al‑Shabaab and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) as having forced women, boys and girls into dehumanizing servitude, he said such activities constituted serious abuses of human rights, as did the horrific practice of selling African migrants as “goods” in Libya.

“It is our collective responsibility to stop these crimes” by bringing perpetrators to justice, increasing humanitarian aid and strengthening national capacity to protect the vulnerable, he emphasized.  There was also an urgent need to ensure more opportunities for regular migration, to restore the integrity of the refugee protection regime and to increase the number of refugees in the developed world.  “Slavery and other such egregious abuses of human rights have no place in the twenty‑first century,” he stressed.  However, reports from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) showed that increasing numbers of victims trafficked from Iraq, Syria and Somalia were appearing in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

He said a framework of action to counter trafficking, rooted in international law, had been built through Security Council resolution 2331 (2016), the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Protocol) and the September 2017 Political Declaration on the implementation of the Global Plan of Action.  Cooperation, mutual legal assistance and the sharing of information were critical to implementing that framework, he said, adding that his first report on implementing resolution 2331 (2661) demonstrated the ongoing work carried out by Member States and the United Nations system.  “These efforts need to be intensified,” he said.

Data collection, analysis and technical assistance provided by UNODC and others, particularly actors in conflict situations, must be fully utilized, he continued, adding that the same applied to coordination through the Inter‑Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons.  Efforts to end poverty and exclusion must also be stepped up.  More must be done to support victims, he said, underlining that they should be treated as victims of crime and not detained, prosecuted or punished.  In that regard, he called for contributions to the Blue Heart Campaign and the United Nations voluntary trust fund for victims of trafficking in persons, especially women and children.  “The international community’s commitment is being tested,” he declared.  “We need to show the world our determination to end human trafficking, help its many victims and hold those responsible accountable for their crimes.”

YURY V. FEDOTOV, Under‑Secretary‑General and Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said the draft resolution due for adoption today would set new goals and targets in combatting human trafficking.  Condemning slave markets in Libya, “where people are sold like commodities”, he said he took note of the assurances by that country’s Government that such cases were being investigated.  “Our collective horror at this news serves an important purpose:  it can quicken the pace of our actions and encourage a global partnership against human trafficking,” he said.  As part of its response, UNODC was prepared to help strengthen Libyan law enforcement’s capacity to investigate and prosecute criminals; align national laws with the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Convention) and its protocols on trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants; build partnerships among States in the region and improve the capacity of authorities in Libya and other countries to investigate the finances flowing from such crimes.

In more general terms, he continued, the widespread and systematic violations of people’s fundamental rights in mass movements remained a grave concern.  Al‑Shabaab, Boko Haram, ISIL/Da’esh and other terrorist groups were exploiting boys and girls as sexual slaves or soldiers, but thanks to the efforts of the Security Council and the United Nations system, there was forward momentum against the trafficking of persons in conflict situations.  However, the international community’s resolve must be translated into action across all regional processes and initiatives, he emphasized, encouraging States parties to the Palermo Convention to strengthen international cooperation, develop comprehensive legislation and ensure that no offender escaped justice.  Early warning and early screening initiatives must be deployed proactively, and victims protected and assisted.

Describing the UNODC response to resolution 2331 (2016) as extensive, he said the Office had, among other steps, designed tools for United Nations entities in conflict situations, enhanced data collection processes, developed training for police officers seconded to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, assisted victims under the umbrella of the United Nations voluntary trust fund for victims of human trafficking, and held States to implementation of the Palermo Protocol.  Welcoming contributions to the voluntary trust fund, he appealed for greater coordination within the United Nations family, noting that UNODC was considering a meeting at the principals level in 2018 that would give new impetus to the work of the Inter‑Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons.

MARIA GRAZIA GIAMMARINARO, United Nations Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children, said the trafficking of people in armed conflict or fleeing conflict, and the protection of the rights of victims, demanded concerted and effective action.  Citing a recent video disseminated by CNN showing an auction of young migrants, she said trafficking for purposes of exploitation and slavery was a tragic reality.  Noting that trafficking was fuelled by political instability and occurred regularly in the context of large migration flows, she said that, as a form of gender‑based violence, it disproportionately affected women and girls, while also targeting children and young adults on a massive scale.

At the same time, egregious patterns of trafficking, forced labour and slavery were a strategy for terrorist groups, she continued, pointing out that such gross human rights violations were perpetrated systematically by criminal or armed groups taking advantage of the breakdown in the rule of law to carry out the “dirty business” of trafficking and become more powerful and dangerous.  That was one of the reasons why the prevention of trafficking was directly linked to the maintenance of international peace and security, she explained.  In that light, a human rights perspective was crucial.

She went on to emphasize that violations such as trafficking in persons were not only a consequence of conflict, but also a cause.  The Security Council agenda on trafficking should therefore be linked with the process of the global compact on migration and refugees, as well as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Moreover, it should be addressed in tandem with the women, peace and security agenda, and with the Six Grave Violations against Children during Armed Conflict Agenda.  Expressing particular concern about the situation of children, she said they were used as child soldiers or sexual slaves during conflict, and were disproportionally affected by displacement.  She underlined the obligation of States to ensure that victims of trafficking were protected from further exploitation and harm, and to prevent, respect and fulfil the human rights of human tracking victims, including by holding non‑State actors accountable at all times.

SMAIL CHERGUI, Commissioner for Peace and Security, African Union, noted that the regional bloc was currently engaged in 15 conflict situations, and in each case, trafficking was eroding human dignity.  Although much of it was below the radar screen, sexual abuse and the recruitment of child soldiers were rife.  Slavery was common, and reports from Libya caused a loss of words.  The business of smuggling migrants in that country had become so lucrative that criminals were fighting over it.  Outlining the African Union’s efforts to alleviate the situation, he said the prevention and resolution of conflict were the most important elements of the bloc’s partnership with the United Nations.

Interventions to prevent trafficking should include measures to reduce vulnerability, build capacity alongside national Governments and strengthen border security, he said.  National legal frameworks were often inadequate and needed strengthening.  Describing regional arrangements to tackle trafficking in various parts of Africa, he said the bloc was also developing assistance initiatives, emphasizing that the entire effort must be linked to sustainable development.  However, there had been difficulties in moving beyond the normative framework to action, he said, adding that there were also missing links in partnerships between various actors.  Immediate actions should include demolishing camps in Libya and destroying criminal networks, he said, declaring:  “Our common humanity is at stake.”

Statements

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) said that the sale of migrants as slaves in Libya was the latest despicable act to come to life and must sound the alarm for action by the international community.  He called for swift action to identify the perpetrators of the slave trading.  Root causes such as poverty and conflict must be addressed, and more attention focused on the vulnerabilities of women and children, he emphasized.  In addition, much more must done by transit and destination countries to increase the opportunities for legal mixed migration.  Recognizing the positive aspects of migration, he emphasized that it was crucial to respect the rights of migrants.  The goal was well‑regulated migration with human rights at its centre, irrespective of the status of individuals.  Victims of trafficking must also be helped to reintegrate, he said, adding that existing international instruments could form the basis for cooperation on all those issues.

IRINA SCHOULGIN-NYONI (Sweden), aligning herself with the statement to be made by the European Union and the Nordic countries, said the chilling reports of outright slave trade in Libya were appalling, and she called on authorities to investigate those activities.  Because sexual violence and exploitation were linked to trafficking, women and children were often the most vulnerable.  Thus, it was essential to provide proper aid to the victims and secure evidence of such crimes so that the perpetrators could be brought to justice.  The United Nations presence in conflict situations could play an important role in the response to trafficking through capacity‑building, national support and protection of civilians.  The Council could also include relevant criteria for the listing of traffickers in sanctions resolutions.  Building strong rule of law institutions was essential, as was the cooperation between global and regional organizations such as the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and UNODC.  Because trafficking was in essence a criminal business model, such criminal assets must be targeted to effectively interrupt organized crime networks and terrorist groups.

VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said trafficking in persons was a curse and a disgrace of modern times.  Moreover, it was a gross violation of human rights and an extremely complex form of organized crime.  Numerous ongoing conflicts had generated the exploitation of civilians, with terrorist and other armed groups forcing victims into sexual slavery and compulsory labour.  As such, trafficking was a transnational threat requiring a transnational response, he said.  In that regard, Ukraine was encouraged that the Council had addressed the issue in two recent resolutions, and fully supported the Political Declaration on the implementation of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.  On the financing of such activity, he called on the international community to cut the profits enjoyed by traffickers, who viewed other human beings as mere commodities.  Ukraine had made significant progress towards establishing a national human trafficking response framework, he said, but Russian aggression had displaced 2 million people, leaving them particularly vulnerable to exploitation.

EVGENY T. ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation) described the Ukraine delegate’s insinuations against his country as absurd.  Calling for a holistic approach covering prevention, criminal prosecution and assistance to victims, he expressed support for the leading role of the United Nations in consolidating efforts to combat trafficking in persons, and welcomed the measures adopted within the UNODC framework to provide targeted assistance to States.  He called for continued building of capacity to implement the United Nations Global Action Plan, describing it as the compass that set the direction for State efforts to combat human trafficking.  However, he cautioned the Council to be careful about attempts to change approaches or develop alternative platforms to deal with the issue, which could weaken the relevant international regime.  At the same time, the Council should avoid duplication of efforts and deal with the trafficking issue only in the context of its agenda, he emphasized.

ANNE GUEGUEN (France), associating herself with the European Union, said human trafficking was one of the world’s most widespread and profitable forms of trafficking.  It was employed as a tool for financing and even recruitment by armed groups and terrorists, she said, adding that such actions were not only abhorrent, but constituted crimes against humanity and even genocide.  The perpetrators must be held accountable, she said, stressing that Member States had a duty not only to protect civilians, but also to uphold international law and principles.  Calling for robust national action plans, she said France was helping the most vulnerable States, particularly in Africa, to address trafficking in persons.  She urged all States to come together with the aim of preventing such activity, underlining that it was the collective responsibility of Member States to punish those responsible for such actions.

NIKKI R. HALEY (United States) said the scenes of people being sold like cattle in Libya should shock everyone, and the practice must be stopped.  Trafficking had deleterious effects well beyond its victims and was a prime example of human rights violations occurring in conflicts where terrorists held sway, she stated, relating the harrowing stories of people captured by Boko Haram and others.  Describing her country’s activities to prevent trafficking, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators, she said a victim‑centred approach was critical to the success of law enforcement efforts, welcoming the Council’s call for a mechanism to investigate trafficking abuses.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia), expressing horror at images of individuals auctioned in Libya, strongly condemned such activity and called urgently for the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators.  Noting the widespread displacement that had occurred in the past decades, he urged cooperation among all States in the implementation of the Palermo Convention and its related Protocol.  Poverty and interventions in the affairs of States were major causes of migration flows, as were closing borders to migration and the possibility of profiting from money raised through crimes flowing into the international financial system.  Bolivia supported the establishment of universal citizenship to reduce the vulnerability of migrants, he said.

FODÉ SECK (Senegal) called for a full inquiry into the modern slavery in Libya that had recently reached the media.   Calling for a full inquiry and action to ensure the end of such crimes, he said the resolutions passed by the Security Council provided the tools with which to fight them.  Africa was active in countering trafficking since it was home to many conflicts, he said, pointing out that trafficking was found in all corners of the world, particularly in theatres of war where terrorists were present.  Human trafficking must be addressed as a priority in all conflict zones because it funded further terrorist and criminal activity.  Senegal had ratified all international instruments relating to human trafficking in addition to having strengthened its legal framework for that purpose and for the protection of victims.  Stressing also that accountability for violations was critical, he said international mechanisms must take over where national justice was not up to the task.  Countering trafficking must be a regular part of all efforts to combat the ills of humanity, he added.

KORO BESSHO (Japan), citing Security Council resolution 2331 (2016), said that armed and terrorist groups were using human trafficking for fundraising and recruitment.  Despite the international community’s increasing awareness, those non‑State actors had continued to recruit boys and girls for combat or support functions and, in some cases, were radicalizing them to commit terrorist acts by using deception, threats and promises of rewards.  The resolution encouraged Member States to use refugee registration mechanisms, as well as early warning and screening frameworks, to identify potential trafficking victims.  Identification of victims was the first step towards protecting them and prosecuting perpetrators.

BARLYBAY SADYKOV (Kazakhstan) called for urgent measures to address human trafficking, including harmonizing legislation across countries, ending impunity, enhancing cross border controls, blocking criminal assets and expanding international cooperation with regional affiliates.  Because peace and development were also essential factors in the eradication of trafficking, he called for strengthened cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the African Union, the League of Arab States and other regional organizations.  Kazakhstan had participated with the Commonwealth of Independent States and with OSCE as part of that Organization’s Alliance against Trafficking in Persons.  It had also established a national referral mechanism, implemented the “STOP traffic” preventative campaigns and was regularly monitoring mass media and the Internet to detect traffic‑related materials.

IHAB MOUSTAFA AWAD MOUSTAFA (Egypt), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said combating trafficking was a priority for his country’s Government.  Egypt was among the States that had ratified the relevant resolutions and protocols, and had established a legal and institutional framework to guarantee its international obligations.  He called upon the international community to redouble efforts to cut off all sources of funding for terrorist organizations, using all available mechanisms to do so.  Emphasizing that human trafficking was not related to any religion, nationality or civilization, he said religious leaders could play an important role in dismissing the links that some extremists tried to spread.

LUIS BERMÚDEZ (Uruguay), noting that 60 per cent of trafficking victims were female foreigners, called upon States to guarantee the fundamental rights of victims by strengthening protection mechanisms.  He stressed the principle of non‑criminalization of irregular migration, calling upon Governments to provide the victims with the tools necessary to cope in transit countries by making them less vulnerable to traffickers.  Overall, there was need for a broad, multidimensional approach involving determination and political will, he said.

WU HAITAO (China) said protracted armed conflicts had led to rampant criminal activities by armed groups and terrorist organizations.  Such crimes were on the rise in conflict situations, and the international community must address such “hotspot” issues with urgency and help settle disputes peacefully.  At the same time, the root causes of conflict must be addressed so as to create a sound protective environment for women and children in such situations.  He called for efforts to completely cut off the terrorist funding chain, as well as the means for spreading their ideology.  As for the plight of refugees, he called for joint efforts to address the problem using the 1951 Refugee Convention as a guiding framework.  In that connection, States must also promote sustained development in the origin countries of refugees, he said.  While respecting national sovereignty, the international community must provide assistance to vulnerable countries in such areas as border control and judicial assistance.

MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) noted the shock caused by the video of slave trading in Libya and expressed deep concern over trafficking abuses occurring in conflict zones.  Data gathering and information‑sharing, highlighted in the Secretary‑General’s report, were critical in combatting trafficking, as was improving coordination among and between United Nations entities.  The full range of mechanisms meant to counter terrorist financing must be applied to trafficking, he said, emphasizing that transparency must be enforced in supply chains, and peacekeeping missions more fit to counter trafficking.  “Let us stand together to end exploitation of human beings,” he urged.

VINCENZO AMENDOLA, Under‑Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Italy, welcomed the adoption of today’s resolution, noting its provisions on victim protection, greater coherence within the United Nations system and other ways in which it complemented the first resolution on the issue.  Condemning human trafficking, he said Italy fought it every day while prioritizing the human rights of migrants and other persons in the massive movement of human beings affecting the Mediterranean region.  Links to organized crime must be better explored, and all States must ratify the Palermo Protocol, he emphasized, adding that a comprehensive approach was needed to address root causes of vulnerability such as conflict and poverty.

SAMUEL MONCADA (Venezuela), speaking for the Non‑Aligned Movement, stressed that trafficked persons should be treated as victims of crime and, in line with domestic legislation, should not be penalized or stigmatized.  It was also imperative to break any existing impunity cycle and hold accountable those responsible for committing such crimes which, in some circumstances, could be defined as war crimes or crimes against humanity.  Human trafficking must be addressed both collectively and comprehensively, including by examining its root causes and drivers, as well as its multidimensional nature.  Addressing such a complex issue required a preventive rather than military approach, including through enhanced international cooperation.

He expressed concern about the growing links between human trafficking and transnational organized crime, with trafficking being used as a means of financing and recruitment for terrorist activities.  In the Sahel‑Saharan region, hostage‑taking and terrorist acts represented a threat to regional security and stability.  He urged all States to address the issue through cooperation and dialogue, highlighting the importance of the Palermo Convention.  Moreover, he underlined the historic opportunity provided by the 2018 International Conference on Migration, expressing the bloc’s commitment to the negotiation process for the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.  The international community should refrain from taking any measures stigmatizing certain groups or individuals, including third‑country nationals and their families.  Instead, it was necessary to consider tailored and nationally owned strategies to prevent and combat human trafficking.

MARIA EMMAN MEJIA VELEZ (Colombia), expressing horror over images of slave trade in the Mediterranean, said that her Government had had to assist many victims of trafficking.  She welcomed the growing international framework to fight the scourge, observing that gaps were being filled and lessons learned were being exchanged.  She joined those who called for the universal ratification of the protocol to the Palermo Convention and added her support for the role of UNODC.  All Member States should come together to put an end to the human rights abuses that constituted human trafficking, she said.

BRIAN FLYNN (Ireland), associating himself with the European Union and noting that his country was a co‑sponsor of resolution 2388 (2017), said trafficking for sexual exploitation was a form of gender‑based violence, and called for an increased focus on prevention programmes.  His country’s commitment to the issue could be seen in its national action plan and financial contributions to fight human trafficking, including its support to the European Union’s Emergency Trust Fund for Africa and the OSCE National Referral Mechanism on anti‑trafficking.  Ireland also provided funding to a range of international organizations and civil society partners.  Noting the importance of public awareness, he emphasized the critical role of civil society in preventing and combating human trafficking.

ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain) said that human trafficking was the modern face of slavery, emerging in situations of conflicts where there was a clear breakdown in the rule of law.  The Security Council needed to take action, he said, welcoming resolution 2331 (2016).  As for the issue of fragmentation in combating human trafficking, the international community lacked a single comprehensive strategy.  In that regard, he proposed that UNODC devise a comprehensive strategy that all bodies could follow.  Recalling the horrors occurring in places such as Libya, he urged that the full use of peacekeeping and special political missions address the phenomenon.  States could not simply point to the failings of others.  All bore responsibility, and the international community had a long way to go in fulfilling that responsibility.  To combat human trafficking, his delegation had suggested setting up a global network of anti‑trafficking coordinators that could share best practices.  That recommendation had been received favourably by the European Union and he expressed hope that others would follow.

KATALIN ANNAMÁRIA BOGYAY (Hungary), expressing dismay at recent news reports showing migrants in Libya being sold as slaves, commended the Secretary‑General for calling on authorities to investigate those auctions.  She outlined a number of steps that could address the global threat of human trafficking more effectively, including a human rights and survivor‑centred approach.  She also called for the effective implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions.  Along with the Netherlands and Belgium, her country had established a transnational referral mechanism to make the identification, referral and assistance of victims more efficient.  There needed to be a greater compliance with international humanitarian law and for accountability by ending impunity and bringing the perpetrators to justice.  However, it was not enough to bring perpetrators of trafficking to justice; those who supported and enabled their activities must also be held accountable.  Furthermore, the international community must explore what role existing mechanisms tasked to investigate violations of international humanitarian law could play in ensuring that such crimes were investigated by the competent authorities.

CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said a strong law enforcement response to human trafficking was imperative, reiterating his country’s call to contribute to the universal acceptance of the Palermo Protocol. He also pointed out that some of the issues on the Council’s agenda illustrated the drastic consequences that resulted from the lack of regular migration channels.  Libya was one case in point where the recurrence of the crudest and most brutal forms of modern slavery had exacerbated the situation in that country and had “put us all to shame collectively”.  Resolution 2331 (2016) had recognized that offences associated with trafficking in persons might constitute war crimes, and, in some contexts, crimes against humanity.  That implicitly pointed to the potential role of international criminal justice systems, he said, underscoring the importance of the International Criminal Court in situations where it had jurisdiction, as it did in the case of Libya.  The Security Council itself had created jurisdiction by referring the situation to the Court, he noted.

GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that human trafficking must be addressed comprehensively and collectively.  A close look at its root causes needed to be taken, including foreign aggression and intervention, occupation, war and protracted conflicts, political instability, terrorism, genocide and ethnic cleansing, all of which created conditions under which millions became displaced in their own countries or sought refuge overseas.  The current situation in Libya and the concerns over reported enslavement were the result of focusing on symptoms rather than root causes, he added.  Member States whose destructive military options had left millions of people at the risk of exploitation and trafficking were not in a position to produce politicized reports, labelling others while denying their own responsibilities, he said.

ELMAHDI S. ELMAJERBI (Libya) said that anticipating and preventing the outbreak of armed conflict and using preventive diplomacy were the best ways to avoid untold tragedy and human suffering.  Unfortunately, however, those hopes were all too often impeded by negative foreign interventions motivated by contradictory interests that were often the reason behind the conflict.  That created serious hardships reaching far beyond national borders and eventually causing growing international concern.

Regions suffering armed conflict and instability were the most vulnerable to trafficking in human beings and Libya was no exception, but it was keen to address such violations, he continued.  Dismayed that media outlets were reporting the sale of migrants into slavery in Libya, he condemned and denounced such actions as inhumane as well as incompatible with national legislation and societal values.  The authorities had initiated an investigation into those allegations and would hold the perpetrators accountable, he vowed.

A transit country for large and continuous flows of illegal immigrants, Libya was going through difficult times, he said, adding that it was unfair to expect it to assume responsibility for the consequences of migration.  All agreed that the burden exceeded national capacities, and the practical solution was to consider the reasons why people were driven from their home countries, and develop solutions.  Rejecting any attempt to settle immigrants in Libya on the grounds of possible dangers and repercussions to the country’s social and cultural fabric, he called upon the international community to help his country address the challenges posed by irregular migration rather than exploiting misrepresentative media investigations for defamatory purposes.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan), condemning the use of African migrants as slaves in Libya, called for enhanced international cooperation among countries of origin, transit and destination.  Underscoring his country’s commitment to fight the crime of trafficking in persons in line with various international instruments, he highlighted the Palermo Convention, the Palermo Protocol and Security Council resolution 2331 (2016).  Pakistan had implemented a national action plan for combating human trafficking and smuggling, along with a strategic framework and a strengthened trafficking‑related legislation.  Concerning the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, he expressed hope that the adoption of that instrument would help strengthen the existing global legal framework.  Long‑term political and financial commitments and support, as well as the Security Council’s efforts, were critical to help build States’ capacities to address the root causes of conflict.

ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil) said that terrorism, as a threat to international peace and security, should be addressed by the Security Council.  Organized crime remained primarily a domestic public security issue, which might require international cooperation, pursuant to the framework established by the Palermo Protocol and other relevant international legal instruments.  Whereas human trafficking might occur in some armed conflict scenarios, there were no intrinsic or automatic linkages between those phenomena.  Trafficking also took place in situations that were not related to threats to international peace and security, such as displacements following natural disasters.  For trafficking to be effectively addressed by the United Nations, the Security Council should be mindful of the mandate and technical expertise of the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and the Peacebuilding Commission, as well as the role of UNODC.

MINNA-LIINA LIND (Estonia), speaking for Latvia and Lithuania, aligned herself with the statement to be made by the European Union.  Expressing concern about the increase of connections between armed groups and human trafficking, she also stressed the importance of countering the criminal misuse of information and communications technologies while respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.  In addition, it was imperative to investigate, prosecute and convict perpetrators of human trafficking crimes and end impunity.  An increased focus on prevention was central in addressing root causes and vulnerabilities.  Enhanced efforts were needed to actively combat the demand for trafficked people in destination and transit countries.  She expressed support for UNODC and its implementation of the Palermo Convention and the Palermo Protocol.  She also called for greater cooperation at the international level, particularly through the Inter‑Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons.

KAREN VAN VLIERBERGE (Belgium), associating herself with the European Union, said that human trafficking undermined rule of law and flew in the face of the principle of human dignity.  Instability and precariousness created hotbeds for trafficking, and it was necessary to ensure the continuity and comprehensiveness of the multilateral system that aimed to combat trafficking.  Its efforts should span prevention, identification and interception of existing networks, and bring perpetrators to account.  Turning to the need for awareness‑raising, she stressed the necessity to train various stakeholders, including international and national personnel deployed in areas where there were human crises.  Belgium had organized training for military personnel deployed in humanitarian context.  Given the military victory over Da’esh, the international community must redouble its efforts to fight the connection between trafficking and terrorism.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) said that trafficking was a complex phenomenon that deprived people of freedom and dignity.  The unanimous adoption of resolution 2388 (2017) would enable the international community to combat the problem more consistently, in line with the Palermo Convention and its protocols.  Highlighting the “perverse dynamic” wherein terrorist groups benefited from lucrative transnational organized crimes such as trafficking, he also noted the intrinsic link between trafficking in persons and trafficking in migrants.  Migrants and refugees, in their search for a better life, tended to become easy victims for traffickers.  Particular focus should also be placed on women and children, he said, adding that it was necessary to improve the mechanism for protecting victims.

JOANNE ADAMSON, European Union delegation, said that the complex interplay between supply and demand must be addressed if human trafficking were to be eradicated.  She expressed her support for the Secretary‑General’s recommendations focused on addressing the nexus between trafficking in persons and conflict‑related sexual violence, including by terrorist groups.  The European Union had built an ambitious and comprehensive legal and policy framework to combat human trafficking.  The approach was human rights‑based, victim‑centred, gender‑specific and child‑sensitive, focusing on prevention, criminal prosecution and victim protection.  The framework also considered the specific assistance needs of the most vulnerable, especially women and children.  In addition, the bloc had promoted national mechanisms for early identification and victim assistance based on the principle of non‑punishment and unconditional assistance.

In September, the European Union and the United Nations had launched the Spotlight Initiative, aimed at eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls, she continued.  The initiative was backed by an initial dedicated financial envelope of €500 million.  As well, the bloc would work towards implementing commitments made under the Call to Action on Protection from Gender‑based Violence in Emergencies.  She called for greater coherence across the United Nations, emphasizing the essential role of the Inter‑Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons in ensuring that efforts were not duplicated.  The European Commission would shortly publish its priority actions to address human trafficking.  Those actions would build on ongoing work, take stock of the achievements of the European Union Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012‑2016 and ensure continuation of those efforts, including coordinating with stakeholders, increasing the knowledge base and strengthening victim protection.

Ms. JARBUSSYNOVA, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said that it was imperative to adopt and implement a multidisciplinary, cross‑sectoral and transnational approach.  That initiative must incorporate inclusion and collaboration as watchwords to ensure more effective investigations and timely prosecutions.  Action should not be limited to the development of policy and legislative frameworks.  To date, OSCE had trained 200 law enforcement officials, prosecutors, labour inspectors, financial investigators and civil society representatives in an intensive simulation exercise to combat trafficking along migration routes.

Such practical initiatives were critical, not only to foster better synergies, but to achieve long‑lasting results, she continued.  There was often a sophisticated system of recruitment, along with a number of worrying trends, including the steadily increasing number of recruits of girls and young women who joined terrorist organizations to serve as “wives”, and the engagement of young high school graduates for exploitative purposes.  That information had led to a research project, launched in 2017, to better understand the links between recruitment and exploitation patterns of traffickers and terrorist groups.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) said that, despite joint efforts, human trafficking remained one of the gravest challenges to humanity.  Refugees were particularly vulnerable, and their welfare and safety needed to be ensured to prevent them from becoming victims.  At the same time, it was critical to strengthen efforts to implement all anti‑trafficking instruments.  Cross‑border collaboration aimed at investigating, disrupting and dismantling networks must also be prioritized.  At the regional level, his Government was working to implement the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Convention against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and was committed to the Bali Declaration on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime.  He advocated for better training of peacekeepers in the area of human trafficking and held up the 2030 Agenda as a means to counter the instability and economic desperation that amplified the problem.

MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union, said that having ratified all major international treaties, as well as implementing European Union legislation, his country had also strengthened its national laws in order to increase the protection of victims.  Less than two months ago, Slovakia had agreed on the Political Declaration on the implementation of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.  He stressed the need to address the factors that increased vulnerability in trafficking, including poverty, unemployment, inequality and conflict.  Prevention rather than response must be focused upon, and the protection of victims and the prosecution of perpetrators should be timely, accurate and comprehensive, he said.

CHRISTOPH HEUSGEN (Germany), associating himself with the European Union, said that, because collecting physical evidence in armed conflict remained a significant challenge when addressing human trafficking, his Government supported the Secretary‑General’s approach to identify additional evidence outside conflict zones.  It was critical to make such crimes unprofitable, he said, emphasizing the importance of tracking financial flows and transactions derived from trafficking, including through the Financial Action Task Force.  Furthermore, if the rule of law was not upheld, and trafficking in persons was allowed to thrive in situations of conflict, such crimes could contribute to the destabilization of societies and States.  At the national level, Germany had undertaken victims‑focused measures, including support through social services and psychological support.  Other measures were supporting law enforcement and the criminalization of clients who knowingly used sexual services from trafficked persons.  The participation of civil society was also encouraged, including through Germany’s 2016 national action plan on business and human rights.

FERIDUN H. SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey) said that human trafficking was a global problem that required a global response, including the four pillars of prevention, prosecution, protection and partnerships.  Due to its geographical location, Turkey had been adversely affected by the rising trends in human trafficking.  Criminal and terrorist networks were resorting to different forms of exploitation, ranging from gender‑based sexual violence to forced recruitment of adults and children.  His country was actively fighting against terrorist organizations in its region, and had also introduced comprehensive administrative and legal measures to combat human trafficking.  At the international level, Turkey was a party to the Palermo Convention and its relevant supplementary protocols.

OLIVIER MARC ZEHNDER (Switzerland) said that the Secretary‑General’s report provided an excellent baseline of activities undertaken by the United Nations to fight human trafficking, giving insight into best practices developed by Member States.  Noting that forced displacement and migration increased the risk for trafficking and exploitation, he added that, while the absence of security was favourable to the business model of traffickers, peaceful countries with strong rule of law were by no means exempted.  For its part, Switzerland was working on strengthening measures for identification and protection of persons in the asylum procedure.  Also highlighting the importance of fact‑finding mechanisms, he said the combination of reporting and monitoring helped build a knowledge base on trafficking.

EPHRAIM LESHALA MMINELE (South Africa) said that illicit trafficking in drugs, stolen antiquities and light weapons often followed the same routes used by human traffickers.  Those activities threatened international peace and security, including by sustaining terrorism.  The appalling reports over the last few days that showed African migrants in Libya being sold as slaves was a clear indication of the urgent need for the commitment to eradicate human trafficking.  One of the highest risks to displaced persons was the threat of being trafficked, particularly for refugees fleeing conflicts.  Trafficking operations often flourished when Government institutions and law enforcement capacities were eroded by sustained conflict.  The ultimate objective should be to address the conflict that gave rise to human trafficking.  Development challenges should be addressed, as should the dangers of external interventions which had been witnessed in Libya, Iraq and Syria, and had led to the proliferation of refugees and internally displaced persons.

SIMON KASSAS, observer for the Holy See, said that to eradicate human trafficking, its economic, environmental, political and ethical causes must be confronted.  Wars and violent conflicts had become the biggest driver of forced human displacement.  Such conflicts enabled human traffickers to exploit such environments and target refugees.  Efforts to end conflict should be accompanied by measures to protect affected populations from traffickers, in particular the most vulnerable, including women and children.  He highlighted the importance of implementing the responsibility to protect in the context of the migration and refugee crisis.  The criminalization of forced migrants and of undocumented and irregular migrants in general exacerbated their vulnerabilities and drove them further into the clutches of traffickers.  It also rendered them less likely to collaborate with law enforcement authorities to catch and punish traffickers.

TARIQ ALI FARAJ AL-ANSARI (Qatar) said that the Secretary‑General’s report contained important recommendations that would enable the international community to combat human trafficking, especially in conflict‑prone regions.  The indicators showed an increasing numbers of victims, especially among women and children.  Terrorist groups were using human trafficking to recruit soldiers and raise funds.  His country would focus on addressing the root causes of trafficking, whether social, economic, cultural, political, ideological, or due to the absence of rule of law.  At the national level, there were a number of legislative measures in place to punish perpetrators and provide rehabilitation for victims.  Qatar was also a member of the Group of Friends United against Human Trafficking, and was one of the biggest supporters of UNODC.

SIMA SAMI BAHOUS (Jordan), expressing alarm about the revolting images of human trafficking in Libya that had recently surfaced in the news media, said that human beings continued to be sold like merchandise, despite the best efforts of the international community to combat the problem.  It was necessary to have a holistic vision of the issue.  Instead of focusing solely on the hotspots, the international community must combat underlying causes.  Security and development issues were inextricably linked and it was crucial to redouble efforts to fight human trafficking perpetrated by terrorist groups.  Calling for a global preventive strategy that would empower young people and build capacity in developing countries, she noted that Jordanian law criminalized all forms of human trafficking.

NOA FURMAN (Israel) said that, due to a serious trafficking problem throughout the 1990s and into the early 2000s, her country had introduced a comprehensive anti‑trafficking law in 2006 with the goal to make every Government official, student, business executive, police officer and citizen aware of trafficking and its victims.  Israel’s National Anti‑Trafficking Unit provided more than 50 training sessions for officials annually.  Lawyers in the State Attorney’s Office received special training to enhance the law enforcement side of anti‑trafficking.  For the general public, lectures and interviews with survivors at universities and in the media were offered.  Leaflets were distributed to raise awareness and efforts had been made to reduce the stigma that could accompany human trafficking.  On the international level, Israel worked with other countries to combat trafficking on a global scale, she said, adding that it had not been spared from the cruelty of human trafficking, but it was doing its best to combat it on all fronts.

ISBETH LISBETH QUIEL MURCIA (Panama) said that human trafficking recognized no borders and affected all countries.  It was a degrading practice and a violation of human rights, which stripped away the humanity of victims for the benefit of criminal networks.  She echoed the condemnation of the United Nations Secretary‑General, following reports in the media that revealed the existence of markets of human beings in Libya.  The auctioning of migrants and refugees was a shocking reality, she noted.  As conflicts generated migrant flows, she urged international cooperation efforts to focus on the problem through a unified approach.  In‑line with the Global Plan of Action, Panama had rolled out specific actions for the prevention of human trafficking and the prosecution of traffickers.  In the area of data collection, it had created a biometric database that prevented individuals with criminal ties from entering the country.

TORE HATTREM (Norway), speaking on behalf of the Nordic Countries, acknowledged the dual nature of human trafficking as a cause and consequence of conflict and instability.  Terrorist groups such as ISIL, Boko Haram, Al‑Shabaab and the LRA were using trafficking as a tactic of terror and war, while also raising money for their operations and criminal infrastructure.  Women and children were particularly exposed, often in the form of sexual slavery, and forced labour as soldiers and spies.  Welcoming the adoption last week at the margins of the United Nations Peacekeeping Ministerial conference in Canada, of the Vancouver principles on the prevention of the recruitment and use of child soldiers, he said it was necessary to improve data sharing and monitoring between countries and the Organization’s entities.

Mr. ELKHADIR (Morocco) said that in 2013, his country had adopted a national policy for fighting human trafficking that focused on a humane approach that would shelter migrants from being trafficked.  Morocco had also demonstrated its commitment at the international stage by adhering to the relevant conventions.  Extreme poverty and conflict, among other causes, had spawned vulnerabilities that criminals could exploit, and a security approach was not enough to fight that.  What was needed was a multi‑sectoral approach that involved cooperation between countries of origin, transit and destination, he stressed.

Mr. MAFADAL (Sudan) said that the heinous pictures and news about the African refugees in Libya should provide impetus to the international community in confronting the problem.  Criminal networks were profiting from humanitarian crises, especially by exploiting vulnerable groups for sexual trafficking and organ trade.  Calling for international and bilateral cooperation in intercepting illegal financial flows, he said that the unprecedented mass movements of refugees and migrants had led to huge problems, including in his country.  Recalling Sudan’s recent progress in combating transnational organized crime, he said that its police forces had managed to liberate thousands of victims of smuggling on their way to Libya and eventually Europe.

JAN KICKERT (Austria), aligning him with the European Union, welcomed the adoption of resolution 2388 (2017) and highlighted the vulnerability of women and children in conflict situations.  Terrorists were capturing women and girls to sell or offer as rewards to fighters, and children were being recruited by armed groups and then being used as child soldiers and human shields.  In combating human trafficking, Austria was following a victim‑centred approach based on rights and rule of law.  It was crucial to focus on preventing trafficking, identifying and protecting victims and ending the climate of impunity.  In view of the transnational nature of the offence, all stakeholders, both at the national and international level, needed to work together, he said, encouraging States to make use of the expertise offered by UNODC.

KIRA CHRISTIANNE DANGANAN AZUCENA (Philippines) said that armed conflict and unstable peace and order situations increased the vulnerabilities of children and youth for recruitment into civilian armed groups and rebel groups.  The Philippines’ efforts were focused on preventing recruitment, holding perpetrators accountable and training frontline officers on appropriate methods to assist children rescued from armed groups.  Examining trafficking corridors and business flow was critical in addressing how human trafficking was being used to finance terrorist activities, armed groups and transnational organized crime networks.  That approach had enabled her Government to locate victims and traffickers throughout the entire process, especially at critical points of intervention.

