The 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly Summary of the First Committee & Resolutions
The 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Summary of the First Committee & Resolutions
War and armed conflict have caused many grave human rights violations around the world. Based on lessons learnt through our past, international humanitarian and human rights law, different treaties and agreements, as well as regulations have been established. However, cruel and indiscriminate attacks against innocent civilians continue to be carried on in many parts of the world today. In addition to that, the issue of impunity has raised serious concerns. In order to stop the current situation of impunity or to build a peaceful and just world, what are being discussed by international community and what measures are being considered by which country, UN body or civil organization?
There is a strong relationship between the issues of war and armed conflict, and those of disarmament and international security that the UN General Assembly First Committee deals with. Paying closer attention to major issues and outcomes of the First Committee discussion might help us visualize our future tasks involved in achieving justice, accountability, and peace.
The 73rd session of the UN General Assembly First Committee met from 8 October–9 November 2018. At the opening of its general debate, many delegations spotlighted a range of threats and progress, from the use of chemical weapons to ongoing efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.1
The Committee sent a total of 68 draft resolutions and decisions to the General Assembly, many approved by recorded votes. Of these, 26 were approved without a vote.2 As reported by Reaching Critical Will, First Committee debate on the issue in 2018 was marked by condemnations of use of the weapon and calls for further universalisation of the Convention.3
Following everything that goes on at the First Committee can be time-consuming for individuals because of large numbers of meetings and agenda items. Thus, this summary is organized by the following three sections for everyone to know the current and overall situation of the Committee at a glance:
- Allocation of the agenda items to the First Committee
All agenda items or “draft resolutions” (Resolutions that have not yet been voted on. Draft resolutions are written by delegates, alone or with other countries) allocated to the First Committee in 2018 are listed. Each resolution that was adopted is followed by an official UN document number starting with A/RES/73/.
- Recommendations and outcomes by civil society
Recommendations proposed by civil society, their summarized report on the outcome, and relevant treaties and documents are listed by topic.
Website address of each organization mentioned here as the source of information is listed.
Allocation of the agenda items to the First Committee
- Election of the officers of the Main Committees
- Reduction of military budgets
- African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (A/RES/73/26)
- Maintenance of international security — good-neighbourliness, stability and development in South-Eastern Europe
- Developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security (A/RES/73/27)
- Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East (A/RES/73/28)
- Conclusion of effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons (A/RES/73/29)
- Prevention of an arms race in outer space:
(a) Prevention of an arms race in outer space; (A/RES/73/30)
(b) No first placement of weapons in outer space; (A/RES/73/31)
(c) Further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space.
- Role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament (A/RES/73/32)
- General and complete disarmament:
(a) Treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices; (A/RES/73/65)
(b) Nuclear disarmament; (A/RES/73/50)
(c) Notification of nuclear tests;
(d) Relationship between disarmament and development; (A/RES/73/37)
(e) Regional disarmament; (A/RES/73/33)
(f) Conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels; (A/RES/73/34)
(g) Convening of the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament; (A/RES/73/42)
(h) Observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control; (A/RES/73/39)
(i) Follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons; (A/RES/73/64)
(j) Consolidation of peace through practical disarmament measures; (A/RES/73/53)
(k) Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction; (A/RES/73/45)
(l) Measures to uphold the authority of the 1925 Geneva Protocol; (A/RES/73/43)
(m) Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction; (A/RES/73/61)
(n) Assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them; (A/RES/73/52)
(o) Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia; (A/RES/73/58)
(p) Reducing nuclear danger; (A/RES/73/56)
(q) The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects; (A/RES/73/69)
(r) Towards a nuclear-weapon-free world: accelerating the implementation of nuclear disarmament commitments; (A/RES/73/70)
(s) Mongolia’s international security and nuclear-weapon-free status; (A/RES/73/44)
(u) Disarmament and non-proliferation education/ United Nations study on disarmament and non-proliferation education; (A/RES/73/59)
(v) Promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation; (A/RES/73/41)
(w) Measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction; (A/RES/73/55)
(x) Confidence-building measures in the regional and subregional context; (A/RES/73/35)
(y) The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation; (A/RES/73/49)
