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With ‘Dark Side of Innovation’ on Horizon, First Committee Delegates Call for Joint Action in Combating Cyberattacks

New Text Calls for Creation of United Nations Panel to Investigate Potential Role of Science, Technology in Disarmament

States must join forces to combat the rising threat of non-State actors maliciously using information and communications technology to destabilize socioeconomic development, delegates told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today as they discussed ways to prevent cyberattacks.

Introducing a new draft resolution on the role of science in that regard, India’s representative emphasized that as “the dark side of innovation is moving from the frontier to the front door”, it was critical to ensure a correct understanding of the latest developments in science and technology to allow work in multilateral forums to adjust accordingly.

Asking the Committee to support the draft text, he said it would have the General Assembly request that the Secretary-General create a panel of experts in diverse fields of science and technology to assess current developments and their potential impact on international security and disarmament efforts.

Echoing a common concern, Brazil’s representative warned against the militarization of information and communications technology and the emergence of new systems of related weapons that might trigger a new arms race.  Pakistan’s representative highlighted the growing threat of lethal autonomous weapon systems, calling for a pre-emptive prohibition on further developing such arms.  He also supported the establishment of a group of governmental experts to discuss those issues in the context of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

Yemen’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, welcomed the United Nations establishment of regulatory principles to address concerns about the possibility of information and communications technology being used to damage the political, economic and scientific efforts of States.

Elaborating on that point, the delegate of the Netherlands highlighted the usefulness of recommendations made in the 2013 and 2015 reports of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security.  Those “landmark achievements” had acknowledged that international law and particularly the United Nations Charter was applicable and essential in maintaining peace and stability and promoting an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful information and communications technology environment, she said.

Delegates, including Indonesia’s representative, called for an international legal framework to address malicious acts.  Speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, he underscored the importance of developing such a framework within the United Nations and in full accordance with the principles of sovereignty, non-interference and peaceful coexistence among States as fundamental in preventing and mitigating such threats.

Likewise, Paraguay’s delegate urged delegates to adopt norms which regulated information and communications technology processes in the context of international peace and security.  Such guidance would help to bridge the technological divide between developing and developed countries, he said.

Expressing concerns about access to technology, Algeria’s representative said that even though new information and communications technology products offered many opportunities to boost socioeconomic development, their use by terrorist groups posed a real danger.  As such, dual-use information and communications technology should not thwart the transfer of those technologies to States that needed them, especially developing countries, he emphasized.

Other delegates, including the representative of Switzerland, stressed the importance of an open, free, accessible and secure cyberspace.  The delegate of the United States underlined creating a climate in which all States could enjoy the benefits of cyberspace was a fundamental goal of her country.  She also introduced a draft resolution on compliance with non-proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments.

Briefing the Committee at the outset of the meeting, Karsten Diethelm Geier, Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security, highlighted the need to continue discussions on information and communications technology.

He emphasized that because each State had a stake in cybersecurity, a global understanding of threats and the ways to mitigate them was needed and must be pursued through the United Nations.  He also highlighted the importance of involving the private sector, civil society and others in developing capacity and confidence-building measures.

The Committee also held a panel discussion on “Regional disarmament and security”.

During the debate on conventional weapons, the representatives of Botswana, Cambodia, Burkina Faso, Iraq, Argentina, Nigeria, Iran, Niger, Ethiopia, and Mali and Brazil delivered statements.

The debate on other disarmament measures and international security featured the representatives from Singapore (also for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Antigua and Barbuda (for the Caribbean Community), Switzerland, Canada, United Kingdom, Finland, Estonia, Cuba, Greece, China, France, Germany, Zambia, Russian Federation, Austria, Mexico, Australia, Iran and Bangladesh, as well as the European Union.

Delivering statements during the discussion on regional disarmament and security were representatives of Indonesia (for the Non-Aligned Movement), Yemen (for the Arab Group), Belize (for the Caribbean Community), Malaysia (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), United States and Paraguay, as well as the European Union.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Israel, Iran, United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The First Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 24 October, to begin its thematic debate on the disarmament machinery.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met to continue its thematic discussion on conventional weapons and hear a briefing by the Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security.  It also began its thematic debate on other disarmament measures and international security.  For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3571 of 2 October.

Briefing

KARSTEN DIETHELM GEIER, Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security, highlighted its work, noting its inability to reach consensus during its previous two cycles.  During the 2015‑2016 cycle, it had failed doing so, but not for lack of trying.  Still, efforts had helped to increase transparency around the Group and obtain outside input.  Experts based their deliberations on trying to formulate concrete guidance on how to help States to implement recommendations contained in previous reports.  Under discussion on information and communications technology were its increasingly malicious use by non-State actors and how that could impair global information and communications technology systems, and its use to interfere in the affairs of other States and to conduct criminal activities.

He said that in discussing how to take forward responsible norms of behaviours by States and how to respond to attacks on critical infrastructure, members had made suggestions on how to prevent non-State actors from conducting malicious information and communications technology activities.  They also made concrete suggestions related to confidence building, including guidance on points of contact and procedures to request information from other States.  The importance of involving private sector, civil society and others in capacity building was also raised.

Despite convergence on these points, significant differences remained, he said.  During the 2016‑2017 cycle, members had been unable to agree on a consensus report on its last day of discussions, he said, regretting to note that many good points had not been carried forward by a generally accepted document, which would have been useful to Member States.  Pointing out that information and communications technology had been discussed at the United Nations since 1998 and that tremendous progress had been made, he emphasized that previous reports stood unaffected by the current lack of consensus.  Highlighting remaining differences, he said “we do ourselves no favour to paper over divisions”.

Each State had a stake in cybersecurity, he said.  As such, there was a need to continue discussions and increase transparency and inclusivity.  A global understanding of threats and the ways to mitigate them was needed and must be pursued through the United Nations.  In terms of holding another Group of Governmental Experts meeting, alternatives should be explored to identify the best format.  Meanwhile, a consensual approach allowing for further progress must be found prior to the General Assembly’s seventy‑third session.

Conventional Weapons

LORATO LUCKY MOTSUMI (Botswana), associating herself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said peace was elusive in a world where armed conflicts were on the rise.  Control measures for conventional weapons must limit their illicit trafficking, particularly because they caused the greatest civilian casualties.  Welcoming the adoption of a declaration on improvised explosive devices, she reiterated Botswana’s support for the fifth Review Conference of the High Contracting Parties to 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.  Guided by the Maputo Action Plan 2014‑2019, Botswana was committed to efforts to eliminate anti-personnel mines around the world and to working with partners in areas such as arms control and money laundering.

RY TUY (Cambodia), associating himself with ASEAN and Non-Aligned Movement, his country had, after experiencing civil war, famine and starvation, turned to United Nations rehabilitation programmes, adopting confidence-building measures, especially in the fields of conventional arms, anti-personnel mine clearance and the reintegration of mine victims.  Subregional and regional cooperation, information-sharing mechanisms and trans-border customs cooperation and networks must be established or strengthened.  In that vein, Cambodia would host in December a regional seminar for ASEAN members and Timor‑Leste on the illicit trafficking and the diversion of small arms, light weapons and other conventional arms and ammunition.  It was with collaboration and support from the international community and donors that most of Cambodia’s agricultural lands were now mine-free, even though some rural areas remained to be cleared, he said, noting that because of Cambodia’s experiences, ASEAN had established a regional mine action centre in Phnom Penh.

WENDBIGDA HONORINE BONKOUNGOU (Burkina Faso), associating herself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons threatened international peace, security and stability, fuelling transnational crime and terrorism in many regions and preventing the socioeconomic development of some States.  Noting that more than 877 million such weapons were in circulation, she welcomed the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, which would complement the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunition and Other Related Materials, as would the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, and the Register of Conventional Arms.  Implementing such instruments would allow Burkina Faso to thwart trafficking.  Turning to concerns about anti-personnel mines, she called for the universalization of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction.  She also called on all States to pool efforts to provide assistance to countries affected by such weapons.  Cluster bombs also hampered access to large fertile land, she said, calling for the universalization of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Mr. AL-RIKABI (Iraq), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the challenges posed by the development of conventional weapons was no different from those posed by weapons of mass destruction.  Having recently acceded to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Iraq was committed to implementing all of its provisions.  Noting that the indiscriminate spread and trade of small arms and light weapons presented a serious threat to security, he said concerted efforts must continue to reactivate the Programme of Action on Small Arms.  Iraq had been deeply affected by anti-personnel mines, with terrorists having deployed such weapons across large swaths of territory, resulting in destructive effects on the environment and economy.  In that context, he called on donor countries to coordinate with Iraq to provide assistance to help address that grave concern.

MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina) said the international community should spare no effort in dealing with the proliferation of conventional weapons.  For its part, Argentina had complied with many international legal instruments, co-authored the Arms Trade Treaty and had created a mechanism for keeping weapon-related materials safe.  Argentina had also joined the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which should be used as a framework to negotiate the prohibition of other arms, including lethal autonomous weapons systems and anti-personnel mines.  The humanitarian consequences of the use of those weapons called for a concerted effort by the international community, he said, adding that Argentina promoted confidence-building measures.

KINGSLEY WEINOH (Nigeria), associating himself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said illicit trafficking and the use of small arms and light weapons had undermined peace and security and caused the displacement of people.  Demanding renewed efforts to prevent and combat the illicit conventional weapons trade, he welcomed the Arms Trade Treaty, which must be robustly implemented, and urged States to join without delay.  Nigeria had redoubled efforts in strengthening its national borders and had signed and ratified related international legal instruments.  Nigeria was ready to work with other delegations in transforming the vision of international peace and security into reality for the future generations.

ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran), associating himself with Non-Aligned Movement, said his country’s missile programme was a basic defence requirement that should be viewed in the context of living in a volatile region rather than being assessed in a vacuum.  Iran’s military expenditure had decreased since 2007, indicating a restraint, given the skyrocketing security challenges in the region.  Through that lens, its missile programme had a purely defensive character and would continue with full force, he said, objecting to arguments that considered Iran’s missile launches to be inconsistent with Security Council resolution 2231 (2015).  That resolution only called upon Iran not to undertake activity related to missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, which Iran’s were not, he emphasized.

Mr. ISSA (Niger), said the international community’s efforts to eliminate all weapons of mass destruction and address concerns about conventional weapons had been demonstrated, including through in the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, Programme of Action on Small Arms, Arms Trade Treaty and the establishment of practical confidence-building measures through the Disarmament Commission.  For its part, Niger had good relations with its neighbours and had ratified all legal international and regional instruments on disarmament and international security.  He emphasized that firearms control was crucial in West Africa and the Sahel, areas that had been greatly affected by the uncontrolled circulation and proliferation of firearms due to armed conflicts, terrorism and drug trafficking.

MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia), associating herself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said her country continued to suffer from the spread of small arms and light weapons because of porous borders, the presence of refugee camps and vast arid areas.  Domestic terrorist groups had been using the weapons to provoke and instigate unemployed youth to carry out violent activities.  To address those concerns, Ethiopia was raising public awareness and enhancing efforts to boost inter-agency coordination between law enforcement institutions, he said, noting that her delegation looked forward to the third Review Conference on the Programme of Action on Small Arms and the International Tracing Instrument to be held in 2018.  Emphasizing the importance of the Mine Ban Convention, she said Ethiopia was committed to destroying its stockpiles.  However, the shortage and obsolete condition of related equipment had hampered that goal, she said, emphasizing that the main responsibility of completing the destruction of mines lay with States parties and that the full implementation of all Mine Ban Convention provisions depended largely on the availability of resources and technical support.

NOËL DIARRA (Mali) said that while small arms and light weapons did not appear to be as sophisticated as weapons of mass destruction, they were more deadly in terms of casualties.  In Mali, terrorist groups had used small arms and light weapons, attacking women and children and undermining development efforts.  Mali was committed to combating conventional weapons trafficking in West Africa and the Sahel region.  Yet, the activities of terrorist groups and traffickers represented a real challenge when it came to combating the arms proliferation and porous borders that needed to be strengthened to stop illegal weapons transfers.  Highlighting  the link between development and security, as demonstrated in Sustainable Development Goal 16.4., he said Mali had submitted a draft resolution on assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them.

ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil), noting that his country hoped to join the Arms Trade Treaty soon, said a national export control system currently in place was already operating largely in compliance with the instrument.  To avoid the detrimental effects of unregulated international arms transfers, major weapons exporters must join the Arms Trade Treaty.  He also expressed support for the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which provided a useful framework to address current and future humanitarian challenges in armed conflicts.  Acknowledging the humanitarian challenge posed by improvised explosive devices, he condemned that those devices had been increasingly used against civilians.  On that issue, Brazil had undertaken efforts to prevent the diversion of relevant controlled materials that could be used to produce such weapons, he said, noting the important connection linking the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the Arms Trade Treaty and the Programme of Action on Small Arms.

Other Disarmament Measures and International Security

DANNY RAHDIANSYAH (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, highlighted the important socioeconomic opportunities provided by information and communications technology and expressed concern over the cases of its illegal use that were detrimental to States.  Developing a legal framework to address such violations should be pursued within the United Nations and in full accordance with the principles of sovereignty, non-interference and peaceful coexistence among States.

Turning to the work of the related Group of Governmental Experts, he called for transparency and the strict application of the principle of equitable geographical representation in its membership.  In that context, he regretted to note that a request by developing countries for participation in the recently constituted Group of Governmental Experts had not been considered.

MARWAN ALI NOMAN AL-DOBHANY (Yemen), on behalf of the Arab Group, associated himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, saying that solutions approved within a multilateral framework and the Charter of the United Nations were the only way to deal with disarmament and international security issues.  He also underlined the fact that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction threatened sustainable development for all.

Turning to the preparation and implementation of disarmament and arms limitation agreements, he stressed the importance of observing environmental norms.  Concerned about the possibility of information and communications technology being used to damage the political, economic and scientific efforts of States, he welcomed the United Nations establishment of regulatory principles.  He also emphasized the need for international cooperation and for the United Nations to play a central role in related initiatives.

JOSEPH TEO CHOON HENG (Singapore), speaking on behalf of ASEAN, said members had secured regional peace and strengthened national resilience.  As cyberthreats and attacks undermined trust in the digital future, ASEAN had adopted the Cybersecurity Cooperation Strategy in March and had taken several other steps to foster regional cooperation, including support for ongoing work to promote international voluntary cybernorms of responsible State behaviour and the development of a rules-based cyberspace.  He also supported discussions on the adoption of basic, operational and voluntary norms of behaviour to guide information and communications technology use based on the norms set out in the 2015 report of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security.

Capacity building was an important aspect to enhancing the region’s ability to respond to threats, he said, welcoming the Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Partnership between ASEAN and the United Nations (2016‑2020).  Cybersecurity required coordinated expertise from stakeholders across different domains, as Governments did not have all the answers.  A large percentage of cyberinfrastructure, resources and expertise was in the hands of the private sector, thus necessitating that sector’s involvement.

Mr. HENG, speaking in his national capacity, said the annual Singapore International Cyber Week had facilitated conversations on key issues such as norms or responsible State behaviour in cyberspace and cybersecurity capacity building.  Singapore had also launched a $10 million ASEAN cybercapacity programme, which was a modular, multi-stakeholder and multidisciplinary initiative to build capacity across policy and technical areas.  Partnering with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, Singapore had helped to develop a flagship United Nations online training course on the use of information and communications technologies and international security.

CARMEN GONSALVES (Netherlands) said the Internet — increasingly regarded as a “global public good” — must remain open, safe and free for all.  Expressing regret that, despite efforts, the related Group of Governmental Experts had failed to arrive at a consensus on views and recommendations regarding norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviour of States, she said its 2013 and 2015 reports were “landmark achievements” and a cause for optimism.  The 2013 report had acknowledged that international law and particularly the United Nations Charter was applicable and essential in maintaining peace and stability and promoting an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful information and communications technology environment.  Important progress on the operationalization of the application of international law had been made in the 2015 consensus report.  Both reports had agreed on common norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviour, confidence-building measures and understandings on capacity building that would serve as the building blocks for more stable and predictable interaction among States, she said, urging States to implement the recommendations during the present period of reflection.

JUDIT KÖRÖMI, European Union delegation, expressed regret that the Group of Governmental experts had not reached an agreement on an additional report beyond its 2015 consensus recommendations.  The European Union would continue to implement the consensual views articulated in previous reports and invited other international actors to do the same.  The bloc would continue to promote the establishment of strategic frameworks for conflict prevention, cooperation and stability in cyberspace, which must be based on the application of existing international law, especially the United Nations Charter in its entirety.  It also supported the development and implementation of universal norms of responsible State behaviour, bolstered by targeted regional confidence-building measures between States.

She said States’ information and communications technology use should be guided by principles such as sovereign equality, non-intervention in the internal affairs of other States, the obligation to settle international disputes by peaceful means, the right to respond to internationally wrongful acts, the obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the right to self-defence.  The European Union was committed to addressing cyberthreats globally by assisting third countries in responding to such challenges and increasing law enforcement capabilities to investigate and prosecute cybercrime perpetrators.  In addition, member States had adopted a framework for a joint European Union diplomatic response to malicious cyberactivities, which contributed to conflict prevention, cooperation and stability in cyberspace.

WALTON WEBSON (Antigua and Barbuda), speaking on behalf of CARICOM, underlined the importance of considering gender perspectives in advancing effort to achieve disarmament goals.  Citing Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) and a similar CARICOM-sponsored draft resolution for addressing the vital links between women and disarmament, she said the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons recognized the importance of equal, full and effective participation of both men and women in achieving sustainable peace and security.  Additionally, delegates at the sixth Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms, had agreed to ensure the participation of women in implementation processes and encourage the collection of disaggregated data on gender and illicit small arms and light weapons.

Recognizing those links was particularly relevant and important to her region, she said.  While men were most often the victims of gun crimes, women were left to become the sole bread-winner for families and risked falling into poverty.  For that reason, women must be included in the disarmament discussion at all levels.   While her region was not affected by armed conflict, it faced tremendous challenges in relation to armed violence.  Approximately 70 per cent of homicides in the region involved the use of firearms, and as a result, resources had to be diverted away from development.  A diverse range of perspectives was needed to ensure that decisions reflected global concerns.  She also emphasized that the underrepresentation of lower-income countries at disarmament forums must be addressed in a holistic manner.

SABRINA DALLAFIOR MATTER (Switzerland) stressed the importance of an open, free, accessible and secure cyberspace.  Switzerland, having participated in the recent Group of Governmental Experts meetings, deeply regretted that it had not adopted a consensus report that would have submitted substantive recommendations to the General Assembly.  Despite significant progress on recommendations for confidence-building measures and capacity-building, it had failed to fulfil its mandate with regard to the application of international law and information and communications technology use.  Expressing concern about the hesitation of certain States to recognize the crucial role of international law in promoting a peaceful and cooperative approach to cybersecurity, she said the United Nations should play an active role in that field and provide practical guidance to States on steps they could take to operationalize and implement the recommendations of the 2015 Group of Governmental Experts report, including norms, rules and principles of responsible State behaviour.

VISHAL KAPUR (Canada) noted that small arms proliferation had facilitated and perpetuated violence against women and girls, including acts of sexual violence and domestic abuse.  Due to entrenched gender roles in many societies, women had to bear the primary responsibility of caring for survivors and were often indirect victims.  In times of conflict, women played a variety of roles, including protectors, combatants, arms dealers, smugglers and providers of support to armed actors.  Given those gender dimensions, the international community must strive to increase the meaningful inclusion of women as full partners in security, disarmament and arms control discussions, including in the tracking and analysis of illicit trafficking networks and trends, in all aspects of the destruction of small arms and light weapons and in international negotiations and peace processes.

RACHEL HICKS (United States), noting that creating a climate in which all States could enjoy the benefits of cyberspace was a fundamental goal of her country, introduced a draft resolution on compliance with non-proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments.  There was broad consensus that compliance with international treaties to prevent further proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was a central element of the international security architecture.  Without the confidence that countries would honour their commitments, the deals made would not be “worth the paper on which they were printed”.  In that sense, she said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had demonstrated unlawful and dangerous behaviour, including its failure to comply with disarmament and non-proliferation obligations.  She then urged the First Committee to make clear that compliance was essential to peace and security, by supporting the draft resolution on the issue.

AMANDEEP SINGH GILL (India), introducing a new draft resolution on the role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament (document A/C.1/72/L.52), said the potential of science and technology for resolving the world’s most intractable problems could help the United Nations system progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.  However, “the dark side of innovation is moving from the frontier to the front door”, he said, emphasizing that it was critical to ensure a correct understanding of the latest developments in science and technology to allow work in multilateral forums to adjust accordingly.

Asking the Committee to support the draft text, he said provisions would have the General Assembly call for a comprehensive study of such developments, which would be conducted through a science and security panel established by the United Nations Secretary-General.  The panel would be composed of 18 independent experts drawn from relevant areas including scientific research, industry, disarmament and international law and ethics.  By the draft, the General Assembly would request that Under-Secretary-General to submit a final report containing the panel’s assessments for the General Assembly’s consideration at its seventy-fifth session.

ENRIQUE JOSÉ MARÍA CARRILLO GÓMEZ (Paraguay) said access to information and communications technology should contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security and be protected against criminal or terrorist use.  Paraguay had adopted a national cybersecurity programme, which would act as a tool for bolstering the security of critical assets and ensuring a reliable and secure cyberspace.  However, national efforts could only be sustainable with cooperation, he said, emphasizing the importance of international cooperation for the effective implementation of a mechanism to prevent cyberattacks.  Urging delegates to adopt norms that regulated information and communications technology processes in the context of international peace and security, he said that doing so would help to bridge the technological divide between developing and developed countries.

LARISSA SCHNEIDER CALZA (Brazil) said the militarization of information and communications technology and emergence of new systems of related weapons might lead to a new type of arms race.  To ensure the peaceful use of those technologies, Brazil favoured strengthening multilateral norms and principles applicable to the conduct of States.  Those norms should respect to the free flow of information and human rights, she said, urging the international community to examine the need to develop a specific legal framework to address proscribed behaviours, including offensive first use, tampering with the supply chain, intentionally introducing vulnerabilities into systems and networks and compromising information security of other States.  She encouraged all States to consider the adoption of a “no-first-use” norm with regards to offensive operations using information and communications technology.  Confidence-building measures and increased international assistance and cooperation must also aim at achieving an open and secure information and communications technology environment.  Having been active in the Groups of Governmental Experts, she said its format must evolve to be more inclusive and allow for the adequate participation of all countries, including developing countries.

MUSTAPHA ABBANI (Algeria), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said new information and communications technology products offered many opportunities to bolster socioeconomic development of countries.  However, their use by terrorist groups represented a threat to international peace and security.  Dual-use information and communications technology should not thwart the transfer of those technologies to States that needed them, especially developing countries.  Algeria had adopted a comprehensive approach for cyber- and general disarmament, establishing relevant tools and an entity to stop cybercrime and protect national security.  Having ratified African and Arab agreements on fighting information-related cybercrime and promoting collaboration among countries, Algeria promoted prosperity and human development in many fields.  Yet, using artificial intelligence could pose great humanitarian, ethical and legal challenges.  For that reason, the international community should adopt clear legislation, he said, emphasizing the importance of compliance with environmental standards when preparing and implementing disarmament agreements.

JEHAZEB KHAN (Pakistan), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said lethal autonomous weapon systems were unethical, unable to comply with international law, lowered the threshold for war and would negatively affect progress on arms control and disarmament.  Calling for a pre-emptive prohibition on further developing those weapons, he supported the establishment of a group of governmental experts to discuss those issues in the context of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.  Raising other concerns, he said the transborder unauthorized use of armed drones constituted a violation of international law, he said, citing the Human Rights Council’s opposition to targeting civilians with drones, which amounted to extrajudicial killings.  The threat of non-State actors and terrorists acquiring such weapons was additionally worrisome.  The misuse and unregulated use of information and communications technology also had grave implications for international peace and security, especially as the hostile activities involving cybertechnologies advanced.

Panel Discussion

The Committee held a panel discussion on “Regional disarmament and security”.  The panellists included Mary Soliman, Chief of the Regional Disarmament Branch of the Department of Disarmament Affairs; Anselme Yabouri, the Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa; Melanie Rigimbal, Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean; and Yuriy Kryvonos, Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific.

Ms. SOLIMAN said the centres would continue to foster cooperation with United Nations partners, regional organizations and other stakeholders to prevent the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, in particular their diversion to non-State armed groups.  With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, the centres would work with Member States towards realizing the 2030 Agenda, especially Goal 16.4, she said.  In that vein, they would continue to apply a synergistic approach and cooperate with relevant partners and stakeholders, building on comparative advantages and complementarities.  That would ensure the effective delivery of their mandate with maximum benefit to Member States in their respective regions.  Looking ahead, they would continue to work with Member States to identify strategic priority areas for their respective regions, taking into consideration global trends, developments, challenges and opportunities.  As they depended on extra-budgetary resources, she encouraged all Member States to support them through voluntary contributions.