JORGE SKINNER-KLÉE (Guatemala) said that armed conflicts and humanitarian crises amplified the risk of trafficking, and victimized refugees and internally displaced persons.  There was growing proof of the link between trafficking and terrorist groups.  The Council had witnessed the high cost in human life due to conflicts, and the work it did could have an impact on that area.  A year ago, it adopted resolution 2331 (2016), which condemned all acts of trafficking in persons.  That resolution also focused on the importance of collecting evidence in relation to those acts, to ensure the accountability of those responsible.  He said he deplored that most victims of such crimes had been children, and condemned the fact that migratory women and children had become vulnerable to trafficking and crime networks.  The Council should not fail to address such violent and inhumane acts, he said.

GABRIELA MARTINIC (Argentina) said that she believed that combatting trafficking should involve a comprehensive approach, and it was relevant that it was discussed within the framework of the General Assembly.  Terrorist groups were using trafficking as a weapon of terror and a source of financing, she said.  At the national level, combatting trafficking in persons was dealt with by Argentina’s executive committee, which also provided protection to victims.  It coordinated the actions of a variety of Ministries, and the Federal Council had been tasked with drafting the country’s strategy.  The Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of National Security had promoted the gender perspective across the board, by providing training and preventing gender‑based violence.  Conflict could only be tackled when respect for international humanitarian law was safeguarded, she said.

LOUISE BLAIS (Canada) said that her country’s new Feminist International Assistance Policy aimed to reduce poverty, inequality, violence and conflict, all of which increased vulnerability to human trafficking and led migrants towards smuggling.  Human traffickers could be deprived of funding and access to the international financial system by using tools developed to combat financial crime.  In that context, the Canadian project PROTECT, established in 2016, was a unique public‑private endeavour involving the country’s financial intelligence unit, law enforcement and financial institutions committed to tracking money‑laundering associated with such activities.  She also drew attention to the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers, launched at the recent United Nations Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial.  Canada had endorsed the Principles and looked forward to working with others to implement them, she said.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said that, since 25 August, his country had witnessed an unprecedented influx of 620,000 people, mostly Rohingya, from Myanmar’s Rakhine State, in the wake of the atrocious crimes committed against them.  He expressed concern over the possibility of the large number of women and children among them falling prey to traffickers.  With sea routes becoming safer during the current season for operating makeshift boats, it was likely that those elements would try to take advantage of the forcibly displaced persons from Rakhine State still entering Bangladesh on an almost daily basis.  Those who claimed that the situation on the ground in Rakhine State had stabilized were either deliberately ignoring the reality or had a vested agenda of their own.  The Secretary‑General was expected to brief the Council in December on the situation in Rakhine State, and he urged him to make practical recommendations for addressing the threat of trafficking in persons.

MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq), underscoring that human trafficking undermined rule of law and stoked further instability, stated that his country had ratified the Palermo Protocol and had adopted legislation which set up a mechanism to assist human trafficking victims and hold perpetrators accountable.  The Government had also participated in the exchange of information with various competent bodies, international organizations and neighbouring States and was working with civil society organizations and religious circles.  Iraq had suffered enormously, with Da’esh abducting thousands of its citizens, including women and children.  Calling upon countries of destination not to treat trafficking victims as illegal immigrants or criminals, he said that all Member States must implement all the relevant texts, including resolution 2331 (2016), resolution 2379 (2017) and the resolution just adopted that would enable a coordinated response.

ASHRAF ELNOUR MUSTAFA MOHAMED NOUR, International Organization for Migration (IOM), said that while legal frameworks for victims of human trafficking had been strengthened in recent years, there had been less progress in preventing human trafficking from occurring in the first place.  The demand for cheap goods and sexual services drove trafficking, he noted, adding that the number of people benefiting from protection schemes for victims remained small.  It was important to increase Governments’ and civil society’s capacity to identify and assist all migrants in vulnerable situations.  More investment was needed to learn and draw on the experience and expertise acquired by the anti‑trafficking community to date.  Underscoring the importance of the collection, standardization and analysis of data, he highlighted the agency’s Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative, which was a multi‑stakeholder, open data publishing platform.

KAHA IMNADZE (Georgia), aligning himself with the European Union, said trafficking was being used by criminals as a weapon of terror and the growing number of refugees and migrants would only exacerbate the problem.  The root causes of migration must be addressed, he said, urging the international community to do more to help the Government of Libya.  Taking action against trafficking required a sustainable political commitment, legislative framework, multisectoral approaches, proactive investigations and awareness raising initiatives.  The Russian Federation’s illegal occupation of the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions remained an obstacle to the Government of Georgia, affecting the full implementation of counter‑trafficking measures, he said, adding that there were no mechanisms to effectively identify, investigate and prosecute alleged cases in occupied regions.

GEORGI VELIKOV PANAYOTOV (Bulgaria), associating him with the European Union, stressed the importance of accelerating the international commitment to eliminate human trafficking through a comprehensive, multidisciplinary and cross‑border approach.  Reaffirming a commitment to the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols therein as well as to Security Council resolution 2331 (2016), he added that the draft under consideration today emphasized the protection of children.  Bulgaria was among the pioneers in Europe to adopt specialized anti‑trafficking legislation back in 2003 and currently had one of the most comprehensive legal and institutional frameworks to combat trafficking in persons, he noted.

TIJJANI MUHAMMAD BANDE (Nigeria) said terrorist groups, such as ISIL/Da’esh and Boko Haram, had introduced a new dimension to human trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and girls.  Although Boko Haram had been militarily defeated and some success had been achieved in liberating a number of women and girls held as hostages, a great amount of work still remained to be done until all hostages were freed.  The situation in Libya further confirmed the complexity of trafficking networks and the dehumanizing treatment of the victims.  The United Nations system should work in concert to fight human trafficking in conflict situations and in the context of terrorism.  A coordinated approach among the agencies would enhance the overall effectiveness of the United Nations in the fight against trafficking and terrorism.  Further, Member States should further commit to the implementation of relevant international legal instruments such as the Palermo Protocol.

EDGAR SISI (Botswana) said no country was immune to human trafficking, which had been exploited by terrorist groups and networks to finance illegal activities.  A State party to the Palermo Convention, Botswana had passed the Anti‑Human Trafficking Act of 2014 and established a committee to prohibit, prevent and combat the phenomenon and protect and assist victims.  He expressed appreciation for continued UNODC support in training prosecutors, law enforcement and judicial officers on human trafficking, terrorism and money laundering.  Through such assistance, Botswana had conducted awareness campaigns and capacity‑building and training workshops.  Looking ahead, he called for strengthening international cooperation, partnerships and technical assistance.

ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives) said his country had criminalized trafficking in persons in 2013 and continued to implement strict measures.  Noting the Security Council’s increased role in confronting human trafficking in conflict situations, he said the best strategy to end such crimes was through a culture of respect for human dignity, human rights and the protection of rights for persons in vulnerable situations.  Partners must work with national Governments in strengthening the implementation of national and international laws and norms.  The Maldives hosted a large number of migrant workers and recognized the importance of protecting the rights of its expatriates.  Efforts to halt trafficking included a five‑year national action plan and, at the international level, joining the Palermo Convention in 2013.  In that regard, he called for stronger global cooperation and coordination to identify effective solutions.

MUHAMMAD SHAHRUL IKRAM YAAKOB (Malaysia) said that, given the multi‑faceted dimensions of trafficking in persons, it was crucial that the international community mobilized complementary legal means to investigate and dismantle trafficking networks.  He expressed support for UNODC and other relevant bodies in providing technical support to Member States to build and enhance their law enforcement capacities.  Because Malaysia was a country of destination and transit, cooperation and coordination with neighbouring countries and the international community were essential to combat trafficking.  He called on the Council to better utilize its tools to monitor trends in human trafficking in armed conflicts areas, identify perpetrators and hold them accountable.  He also underscored the role played by local communities, civil societies and religious leaders in ensuring the reintegration and rehabilitation of survivors.

LOIS MICHELE YOUNG (Belize) said her country had benefited from regional, international and civil society support in providing ongoing training to build up its prevention, protection and prosecutorial capacities to address trafficking in persons.  The training was targeting sectors like tourism and agriculture, businesses such as utilities companies and inspectors of the Social Security Board to help identify potential victims.  With support from IOM, it had also trained prosecutors, with a special focus on the rights of victims and the role of the judiciary and prosecutors in upholding them.  However, the country lacked the financial and human resources to address long‑term victim assistance that would reintegrate them into the workforce and away from the protection system.  Her country had found that language and low levels of literacy were major barriers to victims being retrained and accessing gainful employment.

FRANCISCO ANTÓNIO DUARTE LOPES (Portugal) said that any effective intervention regarding human trafficking must be based on common efforts in terms of prevention, awareness and support.  He urged all who had not yet done so to accede to and ratify the Trafficking in Persons Protocol, which provided a broad basis for action against traffickers as well as protection and assistance to victims.  Portugal had developed its first national plan against trafficking in 2007, involving the public sector as well as civil society.  Its third national plan was currently being implemented, entailing policy measures focused around prevention, awareness, research, education, criminal investigation and cooperation.

MANSOUR AYYAD SH A ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, noted the effect of conflict in his region on forced migration and subsequent vulnerability to trafficking.  Such migration must be dealt with in a humane way that addressed underlying causes.  Slavery, which was particularly reprehensible, and other such crimes were serious violations of human rights that could be defined as crimes against humanity or war crimes.  Efforts to stem human trafficking must be linked to sustainable development goals.  His country had adopted laws to outlaw human trafficking and had signed onto international instruments.  The international framework must be strengthened, with wider international cooperation within existing instruments.  Paying tribute to all the specialized agencies that had taken leading roles in fighting the scourge, he reaffirmed his country’s commitment, including by continuing to strengthen its legal regime.

HABIB MIKAYILLI (Azerbaijan) said that root causes of such crimes must be addressed, perpetrators must held accountable and the necessary legal, psychological, material and other assistance must be provided to victims.  Strengthening State authority and the rule of law was also critical.  Welcoming the growing international framework, he noted that his country had ratified the Protocol to the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and had adopted related national action plans to cover actions over the past 14 years.  The legal framework for liability for trafficking had been inserted into the criminal code, mechanisms had been developed to coordinate the work of ministries and bilateral and multilateral agreements had been signed with some 40 countries, in addition to other activities at the international level.

AMIERA OBAID ALHEFEITI (United Arab Emirates), said that human trafficking had become a matter of deep concern in her region, particularly in regards to the harm caused to women and girls who were prey to Da’esh and other violent extremists.  Since 2007, the United Arab Emirates had developed legal frameworks, policies and social infrastructure to fight those crimes.  Prevention had been pursued through education programmes and other means; law enforcement had been trained; and prosecutorial capacity had been strengthened.  As well, survivors were being provided with counselling, shelter and resettlement, among other assistance.  Multilaterally and internationally, the country was cooperating with countries of origin, having signed agreements with five such countries to help address related conditions there.  She called for the development of an integrated, holistic response with cooperation between public and private sectors and linkages to sustainable development for all.  She also called on Member States to engage in the process that would encourage safe and orderly legal migration.

MACHARIA KAMAU (Kenya) said that the kidnapping of the school girls in Chibok, Nigeria by Boko Haram was a chilling reminder of how trafficking had evolved into a weapon of terror.  He drew attention to the abhorrent situation in Libya, where Africans were being auctioned in open slave markets.  Nothing could be more distressing than slavery being practiced in broad daylight in front of news cameras.  The adoption of Security Council resolution 1973 (2011) had significantly contributed to the breakdown of law and order in Libya.  That resolution, which had been passed against the will of the African Union, remained a stigma and an indictment of the Security Council.  In its short‑sightedness, it had caused more suffering and distress than it sought to address.  Further, it was the Council’s action that had led to Libya’s coastline becoming an open border for traffickers and smugglers who had become merchants of death.  The Council, therefore, had a special obligation to address the situation in Libya.  Tragically, the plight of migrants crossing through that country had been exacerbated by the European Union’s policy of financing, training and equipping undefined groups in Libya to intercept migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea.  He demanded an end to the European Union’s inhuman policy and called on the Union to seek sustainable solutions for migrants in detention camps in Libya, including solutions dealing with those who had been sold into slavery.

HAU DO SUAN (Myanmar) welcomed the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons and UNDOC’s Technical Assistance Programmes for Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants.  Myanmar had enacted the Anti‑Trafficking in Persons Law in 2005 and continued to conduct awareness‑raising activities across the country.  It was also cooperating with other countries in the region by signing bilateral agreements, including ratifying ASEAN’s Convention against Trafficking in Persons.  While humanitarian crises due to natural disasters or conflicts left people living in affected areas vulnerable, persistent poverty in less developed countries was also a root cause of the issue, he/she said, noting the importance of private sector engagement and efforts to reach the relevant goals of the 2030 Agenda.  Regarding the situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and the potential exploitation of the people who fled across the border, Myanmar was working with Bangladesh on the voluntary, safe and dignified return of that population.  The repatriation process would start in three weeks after signing a bilateral agreement for the arrangement of repatriation, he/she said.

KAREL JAN GUSTAAF VAN OOSTEROM (Netherlands) stressed that prevention was of the utmost importance, while there was also a need to enhance the international community’s understanding of the relationship between human trafficking and the financing of terrorism.  Trafficking in human beings was an act that constituted a gross human rights violation, which made it crucial for the United Nations and its Member States to prioritize the protection of victims.  Human trafficking thrived in climates of impunity, which underscored the need to arrest, detail and prosecute perpetrators.  Partnerships were at the heart of the shared responsibility to stop human trafficking, and in that context, the Netherlands encouraged the Security Council to address irregular migration, including human trafficking, in mission mandates and reporting, where appropriate.

MHER MARGARYAN (Armenia) said that trafficking of human beings was a global challenge that needed to be addressed collectively and holistically.  His Government, along with international cooperation, had initiated numerous national reforms, including implementing four national action plans to combat that phenomenon.  While its initial aims were to create a sound legislative framework and carry out assistance projects for victims, the focus had shifted towards prevention‑related activities.  A strong partnership between national authorities and civil society organizations was especially important in that regard.  He went on to highlight the need for adequate training of all stakeholders, including peacekeepers and humanitarian personnel to help identify and tackle the risks of trafficking, especially related to women and children.

Resolution

The full text of resolution 2388 (2017) reads as follows:

The Security Council,

Recalling presidential statement 2015/25, resolution 2331 (2016),

Taking note of the Secretary-General’s report (document S/2017/939),

Recalling its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations,

Taking note of the efforts undertaken by United Nations entities and international and regional bodies to implement resolution 2331 (2016), including the development of a thematic paper on trafficking in persons in conflict situations, the establishment of the Task Team on anti-trafficking in humanitarian action within the Global Protection Cluster, the development by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) of a structured system of data collection on trafficking in persons in the context of armed conflict, including through the publication of the 2016 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, and the inclusion by the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), within the existing mandate, under the policy guidance of the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC), and in close cooperation with UNODC and other relevant entities, in its country assessments, as appropriate, of information regarding Member States’ efforts to address the issue of trafficking in persons where it is committed for the purpose of supporting terrorism, including through the financing of or recruitment for the commission of terrorist acts,

Recalling the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, which includes the first internationally agreed definition of the crime of trafficking in persons and provides a framework to effectively prevent and combat trafficking in persons, and further recalling the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons,

Recognizing that trafficking in persons in areas affected by armed conflict and post-conflict situations can be for the purpose of various forms of exploitation, including exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs; further recognizing that trafficking in persons in armed conflict and post-conflict situations can also be associated with sexual violence in conflict and that women and children in situations of armed conflict and persons forcibly displaced by armed conflict, including refugees, can be especially vulnerable to trafficking in persons in armed conflict and to these forms of exploitation,

Recalling the Political Declaration on the implementation of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, adopted by the General Assembly on 27 September 2017, and further welcoming the resolve of Member States expressed therein to take decisive concerted action to end trafficking in persons, wherever it may occur,

Reiterating deep concern that despite its condemnation of acts of trafficking in persons in areas affected by armed conflict, such acts continue to occur,

Reiterating its solidarity with victims of trafficking in persons in armed conflict and post-conflict situations andnoting the importance of providing them with appropriate care, assistance and services for their physical, psychological and social recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration, in full respect of their human rights and in a manner that takes full account of the extreme trauma they have suffered and the risk of further victimization and stigmatization,

Reaffirming that trafficking in persons in the context of armed conflict, especially women and girls, cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality or civilization,

Recalling resolutions 2359 (2017) and 2374 (2017), which express concern over the serious challenges posed by different forms of transnational organized crime, including trafficking in persons and the smuggling of migrants in the Sahel region, and recalling also resolutions 2240 (2015) and 2380 (2017), which express concern that the situation in Libya is exacerbated by the smuggling of migrants and human trafficking into, through and from the Libyan territory, which could provide support to other organized crime and terrorist networks in Libya,

Reiterating the critical importance of all Member States fully implementing relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 2195 (2014), 2253 (2015), 2199 (2015) and 2368 (2017), which express concern that terrorists benefit from transnational organized crime in some regions, including from trafficking in persons, as well as 2242 (2015), which expresses concern that acts of sexual violence and gender-based violence are known to be part of the strategic objectives and ideology of certain terrorist groups used as a tactic of terrorism and an instrument to increase their finances and their power through recruitment and the destruction of communities; and further reiterating the connection between trafficking in persons, sexual violence and terrorism and other organized criminal activities, which can prolong and exacerbate conflict and instability or intensify its impact on civilian populations,

Recognizing the need to continue to foster a global partnership against trafficking in persons among all stakeholders, including inter alia, through bilateral, multilateral and regional processes and initiatives,

Recognizing that trafficking in persons entails the violation or abuse of human rights and underscoring that certain acts or offences associated with trafficking in persons in the context of armed conflict may constitute war crimes; and recallingfurther the responsibilities of States to end impunity and to prosecute those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes as well as other crimes and the need for States to adopt appropriate measures within their national legal systems for those crimes for which they are required under international law to exercise their responsibility to investigate and prosecute,

Condemning in the strongest terms continued gross, systematic and widespread abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law by ISIL (also known as Da’esh); and abductions of women and children by ISIL, ANF, and associated individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities and expressing outrage at their exploitation and abuse, including rape and sexual violence, forced marriage and enslavement by these entities, encouraging all State and non-state actors with evidence to bring it to the attention of the Council, along with any information that human trafficking and related forms of exploitation and abuse may support the perpetrators financially, emphasizing that States are required to ensure that their nationals and persons within their territory do not make available any funds, financial assets or economic resources for ISIL’s benefit, and noting that any person or entity who transfers funds to ISIL directly or indirectly in connection with such exploitation and abuse would be eligible for listing by the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011), 2253 (2015) and 2368 (2017) concerning ISIL/Da’esh, Al‑Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities,

Recognizing that persons affected by armed conflict and fleeing conflict are at great risk of being subjected to trafficking in persons, and stressing the need to prevent and identify instances of trafficking in persons among those forcibly displaced or otherwise affected by armed conflict,

Expressing grave concern over the high numbers of women and children subjected to trafficking in armed conflicts, and recognizing that acts of trafficking in persons are often associated with other violations of applicable international law and other abuses, including those involving recruitment and use, abduction and sexual violence including, inter alia, rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution and forced pregnancy; and calling on all Member States to hold perpetrators accountable and to assist victims in their recovery and reintegration,