(z) Information on confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms; (A/RES/73/51)
(aa) Transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities; (A/RES/73/72)
(bb) The Arms Trade Treaty; (A/RES/73/36)
(cc) Effects of the use of armaments and ammunitions containing depleted uranium; (A/RES/73/38)
(dd) Preventing the acquisition by terrorists of radioactive sources; (A/RES/73/66)
(ee) United action with renewed determination towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons; (A/RES/73/62)
(ff) Preventing and combating illicit brokering activities; (A/RES/73/63)
(gg) Women, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control; (A/RES/73/46)
(hh) Follow-up to the 2013 high-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament; (A/RES/73/40)
(ii) Countering the threat posed by improvised explosive devices; (A/RES/73/67)
(jj) Humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons; (A/RES/73/47)
(kk) Ethical imperatives for a nuclear-weapon-free world; (A/RES/73/68)
(ll) Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions; (A/RES/73/54)
(mm) Universal Declaration on the Achievement of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World; (A/RES/73/57)
(nn) Nuclear disarmament verification;
(oo) Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons; (A/RES/73/48)
-Fourth Conference of Nuclear-Weapons-Free-Zones and Mongolia 2020 (A/RES/73/71)
-Decreasing the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems (A/RES/73/60)
- Review and implementation of the Concluding Document of the Twelfth Special Session of the General Assembly:
(a) United Nations disarmament fellowship, training and advisory services; (A/RES/73/73)
(b) Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons; (A/RES/73/74)
(c) United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa; (A/RES/73/75)
(d) United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean; (A/RES/73/76)
(e) United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific; (A/RES/73/77)
(f) Regional confidence-building measures: activities of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa; (A/RES/73/78)
(g) United Nations Disarmament Information Programme; (A/RES/73/79)
(h) United Nations regional centres for peace and disarmament. (A/RES/73/80)
- Review of the implementation of the recommendations and decisions adopted by the General Assembly at its tenth special session:
(a) Report of the Conference on Disarmament; (A/RES/73/81)
(b) Report of the Disarmament Commission. (A/RES/73/82)
- The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (A/RES/73/83)
- 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 (A/RES/73/84)
- Strengthening of security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region (A/RES/73/85)
- Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (A/RES/73/86)
- Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (A/RES/73/87)
Recommendations & outcomes by civil society
By International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)
Any use of nuclear weapons would cause unacceptable humanitarian suffering and would violate international humanitarian law, environmental law, and human rights law.
- Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)
- Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)
- Express support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and, for those that have not yet done so, declare their intention to become a state party to the Treaty as soon as possible;
- Highlight and condemn as illegitimate any ongoing activities that are prohibited under this Treaty, such as threats to use nuclear weapons, testing of nuclear weapons, and the development and modernisation of nuclear arsenals; and
- Call for all resolutions on nuclear weapons to include a reference to the TPNW.
- “Fourth Conference of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones and Mongolia, 2020,” (A/RES/73/71) last adopted in 2014, elaborates on its rationale for convening a Conference among states parties and signatories of nuclear weapon free zones (NWFZs) on 4 April 2020, and invites other states as observes to the conference.
- Increased division and polarization: The polarisation is not just an issue of the nuclear armed states and their nuclear-supportive allies on one side, and non-nuclear-armed states on the other. The polarisation is also increasing between the nuclear-armed, permanent five UN Security Council members themselves, while their nuclear-supportive allies seem to be either desperately trying to accommodate them, or to remain silent amidst the fireworks.
- The nuclear-armed states expressed deep suspicion of each other other’s motivations and intentions, condemning each other’s nuclear weapon modernisation activities, force postures, and security doctrines. In particular, the United States and Russia accused each other of violating bilateral nuclear arms control agreements, whilst both in reality are building up their nuclear arsenals—as are all the nuclear-armed states. In the midst of all this inter-nuclear-armed hostility, these states did agree on one thing: their opposition to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
- In a joint-statement, the five NPT nuclear-armed states—and separately India, Israel, and Pakistan—reiterated that they will not accept any claim that the TPNW contributes to the development of customary international law. The NPT five also repeatedly issued their complaints about the Treaty and positioned themselves to backtrack from long-held Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) agreements, claiming that the international security environment causes nuclear-armed states to maintain their arsenal for “deterrence”.
