General Debate Statement by H.E. Mr. Aslam Shakir, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, First Committee of the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly 5 October 2011
Mr Chairman, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me begin by expressing my delegation’s congratulations to you, Ambassador Jarmo Viinanen, on the assumption of the Chair of the First Committee of the 66th Session of the General Assembly. I should also like to congratulate the other members of the Bureau. Let me also take this opportunity to thank the Bureau for their extensive efforts to ensure successful work during the weeks and months ahead.
Maldives firmly believe that disarmament and non-proliferation is crucial to the establishment of security and to consolidation of peace throughout the world. To achieve this, we must all work together and bestow the high priority upon disarmament that appertains to it. We strongly believe that the ultimate objective of such efforts should focus on the collective realization of a world free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
On a regional level, major steps have been taken towards disarmament. In this regard, the Maldives welcomes the entry into force on 5thFebruary 2011 of the New START Treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States of America, reducing the number of strategic nuclear missile launchers and warheads. However, much more still needs to be done to further reduce the threat of nuclear and conventional weapons worldwide. A comprehensive and universally ratified Arms Trade Treaty can be a major step in the right direction.
The Maldives wishes to stress some points to which it attaches particular importance.
In 1971, the General Assembly adopted resolution 2832 (XXVI), declaring the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace. 30 Years have passed since then. Important steps towards more cooperation have been taken. Yet, even greater efforts are required to develop a discussion on its practical implications. We need to look at measures to ensure conditions of peace, security and stability in the Indian Ocean region.
The Maldives highly welcome that the 64th session of the General Assembly decided to include in this year's agenda the item entitled “Implementation of the Declaration of the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace”. In the past the Maldives has always supported measures to limit risk and to further peace. We believe that multilateral approaches have the potential to contribute to the development of a mutually beneficial dialogue, to advance peace, security and stability in the Indian Ocean region.
We have long supported efforts to establish nuclear-weapons free zones all over the world. A world free from the threat of nuclear annihilation, a world thriving towards cooperation and trust, is not unrealistic. But to achieve this goal, we need confidence building measures. We need frameworks; we need geographical zones that guarantee security, stability and peace to everyone. This is why the Maldives supports such zones both at regional and sub-regional levels and encourages the establishment of nuclear-weapon free zones in the Middle East and in Africa. Such zones would not only enhance the inner security of these regions but also have a positive impact on neighbouring regions.
Small Island Developing States, like the Maldives, face particular vulnerabilities when it comes to international security. Many small states do not possess the resources to adequately deal with emerging pressures posed by international terrorism and activities of organized crime. This is specifically frightening when seen in the context of the acquisition of nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction by non-state actors. As a Small Island Developing State we depend on the cooperation with the international community as well as on solid international legal frameworks to ensure that such scenarios do not materialize.
Despite the on-going financial crisis, the year 2010 saw worldwide increases of military expenditure by 1.3 per cent in real terms reaching the incomprehensible number of $1630 billion. The Maldives does believe that through negotiation and the establishment of institutional frameworks this number can not only be significantly reduced, but it can bring us even further: We remain convinced that the dream of general and complete disarmament can become realty. The Maldives is now State Party to a number of major disarmament treaties and conventions including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention. By working closely with the various treaty bodies, we are showing our unequivocal support of general disarmament and non-proliferation of existing Weapons of Mass destruction.
The Maldives strongly believes: Nuclear weapons do not necessarily make our world a safer place. The contrary is true: A world free of nuclear weapons is a more secure one. And this world, free of nuclear weapons, is possible. The Maldives remains convinced that the multilateral approach towards disarmament can lead us towards achieving that goal. We stand firm and encourage everyone to work together to make this dream become a reality.
Thank you, Mr Chairman.