Reiterating its grave concern over the abduction of children in situations of armed conflict, the majority of which are perpetrated by non-State armed groups, recognizing that abductions occur in a variety of settings, including schools, further recognizing that abduction often precedes or follows other abuses and violations of applicable international law against children, including those involving recruitment and use, killing and maiming, as well as rape and other forms of sexual violence, which may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity, and calling on all Member States to hold perpetrators of abductions accountable,

Expressing deep concern over the heightened vulnerability to exploitation and abuse of children forcibly displaced by armed conflict, particularly when separated from their families or caregivers, andunderlining the need to ensure protection of all unaccompanied children who are victims of or those vulnerable to trafficking in persons through their prompt identification and immediate assistance taking into account their specific needs,

Condemning all violations and abuses against children in armed conflict, including trafficking in persons and recalling all its resolutions on children and armed conflict that call for the protection of children, and in particular Resolution 1261 (1999) as well as resolution 1612 (2005), establishing the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism on children and armed conflict,

Noting measures taken by UN peacekeeping and special political missions in accordance with their mandates, to assist host States in exercising their primary responsibility to prevent and combat trafficking in persons, also noting measures taken by Member States to provide pre-deployment training on trafficking in persons to personnel that will be deployed in UN peacekeeping missions and encouraging further action in this area,

Noting the initiative by Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Department of Field Support and the UNODC to develop a training module on human trafficking and smuggling of migrants for in mission training of police personnel in selected peacekeeping missions, where applicable,

Underscoring the need for improved collection, also through relevant data base systems managed by international organizations, including UNODC and INTERPOL, of timely, objective, accurate and reliable data on trafficking in persons in situations of conflict, disaggregated by sex, age and other relevant factors, as well as on financial flows associated with trafficking in persons,

Reaffirming the need to ensure organization and coherence in the efforts of the United Nations System to address trafficking in persons in areas affected by armed conflict or in post conflict situations and further recognizing the need to continue to work towards an enhanced comprehensive and coordinated approach to prevent and combat trafficking, which can contribute to sustainable peace and stability,

“1.   Reaffirms its condemnation in the strongest terms of all instances of trafficking in persons, especially women and children, who make up the vast majority of all victims of trafficking in persons in areas affected by armed conflicts, and stresses that trafficking in persons undermines the rule of law and contributes to other forms of transnational organized crime, which can exacerbate conflict and foster insecurity and instability and undermine development;

“2.   Urges Members States to consider, as a matter of priority, ratifying or acceding to, and for States Parties to effectively implement, the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its supplementing Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, as well as all relevant international instruments;

“3.   Calls upon Member States to reinforce their political commitment to and improve their implementation of applicable legal obligations to criminalize, prevent, and otherwise combat trafficking in persons, and to strengthen efforts to detect and disrupt trafficking in persons, including implementing robust victim identification mechanisms and providing access to protection and assistance for identified victims, including in relation to areas affected by armed conflict; underscores in this regard the importance of international law enforcement cooperation, including with respect to investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases and, in this regard, calls for the continued support of the UNODC in providing technical assistance to Member States upon request;

“4.   Further calls upon Member States, where appropriate, to review, amend and implement anti-trafficking and related legislation to ensure that all forms of trafficking in persons, including when it is committed in situations of armed conflict or by armed and terrorist groups are addressed, and to consider establishing jurisdiction to end the impunity of offenders in line with Article 15 of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime;

“5.   Also calls upon Member States to step up their efforts to investigate, disrupt and dismantle networks engaging in trafficking in persons in areas affected by armed conflict and to take all appropriate measures to collect, preserve and store evidence of human trafficking;

“6.   Calls upon Member States to combat crimes that might be connected with trafficking in persons in areas affected by armed conflict, such as money-laundering, corruption, the smuggling of migrants and other forms of organized crime, including by making use of financial investigations in order to identify and analyse financial intelligence, as well as by reinforcing regional and international operational law enforcement cooperation;

“7.   Calls upon Member States to strengthen compliance with international Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism standards and increase capacity to conduct proactive financial investigations to track and disrupt human trafficking and identify potential linkages with terrorism financing;

“8.   Urges Member States, while addressing trafficking in persons in areas affected by armed conflicts, to adopt a multi-dimensional approach that includes incorporating information on the risks of trafficking in persons into school curricula and training programs;

“9.   Encourages Member States to increase efforts to collect, analyse and share through appropriate channels and arrangements and consistent with international and domestic law data relating to financial flows associated with human trafficking and the extent and nature of financing of terrorism activities through human trafficking activities, and to provide, where applicable, CTED and the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team with relevant information pertaining to linkages between human trafficking and terrorist financing;

“10.  Reiterates its condemnation of all acts of trafficking, particularly the sale or trade in persons undertaken by the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL/Da’esh), including of Yazidis and other persons belonging to religious and ethnic minorities, and of any such trafficking in persons crimes and other violations and abuses committed by Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, the Lord’s Resistance Army, and other terrorist or armed groups for the purpose of sexual slavery, sexual exploitation, and forced labour, and underscores the importance of collecting and preserving evidence relating to such acts in order to ensure that those responsible can be held accountable;

“11.  Requests the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, when consulting with Member States, to continue including in their discussions the issue of trafficking in persons in areas of armed conflict and the use of sexual violence in armed conflict as it relates to ISIL/Da’esh, Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities and to report to the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011), 2253 (2015) and 2368 (2017) on these discussions as appropriate;

“12.  Requests the CTED, within its existing mandate, under the policy guidance of the CTC, and in close cooperation with UNODC and other relevant entities, to increase its efforts to include in CTED’s country assessments, as appropriate, information regarding Member States efforts to address the issue of trafficking in persons where it is committed for the purpose of supporting terrorism, including through the financing of or recruitment for the commission of terrorist acts;

“13.  Calls upon Member States to enhance the capabilities of professionals interacting with persons forcibly displaced by armed conflict, including refugees, such as law enforcement, border control officials and criminal justice systems personnel of refugee and displaced persons reception facilities, to identify victims or persons vulnerable to trafficking, to adopt gender and age sensitive assistance, including adequate psychosocial support and health services, regardless of their participation in criminal investigations and proceedings;

“14.  Recognizes the need to strengthen the identification, registration, protection, assistance for forcibly displaced persons, including refugees and stateless persons, who are victims of trafficking or at risk of being trafficked;

“15.  Encourages Member States to use refugee registration mechanisms to assess vulnerability and identify potential victims of trafficking as well as their specific assistance needs, and in this regard, encourages Member States to develop informative material to explain to victims of trafficking in persons who are refugees their rights and avenues for assistance, so as to enable them to engage with relevant authorities and access services and psychosocial support that are available to them;

“16.  Encourages Member States, in particular transit and destination States receiving persons forcibly displaced by armed conflict, to develop and use early-warning and early-screening frameworks of potential or imminent risk of trafficking in persons to proactively and expediently detect victims and persons vulnerable to trafficking, with special attention to women and children, especially those unaccompanied;

“17.  Urges Member States thoroughly to assess the individual situation of persons released from the captivity of armed and terrorist groups so as to enable prompt identification of victims of trafficking, their treatment as victims of crime and to consider, in line with domestic legislation, not prosecuting or punishing victims of trafficking for unlawful activities they committed as a direct result of having been subjected to trafficking;

“18.  Strongly condemns violations of international law, especially those which affect children in situations of armed conflict, including those involving killing and maiming, sexual violence, abduction and forced displacement, recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, attacks against schools and hospitals, denial of humanitarian access and trafficking in persons;

“19.  Urges Member States to identify children who are victims of trafficking and those who are unaccompanied or separated from their families and caregivers, to ensure, where relevant, their timely registration and to consider their particular protection needs, including, as appropriate, by referring them to the relevant child protection authorities regardless of their immigration status;

“20.  Recognizes the importance of providing timely and appropriate reintegration and rehabilitation assistance to children affected by armed conflict, while ensuring that the specific needs of girls and boys as well as children with disabilities are addressed, including access to health care, psychosocial support, and education programmes that contribute to the well-being of children and to sustainable peace and security and encourages relevant international organizations and civil societies organizations to assist Member States’ efforts in this regard;

“21.  Urges Member States to refrain from the use of administrative detention of children, especially those victims of trafficking in persons, for violations of immigration laws and regulations, unless as a measure of last resort, in the least restrictive setting, for the shortest possible period of time, under conditions that respect their human rights and in a manner that takes into account, as a primary consideration, the best interest of the child and encourages them to work towards the ending of this practice;

“22.  Requests the Secretary-General to further explore, as appropriate, links between the trafficking of children in conflict situations and the grave violations against children affected by armed conflict as determined by the United Nations, with a view to addressing all violations and abuses against children in armed conflict;

“23.  Welcomes further briefings on trafficking in persons in armed conflict, as necessary, by relevant United Nations entities, including the Executive Director of UNODC, UNHCR, and other international and regional bodies such as International Organization for Migration (IOM), and encourages Member States to provide to UNODC information on victims of trafficking from areas affected by conflict or victims trafficked into conflict areas for inclusion within the existing reporting obligations;

“24.  Requests the Secretary-General to ensure that the thematic paper on trafficking in persons in conflict situations developed by UNODC in consultation with relevant United Nations agencies and other international bodies is disseminated within the UN system, and encourages relevant United Nations agencies and entities to use it in their respective activities in accordance with their mandates and develop their capability to assess and respond to situations of trafficking in persons in armed conflict;

“25.  Expresses its intention, to give greater consideration, where appropriate, to how peacekeeping and special political missions, can assist host States in exercising their primary responsibility to prevent and combat trafficking in persons, and requests the Secretary-General to ensure that assessments of country situations conducted upon the Security Council’s request on such missions include, where relevant, anti-trafficking research and expertise;

“26.  Requests the Secretary-General, in consultation with Member States, to ensure, where appropriate, that training of relevant personnel of special political and peacekeeping missions include, on the basis of a preliminary assessment and taking also into account the protection and assistance needs of the victims of trafficking in persons, specific information enabling them, within their mandates, to identify, confirm, respond to and report on situations of trafficking in persons;

“27.  Reiterates its intention to integrate the issue of trafficking in persons in areas affected by armed conflict into the work of relevant Security Council Sanctions Committees where in accordance with their mandates, and expresses its intention to invite all relevant Special Representatives of the Secretary-General, including the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, to brief these sanctions committees, as necessary, in accordance with the Committee’s rules of procedure and to provide relevant information, including, if applicable, the names of individuals involved in the trafficking in persons who meet the committees’ designation criteria;

“28.  Also requests the Secretary-General to ensure that members of the monitoring groups, teams and panels supporting the work of relevant sanctions committees build their technical capacity to identify and report on instances of trafficking in persons encountered in the discharge of their duties and in accordance with their respective mandates, and further requests the Secretary-General to ensure that the monitoring and reporting arrangements on sexual violence in areas affected by armed conflict systematically collect data on conflict-related trafficking in persons for the purpose of sexual violence or exploitation;

“29.  Invites the Secretary-General to ensure that the work of the investigative team established pursuant to resolution 2379 (2017) is informed by relevant anti‑trafficking research and expertise and that its efforts to collect evidence on trafficking in persons offences are gender-sensitive, victim centred, trauma-informed, rights-based and not prejudicial to the safety and security of victims;

“30.  Calls upon Member States to cooperate with the investigative team established pursuant to resolution 2379 (2017), including through mutual arrangements on legal assistance, where necessary and appropriate, and in particular to provide it with any relevant information as appropriate they may possess pertaining to its mandate under that resolution;

“31.  Calls upon United Nations system organizations to enhance transparency in their procurement and supply chains and step up their efforts to strengthen protections against trafficking in persons in all United Nations procurement and to that effect request major suppliers to establish and implement anti-human trafficking policies and disclose information on measures taken to counter trafficking in persons in their operations and supply chains;

“32.  Welcomes efforts aimed at developing a coordinated response within the United Nations System to prevent and counter trafficking in persons in situations of armed conflict and to protect its victims, and requests all United Nations entities involved in combating trafficking in persons to actively participate in the regular work of existing mechanisms, especially the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons which was established to foster coordination among United Nations entities and other international organizations;

“33.  Invites the Secretary-General to include in relevant regular reports on special political and peacekeeping missions, information on efforts undertaken, within their mandates, to assist the host-State’s institutions in preventing and combating trafficking in persons and in protecting and assisting victims of trafficking, in particular women and children;

“34.  Requests the Secretary-General to follow-up on the implementation of this resolution and report back to the Security Council on progress made within 12 months;

“35.  Decides to remain actively seized of this matter.”

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States Must Step Up Efforts to Check Spread of Deadly Weapons as Non-State Actors Exploit Rapid Technological Advances, Speakers Tell Security Council

In tackling drones, 3D printing, the dark web and other emerging threats hindering non-proliferation efforts, States must bolster their efforts as well as technological advances in order to combat the spread of weapons of mass destruction and keep them out of the hands of terrorists and other non-State actors, delegates told the Security Council today.

Briefing the Council on those and other new concerns and responses, Izumi Nakamitsu, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said many of the technologies, goods and raw materials required to produce weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems were available through legitimate producers.  She also emphasized the importance of international cooperation and dialogue with the private sector in eradicating illicit trafficking routes.

Despite the gains of the last decade, much still remained to be done, she continued.  Joint non-proliferation efforts must identify actions by which to grapple with threats arising from globalization, which had facilitated the exploitation and use of weapons of mass destruction, she said, noting that terrorists groups had evolved into cyberspace and, alongside other non-State actors, exploited loopholes to access the technology they needed.  The international community must prosecute all those responsible for supporting terrorist actions, she said, stressing that overcoming such challenges hinged upon cooperation among security agencies, including the sharing of information.

Agreeing, Joseph Ballard, Senior Officer for the Office of Strategy and Policy at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said the rising threat posed by non-State actors, the pace of economic development and the evolution of science and technology were all shaping the future of the global disarmament and non-proliferation regimes.  Moreover, the use of chemical weapons by non-State actors was no longer a threat, but a chilling reality.

The focus must shift to preventing the re-emergence of chemical weapons and to adjusting programmes and resources as needs arose.  Preventing non-State actors from acquiring dual-use materials, equipment and technologies was of critical importance to maintaining the global norm against the use of chemical weapons and in favour of international peace and security, he said.  Outlining recent efforts, he said OPCW had tested a mechanism designed to respond to a chemical terrorist attack.  “OPCW is committed to playing our part, in close cooperation with this Council and with the range of stakeholders that are so critical to our collective goals,” he added.

When the floor opened, many speakers highlighted the continuing relevance of Council resolution 1540 (2004) in calling for actions to prevent non-State actors from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.  Many underlined the urgent need to shift strategies in order to effectively address new and emerging dangers, as some recalled that Council resolution 2325 (2016) called for strengthening efforts to implement 1540 (2004).

Such efforts were more relevant now than ever before, speakers emphasized.  Panama’s representative said his country’s national efforts included halting the financing of terrorism, regulating dual-use materials and participating in a World Customs Organization programme to monitor the use of shipping containers for illicit trafficking.

Yet, States must be able to meet non-proliferation obligations without jeopardizing the development of commercial, industry and technology markets.  Mexico, home to one of the world’s largest chemical industries, enforced strict export-control standards that dovetailed with national non-proliferation responsibilities, that country’s representative said.

The re-emergence of chemical weapons was another pressing issue as many speakers expressed alarm over reports that they had been used in Iraq and Syria.  More must be done to hold perpetrators accountable and to eliminate chemical those weapons permanently, delegates stressed.

The representative of the United States underlined the need for greater controls over chemical materials, saying that exchanging expertise was important in that regard.  Additionally, the global nuclear security architecture required strengthening, and there was need to address critical gaps in the smuggling of radioactive and other nuclear materials.  Underlining the binding nature of resolution 1540 (2004), she said the use of chemical weapons by the Government of Syria was “troubling”, urging all States to increase pressure to make President Bashar al-Assad stop.

Syria’s representative said that the worst violations of resolution 1540 (2004) were the assistance, support and training provided to terrorist groups by some Western States.  Condemning the use of all weapons of mass destruction, he pointed out that Syria had ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention, ended its chemical weapons programme in record time and had cooperated fully with inquiries carried out since 2014.  Rejecting allegations that its military forces had used chemical weapons, he said Syria had constantly warned the Security Council about the danger of terrorist groups acquiring weapons of mass destruction and had clearly identified the countries supplying them.

Some speakers noted that combating current threats required more than existing tools could handle, with the Russian Federation’s representative describing resolution 1540 (2004) as “insufficient” in light of today’s global threats.  As for the inquiries in Syria, he vowed that his country would continue to conduct impartial investigations into the allegations of chemical weapons use.  Given the ever greater threat posed by chemical or biological warfare, especially in the hands of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and other such groups, the Russian Federation’s proposed initiative to develop an international convention to combat chemical and biological terrorism would set out provisions criminalizing activities under its purview and implement the principle of “extradite or prosecute”, he said.

China’s representative said it was critical to seek a system of common global security based on fairness while also working to eliminate the driving forces of terrorism, but emphasized that “unilateralism, double standards and discriminatory practices” were contrary to such efforts.  All States were entitled to enjoy the fruits of nuclear technology, he said, warning that confrontation and the emphasis on sanctions could further exacerbate the risk of proliferation.

Delegates raised other looming threats alongside suggestions about how to deal with them, as many speakers recalled today’s newspaper headlines about a massive cyberattack in Ukraine, the United Kingdom and other countries.  Sweden’s representative pointed out the risks associated with intangible transfers of technology, whereby sensitive know-how could be transferred through research, industry or social media.

Senegal’s delegate, meanwhile, said that cybersecurity threats could be serious if targeted at nuclear power stations or other relevant infrastructure.  To quash such dire threats, Senegal recommended a prevention-oriented strategy to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the wrong hands.

Egypt’s representative recommended the creation of a new mechanism to coordinate United Nations counter-terrorism strategies.

Kazakhstan’s delegate suggested that the United Nations establish a tracking mechanism on sensitive technologies.

Many speakers expressed support for the work of the Group of Friends of Resolution 1540 (2004), with some calling for more robust action.  Encapsulating a common thread heard throughout the day-long meeting, the United Kingdom’s representative said the cost of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists would be too high to bear.

Also delivering statements were representative of Bolivia, Ukraine, Uruguay, France, Italy, Ethiopia, Japan, Montenegro, Chile, Peru, Israel, Pakistan, Estonia, Poland, Norway (for the Nordic countries), Brazil, Turkey, Belgium, Morocco, South Africa, Austria, Guatemala, Republic of Korea, Viet Nam, Bangladesh, Botswana, Venezuela (for the Non-Aligned Movement), Netherlands, Colombia, Indonesia, Paraguay, Germany, Spain, Cuba, Argentina, India, Armenia, Canada, Greece, Namibia, Nigeria, Slovenia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Malaysia and Iran, as well as the Holy See, European Union and the International Criminal Police Organization.