- The states that negotiated the TPNW have consistently explained that they did so in accordance with their NPT obligation to negotiate effective measures for nuclear disarmament.
By Reaching Critical Will
Biological weapons can be disseminated through inhalation, ingestion, or skin absorption and are prohibited under international law.
- Geneva Protocol, 1925
- The Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention (BWC)
- Reaffirm and strengthen their commitment to the BWC;
- Report on measures taken to implement provisions from the Convention; and
- Constructively discuss the Secretary-General’s proposal to establish a core standing coordinating capacity within the UN for investigating use, and the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs’ efforts to develop a framework for coordinated response.
- “Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction,” (A/RES/73/87) was adopted without a vote.
- “Measures to uphold the authority of the 1925 Geneva Protocol,” (A/RES/73/43) was agreed by 178 states with two regular abstentions: Israel and the United States. No one voted against. The Geneva Protocol prohibits the use of chemical and biological weapons, and the resolution renews its previous call to all states “to observe strictly the principles and objectives of the Protocol”. Universal adherence to the Geneva Protocol by all states, including by all states parties to the BTWC, has been an agreed politically binding commitment within the framework of the BTWC since 1980. However, the number of BTWC states parties which are not parties to the Geneva Protocol has increased since 1980.
By Reaching Critical Will
The use of chemical weapons is universally considered to be contrary to the laws against humanity and the dictates of public conscience.
The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)
- Highlight and publicly condemn any ongoing activities that are prohibited under the CWC;
- Indicate support for the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons)’s renewed mandate to identify the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons in Syria;
- Endorse the UN Secretary-General’s recommendations on chemical weapons; and
- Report on measures taken to implement provisions from the Convention, and pledge financial support.
- “Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction,” (A/RES/73/45) was adopted with a vote of 148 in favour, 7 opposed, and 23 abstentions. This was once again a controversial resolution at First Committee, eliciting five paragraph votes and several explanations of vote. Until 2014, this resolution had been adopted without a vote. But following a re-emergence of the use of chemical weapons, it began to reflect specific incidents and relevant UN Security Council (UNSC) decisions and investigation mechanisms. Certain countries have taken to accusing Poland, the resolution’s sponsor, and its supporters of politicising the resolution. Yet the voting pattern largely demonstrates that a majority of countries support the direction in which this resolution is moving.
- Japan said it supports establishing a permanent mechanism to identify perpetrators.
- Syria asserted that it has met all of its obligations under the CWC, despite the harsh circumstances that it faces. It additionally said that the June 2018 decision is not legitimate, as it was taken by a vote with the support of fewer than half of the CWC states parties.
- Russia highlighted that it completed destruction of its stockpiles in 2017 and pointed out that the “largest Western power” has yet to do the same.
- The First Committee always raises questions about jurisdiction and how the content of its resolutions intersect with actions undertaken by other parts of the UN or the international community more broadly.
By Article 36
It has been 16 years since the first armed drone strike was carried out by the United States. Armed drone use such as the US practice of targeting individuals outside of armed conflict has also raised legal concerns. Numerous states have acknowledged that international human rights and humanitarian law apply to the use of drones.
- Recognise the ethical, legal, and humanitarian concerns that drones bring to the use of force in the contemporary landscape, and state commitment to reducing and addressing harm and ensuring the protection of rights;
- Recognise the grave risk that international legal frameworks could be eroded through the use of armed drones, in the context of practices that challenge existing norms;
- Assert the need for transparency in the use of drones by any and all states, for the recording of casualties and the addressing of victims’ rights, and for accountability and democratic oversight; and
- Recognise the need for a broader multilateral conversation about what role drones should play in the use of force and the specific limits and standards for their use.