Mr. YABOURI said work had been done with the African Union Commission to support the implementation of its initiative to “silence the guns by 2020” and of the 2030 Agenda.  In the Sahel, efforts included the implementation of the United Nations integrated strategy for the region through its participation in inter-agency discussions.  In Central Africa, substantive support was provided for the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa at its forty-third and forty-fourth ministerial meetings.  The regional centre had also participated in the annual meeting of heads of United Nations field presences in the Central African region in March 2017.  It had held several joint consultations with ECOWAS and had provided assistance for implementing regional and national action plans to African Member States and relevant civil society organizations related to global and regional instruments to combat the illicit trade and proliferation of small arms and light weapons.  While the sustained number of requests for assistance from Member States demonstrated the importance of its work, more was needed to advance peace and control in Africa given its gloomy peace and security situation.

Ms. RIGIMBAL said activities in 19 different countries in Latin America and the Caribbean had reached more than 2,100 national authorities, security sector agents, and young people, with the highest ever participation of females.  Efforts included stockpile management and weapons destruction, with activities geared toward quantitatively measuring progress and advances made toward the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 16.  Initiatives with Colombia had included the provision of technical assistance to the United Nations Verification Mission in the surrendering of arms.  Collaboration with the private sector was also key to ensuring sustainable security measures were adopted.  Meanwhile, the bulk of efforts focused on developing and imparting specialized trainings to combat illicit arms trafficking and provide tools to strengthen conventional arms control.  To use technology to its advantage, the regional centre created a new tool to facilitate the tracing of weapons trafficked through the postal system.  That preventive tool would aid security sector personnel in their fight against illicit arms trafficking, she said.

Mr. KRYVONOS said 10 projects and three collaborative programmes were among a range of activities undertaken in Asia and the Pacific.  The regional centre had also heavily engaged in the preparation for its relocation back to Nepal, which had concluded in February 2017.  Other activities included co-organizing two conferences on issues and challenges facing disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation.  With respect to national capacity-building, several projects assisted Member States to implement their commitments relating to conventional arms control, particularly regarding the Programme of Action on Small Arms, Arms Trade Treaty and the Security Council resolution 1540 (2004).  The main outcome of the project implementation was the development, approval and submission of three national action plans by Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004).  In addition, outreach activities engaged regional stakeholders.  Thanks to support from sponsors, the centre had again managed to reach its highest annual project implementation rate.

The Chair of the Committee opened the floor to invite delegates to ask questions to the panellists; no questions were posed.

SIMON CLEOBURY (United Kingdom) emphasized his country’s commitment to promoting international stability frameworks for cyberspace based on the application of existing international law, agreed voluntary norms of responsible State behaviour and confidence-building measures, supported by coordinated capacity-building programmes.  The United Nations Charter applied in its entirety to State actions in cyberspace, he said, adding that the law of State responsibility applied to cyberoperations in peacetime, including the availability of the doctrine of countermeasures in response to internationally wrongful acts.  The United Kingdom would promote the operationalization of agreed norms of responsible State behaviour, focusing on practical measures States could take to put voluntary norms into practice, he said.  It would also support efforts in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other forums to implement confidence-building measures that would contribute to transparency and trust between States in cyberspace.

MARJA LEHTO (Finland) expressed regret that the Group of Governmental Experts had failed to reach an agreement.  International discussions on specific aspects of international law in relation to the use of information and communications technology should continue.  The Group’s recommendations on responsible State behaviour constituted a practical contribution to clarifying the steps States should take in the information and communications technology domain to comply with their obligations to not knowingly allow their territories to be used for activities that might cause significant harm to other States.  “It is necessary to be cybersmart in order to keep up with the changes of the global security environment”, she said, adding that developing resilience was essential worldwide and should be supported by appropriate capacity-building efforts.  OSCE had adopted a set of dedicated confidence-building measures in the area, she noted, calling for its implementation.

MINNA–LIINA LIND (Estonia), associating herself with the European Union, said discussions on the Internet should afford the same attention to security as to the freedom of expression.  She regretted that the Governmental Group for Experts had not achieved a consensus report in 2017 and could not make further progress in analysing how international law applied to the use of information and communications technology, particularly the principle of due diligence, the potential application of the right to self-defence and international humanitarian law.  Estonia supported the establishment of a strategic framework for conflict prevention and stability in cyberspace that was based on international law, in particular the Charter of the United Nations.

ANAYANSI RODRIGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba) said the international community should adopt tangible measures to ensure the resources spent on military costs were refocused to promote sustainable development.  Member States should strictly comply with the environmental standards, with multilateralism being used in all disarmament negotiations.  Strict compliance with the United Nations Charter and international law was the only effective means to safeguard international peace and security while establishing a legally binding regulatory framework applicable to information and communications technology.  Denouncing the hostile use of those technologies for subverting legal and political orders of States, she said Cuba was constantly facing attacks from abroad as its communication spectrum had been targeted by the United States.  She called for an immediate end to such aggressive policies that were incompatible with international peace and security.

MARIA THEOFILI (Greece) said safety and security were of the utmost importance as the intertwined foundations of a country’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear material.  Transparent national efforts and strengthened regional cooperation in nuclear power production were critical.  Detailing the international instruments her country had acceded to and the work it had done during its European presidency, she called the Environmental Impact Convention the sine qua non of absolute transparency.  Underlining the centrality of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), she called upon all States to implement the Agency’s nuclear security guidance documents, to use its advisory services and to host peer review and follow-up missions.  As current political developments had created a volatile environment, she called for additional precautions to be taken to enhance the safety of nuclear installations, noting that more and more countries in her region were expressing a strong interest in nuclear power even though such energy had not been an option for the national energy grid of Greece itself.

WANG QUN (China) said that maintaining a peaceful cyberspace was crucial and all should faithfully observe the purposes and principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter, particularly the principles of sovereignty and non-interference of internal affairs.  Countries should discuss the application of international law in a manner conducive to maintaining peace so as to prevent an arms race in cyberspace and reduce the risk of conflict.  Cooperation was a win‑win concept, he continued.  No one country was immune from the threats of cyberspace and there was no such thing as absolute security.  Countries should reject the cold war mentality and develop a new security concept featuring coordination and sustainability.  The United Nations should play a leading role on the issue and discussion in the last Group of Governmental Experts had reflected the differences among the international community and further highlighted the need to build a broad consensus.  An open, inclusive process that allowed more countries to participate in global Internet governance should be established, he said.  At the same time, efforts should be made to assist developing countries with capacity‑building to bridge the digital divide.

LOUIS RIQUET (France) said existing international law, including the United Nations Charter, applied to cyberspace.  Should a cyberattack constitute a threat to international peace and security, the case might be referred to the Security Council under Chapters VI or VII of the Charter.  As a major cyberattack could constitute an armed attack under Article 51 of the Charter, States could invoke the right to legitimate self-defence in anticipation of a Security Council decision.  He said that in order to guarantee international stability and security in cyberspace, it was essential to have one standard that encouraged the control of exports of offensive cybertools and techniques and another that aimed at preventing non-State actors, including private companies, from carrying out offensive activities in cyberspace on their own behalf and that of other State or non-State actors.

THOMAS FITSCHEN (Germany), associating himself with the statement to be made by the European Union, said that there were reservations as to whether certain aspect of traditional international law in response to a malicious cyberoperation were really applicable in “cyberspace”.  If a State agent or someone else carried out a cyberoperation in another State to stop an electricity plan, that plan did not happen somewhere in cyberspace, but rather on the territory and in the jurisdiction of that country.  Those relations were governed by international law, he said, adding that some delegations were reluctant to touch upon the lawful counter-measures in cyberoperations.  According to international law, States could be held accountable.  The issue of attributing a certain conduct to a State was not new, he said.  Cyberoperations against territorial integrity of another State could in itself constitute use of force and thus be unlawful.

Ms. LINYAMA (Zambia) said that the increased use of information and communications technology had resulted in increased crimes, such as attacks on computer systems of institutions and terrorism-related activities.  It had also allowed criminal and terrorist syndicates to cross barriers of States to commit crimes, making it difficult to identify the offenders and locate the crime scenes with traditional investigation tools.  The Zambian Government was facing myriad challenges in fighting cybercrime and other criminal activities related to technology.  It had taken various measures to combat cyber- and other technological crime, including through harnessing opportunities offered by information and communications technology for law enforcement, such as electronic surveillance.  Investigation and prosecuting such crimes remained a challenge; it required new skills and procedural tools, including the capacity to collect and analyse digital evidence and to use that evidence in criminal proceedings.  Noting the positive contributions of science and technology, he called for international cooperation in assisting the physical security and monitoring of nuclear facilities and materials.

VLADIMIR YERMAKOV (Russian Federation), recalling that his country had been the first to raise concerns about emerging threats in the global information space, had tabled a related draft resolution to the General Assembly.  It was clear that such threats had become one of the most serious challenges to international peace and security.  That was compounded by the fact that recent discussions on international information security had stalled.  He was vigorously opposed to any attempts to unleash the information arms race, he said.  Together with like-minded countries, his country had repeatedly suggested the that the Group of Governmental Experts develop and submit to the General Assembly universal rules in the information space.  Instead, the Group’s discussion had been emasculated and side-lined for secondary aspects.  Certain countries sought to impose unilateral rules that only served their own interests.  Those rules were designed to ensure the chosen ones had a technological advantage and imposed a very dangerous decision to recognize the digital sphere as a theatre of military action.  He expressed concerns at attempts to discredit the role of the United Nations in tackling cybersecurity.  All Member States should participate in the discussion on an equal basis.  To ensure sustainability in negotiations in international information security, the Russian Federation had introduced a draft procedural decision to keep the item “developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security” on its agenda for the seventy-third session.

Mr. HAJNOCZI (Austria), associating himself with the statement to be made by the European Union, expressed regret that the Group of Governmental Experts had failed to agree on a consensus report this year.  Nonetheless, its previous reports would continue to be the basis for efforts to strengthen stability and security in an open and peaceful Internet where human rights and fundamental freedoms were respected.  Confidence-building measures could enhance trust and assurance among States and help reduce the risk of conflict, he said, noting that OSCE had undertaken significant work in that area in recent years.  Outlining some of those efforts, he said that, under the Austrian chairmanship, OSCE had made rebuilding trust and confidence among its three top priorities for 2017.  In February, his delegation had organized a conference on cybersecurity, and a second chairmanship conference would be held on 3 November in Vienna, offering an opportunity to discuss intensifying cooperation on several key areas.  Calling for a steadfast commitment to applying existing international law to the cyber context, he added that the Budapest Convention was an important tool in combating the criminal use of information and communications technology.

ISAAC MORALES (Mexico) said that the international system had a fundamental role to play in cyberspace to make it “open, safe and accessible”.  That should be enforced by regional and other multilateral forums.  The efforts of the Organization’s international security system should achieve balance in encouraging access and peaceful use of cyberspace as a catalyst for development.  Furthermore, the use of cyberspace as a safe place should be ensured by the private sector and Governments.

VANESSA WOOD (Australia) said the foundation for responsible State behaviour in cyberspace was a mutual commitment to existing international law, including respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.  The United Nations Charter could be applied in its entirety to State actions in cyberspace, including the prohibition of the use of force, the peaceful settlement of disputes, and the right of States to act in self-defence in response to an armed attack.  To enable agile responses, existing international law was complemented by norms, as established through the Groups of Governmental Experts, among others, of responsible State behaviour, which promote predictability, stability and security.  The international community must now ensure that there were effective and proportionate consequences for those who acted contrary to the consensus on norms.

Mr. AZADI (Iran), associating himself with the statement to be made by the Non-Aligned Movement, said information communication technology played a crucial role in socioeconomic and cultural development.  There was a need to strengthen security and prevent the use of such technology for illegal purposes.  National measures were not sufficient.  Due to both the complex nature and rapid advances in the field, international cooperation was essential.  While it was important there was a common understanding of issues, such an understanding could not adequately emerge through the work of the Group of Governmental Experts.  In that regard, all States must be engaged in an inclusive, interactive debate in a broad-based setting.  Establishing an open-ended working group was an appropriate method to help build upon the work and to discuss issues related to information communication security.

FAIYAZ MURSHID KAZI (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed concern about the potential misuse of information and communications technology to the detriment of international peace and security.  While it was a key vehicle to further growth and development, normative behaviours and cooperation were needed to ensure information security.  The work of the Group of Governmental Experts was useful, he said, adding he looked forward to it moving forward after its setback during its last session.  He also voiced support for the draft decision tabled by the Russian Federation on the field’s developments in international security.  With threats by terrorists using information and communications technology to compromise security and cause harm, there was a need to strengthen the existing legal regime pertinent to that domain and address the weakest links in the cybersphere.  As well, he expressed support for the draft resolution tabled by India on the role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament, co-sponsored by his delegation.

ANGGI SAZIKA JENIE (Indonesia), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated her serious concern over the two decades delay in the implementation of the 1995 resolution on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Recalling the opposition expressed by the United States, United Kingdom and Canada at the concluding session of the 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East had not been achieved.  She emphasised the special responsibility of the co-sponsors of that resolution for its implementation.  Its persistent lack could undermine the effectiveness and credibility of the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a whole.  The Non-Aligned Movement demanded that Israel renounce any possession of nuclear weapons and accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty without any precondition or delay.

MARWAN ALDOBHANY (Yemen), speaking for the Arab Group and associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed the importance of agreements to establish nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  He emphasized the need to take effective and immediate measures as outlined by the Arab Group resolution addressing the threat of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.  He called upon the three co-sponsors of the Middle East resolution adopted in 1995 to bear the responsibility of the text’s implementation and establish that zone.  The Arab States were concerned for the security and humanitarian and environmental impact due to Israel’s rejection to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  He underlined that the continued delay of the implementation of the 1995 resolution was a serious setback to global nuclear non-proliferation efforts.

LOIS M. YOUNG (Belize), speaking for CARICOM, said that bloc’s member States remained committed to confronting the illicit trade in firearms.  They had benefitted from the memorandum of understanding between the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), as well as from the implementation of the UNODC Regional Programme 2014‑16.  The United Nations Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean was one of several important partners for the Community in implementing its arms control and non-proliferation obligations.  That partnership had resulted in the successful implementation of the Operational Forensic Ballistic Project, she said, also highlighting six sub-regional training sessions completed in August on the topic of “double casting”, which increased national authorities’ capabilities to establish connections between crimes nationally, regionally and internationally.

She went on to emphasize CARICOM’s support for strengthening the role of women in disarmament, noting Trinidad and Tobago’s leadership of the biennial resolution titled “Women, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control”.  The Community was also committed to the CARICOM-Security Council Resolution 1540 Implementation Programme to prevent the transit, trans-shipment, import, export, re-export or brokering of dual-use materials that could be used in the development of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons and related materials.  It had strengthened its partnership with the United Nations Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean in implementing various project activities related to the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, recently launching a Guide on the Development of National Control Lists for the region.  That had assisted CARICOM in reinforcing national export and import regulatory structures for dual use goods, she noted.

JUDIT KÖRÖMI, European Union delegation, said the illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea posed a grave threat to regional and international peace and security.  That country should refrain from further reckless provocations and abandon its programmes.  Addressing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, she emphasized the importance of its continued, full and effective implementation.  Facilitated by the European Union, the Plan of Action was the result of 12 years of diplomatic effort.  It had become a key element of the nuclear non-proliferation architecture and was crucial for the security of the region.  She encouraged the United States to maintain its commitment to the Plan of Action and consider the implications for the security of the United States, its partners and the region before taking further steps.

She went on to say that, despite de-escalation efforts, this year had seen the highest number of civilian casualties in Syria.  She condemned the indiscriminate attacks and atrocities perpetrated by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Daesh) and other terrorist groups and the systematic violations of human rights by all parties, particularly the Syrian regime.   The use of barrel bombs, cluster bombs and incendiary weapons in Syria might amount to war crimes.  It was deeply shocking and deplorable that chemical weapons had been used in several cases in Syria.  The findings of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) fact-finding mission, the Joint Investigative Mechanism and the testimonies gathered by the Commission of Inquiry for Syria required strong action by the Security Council.  At the same time, it was also deeply concerning that Syria had not engaged substantively regarding gaps and discrepancies in its chemical weapons declaration with the ongoing investigations of the OPCW Technical Secretariat.

DELFINA JANE ALOYSIUS DRIS (Malaysia), speaking for ASEAN, said she believed that the value of regionalism lay in its inclusivity, rules-based nature, with an emphasis on mutual benefit and respect.  Transparency, confidence-building measures and progress in regional disarmament were indispensable in improving the security environment of the Asia-Pacific region, and in that connection, the Group reaffirmed its commitment to the disarmament treaties to which it was a signatory.  The United Nations Regional Centres for Peace and Disarmament had worked tirelessly to collaborate on various initiatives, she said, reiterating the commitment to preserving the region, not only as a nuclear-weapons-free zone, but a zone free of all other weapons of mass destruction as enshrined in the ASEAN Charter and the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone.

ASEAN continued to undertake various activities on nuclear safety, security and safeguards, including with respect to capacity building, she continued.  The Group was also working towards the establishment of a formal relationship between the ASEAN Network of Regulatory Bodies on Atomic Energy and IAEA and was committed to the full operationalization of the ASEAN Regional Mine Action Centre Permanent Secretariat.  Such developing concrete initiatives, building capacity and ensuring continuity through regional cooperation were crucial in making progress on global disarmament commitments.

ROBERT A. WOOD (United States) said regional approaches provided important avenues to disarmament, security and non-proliferation objectives.  In East Asia, the regional architecture had steadily evolved in the face of growing threats from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.  He reiterated President Donald Trump’s commitment to deny Iran all paths to nuclear weapons.  The United States would work with its international partners to explore options for addressing the flaws in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme.  In closing, he noted that South Asia was a home to two nuclear-weapon States and to the highest concentration of foreign terrorist groups in any region.

ENRIQUE JOSÉ MARÍA CARRILLO GÓMEZ (Paraguay) denounced the use of force in international relations.  Honouring commitments to transparency and accountability, Paraguay provided its military expenditure information.  He called States to cooperate with the United Nations and supported the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development.  Latin America and the Caribbean was a region free of nuclear weapons, he said, noting the valuable contributions of civil society in disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.

Right of Reply

The representative of Israel, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said the representative of Iran represented a regime that was one of the world’s biggest sponsors of terror and had committed atrocities against the people of Syria.  As such, it was hard to see how he had any standing to make accusations against his country.

The representative of the United States said Iran supported terrorism and was complicit in the Assad regime’s crimes against its people, had threatened to wipe Israel off the map, had launched cyberattacks against the United States, had committed human rights abuses and continued its ballistic missile programme.  The United States had sanctioned Iranian entities involved in the country’s ballistic missile programme and remained concerned about its military support for Houthis in Yemen.

The representative of Iran categorically rejected remarks made by his counterpart from Israel.  Chronic threats plaguing the Middle East stemmed from the offensive and brutal practices of the Israeli regime.  Israel was the only country in the region possessing nuclear weapons and facilities that were under no safeguards and had refused to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, blocking the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Israel was one of the world’s biggest military spenders in 2016 and was a huge beneficiary of aid from the United States.  He called on Israel to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty for the sake of peace and stability in the region.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his country had suffered from natural disasters, including an unprecedented drought, which was why countries such as the United States had voluntarily sent it food.  His delegation did not support the draft resolution presented by the United States on compliance with non-proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments because of its pure political purpose.  Concerning his country’s nuclear deterrence policy, he said if the United States was afraid of such weapons, then it should get rid of all its nuclear bombs and enter the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon State.

The representative of the United States said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had been isolated and had lost billions of dollars because it was developing nuclear and ballistic missile programmes instead of taking care of its own people’s needs.  Furthermore, he was not shocked by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s plan not to vote for United States compliance resolution.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected what the United States delegate had said.

News

With ‘Dark Side of Innovation’ on Horizon, First Committee Delegates Call for Joint Action in Combating Cyberattacks

New Text Calls for Creation of United Nations Panel to Investigate Potential Role of Science, Technology in Disarmament

States must join forces to combat the rising threat of non-State actors maliciously using information and communications technology to destabilize socioeconomic development, delegates told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today as they discussed ways to prevent cyberattacks.

Introducing a new draft resolution on the role of science in that regard, India’s representative emphasized that as “the dark side of innovation is moving from the frontier to the front door”, it was critical to ensure a correct understanding of the latest developments in science and technology to allow work in multilateral forums to adjust accordingly.

Asking the Committee to support the draft text, he said it would have the General Assembly request that the Secretary-General create a panel of experts in diverse fields of science and technology to assess current developments and their potential impact on international security and disarmament efforts.

Echoing a common concern, Brazil’s representative warned against the militarization of information and communications technology and the emergence of new systems of related weapons that might trigger a new arms race.  Pakistan’s representative highlighted the growing threat of lethal autonomous weapon systems, calling for a pre-emptive prohibition on further developing such arms.  He also supported the establishment of a group of governmental experts to discuss those issues in the context of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

Yemen’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, welcomed the United Nations establishment of regulatory principles to address concerns about the possibility of information and communications technology being used to damage the political, economic and scientific efforts of States.

Elaborating on that point, the delegate of the Netherlands highlighted the usefulness of recommendations made in the 2013 and 2015 reports of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security.  Those “landmark achievements” had acknowledged that international law and particularly the United Nations Charter was applicable and essential in maintaining peace and stability and promoting an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful information and communications technology environment, she said.

Delegates, including Indonesia’s representative, called for an international legal framework to address malicious acts.  Speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, he underscored the importance of developing such a framework within the United Nations and in full accordance with the principles of sovereignty, non-interference and peaceful coexistence among States as fundamental in preventing and mitigating such threats.

Likewise, Paraguay’s delegate urged delegates to adopt norms which regulated information and communications technology processes in the context of international peace and security.  Such guidance would help to bridge the technological divide between developing and developed countries, he said.

Expressing concerns about access to technology, Algeria’s representative said that even though new information and communications technology products offered many opportunities to boost socioeconomic development, their use by terrorist groups posed a real danger.  As such, dual-use information and communications technology should not thwart the transfer of those technologies to States that needed them, especially developing countries, he emphasized.

Other delegates, including the representative of Switzerland, stressed the importance of an open, free, accessible and secure cyberspace.  The delegate of the United States underlined creating a climate in which all States could enjoy the benefits of cyberspace was a fundamental goal of her country.  She also introduced a draft resolution on compliance with non-proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments.

Briefing the Committee at the outset of the meeting, Karsten Diethelm Geier, Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security, highlighted the need to continue discussions on information and communications technology.

He emphasized that because each State had a stake in cybersecurity, a global understanding of threats and the ways to mitigate them was needed and must be pursued through the United Nations.  He also highlighted the importance of involving the private sector, civil society and others in developing capacity and confidence-building measures.

The Committee also held a panel discussion on “Regional disarmament and security”.

During the debate on conventional weapons, the representatives of Botswana, Cambodia, Burkina Faso, Iraq, Argentina, Nigeria, Iran, Niger, Ethiopia, and Mali and Brazil delivered statements.

The debate on other disarmament measures and international security featured the representatives from Singapore (also for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Antigua and Barbuda (for the Caribbean Community), Switzerland, Canada, United Kingdom, Finland, Estonia, Cuba, Greece, China, France, Germany, Zambia, Russian Federation, Austria, Mexico, Australia, Iran and Bangladesh, as well as the European Union.

Delivering statements during the discussion on regional disarmament and security were representatives of Indonesia (for the Non-Aligned Movement), Yemen (for the Arab Group), Belize (for the Caribbean Community), Malaysia (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), United States and Paraguay, as well as the European Union.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Israel, Iran, United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The First Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 24 October, to begin its thematic debate on the disarmament machinery.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met to continue its thematic discussion on conventional weapons and hear a briefing by the Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security.  It also began its thematic debate on other disarmament measures and international security.  For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3571 of 2 October.

Briefing

KARSTEN DIETHELM GEIER, Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security, highlighted its work, noting its inability to reach consensus during its previous two cycles.  During the 2015‑2016 cycle, it had failed doing so, but not for lack of trying.  Still, efforts had helped to increase transparency around the Group and obtain outside input.  Experts based their deliberations on trying to formulate concrete guidance on how to help States to implement recommendations contained in previous reports.  Under discussion on information and communications technology were its increasingly malicious use by non-State actors and how that could impair global information and communications technology systems, and its use to interfere in the affairs of other States and to conduct criminal activities.

He said that in discussing how to take forward responsible norms of behaviours by States and how to respond to attacks on critical infrastructure, members had made suggestions on how to prevent non-State actors from conducting malicious information and communications technology activities.  They also made concrete suggestions related to confidence building, including guidance on points of contact and procedures to request information from other States.  The importance of involving private sector, civil society and others in capacity building was also raised.

Despite convergence on these points, significant differences remained, he said.  During the 2016‑2017 cycle, members had been unable to agree on a consensus report on its last day of discussions, he said, regretting to note that many good points had not been carried forward by a generally accepted document, which would have been useful to Member States.  Pointing out that information and communications technology had been discussed at the United Nations since 1998 and that tremendous progress had been made, he emphasized that previous reports stood unaffected by the current lack of consensus.  Highlighting remaining differences, he said “we do ourselves no favour to paper over divisions”.