Taking the floor a second time was Turkey’s delegate, who spoke in response to a statement by the representative of Syria.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m., was suspended at 1:07 p.m., reconvened at 2:08 p.m. and ended at 5:08 p.m.

Briefings

IZUMI NAKAMITSU, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said that despite substantial progress in minimizing risks involving terrorism and the use of weapons of mass destruction, emerging threats were a great concern.  Joint efforts to prevent their proliferation must identify actions by which to grapple with threats arising from globalization, which had eased the exploitation and use of such weapons, she said, noting that terrorists groups had evolved into cyberspace and, alongside other non-State actors, exploited loopholes to access the technology they needed.

Emerging new areas of concern included the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or “drones”), 3D printing and the dark web, she continued, emphasizing that many of the technologies, goods and raw materials required to produce weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems were available through legitimate producers.  She underlined the importance of international cooperation and dialogue with the private sector in tackling illicit trafficking routes so as to prevent terrorist actions.

She went on to underscore the critical importance of ensuring accountability, saying the international community must prosecute all those responsible for supporting such actions.  Cooperation among security agencies, including the sharing of information, was vital to overcoming those challenges, she said, pointing out that, despite the gains made over the last decade, much still remained to be done.  She encouraged the Council to use today’s debate as an opportunity to be proactive and to devise effective solutions to the existing and related challenges.

JOSEPH BALLARD, Senior Officer, Office of Strategy and Policy, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OCPW), said the rising threat posed by non-State actors, the pace of economic development and the evolution of science and technology were all shaping the future of the global disarmament and non-proliferation regimes.  Moreover, the use of chemical weapons by non-State actors was no longer a threat, but a chilling reality.  The focus must shift to preventing the re-emergence of chemical weapons and to adjusting programmes and resources as needs arose, he said.  Preventing non-State actors from acquiring dual-use materials, equipment and technologies was of critical importance to maintaining the global norm against the use of chemical weapons and in favour of international peace and security.  To that end, OPCW dedicated considerable resources to helping States parties fulfil their obligations under the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction.  That was not an easy task, as recognized by the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004), he said.

The OPCW also worked with States parties through its open-ended working group on terrorism to coordinate the sharing of best practices in terms of national implementation, which tied into Council resolution 2325 (2016).  That text encouraged Member States to review their implementation of resolution 1540 (2004) in light of new and evolving security risks, he noted.  Among other OPCW activities, a recent review of resolution 1540 (2004) had identified transboundary movements of dual-use materials and technologies as a key area.  The agency had therefore signed a memorandum of understanding with the World Customs Organization with the aim of reinforcing its efforts and enhancing the security of the global supply chain, he said, emphasizing that working with the global chemical industry was now more important than ever before.  As for the improving coordination within the United Nations system, he cited the activities of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) and various other inter-agencies, saying that a mechanism designed to respond to a chemical terrorist attack had recently been tested and would be enhanced by the newly established OPCW Rapid Response and Assistance Mission.  “OPCW is committed to play our part, in close cooperation with this Council and with the range of stakeholders that are so critical to our collective goals,” he added.

Statements

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia), Council President for June, spoke in his national capacity, saying that the focus of today’s discussion should be the responsibility of all States to implement resolution 1540 (2004) in order to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to non-State actors.  The range of legislation and enforcement provisions was broad and must also cover any parties acting in any way as accomplices.  The key to successful implementation was international collaboration, including bilateral and regional cooperation, he said, stressing the need for constant vigilance, particularly in light of rapid advances in technology and commerce.  He underlined, in addition, that resolution 2325 (2016) called for greater attention to the financing of proliferation, and to accounting for and securing related materials, national export and transhipment controls as well as the need for stronger enforcement of all existing measures.

VOLODYMYR LESCHENKO (Ukraine), associating himself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union delegation, noted that despite measures by Member States to reduce proliferation risks, challenges in that area were growing more sophisticated.  Several cases of chemical weapons use had been confirmed, particularly in Syria, Iraq and Malaysia, he noted, condemning the use of any weapon of mass destruction as a war crime and a crime against humanity.  It was crucial to find practical ways to ensure that international legal non-proliferation norms did not remain only on paper, but were properly enforced and fully respected.  As such, it was an important and urgent task to intensify effective interactions among States and to build synergies among all stakeholders involved.  In that regard, Ukraine commended Spain’s contribution to strengthening the role of resolution 1540 (2004) and to establishing the resolution’s Group of Friends in 2016, he said, adding that his country attached particular importance to the Global Partnership Initiative as a proper format for strengthening capacities for resisting proliferation threats and challenges.

OLOF SKOOG (Sweden), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Resolution 1540 (2004) and with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the Nordic countries, emphasized the need to be alert to the threat of non-State actors seeking to procure and use weapons of mass destruction.  Sweden remained strongly committed to strengthening multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation regimes, including nuclear disarmament, and resolution 1540 (2004) was an important complement, he said.  The country had recently made a special contribution of $60,000 to the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs to bolster implementation of the resolution.  In addition, Sweden was contributing to global efforts supporting the resolution’s objectives through the Swedish Radiation Safety Agency’s nuclear security cooperation programme as well as engagement with the Group of Seven Global Partnership Programme.  He said it was also important to highlight risks associated with intangible transfers of technology, whereby sensitive know-how may be transferred through research, industry or social media.

ISIDOR MARCEL SENE (Senegal) called today’s news headlines a “grim reminder” of the ever-present risk of non-State actors gaining access to weapons of mass destruction, also drawing attention to cybersecurity threats that could be serious if targeted at nuclear power stations or other relevant infrastructure.  Urging all States to fulfil the commitments enshrined in resolution 1540 (2004) “to the letter”, he emphasized the need for an accurate tally of all the world’s nuclear weapons in order to ensure their destruction and strengthen cooperation on border controls, financial flows and legal assistance.  Crafting a prevention-oriented strategy to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the wrong hands could also include the following measures:  implementing a five-year voluntary action plan for resolution 1540 (2004); boosting cooperation among relevant domestic offices; and rolling out a system covering the entire life-cycle of nuclear materials.  He concluded by drawing attention to the African Union’s efforts to implement resolution 1540 (2004), emphasizing that international assistance — including through match-making between States requesting assistance and those able to provide it — also remained critical.

ELIZABETH LEE (United States), associating herself with the statement to be delivered by the Group of Friends of Resolution 1540 (2004), said her delegation was concerned about significant gaps in the current implementation of the resolution, particularly with regard to chemical and biological security, and to control over delivery systems.  Emphasizing the need to “work smarter” in the future, she recalled the recent horror of chemical weapons use in the Middle East and the use of the deadly nerve agent VX in Malaysia.  There was need for greater controls over such materials, she said, stressing that the exchange of expertise was important in that regard.  Underlining that resolution 1540 (2004) was binding on Member States, she described the use of chemical weapons by the Government of Syria as “troubling” and urged all States to increase pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to end such actions.  The global nuclear security architecture also needed strengthening, including by addressing critical gaps in the smuggling of radioactive and other nuclear materials, she said, recalling that the United States had provided training and technical assistance to border officials around the world.

ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Resolution 1540 (2004), said his country was firmly committed to complete global nuclear disarmament and was therefore in favour of developing a legally binding global instrument to that end.  Expressing concern that “devastating consequences for all humanity” would result from non-State actors gaining access to weapons of mass destruction, he said the recent use of chemical weapons in the Middle East and Asia had revealed the pressing nature of that threat.  Voicing support for the efforts by the OPCW Fact Finding Mechanism in Syria and the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) to bring the perpetrators of the use of such weapons in Khan Shaykoun to justice, he urged similar investigations in Iraq.  Resolution 1540 (2004) required the ongoing support of all States, which must take appropriate national steps to bolster import and export controls over materials that could be used to develop nuclear weapons, he said, calling also for measures to prevent their acquisition by non-State groups.

BORIS S. LUKSHIN  (Russian Federation) said full implementation of resolution 1540 (2004) was a pressing global challenge, noting that the text remained the sole international document joining all countries in the development of national systems to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of non-State actors.  Warning that terrorist groups participating in today’s many conflicts had access to the technology needed to use such weapons, he said the threat of chemical and biological warfare — especially at the hands of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) militants or similar groups — was becoming ever greater.  The Russian Federation supported strengthening the counter-terrorism component of resolution 1540 (2004), he said, calling for objective, professional, unpoliticized and impartial investigations into all allegations of chemical and biological agent use.  It was also wholly unacceptable to help any non-State actors to gain access to weapons of mass destruction or related materials or components, he emphasized.

Expressing concern that the machinery of resolution 1540 (2004) was “insufficient” in light of today’s global threats, he drew attention to the Russian Federation’s proposed initiative to develop an international convention to combat acts of chemical and biological terrorism.  Such an instrument would, among other things, set out provisions criminalizing activities falling under its purview and implement the principle of “extradite or prosecute”.  Emphasizing the need to strengthen the national and regional components of resolution 1540 (2004)’s implementation, he cited several summits organized by his country to that end, and welcomed China’s plan to organize a similar meeting in August.

In response to the United States statement, he stressed that there was no threat to specialists from that country investigating incidents in Syria, and vowed that the Russian Federation would continue to conduct impartial investigations into the allegations of chemical weapons use.

AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said emerging threats posed new challenges, as with ISIL/Da’esh in the Middle East.  A new mechanism must be established to coordinate United Nations counter-terrorism strategies, he said, adding that regional and subregional organizations must bolster cooperation.  Campaigns to raise awareness must bring to light issues such as transparency, and closer coordination was also needed between the relevant organizations and the 1540 Committee’s Panel of Experts.  Egypt had submitted four reports on its implementation of resolution 1540 (2004), he noted, expressing support for the creation of a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear bombs, in the Middle East.

MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom), emphasizing the need to transform resolution 1540 (2004) into reality, said the 1540 Committee must improve technical assistance to States, and the Council must make every effort to encourage the submission of national reports.  The challenges at hand were far too great for the 15 Council members alone, he said, adding that every country had a role to play and that the Council must embrace their help.  Condemning all use of chemical weapons, he expressed great concern about recent allegations, saying he looked forward to seeing the results of the OPCW-JIM’s inquiries on the use of chemical weapons in Syria.  Action was needed because the cost of such weapons falling into the hands of terrorists would be too high to bear, he warned.

KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan) said his country was taking steps to monitor and address concerns about weapons of mass destruction and sensitive technologies, adding that its efforts extended throughout the region.  Resolutions 1540 (2004) and 2325 (2016) showed the way, he said, expressing confidence that outreach and funding drives could help States to implement those important measures.  Because evolving threats called for new approaches, the United Nations could establish a tracking mechanism on sensitive technologies, he said.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) described resolution 1540 (2004) as a pillar of non-proliferation efforts, while warning that developments in Asia, including a chemical weapon attack in Malaysia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s expanded nuclear programme, constituted a growing concerns, alongside the use of toxic weapons in Syria.  Preventing their spread must entail mobilizing joint actions, he said, adding that States must intensify efforts to implement resolution 1540 (2004), including by securing sensitive goods.  France had modernized its legal framework, including by criminalizing activities linked to non-State actors and their access to weapons of mass destruction, he said, adding that a bill had been submitted with the aim of funding those and other efforts.  Because the sum of individual actions was not enough, States must further cement cooperation with each other, he said, emphasizing that ongoing challenges must also be overcome through cooperation with IAEA and other such organizations, among other efforts.

INIGO LAMBERTINI (Italy) associated himself with the statements to be delivered by the European Union delegation and on behalf of the Group of Friends of Resolution 1540 (2004).  Noting that rapid advances in science and technology were making it harder for States to control dangerous materials, he called for increased attention to the “intangible transfer of technology” — reflected in both resolution 1540 (2004) and 2325 (2016) — urging Member States to implement the provisions of both texts while also enhancing border controls and improving coordination with the 1540 Committee.  The delivery of technical assistance remained the key element in strengthening national implementation efforts, he said, commending the 1540 Committee’s efforts to help States “that need it most”.  Pointing out that 2016 had seen significant steps forward in efforts to prevent non-State actors from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, he said “now we must build on that momentum”.

MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia), associating herself with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, noted with concern the continued risk of proliferating weapons of mass destruction, including recent reports of their use by non-State actors in the Middle East.  Since addressing that risk would require a complete ban on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, Ethiopia favoured developing a legally binding instrument that would ban the development, transfer and use of nuclear weapons, she said.  Preventing non-State actors from gaining access to weapons of mass destruction would require a range of national legislation as well as coordinated domestic measures on the part of Member States.  Regional measures could complement such efforts, she said, calling for enhanced cooperation between the 1540 Committee and regional and subregional organizations such as the African Union.  In particular, the 1540 Committee should enhance cooperation efforts within the framework of the Common African Defence and Security Policy, she said, emphasizing also the crucial need to enhance the exchange of information as well as best practices.

KORO BESSHO (Japan), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Resolution 1540 (2004), echoed the need to remain vigilant against the menace of proliferation.  The threat posed by the activities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s activities had reached a new level, presenting a clear challenge to the global non-proliferation regime, he noted, strongly urging that country to refrain from developing weapons of mass destruction and to comply faithfully with all relevant international commitments.  The threat was also evident in Syria, where such weapons had actually been used, he said, underlining the responsibility of all States to protect themselves and their peoples.  Proliferation activities must be prevented “whenever and wherever they are attempted”, and special vigilance was needed to prevent people from unwittingly becoming involved in such activities.  State capacity-building was also critical, he said, cautioning that proliferation could occur “through the weakest link”.

LIU JIEYI (China) said it was critical to seek a system of common global security based on fairness while also working to eliminate the driving forces of terrorism.  However, “unilateralism, double standards and discriminatory practices” were contrary to such efforts, he emphasized.  All States were entitled to enjoy the fruits of nuclear technology, he said, warning that confrontation and the emphasis on sanctions could further exacerbate the risk of proliferation.  In that regard, it was important to seek political and diplomatic solutions to global “hotspot” issues and to address the root causes of global insecurity.  Calling upon States to abandon “cold war mentality”, he underlined that national Governments bore primary responsibility for non-proliferation, and that all capacity-building, information-exchange and mutual learning initiatives must ensure respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States.  China called for a multipronged approach to the comprehensive and effective implementation of resolution 1540 (2004), and urged the 1540 Committee to abide strictly by its mandate.

SRDJAN DARMANOVIC (Montenegro), associating himself with the statements to be delivered by the European Union delegation and on behalf of the Group of Friends of Resolution 1540 (2004), condemned the repeated violations of Council resolutions by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Allegations of the presence and use of chemical weapons increased the risk of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorist groups, he warned, voicing support for immediate action to ensure the implementation of a global agenda set out in relevant Council resolutions.  Montenegro had adopted an early strategy for that purpose, with a focus on effective enforcement of laws, and established domestic controls that took into account matters requiring particular vigilance, such as intangible technology transfers.  Affirming that small States without nuclear capacities were an important part of the security architecture, he said his country stood ready to cooperate with partners at all levels in what must be a universal effort.

LAURA ELENA FLORES HERRERA (Panama) described the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and resolution 1540 (2004) as unique legally binding multilateral instruments.  Advocating for security for all, she said it was imperative to combat the threat of weapons of mass destruction.  Half a century after the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco), Panama hoped ongoing negotiations for a ban on nuclear weapons would be successful.  Aware of developing trends of new technologies, Panama was tackling those and related challenges through such efforts as halting the financing of terrorism, regulating dual-use materials and participating in a World Customs Organization programme to monitor the use of shipping containers for illicit trafficking.  Condemning the production of nuclear weapons by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, she described their humanitarian impact as unacceptable and unquantifiable.  Nuclear disarmament should be a global imperative, she said, pointing out that reaching that goal would free up funding for development-related challenges.

ALFREDO LABBE (Chile) said today’s debate was timely given the current important discussions on a legally binding treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons.  Describing strategic controls as the key to preventing sensitive technologies from falling into the hands of non-State actors, who often attacked the weaknesses of commercial distribution chains, she said that strengthening national capacities through cooperation was particularly important in that effort.  Chile had recently co-organized training for contact points in the region, he said, expressing hope that recent efforts by the OPCW would deter those who intended to use chemical weapons in the future.

JUAN JOSÉ GÓMEZ CAMACHO (Mexico) said a balance must be struck between States meeting their non-proliferation obligations and avoiding obstacles that would advance commercial, technology and industry achievements.  Hosting some of the world’s largest chemical industries, Mexico had established a national export control regime for dual-use materials that ensured its non-proliferation obligations.  Yet, such efforts would be in vain if national capacities lacked real-time knowledge-sharing and cooperation with other States.  Resolution 1540 (2004) and its recent review had underlined the need to expand efforts, he said, noting that industry leaders had taken their own initiatives towards those objectives.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) emphasized that there was a real threat of non-State actors acquiring such arms.  Resolutions 1540 (2004) and 2325 (2106) required full implementation, including by rolling out national legislation on trade in related materials and weapons.  Peru had aligned its legislation with such principles in air and maritime fields.  In addition, regional and subregional cooperation was also essential, he said, noting that Peru had participated in a regional industry conference.  The Security Council must take accurate and coherent action and civil society must be involved in the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004).

DAVID YITSHAK ROET (Israel), aligning himself with the Friends of Resolution 1540, said that prevention of proliferation was a priority for his country.  Israel’s citizens lived under constant threat that had increased in the context of failing States, the recklessness of others and the actual use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime and Da’esh.  Iran’s development of ballistic missiles also increased the threat, particularly to Israel, which it had named as a target.  Such a direct threat by one Member State to another could not be tolerated, he stressed, adding that information had recently come to light that last December Iran had tested a nuclear-capable missile targeted at a bullseye shaped like the Star of David.  He called on the international community to take clear action to counter State-sponsored proliferation, along with all availability of dangerous weapons to terrorists.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) noted that some States were neither willing to give up their large inventories of nuclear weapons nor their modernization programmes, and were pursuing non-proliferation with “messianic zeal” while ignoring the fact that disarmament and non-proliferation were organically linked.  The granting of discriminatory waivers to some was another challenge to long-held non-proliferation norms and rules.  Such special arrangements carried obvious proliferation risks and opened up the possibility of diverting material intended for peaceful uses to military purposes.  Her Government had been a consistent supporter of resolution 1540 (2004) objectives and had submitted five national implementation reports.  In particular, the last report submitted in May had noted its readiness to offer assistance to interested States for capacity-building, technical assistance and training in areas such as regulatory infrastructure in export controls, among others.  She called for the Nuclear Suppliers Group to establish and adhere to more transparent, objective and non-discriminatory criteria to ensure the equal treatment of non-Nuclear Proliferation Treaty applicants for the Group’s membership.

BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said that despite the Council’s adoption of texts on the non-proliferation of dangerous weapons, the situation had not changed.  The arms trade continued, including sales of weapons to countries involved in conflict.  He reiterated Pope Francis’ plea to end that trade, to eliminate weapons of mass destruction and to reduce the world’s reliance on armed force in the conduct of international affairs.  Meanwhile, assistance to States and cooperation among them must increase to combat proliferation.  The establishment of zones free of the worst weapons would be a big step in the right direction.  Non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament were critical to achieve both peace and development goals.  In addition, political solutions were needed to halt the involvement of non-State actors in conflicts.

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), aligning himself with the European Union, affirmed the severity of the threat posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their availability to non-State actors.  Prevention efforts needed to be redoubled at the national, regional and global levels.  The key was universal implementation of multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation agreements, as well as the strengthening of existing instruments and regimes.  In addition, he welcomed immediate commencement and early conclusion of negotiation of a treating banning the production of fissile material.  Noting his country’s contributions to a number of global and regional non-proliferation initiatives, he reaffirmed Estonia’s commitment to continue to implement resolution 1540 (2004) in an effective manner, which entailed legal enforcement and export controls.

JOÃO PEDRO VALE DE ALMEIDA, Head of the European Union delegation, stressed that the international community must continue addressing the root causes of instability as well as strengthen and uphold multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation treaties and agreements.  He also called for the full support of multilateral institutions, especially those dealing with verification and compliance.  Export control lists and regimes also played an important role in stemming proliferation.  In line with its Global Strategy, issued in 2016, the European Union would use every means at its disposal to assist in resolving proliferation crises, as it had successfully done on the Iranian nuclear programme. 

Resolution 1540 (2004) remained a central pillar of international non-proliferation architecture, he stated, noting that the 2016 Comprehensive Review had reaffirmed its centrality, importance and authority.  In May, as a follow-up to the adoption and comprehensive review of resolution 2325 (2016), the European Union Council had adopted a decision supporting implementation of the resolution.  The new decision was an ambitious funding scheme designed to help implement the outcome of the comprehensive review.  It would ask the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs to perform the role of implementing partner for the project extending over a three-year period and worth more than €2.6 million.  By that decision, the European Union would support cooperation and capacity-building, paying special attention to the role of industry, supporting relevant initiatives. 

BOGUSŁAW WINID (Poland), associating himself with the Group of Friends of resolution 1540 (2004), observed that although OPCW was not an anti-terrorist organization, it had the potential to counter the threat of the misuse of toxic chemicals by non-State actors.  The full implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention provisions by its States parties could strengthen that posture against terrorism.  Recalling the Council’s unanimous adoption of resolution 2325 (2016), which Poland had co-sponsored, he stressed that States must pay attention to enforcement measures, particularly those relating to biological, chemical and nuclear weapons as well as national export and trans-shipment controls.  He encouraged the remaining 16 States to submit their initial resolution 1540 (2004) implementation reports, and called on States who had not yet done so to accede to the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

GEIR O. PEDERSEN (Norway), speaking for the Nordic countries including Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden, said that the rapid pace of technological development must be taken into account; technological advances could assist implementation efforts but might also lead to new threats.  States with necessary legislation and enforcement measures in place were better placed to benefit from such ongoing advances.  The resolution’s full implementation would therefore also contribute to social and economic progress.  The 2016 comprehensive review had shown considerable progress in both outreach and implementation.  Member States’ initial reporting had clearly improved but progress was uneven, he noted, calling for adequate enforcement measures and domestic legislation to address challenges. 

Since its adoption, he added, the resolution had become more firmly anchored within the United Nations system and was complemented by work under relevant multilateral treaties.  Over the last decade, a broader international architecture of initiatives and partnerships had emerged to fight terrorism related to weapons of mass destruction.  It was of great importance that all such efforts be mutually supportive.  The Nordic countries were active in that broader partnership, contributing financially to the Secretariat’s work on the resolution.  At the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, the individual Nordic countries had made national pledges, such as working towards minimizing the use of highly enriched uranium in the civilian sector and enhancing the nuclear detection architecture.  Other examples of relevant cooperation projects included training chemists from developing countries and assisting States in building capacity to prevent and counter biological threats.

MAURO VIEIRA (Brazil) said resolution 1540 (2004)’s implementation required ongoing efforts at the national, regional and international levels and called on countries in a position to do so to assist those with implementation needs.  In spite of the resolution’s importance, international bans on chemical and biological weapons were insufficient.  Indeed, nuclear disarmament was a critical part of any reasonable system designed to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of non-State actors.  An international conference — open to all States — was currently under way with a General Assembly mandate to draft a treaty prohibiting all nuclear weapons.  The international community had frequently faced the rationale that security and stability concerns stood in the way of complete nuclear disarmament.  However, that was a “false dichotomy”.  The risk posed by non-State actors was just one example of the threat posed by nuclear weapons.  “There are no right hands for wrong weapons,” he stressed, quoting former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and voicing hope that the international community would finally make progress towards a world free of all nuclear weapons.

MAKBULE BAŞAK YALÇIN (Turkey), associating herself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Resolution 1540 (2004), said Turkey’s updated national matrix showed its meticulous implementation of that resolution, including an “all-encompassing national legislation” and the country’s membership in international legal instruments on non-proliferation and counter-terrorism.  While noting that her Government was working to reinforce its transit inspections as a priority, she said it was unfair to levy the burden of such control on transit countries alone; a genuine, fair responsibility sharing arrangement with source countries was needed.  As a country that had never pursued weapons of mass destruction, Turkey firmly opposed the development, production, stockpiling and use of such weapons by States and non-State actors alike.  The repeated use of chemical weapons in Syria could not be considered in isolation as it was fully consistent with the regime’s chemical weapons programmes.  Recalling that the use of toxic chemicals, most recently in Khan Shaykoun in April, was a “brutal reminder” that such attacks would continue unless the perpetrators were held accountable, she called on the Council to take measures in accordance with its relevant resolutions.

PASCAL BUFFIN (Belgium), associating himself with the European Union delegation, said there was no doubt terrorists were actively trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction.  The vigilance and cooperation of the entire international community was needed to stop them.  Recalling the use of gas on his country’s territory during the First World War, he emphasized the importance of OPCW’s efforts, particularly in ending the use of chemical weapons by Syria and Da’esh.  He also welcomed the peer review approach to preventing the proliferation of biological agents.  In all areas, he added, multilateral initiatives must be supported, best practices disseminated and all sectors of society brought into efforts to prevent proliferation.

ABDERRAZZAK LAASSEL (Morocco) said there was an “endless spiral” of terrorist attacks by groups that were constantly taking advantage of the latest technology and strategies.  Prevention efforts must stay a step ahead of them to keep them from obtaining weapons of mass destruction.  The implementation of resolution 1540 (2004), however, was a challenge for many countries, particularly those in Africa, he said.  It was also difficult to monitor the effectiveness of measures undertaken as reports represented them, he said, suggesting that the 1540 Committee help countries to assess their state of implementation, noting that Morocco would be hosting an event to help African countries enhance the evaluation of their implementation measures.

DOCTOR MASHABANE (South Africa), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said progress towards a world free of nuclear weapons continued to lag behind the prohibition of chemical and biological weapons.  South Africa joined the vast majority of the international community in advocating for efforts to ensure that nuclear weapons were never used again under any circumstances, he said.  In that context, the Conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons was a “bold and positive step” that would help to stigmatize and delegitimize such weapons on a global scale.  While echoing concerns about the threat posed by non-State actors, he nevertheless underlined that efforts to deal with such challenges must avoid imposing unwarranted restrictions on the inalienable right of Member States — and developing countries in particular — to use nuclear materials, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes.  He also drew attention to South Africa’s efforts to implement global control regimes, including by strengthening national legislation and through cooperation with international organizations, regional actors, civil society groups and the private sector.

PHILIPP CHARWATH (Austria) said his country considered export controls an important tool for preventing proliferation and was an active participant in the Zangger Committee, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Australia Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime.  On the national level, Austria had legislation in place to implement its international non-proliferation commitments effectively.  Urging the redoubling of efforts to prevent the occurrence of a nuclear terrorist attack, he also called for reinforcement of existing nuclear non-proliferation regimes.  A major obstacle was the continued existence of nuclear weapons, he said, emphasizing that as long as a number of States possessed such weapons, others would be tempted to develop or otherwise obtain them as well.  Real progress on nuclear disarmament was therefore crucial in the context of today’s discussion, he said.

JORGE SKINNER-KLÉE (Guatemala), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Resolution 1540 (2004) and the Non-Aligned Movement, noted that the face and methods of terrorism had changed in recent years.  The preventive and cooperative nature of resolution 1540 (2004) meant that it aimed to strengthen commitment to non-proliferation without affecting peaceful uses of nuclear energy, he said.  As such, it provided a platform for cooperation, but would be counter-productive if its implementation turned into a coercive imposition of sanctions.  Implementation, therefore, must be adapted to the reality of the threats it aimed to prevent.  The recent review process and the adoption of resolution 2325 (2016) had achieved that delicate balance, he said, emphasizing that balanced implementation would only be possible if all States had the resources to play a role.

LOUAY FALOUH (Syria) said the worst violations of resolution 1540 (2004) were the assistance, support and training of terrorist groups to the point of giving them toxic chemicals to use against military personnel as well as civilians.  Certain countries had raised topics outside today’s agenda in order to impede the Council’s efforts and prevent it from holding a true and serious debate on the resolution.  The same countries opposed efforts to make the Middle East a nuclear-weapon-free zone in order to protect Israel, he said, describing that country as an occupying Power that continued to support terrorist groups — Al Nusrah Front in particular — and possessed a biological and chemical weapons arsenal.  Syria had constantly warned of the danger posed by terrorist groups — including Al Nusrah, ISIL/Da’esh and Al-Qaida — acquiring weapons of mass destruction by sending messages to various Security Council subsidiary bodies, he said, adding that the documented information pointed out countries providing chemical weapons to terrorist groups.

He went on to recall intelligence reports to the effect that Turkey had provided such chemicals to groups in Syria and facilitated their distribution, which constituted serious violations of resolution 1540 (2004).  Syria was still waiting for that information to be reflected in reports on chemical weapons and their use by terrorist groups, he said.  Today’s accusations against Syria were part of a “political blackmail war” that systematically accompanied every success of the Syrian army and its allies in the war against terrorism.  Syria condemned the use of chemical weapons and any use of weapons of mass destruction, having ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention and ended its chemical weapons programme “in record time”, he emphasized.  Damascus had always rejected allegations by certain Western Administrations that its military forces had used chemical and toxic weapons, he said.  However, Syria had cooperated with inquiries carried out since 2014 and had provided any and all information needed to ensure the impartiality of those investigations.

CHO TAE-YUL (Republic of Korea), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Resolution 1540 (2004), said chemical attacks on civilians in Syria and Iraq underlined the urgent threat of non-State actors using weapons of mass destruction.  In order to meet emerging challenges, a multi-layered prevention mechanism that was as tech-savvy and capable of crossing borders as the non-State actors would be needed, he said, emphasizing also that national, regional and global export-control regimes must include the sharing of information on dual-use items and new proliferation techniques.  Public and private sector focal points must be mobilized more actively, as had been done during the Republic of Korea’s hosting of the Pacific regional Wiesbaden conference on industry outreach.  In addition, national capacity must be built through “tailor-made matchmaking” of partners.  He concluded nu underlining the importance of implementing all measures to stem the threat posed by the proliferation activities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

NGUYEN PHUONG NGA (Viet Nam), associating herself with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the risk of non-State actors acquiring dangerous weapons demanded a concerted international response.  Viet Nam was in full compliance with its obligations under numerous international non-proliferation instruments thanks to appropriate legislation and effective action, he said.  At the same time, progress must be made on international disarmament, including a ban on nuclear weapons and the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones.  In addition, developing countries must be helped to implement international instruments, she said, underlining the need for large-scale cooperation by all States to ensure complete fulfilment of the non-proliferation and disarmament agendas.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), associating himself with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that, given the severity of the threat posed by non-State actors acquiring weapons of mass destruction, there was a need for greater sharing of best practices in order to build upon implementation of resolution 1540 (2004).  Noting the rapid advances in modern technology, he called for enhancing the knowledge base relating to emerging risks and for making that information available to Member States.

CHARLES NTWAAGA (Botswana), associating himself with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that growing international terrorism and the rising willingness of terrorist group to use weapons of mass destruction should challenge the international community to ensure that such groups do not gain access to those devastating weapons.  Further implementation of resolution 1540 (2004) required deepening international cooperation strengthening international mechanisms, he said, expressing support, in that light, for negotiations towards a ban on nuclear weapons.  While outlining Botswana’s anti-terrorism measures and efforts to prevent sensitive materials from reaching non-State actors, he underlined the inherent right of sovereign States to the peaceful use of nuclear and other dual-use technologies.

RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, noted that at the Movement’s recent Summit on Margarita Island, its member States had reiterated their ongoing concern about the complicated disarmament and security situation.  They had called for efforts to be stepped up in resolving the current stalemate in nuclear non-proliferation.  They had also underscored the importance of carrying out parallel efforts towards non-proliferation and disarmament.  Member countries which were parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention) acknowledged that its lack of verification systems continued to pose a challenge to its effectiveness.

He went on to note that the most effective way to prevent terrorists’ procuring weapons of mass destruction was the total elimination of such weapons.  That question was of particular concern since terrorists had used chemical weapons in the past, including in member countries of the Movement.  He urged countries to  adopt national measures when appropriate to prevent terrorists from procuring such weapons and their delivery systems.  The adoption of resolution 1540 (2004) and others underscored that no action by the Council should undermine the Charter, existing multilateral treaties established in those areas or the role of the General Assembly.  He cautioned against the Council’s recurring practice of defining legislation requirements to implement its decisions.  It was important that the question of non-State actors acquiring weapons be considered inclusively, taking into account the perspectives of all Member States.

KAREL JAN GUSTAAF VAN OOSTEROM (Netherlands), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Resolution 1540 (2004), stressed that reaching full, worldwide implementation of the resolution by 2021 required tremendous work by Member States, international and regional organizations, and industry.  Considerable coordination was needed to ensure efficient and effective implementation and prevent overlap or competition.  National action plans were a great instrument to help Member States approach implementation in a comprehensive manner, helping them improve the effectiveness and efficiency of technical assistance.  In addition, nuclear security was critical, he noted, stressing that the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was indispensable and deserved the international community’s full support.

EMMANUEL ROUX, International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), said that in 2010, the agency had launched a strategy in support of its 190 member countries that included the collection and sharing of intelligence, analysing data and building capacity, all entailing training courses in a wide range of areas.  INTERPOL could also provide investigative and operational support to member countries on request, in the form of teams that would respond to terrorist incidents and initiatives that would support the international law-enforcement community.  Given the need for a multidisciplinary, inter-agency approach to preventing the proliferation of dangerous weapons, INTERPOL worked globally to connect its worldwide network of member countries and maintain close partnerships with multiple other international agencies, he said.

CARLOS ARTURO MORALES LÓPEZ (Colombia) said national efforts to implement resolution 1540 (2004) were of critical importance, but emphasized that they must be accompanied by international cooperation in strengthening security measures at all levels of the creation and transfer of dangerous materials, and have strong controls with which all stakeholders would comply.  Enforcing border controls, as well as identifying and tracking the final users, was particularly necessary, he added.  Modern standards stipulated by the World Customs Organization must be instituted universally, he said, stressing that his country was moving forward in all relevant areas of strategic trade.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that his country had instituted comprehensive measures to counter the development, acquisition, manufacture, possession, transport, transfer or use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their delivery systems.  Underlining the 1540 Committee’s role in “match-making” and extending extra support to those countries that lacked capacity, he pointed out that 13 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals had direct relevance to nuclear science and technology.  It was therefore crucial that the discourse of weapons of mass destruction did not impinge on States’ inalienable right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  Additionally, action to avert the acquisition of such weapons by non-State groups must flow from multilaterally-negotiated instruments and the Council must be “principled and clear” as it tackled threats to global peace.  “Let us be on the right side of history” in protecting humankind from the threat of nuclear explosions, he stressed, urging reluctant States to heed the calls for a ban on — and total elimination of — all nuclear weapons.

JULIO CÉSAR ARRIOLA RAMÍREZ (Paraguay), recounting the visit by the 1540 Committee to Paraguay, said that the Committee had observed his country’s efforts to adapt to international standards in the fight against terrorism and prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by non-State actors, particularly in border areas.  A new follow-up mission had been planned to hold meetings with legislative and judicial branches of the Government.  Stressing that the fight against terrorism must contribute to maintaining international peace and stability within the framework of rule of law and respecting fundamental individual freedoms, he called upon Member States to transfer resources currently allocated to the modernization of their arsenals into the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, in particular the Goal to curb illicit arms flows.

THOMAS SCHIEB (Germany), associating himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Resolution 1540 (2004), underscored the repeated use of chemical weapons in Syria by both the Syrian regime and ISIL — as well as the latter’s use of such weapons in Iraq.  Holding the perpetrators of those heinous acts accountable remained a major challenge.  As preventing non-State actors from accessing such weapons or their precursors was the most effective way to avert their use, his country had offered a specialized facility to assist international efforts to remove and destroy the remaining stock of chemical weapons precursors in Libya.  It also played an active role in the Group of Seven efforts to strengthen the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention.  In addition, Germany was pushing for a treaty to end fissile material production and had initiated the Wiesbaden Process, which sought to increase private sector engagement in the context of resolution 1540 (2004).

ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain), speaking for the Group of Friends of Resolution 1540, pledged the efforts of all 51 members of the Group to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in all its forms.  In that context, he condemned in the strongest terms the development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Furthermore, the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Iraq and Malaysia undermined the hard-won taboo against those atrocious weapons.  He strongly condemned the use of the weapons by ISIL and Malaysia and urged Syria to fully cooperate with OPCW. 

He voiced support for the full implementation of resolution 1540 (2004) as set out in resolution 2325 (2016).  Prioritization of activities was essential.  The chemical and biological sectors required more attention, particularly in relation to securing materials.  It was also critical for States to criminalize all forms of financing of proliferation activities, even those that occurred through negligence.  Best practices in legislation, enforcement and domestic controls should be shared, and reporting should be increased and augmented.  He stressed the importance of assistance in capacity-building to implement the resolution and welcomed increased cooperation between the United Nations and other relevant international and regional organizations.

ANA SILVIA RODRÍGUEZ ABASCAL (Cuba), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the only effective way to prevent the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, including by terrorists, was their total elimination in a transparent and verifiable manner.  Her country neither possessed nor planned to acquire nuclear weapons.  Furthermore, it had participated actively in negotiations under way in the General Assembly on a convention to prohibit nuclear weapons with a view to their total elimination.  With regards to the Biological Weapons Convention, she called for the resumption without delay of negotiations for a legally binding protocol on verification.  The fight against terrorism must be based on the effective implementation of the United Nations global strategy and the Charter.  Actions taken by the Council must not undermine existing multilateral treaties on weapons of mass destruction nor the role of the General Assembly.