- More attention to the issue of armed drones was paid than in previous years.
- Sixteen countries raised drones in their statements (some multiple times), compared to seven in 2017.
- A joint civil society statement on drones to First Committee also saw a significantly greater number of endorsements from organisations in more countries than in past, with 54 organisations from 20 countries signing on.
- No resolutions mentioning drones were tabled in 2018.
- Many statements situated drones in the context of the need to address the ethical, legal, and other challenges of various emerging technologies and concerns, such as autonomous weapons, cyber, and outer space.
- Several also highlighted the continued need for drones to be used in accordance with the law, including international humanitarian law and human rights law.
- Some countries highlighted different aspects of the harm to communities and humanitarian impacts caused by the use of drones, including loss of life and psychological damage. (Also emphasized by civil society.)
- To respond to the issues raised by armed drones and their use in particular, several states called for regulations that specifically addressed drones, or international discussions that resulted in additional common understandings.
- Civil society in its statement emphasised that states must also move.
- beyond issues of trade to actively decide what role—if any—drone technologies should play in the use of force, and articulate what the specific limits and standards for their use are.
Fully autonomous weapons (‘killer robots’)
By Campaign to Stop Killer Robots
Fully autonomous weapons would lack the human judgment necessary to evaluate the proportionality of an attack, distinguish civilian from combatant, and abide by other core principles of the laws of war.
Since the first CCW meeting on killer robots in 2014, most of the participating countries have concluded that current international humanitarian and human rights law will need to be strengthened to prevent the development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons.
During the Conventional Weapons (CCW) meeting on lethal autonomous weapons systems in August 2018, most states proposed commencing negotiations in 2019 on a new treaty. Austria, Brazil, and Chile recommended a new CCW mandate “to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to ensure meaningful human control over the critical functions” of weapons systems. Some states suggested the CCW focus on future deliberations on other measures, such as a non-legally binding political declaration proposed by France and Germany to outline principles such as the necessity of human control in the use of force and the importance of human accountability. The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is concerned this declaration does not go far enough to protect humanity from these weapons. Proposals to commence negotiating a legally binding instrument and other measures were rejected due to the consensus decision-making rule used by states at the CCW. Just a few or even a single state can block an agreement sought by a majority.
The CCW is not the only group within the United Nations that can pass a legally-binding, international treaty. In the past, the CCW has been tasked with banning antipersonnel landmines, cluster munitions, and nuclear weapons, but in each case, because the CCW requires consensus among all participating countries, the group was never able to prohibit the weapons in question. Instead, fueled by mounting public pressure, concerned countries turned to other bodies within the UN to finally establish treaties that banned the each of these inhumane weapons.
- Articulate their national policy on fully autonomous weapons, including their position on the call to preemptively ban development, production, and use; and
- Elaborate their desired outcome for the CCW deliberations, including recommended mandate of work in 2019.
Explosive weapons in populated areas
By International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW)
While the use of explosive weapons in populated areas is not prohibited under international humanitarian law (IHL), it must comply with the rules of distinction, proportionality and precautions. EWIPA can cause severe damages to hospitals. Attacks on the wounded, sick, and health care workers and systems violate customary international humanitarian law, which consists of rules that come from “a general practice accepted as law” and exist independent of treaty law.
- The Geneva Conventions
- The 1970 UN General Assembly resolution 2675
- Discussions towards developing an international political instrument to address this humanitarian problem are ongoing, and already 90 states have spoken out on the issue of EWIPA. A political declaration would build on the basis provided by existing international law, and provide practical commitments to provide better protection to civilians from the impact of explosive weapons on civilians.
- Acknowledge that the use of explosive weapons in populated areas frequently causes severe harm to individuals and communities and furthers suffering by damaging vital infrastructure;
- Endorse the UN Secretary-General’s and International Committee of the Red Cross’ recommendation that states should avoid the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas; and
- Indicate support for the development of an international political instrument on explosive weapons to protect civilians.
- Several states raised concern over the humanitarian harm caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas at First Committee. These included: Austria, Botswana, Canada, Germany, Guatemala, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, San Marino, and Switzerland, as well as the European Union and the Nordic states.
