Seventy-first session of the General Assembly, First Committee, Thematic Debate on Conventional Weapons

Statement by Mark Versteden, Deputy Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva. 20 October 2016.

Mr Chairman,

CCW Review Conference / Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems

We look forward to the Review Conference of the CCW in December. The discussion on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems over the past three years has been constructive and comprehensive, but so far lacks a clear forward looking direction. We believe therefore now is the time to take a next step to better focus our deliberations and to this end we strongly support the establishment of a GGE.

The Netherlands was proud to chair the meetings of Protocol V this year as clearance of ERW remains an important priority. To increase transparency reporting the meeting moved forward towards setting up a ‘roster’ of military experts to assist upon request with reporting.

The threat of IEDs is of growing concern. In many conflicts IEDs harm in particular the civilian population. We need to continue to address IEDs, both in the CCW and at First Committee. In this regard the Netherlands looks favorably to this year’s IED resolution.

Convention on Cluster Munitions

This year, the Netherlands was honored to serve as the President of The Convention on Cluster Munition. The main aim of our Presidency was to give an extra push to the implementation of the Dubrovnik action plan, which is our common roadmap. Together with the Coordination Committee and the ISU we worked hard to keep the forward momentum.

We strongly believe that it is possible to make cluster munitions a thing of the past. To this end, we introduced a political declaration on implementation, including a final date for completion of all outstanding obligations by 2030. This declaration was adopted by consensus at 6 MSP.

We also continued to work on universalization of the treaty by sending letters and making demarches in Capitals. Now we have 100 States Parties and we have set ourselves the goal to have 130 States Parties by 2020. We therefore call upon all States that have not yet done so, to join this Convention.

Arms Trade Treaty

Since its entry into force the Arms Trade Treaty has set a strong, international norm against irresponsible transfers of arms. Now that most organizational and procedural issues are dealt with, the next Conference of States Parties should start to address substantive issues on universalization and implementation.

The Netherlands contributes to assistance and outreach via the EU and nationally to UNSCAR, Control Arm’s ATT monitor project, the sponsorship programme run by UNDP and the Stimpson baseline project. We welcome the recently established ATT Voluntary Trust Fund and will contribute to this new initiative.

Transparency in Armaments and National Legislation resolutions

This year the UN Arms register exists 25 years. Over the past quarter century the register made an important contribution to enhance transparency and to build confidence in the world of arms and arms transfers. We strongly encourage States to keep using this important and valuable instrument.

We welcome the recent report of the GGE on Transparency in armaments and its recommendations – in particular the recommendation to add small arms and light weapons as a separate category. 

Anti-Personnel Landmine Treaty

On the Anti-Personnel Landmine Treaty we are making progress toward our common goal to implement all outstanding commitments under this Convention before 2025. We look forward to continue these discussions at 15MSP in Santiago de Chile. We strongly believe that a voluntary, more individualized approach aimed at cooperation and assistance may help in this regard.

The Netherlands is willing to do its part. With our new Mine Action and Cluster Munitions Programme we commit 45 million euros for mine and cluster munitions related activities in 13 countries for the period between 2016 to 2020. Moreover, we contribute 3 million euros annually to the UNMAS Voluntary Trust Fund.

Small Arms Light Weapons

The Netherlands agrees that Small Arms and Light Weapons deserve more attention. They are still responsible for most arms-related casualties worldwide. We support the declaration delivered by France on strengthening the international commitment to SALW and the UN Programme of Action.

Explosive Weapons in populated areas

We support the international discussion on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. In our view this discussion should focus on concrete and practical measures in order to limit casualties and damage. Important is that international humanitarian law is respected.