MARÍA PAULA MAC LOUGHLIN (Argentina) noted that the use of weapons of mass destruction by non-State actors had highlighted the need for Member States to step up disarmament efforts.  Since the adoption of resolution 1540 (2004), Argentina had tackled implementation by balancing disarmament efforts with the peaceful use of technology.  Since presenting its first national report, as well as successive updates, her country had shown unwavering commitment to the resolution, becoming a member of the Proliferation Security Initiative.  Argentina had also provided assistance within the resolution’s framework, including training activities and with African countries in the area of South-South cooperation.  It was crucial to guarantee that dual-use materials were protected and beyond the hands of terrorists.

TANMAYA LAL (India), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed concern over the possibility of “collusion” in assisting terror networks and non-State actors in accessing weapons of mass destruction.  Fully conscious of India’s responsibilities as a country with advanced nuclear technologies, he outlined its participation in the many international nuclear summits and agreements, including the Missile Technology Control Regime.  As well, his Government planned to host an international workshop in cooperation with the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs and the 1540 Committee.  Clandestine proliferation networks that had been unmasked revealed non-State actors could exploit weak links in global supply chains and export controls and undermine international security.  All States must therefore assume their responsibly to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by non-State actors.

ZOHRAB MNATSAKANYAN (Armenia) said capacity-building and the strengthening of international setup at the national level were the necessary prerequisites to address the existing and emerging threats associated with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the risks of their falling in to the hands of terrorists and non-State actors.  Describing a broad range of national legislation to those ends, he encouraged the 1540 Committee to continue its cooperation with relevant international and regional organizations based on comparative advantages and best practices developed on the ground.  He also pointed to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Global Initiative to Combat Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, in particular, as important platforms for the promotion of relevant cooperation.

MICHAEL BONSER (Canada), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Resolution 1540 (2004), announced funding for the Stimson Center to implement a 1540 Assistance Support Initiative.  Among other things, the initiative would create a new website with a comprehensive list of assistance providers.  His country was also providing new funding for several other projects related to the resolution, including continued support for the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) regional 1540 coordinator.  Domestically, Canada was strengthening its counter-proliferation capabilities by increasing funding and amending legislation to better control brokering activities and exports related to weapons of mass destruction.  Internationally, under Canada’s chairmanship, the Nuclear Security Contact Group was working to identify and address new and emerging challenges to nuclear security.  In addition, Canada would chair the High-Level Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty Expert Preparatory Group to prepare the way to negotiate a treaty to end fissile material production for nuclear weapons.

DIONYSIOS KALAMVERZOS (Greece), associating himself with the European Union, said the world was confronted with a multitude of challenges, from economic development issues to the spread of weapons of mass destruction.  Technological advances and instability had only worsened that landscape.  Addressing root causes of instability, supporting multilateral agreements and institutions and the full implementation of Council resolutions were part of the solution to tackling those challenges.

NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, welcomed deeper cooperation among Member States to build capacity that would prevent the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by terrorists and other illegal armed groups.  He reaffirmed, however, the sovereign right of Member States to the development of advanced technologies in the nuclear, chemical, biological and pharmaceutical sectors to achieve industrial development.  In the area of weaponry, his country continued to participate in disarmament activities with a view to achieving a world free of weapons of mass destruction and the complete prohibition of their acquisition, development, stockpiling, transferring and modernization.

TIJJANI MUHAMMAD BANDE (Nigeria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, recalled that resolution 1540 (2004) had been the second Council resolution to invoke Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter outside a country-specific context.  That filled a gap in international law by addressing the unacceptable risk of non-State actors obtaining and using weapons of mass destruction.  The emergence of extremist groups had introduced a sense of urgency in the international community’s need to take stock of the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004).  No State was immune from the threat and consequences of weapons of mass destruction attack by such groups.  “This should serve as a clarion call for us to vigorously confront one of the key security challenges of our time,” he said, citing a “yawning compliance gap” on the part of many Member States with limited resources and technical capabilities.  Expressing concern about the slow pace of progress towards nuclear disarmament on the part of the nuclear-weapon States, he called on them to fulfil their relevant legal obligations and spotlighted multilateralism as the core platform for negotiations in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation.

ANDREJ LOGAR (Slovenia), aligning himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Resolution 1540, said that his country’s efforts to implement the resolution included the submission of four reports to the Committee, the development of regional counter-terrorism initiatives in the Western Balkans and participation in the IAEA Board of Governors.  His Government attached great importance to nuclear security and was working with other countries in that area.  As cyber terrorism was directly related to the matter at hand, Slovenia was also reviewing its national legislation and policies in that area.  The county, he pledged, would continue to implement the resolution as well as the recommendations of the comprehensive review and he called on all Member States to do the same.

KIM IN RYONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) condemned and rejected remarks by his counterparts from the United States, Japan, United Kingdom and France, saying they had called his country’s self-defensive deterrent measures into question.  Recalling that those “hostile forces” had spread a story about use of chemical weapons or weapons of mass destruction in order to create an atmosphere of international criticism against his country, he said that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as a responsible nuclear-weapon State, would observe all its commitments to nuclear non-proliferation.  The root of the situation on the Korean Peninsula rested in the hostile United States policy and manoeuvres — including the military exercises conducted in March and April —intended to provoke war, he said.

Turning to recent discussions about sanctions imposing on his country, he said it was a fatal miscalculation if countries which had had a hand in the frame-up of the “sanctions resolution” would even think they could delay or hold in check the eye-opening development of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear forces even for a moment.  “No matter what others say, whatever sanctions, pressure and military attack may follow, we will not flinch from the road to build up nuclear forces which was chosen to defend the sovereignty of the country and the rights to national existence,” he stressed.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s self-reliant nuclear force served as a guarantee and an absolute strength for peace on the Korean Peninsula and the world.

KAHA IMNADZE (Georgia), associating himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Resolution 1540 (2004), said the threat posed by chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons and materials, as well as technologies related to weapons of mass destruction, were of serious concern to the Government of Georgia, partly because the country’s neighbouring regions were at high risk for proliferation.  Several attempts to smuggle nuclear and other radioactive materials through Georgia’s occupied regions had been recorded in recent years, he noted.  However, in the absence of an international presence in those regions, it had become virtually impossible to conduct any kind of verification activities on the ground, which had raised the risk of proliferation.  The Government had formed a national chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear council which, in consultation with others, had elaborated a threat reduction strategy and national action plan for 2015-19.  A new legislative base for regulating Georgia’s strategic export control in full compliance with European standards had also been developed.  In addition, Georgia had formed, with Morocco and the Philippines, the United Nations Group of Friends of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Risk Mitigation and Security Governance.

TOFIG MUSAYEV (Azerbaijan) said that countering dangerous proliferation of weapons was among the priority areas of his country’s bilateral relations and international cooperation.  It had long supported a world free from weapons of mass destruction, including by universalizing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the establishment of zones free of weapons of mass destruction.  Border control was particularly important in countering proliferation, but despite strong efforts in that area, Azerbaijan was hobbled by continued military occupation of its territories, he said.  That had created conditions suitable to the cross-border activities of terrorists and other criminal groups.  Efforts to counter such activities must observe strict respect for international law, including the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States, he stressed.  Primary attention should also be given to countering the practices of States that instigated, supported and directed non-State actors who might seek to acquire dangerous weapons.

KENNEDY MAYONG ONON (Malaysia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country continued to meet its international obligations by further enhancing the enforcement of effective measures to improve domestic controls and preventing the proliferation of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery, including by establishing appropriate controls over related materials.  He also outlined recent amendments to national export, transhipment, transit and brokering procedures — including of arms and related materials — such as the Strategic Trade Act that levied severe penalties for the misuse of those items.

JAVAD SAFAEI (Iran), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, recalled that his country had suffered chemical attacks by Iraq, yet the Council had remained silent.  As for comments by Israel’s representative, he rejected them as unsubstantiated allegations aimed at advancing “an Iranophobic agenda” and at covering up and justifying its own aggressive and unlawful policies and practices against the entire region.  The Israeli regime continued to flout Council resolutions and international instruments governing weapons of mass destruction, while remaining the only obstacle blocking the establishment of a Middle East zone free from those armaments.  The regime’s possession of nuclear weapons made it the most serious threat to the security of all States in the region and to non-proliferation principles, he said, emphasizing that, as such, the Council had a responsibility to address that threat effectively.  In addition, evidence showed that Israeli agents had tended to Da’esh operatives active on the Syrian territory, he said.

Iran, situated in an unstable and volatile region, was entitled to build a credible conventional capability to deter and defend against any aggression, he affirmed.  “Iran won’t start a war,” he emphasized.  “We don’t intend to attack any country, but if we come under attack, it is our legitimate right, under the Charter of the United Nations, to be able to use our national conventional defence capabilities to counter any aggression against our national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”  He recalled that his country had always warned against the expansion of terrorism in the region while basing its policies on cooperation with regional countries and the international community in order to uproot terrorism in the region and around the world.

The representative of Turkey took the floor a second time, refuting allegations by his counterpart from Syria.  The use of chemical weapons flouted international law and perpetrators must be held accountable, he stressed.

News

With Armed Robots, Drones, New Weapons on Horizon, States Must Fill Gaps in Existing Regimes to Address Fresh Threats, First Committee Hears

Enormous technological developments in the field of autonomous weapons required the world to more sharply focus on addressing the range of threats they posed, while taking into account gaps in existing international regimes, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard, as it continued its debate on conventional weapons.

Several speakers expressed concern about new technological advances, including unmanned air vehicles, armed robots, drones and autonomous weapons.  Many said Member States must urgently address related challenges through appropriate frameworks.

While recognizing the strategic and operational requirements for such weapons, Botswana’s representative said there was a need for a serious and sober examination of how they were being employed.  That discourse should be guided and informed by international humanitarian law, among other instruments, he said.

Speakers also highlighted other areas that needed attention.  Emphasizing how technological developments could lead to new forms of warfare, Switzerland’s delegate said States must be in a position to ensure conformity with international law.  The weaponization of robotics would require particular attention and oversight by the international community, she said.

Bringing up examples of new weapons already being deployed, several speakers raised concerns about the legality of such activities.  Venezuela’s representative condemned the use of armed drones to carry out extrajudicial killings, which contravened international law.  Left unchecked, those weapons could be misused by both Governments and non-State actors.  Such a fate might also await other new technologies, such as robots, once they had been militarized, he said.

Others expressed confidence in ability of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons to address current and future challenges.  On the question of lethal autonomous weapons, the speaker from Ireland said it would be timely to take work on that issue forward by setting up a group of governmental experts at the next review conference of the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects.

Agreeing, the speaker from France said she supported the continuation of dialogue on the issues relating to future systems and would like to see an agreement at the Convention’s review conference to establish a group of governmental experts for further discussions.  Her counterpart from China said he supported in-depth discussions on humanitarian problems caused by such weapons under appropriate frameworks.

Meanwhile, some speakers from countries that had been affected by anti-personnel landmines called for international cooperation and assistance, urging those who had planted the mines to shoulder their responsibilities.  Libya’s delegate said Libyans had suffered from such weapons since the Second World War.  Mechanisms should be established to help States in similar situations to clear them, with the colonial countries bearing the cost, he concluded.

Echoing similar concerns, Egypt’s representative said explosive remnants from the Second World War continued to cause casualties in his country and were hindering development.  He called on those countries responsible for laying mines to cooperate, especially in locating mines and providing funding.  Croatia’s delegate pointed out that mine-contaminated areas persisted in his country.  As such, he remained deeply concerned that anti-personnel landmines continued to be used by States outside the Convention and non-State actors around the world.

Underscoring the importance of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, the representative of Algeria said the suffering caused by anti-personnel mines remained real in more than 25 countries.  However, for its part, Algeria had achieved a major milestone with the destruction of more than 876,500 anti-personnel mines, he said.

During the debate, the Committee heard the introduction of a draft resolution on information on confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Germany Bangladesh, Guatemala, Czech Republic, Australia, Finland, Ukraine, Argentina, Mali, Italy, Singapore, New Zealand, Austria, Nigeria, Latvia, Niger and Iran.

The representative of the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the United States spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 24 October, to continue its thematic debate on conventional weapons.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to resume its thematic discussion on conventional weapons.  For background, see Press Release GA/DIS/3545 of 3 October.

Thematic Debate on Conventional Weapons

KARSTEN GEIER (Germany), Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security, said that 24 countries had been invited to nominate experts for its first round of discussions from 29 August to 2 September in New York.  During those discussions, members had overwhelmingly shown a desire to deepen what had been achieved in the past.  The experts wished to make their report more action-oriented and contribute to universalizing recommendations.  Moreover, there was widespread agreement on a focus on State behaviour that presented a threat to international peace and security.  Experts also agreed on the politically stabilizing potential of non-binding norms, rules and principles for the responsible behaviour of States.

Turning to confidence-building measures, he said experts had suggested first implementing measures, such as transparency-building, that were easy to achieve.  They had also commented on the relationship between capacity-building and international peace and security in the context of information and communication technology.  They had pointed out that capacity-building should reflect national ownership.  Looking ahead, experts had discussed criteria that might help to formulate ideas.  There was a need for inclusiveness, transparency and balance, while also ensuring the continued opportunity for expert discussions.  The next round of talks would be held from 28 November through 2 December in Geneva, he said, expressing confidence that there was common will to build on the consensus that had been achieved by previous discussions.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said it was logical to address the threats posed by the illicit flow of arms and ammunition under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  An opportunity to advance the dialogue would come in December at the fifth Review Conference of the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects.  There must be stronger international cooperation to help developing and least-developed countries to improve their capacity vis-à-vis such new challenges as the three-dimensional printing of small arms.

SOLEDAD URRUELA ARENALES (Guatemala), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the fight against illicit trafficking in arms was a high priority for her Government.  The speed with which the Arms Trade Treaty came into force had demonstrated a high degree of commitment on the part of the international treaty.  But, it was a young treaty, she said, stressing the importance of convening conferences of its States parties to ensure its effectiveness.  Work must continue on its full implementation to ensure that all countries followed the same standards.  Noting that the real value of guns was dependent on a steady supply of bullets, she called for ammunition to be included in the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.

PATRICIA O’BRIEN (Ireland) said the use of explosive weapons with widespread effects in populated areas posed serious challenges.  Raising consciousness and strengthening the application of international humanitarian law in relation to preventing civilian harm from the use of such weapons was a matter of urgency, which should be addressed at the upcoming Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons Review Conference.  Turning to the question of lethal autonomous weapons, she said it would be timely for the Review Conference to set up a group of governmental experts to take work on that issue forward.  States parties to the Convention should also engage at the expert level on the issue of mines other than anti-personnel mines, which were a continuing matter of humanitarian concern.

VACLAV BALEK (Czech Republic) said the use of small arms and light weapons caused thousands of deaths and injuries every year.  Their illicit trade and excessive stockpiling adversely affected regional and international security.  Such weapons could contribute to terrorism and organized crime and also played a major factor in spreading conflicts and in the collapse of State structures.  In that context, the Czech Republic remained committed to working with all Member States in addressing those challenges within the framework of the Programme of Action on Small Arms.  At the same time, his Government continued to support measures to ensure adequate marking of and record-keeping of small arms and light weapons, he said.

VLADIMIR DROBNJAK (Croatia) said the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons was a valuable multilateral instrument that offered a credible platform to discuss both ongoing and emerging issues.  That was particularly important given the emergence of new technologies and the changing landscape of disarmament.  Likewise, the Mine Ban Convention had made a crucial contribution to the strengthening of international humanitarian law, he said.  As a country with mine-contaminated areas on its territory, Croatia was all too aware of the threat those weapons posed to the everyday livelihoods of people.  In that vein, he remained deeply concerned that anti-personnel landmines continued to be used by States outside of the Convention and non-State actors around the world.  The use of anti-personnel mines caused irreparable humanitarian harm and was never acceptable, he said.

SABRINA DALLAFIOR MATTER (Switzerland) noted how conventional weapons in conflict situations contributed to the displacement of millions of people.  She called for universal adherence to the Arms Trade Treaty, adding that its voluntary trust fund would be important to ensure international assistance for its implementation.  She emphasized the need for more discussions on the safe and secure management of ammunition.  Stockpiles often fell into the wrong hands, while explosions occurred at ammunition sites on average every two weeks.  Switzerland would hold a workshop on the issue in November, she said, inviting all Member States to attend.  Underlining how technological developments could lead to new forms of warfare, she said States must be in a position to ensure conformity with international law.  The weaponization of robotics would require particular attention and oversight by the international community.

MARIE-GAËLLE ROBLES (France) said the illicit arms trade continued to feed conflict, exacerbated armed violence and fuelled terrorism and organized crime.  A certain number of actions had already been taken, yet the international community must pursue further collective engagement, she said, noting that the Programme of Action on Small Arms Review Conference in 2018 would strengthen the coherence of efforts.  Turning to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons Review Conference, she said that it was unique in the multilateral landscape because it brought together complementary expertise.  That specificity was a guarantee of the Convention’s ability to address current and future challenges.  France supported the continuation of dialogue on the issues relating to future systems and would like to see an agreement at the Review Conference to establish a group of governmental experts with a discussion mandate.  For its part, France had, in 2016, completed the destruction of its cluster munitions stockpiles two years ahead of the deadline.

JOHN QUINN (Australia) said that, as one of the vice-presidents of the Arms Trade Treaty, his country would focus in the coming year on its universalization and implementation in the Asia-Pacific region.  Australia was also a leading donor to the United Nations Trust Facility Supporting Cooperation on Arms Regulation, which was considering nearly 60 applications from organizations seeking funding to support conventional arms regulation initiatives around the world.  In 2016, Australia had marked the twentieth anniversary of its comprehensive gun law reform, which had been prompted by a mass shooting in Tasmania in 1996.  The agreement, along with strong border controls, had lowered Australia’s gun violence rates compared to other parts of the world, which was firm evidence that having fewer guns in circulation reduced the occurrence of gun-related deaths and injuries.  On anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions, Australia had funded a long-term mine action programme in Cambodia.  He urged States parties to the Cluster Munitions Convention, Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction to clear their debts so that annual meetings and review conferences could proceed.

ABDELKARIM AIT ABDESLAM (Algeria) said his Government had spared no efforts in dismantling criminal networks and fighting against the growing scourge of terrorism.  Subregional, regional and international cooperation was critical to ensure effective border controls and to achieve the eradication of the illicit arms trade.  In that respect, Algeria had participated in all relevant initiatives undertaken in Africa and the Arab world.  To make progress, it was crucial to get adequate assistance from developed countries, the United Nations and other international organizations, which could strengthen national capacities to fight against the illicit trade.  Underscoring the importance of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, he said the suffering caused by anti-personnel mines remained real in more than 25 countries, including Algeria.  “Our engagement to date has seen us achieve a major milestone,” he said, noting the destruction of more than 876,500 anti-personnel mines.