- It was also raised as a key issue of concern by the UN High Level Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW).
- The UN High Level Representative for Disarmament Affairs, some states, and civil society also reiterated the calls of the UN Secretary-General—past and present—to develop an international political declaration as a tool to address harm from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, and the urgency of getting to work on this instrument.
- Whilst there were no resolutions relating to the use of explosive weapons in populated areas more broadly, states adopted by consensus a resolution on “Countering the threat posed by improvised explosive devices” (A/RES/73/67).
Gender and disarmament
By Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
Women often suffer disproportionate or differential harm from the development, use, and trade of weapons. Women face higher risk of sexual violence, especially when they are displaced from their homes. The negative impacts on our society of patriarchy are perhaps nowhere more pervasive and pernicious than in the field of weapons, war, and militarism.
- Welcome the gender perspectives included in recent forums and commit to advancing the goals contained therein;
- Collaborate to make First Committee resolutions more gender-sensitive
- Welcome the inclusion of the provision on gender-based violence in the Arms Trade Treaty and highlight the need for implementation of this aspect of the Treaty;
- Highlight the need to ensure gender diversity in disarmament discussions and negotiations; and
- Share their experiences with ensuring gender perspectives in disarmament policies and initiatives.
- 17 resolutions have been adopted that include language on women’s equal representation, the gendered impact of different types of weapons, or the need for gender considerations more broadly. This is 25 per cent of all First Committee resolutions in 2018.
- Six resolutions include language on gender for the first time ever:
- Conventional Arms Control at the Regional and Subregional Levels
- The Arms Trade Treaty
- United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific
- Treaty Banning the Production of Fissile Material for Nuclear Weapons or Other Nuclear Explosive Devices
- The Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects
- Convention on Prohibition or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Have Been Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects
- Three resolutions have made their language on gender stronger:
- Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions
- Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction
- Countering the Threat Posed by Improvised Explosive Devices
- “Women, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control,” was adopted as a whole without a vote.
- Some resolutions, such as “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions” or “Countering the threat posed by improvised explosive devices,” also recognised the importance of providing adequate gender-sensitive victim assistance and responses to these threats.
- Some states underscored the need to comprehensively apply gender analysis to conflict prevention and response, and to disarmament efforts, so as to challenge underlying assumptions how gender shapes disarmament efforts and discourse. This is an area still need much more attention, as is breaking down the idea that gender is about women, or only a binary concept related to men and women.
- The Latvian delegation made an announcement that it will seek to examine gender-based violence as a priority theme in 2019 as president of the next conference of states parties of the Arms Trade Treaty.
Protection of the environment in relation to armed conflict
By Toxic Remnants of War Network
Environmental protection is a vital component of the protection of civilians during and after armed conflicts, yet it is a goal that continues to receive insufficient attention.
- The Human Rights Council has been considering the impact of conflict and military pollutants on civilians and military personnel.
- An ongoing study by the International Law Commission has now proposed 20 draft principles intended to clarify the legal framework protecting the environment before, during and after conflict.
- Acknowledge the link between conflicts, military activities, environmental pollution, and health; and
- Make greater use of the annual resolution Observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control in articulating concerns over the lifecycle environmental impacts of weapons.
Depleted uranium weapons
By International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW)
DU weapons have been controversial since their first major use in the 1991 Gulf War. Radioactive and chemically toxic, DU use creates hotspots of persistent contamination that present a hazard to communities long after conflict ends, particularly for pregnant women, as well as children.
- Although no sole treaty explicitly banning the use of DU is yet in force, it is clear that using DU runs counter to the basic rules and principles enshrined in written and customary International Humanitarian Law.
- Even if IHL treaty law, addressing the means and methods of warfare, does not explicitly ban or otherwise address the use of DU munitions, attention should be given to Article 36 of the Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions.
- Raise concerns over the potential use of DU in current operations in Syria, Iraq, and the Ukraine in regional and national statements; and
- Explain how they are implementing A/RES/71/70, effects of the use of armaments and ammunitions containing depleted uranium, in their national and regional statements.
