Statement by India during the thematic debate on Disarmament Machinery at the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, October 2020
India is committed to the ideals and principles enshrined in the UN Charter and supports a reformed multilateralism as the driving force to achieve them. While speaking on the occasion of the Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the United Nations in July this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reaffirmed India’s belief that the path to achieve sustainable peace and prosperity is through multilateralism.
2. India believes that the United Nations has a central role and primary responsibility for disarmament. The UN disarmament machinery, established by the final document of the First Special Session of the General Assembly devoted to Disarmament (SSOD-I), consisting of the triad of the Conference on Disarmament, the First Committee and the UN Disarmament Commission plays a central role in global disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control efforts. In a world faced with increasing geopolitical uncertainties and conflicts, further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic this year, the crucial need of the hour is to revitalize the disarmament machinery to enhance global peace and security.
3. India attaches high importance to the Conference on Disarmament as the world’s single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, as mandated by the final document of SSOD-1. India believes that the CD brings together its Member States in sovereign equality and in full responsibility to negotiate legally-binding instruments on disarmament. We believe that the CD, which consists of militarily significant States including all the nuclear weapon States, has the mandate and membership to commence negotiations on the core items on its Agenda, for strengthening international peace and security. It is a matter of regret, that despite several efforts undertaken during the year by the successive Presidents and Member States, the CD could not adopt a Programme of Work. However, instead of doubting the relevance of the CD and looking for alternate forums to negotiate on disarmament issues, Member States need to demonstrate the necessary political will to adopt a comprehensive and balanced Programme of Work. It is equally important that the Member States avoid politicizing and bringing extraneous issues to the CD to enable it to focus on its negotiating mandate. India stands ready and committed to work with other Member States on all core items on the CD’s Agenda, including an FMCT on the basis of CD/1299 and the mandate contained therein.
4. The inability of the UNDC to hold its substantive sessions for two successive years, in 2019 and 2020, are certainly an opportunity lost for deliberations among Member States on crucial issues of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control. We hope that the UNDC will be able to conduct its work next year and make substantive recommendations on the issues on its agenda. The three sessions of the OEWG on SSOD-IV in 2016 and 2017 adopted recommendations by consensus on the objectives and agenda for the SSOD-IV. India looks forward to the convening of the SSOD–IV, which is long overdue and can be an invaluable opportunity to take stock of the progress made in the disarmament machinery and to look at ways to revitalize it.
5. The First Committee, that embodies the international community’s faith in multilateralism on issues of disarmament and international security, is an important platform for Member States to voice their views as well as to build consensus towards collective action on these issues. While India would have preferred a First Committee session with full and equal participation of all delegations, it is indeed a matter of satisfaction that the First Committee is able to convene this year, albeit under exceptional circumstances, in a spirit of solidarity and constructiveness.
6. India values the work of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), which celebrates its fortieth anniversary this year, based on the mandate given to it by the SSOD-1, and supports efforts to ensure its long-term sustainability and effectiveness as a research body of global relevance that can make meaningful contribution to the international community’s disarmament efforts.
7. In pursuit of our collective security in an increasingly interdependent world, India is committed to strengthening multilateralism through creative diplomacy and plurilateral understanding. India looks forward to working with all delegations to further strengthen the disarmament machinery and institutions with the goal of enhancing global peace and security.