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Home    >   UN First Committee   >  Statement by Ambassador Pankaj Sharma, Permanent Representative of India to the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva at the General Debate of the First Committee of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, 4 October 2021

Statement by Ambassador Pankaj Sharma, Permanent Representative of India to the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva at the General Debate of the First Committee of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, 4 October 2021

Mr. Chairperson

India congratulates you on your election as the Chair of the First Committee and assures you of our full support and cooperation.

The Covid-19 pandemic has accentuated the need for strengthened multilateralism, enhanced international cooperation and a stronger United Nations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address at the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly has reminded that if the United Nations has to keep itself relevant, it has to improve its effectiveness and increase its reliability.

Mr. Chairperson

India, as non-permanent Member of the UN Security Council for the period 2021-22 had the honor of presiding over the UN Security Council Presidency in August this year. During its Presidency, India has drawn the attention of the world to important issues relating to maritime security, peacekeeping and counterterrorism.

The First Committee of the United Nations, as part of the Disarmament Triad consisting of the Conference on Disarmament and the United Nations Disarmament Commission, is tasked with the important issues related to disarmament and international security. It is our foremost responsibility to fulfill the important mandates of these bodies to find lasting solutions to questions of global peace and security. While the UN Disarmament Commission has not been able to hold substantive discussions for the last three years, it is indeed heartening that the First Committee has been able to carry out its work, in spite of the exceptional circumstances owing to the pandemic.

Mr. Chairperson

India is firmly committed to the goal of universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable nuclear disarmament. India’s proposal for a step-by-step approach for the total elimination of nuclear weapons, contained in our Working Paper submitted to the Conference on Disarmament in 2007, calls on the Conference on Disarmament to negotiate a Comprehensive Nuclear Weapons Convention.

As the world’s single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, as mandated by the Special Session on Disarmament (SSOD)-1, the Conference on Disarmament needs the requisite political will to agree on a comprehensive and balanced Programme of Work and to commence negotiations on legally binding instruments on the core items on its agenda.

India’s annual resolutions at the UN General Assembly, namely the 'Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons' and  'Reducing Nuclear Danger’ that enjoy the support of the majority of the Member States have consistently highlighted the need for the CD to commence negotiations to reach agreement on an international convention prohibiting the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons and urgent steps to reduce the risks of unintentional and accidental use of nuclear weapons, respectively.

Mr. Chairperson

India is a responsible nuclear weapon State and is committed as per its nuclear doctrine, to maintain credible minimum deterrence with the posture of no-first use and non-use against non-nuclear weapon States.

Without diminishing the priority, we attach to disarmament, India has supported the immediate commencement of negotiations in the CD of an FMCT on the basis of CD/1299 and the mandate contained therein, which remains the most suitable basis for negotiations to commence as also endorsed by the GGE on FMCT and the High-Level Expert Preparatory Group on FMCT.

India actively participated in the last GGE on Nuclear Disarmament Verification and looks forward to constructively participating in the upcoming GGE on NDV to further contribute in this important area of our work.

Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) is an important item on the CD’s Agenda.  India has supported the commencement of negotiation by the CD of a legally binding instrument on PAROS, also building on the work of the GGE on PAROS that concluded in March 2019.

Mr. Chairperson

India supports the full and effective implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and emphasizes the strengthening of the OPCW to fulfill its important mandate.

Similarly, India has also supported the institutional strengthening of the Biological Weapons Convention including through the negotiation of a comprehensive and legally binding Protocol, providing for an effective, universal and non-discriminatory verification mechanism for the BWC. India supports efforts for improving the effectiveness of the BWC and strengthening its implementation and universalization.

As we approach the Ninth Review Conference of the BWC in 2022, States Parties have the important responsibility to work together, build convergences and achieve tangible outcomes that will determine the focus of work for the next five-year inter sessional period and beyond.

Mr. Chairperson

We are pleased that the Biennial Meeting of States -7 held earlier this year successfully adopted an outcome document after substantive discussions on the important issue of Small Arms and Light Weapons. India attaches great priority to the UN Programme of Action as an important consensus-based multilateral instrument. Weapons in the hands of terrorists are the most threatening form of illicit SALWs. Therefore, India values the full and effective implementation of the UN PoA as a means to combat terrorism and transnational crime.

India attaches high priority to the CCW which serves as one of the most important legal instruments to address the legitimate defense requirements of States while striking a balance with humanitarian concerns. As we approach the Sixth Review Conference later this year, we look forward to productive discussions and decisions that will strengthen our work towards the full implementation of the Convention. India has participated actively in the deliberations of the GGE on Lethal Autonomous Weapons within the framework of the CCW and we look forward to the renewal of the mandate of the GGE on LAWS by the Review Conference to arrive at common understandings and build on the valuable work carried out over last eight years.

Mr Chairperson

India is cognizant of the need for enhanced international cooperation and for promotion of peaceful uses of science and technology through technology transfer, sharing of information and exchange of equipment and materials. India’s annual resolution on the ‘Role of Science and Technology in the context of International Security and Disarmament’, adopted by consensus, calls on Member States to remain vigilant in understanding new and emerging developments in science and technology that could affect international security. It also underlines the importance of Member States engaging with relevant stakeholders including experts from industry, the research community and civil society in addressing this challenge. The resolution calls on Member States to continue efforts to apply developments in science and technology for disarmament related purposes.

We are deeply concerned about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, which endangers international peace and security. The possibility of terrorists acquiring weapons of mass destruction necessitates Member States to work together to address this grave danger. Through its annual consensus Resolution at the UNGA, titled "Measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction", India has been drawing the attention of the world towards these threats and the need to strengthen international cooperation to address them.

Mr. Chairperson

India is committed to promoting an open, secure, stable, accessible, and peaceful ICT environment that is centered on openness, integrity, stability, diversity, and security of the supply chains through a multi-stakeholder approach. Accordingly, India has contributed positively to the GGE and OEWG discussions through active participation and cooperation. India welcomes the adoption of consensus-based reports of the GGE and OEWG. The conclusion of the UN processes has anchored a broader framework for the upcoming consultations in the new OEWG. We hope that the new OEWG functions as a democratic, transparent and inclusive platform for addressing the existing and emerging challenges in the use and security of ICT products and systems.

Mr. Chairperson

India stands ready to work with all Member States to achieve our common goals, under your able guidance and leadership. We wish the First Committee all success in its work this year.

Thank you.

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