By International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL)
Antipersonnel mines are indiscriminate weapons that injure and kill civilians in every corner of the globe, every day.
- The 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (or Mine Ban Treaty)
- Maputo Action Plan
- Report on measures taken in 2018 to implement the Maputo Action Plan or to otherwise put an end to the suffering caused by landmines;
- Pledge financial support for the implementation of Treaty obligations, including land clearance and assistance to survivors, their families, and communities;
- Reiterate that any use of landmines by any actor is unacceptable;
- Report on progress towards joining the Mine Ban Treaty;
- Engage bilaterally in discussions on the universalisation or implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty; and
- Vote in favour of the resolution on the Mine Ban Treaty and encourage others, such as regional group members, to do so as well.
- “Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction”, which encourages the full universalisation and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty, was adopted with a vote of 154-0-17.
- A broad diversity of states strongly support the aim of ending the suffering caused by antipersonnel mines.
- Eight states explained their abstention. As in previous years, Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, and Republic of Korea stated the reasons why they are not ready to renounce antipersonnel mines, mostly referring to security concerns and self-defense.
By Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC)
The stigma against cluster munitions is strong, given the wide recognition that they are indiscriminate both at the time of use due to their vast area effect, and long after use due to the explosive duds they leave behind.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions
- Report on measures taken in 2018 to implement the Maputo Action Plan or to otherwise put an end to the suffering caused by landmines;
- Condemn recent instances of use of cluster munitions;
- Vote in favour of the resolution on cluster munitions and encourage others, such as regional group members, to do so as well;
- Report on steps taken to join the Convention; and
- Engage bilaterally in discussions on the universalization or implementation of the Convention.
- “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions” was adopted with a vote of 139-1-39.
- The Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) is widely acknowledged as the principal framework for the worldwide effort to eradicate cluster munitions and thereby prevent further suffering from these weapons. The CCM turns 10 this year, and 60 per cent of the world’s states have agreed to be bound by its provisions through their signature, ratification, or accession.
- Pakistan said cluster munitions are a “legitimate weapon.”
- The United States provided a lengthy explanation defending cluster munitions for their military utility.
International arms trade
By Control Arms
Irresponsible and unregulated arms transfers fuel conflicts, poverty and human rights abuses across regions.
The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)
- Highlight and challenge arms transfers that appear to be in violation of the Treaty;
- Encourage continued universalisation of the Arms Trade Treaty; and
- Contribute to substantive discussions taking place in side events and elsewhere in order to share expertise and strengthen capacity for the robust implementation of the ATT.
- “The Arms Trade Treaty,” introduced by Latvia as the President of the fifth Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty (CSP), calls upon ATT states parties to address their financial obligations under the ATT as well as to provide technical and/or financial assistance to requesting states in order to promote the implementation and universalisation of the Treaty. This resolution was adopted with 151 votes in favour, 0 votes against, and 30 abstentions.
- Trinidad and Tobago’s biennial resolution on “Women, disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation” was adopted with 149 votes in favour and 23 abstentions.
- “The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects”, welcomes the inclusion of small arms and light weapons in the scope of the ATT.
- New resolution, “Consolidation of peace through practical disarmament measures”, includes an encouragement to ATT States Parties to financially contribute to the Voluntary Trust Fund (VTF), if in a position to do so.
- “UN Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean” encourages the Regional Centre to “further develop activities in all countries of the region in the important areas of peace, disarmament and development and to provide, upon request and in accordance with its mandate, support to member states of the region in the national implementation of relevant instruments, inter alia… the Arms Trade Treaty.”
- “United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific” mentioned a technical and legal assistance project aimed to assist the Philippines to build capacity towards ATT ratification.
By Human Rights Watch
Incendiary weapons, which produce heat and fire through the chemical reaction of a flammable substance, cause excruciating burns that are difficult to treat and lead to long-term physical and psychological injury.
Protocol III to the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW)
- Call for a formal review of Protocol III and amendments to address the negative humanitarian impacts of incendiary weapons; and
- Publicly condemn incendiary weapons use in Syria and urge the Syrian government to accede to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its Protocol III.
