22 October 2014 - UNGA / 1st Committee - “Conventional weapons” - Statement by Mr Jean-Hugues Simon-Michel Ambassador, Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament
France fully aligns itself with the statement delivered on behalf of the European Union.
Major progress has been made this year in the areas of conventional disarmament and arms control, which we naturally welcome.
For the stakes of conventional disarmament are as important as ever. Small arms and light weapons (SALW) are today by far those that kill the most people worldwide. They have a profound destabilizing effect and are a serious impediment to the development of the most fragile States.
Last year, we welcomed the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). This year, we are pleased to welcome its entry into force. The speed with which the threshold of 50 ratifications was reached shows just how much the Treaty was useful and desired.
France would like to recall its support for Geneva’s candidacy as seat of the secretariat, as it meets several criteria including the presence of expertise in disarmament and arms control, the presence of expertise in international humanitarian law and human rights and the presence of expertise in trade, as well as organizations working in these fields.
The implementation of the ATT will be crucial, as was fully emphasized by the Final Declaration of the Élysée Summit for Peace and Security in Africa that took place in Paris on 6 and 7 December 2013. That is why France organized a seminar which aimed at identifying needs for the implementation of the Treaty, in partnership with African countries and regional organizations, in Paris on 2 and 3 October. We will also participate in the funding of the training course in French on the implementation of the ATT, which the GCSP will be organizing in December in Geneva. Lastly, France will provide for the translation into French of the conclusions of the preparatory meeting for the first conference of the States Parties to the ATT, which took place in Mexico in September.
The diversion of SALW from existing stockpiles onto illegal markets is a threat to global and regional security. In this context, France welcomes the adoption by consensus of the final document of the Fifth Biennial Meeting of States (BMS5) to consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons. In its national capacity, France is carrying out projects to secure arms depots and to destroy excess munitions in Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, the Central African Republic, Guinea and South Sudan.
2014 was also marked by discussions held in the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), regarding lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS). The mandate adopted last November allowed us to hold four days of substantive debate on this emerging issue. The meeting helped to look in greater depth at the technical, legal, ethical and operational aspects of LAWS. I am proud to have chaired these debates that showed that the CCW can tackle the challenges of the future.
France will support a renewal of the mandate for another meeting of experts in 2015 during the meeting of the High Contracting Parties to be held next month.
Also in the framework of the CCW, France will be coordinating discussions on the issue of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in 2015 in liaison with Moldova. IEDs are a growing threat. The CCW Amended Protocol II Group of Experts can make a real contribution on this issue.
Lastly, I would like to congratulate Iraq on its accession to the Convention and its five Protocols. This accession shows the continued progress in universalizing the Convention.
As outgoing Chair of the Meeting of the High Contracting Parties, France will table the resolution on the CCW at the First Committee. As usual, the text takes into account the recent developments in the framework of the Convention. Following the practice of previous years, France would like to have the resolution adopted by consensus.
There are also other grounds for satisfaction in the area of conventional disarmament in 2014, including the success of the Maputo Review Conference of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.
Lastly, France was appointed co-coordinator of the Working Group on Stockpile Destruction and Retention, alongside Albania, during the meeting of the States Parties to the Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Crises around the world and the continued use of weapons with unacceptable humanitarian consequences are a reminder of the relevance of these conventions. France condemns the use of incendiary and cluster weapons in Syria and calls upon this country to accede to relevant humanitarian disarmament conventions.
Thank you very much.