First Committee of the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
General Debate of the First Committee
Mr Jeffrey Salim Waheed, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Maldives to the United Nations,
Chargé d'affaires, a.i.
New York, 14 October 2015
The Maldives delegation congratulates you and the other members of the Bureau on your election to the Chairmanship of the First Committee. I would like to assure you of my delegation's full support in the work ahead. Let me take this opportunity to thank Ms. Angela Kane, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs in their efforts to support the work of the Committee.
The Maldives is not a producer of any type of armaments or weaponry, nor do we have the ambition to do so. The Maldives does not have the assets to play any role, other than a moral one, in the strengthening and enforcement of a global non-proliferation and disarmament regime. We can only state our opinion and concerns in this arena, and voice our support for those who stand up for non-proliferation and disarmament.
We have always held the view that the presence of weapons of mass destruction within the global community represents as much of a threat to us as it does to every other country in our global community. Should a nuclear strike occur, its effects would be felt throughout the world. We are speaking at this debate today, because as a community of nations, we believe every one of us has a moral imperative to do their part to preserve and ensure global peace and security.
Annually, at this Committee debate, we express our unwavering stance in favor of non-proliferation and disarmament and against stockpiling and arms in outer space. We play our role, however small it may be, in these matters by presenting recurrent reports to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the Biological Weapons Convention. In these reports we strongly focus on the dangers that weapons of mass destruction pose. The Maldives has consistently paid attention to and is deeply involved in disarmament debates, including nuclear non-proliferation negotiations, from their initial phases.
Forty- five years ago, the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons came into force. The Treaty sets out the need to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, and lays out the objective of achieving nuclear disarmament as well as general and complete disarmament. Today, we are still concerned about the threat of nuclear warfare, the stability of non-proliferation regimes, the basis for nuclear disarmament and the guarantee of the peaceful use of nuclear energy. It is to our global detriment, that an estimated 16,300 nuclear weapons remained in global stockpiles in mid-2014. Most recently, the use of chemical weapons in Syria demonstrates that there remains significant real danger and also showed the humanitarian consequences of the use of chemical weapons.
Since 1970s, significant progress has been made with regard to the 'so-called' three pillars of the Non-Proliferation Treaty: non-proliferation, disarmament and the right of each state to peacefully use nuclear technology. Most recently, we also see encouragement in the nuclear deal agreed between Iran and the P5 +1. It demonstrates the willingness and disposition of the international community to find long-lasting solutions to bring to an end the use of nuclear weapons around the world. It brings us a step closer to a safer and more peaceful world.
Conventional weapons pose an equal threat to humanity. Access to small arms and light weapons in the wrong hands constitute a greater threat in further destabilizing already fragile situations. It increases the risk of escalation to civil wars and large-scale regional and international conflicts. The Maldives welcomes the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty in December 2014, and regards it as a clear demonstration of the global community's resolve to control these conventional weapons. The Maldives is in the process of completing its domestic procedures for acceding to this treaty, which will further strengthen the existing domestic laws and enhance Maldives' capacity to prevent Maldivian territorial waters to be used as a transshipment point for any illicit arms.
The Maldives is well aware of the fundamental importance of compliance with commitments made in the context of disarmament. On a national level, our stringent domestic laws and means of control have ensured that the illicit trade in arms does not occur at all, either within the local population or with other countries. On the international level, the Maldives annually submits its report to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms.
We have always pushed for regional disarmament in order to ensure peace, security and stability. The Maldives has continuously advocated for the establishment of the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace since the declaration was adopted by the General Assembly in 1971. It is our desire that through cooperation among states of the Indian Ocean and other concerned parties, we will be able to maintain the region as a zone of peace.
The recent adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda is a reiteration for world peace and disarmament. It calls into question the amount of money that is spent on a yearly basis on the production of arms. Every dollar we spend on the production of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction is a dollar that we can spend on development. It is a dollar that can be spent on overcoming poverty in our countries, on educating our children, on eradicating non-communicable diseases, on hospitals, food, clean water, climate change adaptation and building resilience. Every dollar we spend on these weapons is a dollar that can be invested in our shared future.
The international community has a moral responsibility to take concrete steps in the endeavor to make our world free of nuclear weapons in order to safeguard our future generations. This Committee has a massive responsibility to address all issues concerned. My delegation stands ready to work with all of you.