Each State had a stake in cybersecurity, he said.  As such, there was a need to continue discussions and increase transparency and inclusivity.  A global understanding of threats and the ways to mitigate them was needed and must be pursued through the United Nations.  In terms of holding another Group of Governmental Experts meeting, alternatives should be explored to identify the best format.  Meanwhile, a consensual approach allowing for further progress must be found prior to the General Assembly’s seventy‑third session.

Conventional Weapons

LORATO LUCKY MOTSUMI (Botswana), associating herself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said peace was elusive in a world where armed conflicts were on the rise.  Control measures for conventional weapons must limit their illicit trafficking, particularly because they caused the greatest civilian casualties.  Welcoming the adoption of a declaration on improvised explosive devices, she reiterated Botswana’s support for the fifth Review Conference of the High Contracting Parties to 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.  Guided by the Maputo Action Plan 2014‑2019, Botswana was committed to efforts to eliminate anti-personnel mines around the world and to working with partners in areas such as arms control and money laundering.

RY TUY (Cambodia), associating himself with ASEAN and Non-Aligned Movement, his country had, after experiencing civil war, famine and starvation, turned to United Nations rehabilitation programmes, adopting confidence-building measures, especially in the fields of conventional arms, anti-personnel mine clearance and the reintegration of mine victims.  Subregional and regional cooperation, information-sharing mechanisms and trans-border customs cooperation and networks must be established or strengthened.  In that vein, Cambodia would host in December a regional seminar for ASEAN members and Timor‑Leste on the illicit trafficking and the diversion of small arms, light weapons and other conventional arms and ammunition.  It was with collaboration and support from the international community and donors that most of Cambodia’s agricultural lands were now mine-free, even though some rural areas remained to be cleared, he said, noting that because of Cambodia’s experiences, ASEAN had established a regional mine action centre in Phnom Penh.

WENDBIGDA HONORINE BONKOUNGOU (Burkina Faso), associating herself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons threatened international peace, security and stability, fuelling transnational crime and terrorism in many regions and preventing the socioeconomic development of some States.  Noting that more than 877 million such weapons were in circulation, she welcomed the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, which would complement the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunition and Other Related Materials, as would the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, and the Register of Conventional Arms.  Implementing such instruments would allow Burkina Faso to thwart trafficking.  Turning to concerns about anti-personnel mines, she called for the universalization of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction.  She also called on all States to pool efforts to provide assistance to countries affected by such weapons.  Cluster bombs also hampered access to large fertile land, she said, calling for the universalization of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Mr. AL-RIKABI (Iraq), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the challenges posed by the development of conventional weapons was no different from those posed by weapons of mass destruction.  Having recently acceded to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Iraq was committed to implementing all of its provisions.  Noting that the indiscriminate spread and trade of small arms and light weapons presented a serious threat to security, he said concerted efforts must continue to reactivate the Programme of Action on Small Arms.  Iraq had been deeply affected by anti-personnel mines, with terrorists having deployed such weapons across large swaths of territory, resulting in destructive effects on the environment and economy.  In that context, he called on donor countries to coordinate with Iraq to provide assistance to help address that grave concern.

MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina) said the international community should spare no effort in dealing with the proliferation of conventional weapons.  For its part, Argentina had complied with many international legal instruments, co-authored the Arms Trade Treaty and had created a mechanism for keeping weapon-related materials safe.  Argentina had also joined the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which should be used as a framework to negotiate the prohibition of other arms, including lethal autonomous weapons systems and anti-personnel mines.  The humanitarian consequences of the use of those weapons called for a concerted effort by the international community, he said, adding that Argentina promoted confidence-building measures.

KINGSLEY WEINOH (Nigeria), associating himself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said illicit trafficking and the use of small arms and light weapons had undermined peace and security and caused the displacement of people.  Demanding renewed efforts to prevent and combat the illicit conventional weapons trade, he welcomed the Arms Trade Treaty, which must be robustly implemented, and urged States to join without delay.  Nigeria had redoubled efforts in strengthening its national borders and had signed and ratified related international legal instruments.  Nigeria was ready to work with other delegations in transforming the vision of international peace and security into reality for the future generations.

ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran), associating himself with Non-Aligned Movement, said his country’s missile programme was a basic defence requirement that should be viewed in the context of living in a volatile region rather than being assessed in a vacuum.  Iran’s military expenditure had decreased since 2007, indicating a restraint, given the skyrocketing security challenges in the region.  Through that lens, its missile programme had a purely defensive character and would continue with full force, he said, objecting to arguments that considered Iran’s missile launches to be inconsistent with Security Council resolution 2231 (2015).  That resolution only called upon Iran not to undertake activity related to missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, which Iran’s were not, he emphasized.

Mr. ISSA (Niger), said the international community’s efforts to eliminate all weapons of mass destruction and address concerns about conventional weapons had been demonstrated, including through in the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, Programme of Action on Small Arms, Arms Trade Treaty and the establishment of practical confidence-building measures through the Disarmament Commission.  For its part, Niger had good relations with its neighbours and had ratified all legal international and regional instruments on disarmament and international security.  He emphasized that firearms control was crucial in West Africa and the Sahel, areas that had been greatly affected by the uncontrolled circulation and proliferation of firearms due to armed conflicts, terrorism and drug trafficking.

MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia), associating herself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said her country continued to suffer from the spread of small arms and light weapons because of porous borders, the presence of refugee camps and vast arid areas.  Domestic terrorist groups had been using the weapons to provoke and instigate unemployed youth to carry out violent activities.  To address those concerns, Ethiopia was raising public awareness and enhancing efforts to boost inter-agency coordination between law enforcement institutions, he said, noting that her delegation looked forward to the third Review Conference on the Programme of Action on Small Arms and the International Tracing Instrument to be held in 2018.  Emphasizing the importance of the Mine Ban Convention, she said Ethiopia was committed to destroying its stockpiles.  However, the shortage and obsolete condition of related equipment had hampered that goal, she said, emphasizing that the main responsibility of completing the destruction of mines lay with States parties and that the full implementation of all Mine Ban Convention provisions depended largely on the availability of resources and technical support.

NOËL DIARRA (Mali) said that while small arms and light weapons did not appear to be as sophisticated as weapons of mass destruction, they were more deadly in terms of casualties.  In Mali, terrorist groups had used small arms and light weapons, attacking women and children and undermining development efforts.  Mali was committed to combating conventional weapons trafficking in West Africa and the Sahel region.  Yet, the activities of terrorist groups and traffickers represented a real challenge when it came to combating the arms proliferation and porous borders that needed to be strengthened to stop illegal weapons transfers.  Highlighting  the link between development and security, as demonstrated in Sustainable Development Goal 16.4., he said Mali had submitted a draft resolution on assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them.

ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil), noting that his country hoped to join the Arms Trade Treaty soon, said a national export control system currently in place was already operating largely in compliance with the instrument.  To avoid the detrimental effects of unregulated international arms transfers, major weapons exporters must join the Arms Trade Treaty.  He also expressed support for the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which provided a useful framework to address current and future humanitarian challenges in armed conflicts.  Acknowledging the humanitarian challenge posed by improvised explosive devices, he condemned that those devices had been increasingly used against civilians.  On that issue, Brazil had undertaken efforts to prevent the diversion of relevant controlled materials that could be used to produce such weapons, he said, noting the important connection linking the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the Arms Trade Treaty and the Programme of Action on Small Arms.

Other Disarmament Measures and International Security

DANNY RAHDIANSYAH (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, highlighted the important socioeconomic opportunities provided by information and communications technology and expressed concern over the cases of its illegal use that were detrimental to States.  Developing a legal framework to address such violations should be pursued within the United Nations and in full accordance with the principles of sovereignty, non-interference and peaceful coexistence among States.

Turning to the work of the related Group of Governmental Experts, he called for transparency and the strict application of the principle of equitable geographical representation in its membership.  In that context, he regretted to note that a request by developing countries for participation in the recently constituted Group of Governmental Experts had not been considered.

MARWAN ALI NOMAN AL-DOBHANY (Yemen), on behalf of the Arab Group, associated himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, saying that solutions approved within a multilateral framework and the Charter of the United Nations were the only way to deal with disarmament and international security issues.  He also underlined the fact that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction threatened sustainable development for all.

Turning to the preparation and implementation of disarmament and arms limitation agreements, he stressed the importance of observing environmental norms.  Concerned about the possibility of information and communications technology being used to damage the political, economic and scientific efforts of States, he welcomed the United Nations establishment of regulatory principles.  He also emphasized the need for international cooperation and for the United Nations to play a central role in related initiatives.

JOSEPH TEO CHOON HENG (Singapore), speaking on behalf of ASEAN, said members had secured regional peace and strengthened national resilience.  As cyberthreats and attacks undermined trust in the digital future, ASEAN had adopted the Cybersecurity Cooperation Strategy in March and had taken several other steps to foster regional cooperation, including support for ongoing work to promote international voluntary cybernorms of responsible State behaviour and the development of a rules-based cyberspace.  He also supported discussions on the adoption of basic, operational and voluntary norms of behaviour to guide information and communications technology use based on the norms set out in the 2015 report of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security.

Capacity building was an important aspect to enhancing the region’s ability to respond to threats, he said, welcoming the Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Partnership between ASEAN and the United Nations (2016‑2020).  Cybersecurity required coordinated expertise from stakeholders across different domains, as Governments did not have all the answers.  A large percentage of cyberinfrastructure, resources and expertise was in the hands of the private sector, thus necessitating that sector’s involvement.

Mr. HENG, speaking in his national capacity, said the annual Singapore International Cyber Week had facilitated conversations on key issues such as norms or responsible State behaviour in cyberspace and cybersecurity capacity building.  Singapore had also launched a $10 million ASEAN cybercapacity programme, which was a modular, multi-stakeholder and multidisciplinary initiative to build capacity across policy and technical areas.  Partnering with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, Singapore had helped to develop a flagship United Nations online training course on the use of information and communications technologies and international security.

CARMEN GONSALVES (Netherlands) said the Internet — increasingly regarded as a “global public good” — must remain open, safe and free for all.  Expressing regret that, despite efforts, the related Group of Governmental Experts had failed to arrive at a consensus on views and recommendations regarding norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviour of States, she said its 2013 and 2015 reports were “landmark achievements” and a cause for optimism.  The 2013 report had acknowledged that international law and particularly the United Nations Charter was applicable and essential in maintaining peace and stability and promoting an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful information and communications technology environment.  Important progress on the operationalization of the application of international law had been made in the 2015 consensus report.  Both reports had agreed on common norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviour, confidence-building measures and understandings on capacity building that would serve as the building blocks for more stable and predictable interaction among States, she said, urging States to implement the recommendations during the present period of reflection.

JUDIT KÖRÖMI, European Union delegation, expressed regret that the Group of Governmental experts had not reached an agreement on an additional report beyond its 2015 consensus recommendations.  The European Union would continue to implement the consensual views articulated in previous reports and invited other international actors to do the same.  The bloc would continue to promote the establishment of strategic frameworks for conflict prevention, cooperation and stability in cyberspace, which must be based on the application of existing international law, especially the United Nations Charter in its entirety.  It also supported the development and implementation of universal norms of responsible State behaviour, bolstered by targeted regional confidence-building measures between States.

She said States’ information and communications technology use should be guided by principles such as sovereign equality, non-intervention in the internal affairs of other States, the obligation to settle international disputes by peaceful means, the right to respond to internationally wrongful acts, the obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the right to self-defence.  The European Union was committed to addressing cyberthreats globally by assisting third countries in responding to such challenges and increasing law enforcement capabilities to investigate and prosecute cybercrime perpetrators.  In addition, member States had adopted a framework for a joint European Union diplomatic response to malicious cyberactivities, which contributed to conflict prevention, cooperation and stability in cyberspace.

WALTON WEBSON (Antigua and Barbuda), speaking on behalf of CARICOM, underlined the importance of considering gender perspectives in advancing effort to achieve disarmament goals.  Citing Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) and a similar CARICOM-sponsored draft resolution for addressing the vital links between women and disarmament, she said the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons recognized the importance of equal, full and effective participation of both men and women in achieving sustainable peace and security.  Additionally, delegates at the sixth Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms, had agreed to ensure the participation of women in implementation processes and encourage the collection of disaggregated data on gender and illicit small arms and light weapons.

Recognizing those links was particularly relevant and important to her region, she said.  While men were most often the victims of gun crimes, women were left to become the sole bread-winner for families and risked falling into poverty.  For that reason, women must be included in the disarmament discussion at all levels.   While her region was not affected by armed conflict, it faced tremendous challenges in relation to armed violence.  Approximately 70 per cent of homicides in the region involved the use of firearms, and as a result, resources had to be diverted away from development.  A diverse range of perspectives was needed to ensure that decisions reflected global concerns.  She also emphasized that the underrepresentation of lower-income countries at disarmament forums must be addressed in a holistic manner.

SABRINA DALLAFIOR MATTER (Switzerland) stressed the importance of an open, free, accessible and secure cyberspace.  Switzerland, having participated in the recent Group of Governmental Experts meetings, deeply regretted that it had not adopted a consensus report that would have submitted substantive recommendations to the General Assembly.  Despite significant progress on recommendations for confidence-building measures and capacity-building, it had failed to fulfil its mandate with regard to the application of international law and information and communications technology use.  Expressing concern about the hesitation of certain States to recognize the crucial role of international law in promoting a peaceful and cooperative approach to cybersecurity, she said the United Nations should play an active role in that field and provide practical guidance to States on steps they could take to operationalize and implement the recommendations of the 2015 Group of Governmental Experts report, including norms, rules and principles of responsible State behaviour.

VISHAL KAPUR (Canada) noted that small arms proliferation had facilitated and perpetuated violence against women and girls, including acts of sexual violence and domestic abuse.  Due to entrenched gender roles in many societies, women had to bear the primary responsibility of caring for survivors and were often indirect victims.  In times of conflict, women played a variety of roles, including protectors, combatants, arms dealers, smugglers and providers of support to armed actors.  Given those gender dimensions, the international community must strive to increase the meaningful inclusion of women as full partners in security, disarmament and arms control discussions, including in the tracking and analysis of illicit trafficking networks and trends, in all aspects of the destruction of small arms and light weapons and in international negotiations and peace processes.

RACHEL HICKS (United States), noting that creating a climate in which all States could enjoy the benefits of cyberspace was a fundamental goal of her country, introduced a draft resolution on compliance with non-proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments.  There was broad consensus that compliance with international treaties to prevent further proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was a central element of the international security architecture.  Without the confidence that countries would honour their commitments, the deals made would not be “worth the paper on which they were printed”.  In that sense, she said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had demonstrated unlawful and dangerous behaviour, including its failure to comply with disarmament and non-proliferation obligations.  She then urged the First Committee to make clear that compliance was essential to peace and security, by supporting the draft resolution on the issue.

AMANDEEP SINGH GILL (India), introducing a new draft resolution on the role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament (document A/C.1/72/L.52), said the potential of science and technology for resolving the world’s most intractable problems could help the United Nations system progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.  However, “the dark side of innovation is moving from the frontier to the front door”, he said, emphasizing that it was critical to ensure a correct understanding of the latest developments in science and technology to allow work in multilateral forums to adjust accordingly.

Asking the Committee to support the draft text, he said provisions would have the General Assembly call for a comprehensive study of such developments, which would be conducted through a science and security panel established by the United Nations Secretary-General.  The panel would be composed of 18 independent experts drawn from relevant areas including scientific research, industry, disarmament and international law and ethics.  By the draft, the General Assembly would request that Under-Secretary-General to submit a final report containing the panel’s assessments for the General Assembly’s consideration at its seventy-fifth session.

ENRIQUE JOSÉ MARÍA CARRILLO GÓMEZ (Paraguay) said access to information and communications technology should contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security and be protected against criminal or terrorist use.  Paraguay had adopted a national cybersecurity programme, which would act as a tool for bolstering the security of critical assets and ensuring a reliable and secure cyberspace.  However, national efforts could only be sustainable with cooperation, he said, emphasizing the importance of international cooperation for the effective implementation of a mechanism to prevent cyberattacks.  Urging delegates to adopt norms that regulated information and communications technology processes in the context of international peace and security, he said that doing so would help to bridge the technological divide between developing and developed countries.

LARISSA SCHNEIDER CALZA (Brazil) said the militarization of information and communications technology and emergence of new systems of related weapons might lead to a new type of arms race.  To ensure the peaceful use of those technologies, Brazil favoured strengthening multilateral norms and principles applicable to the conduct of States.  Those norms should respect to the free flow of information and human rights, she said, urging the international community to examine the need to develop a specific legal framework to address proscribed behaviours, including offensive first use, tampering with the supply chain, intentionally introducing vulnerabilities into systems and networks and compromising information security of other States.  She encouraged all States to consider the adoption of a “no-first-use” norm with regards to offensive operations using information and communications technology.  Confidence-building measures and increased international assistance and cooperation must also aim at achieving an open and secure information and communications technology environment.  Having been active in the Groups of Governmental Experts, she said its format must evolve to be more inclusive and allow for the adequate participation of all countries, including developing countries.

MUSTAPHA ABBANI (Algeria), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said new information and communications technology products offered many opportunities to bolster socioeconomic development of countries.  However, their use by terrorist groups represented a threat to international peace and security.  Dual-use information and communications technology should not thwart the transfer of those technologies to States that needed them, especially developing countries.  Algeria had adopted a comprehensive approach for cyber- and general disarmament, establishing relevant tools and an entity to stop cybercrime and protect national security.  Having ratified African and Arab agreements on fighting information-related cybercrime and promoting collaboration among countries, Algeria promoted prosperity and human development in many fields.  Yet, using artificial intelligence could pose great humanitarian, ethical and legal challenges.  For that reason, the international community should adopt clear legislation, he said, emphasizing the importance of compliance with environmental standards when preparing and implementing disarmament agreements.

JEHAZEB KHAN (Pakistan), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said lethal autonomous weapon systems were unethical, unable to comply with international law, lowered the threshold for war and would negatively affect progress on arms control and disarmament.  Calling for a pre-emptive prohibition on further developing those weapons, he supported the establishment of a group of governmental experts to discuss those issues in the context of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.  Raising other concerns, he said the transborder unauthorized use of armed drones constituted a violation of international law, he said, citing the Human Rights Council’s opposition to targeting civilians with drones, which amounted to extrajudicial killings.  The threat of non-State actors and terrorists acquiring such weapons was additionally worrisome.  The misuse and unregulated use of information and communications technology also had grave implications for international peace and security, especially as the hostile activities involving cybertechnologies advanced.

Panel Discussion

The Committee held a panel discussion on “Regional disarmament and security”.  The panellists included Mary Soliman, Chief of the Regional Disarmament Branch of the Department of Disarmament Affairs; Anselme Yabouri, the Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa; Melanie Rigimbal, Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean; and Yuriy Kryvonos, Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific.

Ms. SOLIMAN said the centres would continue to foster cooperation with United Nations partners, regional organizations and other stakeholders to prevent the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, in particular their diversion to non-State armed groups.  With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, the centres would work with Member States towards realizing the 2030 Agenda, especially Goal 16.4, she said.  In that vein, they would continue to apply a synergistic approach and cooperate with relevant partners and stakeholders, building on comparative advantages and complementarities.  That would ensure the effective delivery of their mandate with maximum benefit to Member States in their respective regions.  Looking ahead, they would continue to work with Member States to identify strategic priority areas for their respective regions, taking into consideration global trends, developments, challenges and opportunities.  As they depended on extra-budgetary resources, she encouraged all Member States to support them through voluntary contributions.

Mr. YABOURI said work had been done with the African Union Commission to support the implementation of its initiative to “silence the guns by 2020” and of the 2030 Agenda.  In the Sahel, efforts included the implementation of the United Nations integrated strategy for the region through its participation in inter-agency discussions.  In Central Africa, substantive support was provided for the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa at its forty-third and forty-fourth ministerial meetings.  The regional centre had also participated in the annual meeting of heads of United Nations field presences in the Central African region in March 2017.  It had held several joint consultations with ECOWAS and had provided assistance for implementing regional and national action plans to African Member States and relevant civil society organizations related to global and regional instruments to combat the illicit trade and proliferation of small arms and light weapons.  While the sustained number of requests for assistance from Member States demonstrated the importance of its work, more was needed to advance peace and control in Africa given its gloomy peace and security situation.

Ms. RIGIMBAL said activities in 19 different countries in Latin America and the Caribbean had reached more than 2,100 national authorities, security sector agents, and young people, with the highest ever participation of females.  Efforts included stockpile management and weapons destruction, with activities geared toward quantitatively measuring progress and advances made toward the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 16.  Initiatives with Colombia had included the provision of technical assistance to the United Nations Verification Mission in the surrendering of arms.  Collaboration with the private sector was also key to ensuring sustainable security measures were adopted.  Meanwhile, the bulk of efforts focused on developing and imparting specialized trainings to combat illicit arms trafficking and provide tools to strengthen conventional arms control.  To use technology to its advantage, the regional centre created a new tool to facilitate the tracing of weapons trafficked through the postal system.  That preventive tool would aid security sector personnel in their fight against illicit arms trafficking, she said.

Mr. KRYVONOS said 10 projects and three collaborative programmes were among a range of activities undertaken in Asia and the Pacific.  The regional centre had also heavily engaged in the preparation for its relocation back to Nepal, which had concluded in February 2017.  Other activities included co-organizing two conferences on issues and challenges facing disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation.  With respect to national capacity-building, several projects assisted Member States to implement their commitments relating to conventional arms control, particularly regarding the Programme of Action on Small Arms, Arms Trade Treaty and the Security Council resolution 1540 (2004).  The main outcome of the project implementation was the development, approval and submission of three national action plans by Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004).  In addition, outreach activities engaged regional stakeholders.  Thanks to support from sponsors, the centre had again managed to reach its highest annual project implementation rate.

The Chair of the Committee opened the floor to invite delegates to ask questions to the panellists; no questions were posed.

SIMON CLEOBURY (United Kingdom) emphasized his country’s commitment to promoting international stability frameworks for cyberspace based on the application of existing international law, agreed voluntary norms of responsible State behaviour and confidence-building measures, supported by coordinated capacity-building programmes.  The United Nations Charter applied in its entirety to State actions in cyberspace, he said, adding that the law of State responsibility applied to cyberoperations in peacetime, including the availability of the doctrine of countermeasures in response to internationally wrongful acts.  The United Kingdom would promote the operationalization of agreed norms of responsible State behaviour, focusing on practical measures States could take to put voluntary norms into practice, he said.  It would also support efforts in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other forums to implement confidence-building measures that would contribute to transparency and trust between States in cyberspace.

MARJA LEHTO (Finland) expressed regret that the Group of Governmental Experts had failed to reach an agreement.  International discussions on specific aspects of international law in relation to the use of information and communications technology should continue.  The Group’s recommendations on responsible State behaviour constituted a practical contribution to clarifying the steps States should take in the information and communications technology domain to comply with their obligations to not knowingly allow their territories to be used for activities that might cause significant harm to other States.  “It is necessary to be cybersmart in order to keep up with the changes of the global security environment”, she said, adding that developing resilience was essential worldwide and should be supported by appropriate capacity-building efforts.  OSCE had adopted a set of dedicated confidence-building measures in the area, she noted, calling for its implementation.

MINNA–LIINA LIND (Estonia), associating herself with the European Union, said discussions on the Internet should afford the same attention to security as to the freedom of expression.  She regretted that the Governmental Group for Experts had not achieved a consensus report in 2017 and could not make further progress in analysing how international law applied to the use of information and communications technology, particularly the principle of due diligence, the potential application of the right to self-defence and international humanitarian law.  Estonia supported the establishment of a strategic framework for conflict prevention and stability in cyberspace that was based on international law, in particular the Charter of the United Nations.

ANAYANSI RODRIGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba) said the international community should adopt tangible measures to ensure the resources spent on military costs were refocused to promote sustainable development.  Member States should strictly comply with the environmental standards, with multilateralism being used in all disarmament negotiations.  Strict compliance with the United Nations Charter and international law was the only effective means to safeguard international peace and security while establishing a legally binding regulatory framework applicable to information and communications technology.  Denouncing the hostile use of those technologies for subverting legal and political orders of States, she said Cuba was constantly facing attacks from abroad as its communication spectrum had been targeted by the United States.  She called for an immediate end to such aggressive policies that were incompatible with international peace and security.

MARIA THEOFILI (Greece) said safety and security were of the utmost importance as the intertwined foundations of a country’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear material.  Transparent national efforts and strengthened regional cooperation in nuclear power production were critical.  Detailing the international instruments her country had acceded to and the work it had done during its European presidency, she called the Environmental Impact Convention the sine qua non of absolute transparency.  Underlining the centrality of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), she called upon all States to implement the Agency’s nuclear security guidance documents, to use its advisory services and to host peer review and follow-up missions.  As current political developments had created a volatile environment, she called for additional precautions to be taken to enhance the safety of nuclear installations, noting that more and more countries in her region were expressing a strong interest in nuclear power even though such energy had not been an option for the national energy grid of Greece itself.