KAI SAUER (Finland), describing the Arms Trade Treaty as a landmark instrument that provided effective international standards for trade in conventional arms, said at the second Conference of State Parties his country had been selected as President for one year.  On the role of national implementation, he said it required strengthening national laws, regulations and enforcement mechanisms.  One of the tasks during the presidency was to promote the universalization of the Treaty, he said, calling upon those that had not yet done so to ratify the instrument.  Among other things, he welcomed the outcome of the Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms.  The document had provided a good basis for future work towards the next review conference in 2018.

RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela), noting that an estimated 875 million small arms and light weapons were currently in circulation, expressed deep concern that hundreds of thousands of such weapons were transferred to illicit markets and non-State actors, including terrorist groups.  He condemned the use of armed drones to carry out extrajudicial killings, which contravened international law.  Left unchecked, they could be misused by Governments and non-State actors.  That could also happen with new technologies, such as robots, once they had been militarized.  He noted that cluster munitions were having a devastating impact on civilians in places like Gaza and went on to highlight the threat posed by the overproduction of conventional weapons, especially when they fall in the hands of terrorist groups.  In that regard, an international agreement was needed to limit those weapons beyond what was needed for self-defence.

ANDRIY TSYMBALIUK (Ukraine) said the existing conventional arms control system had been significantly damaged by Russian Federation’s military aggression against his country.  Massive transfers of military goods into Crimea and eastern Ukraine had destabilized European security while challenging the implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms.  Illicit supplies of conventional weapons from the Russian Federation to Russia-guided illegal armed groups in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine could not be ignored.  Ukraine had to deal today with a drastically increased number of explosive remnants of war, which were causing severe casualties among civilians, including children.  Explosive remnants of war and anti-personnel mines planted by illegal armed groups in violation of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons posed more of a threat to civilians than to military personnel, he said.

MARÍA PAULA MAC LOUGHLIN (Argentina) said the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), introduced a draft text titled “Information on confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms” (A/C.1/71/L.8), aimed at renewing dialogue on the topic.  Important developments were taking place in the area of confidence building, but delegations lacked information, she explained.  The purpose of the text was to strengthen knowledge about new developments.  It was aimed at the voluntary provision of information on confidence-building measures with the assistance of the Secretary-General to maintain an electronic database, she said, expressing hope that the draft text would be approved by consensus.

SIDIKY KOITA (Mali) said that despite initiatives that had been undertaken by the international community to combat and eliminate illicit arms trafficking, that criminal activity maintained conflicts, exacerbated violence and fuelled organized crime in countries around the world.  In Mali, the illicit spread of light weapons to terrorist groups had fuelled the security crisis in the northern regions.  It was an obstacle to Mali’s peace and reconciliation agreement and had undermined Government efforts to provide economic and social stability.  He called for the international community to help Mali to tackle the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, which was the main cause of insecurity in western Africa.  In that context, he called on Member States to reaffirm their support for a draft resolution presented every year by Mali’s delegation that would provide assistance to States to end the illicit trade and proliferation of small arms and light weapons.

PALMA D’AMBROSIO (Italy) said her Government had successfully completed the destruction of the country’s anti-personnel mine stockpiles in 2002 and cluster munitions in 2015.  At the international level, Italy continued to allocate material, technical and financial resources to implement comprehensive mine action programmes.  Since 2001, it had devoted approximately €50 million to areas such as clearance, stockpile destruction and victim assistance.  It also provided training programmes and demining technical knowledge, relying on partnerships with relevant stakeholders, including the United Nations, other international organizations, civil society and survivor representatives.  On small arms and light weapons, it was critical to ensure the full implementation and universalization of the Arms Trade Treaty and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, known as the Palermo Protocol.

LIM TONG HAI (Singapore) reaffirmed the sovereign right of States to acquire arms for legitimate defence and responsible law enforcement purposes.  The illicit arms trade had been a key enabler to conflicts, he said, emphasizing that Singapore fully supported efforts to deal with the threat of illegal weapons.  As one of the busiest transhipment ports, the nation was committed to play its part in eliminating that trade.  His Government welcomed the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty and was currently reviewing its domestic processes to achieve an early ratification.  Singapore also supported initiatives against the indiscriminate use of anti-personnel mines, cluster munitions and conventional weapons.

HAMZA A. H. ALOKLY (Libya), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, recalled how, during the revolution in his country, the contents of its arsenals had been opened up and then dispersed both within and outside its borders.  In signing the Arms Trade Treaty in 2013, Libya had reaffirmed its commitment to combating the illicit arms trade, he said, emphasizing the sovereign right of all States to regulate conventional weapons on their territory.  Sharing the international community’s concern about anti-personnel mines, he said Libya had suffered from such weapons since the Second World War.  Mechanisms should be established to help States in similar situations to clear them, with the colonial countries bearing the cost.

KATY DONNELLY (New Zealand) said the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons had not always been able to deliver outcomes on several important issues using focus on international humanitarian law.  When it was necessary to secure an outcome with an appropriate emphasis on the protection of civilians, New Zealand’s response in going outside the Convention had led to positive results.  Nevertheless, her Government supported, in principle, for a Convention’s framework approach.  She hoped the outcome of the 2016 Review Conference would position the Convention so that it would remain relevant and responsive to contemporary concerns, including issues related to anti-personnel mines and lethal autonomous weapons systems.

FRANZ JOSEF KUGLITSCH (Austria) said the prevention of human suffering must remain at the heart of the international community’s efforts and a gender perspective should be incorporated in all disarmament initiatives.  The indiscriminate effects and humanitarian consequences of anti-personnel mines continued to cause great tragedies.  In that regard, victim assistance was a high priority for his Government.  He expressed concern about the use of cluster munitions in a number of conflicts and called on actors to refrain from deploying such weapons.  At the same time, the use of explosive weapons was a major cause for civilian harm, resulting in 40,000deaths in 2015, a figure that was higher than military casualties.  As one of the first States that had ratified the Arms Trade Treaty, Austria welcomed its entry into force, as it was an important contribution to human security, human rights and development.

JOHN CHIKA EJINAKA (Nigeria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said many people in Nigeria and elsewhere had experienced the consequences of illicit small arms and light weapons falling into the hands of criminal gangs, terrorist groups and indiscriminately armed groups and militants.  In that regard, Nigeria commended renewed efforts by all States, welcomed the sixth Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms, and looked forward to its review conference.  He urged large producing and exporting States that were not yet party to the Arms Trade Treaty to ensure their timely accession.  There was no longer a risk that terrorists might obtain and use conventional weapons on a large scale, as they already possessed them and were effectively deploying them, he concluded.

KARIM ISMAEL (Egypt), also associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed concern over the impact of the spread of small arms and light weapons, especially as they often fell into the hands of non-State actors and terrorist and armed criminal groups.  He urged more cooperation on the part of exporting and producing countries, while emphasizing the right of States to manufacture and transfer weapons for their own defence and security.  Explosive remnants from the Second World War continued to cause casualties in Egypt and were hindering development, he said, calling on those countries responsible for laying mines to shoulder their responsibilities and cooperate, especially in locating mines and providing funding.  Enormous technological advances in the field of autonomous weapons must lead the international community and relevant agencies to focus more on the threat they posed, taking into account gaps in existing international regimes.

JĀNIS MAŽEIKS (Latvia) said the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons was an important tool to increase awareness about existing challenges and address emerging issues by gathering competent diplomatic, legal and military expertise.  Supporting efforts aimed at achieving the universalization of the Convention, he urged States that had not yet done so to join the Amended Protocol II.  Latvia shared the international community’s concerns about the alleged use of air-dropped incendiary weapons in civilian areas in Syria.  Expressing support for the full implementation of the Mine Ban Convention, he said anti-personnel mines and unexploded ordnance of war posed a significant threat to civilians long after an armed conflict had ended.

ISSA OUMAR (Niger) said the issue of disarmament and the control over the production, trade and sale of small arms and light weapons was important for the promotion of international peace and security.  West Africa and the Sahel region continued to be greatly affected by the uncontrolled circulation of conventional weapons resulting from conflicts.  The emergence of Boko Haram and events in Libya and Mali had demonstrated the fragility of arms control systems.  Nevertheless, arms control must remain a key policy in preserving peace and security.  In that vein, Niger had undertaken a number of national initiatives to collect and control illicit arms.  With the support of partners like the United Nations, it was pursuing a programme to safeguard and manage the arsenal of its defence forces.  He strongly encouraged international assistance and cooperation to help States to overcome challenges to technical progress in the tracing of small arms and light weapons.

NKOLOI NKOLOI (Botswana), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, expressed concern about the use of high-calibre projectiles, particularly those with a wide area of impact.  Complicating the issue were technological developments, including unmanned air vehicles, drones and autonomous weapons.  While recognizing the strategic and operational requirements for such weapons, he said there was a need for serious and sober examination of how they were employed.  That discourse should be guided and informed by international humanitarian law, among other instruments.  For most nations, meagre resources were being diverted to arms procurement while economic and social development was being neglected, he said, emphasizing that given the current trend, the 2030 Agenda would undoubtedly be affected.

CHUNJIE LI (China) said China had faithfully implemented its obligation under the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.  It was committed to international humanitarian assistance, hosting a demining training course for Cambodia and providing relevant material to Egypt and Lao People’s Democratic Republic in 2016.  China supported in-depth discussions on humanitarian problems caused by lethal autonomous weapons under appropriate frameworks.  He proposed a holistic approach to addressing the illicit arms trade, which had been aggravated by certain countries’ irresponsible transfers to non-State actors.  That approach would include international cooperation, with the United Nations as the main channel.  States should take primary responsibility for eradicating the illicit arms trade and prohibiting the transfer of weapons to non-State actors.

SEYED MOHAMMED ALI ROBATJAZI (Iran) said the situation in the Middle East had been exacerbated by a number of elements, including the large influx of foreign terrorist fighters, aggressive actions towards Yemen and enormous arms imports by certain oil-rich countries mirroring a manifold increase in their military budgets.  Despite being surrounded by such a situation, Iran continued to maintain one of the lowest levels of military expenditure.  During the Arms Trade Treaty negotiations, Iran had insisted on the inclusion of a prohibition of the export of arms to aggressors and foreign occupiers, he said.  However, that proposal had been rejected by certain States that had claimed to be responsible arms exporters and were now making the largest-ever deals with States that had disregarded international humanitarian law.  As such, he called for the cessation of irresponsible arms exports to prevent the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  As a country engaged in that fight, he underlined the importance of the full implementation of the International Tracing Instrument and the Programme of Action on Small Arms.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said his counterpart from Ukraine had made absurd accusations that had nothing to do with the First Committee’s work.  The Ukrainian authorities had yet to fulfil their requirements under the Minsk Agreements.

The representative of Ukraine said the situation in Donetsk and Luhansk had been caused by Russian aggression that had started with the occupation of Crimea.  Ukraine had fully complied with its obligations under the Minsk Agreements.  The conflict in eastern Ukraine was not an internal one and the conflict in Donetsk would be settled almost immediately, with no outside assistance, if the Russian Federation withdrew its military personnel and armaments.

The representative of the United States said the Russian Federation’s unilateral actions had violated the United Nations Charter.  Crimea remained part of the Ukraine, he said.

The representative of the Russian Federation said there had been no aggression by his country in Ukraine.  The Crimea issue had been solved in a referendum, with 95 per cent of the population calling for autonomy and asking to return to Russia.

The representative of Ukraine said he totally rejected the statement that Crimea was part of the Russian Federation’s territory and that the issue had been settled.

News

Promising New AIDS Stat: Number of People with HIV on ARVs Doubles

Nearly 16 million people with HIV are now on life-saving an antiretrovirals, says a new report from UNAIDS. The addition of more than 2 million people this year alone is great, but is not fast enough says Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders. “It’s good news the pace of HIV treatment scale-up continues to increase, with 2.2 million people newly started on treatment in one year, but to achieve the global goal of reaching 30 million people with treatment by 2020, we’re going to need to see 3 million new people on treatment each year,” said Sharonann Lynch, HIV and tuberculosis policy advisor for MSF’s Access Campaign. (Guardian http://bit.ly/21eqNIC)

Liberia Ebola Death…A 15-year-old boy has died of Ebola in Liberia, the first such fatality for months in a country declared free of the disease in September, chief medical officer Francis Kateh said on Tuesday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1TcSSL6)

GM mosquitoes…Hundreds of genetically modified mosquitoes that are incapable of spreading the malaria parasite to humans have been created in a laboratory as part of a radical approach to combating the disease. (Guardian http://bit.ly/21eoK7h)

A volatile situation Becomes Even more precarious…One of the world’s most volatile regions was roiled further Tuesday when Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near the Turkish-Syrian border. Turkey said it hit the plane after it repeatedly violated Turkey’s airspace and ignored 10 warnings.” (CNN http://cnn.it/1NNSGx2)

Holy stats of the day: Christianity in Africa ahead of the Pope’s visit this week. (Pew http://pewrsr.ch/1NNT6no)

Depressing stat of the day: More than half the world’s primates, including apes, lemurs and monkeys, are facing extinction, international experts warned Tuesday, as they called for urgent action to protect mankind’s closest living relatives. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1OexNQv)

Africa

South Sudan’s foreign minister has again said his government is committed to the implementation of the peace agreement signed last August between rebels loyal to former vice president Riek Machar and the Juba government led by President Salva Kiir. (VOA http://bit.ly/1MAnKm8)

Burundi’s interior minister suspended 10 civil society groups, accusing them of fueling widespread violence in recent months, a senior official said on Tuesday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1I8LeA3)

Peace talks between Sudan’s government and rebels have adjourned without a deal after a week of negotiations in Ethiopia, African Union mediators said Tuesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1lHMkJi)

Floods caused by El Nino could displace more than 100,000 people in Ethiopia, where more than 8 million people are facing a food crisis because of the worst drought since a devastating 1984 famine, the United Nations said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1I8M7Zu)

Three Kenyan soldiers were wounded, one of them critically, when their vehicle was hit in eastern Kenya by a roadside bomb that the Somali Islamist al Shabaab group said it had planted. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1lHL5JZ)

Ethiopia needs to find new ways to finance infrastructure projects after relying heavily on state-driven investment to build new roads, railways and dams to drive growth in its economy, the World Bank said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1I8M7ZE)

A perfect storm of lower rainfall and a growing population beckons for Botswana. (IPS http://bit.ly/1OeumJs)

The Gambia has announced it will ban female genital mutilation after the Guardian launched a global campaign to end the practice. (Guardian http://bit.ly/21eoO77)

MENA

Tunisia’s president declared a 30-day state of emergency across the country and imposed an overnight curfew for the capital after an explosion Tuesday struck a bus carrying members of the presidential guard, killing at least 12 people and wounding 20 others. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1NNSmyw)

Islamic State militants attacked a hotel in the northern Sinai Peninsula of Egypt with explosives and gunfire early on Tuesday, killing at least seven people, including a judge, according to security officials, Egyptian state media and a statement by the group. (NYT http://nyti.ms/1NNTmCL)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry began a one-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories on Tuesday by describing a wave of Palestinian knife and car ramming attacks as terrorism that must be condemned. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1lHMeBt)

Asia

Impoverished migrant workers in Thailand are sold or lured by false promises and forced to catch and process fish that ends up in global food giant Nestlé’s supply chains, disclosed the company. (AP http://bit.ly/21eoNQp)

Fiji’s police chief said Tuesday his officers were investigating allegations of a plot to destabilise the government, refusing to deny it may have emanated from the force’s own ranks. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1MAnDXY)

The U.N. human rights agency on Tuesday called on Thailand to immediately close a military detention center where two high-profile prisoners died in controversial circumstances over the past month. (AP http://yhoo.it/1T0AiVN)

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Tuesday said two registered refugees were deported to China, at Beijing’s request, after they entered Thailand illegally. (AP http://yhoo.it/1lHMj89)

A court in Myanmar has declined to drop a charge against a young woman accused of poking fun at Myanmar’s army chief on Facebook, highlighting the challenges faced by the former dictatorship as it grapples with a social media explosion and other newfound freedoms of expression. (AP http://yhoo.it/1SidjFv)

Food prices are shooting up in Afghanistan as the harvest has been halted in the country’s breadbasket in the northern province of Kunduz, where farmers have fled fighting and fields are infested with explosives. (IRIN http://bit.ly/21eoODV)

A climate condition that has reinforced the impact of an El Nino weather event in recent months has broken down over the past fortnight, but a strong El Nino persists, Australia’s weather bureau said on Tuesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1I8LgrD)

Almost all human organs donated for transplant in China go unused, state-run media said, after years of controversy about the use of body parts from executed prisoners. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1TcSP1Q)

The Americas

Canada’s New Liberal government will announce Tuesday its plan to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees, bolstered by the support of all 10 of the country’s provinces. (AP http://yhoo.it/1MAnHa2)

A lawsuit is challenging the Indiana governor’s decision to stop state agencies from helping resettle Syrian refugees, saying the action wrongly targets the refugees based on their nationality. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Si9wbm)

Authorities say a man has been charged with leaving a fake bomb at a Virginia mosque. (AP http://yhoo.it/1TcU3dt)

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is defending its ability to screen refugee applicants following the deadly attacks in Paris, and officials there say that state governors who want to refuse Syrian refugees on security grounds have unfounded fears. (VOA http://bit.ly/1OezCwH)

…and the rest

A total 147 heads of state and government have confirmed their attendance of the climate summit due to start in Paris next week, the French government said Tuesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1T0Alko)

Sweden will introduce tighter border controls and asylum rules in a bid to reduce the number of asylum seekers reaching the country, and force other EU countries to take in greater numbers of refugees, the government said on Tuesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1T0Akge)

Leading British cities have signed up to a pledge to run entirely on green energy by 2050 as local governments push for accelerated change ahead of next week’s UN climate change summit in Paris. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1T0Ansu)

Opinion/Blogs

Peter Piot and Paul Stoffels: Ebola will always return unless we develop the tools to end it (Guardian http://bit.ly/1MAnL9Q)

Ebola Was Eliminated from Liberia. Now It’s Back. (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1Oex2qx)

Unsustainable Development Goals: Are 222 indicators too many? (IRIN http://bit.ly/1lHNlAW)

Assassinating Terrorists Does Not Work (Boston Review http://bit.ly/1SifOaM)

Does Financial Inclusion Exclude? Formal Savings Reduces Informal Risk-Sharing Among Women in Kenya (Development Impact http://bit.ly/1lHORTN)

A Pope’s Visit May Bring Hope But Does It Also Bring Change? (Goats and Soda http://n.pr/1lHONDn)

The Afghan Refugee Crisis: Multiple Origins, Few Solutions (Prosper http://bit.ly/1lHOWXt)

Can KJ Seung Change How the World Treats Tuberculosis? (Boston Magazine http://bit.ly/1Sig1L9)

Analysis: Are Young People the Answer to Africa’s Food Security? (Inter Press Service http://bit.ly/1lHMfoM)

Secret aid worker: NGOs rarely say no to corporate cash (Guardian http://bit.ly/1T0AkwT)

The dating game of development finance (Devex http://bit.ly/1TcVU1I)

Discussion

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