Seventy-Seventh Session of the UN General Assembly First Committee in New York
Statement on Conventional Weapons
Delivered by H.E. Robert in den Bosch, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Conference on Disarmament and Ambassador at large
In addition to the statement of the EU, the Netherlands would like to make the following remarks in its national capacity.
While new autonomous weaponry redefines modern warfare, the indiscriminate use of cluster munitions, the extensive use of anti-personnel mines (as well as IEDs) and the illicit cross-border flow of small arms and light weapons continue to cause large numbers of casualties. This is why the Netherlands strives to further strengthen and expand the treaties, conventions and agreements on conventional weapons.
To that end, the Netherlands calls on all UN member states to join the ATT, as it is the only legally-binding international instrument to regulate the trade of conventional arms. We also urge all states – including and especially major arms exporters that have a special responsibility – to make arms export reports publicly available, either through submitting annual reports to the UN Register for Conventional Arms or via the ATT’s annual reporting cycle.
We furthermore call on all UN member states to refrain from supplying weapons to the Russian Federation as there exists a risk that they will be used in Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, which we condemn in the strongest possible terms. The Netherlands underlines that its decision to supply arms to Ukraine, in order to help Ukraine exercise its right to self-defense under article 51 of the UN Charter, is fully in line with the ATT. Each delivery of arms to Ukraine, including government to government, is subjected to a case-by-case assessment in line with the ATT.
Last July, the Eighth Biennial Meeting of States of the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons took place. The Netherlands will continue its efforts to implement the PoA and calls on other states to follow suit.
To further advance the work on lethal autonomous weapons, the Netherlands set out its position at the GGE LAWS meetings in July: we advocate that those autonomous weapons that cannot be used in accordance with international humanitarian law should be explicitly prohibited. For those that are in accordance with IHL, we argue that regulation is required, based on clear definitions. The CCW provides the appropriate framework to continue the discussion on LAWS, now and in the future, but we stress the need for concrete results.
Since the signing of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention in Ottawa, great progress has been made in every aspect of the goals of the Convention. However, we must continue to strive for universalization and more work must be done to increase the pace of mine-clearance to accomplish the goal of a world free of landmines.
The Netherlands is gravely concerned about the continued use of cluster munitions in different parts of the world. In particular, there have been several credible reports about indiscriminate attacks by the Russian Armed Forces using cluster munitions on Ukrainian territory. The Netherlands condemns attacks on civilian objects and indiscriminate attacks by any actor at any time.
We are pleased that during last year’s RevCon, we were able to adopt the Lausanne Action Plan, which provides a solid basis to achieve significant and sustainable progress towards the universalization and implementation of the Convention. With the Convention on Cluster Munitions, we have established a firm norm, which we must collectively uphold.
Related to this, we very much welcome the Political Declaration, led by Ireland, on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from the Humanitarian Consequences Arising from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas (EWIPA). The Netherlands will support this initiative, and we urge other countries to do the same. We consider this a clear and positive result of investing in the multilateral process even in times of increased geopolitical tensions.
I want to conclude by stressing the importance of gender, as we need to more systematically include gender perspectives in disarmament diplomacy. Gender-based violence remains a tactic of war brought about by conventional weapons. While women are less likely to own and use these arms, they are disproportionately killed by them or have to face the physical, psychological, and social harm they cause. It is why we need the full, equitable and meaningful participation of women, including in leadership positions, in order to conduct effective disarmament diplomacy.
Thank you Chair.