WANG QUN (China) said that maintaining a peaceful cyberspace was crucial and all should faithfully observe the purposes and principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter, particularly the principles of sovereignty and non-interference of internal affairs.  Countries should discuss the application of international law in a manner conducive to maintaining peace so as to prevent an arms race in cyberspace and reduce the risk of conflict.  Cooperation was a win‑win concept, he continued.  No one country was immune from the threats of cyberspace and there was no such thing as absolute security.  Countries should reject the cold war mentality and develop a new security concept featuring coordination and sustainability.  The United Nations should play a leading role on the issue and discussion in the last Group of Governmental Experts had reflected the differences among the international community and further highlighted the need to build a broad consensus.  An open, inclusive process that allowed more countries to participate in global Internet governance should be established, he said.  At the same time, efforts should be made to assist developing countries with capacity‑building to bridge the digital divide.

LOUIS RIQUET (France) said existing international law, including the United Nations Charter, applied to cyberspace.  Should a cyberattack constitute a threat to international peace and security, the case might be referred to the Security Council under Chapters VI or VII of the Charter.  As a major cyberattack could constitute an armed attack under Article 51 of the Charter, States could invoke the right to legitimate self-defence in anticipation of a Security Council decision.  He said that in order to guarantee international stability and security in cyberspace, it was essential to have one standard that encouraged the control of exports of offensive cybertools and techniques and another that aimed at preventing non-State actors, including private companies, from carrying out offensive activities in cyberspace on their own behalf and that of other State or non-State actors.

THOMAS FITSCHEN (Germany), associating himself with the statement to be made by the European Union, said that there were reservations as to whether certain aspect of traditional international law in response to a malicious cyberoperation were really applicable in “cyberspace”.  If a State agent or someone else carried out a cyberoperation in another State to stop an electricity plan, that plan did not happen somewhere in cyberspace, but rather on the territory and in the jurisdiction of that country.  Those relations were governed by international law, he said, adding that some delegations were reluctant to touch upon the lawful counter-measures in cyberoperations.  According to international law, States could be held accountable.  The issue of attributing a certain conduct to a State was not new, he said.  Cyberoperations against territorial integrity of another State could in itself constitute use of force and thus be unlawful.

Ms. LINYAMA (Zambia) said that the increased use of information and communications technology had resulted in increased crimes, such as attacks on computer systems of institutions and terrorism-related activities.  It had also allowed criminal and terrorist syndicates to cross barriers of States to commit crimes, making it difficult to identify the offenders and locate the crime scenes with traditional investigation tools.  The Zambian Government was facing myriad challenges in fighting cybercrime and other criminal activities related to technology.  It had taken various measures to combat cyber- and other technological crime, including through harnessing opportunities offered by information and communications technology for law enforcement, such as electronic surveillance.  Investigation and prosecuting such crimes remained a challenge; it required new skills and procedural tools, including the capacity to collect and analyse digital evidence and to use that evidence in criminal proceedings.  Noting the positive contributions of science and technology, he called for international cooperation in assisting the physical security and monitoring of nuclear facilities and materials.

VLADIMIR YERMAKOV (Russian Federation), recalling that his country had been the first to raise concerns about emerging threats in the global information space, had tabled a related draft resolution to the General Assembly.  It was clear that such threats had become one of the most serious challenges to international peace and security.  That was compounded by the fact that recent discussions on international information security had stalled.  He was vigorously opposed to any attempts to unleash the information arms race, he said.  Together with like-minded countries, his country had repeatedly suggested the that the Group of Governmental Experts develop and submit to the General Assembly universal rules in the information space.  Instead, the Group’s discussion had been emasculated and side-lined for secondary aspects.  Certain countries sought to impose unilateral rules that only served their own interests.  Those rules were designed to ensure the chosen ones had a technological advantage and imposed a very dangerous decision to recognize the digital sphere as a theatre of military action.  He expressed concerns at attempts to discredit the role of the United Nations in tackling cybersecurity.  All Member States should participate in the discussion on an equal basis.  To ensure sustainability in negotiations in international information security, the Russian Federation had introduced a draft procedural decision to keep the item “developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security” on its agenda for the seventy-third session.

Mr. HAJNOCZI (Austria), associating himself with the statement to be made by the European Union, expressed regret that the Group of Governmental Experts had failed to agree on a consensus report this year.  Nonetheless, its previous reports would continue to be the basis for efforts to strengthen stability and security in an open and peaceful Internet where human rights and fundamental freedoms were respected.  Confidence-building measures could enhance trust and assurance among States and help reduce the risk of conflict, he said, noting that OSCE had undertaken significant work in that area in recent years.  Outlining some of those efforts, he said that, under the Austrian chairmanship, OSCE had made rebuilding trust and confidence among its three top priorities for 2017.  In February, his delegation had organized a conference on cybersecurity, and a second chairmanship conference would be held on 3 November in Vienna, offering an opportunity to discuss intensifying cooperation on several key areas.  Calling for a steadfast commitment to applying existing international law to the cyber context, he added that the Budapest Convention was an important tool in combating the criminal use of information and communications technology.

ISAAC MORALES (Mexico) said that the international system had a fundamental role to play in cyberspace to make it “open, safe and accessible”.  That should be enforced by regional and other multilateral forums.  The efforts of the Organization’s international security system should achieve balance in encouraging access and peaceful use of cyberspace as a catalyst for development.  Furthermore, the use of cyberspace as a safe place should be ensured by the private sector and Governments.

VANESSA WOOD (Australia) said the foundation for responsible State behaviour in cyberspace was a mutual commitment to existing international law, including respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.  The United Nations Charter could be applied in its entirety to State actions in cyberspace, including the prohibition of the use of force, the peaceful settlement of disputes, and the right of States to act in self-defence in response to an armed attack.  To enable agile responses, existing international law was complemented by norms, as established through the Groups of Governmental Experts, among others, of responsible State behaviour, which promote predictability, stability and security.  The international community must now ensure that there were effective and proportionate consequences for those who acted contrary to the consensus on norms.

Mr. AZADI (Iran), associating himself with the statement to be made by the Non-Aligned Movement, said information communication technology played a crucial role in socioeconomic and cultural development.  There was a need to strengthen security and prevent the use of such technology for illegal purposes.  National measures were not sufficient.  Due to both the complex nature and rapid advances in the field, international cooperation was essential.  While it was important there was a common understanding of issues, such an understanding could not adequately emerge through the work of the Group of Governmental Experts.  In that regard, all States must be engaged in an inclusive, interactive debate in a broad-based setting.  Establishing an open-ended working group was an appropriate method to help build upon the work and to discuss issues related to information communication security.

FAIYAZ MURSHID KAZI (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed concern about the potential misuse of information and communications technology to the detriment of international peace and security.  While it was a key vehicle to further growth and development, normative behaviours and cooperation were needed to ensure information security.  The work of the Group of Governmental Experts was useful, he said, adding he looked forward to it moving forward after its setback during its last session.  He also voiced support for the draft decision tabled by the Russian Federation on the field’s developments in international security.  With threats by terrorists using information and communications technology to compromise security and cause harm, there was a need to strengthen the existing legal regime pertinent to that domain and address the weakest links in the cybersphere.  As well, he expressed support for the draft resolution tabled by India on the role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament, co-sponsored by his delegation.

ANGGI SAZIKA JENIE (Indonesia), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated her serious concern over the two decades delay in the implementation of the 1995 resolution on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Recalling the opposition expressed by the United States, United Kingdom and Canada at the concluding session of the 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East had not been achieved.  She emphasised the special responsibility of the co-sponsors of that resolution for its implementation.  Its persistent lack could undermine the effectiveness and credibility of the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a whole.  The Non-Aligned Movement demanded that Israel renounce any possession of nuclear weapons and accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty without any precondition or delay.

MARWAN ALDOBHANY (Yemen), speaking for the Arab Group and associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed the importance of agreements to establish nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  He emphasized the need to take effective and immediate measures as outlined by the Arab Group resolution addressing the threat of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.  He called upon the three co-sponsors of the Middle East resolution adopted in 1995 to bear the responsibility of the text’s implementation and establish that zone.  The Arab States were concerned for the security and humanitarian and environmental impact due to Israel’s rejection to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  He underlined that the continued delay of the implementation of the 1995 resolution was a serious setback to global nuclear non-proliferation efforts.

LOIS M. YOUNG (Belize), speaking for CARICOM, said that bloc’s member States remained committed to confronting the illicit trade in firearms.  They had benefitted from the memorandum of understanding between the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), as well as from the implementation of the UNODC Regional Programme 2014‑16.  The United Nations Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean was one of several important partners for the Community in implementing its arms control and non-proliferation obligations.  That partnership had resulted in the successful implementation of the Operational Forensic Ballistic Project, she said, also highlighting six sub-regional training sessions completed in August on the topic of “double casting”, which increased national authorities’ capabilities to establish connections between crimes nationally, regionally and internationally.

She went on to emphasize CARICOM’s support for strengthening the role of women in disarmament, noting Trinidad and Tobago’s leadership of the biennial resolution titled “Women, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control”.  The Community was also committed to the CARICOM-Security Council Resolution 1540 Implementation Programme to prevent the transit, trans-shipment, import, export, re-export or brokering of dual-use materials that could be used in the development of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons and related materials.  It had strengthened its partnership with the United Nations Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean in implementing various project activities related to the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, recently launching a Guide on the Development of National Control Lists for the region.  That had assisted CARICOM in reinforcing national export and import regulatory structures for dual use goods, she noted.

JUDIT KÖRÖMI, European Union delegation, said the illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea posed a grave threat to regional and international peace and security.  That country should refrain from further reckless provocations and abandon its programmes.  Addressing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, she emphasized the importance of its continued, full and effective implementation.  Facilitated by the European Union, the Plan of Action was the result of 12 years of diplomatic effort.  It had become a key element of the nuclear non-proliferation architecture and was crucial for the security of the region.  She encouraged the United States to maintain its commitment to the Plan of Action and consider the implications for the security of the United States, its partners and the region before taking further steps.

She went on to say that, despite de-escalation efforts, this year had seen the highest number of civilian casualties in Syria.  She condemned the indiscriminate attacks and atrocities perpetrated by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Daesh) and other terrorist groups and the systematic violations of human rights by all parties, particularly the Syrian regime.   The use of barrel bombs, cluster bombs and incendiary weapons in Syria might amount to war crimes.  It was deeply shocking and deplorable that chemical weapons had been used in several cases in Syria.  The findings of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) fact-finding mission, the Joint Investigative Mechanism and the testimonies gathered by the Commission of Inquiry for Syria required strong action by the Security Council.  At the same time, it was also deeply concerning that Syria had not engaged substantively regarding gaps and discrepancies in its chemical weapons declaration with the ongoing investigations of the OPCW Technical Secretariat.

DELFINA JANE ALOYSIUS DRIS (Malaysia), speaking for ASEAN, said she believed that the value of regionalism lay in its inclusivity, rules-based nature, with an emphasis on mutual benefit and respect.  Transparency, confidence-building measures and progress in regional disarmament were indispensable in improving the security environment of the Asia-Pacific region, and in that connection, the Group reaffirmed its commitment to the disarmament treaties to which it was a signatory.  The United Nations Regional Centres for Peace and Disarmament had worked tirelessly to collaborate on various initiatives, she said, reiterating the commitment to preserving the region, not only as a nuclear-weapons-free zone, but a zone free of all other weapons of mass destruction as enshrined in the ASEAN Charter and the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone.

ASEAN continued to undertake various activities on nuclear safety, security and safeguards, including with respect to capacity building, she continued.  The Group was also working towards the establishment of a formal relationship between the ASEAN Network of Regulatory Bodies on Atomic Energy and IAEA and was committed to the full operationalization of the ASEAN Regional Mine Action Centre Permanent Secretariat.  Such developing concrete initiatives, building capacity and ensuring continuity through regional cooperation were crucial in making progress on global disarmament commitments.

ROBERT A. WOOD (United States) said regional approaches provided important avenues to disarmament, security and non-proliferation objectives.  In East Asia, the regional architecture had steadily evolved in the face of growing threats from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.  He reiterated President Donald Trump’s commitment to deny Iran all paths to nuclear weapons.  The United States would work with its international partners to explore options for addressing the flaws in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme.  In closing, he noted that South Asia was a home to two nuclear-weapon States and to the highest concentration of foreign terrorist groups in any region.

ENRIQUE JOSÉ MARÍA CARRILLO GÓMEZ (Paraguay) denounced the use of force in international relations.  Honouring commitments to transparency and accountability, Paraguay provided its military expenditure information.  He called States to cooperate with the United Nations and supported the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development.  Latin America and the Caribbean was a region free of nuclear weapons, he said, noting the valuable contributions of civil society in disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.

Right of Reply

The representative of Israel, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said the representative of Iran represented a regime that was one of the world’s biggest sponsors of terror and had committed atrocities against the people of Syria.  As such, it was hard to see how he had any standing to make accusations against his country.

The representative of the United States said Iran supported terrorism and was complicit in the Assad regime’s crimes against its people, had threatened to wipe Israel off the map, had launched cyberattacks against the United States, had committed human rights abuses and continued its ballistic missile programme.  The United States had sanctioned Iranian entities involved in the country’s ballistic missile programme and remained concerned about its military support for Houthis in Yemen.

The representative of Iran categorically rejected remarks made by his counterpart from Israel.  Chronic threats plaguing the Middle East stemmed from the offensive and brutal practices of the Israeli regime.  Israel was the only country in the region possessing nuclear weapons and facilities that were under no safeguards and had refused to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, blocking the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Israel was one of the world’s biggest military spenders in 2016 and was a huge beneficiary of aid from the United States.  He called on Israel to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty for the sake of peace and stability in the region.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his country had suffered from natural disasters, including an unprecedented drought, which was why countries such as the United States had voluntarily sent it food.  His delegation did not support the draft resolution presented by the United States on compliance with non-proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments because of its pure political purpose.  Concerning his country’s nuclear deterrence policy, he said if the United States was afraid of such weapons, then it should get rid of all its nuclear bombs and enter the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon State.

The representative of the United States said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had been isolated and had lost billions of dollars because it was developing nuclear and ballistic missile programmes instead of taking care of its own people’s needs.  Furthermore, he was not shocked by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s plan not to vote for United States compliance resolution.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected what the United States delegate had said.

News

Entrepreneur Urges Leveraging Artificial Intelligence for Benefit of All in Second Committee, Economic and Social Council Joint Meeting

Delegates Debate Eradication of Poverty, Development Issues in Afternoon Meeting

New technology would be central to achieving development goals, with artificial intelligence (AI) leveraged to process data on health, commerce, communications and transportation, entrepreneur Stephen Ibaraki told a joint session of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) and the Economic and Social Council today.

In that regard, stakeholders needed to work together to gauge opportunities and ensure technology would benefit all, he emphasized, addressing a panel discussion on “the future of everything — sustainable development in the age of rapid technological change”.

Machine learning and AI had already replaced human cognition through algorithms, assistance, augmentation, automation and autonomous intelligence, he noted.  Those advancements would mean a $16 trillion increase in gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030.  Similarly, gains from AI would boost GDP by 55 per cent from 2017 to 2030 and, in 2030 alone, 58 per cent of GDP would come from consumer attitudes, he said.  Every region could benefit from AI, with the largest predicted to be China and the United States.

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed concurred that technology could enhance food security, reduce waste and help local economies grow.  However, she warned that many nations would need more than just those benefits, urging the international community to form partnerships in ensuring equal technological access.

Addressing the plight of less developed countries, FarmDrive co-founder Rita Kimani stressed the need to examine root problems and tools available in assessing the best technology to use.  Her organization had learned that access to finance was among the biggest challenges for small farmers, who had no smart phones.  They used tools they already had — basic mobile phones — to send messages to the FarmDrive platform.

Presentations were also made by Hanson Robotics Chief Executive Officer David Hanson, Harvard University’s metalLAB Faculty Director Jeffrey Schnapp and Columbia University Professor Emeritus of Public and Environmental Health Dickson Despommier.

During an ensuing discussion, speakers emphasized the importance of universal technology access and its ensuing benefits, as well as the risk of negative robotic “values” and cultural personalities.

The International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) representative asked the panel how the global community could achieve its goal of universal and affordable access to the Internet by 2020.  Mr. Ibaraki said public-private partnerships must be strengthened through outreach from all multi-stakeholders, especially in least developed countries.

In a similar vein, Mauritius’ representative asked how economic gains would “trickle down”, reducing poverty and ensuring technological accessibility.  Mr. Ibaraki responded that technology would continue to evolve and eventually the challenge would solve itself, as AI would likely appear in all devices.

The representative from Global Pulse underscored the urgency of addressing risks, as AI had “as much potential for good or harm as nuclear energy”.  Mr. Hanson said the international community must continue to use all available tools without waiting for regulation, but Ms. Kimani stressed that human needs must be at the centre of conversations.

Likewise, the representative of Sierra Leone asked how producers would prevent them from acquiring the “worst of human values”, while ensuring culturally relative personalities.  Mr. Hanson replied that technological producers would include abstract reasoning in artificial intelligence, and empower machines to understand consequences of their actions.

“It comes down to love,” he said, adding that technology producers would create algorithms to move artificial intelligence and computing towards wisdom and “super benevolence”.  Culturally, his robotics had a wide diversity characterized by different skin tones and cultural values.

In an afternoon session, the Second Committee took up poverty eradication, stressing the need for increased employment, resource mobilization, investments in education as well as health and global financing.

Ecuador’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said good economic performance in African countries over the last two decades had failed to reduce poverty or create jobs.  Some 22 per cent of Africans lived on $.70 to $1.25 per day, while 25 per cent lived on less than $.70 per day.  Expressing concern over the lack of employment, he noted that 203.8 million people would be unemployed by 2018.  More economic opportunities were needed, along with increased mobilization of resources and adequate means for developing countries to implement policies and programmes.

Cambodia’s representative stressed the need to expand economies and invest in education and health, noting that his country had diversified exports to curb its reliance on the garment, tourism and agricultural industries.  Cambodia’s achievements in poverty reduction had been driven by robust and equitable macroeconomic growth, with strong checks on inflation, increases in agricultural production, and improved infrastructure.

Speaking for the Group of Least Developed Countries, Bangladesh’s representative said poverty in his group of States had fallen from 43.6 per cent in 2008 to 36.3 per cent in 2013.  However, levels of extreme poverty remained high in the group, with countries growing at the slowest pace of economic expansion since 2000.  Inequality in income, wealth and opportunities plagued those States, he said, while conflicts, climate change, diseases and economic “shocks” continued to thwart them.  Stressing that global support through financing was vital, he said he looked forward to improvements in official development assistance (ODA), trade and foreign direct investment (FDI).

At the onset of the meeting, Secretary-General’s reports were presented by Lakshmi Puri, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), on women in development (document A/72/282); Daniela Bas, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development at the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, on implementation of the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty 2008 to 2017 (document A/72/283); and Navid Hanif, Director of the Office for Support and Coordination in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, on human resource development for the twenty-first century (document A/72/292).

Also speaking were the representatives of Belize, Maldives, El Salvador, Israel, China, Philippines, Singapore, Iran, Viet Nam, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Cambodia on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Tonga, Iraq, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Burkina Faso, Zambia, Ethiopia, Venezuela, Cuba and Malawi.

The Committee will meet again on Thursday, 12 October, to conclude its debate on poverty eradication.

Opening Remarks

MARIE CHATARDOVÁ (Czech Republic), President of the Economic and Social Council, said artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of things changed the way the international community worked, obtained information, made bank transactions and networked.  She said AI was at the heart of online search and translation services, e‑commerce recommendations, real traffic prediction and self‑driving cars.  However, the international community did not yet know its global impact.  The long‑term consequences of deep technological changes were unknown, she stated.  AI could accelerate progress, but also would pose a range of complex challenges, including ethical questions, human rights issues and security risks.  “These questions will need to be addressed if we want our fellow citizens to embrace technological change rather than perceive it as a threat,” she said.  Public response, at national and global levels, was lagging technological progress, thus she urged for better understanding of science and technology for development.  “Let us not forget that many places around the globe still lack basic access to electricity and to a networked infrastructure,” she said.

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), Chair of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial), noted that his country was a small nation with few natural resources and a limited internal market.  Yet the size of the country and enterprising spirit of the people had been a huge advantage in building up an information society with high quality services.  When Estonia started building its information society about two decades ago, many in his country had no access to the Internet or the devices to use it.  It required vision and strong leadership to invest in and adopt the information technology route.  Both the public and private sectors understood the need to invest in positioning Estonia as an information society and integrate e‑governance solutions as they were created.  Turning to the use of technology in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, he said it would be vital to address security concerns and privacy.  People would only use e‑solutions if they were safe, trustworthy and convenient.  Innovative technologies offered unprecedented opportunities for implementing the Goals, but also required managing the risks of those technologies.

AMINA J. MOHAMMED, Deputy Secretary‑General, said technological progress must be well managed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  She urged the international community to engage in partnerships to leverage the power of technology equitably.  New technology could enhance food security, reduce waste and help local economies grow, among other advancements.  In Zambia, the first virtual farmers market was piloted.  Seed planting drones were tested and indirectly helped to mitigate climate change.  Mobilized construction changed how roads were built and monitored across Africa and the developing world.  Technology should not be used as a “silver bullet”, she said.  Highlighting recent technological events hosted at the United Nations, she stressed that creativity and imagination of youth must be nurtured to create new solutions and reach the Sustainable Development Goals.  The international community must also protect workers and help them adjust to technological advancements, close the digital divide and avoid exacerbating inequalities through proper education and training.  Engaging Sofia the robot, she asked how the United Nations could ensure that all people benefited from technological advancements.  In response, Sofia stated that AI could produce results with fewer resources.  Thus, AI could be leveraged to distribute the world’s existing resources, such as food and energy, in a more equitable manner.

Panel Discussion

JENNIFER STRONG, Moderator of the discussion and Host of the Wall Street Journal’s “The Future of Everything” podcast, said today’s event aimed to show how technology was shaping society.  Adding that she herself was not a technologist, she said it was all too easy to let someone else decide how technology affected our daily lives.  But leaving technology to others would be neglecting the great challenges of the time.  With her programme, she had assumed the responsibility of standing in for people who did not understand.  Through storytelling, she hoped to bring more voices into the conversation, as if technology belonged to all.

DAVID HANSON, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Hanson Robotics, said he hoped he could assist in connecting technologists and humanitarians in deciding how technology could benefit all.  His company made machines that were fundamentally human.  They took the nano properties of human soft tissue and produced mobile, social robots.  As art forms like animation had brought wonder and delight to the world, robotics could perform a similar service.  However, it was important to understand what it was like to be human.  By making AI grow up among humans, perhaps robots could really care about people and become alive.  There was a revolution at work today in the field of bioengineering, which had just begun to see the implications of work that would change the world.  He stressed that robotics must make machines reflecting the best people could be, humanizing robots as animated characters.  The goal was to make living robots that were truly ethical and could make the world a better place.

STEPHEN IBARAKI, serial entrepreneur and founding managing partner of REDDS Venture Investment Partners, said due to the rapid progress in AI, technological advancements would be central to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  AI could be leveraged to solve humanity’s challenges by processing data on health, commerce, communications, transportation and more.  Thus, stakeholders must work together to evaluate opportunities and ensure such advancements would benefit all of humanity.  AI and machine learning already replaced human cognition through algorithms, assistance, augmentation, automation and autonomous intelligence, he continued.  Those advancements would result in a $16 trillion increase in gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030.  Similarly, the gains from AI would result in a 55 per cent gain in GDP from 2017 to 2030, and in 2030 alone, 58 per cent of GDP would come from consumer impacts.  He said every region could benefit from AI, with the largest beneficiaries predicted to be in China and the United States.  The impact of AI would be apparent in economic, cultural and social disruption.  For example, such advancements could track poverty through satellite imagery and poverty mapping from space.  Machine learning could extend medical care through remote diagnosis and the enhancement of transportation resources.  AI could serve as a key resource in curbing greenhouse gas emissions and further promoting the development of smart cities.  As every sector would be affected, he encouraged the international community to consider liability rules, ethnical conduct, transparency and open partnerships.

RITA KIMANI, Co‑founder of FarmDrive, questioned whether robots would make a difference to rural farmers in her home country of Kenya.  It was necessary to take a step back to look at the root problems and real challenges one was attempting to address.  What were the challenges of communities and could technology be used to solve them, she asked.  Her organization had learned that access to finance was among the biggest challenges for small farmers.  So it looked at how technology could assist farmers in obtaining credit.  That was done by looking at simple revenue data from farmers, using it to assess the risk and then determining whether they could have credit.  In the case of those farmers, it was important to focus on the real problems and be aware of a community’s culture.  Small rural farmers, for example, had no smartphones, so a device they could use had to be found.  In the end, they used a basic mobile phone to send messages to the FarmDrive platform, using a tool they already had access to.

JEFFREY SCHNAPP, founder and faculty director of metaLAB at Harvard University, said the international community should not narrow the scope of our technological conversations.  He said robots come in all shapes, sizes and forms and have already transformed economic production.  Robotics and AI were already part of the everyday world, outside of warehouses and production plants.  He underscored that technological advancements augment the human experience.  Smart vehicles, for example, were used to map cities and inform urban development.  As shifts into those augmented realms, the international community must consider how information and data would be used.  The use of data would pose one of the greatest challenges, and the international community must leverage such information responsibly.  There was a trend, he continued, to treat algorithmic knowledge as a form of public knowledge and it had become part of our social and cultural lives.  As a result, educational institutions must reshape themselves and the international community must encourage lifelong learning.  Humanity must prepare and understand our relationship with the “world of devices” as digital tools, smart devices and the intensity of connectivity would continue to have greater impact.