Small arms and light weapons
By International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA)
- The UN Programme of Action to Reduce, Combat, and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects
- International Tracing Instrument
- The UN Firearms Protocol
- The Arms Trade Treaty
- Work to implement RevCon3 outcomes;
- Prepare proposals to encourage states to exchange good practices on preventing, combatting, and eradicating the illicit trade in SALW and ammunition;
- Emphasise the importance of addressing pervasive SALW violence and crime, recognizing that the vast majority of deaths and injuries with SALW do not take place in situations of armed conflict;
- Focus on gender-based action to curb SALW proliferation and violence, and work to ensure women’s full participation and representation in arms control programmes and diplomatic processes; and
- Strengthen the focus on achieving SDG 16 and respecting human rights law governing the use of force.
By Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
The applicability of international humanitarian law and Article 51 of the UN Charter to the ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) environment are major points of contention.
- Speak out against hostile and provocative actions in, and the militarisation of, cyberspace;
- Work cooperatively to identify and establish an inclusive and transparent mechanism by which to continue work on behavioural norms in cyber space and to promote a cyber peace approach; and
- Express concern about unlawful surveillance and digital censorship activities that violate human rights.
- This issue became polarized to the extreme degree. It has resulted in a procedurally conflicted and potentially counterproductive two-track approach to one of the most ubiquitous—and rapidly evolving—security threats facing the international community today.
- Two resolutions on the subject were presented for adoption by Russia and the United States. Both were put forward for voting on the final day of First Committee and both resolutions were adopted.
- Developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security (Russia)
- Advancing responsible State behaviour in cyber-space in the context of international security (US)
- There will be both a working group and an expert group convened in 2019
Disarmament and development
By Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy
There are many direct and indirect links between military expenditure, the arms trade, violent conflict, and the reduction of available resources for social and economic development. National military-industrial complexes absorb vast amounts of funding that could otherwise be spent on human security, including the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- Article 26 of the UN Charter tasks the UN Security Council to create a plan for the regulation of armaments and reducing military expenditure—a task it has not just neglected but vigorously undermined with its permanent member’s excessive military spending, rampant arms trading, and facilitation of conflicts worldwide.
- The International Conference on the Relationship between Disarmament and Development in 1987 adopted an action plan that included commitments to allocate resources released by disarmament to development and consider reducing military expenditure.
- Recognise and reinforce the specific ways in which disarmament, non-proliferation, and arms control can advance development, including the SDGs;
- Address the issue of the underrepresentation of lower-income countries and regions in multilateral disarmament forums. And suggest practical measures to correct this; and
- Suggest new ways for the UN General Assembly to effectively engage in this issue.
- Throughout the First Committee this year, member states regularly referenced the inter-connectedness of disarmament and development issues. States most commonly mentioned reallocating rapidly-growing military budgets to social and economic development programmes, supporting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through effective disarmament, and bridging the gap between developing and developed countries.
- Resolution “Relationship between disarmament and development” was adopted in the final week without a vote.
- Some countries, including the United States, argued that disarmament and development are two distinct issues.
- Other resolutions which included disarmament and development issues and were adopted are as follow:
- United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean
- Maintenance of international security—good-neighbourliness, stability, and development in South-Eastern Europe
- Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions
- The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects
- The Arms Trade Treaty
- Observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control
International Disarmament Institute, Pace University
There is broad international consensus that pursing disarmament requires an educational dimension. Educational efforts transmit information about the impact of weapons on people to decision-makers and can build political will for disarmament.
[Towards a legally-binding treaty]
- The Final Document of the UN General Assembly’s 1978 First Special Session on Disarmament conceived of disarmament education as the mobilization of the public to end the arms race and seek “general and complete disarmament.”
- The declaration at the 1980 UNESCO World Congress on Disarmament Education drove the UN’s World Disarmament Campaign (renamed the United Nations Disarmament Information Programme in 1992), launched at the 1982 UNGA Second Special Session on Disarmament.