DICKSON DESPOMMIER, Professor Emeritus of Public and Environmental Health, Columbia University, stressed that all people in the world needed to eat and drink.  The difficulty was in getting adequate supplies to them.  Sometimes, there was not enough rain to fill reservoirs and sometimes the food that was grown was raided by animals or destroyed by adverse weather.  Noting that eliminating hunger was among the primary goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he said it could be accomplished if the global community tried hard enough.  The world was now faced with rapid climate change and its consequent effects on health.  The cause was primarily deforestation as well as the use of fossil fuels.  Deforestation — which had mainly occurred to clear land for farming — took away the ability of the Earth to take back carbon it had fed into the atmosphere.  Noting that farming was 10,000 years old and traditional, he said no one wanted to break with that practice.  Rather than human clearing of land, a tsunami in Japan had trashed 5 per cent of its farmland in one hour.  In that case, the solution was indoor farming — vertical multi‑story farms, rather than one‑level greenhouses.  Countries were now adopting this alternative, led by Japan, and were producing great quantities of food.  Other countries using vertical farms included Singapore, China and Germany.  The advantages of vertical farming were that it was year‑round, used 70 to 90 per cent less water and could be established anywhere in the world.

Interactive Discussion

Ms. STRONG asked Sofia what the United Nations could do to support innovation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  Sofia responded that leaders must work together to build an equitable, standard infrastructure.

The moderator next asked the panel about the historical precedent of technological innovation.  Mr. IBARAKI said the implications to labour would result in a period of disruption and chaos, but economic and social benefits would manifest in the long‑run.  Mr. SCHNAPP responded that social panic around automation was recorded throughout the history of industrialization, and would be repeated with the development of AI and robotics.  So far, evidence had shown that technological advancements would not fuel job loss, but may fuel inequality.  To address that concern, the international community must do more to ensure adequate skills and capacity‑building.

The representative from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) asked how the global community might achieve its goal of universal and affordable access to the Internet by 2020, including in the least developed countries.  Mr. IBARAKI responded that public‑private partnerships must be strengthened through outreach from the United Nations.  The enhanced engagement of all the multi‑stakeholders would be required to accelerate that goal, particularly in the least developed countries.  Mr. SCHNAPP responded that the international community must urgently acknowledge broadband access as a civil right.

The representative of Nigeria asked how technological advancements in the labour markets might impact youth unemployment, particularly in Nigeria and sub‑Saharan Africa.  Mr. HANSON responded that the technological community was actively engaging Africa in research and through open robotics programmes.  He said that such initiatives were producing significant results and supported the production of low‑cost, open source tools and resources.  Such opportunities also created welcoming environments for entrepreneurship and infrastructural developments.  Ms. KIMANI said the international community must continue to address the root causes of inequalities, while also responding to technological advancements.  Mr. IBARAKI said the investment community considered Africa the greatest new opportunity on a personalization and localization basis, thus the region would continue to see greater investments, particularly around financial services and education.  Mr. DESPOMMIER said there was great interest in establishing indoor vertical farming, which would not require significant changes to skillsets.  Thus, AI in developing communities could enhance agriculture.

The representative of Mauritius asked how to ensure that economic gains would “trickle down”, reduce poverty and ensure technological accessibility.  Mr. IBARAKI responded that the greatest growth would be seen in Africa, including through investment and representation in scientific communities.  In terms of accessibility, technology would continue to evolve and eventually the challenge would solve itself, as AI would likely appear in all devices.

The representative of Sierra Leone asked how producers would prevent robots from acquiring the “worst of human values”, while ensuring culturally relative personalities and values.  Mr. HANSON said his company was working to improve deep learning through pattern extraction.  In doing so, technological producers would include abstract reasoning in AI and empower machines to understand the consequences of their actions.  “It comes down to love,” he continued.  Technology producers would create algorithms that moved AI and computing towards wisdom and “super benevolence”.  In terms of cultural design, he said his robotics have a wide cultural diversity as characterized by different skin tones and cultural values.  Mr. IBARAKI said agreements in the European Union Parliament addressed liability, employment and ethical conduct.  Global science associations and other related reports also addressed those concerns, as well as threats to humanity’s existential existence.

The representative of Brazil said access should not only be shared with consumers, but also with producers of technology.  Greater consideration should be given to developing countries as they could play a significant role in innovation and technology, including by strengthening intellectual and financial systems.  She said that other problems may not require technological solutions, but rather political ones.  Thus, the international community must not forget human responsibilities to global challenges.  Additionally, greater consideration should be given to defining who decides ethics and values.  In that regard, she noted the use of robotics and technological advancements for military use.  As a final comment, she reinforced the importance of privacy rights with respect to innovation.  Mr. IBARAKI said that the United Nations would remain a key facilitator in those discussions, and that overall, the scientific community was encouraging broad dialogue in that regard.  The open source movement and talent crowdsourcing would continue to be widely accessible, he said.  Mr. SCHNAPP reiterated that the open source community was an open community and that most operating systems were open source.  Mr. DESPOMMIER noted a media laboratory which was working to enhance vertical farming, and the information from which would be open source.  Mr. HANSON said blockchain would help to decentralize economic initiatives and facilitate entrepreneurship.

The representative of Zambia urged that the international community continue dialogue on such issues, while ensuring a global governance system which incorporated universal codes of conduct.  Regarding job loss, he said many economies were based on low cost products, many of which would be replaced by new innovations.  In that regard, he asked how Governments might tax labour, given that humans would be replaced by robotics.  Mr. IBARAKI said taxation had already been addressed in many high‑level discussions.

The representative of South Africa asked about the future of human beings, and how to combat the unequal division of benefits.  Mr. IBARAKI said there would be a coexistence of robotics and humans.  Concerning job loss and governance, innovation would create new opportunities.  Mr. SCHNAPP said there was a diversity of opinions on how tools and technologies would interact and that they would be shaped by disparate belief systems and social values.

The representative of the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development asked about the digital divide, while the representative of Global Pulse asked how to mitigate the risks of smart technologies in a manner that ensured that data was properly managed and utilized.  The latter underscored the urgency of addressing risks, as AI had “as much potential for good or harm as nuclear energy”.  In terms of human rights, he urged for a stronger governance approach to innovation.  Mr. HANSON said the international community must continue to utilize all available tools without waiting for regulation.  The value of automation, he continued, was that it managed resources efficiently, thus the democratization of technology would benefit mass production and lower costs.  Mr. IBARAKI said more consideration should be given to technological assessment and skills building.  The unintended consequences of innovation must also be addressed by all stakeholders.  Ms. KIMANI reiterated that human needs must be at the centre of conversations.  Ultimately, the international community must achieve a good balance between innovation and policy.  Mr. SCHNAPP said the international community must create a universal code of values while ensuring proper leadership to decide upon ethics and values.  Mr. DESPOMMIER said ethical considerations should not prohibit innovation, thus more open dialogue would continue to be necessary.

Concluding Remarks

Ms. STRONG questioned what the global community could do to ensure more people were empowered to take advantage of new technologies.  It was also difficult to know if the world was on the right track with certain technologies and how they could be used to increase productivity.

Mr. ZHENMIN said the world was at a critical juncture, faced with unprecedented challenges and unique opportunities for a challenging future.  Technology was the main driver of economic growth and could be revolutionary in transforming societies.  AI could bring a new industrial revolution, which would be fundamentally different than previous ones.  The influence of technology on the future was not preordained but could be influenced by proactive policies to embrace and direct it, ensuring that gains were broadly shared.

Ms. CHATARDOVÁ said the potential for grass‑roots initiatives in the field of agriculture and food security were truly inspiring as the international community sought avenues to accelerate progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda.  Likewise, AI‑enabled solutions in the mobility and transportation sectors would go a long way in making cities more sustainable.  Yet, there were also risks associated with those new technologies, and a need to bring regulation to issues that were so far largely ungoverned.  There was more to learn about the impact of AI on societies at large and its potential to accelerate progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mr. JÜRGENSON said the quest for innovative solutions to the complex challenges of the time should be particularly inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit and imagination of young people around the globe, using data as their generation’s natural resource.  The benefits of technological progress and innovation to all people remained far from clear.  However, the 2030 Agenda offered a vision that could help in navigating rapid technological change.

Presentation of Reports

LAKSHMI PURI, Assistant Secretary‑General and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN‑Women), introduced the Secretary‑General’s report on women in development (document A/72/282).  She said the 2030 Agenda sought to promote gender equality and empowerment of women and girls as a Sustainable Development Goal in its own right.  The imperative of the gender‑responsive implementation of the Agenda was the task in front of the international community.  Gender equality strategies needed to be fully integrated into national sustainable development frameworks to promote greater policy coherence.  Adding that a central commitment of the Agenda was eradicating poverty, she noted that close to 800 million people still lived in extreme poverty around the world.  Most were in informal employment and many were women.  Vulnerability was the hallmark of informal employment, lacking health or safety regulations, benefits like health insurance, pensions and other social protection.  Such work failed to meet the criteria of decent work.  Recent estimates indicated that 600 million new jobs would need to be created by 2030 to keep pace with the growth of the global working age population.  Focus was needed on young women’s entry into the labour market, including in the areas of science, technology and innovation.

DANIELA BAS, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development at the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary‑General’s report on the Implementation of the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty 2008 to 2017 (document A/72/283).  She said a survey was circulated by the United Nations to track progress and remaining challenges in addressing extreme poverty.  Recommendations from the report emphasized the need for the United Nations system to maintain momentum in the context of the 2030 Agenda.  Despite the international community continuing to make progress in poverty eradication throughout the second decade, the Millennium Development Goal targets remained only partially met.  Since 1990, around 1 billion people were lifted out of extreme poverty, however the report noted uneven progress.  Although extreme poverty dropped, poverty levels remained high in many least developed countries.  Growth had not been sufficient to meet the needs of the growing labour force, particularly in countries with large youth populations, and gaps remained in addressing undernourishment and lack of education.  Lessons learned included the importance of social policy, adequate macroeconomic policies, investment in agriculture and infrastructure, rural development and policies to build resilience and empower people living in poverty.  She emphasized the importance of partnerships and reassurance mobilization and called for greater attention to poverty eradication programmes in the national context.  The international community must continue structural transformation by driving inclusive industrialization, combating inequality, promoting decent work, investing in education and health care and improving women’s participation in the labour market.

NAVID HANIF, Director of the Office for Support and Coordination in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary‑General’s report on human resource development for the twenty‑first century (document A/72/292).  He said human resource development was fundamental to fulfilling the 2030 Agenda.  Currently, employment trends painted a challenging picture due to decreasing jobs in some sectors, which was compounded by vulnerable employment in many developing countries.  Rapid advancements in science and technology innovation were transforming economies and societies.  Organization of work and production were changing because of globalization.  Stressing that education, training and skill development were at the core of human resources, he said there was an urgent need to improve them.  National institutions must adapt, especially in education, training and social protection system development strategies, which must be informed by stakeholder engagement and policies.  The United Nations provided policy advice in implementing the Agenda, and would continue to do so, although technological changes were shaping its ability.  Investment was needed in the Organization’s own workforce, putting people at its centre.

General Discussion

The representative of Nigeria asked Ms. BAS for policy prescriptions for development and poverty reduction in rural areas, especially in Africa.  Ms. BAS said the international community must go through a structural transformation of how to conceive rural areas and work with them in an integrated manner.  That would mean how work would be perceived and created in rural areas, including farm and non‑farm economies.  She said innovative solutions must be compatible with the environment and respect the dignity of the people.  She stated that she would be happy to provide additional information on best practices.  Ms. PURI, responding to the same question, said the Commission on the Status of Women would be focusing on women’s empowerment in the context of rural development.  That would be an important aspect of how one could address poverty, inequality and the rural‑urban divide.  States should create in rural areas the necessary infrastructure, such as electricity, education, transport, financing and telecommunications.  Sustainable agriculture and the farm economy should address eradicating poverty, creating jobs and meeting the needs of young people.  She said such efforts would limit the uncontrolled growth of urban areas, as young people would have an incentive to stay in rural areas.

DIEGO MOREJÓN-PAZMIÑO (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said there was no way to overemphasize the relevance of poverty reduction to developing States.  It was worrisome that more that 767 million people continued to live on less than $1.90 per day, he said.  The international community made progress in eradicating poverty, as 10.7 per cent of the world’s population was extremely poor in 2013 and 9.1 per cent of the world’s population was poor in 2016.  Despite good economic performance by African countries over the last two decades, that growth was not translated into poverty reduction or the creation of adequate jobs.  In fact, 22 per cent of Africans lived on between $.70 and $1.25 per day, while 25 per cent lived on less than $.70 dollars per day.  He also expressed concern about the lack of productive employment and decent work, as 203.8 million people would be unemployed by 2018.  In that regard, he called for the creation of more economic opportunities, increased mobilization of resources and adequate means for developing countries to implement policies and programmes.  He expressed concern that the progress for women and girls remained unbalanced, and recognized that women were key contributors to the economy and combating poverty.  Stressing that human resources development was at the heart of economic, social and environmental development, he emphasized that health and education were at the core of human resources development.

Statement by Cambodia on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to come.

LOIS MICHELE YOUNG (Belize), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said that hurricane devastation in Barbuda and Dominica had underscored the interconnected vulnerabilities of the State and individual.  Farmers had lost their crops.  People had lost their livelihoods.  Economies, with productive sectors — agriculture and tourism — were virtually at a halt, she said.  While the Caribbean had improved its diagnosis of the complexity of the poverty problem, it had been far less progressive with its solutions.  Emphasizing that each State had a responsibility to align its plans with the 2030 Agenda, she said that the United Nations must not attempt to prescribe solutions at the domestic level.  Simply put, the needs of Caribbean countries far exceeded their means.  The added high debt and exposure to climate change only increased the region’s vulnerabilities.  The Caribbean had to work with its partners to develop financial instruments appropriate for loss and damage.  “Development is not linear,” she said, adding that the new multidimensional perspective on poverty should signal a “step change” in the response.

SHAMEES AHSAN (Bangladesh), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, recounted the progress that had been made on poverty eradication in the last decade, citing it had fallen from 43.6 per cent in 2008 to 36.3 per cent in 2013.  However, levels of extreme poverty remained high in least developed countries and therefore remained a major concern.  Pointing out the vital role of economic growth in poverty eradication, he lamented that least developed countries were growing at the slowest pace of economic expansion since 2000.  Inequality in income, wealth and opportunities remained high in those States while conflicts, climate change, diseases and economic “shocks” continued to impact them.  To strengthen efforts, least developed countries must overcome structural impediments to enhance productive capacity and encourage the participation of women and children in poverty solutions.  Greater attention should be given to the agricultural sector, he continued, without neglecting the potential of the industrial sector.  Global support through financing was also vital and, in that regard, he looked forward to the implementation of ODA, trade and foreign direct investment (FDI).  Access to technology was also essential for development.  Finally, he stressed the importance of international support in addressing the severe impacts of climate change and natural hazards.

Ms. ZAHIR (Maldives), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States and associating herself with the Group of 77, said that increasingly frequent and more intense weather events had reversed any sustainable development gains made in eradicating poverty.  Such events, in addition to the 2007 to 2009 global financial and economic crisis, put small island States further in debt.  There was limited space to diversify economies as such States that largely relied on tourism, agriculture and fisheries.  All those industries faced great harm from climate change and thus faced great volatility.  Her region’s limited resources went towards rebuilding rather than sustainable development, and any gains were further reversed by other aspects of climate change including warming ocean temperatures, sea level rise and acidification.  Her region also faced numerous unfair financial arrangements that placed countries at greater disadvantage in the global market, including illicit financial flows, unfair trade practices and taxation challenges.  Although statistics showed that many small island developing States experienced high economic growth rates, such growth did not result in sustainable job creation.  Due to those challenges, her region was left with high indebtedness.  “The odds are stacked heavily against us as we desperately try to not only meet our various international obligations but also to provide safe, productive and fruitful living conditions for our citizens,” she stated.  Gains around empowering women and girls were also set back, however she reiterated her region’s commitment to the advancement of gender equality.  She implored Member States to meet their commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change.  She also called for international financial institutions to evaluate their criteria for access to financing, and urged the Secretary‑General to ensure that small island developing States were taken into account in all reform efforts.  Finally, she called upon all partners to meet their ODA.

HECTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador), speaking on behalf CELAC and associating himself with CARICOM, said eradication of poverty and sustainable development with social, economic and financial inclusion were challenges requiring global, regional and national efforts.  The irreversible eradication of poverty was a prerequisite for achieving sustainable development and ensuring equal opportunities of progress for societies.  Sustainable development must include groups in situations of vulnerability so that no one was left behind.  Equity, social and financial inclusion and access to fair credit were central to ensure overall access to justice, citizen participation, well‑being and a dignified life.  He stressed the need to improve the mechanisms of regulation, supervision and control of the international and regional financial systems to promote an international financial environment conducive to implementation of the 2030 Agenda, considering that the mobilization of national resources was insufficient in achieving economic growth which would contribute to sustainable development and promote mechanisms of justice and social inclusion to eradicate poverty.  He also highlighted the positive impact of facilitating and increasing intraregional trade in food for food and nutrition security.  Finally, he recognized the relevancy of South‑South and triangular cooperation, complementary to North‑South cooperation, as well as ODA to increase national capacities, improve food and nutrition security and encourage the exchange of good practices.

ORLI GIL (Israel) said that eradicating poverty required promoting capacity‑building and not solely resorting to aid.  Developing countries faced many of the same challenges that Israel struggled with in its early years.  In that context, Israel continued to provide technology and training to nations facing desertification, water scarcity and water desalination.  Today, Israel reused 95 per cent of the water it consumed for agricultural purposes.  She said Israel was working with Governments, civil society, academia and the private sector to create innovative solutions to achieve the 2030 Agenda.  Israel also offered courses to instructors from developing nations.  It viewed the involvement of women and young people in the workforce as a prerequisite to poverty eradication.

LU YUHUI (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the international community must accelerate efforts to eradicate poverty by 2030, including through domestic development.  He urged for enhanced development cooperation through the establishment of new international relationships.  He said all countries should support the United Nations, World Bank and other related institutions in their efforts for poverty eradication, and in that regard, he stressed the importance of North‑South and South‑South cooperation.  He encouraged all Governments to enhance support to developing countries and bolster in depth regional cooperation, including through pragmatic cooperation in agriculture, green energy and infrastructure among others.  He also urged the international community to promote an equitable financial order to ensure that developing countries would be enabled to improve their infrastructure, connectivity and integration into supply and value chains.  China remained committed to poverty eradication, he said, noting that more than 600 million people in the country had been lifted out of poverty.  Over the past 60 years, his Government provided 166 countries and international organizations with ODA and dispatched more than 600,000 personnel to assist with humanitarian aid.  His country also furthered initiatives for debt cancelation and would continue to deepen its cooperation and support to developing countries.

MARIA ANGELA PONCE (Philippines), associating herself with the ASEAN and the Group of 77, said that economic growth alone did not lead to poverty eradication.  Despite being a middle‑income country, 8.23 million Filipinos were still subsistence poor.  She noted the importance of ensuring that women and girls achieved their full potential and were given equal opportunities especially in contributing to the workforce.  It was critical to empower women to participate in the labour market.  The Philippines national plan outlined strategies in improving access to childcare services, formulating policies that promoted work‑life balance, providing retraining services for women and enhancing maternal and paternal benefits.  She called on the United Nations to continue to mainstream gender and poverty elimination in their plans.

ANGELA NG (Singapore), associating herself with the Group of 77, the Alliance of Small Island States and ASEAN, said that social safety nets were essential to achieving sustainable development.  “Every Singaporean must be able to stand on their own two feet and live a life of dignity,” she stressed.  Jobs, family support and an empowered civil society were all crucial for communities to grow and prosper.  She emphasized the importance of life‑long learning and training to ensure that citizens were equipped with the necessary skills in changing workspaces.  Poverty was multidimensional, she continued, emphasizing that Singapore’s social safety net encompassed health care, housing, education, a mandatory comprehensive social security savings plan and income supplements for low‑wage workers.  Singapore’s social service officers were also empowered to exercise flexibility when providing aid to low‑income individuals and families, which helped tailor assistance to their needs.

JAVAD MOMENI (Iran), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that his country placed people at the heart of all development and had taken numerous steps to eradicate poverty.  Women were key contributors to the economy and the Government was working to create an enabling environment for them to become equal partners and beneficiaries of development.  Underscoring the link between poverty and peace, he added that the United Nations system should continue to coordinate its support to developing countries in their efforts to fight poverty.  The proclamation of a third United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty would enhance those efforts.

HA THI THANH HUYEN (Viet Nam) said that poverty eradication was at the heart of development efforts.  In the last 30 years, more than 40 million Vietnamese people had escaped poverty.  That success was attributed to economic growth that created more and better jobs.  Yet challenges remained, as poverty persisted among ethnic minorities, and rural and mountainous populations.  Viet Nam was also among the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change impacts, including sea level rise, droughts, floods and tropical cyclones.  Natural hazards had caused average annual economic losses estimated at 1‑1.5 per cent of GDP in the last two decades.  To maintain the gains in poverty reduction, Viet Nam had to find comprehensive solutions that minimized trade‑offs.

Ms. ALMEHAID (Saudi Arabia) said her country attached great importance to the Sustainable Development Goals, and had placed a great deal of focus on empowering women.  One of the most important aspects of those efforts included bringing more women into the workforce.  The percentage of working women in the country had increased from 22 to 30 per cent, which had resulted in 1 million new jobs for women.  Saudi women were an integral part of society — they had been elected to local councils, participated in official delegations at international and regional conferences and were fully integrated in the diplomatic corps.  Further, a woman was currently the head of the Saudi stock exchange, which was the largest in the Middle East.  There were now more than 30,000 business women in Saudi Arabia, she noted, adding that women represented some 52 per cent of college students.  As a result, Saudi Arabia had expanded scientific departments to accommodate the influx of women studying in that area.

MAHLATSE MMINELE (South Africa), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that poverty remained the greatest global challenge and its eradication was a compulsory requirement for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.  To eradicate poverty in developing countries, those countries needed a fair chance as well as policy space to develop their economies, in order to bring about transformative sustainable development.  Member States should also demonstrate their will by committing to a rules‑based, non‑discriminatory multilateral system that would address systematic imbalances.

TLHALEFO BATSILE MADISA (Botswana), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Africa Group, said that the pace of job creation remained inadequate in relation to the growing labour force.  His Government had made poverty eradication its top priority through social protection programmes that targeted the destitute and orphans.  He called on various development partners to continue assisting developing countries in terms of technical aid and capacity‑building, particularly in the areas of science and technology.  He reiterated that Africa had lagged behind all other regions in using information and communications technology (ICT).  While major challenges remained, Botswana had made significant progress to empower women and would remain committed to ensuring that no women and girls were left behind.

Mr. HENCKERT (Namibia) said that his Government had put in place several policies to protect workers, including minimum wage for key industries, safety standards and adherence to suitable environmental practices.  All primary and secondary school children had the right to free basic education, he said, pointing out that his country was undergoing a demographic transition, which presented an opportunity to leverage the large number of young workers to help build the economy.  The classification of Namibia as an upper‑middle‑income country was problematic, he said, because that did not take into account the huge income disparity between the rich and the poor.

RY TUY (Cambodia), associating himself with ASEAN, the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, he stressed the need to improve the quality of life for all citizens by investing in education and health, and diversifying the economy.  Outlining ways to increase Cambodia’s GDP by 2025, he noted that diversifying exports would help to deviate overreliance on the garment, tourism and agriculture industries.  Cambodia’s achievements in poverty reduction had been driven by robust and equitable macroeconomic growth.  That included strong checks on inflation, significant increases in agricultural production and productivity, and strengthening and improving infrastructure.  International support was still welcomed, he said, noting that official development assistance (ODA) played a significant role in contributing to the success of the 2030 Agenda.

MAHE’ULI’ULI SANDHURST TUPOUNIUA (Tonga), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, said that issues such as health, education and economic growth were all of importance for his Government.  As such, he said that various strategies and policies had been put in place to support those areas including human resources development and poverty eradication.  Programmes that improved education and training, addressed non‑communicable diseases by promoting healthy lifestyles and formal services that helped the most vulnerable, including the elderly and disabled, were now all in place in Tonga.  Further, strengthening women’s economic empowerment and ensuring equal access to full and productive employment and decent work were other areas of concern and had been bolstered thanks to support from the European Union and various civil society initiatives.

Mr. ALKHAFAJI (Iraq), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said his country’s poverty rate had dropped to about 13 per cent in 2013 due to falling oil prices and the occupation by ISIL, which had led to unprecedented displacement of the population.  Iraq’s development plans extended to 2030 with a view to eradicating poverty by increasing wages and reducing disparities in pay between men and women.  Iraq granted loans to help the poor create new businesses and small‑scale projects, he said, emphasizing that more assistance was needed from the international community to alleviate poverty due to the country’s unique circumstances.