- Support the disarmament and non-proliferation education resolution and seek to strengthen it by reinvigorating efforts to promote peace and disarmament education, and amplifying the voices of survivors;
- Ensure that a commitment to support disarmament education as integral to treaty universalization is included in any resolution(s) regarding the TPNW;
- Welcome the Secretary-General’s 2016 report in their interventions and express the ongoing relevance of the 2002 Study, UNSCR 2250, the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the contributions of civil society and educational institutions in providing disarmament and non-proliferation education; and
- Report in their interventions on their government’s disarmament education initiatives and call on states, international organizations, civil society, and educational institutions to make submissions to UNODA for the 2020 report.
- Nuclear weapons, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (www.icanw.org)
- Biological weapons, Reaching Critical Will (www.reachingcriticalwill.org)
- Chemical weapons, Reaching Critical Will (www.reachingcriticalwill.org)
- Armed drones, Article 36 (www.article36.org)
- Fully autonomous weapons, Campaign to Stop Killer Robots (www.stopkillerrobots.org)
- Explosive weapons in populated areas, International Network on Explosive Weapons (www.inew.org)
- Landmines, International Campaign to Ban Landmines (www.icbl.org)
- Cluster munitions, Cluster Munition Coalition (www.stopclustermunitions.org)
- Depleted uranium weapons, International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (www.icbuw.org)
- Incendiary weapons, Human Rights Watch (www.hrw.org)
- Small arms and light weapons, International Action Network on Small Arms (www.iansa.org)
- Arms Trade Treaty, Control Arms (www.controlarms.org)
- Outer space, Project Ploughshares (www.ploughshares.ca)
- Cyber, Reaching Critical Will (www.reachingcriticalwill.org)
- Gender and disarmament, Reaching Critical Will (www.reachingcriticalwill.org)
- Disarmament and development, Reaching Critical Will (www.reachingcriticalwill.org), Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy (www.lcnp.org)
- Protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts, Toxic Remnants of War Network (www.trwn.org)
- Disarmament education, International Disarmament Institute, Pace University (www.pace.edu/dyson/centers/international-disarmament-institute)
- United Nations Meetings Coverage and Press Releases. 8 October. 2018. https://www.un.org/press/en/2018/gadis3597.doc.htm
- United Nations Meetings Coverage and Press Releases. 8 November. 2018. https://www.un.org/press/en/2018/gadis3619.doc.htm
- First Committee Monitor. 2018 No.6. Reaching Critical Will. http://reachingcriticalwill.org/disarmament-fora/unga/2018/fcm/13109-2018-no-6
- Draft Resolutions, Voting Results, and Explanations of Vote from First Committee 2018. Reaching Critical Will.
- Resolutions of the 73rd General Assembly of the United Nations. https://www.un.org/en/ga/73/resolutions.shtml
- Allocation of agenda items to the First Committee. United Nations General Assembly. http://undocs.org/en/A/C.1/73/1
- First Committee briefing book 2018. Reaching Critical Will. http://reachingcriticalwill.org/resources/publications-and-research/publications/12935-first-committee-briefing-book-2018
- The Threat of Fully Autonomous Weapons. Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. https://www.stopkillerrobots.org/learn/
- “Handful of Countries-Including the US and Russia-Hamper Discussions to Ban Killer Robots at UN.” Future of Life Institute. 26 November. https://futureoflife.org/2018/11/26/handful-of-countries-including-the-us-and-russia-hamper-discussions-to-ban-killer-robots-at-un/?cn-reloaded=1
- Customary Law. International Committee of the Red Cross.https://www.icrc.org/en/war-and-law/treaties-customary-law/customary-law
- Legal Status. International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons. 24 February. 2010. http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/legal-status
- Why the Ban. International Campaign to Ban Landmines. http://www.icbl.org/en-gb/problem/why-the-ban.aspx
- Practice Relating to Rule 84-The Protection of Civilians and Civilian Objects from the Effects of Incendiary Weapons. Customary IHL. International Committee of the Red Cross. https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/customary-ihl/eng/docs/v2_cha_chapter30_rule84