MAYTHONG THAMMAVONGSA (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) associating himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries, and ASEAN, saying that reducing extreme poverty and overcoming other daunting development challenges would not be possible without further strengthening international development cooperation.  In that connection, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic called on development partners to scale‑up financing for United Nations operational activities, he said, adding that the Government attached great importance to eradicating poverty and to rural development, he said, calling attention to his country’s particular development challenges due to the prevalence of unexploded ordnance.

Mr. TAMALGO (Burkina Faso), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that in 2016, his country had adopted a national socioeconomic plan for the period 2016‑2020 with a view to transforming the domestic economy through a favourable industrial environment and reform of the education system.  The Government had also promoted competitive industries, thereby strengthening productivity and the marketing of agricultural products.  Structural changes included improved urbanization, a lower birth rate and falling child mortality.  Ultimately, the effect of the national strategy would be the creation of 50,000 decent jobs per year, he said.  The strategy would also reduce demographic growth to 2.7 per cent by 2020, accelerate human capital and reduce negative consumption patterns.  Burkina Faso would continue its efforts to mobilize its natural resources to finance that strategy, he said.

CHRISTINE KALAMWINA (Zambia), associating herself with the Group of 77, the African Group and the Group of Least Developed Countries, recalled that for more than a decade, his country had been on a path to realizing its Vision 2030 of becoming a prosperous middle‑income country.  However, persistently high national poverty levels remained at around 54.4 per cent, despite strong economic growth.  The situation in rural areas was even worse, with poverty estimated to be around 76.6 per cent, she noted.  The number of vulnerable households had also taken an upward swing, with people lacking access to such essential basic services as health care, education, water and sanitation.  In that context, the Government of Zambia had committed to reducing the national poverty rate by 20 per cent by 2021.

LEULESEGED TADESE ABEBE (Ethiopia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the progress made in eradicating poverty was uneven across and within regions, adding that 35 per cent of the people in least developed countries could still be living in poverty by 2030.  The Government of Ethiopia continued to coordinate development efforts with political commitment, and as a result of its efforts, the national economy had registered double‑digit growth through three consecutive national development plans.  Poverty had declined from 45 to 22 per cent, and per capita income had grown from $377 in 2009 to $794 in 2016.  Ethiopia had also undertaken legal and policy measures that had attracted special attention to the economic empowerment and political participation of women and girls, he said.  Reducing poverty by generating decent and productive jobs while consolidating the pace of structural transformation would remain among the top development priorities, but national efforts would not succeed without a revitalized global partnership and an enabling development environment.

RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said poverty was the result of the unjust and exclusionary economic model that had prevailed in recent decades.  Capitalism had never placed human beings at its heart and had doomed millions of people to lives of poverty.  Foreign occupation, political and economic destabilization, colonialism, war and the international financial system were the real obstacles that must be overcome if poverty was to be eradicated, he emphasized.  The world’s richest minority continued to benefit from that unfair world order, while its poorest people remained marginalized and excluded, he said, underlining the need to change the world economic order in order to ensure that everybody benefited, rather than a select number of elites.  Measures of poverty should take levels of inequality into account from the perspective of economic, social and citizen rights, he said.

GONZALEZ PENA (Cuba), associating himself with the Group of 77, CELAC and AOSIS, said the current international economic order was deeply unjust and unsustainable.  It had the increasingly profound effect of marginalizing many nations in the global South.  Hunger, extreme poverty, illiteracy, lack of sanitation and premature death remained constant in many countries, and more than 80 per cent of the world’s population survived on less than one dollar a day, he said, adding that one billion people lived in extreme poverty.  Those statistics stood in stark contrast to data on the developed world, he noted.  Cuba believed firmly in South‑South cooperation and international solidarity, sharing its modest resources with other nations through international cooperation, he said, emphasizing that humanity’s survival would depend on social justice, equality and respect for the rights of all peoples.

LOT DZONZI (Malawi), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, expressed concern that poverty remained a hurdle to sustainable development, despite the progress made in reducing poverty numbers from 17.8 per cent of the world population in 2008 to 10.7 per cent in 2013.  In Africa, levels of extreme poverty remained very high despite the drop in the proportion of people living on less than $1.90 per day from 44.8 per cent in 2008 to 39.2 per cent in 2013.  Malawi’s poverty rates had exceeded 70 per cent in 2013, he recalled, adding that it had made great strides in reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS as well as maternal and child mortality.  However, challenges remained in unemployment, particularly for young people, he said.  Addressing them would require consistent and reliable resources that would facilitate technological diversification, economic expansion and increased industrialization, he emphasized.  The Government promoted women’s participation at all levels, and embraced the need to improve their terms and conditions by facilitating reconciliation with unpaid care work and eliminating gender discrimination in the labour market.  He also urged inclusive action to address issues relating to water, energy, resilient housing, sustainable consumption and production patterns as well as sustainable ecosystems and partnerships.

News

Fearing Nuclear Stand-off on Korean Peninsula, First Committee Speakers Suggest Fresh Approaches to Global Security Governance

Amid fears of a nuclear stand-off, several speakers addressing the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today drew attention to the danger of reaching a “point of no return”, and recommended ways to diffuse tensions.

The situation on the Korean Peninsula remained at the forefront of discussions, with several delegates, including the Republic of Korea’s representative, denouncing recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Such reckless provocations posed the gravest threat to the global non‑proliferation regime and to international peace and security, he said, adding that it must be stopped before crossing the point of no return.

Others rejected the “false equivalency” that had been drawn between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s activities and those of nuclear‑weapon States.  The United Kingdom’s delegate, also speaking for France and the United States, underscored that there was no comparison between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea illegal weapons of mass destruction programmes and the long-standing joint activities of nuclear‑weapon States with allies, which were transparent and defensive in nature.

He went on to say that the current sanctions and “pressure campaign” was aimed at the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and not at regime change or an accelerated reunification with the Republic of Korea.  The credibility of the global security architecture, particularly the non‑proliferation regime, would be at stake if the scale of the threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea today was overlooked, he stressed.

Meanwhile, China’s speaker condemned a “certain big Power”, which had continued to increase its military expenditure in pursuit of its own absolute security.  Such new challenges called for a fresh approach to security governance, he said, adding that multilateralism could be truly achieved when the big Powers were kept on an “even keel”. 

Defending his country’s nuclear weapons programme, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said it had chosen to possess nuclear weapons to confront the United States’ hostile policy and continued threats.  Moreover, it had no intention of using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against any other country.

Other speakers provided examples of how to de-escalate conflict.  Haiti’s delegate said the peace agreement in Colombia had served as an example to others, demonstrating that violence did not always settle disputes.  Elaborating on that brokered peace, Colombia’s speaker said that after decades of fighting, talks between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC‑EP) had triggered a massive surrendering of weapons, which now no longer threatened its citizens.

Several speakers also highlighted the role of women in disarmament, with representatives of Spain and Trinidad and Tobago emphasizing the importance of the women, peace and security agenda.  The issue was particularly pertinent as women played a crucial role in addressing violence in their communities, stressed the representative of Trinidad and Tobago, while the delegate of the United Arab Emirates asked for a major gender mainstreaming in all disarmament and international security measures.

Also delivering statements today were representatives of Angola, Georgia, Sri Lanka, Venezuela, Libya, Nicaragua, Sudan, Ghana, Botswana, New Zealand and Maldives.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Syria, United States, Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom.

The Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Monday, 9 October, to continue its debate on all disarmament and related international security questions.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) continued its general debate today.  For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3571 of 2 October.

Statements

MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq), Chair of the First Committee, commended the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons for being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  He also recognized the contribution of the First Committee in convening in 2017 the United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.

MATTHEW ROWLAND (United Kingdom), also speaking on behalf of France and the United States, addressed a range of concerns about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent activities, which were destabilizing the strategic situation in East Asia and challenging norms established by the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.  Tightening sanctions aimed at reducing available resources to support its related weapons programmes and impeding its ability to acquire key technologies were meant to convince the Government to abandon its prohibited activities, not to punish its people or economy.

He rejected any false equivalency between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s illegal weapons of mass destruction programmes and the long-standing joint activities with allies, which were transparent and defensive in nature.  The “pressure campaign” was aimed at the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, not at regime change or an accelerated reunification with the Republic of Korea, he said.  Calling on countries to use all available leverage to compel the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon its destructive path, he said the Security Council resolution obligations of Member States were the floor, and not the ceiling, of what nations could be doing.  The credibility of the global security architecture, particularly the non‑proliferation regime, would be at stake if the scale of the threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea today was overlooked.

CHO TAE-YUL (Republic of Korea) said the work of the First Committee had been complicated by Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the only country that had conducted nuclear tests in the twenty‑first century.  Such reckless provocations posed the gravest threat to the global non‑proliferation regime and to international peace and security, he said, adding that it must be stopped before crossing the point of no return.  Should it change course, the Republic of Korea stood ready to help it build a brighter future.  The world was far from being free from nuclear weapons and practical measures were needed.  As a country under constant threat from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, it was only logical for it to support a progressive approach to nuclear disarmament based on the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.  Further, the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty and the early launch of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off convention should be a priority.

ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said the international community should give priority to nuclear disarmament and emphasize the need for concrete measures that would reflect its commitment to the complete elimination of such arms, in accordance with the obligations of the nuclear‑weapon States under the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.  Such efforts should culminate in the complete, non‑discriminatory and multilaterally verifiable ban on nuclear weapons, as was the case with Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction.

KAHA IMNADZE (Georgia), associating himself with the European Union, raised a number of security concerns, including the worsening of the situation on the Korean Peninsula, which required a diplomatic solution, and terrorist groups such as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Daesh) operating in the Middle East, Europe, North America and other regions.  For its part, Georgia’s law enforcement agencies had detected attempts to smuggle nuclear and radioactive materials through territory currently under foreign occupation and were now working to promote integrated regional approaches.  In fact, the Russian Federation’s military presence in Georgia’s occupied territories continued to build up, hindering efforts to peacefully resolve the conflict.  To tackle some current weapons-related challenges, he expressed support for instruments such as the Arms Trade Treaty, Chemical Weapons Convention and the Test‑Ban Treaty.

CARLOS ARTURO MORALES LÓPEZ (Colombia), emphasizing that conventional weapons caused the highest number of casualties worldwide, called for stricter controls to prevent their illicit trafficking.  For its part, talks between Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC‑EP) had triggered a massive surrendering of weapons, which now no longer threatened its citizens, he said, expressing hope for broad support in the Committee for the draft resolution on small arms and light weapons, which his country had co‑sponsored.  After decades of conflict, Colombia was making progress in areas such as demining.  On global security, he condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent testing and hailed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as a milestone in disarmament history that would contribute to peace and security.  He expressed support for the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and highlighted progress in implementing Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), notably the peer review exercise involving Colombia and Chile.

WANG QUN (China) said global strategic stability was being eroded, as a “certain big Power” had continued to increase its military expenditure in pursuit of its own absolute security.  Such new challenges called for a fresh approach to security governance, he said, adding that multilateralism could be truly achieved when the big Powers were kept on an “even keel”.  The United Nations needed to play a key role in the multilateral disarmament machinery, demonstrated by recent positive outcomes from the Disarmament Commission and the Open‑ended Working Group on the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament.  The multilateral disarmament machinery was not outdated, but should be revitalized instead of “starting up new kitchens”.  Turning to other issues, he said China had contributed to the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, in cooperation with the United Nations, and had made efforts for a negotiated settlement of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, in line with relevant Security Council resolutions.  China’s priorities included cybersecurity, the peaceful use of outer space, and providing humanitarian and demining assistance.

AMRITH ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, recalled his country’s long record of opposing nuclear weapons, including its support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  Having experienced a decades-long conflict in the past, Sri Lanka recognized the senseless destruction small arms and light weapons caused and had established a national commission to address their proliferation and illicit trade.  While Sri Lanka agreed in principle with similar international measures dealing on the latter, he stressed the importance of ensuring that those activities did not affect States’ rights to legally procure and possess such weapons for their self-defence.

RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, condemned threats certain States were making to destroy other countries, calling for a firm commitment to put into practice relevant non‑proliferation instruments.  He called upon nuclear‑weapon States to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adding that the total elimination of such arms was the only guarantee against their use or threat of use.  Unconditional legally binding guarantees must be honoured, military doctrines of nuclear‑weapon States must be removed and Non‑Proliferation Treaty principles must be observed, including the sovereign right of States to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  The prevention of an arms race in outer space was also a priority on the disarmament agenda, he said, emphasizing that the Russian-Chinese proposal was a good start.  Congratulating the Russian Federation for the destruction of its last stockpiles of chemical weapons, he emphasized that multilateralism was the most effective path toward disarmament.

ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain) said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s activities were in flagrant violation of Security Council resolutions, posing grave threats to global international security.  Underscoring the Non‑Proliferation Treaty’s role as the foundation to promote nuclear disarmament, he welcomed the constructive atmosphere of the preparatory committee of the instrument’s 2020 Review Conference.  As a non‑nuclear‑weapon State, Spain appealed to countries with higher stockpiles to move toward the objective of a nuclear‑weapon‑free world.  However, Spain disagreed with the approach taken by the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, as the international community needed to promote a process that considered nuclear‑weapon States’ security issues.  The first step should be the entry into force of the Test‑Ban Treaty, including the remaining eight Annex 2 countries.  Turning to the issue of gender perspective in disarmament, he remarked on the low number of women in the First Committee, adding that Spain was proud to be among countries leading the women, peace and security agenda.

JALAL ALJAEDI (Libya), associating himself with the African Group, Arab Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, said national efforts included enforcing provisions of international treaties and conventions with a view to eliminating weapons of mass destruction.  Calling on nuclear‑weapon States to work towards eliminating their arsenals, he welcomed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and urged countries to sign it.  He expressed disappointment that no agreement had been reached on establishing a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East.  For its part, Libya had destroyed all its chemical weapons in cooperation with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).  On regional concerns, he said multilateral cooperation and Syria’s political will were fundamental in achieving peace and to achieve the goals of disarmament.

JASSER JIMÉNEZ (Nicaragua), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, emphasized that more was spent on weapons today and less on development.  For its part, Nicaragua had signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and was committed to the idea that the only guarantee to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction was their total elimination.  Nuclear‑weapon‑free zones contributed to strengthening international peace and security, he said, regretting to note the failure to create such a zone in the Middle East.  Highlighting that the Non‑Proliferation Treaty was a legally binding international instrument for disarmament, he called on nuclear‑weapon States to fully comply with the instrument’s provisions.  Turning to the issue of illicit arms trade, he said Nicaragua had been proclaimed as “safe and impenetrable” to organized crime, drug and arms trafficking, with the United Nations placing it among the six safest countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

OMER DAHAB FADL MOHAMED (Sudan) said his country was an active disarmament partner, having joined the Test‑Ban Treaty in 2004 and led efforts towards establishing the African Nuclear‑Weapon‑Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba).  Progress must be made on creating such a zone in the Middle East and all nuclear facilities in the region should submit to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, especially Israel.  Turning to conventional weapons concerns, he said Sudan had suffered from their spread, with further complications stemming from environmental factors, which had led to some tribes arming themselves to protect their resources.  For its part, Sudan was trying to stem the illicit flows, but such initiatives required a commitment from manufacturing countries, who should refrain from exporting them to non‑State entities.  Sudan had also undertaken demining efforts and hoped to declare all eastern states mine-free by December 2017.

PATRICK SAINT-HILAIRE (Haiti), associating with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), called for sustained efforts to control the arms trade and for all States to show political will to peacefully settle disputes.  The peace agreement in Colombia had served as an example to others, demonstrating that violence did not always settle disputes.  The production, circulation and the use of increasingly destructive weapons compromised the chances for international peace and security, he said, stressing that conventional weapons greatly affected developing countries, disrupted public order and led to criminal activities.  Calling on the international community to work to stem the circulation of those weapons, he said Haiti was already taking steps to address that issue.  Condemning recent nuclear testing and ballistic missile launches, he called on all Member States to shoulder their responsibilities with respect to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

FRED FRIMPONG (Ghana), associating himself with the African Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, expressed concerns about the current state of the disarmament machinery, noting that the Non‑Proliferation Treaty had been continuously subjected to reinterpretations and the first preparatory committee meeting for its 2020 Review Conference had failed to reach consensus on an outcome document.  The latter situation constituted a lack of good faith by some Member States in their commitments towards nuclear non‑proliferation and disarmament.  Turning to small arms and light weapons, he highlighted Ghana’s demonstrated commitment to reducing their proliferation and misuse through its destruction of more than 1,300 illegal weapons in 2016 and its ongoing crackdown on local gun manufacturing and trafficking activities.

CHARLES THEMBANI NTWAAGAE (Botswana), associating himself with the African Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, urged the international community to work in unison and take prompt, decisive action to ensure that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea adhered to the values and principles of the United Nations Charter.  He also reiterated a concern about the lack of progress in achieving a world free of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.  “This status quo can be attributed in part to reluctance and non‑cooperation by some Member States which possess such weapons and regard them as an integral part of their strategic defence architecture,” he said, urging such States to listen to the concerns of the majority and “march in step” with them.  Botswana supported the establishment of nuclear‑weapon‑free zones that would bind Member States to reject nuclearization in their respective regions and supported the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.

DELL HIGGIE (New Zealand) expressed regret that the Conference on Disarmament had been unable to live up to its mandate, particularly since it had been a key actor in previous decades.  However, the desire to make some contribution to safeguarding humanity had been the motivating factor for a large grouping of Member States that had negotiated the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  That motivation had been the impetus behind New Zealand’s signature, she said, noting that while it did not expect the instrument to result in a significant short-term change to the normative situation against nuclear weapons, the signatories had taken a first step in the interest of humanity that advanced global security.  As a strong advocate of multilateralism and the rule of law, New Zealand would continue to support efforts to adopt and implement new norms to safeguard humanity.

PENNELOPE ALTHEA BECKLES (Trinidad and Tobago), aligning herself with CARICOM, said amid a growing movement against nuclear weapons — within the United Nations and with awarding a Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons — her Government looked forward to signing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  Turning to other concerns, she said small arms and light weapons posed great threats to Trinidad and Tobago and were often referred to as the Caribbean’s weapons of mass destruction.  While committed to the Programme of Action on Small Arms and the Arms Trade Treaty, she regretted to note that the United Nations had not been able to include language on ammunition in relevant instruments.  Highlighting Trinidad and Tobago’s role at the forefront of including women and disarmament in international security issues, she said women played a crucial role in addressing violence in their communities.  Referring to an emerging concern, she warned their vulnerability could lead to conflicts in post‑hurricane environments.

LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates), associating herself with the Arab Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, reaffirmed a commitment to support dialogue for establishing a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East, calling on Israel to join the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.  On Iran’s continued nuclear activities, she stressed the need for its full cooperation with IAEA.  The Test‑Ban Treaty was the primary platform for deterring nuclear testing, she said, expressing deep concern that it had not yet entered into force and urging States to maintain the moratorium on tests.  Condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s testing activities, she urged it to respect its international obligations.  More broadly, she emphasized the need for gender mainstreaming in disarmament and international security measures.

FARZANA ZAHIR (Maldives), noting that her country had never produced weapons of any kind and had just adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, said it may be far‑fetched to imagine achieving a world free of nuclear weapons, but it was possible.  Countries spending large amounts to develop nuclear weapons should put that money instead into social and economic development.  Strongly condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent activities, she appealed for redoubled efforts to prevent further tests and to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons.  She also welcomed the Security Council’s firm action and unity on the issue and its efforts to find a diplomatic solution.

Mr. ROWLAND (United Kingdom) said the world was being confronted by States deliberately flouting the rules-based system for their own gain, including Syria’s use of chemical weapons and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear weapons proliferation.  The current global security environment posed challenges, testing the common values, vision and resolve needed to defend the rules and standards that underpinned collective security and prosperity.  For its part, the United Kingdom had reduced its nuclear weapon capabilities and would continue to do so, he said, noting that it possessed approximately only 1 per cent of the total global stockpile.  As a responsible nuclear‑weapon State, it had been pursuing a step‑by‑step approach to disarmament consistent with the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and its other convention commitments.

However, he said, the United Kingdom had not taken part in negotiating the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and did not intend to sign, ratify or become party to it.  Nor could it accept any argument that the instrument constituted a development of customary international law binding the United Kingdom or other non‑parties.  The instrument failed to address the key issues that must be overcome to achieve lasting global nuclear disarmament and would not improve the international security environment nor increase trust and transparency.  The current unpredictable international security environment demanded the maintenance of the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent for the foreseeable future, he said, adding that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was at odds with the existing non‑proliferation and disarmament architecture and risked undermining the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.  Beyond nuclear weapons, the United Kingdom remained committed to the Arms Trade Treaty and was also committed to the goals of freeing the world of anti‑personnel mines.  He also said the future of international governance of outer space required the establishment of voluntary principles of responsible behaviour.

JA SONG NAM (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said nuclear disarmament efforts required countries that possessed the largest arsenals to take the lead in dismantling them, rolling back aggressive nuclear doctrines and withdrawing nuclear weapons deployed outside their own territories.  While his Government agreed with the primary focus of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was not in a position to accede while the United States continued to pose a nuclear threat against his country. 

Recalling how the United States had introduced nuclear weapons to the Republic of Korea in 1957, he said his country had opted to possess nuclear weapons to confront the United States’ hostile policy and continued threats, while holding its strategic line of parallel development of its nuclear forces and national economy.  The United States was the only country in the world that had massacred hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians by using nuclear weapons in a real war.  Furthermore, it had attempted to suffocate the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea by instituting all sorts of systematic measures of discrimination and sanctions.  The nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula had been created by the United States, he said, adding that his Government had no intention of using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against any other country.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in exercise of the right to reply, responded to comments made during the debate.  The United Kingdom’s regime had called the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear deterrence a threat to the world peace and security, when it was really for self‑defence, to ensure peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and to defend itself from the United States, he said.  To the Republic of Korea’s speaker, he said the issue of the Korean Peninsula “is an issue of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States”.

The representative of Syria said the United Kingdom was one of the major terrorist exporters to his country.  British colonialism brought disaster, sabotage, arms and intelligence to terrorists in the entire region.  British policy was poisonous and the United Kingdom was no longer a “super‑Power”, but a follower of another State.

The representative of the United States said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was fooling no one with its rhetoric.  The United States posed no threat to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said, and asked that country to comply with Security Council obligations.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had a choice either to take the path to peace and cooperation or to choose belligerence and cause further suffering to its people.

The representative of the Republic of Korea said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was portraying itself as a victim when it was the threat itself.  Multiple Security Council resolutions had been adopted unanimously, including all five permanent members, and States had condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s actions year after year in all international forums.  The Republic of Korea had more than enough reasons to make its northern neighbour stop its negative actions, she said, calling on countries to focus on playing a constructive role in solving the crisis.

The representative from the United Kingdom said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea posed a threat to international peace and security, as could be heard from speakers in the Security Council and in the First Committee.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, condemning reckless remarks by the United States, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Korea, said the United States had misled the public with its fraudulent claim that sanctions were aimed at reaching a peaceful solution.  The issue was between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States, he said, calling on the United Kingdom to end its cooperation with the United States.

The representative of the United States said that despite the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea claims that the issue was between their countries, it was also an international issue, reflected in repeated condemnations by numerous Member States and Security Council resolutions.

News

Second Committee Must Focus on Overarching Objective of Tackling Poverty, Structural Needs, Delegates Say as General Debate Begins

Eradication of poverty and adherence to financial commitments were crucial in improving the global economic infrastructure, speakers told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today, as it began its general debate.

Delivering the keynote address, Columbia University Economics Professor Arvind Panagariya said that able leadership and implementation of good policies were essential in achieving global economic objectives.  Speaking on the theme “A Road to Rapid Economic Transformation”, he stated that “without the capability to implement good policies, policies themselves would not be successful”.

Although progress had been made by agreeing on global economic objectives, as best summarized in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the related Sustainable Development Goals, the pathways to achieving the multiplicity of objectives remained in dispute, he said.  The international community must focus on rapid economic growth to transform the global economy.

Only China, Taiwan [Province of China], Japan, Singapore and the Republic of Korea had grown at 8 to 10 per cent income over two decades or more, he continued.  Noting lessons from those high-growth economies which had rapidly transformed themselves from traditional to modern economies, he identified six common features, including rapid expansion of merchandise exports; labour-intensive manufacturing during early phases of growth; swift growth in services; movement of the workforce from agricultural activities into manufacturing and services; rapid urbanization; and rise in wages.

Trade openness would work, he stated.  However, progress would depend on governance and policy packages allowing low barriers to trade, ensuring adequate infrastructure, supporting trade facilitation, providing complementary factor-market policies, resisting subsidies for products not based on natural cost advantage and promoting open foreign direct investment (FDI) policies.  Citing common concerns and challenges related to automation and rising protectionism, he urged countries to take advantage of prospects to pursue manufacturing and export-based strategies in the increasingly large global market.

Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, likewise noted that a shared vision for humanity had emerged since the 2030 Agenda.  Adding that development would require integrated and cross-sectoral approaches and a better understanding of the issues at hand, he said the rate of progress had been far slower than what would be required to meet the targets laid out by 2030.

The potential for growth had not yet been realized due to weak investment and low productivity growth, compounded by high levels of economic uncertainty, he said.  Average incomes declined in several regions over the last year and extreme weather events highlighted the need to address environmental impacts due to climate change.  All countries must foster a more inclusive, sustainable globalization process.  Leaders must work together to understand the benefits of globalization, and the international community must take concrete action on the Addis Ababa Action Agenda to ensure positive results.

Science, technology and innovation were at the heart of accelerating progress towards sustainable development, he said, adding that the speed of technological change could have a sweeping impact across all the Goals.  Nevertheless, devising effective ways to mitigate the challenges of those technologies would be critical.  The future could not be predicted, but it could be invented.

The representative from Haiti, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), added that operational activities of the United Nations development system should bear in mind the need for capacity-building in least developed countries so they could alleviate extreme poverty and hunger.  Urbanization must be an engine for development, as it had the ability to change and improve living conditions.

In a similar vein, the representative from Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said it was clear that the pace of the 2030 Agenda’s implementation must be accelerated.  Global economic governance in an increasingly interconnected world was of critical importance for the success of national efforts.  The work of the Committee must focus on the overarching objective of poverty eradication in all its forms and dimensions.

Speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, the representative from Bangladesh said that least developed countries continued to be plagued by multiple structural challenges.  Under the current growth trajectory, some 38 per cent of those States would still be facing extreme poverty by 2030.

Least developed countries in conflict and post-conflict situations, as well as those experiencing fragility, remained unable to provide basic State services for their citizens, she said.  Adding that the special needs of those countries would require greater recognition, she called for the establishment of a comprehensive, multi-stakeholder resilience-building mechanism that would enable responses at the national, regional and global levels.

Speaking on behalf of the Group of African States, the representative from Egypt noted that out of 800 million people living below the poverty line, 400 million were Africans.  Greater efforts would be needed to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Africa, as progress remained hampered by the unequal global environment that was “unfavourable” and “agnostic” to his continent’s financing for development needs.

Many speakers also highlighted critical investments in sustainable and resilient infrastructure, transport, energy, agriculture, water and sanitation for all, among others.

Also speaking were representatives of the Philippines (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), El Salvador (for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Nauru (for the Group of Pacific Small Island Developing States), Solomon Islands (for the Pacific Island Forum countries), Maldives (for the Alliance of Small Island States), Zambia (for the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries), Nicaragua, Malaysia, Norway, Canada (also for Australia and New Zealand), Costa Rica, Bhutan, Iran, Indonesia, Panama, United States, Botswana, Lebanon, Thailand, India, Viet Nam, Israel, Russian Federation, Myanmar, Peru, Cuba, Syria, Malawi, Malta, Tajikistan, Monaco, Republic of Korea, Colombia, Guatemala, Mauritania, Sierra Leone and Kyrgyzstan, as well as a representative of the European Union delegation.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 3 October, to continue its general debate.

Opening Remarks

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), Chair of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial), said that despite the good progress reported by countries and their partners, it was evident that the world was facing a challenging period for sustainable development and poverty eradication.  The current global situation offered new and exciting opportunities for collaboration and human advancement, yet many of those opportunities were compounded by risks.  It was imperative to work towards fulfilling the promise of a fair and inclusive globalization, yet many complex changes accompanied that phenomenon.  Without inclusive, ambitious policies to tackle the existing challenges, inequalities would grow and become increasingly entrenched.  That was especially true of the exclusion of women, he said, highlighting that greater gender equality had been repeatedly demonstrated to have multiplier effects on poverty reduction.  Nevertheless, women and girls remained disadvantaged in various dimensions in all countries.

There was a need for awareness-raising, knowledge exchange and capacity-building with respect to information and communications technology (ICT) for development and the benefits of the digital economy, he stressed.  Yet, despite their potential, science, technology and innovation could not solve the problem of climate change in the absence of huge economic and social shifts.  To achieve a healthy planet, the world must harness the full power of breakthroughs that had been made in ecosystems management, sustainable transportation and clean and renewable energies, among others.  Throughout the session, the Committee would consider a wide range of agenda items on poverty, macroeconomic policy questions, financing for development, sustainable development issues, urban development, countries in special situations, agriculture, globalization and interdependence and ICT.

LIU ZHENMIN, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said that since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a global vision had emerged.  That historic Agenda set out a shared vision of humanity and demanded new ways of working together, which would require integrated and cross-sectoral approaches and a better understanding of the issues.  However, the rate of progress on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals was thus far slower than what would be required to meet the targets laid out by 2030.  The world economic situation and prospects were showing a rebound and the general economic sentiment had improved, however the potential for growth had not yet been realized due to weak investment and low productivity growth, compounded by high levels of economic uncertainty.  Average incomes declined in several regions over the last year and extreme weather events highlighted the need to address environmental impacts due to climate change.

He said that all countries must foster a globalization process that was more inclusive, sustainable and that left no one behind.  Leaders must work to understand the benefits of globalization, while minimizing its negative impacts.  The international community needed to take concrete and accelerated action on the Addis Ababa Action Agenda to ensure better results on the ground.  Tax avoidance and illicit financial flows needed to be limited, while the benefits of South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation must be fully realized.  Countries should reorient incentives through financial regulation and policymaking to ensure private finance was aligned with sustainable development.  New evidence-based tools, strengthened domestic institutions and broadened multi-stakeholder partnerships were also of great importance.  Science, technology and innovation were at the heart of accelerating progress towards sustainable development, he said, adding that the speed of technological change could have a sweeping impact across all the Goals.  Nevertheless, devising effective ways to mitigate the challenges of those technologies would be critical.  The future could not be predicted, but it could be invented, he said.  The importance of capacity development for achieving the future development goals was evident, and in that context he noted that Member States had made it clear that they needed the support of the United Nations system on building capacities in data collection and disaggregation.  This was particularly true for the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States.

Keynote Address

ARVIND PANAGARIYA, Professor of Economics at Columbia University, stated that able leadership was critical in implementing development policies, and without the capability to implement good policies, the policies themselves would not be successful.  The global economic objectives were best summarized in the Sustainable Development Goals, however disagreements remained on the pathways to achieving them.  Rapid economic growth was the most important instrument to attaining the Goals.  That growth occurred through a direct “pull up” effect, such as increased employment, higher income and enhanced access to education and health.  The next significant tool was indirect revenue, which constituted the financing of large-scale anti-poverty programmes, public education and health, investment in environmental sustainability, and spending on defence and security.  Referencing India throughout the 1950s, he suggested that low levels of income hampered the redistribution of income, and resulted in inadequate resources for effective administrative machinery, and governance problems in the public sector.

Only China, Taiwan [Province of China], Japan, Singapore and the Republic of Korea had grown at 8 to 10 per cent income over two decades or more, he continued.  Those States and provinces had rapidly transformed themselves from traditional to modern economies, thereby eliminating poverty in practically all aspects.  India continued on the same path over the last 14 years, resulting in a growth rate of 7.8 per cent.  There were six features that were common to those economic transformations: rapid expansion of merchandise exports; labour-intensive manufacturing during early phases of growth; swift growth in services; movement of the workforce from agricultural activities into manufacturing and services; rapid urbanization; and rise in wages.

Trade openness would work, he argued, because countries specialized in and exported products that they produced cheaply, and they imported goods that were largely more expensive for them to produce locally.  Similarly, an exporter would compete against and learn from others, leading to continuous improvement in productivity through upgrades in technology, management practices, product quality, and cost-cutting measures. The large export market would additionally allow countries to: exploit economies of scale; provide exporters access to the highest-quality inputs to achieve higher quality products; and facilitate high levels of imports and exposure to foreign products and processes.  To that end, governance and policy packages should allow low barriers to trade, ensure adequate infrastructure, support trade facilitation, provide complementary factor-market policies, resist subsidies for products that were not based on natural cost advantage and promote open foreign direct investment policies.

Regarding challenges, he stated that automation should not be considered a threat, as countries would have a 15 year window to pursue manufacturing and exports-based strategies.  Historically, automation had led to readjustments that created new jobs fields.  Similarly, rising protectionism should be avoided as the large global market, which may expand and shrink, was less consequential than whether countries were active in the world exports market.

When the floor opened for discussion, the representative of Algeria asked whether economics should be considered a science, queried about austerity and inflation in response to internal public debt and requested clarity on global trade’s impact on investment and economic governance.

The representative from the United Republic of Tanzania asked how the international community might “save” global trade.

Mr. PANAGARIYA, responding to Algeria’s representative, stated that economics was social science, and the practice of its principles through policy-making was an art form.  Regarding austerity and inflation, he said that such measures could be useful in the short term, however not on a sustained basis as it would lead to the accumulation of debt and result in crisis.  On global economic governance and the Economic and Social Council’s role, he suggested that the multiplicities of instruments were necessary to addressing the array of global objectives, and the complexity of the modern world.  Responding to the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania, he said that much progress had been made in global trade governance, although concerns remained around the World Trade Organization (WTO).  He suggested that greater attention be given to the appointment of judges to the appellate body, and that developing States pressured countries that “drag their feet”.

Statements

DIEGO MOREJÓN PAZMIÑO (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said it was clear that the pace of the 2030 Agenda’s implementation must be accelerated.  Global economic governance in an increasingly interconnected world was of critical importance for the success of national efforts aimed at achieving sustainable development.  The Group reiterated its belief that the work of the session must focus on the overarching objective of poverty eradication in all its forms and dimensions and the pursuit of sustainable development in a balanced, coordinated and integrated manner.  He recalled the importance of the full realization of the right of self-determination of peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation and highlighted the significance of assessing progress, identifying challenges to implementing the financing for development outcomes, addressing new and emerging topics of relevance to implementing the Addis Agenda and providing policy recommendations for action by the international community regarding the support of developed countries to developing countries.

Investing in sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including transport, energy, water and sanitation for all was a prerequisite for achieving many development objectives, he continued.  Trade was still recognized as an engine for growth and sustainable development, despite a regression of 10 per cent in 2016.  He reaffirmed the central role of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in today’s global economy that provided the multilateral framework of rules governing international trade relations, served as an essential mechanism for preventing and resolving trade disputes and a forum for addressing trade-related issues.  Sovereign debt matters should concern both developed and developing countries, he stressed.  The Group reaffirmed that international development cooperation and official development assistance (ODA) were essential for sustainable development.  It was important to address the diverse needs and challenges faced by countries in special situations, he said, adding that South-South cooperation was a compliment to, rather than a substitute for, North-South cooperation.

TEODORO LOPEZ LOCSIN, Jr., (Philippines) spoke on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associated himself with the Group of 77.  He highlighted that the Group’s gross domestic product (GDP) was $2.55 trillion, with a year-on-year real GDP growth rate of 4.7 per cent, despite the challenging global environment.  ASEAN placed great importance on inclusive, innovation-led growth, and in that context, leaders had reaffirmed their commitment to the 2030 Agenda, which should be implemented in a mutually-reinforcing manner to building an inclusive and people-oriented, people-centred community for the benefit of all.  Sustainable development was a regional and global priority, and there were clear complementarities between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the 2030 Agenda.  Pursuit of those plans would allow for the identification of comprehensive solutions to address regional challenges, including poverty eradication, disaster management and climate change.

The Group of 77 looked forward to a joint study between the ASEAN Secretariat and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) on the complementarities and ongoing efforts to promote sustainable development cooperation across the region.  He recalled that an ASEAN — United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) symposium on financing for the Sustainable Development Goals had been held in August, with the aim of raising awareness, support and buy-in among citizens.  The Group was pleased by the outcome documents that would be signed, adopted or noted in November at the thirty-first ASEAN summit which directly supported the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly on nutrition, health risk reduction and management, climate change, gender equality and ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns.

ASTRIDE NAZAIRE (Haiti), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating herself with the Group of 77, said that capacity-building would be critical for any efforts aimed at sustainable development and for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.  In that context, mobilization of financial resources for capacity-building, as well as technology transfer, were of utmost importance.  CARICOM believed it was vital to help developing countries achieve long term viability for their debt as well as to ensure financial inclusion.  In that regard, the Community had launched an appeal to the United Nations development system, requesting them to go beyond a simple awareness of the situation with respect to concessional financing.  Among the major challenges in the region was so-called de-risking that had upset traditional banking relationships and could have larger implications.  The lack of services offered by banks affected not only the Caribbean region, but could also pose a bigger threat to global financial security.

She highlighted that CARICOM recognized the need for urgent action to strengthen the integrity of the financial system and correct the false perception that the Caribbean region was high risk.  Operational activities of the United Nations development system should bear in mind the need for capacity-building in least developed countries so they could alleviate extreme poverty and hunger.  Urbanization must be an engine for development as it had the ability to change and improve living conditions.  CARICOM strongly supported the United Nations reform effort currently underway and welcomed the leadership of the Secretary-General in that regard.  Further, it welcomed the recent resolution calling for the strengthening of cooperation between CARICOM and the United Nations system, as such assistance would be a key element towards peace, security and sustainable development for the region.  Climate change was one of the most significant challenges small island developing States faced, particularly in the Caribbean region, which was still reeling from the damage done by Hurricane Irma and Maria.

MAHJABEEN KHALED HOSSAIN (Bangladesh) spoke on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries and associated herself with the Group of 77.  She noted that least developed countries continued to be plagued by multiple structural challenges, and that under the current growth trajectory, some 38 per cent of those States would still be facing extreme poverty by 2030.  Least developed countries in conflict and post-conflict situations as well as those experiencing fragility were unable to provide basic State services for their citizens.  She expressed concern about the various studies conducted by the United Nations that showed that those States remained far behind in the achievement of their development goals.  The special needs of those countries required greater recognition, she stressed, urging a comprehensive, multi-stakeholder resilience building mechanism be established, which would enable measures to be established at the national, regional and global levels to respond to various global crises.  There were visible efforts made by least developed countries to align existing policies with the 2030 Agenda, although the international community must provide support for those efforts.

The widespread, unprecedented impacts of climate change disproportionately burdened the poorest countries, she said.  ODA continued to be the largest and most critical source of development assistance for the most vulnerable countries, she noted, calling upon development partners to fulfil their internationally-agreed targets.  The least developed countries looked forward to greater foreign direct investment (FDI) as a means to address capacity-building deficits and achieve full production.  Orderly, safe and responsible migration was of great importance, including through the implementation of migration policies.  She welcomed the establishment of the technology bank for the least developed countries, although there must be greater efforts to mobilize resources for its sustainable function.  She went on to note that several least developed States had recently met the criteria for graduation, although the existing process related to advancement and smooth transition should be strengthened so that recently-graduated countries would not face uncertainties in achieving their development objectives.

JORGE SKINNER-KLÉE (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said that the structural challenges of the international economy and reform of the international system must take place in a way that considered the challenges of developing countries.  The Community was committed to achieving sustainable development in its three dimensions in a balanced and integrated way.  Regional and global efforts sought common solutions for the benefit of all people, leaving no one behind; although to do so, adequate financial and non-financial resources were needed.  He advocated for efforts to obtain a supportive environment for sustainable development and for overcoming challenges posed by inadequate financing for development.  Developed countries must comply with their ODA commitments, he said, while noting with concern that countries’ access to concessional financing dropped as economies grew.  CELAC advocated for the identification of alternative financing and recognized the importance of increasing international support for triangular cooperation.

Continuing, he said that CELAC recognized the need to foster international tax cooperation, strengthen regulatory tax frameworks and support for intergovernmental initiatives to combat tax evasion and avoidance, corruption and money laundering.  The Community called on the United Nations system to develop transparent measurement criteria for sustainability that went beyond per capita income, and whereby poverty and structural gaps were recognized in all forms and dimensions.  The mandates of United Nations agencies, funds and programmes must tackle the interrelated nature of the Goals.  He reaffirmed the Community’s commitment to the promotion of gender equality and the advancement of women to ensure they enjoyed their fundamental freedoms and human rights.  He reaffirmed the Community’s commitment to the implementation of public policies that ensured a universal, inclusive, quality education for young people and reiterated the commitment to the CELAC plan for food and nutrition security and the eradication of hunger by 2025.

AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) spoke on behalf of the Group of African States and associated himself with the Group of the 77.  Stressing that the eradication of poverty remained the greatest challenge to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, he noted that out of 800 million people living below the poverty line, 400 million were Africans.  Greater efforts would be needed to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Africa, as progress remained hampered by the unequal global environment that was “unfavourable” and “agnostic” to his continent’s financing for development needs.  He highlighted the importance of combating illicit financial flows with the establishment of strong international cooperation which could prevent the drainage of African assets, and identify and return assets to the countries of origin.

The African Union’s Agenda 2063 and its implementation plan focused on financial and infrastructure gaps, he said.  Integrated infrastructure development and modern technology would help in the swift transformation of African economies.  He called for assistance to enhance innovation and access to technology, and to that end, expressed appreciation for the Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries.  Noting the pursuit of a continental free trade area, he sought support of partners in multilateral trade and agricultural sectors.  He also referenced the effect of climate change, which had been devastating and curtailed development prospects.  To that end, he supported the outcome documents from the October 2016 United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), and expressed optimism that reform processes would enhance cooperation with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and other stakeholders to overcome sustainable development challenges.  In closing, he reiterated that Africa should remain at the centre of global partnership for development.

RENNIER GADABU (Nauru) spoke on behalf of the Group of Pacific Small Island Developing States, and associated himself with the statement to be delivered by the Alliance of Small Island States and Group of 77.  He noted that reforms to the United Nations development system were taking place as part of a broader reform effort which would bring shifts to the management paradigm and the peace and security architecture.  All those would have implications on the work of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial), and in that context, steps must be taken to ensure that those reforms supported, rather than undermined, the colossal undertaking that would be necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  Further, the international community must be attuned to the interlinkages between areas that had traditionally been separated, such as the security implications of climate change.

It was critical that the Committee maintain its universality and commitment to the most vulnerable, which included the small island developing States, which possessed unique vulnerabilities that made it a “special case” for sustainable development, he said.  There needed to be a critical look at the eligibility criteria for accessing to financing for development and technical assistance provided to those States, he said, highlighting that classification per income often excluded them from preferential treatment, despite significant vulnerabilities.  The worsening impacts of climate change had led to tragic consequences in recent months, including a staggering number of lives lost.  With those types of extreme weather events becoming increasingly common, it was important that the Committee be attuned to that dangerous, new reality and the need to reduce vulnerability and build resilience in the places most at risk.

ROBERT SISILO (Solomon Islands), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Island Forum countries, said its endorsement of the 2030 Pacific road map demonstrated the region’s serious approach to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals and meeting its international commitments.  Noting that its member States continued to count on the support of the United Nations and other partners, he stressed that climate change had political and socioeconomic implications for peace and security, and affected countries such as small island developing States more than others due to their constrained capacity to respond.

Members of the Pacific Islands Forum faced challenges including such existential threats as rising sea levels, intensification of natural hazards, economic problems exacerbated by declining fish stocks and the deterioration of the ocean’s health, he continued.  “These crucial matters require our utmost attention to ensure that no one is left behind,” he stressed, urging the United Nations system to increase its focus on and assistance to small island developing States and calling on international financial institutions to facilitate those nations with greater access to concessional financing and climate funds.

ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States and associating himself with the Group of 77, underlined the importance of continued space and recognition for the voices of countries in special situations in the Committee’s work.  Indeed, small island developing States were a special case for sustainable development and they continued to face unique challenges due to their remote locations, highly dispersed populations, distance to markets, diseconomies of scale, susceptibility to external shocks and vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.  Recalling that those issues were now recognized in various international agreements including the small island developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway, he stressed that such nations required clear and coordinated support from across the United Nations system now more than ever.

“The multitude of overlapping challenges [small island developing States] face is most visible in devastating hurricanes” that had destroyed many such islands in the Caribbean in recent weeks, he said.  Those extreme weather events were made more frequent and intense by climate change, and the inherent vulnerabilities and limited capacity of islands to bounce back were two key issues requiring more consideration.  In that regard, he reiterated the call for the international financial institutions to enhance access to concessional financing, taking in account small island developing States’ specific challenges and vulnerabilities, including the impact of climate change on their economies.  Among other things, he also called for the participation of those States in the decision-making and norm-setting processes that affected them.

JOANNE ADAMSON, of the European Union delegation, said many citizens on her continent and elsewhere felt left behind by economic recovery and were apprehensive about globalization.  Strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth, which relied on multilateral cooperation and a rules-based order, was vital in addressing the root causes of large movements of refugees and migrants.  The international community had continued to present its internal and external responses to shape globalization in line with shared interests and values.  The 2030 Agenda was the reference point for efforts the international community must take.

Climate change continued to constitute among the greatest and most pressing challenges in the common effort to achieve sustainable development and eradicate poverty, she said.  The 2015 Paris Agreement was the cornerstone of global efforts to tackle climate change and effectively implement the 2030 Agenda.  It was necessary to fully implement the Paris Agreement on climate change in a timely manner and emphasize protecting the environment against further degradation.  The Union would work with all partners who shared the conviction that the Agreement was essential in protecting the planet as well as economic growth and future jobs.

LAZAROUS KAPAMBWE (Zambia), speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, citing “evident progress” in the implementation of global development agendas, said his group of States nevertheless continued to see mixed results on key socioeconomic indicators.  They had experienced a decline in annual GDP growth from 6.9 per cent in 2013 to 2.6 per cent in 2016, and most people in those countries still lived in extreme poverty.  In addition, the share of global merchandise exports coming from landlocked developing countries fell from 0.96 per cent in 2015 to 0.88 per cent in 2016 and many such countries had persistent trade deficits and most remained vulnerable due to volatile commodity prices and slow economic growth.  Infrastructure deficits also remained high and the group still lagged behind the rest of the world on energy, with at least two-thirds of its population relying on the traditional use of biomass for cooking.

Calling for efforts to close technological gaps to better enable poverty eradication and inequality reduction, he went on to outline the negative impact of climate change, desertification and land degradation on many landlocked developing countries, which remained among the most water-stressed in the world.  Despite all those significant needs, ODA flows to landlocked developing countries had decreased from $26.1 billion in 2014 to $24.8 billion in 2015.  At the Committee’s present session, Member States must work to advance collective solutions to building the capabilities of landlocked developing countries, generating sustainable livelihoods, contributing to food security, increasing incomes and improving the quality of life in those nations.  Addressing the high trade costs they faced was another important issue, he said, underlining the importance of implementing the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement in that regard.  Finally, while South-South cooperation continued to be critical, he warned that it should not be a substitute to North-South and triangular cooperation.

MARÍA RUBIALES DE CHAMORRO (Nicaragua) said that to achieve a just world order, her nation advocated for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and an end of the economic measures imposed against the country.  Endemic poverty and inequality were more pronounced than ever, especially among vulnerable and marginalized groups, and those living under colonial occupation or foreign intervention.  All countries must meet their development commitments, and representatives must work together in the Committee to overcome challenges.  Reiterating Nicaragua’s commitment to financing for development, she underscored the importance of partnerships to facilitate access to financial and technological resources.  The country achieved a “privileged” macroeconomic situation with sustained economic growth, characterized by a GDP growth of 5.1 per cent.  Nicaragua, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), ranked third in terms of fastest economic growth in the Latin American and Caribbean region.  Additionally, the country reduced extreme poverty by nearly half due in part to a consolidated partnership between the Government, private sector and international cooperation.  She called for increased actions to combat climate change, and urged developed countries to undertake leadership roles to address unsustainable consumption patterns, and meet international commitments.  Nicaragua would continue to advocate for climate justice and compensation, appeal for enhanced disaster risk reduction, and to that end, she encouraged donors to provide support.  She also reiterated solidarity with the State of Palestine and their struggle for freedom, and urged for full inclusion of that matter in the Committee’s agenda.

KENNEDY MAYONG ONON (Malaysia) said his country had taken several steps to implement the Sustainable Development Goals at the national level in a systematic and measurable manner.  It had established a multi-stakeholder, participatory governance structure spearheaded by the National Sustainable Development Goal Council, which was chaired by the Prime Minister.  That was followed by national symposiums and forums to promote participation of various stakeholders.  Malaysia had then conducted studies on data readiness and gap analysis.  It had also carried out a mapping exercise involving non-governmental organizations and the private sector to align the Goals with the Eleventh Malaysia Plan initiatives.  Finally, his country had drawn up a national goals road map to guide implementation of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.

TORE HATTREM (Norway) said the international community must increase collective efforts to prevent conflicts and wars, and build basic social and economic infrastructure to reach the most vulnerable.  Sustainable transformation would hinge on the ability to address climate change and save the oceans.  To that end, Norway supported the establishment of the new Climate Action Team under the Secretary-General, and welcomed the appointment of a Special Envoy for the Ocean.  The universality of the 2030 Agenda would be its greatest strength, and Norway remained committed to accelerating the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals domestically and through international cooperation.  Similarly, the United Nations must do its part, and his country welcomed the Secretary-General’s efforts to reposition the development system to enhance collaboration, accountability and transparency.  Funding, he continued, could be both a driver of change and an impediment.  He welcomed the proposed funding compact to improve the quality and predictability of funding for the development system, as well as the increase of funding modalities to provide incentives.  Norway’s ODA contribution would remain around 1 per cent of its GDP, above the United Nations target of 0.7 per cent. Likewise, he called for strengthened efforts to mobilize domestic resources for development and address illicit financial flows.

MARC-ANDRE BLANCHARD (Canada), also speaking for Australia and New Zealand, stressed the need to promote gender equality as well as women and girls’ empowerment in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Promoting gender equality was among the most effective ways of eliminating poverty, creating lasting peace, promoting inclusive prosperity and achieving sustainable development.  An estimated $28 trillion was missing from global GDP (about $74 trillion) because no country present in the room had successfully achieved gender equality.  Thus, world economic output was less than three quarters of what it could be.

He said that Canada, Australia and New Zealand were committed to implementing the Goals domestically, while working with international partners to achieve them around the world.  Most of the focus of domestic implementation was directed towards indigenous peoples, who often ranked among the furthest behind.  A major preoccupation would be satisfying human needs for greater equality and decent work for all.  That implied a need to enact policies expanding opportunities for business, creating good, well-paying jobs for workers and delivering meaningful economic growth benefiting all citizens, not only the wealthiest.  Canada, Australia and New Zealand would continue to pursue a progressive trade agenda promoting meaningful trade liberalization, ensuring the benefits of trade were enjoyed broadly across societies.

DIEGO PADILLA (Costa Rica) underscored the importance of linkages between the Sustainable Development Goals and noted that macroeconomic indicators and poverty reduction did not reflect the capacity of persons to overcome the latter.  With a view to align implementation strategies, Costa Rica would cosponsor a resolution to adopt a decade of family farming for 2019‑28, and seek alignment of global, regional and international commitments.  He stressed the importance of international benchmarks to promote good governance and enforce adequate redistribution of wealth.  Likewise, he reiterated the belief that transparent governance, and the detection and prevention of illicit financial flows was essential to ensure accountability and adherence to international norms.  Costa Rica promoted an ambitious environmental vision and shared their experience in forest conservation and renewable energy.  The commitments made in the Paris Agreement should be reflected in the language of the Committee, he stated.  Costa Rica supported the repositioning of the United Nations system to include a multidimensional vision of development, and a restructuring of the classification of countries, particularly in response to the needs of middle-income States.  Developing countries must have high‑quality disaggregated, evidence‑based data to monitor progress on sustainable development.  He reaffirmed the importance of South-South and triangular cooperation to enhance public and private investment.

DOMA TSHERING (Bhutan) stressed the importance of strengthening global partnerships and means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals, including ODA.  While pleased it had graduated from the least developed country category, Bhutan wished to ensure it continued to develop in a sure and sustained manner.  The country needed to focus on the Goals, which could be game-changers and had the potential to bring about transformative change.  Development of a robust private sector, including small and medium enterprises, structural transformation of the economy and building a strong and resilient infrastructure would put her country in a position to achieve other Goals.  She appealed to development partners to support Bhutan in those areas, welcoming progress towards establishment of the Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries.

ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran), associating himself with the Group of 77, called for more effective international assistance and solidarity in support of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in developing countries.  The United Nations should play a critical coordinating role in that regard, he said, adding that it must be fit for purpose and ready to support the needs and priorities of those countries.  As sustainable development and peace could only flourish together — and as incidents of conflict and extremism had increased in recent years — he said it was critical to address the diverse needs and challenges of countries and regions, including the Middle East, to achieve sustainable development.  Addressing poverty there was a vital requirement for regional stability and prosperity, he stressed, adding that upholding a universal, rules-based, open non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system that contributed to growth and sustained development was also necessary, particularly for developing countries.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said that while progress had been made in implementing the 2030 Agenda, many targets still lagged — and often with detrimental impacts.  While the 2030 Agenda set broad and ambitious goals, each was important and all were interdependent.  “The success or failure of one will impact the other,” he said.  Citing such examples as persistent poverty and the impacts of climate change, he said the “beyond-border” nature of those challenges and the fact that resources to address them were scattered globally meant that solidarity, collaboration and coordination were needed to create long-lasting solutions.  In that context, the Committee should play a key role in strengthening and revitalizing global partnerships for the Agenda’s implementation; ensuring coherency in its implementation as well as those of the Addis Action Agenda, the Paris Agreement and others; and ensuring sufficient capacity and resources were made available, including through the fulfilment of ODA commitments.

LAURA FLORES (Panama) stressed that a strengthened multilateral development system would greatly help in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  International cooperation was vital in that process in the areas of financial resources as well as capacity and best practises.  There was a need to tackle the needs and challenges of developing countries, including middle-income nations.  The global community must recognize middle-income counties as subjects of cooperation in fulfilling the Goals and achieving the 2030 Agenda.  She emphasized the need to boost South-South cooperation without replacing North-South cooperation.  Adding that implementing the Paris Agreement was imperative to achieving the Goals, she said multilateral efforts must continue.  The international community must also continue to work towards transparency of the international financial system as well as the eradication of illicit financial flows.

Ms. CURRIE (United States) said the United States supported the vision for reform of the United Nations system and pledged to be partners in championing those reforms for greater peace and harmony in the world.  The Committee could not be excused from that reform, “we have too many words and not enough action, too much politicization and not enough results,” she stated.  The delegates must strive to limit overlap, have fewer reports and have more effective outcomes.  Change in the Committee should not be negotiable, she continued.  Additional effort should be given to increase the impact and efficiency of the Committee by streamlining the agenda and consolidating the discussions to ensure each issue was discussed once.  Calling upon all representatives to respect deadlines, she said her country would not negotiate draft resolutions after the close of the Committee or beyond normal business hours.  “The United States will have no choice but to engage less in drawn out negotiations,” she stressed.  To that end, Committee resolutions should align with the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Agenda, while striving to formulate concrete solutions to challenges.  The key to success was to communicate early and often, she said.

TLHALEFO MADISA (Botswana), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, pointed out that as the United Nations underwent reforms, some 700 million people still lived in extreme poverty and 200 million were unemployed.  Those statistics were compounded by situations of famine, extreme climate events, armed conflict and the rise of violent extremism, among other challenges.  Urging the Committee to work to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, he said climate change often manifested as a decline in agricultural production, increasing food insecurity and water stress, and reaffirmed Botswana’s commitment to combating those challenges through the Paris Agreement.  Meanwhile, landlocked developing countries required the attention of the international community, including through the implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries for the Decade 2014-2024.  Technical assistance, capacity-building and financial support would also be needed to address the impacts of the geographical constraints faced by those countries, as well as their lack of territorial access to the ocean, he said.

NAWAF SALAM (Lebanon) said the 2030 Agenda’s implementation would stretch the financial, institutional and human capacities of most developing States — including middle-income countries.  Noting that the United Nations development system would be critical in providing support, he outlined Lebanon’s national sustainable development efforts, including the recent establishment of a committee to lead and coordinate efforts on the 2030 Agenda.  Noting that his country would present its first voluntary national contribution at the high-level political forum in 2018, he said efforts were underway to identify and analyse gaps in relation to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Lebanon.  Peacebuilding, development and humanitarian efforts — as well as peacekeeping activities — had been running in Lebanon simultaneously for decades, with the humanitarian dimension becoming more visible due to the influx of over 1.2 million refugees from Syria.  Those numbers compounded Lebanon’s own economic, social, environmental and security challenges, he said, calling for enhanced coherence between the United Nations development and humanitarian activities in his country.

VIRACHAI PLASAI (Thailand) aligned himself with the Group of 77 and China and ASEAN, saying efforts were needed to work faster and better to ensure balanced progress in all economic, social, and environmental dimensions.  Thailand believed in a people-centred approach to all national development efforts, and to that end applied a “Sufficiency Economy Philosophy” to ensure domestic alignment with the core principles of the 2030 Agenda.  Following a concept of “Pracharath” to foster partnerships among the public and private sectors, Thailand supported efforts to conduct sustainable businesses.  The Global Compact Network in Thailand assisted Thai companies, while local communities were empowered to localize the Sustainable Development Goals and find local solutions.  Thailand also supported the follow-up and review process, and was among the 43 countries that presented their Voluntary National Reviews at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.  To address inequality, Thailand implemented “Thailand 4.0” to enhance human resource development, as well as a universal health coverage scheme and an education-for-all scheme.  On environmental protection, he noted France’s initiative to support the Global Pact for the Environment and said Thailand would continue to strengthen disaster risk reduction and early warning systems.  Stressing the importance of partnerships, he welcomed the outcome of the Second Financing for Development Forum to expedite implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  He commended the role of the Office of South-South Cooperation in promoting the exchange of best practices, welcomed the Secretary-General’s management reform initiatives and supported the development system review.

ASHISH SINHA (India), associating himself with the Group of 77, noted that the world had witnessed a series of natural disasters over the past few weeks. Hurricanes had battered the Caribbean and parts of the United States and an earthquake had struck Mexico.  While hurricanes had brought the focus back to anthropogenic factors of climate change, those crises had highlighted the need for attention to the resilience of communities and to disaster risk reduction. He also observed that the global economy had witnessed unprecedented levels of economic growth and technological advancement over the last century, which had transformed the social and economic lives of millions.  Yet, about 800 million people still lived in extreme poverty and an equal number continued to suffer from hunger.  The international community must ensure that resources meant for development programmes were not diverted to other efforts, which would have a deleterious effect in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing States.

NGUYEN PHUONG NGA (Viet Nam), associating herself with the Group of 77, China and ASEAN, cited progress made in implementing the 2030 Agenda and stressed that “the Second Committee needs to seize this momentum and focus its discussions on concrete actions for impact on the ground”.  On climate change, she said some countries — including Viet Nam — were facing extreme risks, especially around coastlines and in mountainous areas.  Stakeholders should work together to enhance preparedness and build resilience, while providing tailored development solutions that addressed multi-crisis risks and provided long-term, integrated solutions.  The role of trade was critical for countries to lift themselves out of poverty and retain progress, she said, calling on all Member States to recommit to promoting a universal, rules-based, open, transparent, predictable, inclusive, non‑discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system.  “We need to address imbalances, discrimination and inequities” in that system, she stressed, calling on nations to prevent trade restrictions and distortions in world markets.  She also called for the provision of technical assistance and capacity development in science, technology and innovation, and to prevent countries — including Viet Nam — from falling into the middle-income trap.

ANAT FISHER-TSIN (Israel), urging the Committee to use its current session to evaluate progress and renew commitments to the 2030 Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement, expressed her delegation’s full commitment to those instruments.  “We are working on several fronts and with many stakeholders to ensure that we are on the right path and making progress” toward achieving the 17 Goals, she said.  Israel had prioritized the advancement of gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls, efforts to nurture young minds and the encouragement of entrepreneurship and innovation.  It was also committed to promoting agricultural technology for sustainable development and achieving a world free of hunger, she said, adding that it would present its resolution on those issues to the Committee during the present session.

SERGEY B. KONONUCHENKO (Russian Federation) said that his Government had systematically increased its contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including through numerous environmental and research programmes.  It had written off more than $20 billion of Africa’s debt.  Free trade zones could result in significant partnerships and open a “new page” in globalization, he said, citing broad Eurasian partnerships and the One Belt, One Road initiative.  The international community must reject the use of unilateral financial and trade restrictions to pressure foreign policy opponents.  “Any sanction bypassing Security Council resolutions are counterproductive,” he stated.  He called for greater attention to deal with accumulated Government and private sector debt and encouraged the establishment of new models for business, trade, logistics and production as well as enhanced information security.  He reiterated the Russian Federation’s commitment to limit greenhouse gas emissions to 70 per cent of 1990 levels by 2030 as well as other efforts to operationalize the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  He called for greater focus on human resources, particularly through the establishment of a Russian international cluster on scientific research which would form a system to support start-ups, and form a network of research laboratories.  All countries should pool efforts and overcome imbalances to ensure sustainable global growth. 

DAW HMWAY HMWAY KHYNE (Myanmar), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, the ASEAN and the Group of Least Developed Countries, voiced concern about uneven progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda as well as the prevalence of inequalities.  Least developed countries including Myanmar remained far below many of the Sustainable Development Goal targets, and poverty was still widespread among them.  Calling for an integrated approach to eradicating poverty across the economic, social and environmental dimensions — as well as a strong commitment to global partnerships — she said the fulfilment of ODA commitments remained crucial for all developing countries.  Welcoming the adoption of the global indicator framework, she recalled that her country with the support of UNDP had recently published a report titled “Measuring Myanmar’s Starting Point for the Sustainable Development Goals”, which included baseline data for 60 per cent of the Goals’ indicators.  The country also continued to pursue efforts towards peace and stability — which were fundamental to sustainable development — including by hosting two milestone Union Peace Conferences and boosting investments in education, healthcare and infrastructure.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) said his country was taking action to ensure all citizens had access to services such as clean water and sanitation.  Peru was committed to the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement and had created a multisectoral working group to ensure a low‑carbon economy, which would help incorporate climate adaptation measures into national policies.  He noted that the recent hurricanes in the Caribbean and the United States as well as the earthquake in Mexico had reminded the international community that natural disasters knew no borders.  Peru was not immune to such climactic hazards and was working to promote disaster risk reduction for all.

ANAYANSI RODRÍGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba) observed that global inequality and social polarization had persisted and even worsened two years after adopting the 2030 Agenda.  Opulence and concentration of income and wealth in developed countries stood in sad contrast to the poverty experienced by many people in developing countries.  What was lacking was the political will and true commitment of the most powerful States to fulfil their international commitments.  She emphasized the importance of a different international financial architecture, elimination of the technological and knowledge monopoly and change in the current international economic order.  Today’s industrialized countries must accept their historical debt and exercise the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”.  The international community could no longer postpone realization of the right to development.

BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that the responsibility for development fell on national Governments and that fighting terrorism and extremism was a joint national and regional responsibility. Terrorism was exploited and exported and it continued to hamper economic, social, infrastructural, and cultural development. To that end, he called for an end to activities that threatened the Syrian people and adversely affected the country’s education and health sectors.  Such measures against the Syrian people were “tantamount to terrorism” and exacerbated the internally displaced persons and refugee crises.  The Israeli occupation adversely affected development and numerous General Assembly resolutions called for an end to Israel’s occupation of Arab land.  Syria was working on a post-conflict era approach to development, including a National Post-Conflict Plan and a National Management Reform Project.   Syria was taking special measures to adhere to the Paris Agreement.  Some countries continued to flout the national sovereignty of others, he said, stressing that sustainable development could not be achieved without peace and vice versa.

NECTON D. MHURA (Malawi) said the journey towards the Sustainable Development Goals was still in its infancy.  Many issues required further deliberation, including trade, financing for development, information technology and climate change.  Now more than ever, all cylinders must be firing at full capacity if the international community was to meet the 2030 deadline and enhance the lives of those left behind.  It was essential to create the right mix of policies so that institutions — local, regional and global — were reformed to match the evolving and shifting global landscape.  At the macroeconomic level, Malawi shared the view that international trade was an engine for inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction.  Trade was not a panacea for development but must be synchronized with other enabling policies and structures to deliver on development and poverty reduction.  Empirical evidence suggested that trade, complemented by appropriate domestic policies and a supportive external environment, had been among the most powerful catalysts for economic transformation in poor countries.

CARMELO INGUANEZ (Malta) said his country remained steadfast in its commitment to the 2030 Agenda and reiterated the importance of national ownership to ensure full and effective implementation.  He supported the revitalization of the Second Committee and commended reform efforts of the Secretary‑General.  Malta had launched a national strategic plan for poverty reduction and social inclusion for 2014 to 2024.  His country remained a net importer of food due to the lack of sufficient local production and it prioritized the diversification of the agricultural sector and invested in research on fodder crops.  Another major challenge in Malta was a lack of water which had led to unsustainable practices of groundwater abstraction.  To address that issue, the Government invested in innovative means and new water technology.  Malta had put in place initiatives to reduce overfishing and promote the conservation of marine biodiversity.  The sustainability of fish stocks remained at the centre of Government policy.  Targets included a commitment to keep 30 per cent of its jurisdictional waters as marine protected areas and contributions towards the good governance of the oceans.  In regards to international trade and development, Malta encouraged Governments to promote responsible business conduct, particularly as global value chains represent the bulk of trade flows.  In closing, he stated that Malta would deliver a voluntary national review at the 2018 high‑level political forum.

MAHMADAMIN MAHMADAMINOV (Tajikistan) said that to address technological and infrastructural gaps and capacity constraints, developed countries should take responsibility for financing for development and, to that end, he urged all countries to fulfil their commitments.  He expressed support to the Secretary‑General’s reform of the United Nations system with respect to the 2030 Agenda.  However, any reform should be within the mandates of the Member States by the quadrennial comprehensive policy review.  Speaking on sustainable development, he said that Tajikistan had championed the International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018‑2028 In 2018, his country would host an event in New York to commemorate International Water Day, and hold a conference on water for sustainable development.  In closing, he reiterated his Government’s readiness to work with other delegations in the Committee on internationally agreed goals.

ISABELLE F. PICCO (Monaco) stated that the public sector could not be solely responsible for sustainable development and that progress would depend on participation from all sectors.  The technological and industrial revolution would give businesses and civil society significant power to promote and harness change.  As such, it would be vital to recognize the joint responsibility of the public and private sectors, and civil society.  There was a growing trend of distrust between sectors, she stated, and the international community must seek ways to improve governance frameworks and ensure inclusive and collective solutions through partnerships.  The Government had undertaken initiatives to improve energy and climate plans, promote sustainable cities and engage the international community.  Efforts were also undertaken to modernize infrastructure and maintain economic diversity.  That included establishing an “industry observatory” and supporting non‑governmental organizations in creating local plans for sustainable development.  In research and development, Monaco promoted clean technology.  It had developed the world’s largest solar‑powered boat and established a “Solar Impulse” command centre.  Furthermore, Monaco hosted its first auto show dedicated to innovation and clean energy, and established an incubator for innovative projects.  His country had also invested in economic growth and cooperation, and to that end allocated more than 1.1 per cent of its GDP to ODA.

HAHN CHOONGHEE (Republic of Korea) said United Nations reform efforts should break down silos and strengthen the nexus between peace and security, human rights and development, while also focusing on improving the funding architecture in a way that incentivized collaboration among agencies, the private sector, international financial institutions, vertical funds and other diverse stakeholders.  The United Nations development system should also improve its overall effectiveness and transparency and enhance value-for-money, accountability and transparency.  Emphasizing the importance of the 2030 Agenda’s follow-up and review process, as well as the means of implementation, he noted that his country had ratified the Paris Agreement in 2016 and stressed that “we must not lose momentum in implementing it”.  Among other things, he drew attention to efforts to strengthen disaster risk reduction, and to ensure urbanization was sustainable.

MARÍA EMMA MEJÍA VÉLEZ (Colombia) said macroeconomic matters were vitally important to the well-being of millions who continued to live in poverty.  The Committee had before it some of the main challenges facing humanity, including the eradication of poverty and combating climate change.  However, the international community must be more committed to financing for development if those issues were to be addressed.  The Committee must give added value to its discussions, thinking big and concentrating on efforts that could have a true impact for future generations.  It must focus on efficiency in actions and results, maximize resources to ensure coordination of agencies and respond to priorities of States.

JORGE SKINNER-KLÉE (Guatemala) said the past few years had been critical in repositioning the United Nations development system to support countries facing development challenges.  The international community must ensure that financing for development was more efficient in implementing development programmes in middle-income countries.  The lack of reliable and disaggregated data continued to be an impediment in following up progress made and implementing national policies.  Addressing challenges to financing for development would be vital in reforming the development system.  The global community must also adopt graduation policies to ensure a better response to the opportunities and challenges of middle-income countries.  Guatemala, for its part, had been active in reducing illicit financial flows and developing a law to counter money-laundering.

EL HACEN ELEYATT (Mauritania) said that his country had made significant progress in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals through enhanced policies and approaches to manage public business.  That had resulted in increased investments and amended legislation to provide legal safeguards in a more transparent framework.  Mauritania endeavoured to establish numerous national development programmes.  To enable access for young people, the Government financed microprojects and encouraged productive enterprises and employment.  Women had greater access to senior employment positions, and took major roles in society and State, with elected women receiving access to training programmes to improve performance and productivity.  The Government did its utmost to facilitate women’s access to financing through a national development fund.  Mauritania had made significant progress in health that had resulted in a decrease in women and children’s mortality rates, as well as deaths caused by HIV/AIDS.  The Government also reformed the judiciary to encourage greater transparency.  Due to its geographical location, Mauritania suffered from climate change and in response, adopted an approach to integrate environmental and sustainable economic development issues.  The country would continue to work with its neighbours to address climate change; however, it requested additional support to help fulfil their commitments.

ISATA KABIA (Sierra Leone), associating herself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the African Group, said millions of people in least developed States continued to live in extreme poverty and the international community’s focus should remain on freeing humanity from those shackles “as a matter of urgency”.  Sierra Leone had linked its “Third Poverty Reduction Strategy” and “Agenda for Prosperity” to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, with the aim of achieving middle-income status by 2035.  Like many other fragile and post-conflict countries, Sierra Leone had worked to consolidate its hard-won peace despite not being fully able to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  Noting the need for adequate sources for conflict-affected countries — especially for a long-term, stable and predictable flow of financing — she said the continued role of international development cooperation and ODA “cannot be overemphasized”.

MIRGUL MOLDOISAEVA (Kyrgyzstan) said that her country had presented a report in 2017 on the Sustainable Development Goals, and was honouring its commitments at the national level.  Under the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries for the Decade 2014-2024, attention was given to transform Kyrgyzstan through large-scale projects, including infrastructural and energy projects.  The country’s national strategy for sustainable development would include indicators and reflect remaining challenges.  The national “Taza Koom Project” sought to transform Kyrgyzstan with a people-centred, modern governance model.  Climate change had significant impact on all sectors.  As numerous uranium plants were located along waterways, she expressed concern over the risk of river pollution which could result in a major humanitarian and environmental disaster in Central Asia.  The General Assembly had recognized that danger in various resolutions; however, efforts would be needed to recondition the uranium facilities.  She also expressed alarm at the swift melting of glaciers in the region and environmental threats that impact biodiversity, such as threats relating to the decrease of snow leopards.

News

Benin’s Environmental, Food Control Labs Join Forces to Track Pollutants and Increase Food Safety

Cotonou, Benin – With increased shipping activity along its coast and mining in the region, Beninese authorities are concerned about pollution that could affect the environment and impact the country’s agricultural products. They have turned to the IAEA for assistance in monitoring radioactivity levels, heavy metals and other pollutants in the ocean and on the coast, and to help local experts estimate the amount of contaminants in the food supply based on people’s diets. With the infrastructure for environmental monitoring and diet studies now established, results are expected to be available before the end of the year – a major step towards improving food safety.

“Until recently we were in the dark as to how much environmental contamination there is and whether people take in harmful substances above recommended limits,” said Kinnou Kisito Chabi Sika, General Manager of the Central Laboratory of Food Safety Control (LCSSA).  “Soon we will understand a lot more.”

Environmental protection and food safety go hand in hand, which is why the IAEA advocates such a coordinated approach in countries it works with, said Miguel Roncero Martin, who is in charge of the IAEA’s technical cooperation projects in Benin. “If you have a really contaminated environment, how could you produce food that is safe to eat?”

Environmental monitoring stations

Preliminary results from 15 monitoring stations around the country set up this year suggest that both heavy metal and radionuclide levels are below safety limits, said Etiennette Dassi Gnaho, Head of the Environment Surveillance Laboratory established with the help of the IAEA in 2014. The lab’s alpha and gamma spectrophotometers, used to evaluate radiation levels and to verify heavy metal concentrations, were cofinanced by the IAEA and the Government of Benin. All of the lab’s five professional staff received training at similar institutions in Morocco and Madagascar, with the support of the IAEA technical cooperation programme. 

Heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium as well as copper, phosphate and radioactive substances that could be released into the environment as a result of phosphate mining are of particular concern, she said. Verifying water quality in the vicinity of where treated sewage enters the ocean is also a priority for the government.

As of earlier this year, samples are taken from ocean water, coastal sediments and fresh water. The addition of soil samples from inland will follow next year, she added, along with the implementation of a strict surveillance plan developed with the help of the IAEA and experts from Morocco.

Total diet studies

The presence of pollutants like heavy metals is particularly worrisome if they end up in food. Heavy metals are not eliminated from people’s bodies, but accumulate over an individual’s life, and if their intake is too high, they could reach dangerous levels, affecting the nervous system.

In order to ensure that the amount of heavy metals taken in with food does not reach dangerous levels, researchers first need to model the diet of the population, so that, based on people’s consumption, acceptable concentration limits in the food and the environment can be established. These levels can be established through what are known as total diet studies – models that take into consideration the amount of food people ear over their lifetime. Such studies – which use nuclear derived analytical techniques – will for the first time be carried out later this year following the receipt of equipment, training and advice from the IAEA in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Through the technical cooperation programme, seven chemists and microbiologists working at the food safety lab received training in Belgium, Botswana, the Czech Republic, Morocco, Sudan and Zambia, Chabi Sika said.