Statement by India during the thematic debate on Conventional Weapons of the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, October 2020
Amidst an environment of growing tensions in the global security arena, it is imperative to strengthen our collective commitment to disarmament instruments including the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), which is one of the important instruments within the UN framework that offers a unique forum for progressive controls over certain categories of conventional weapons.
2. India is fully committed to the CCW and the humanitarian principles enshrined in the Convention and is a party to all the five protocols of the CCW. The Convention and its Annexed Protocols, while stipulating measures to mitigate humanitarian concerns arising from the use of specific weapons and weapon systems strive to strike a balance with the military necessity of such weapons. We have undertaken requisite measures to ensure the full implementation of our obligations under the CCW and its Protocols. India believes that Universalisation of the CCW remains critical for the success of the Convention and its Annexed Protocols.India calls on all States Parties to make their financial contributions to the Convention, in full and on time, to ensure predictability and sustainability in Convention’s finances.
3. We believe that Amended Protocol II of the Convention strikes a fine balance between humanitarian concerns on landmines and legitimate defence requirements, particularly of States with long borders, such as India. We have fulfilled all our obligations under the Amended Protocol II related, inter-alia, to the non-production of non-detectable mines as well as rendering all our anti-personnel mines detectable. India has been submitting its national annual reports in a timely manner.
4. India supports the vision of a world free of the threat of landmines. India observes a moratorium on the export and transfer of landmines. We believe that the availability of militarily effective alternative technologies that can perform the defensive function of anti-personnel landmines and a change in conventional war-fighting philosophy, will facilitate the achievement of this goal.
5. India believes that AP-II serves as an appropriate mechanism for addressing the issue of IEDs under the CCW framework. India has been affected by the menace of the use of IEDs by non-state actors for the last three decades that have caused casualties of both combatants and civilians and thus we are sensitive to the issue of IED threat mitigation and victim assistance. India is willing to share its best practices with other High Contracting Parties and the United Nations.
6. India is deeply concerned about the challenges posed by illicit transfers of conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons (SALW), to terrorists and non-State actors, which pose a major threat to international peace and security. India accords high importance to the UNPOA as the cornerstone of multilateral efforts to prevent, combat and eradicate illicit trade in SALW. The full and effective implementation of the UNPOA and the ITI is a priority for India, especially as a means for combating terrorism and transnational crime. India looks forward to constructively participating in the Seventh Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (BMS7) next year.
7. India supports the UN Register on Conventional Arms and the UN Report on Military Expenditures and has submitted its national reports regularly. India has strong and effective national export controls governing the transfer of conventional weapons which conform to the highest international standards and remains committed to preventing illegal transfer of conventional weapons.
8. India is a leading contributor to UN peacekeeping operations and extends assistance to international demining and rehabilitation efforts. During the course of the last one year, India has undertaken specialist training programmes on Counter IED, bomb disposal and demining with numerous partner countries including Australia, Cambodia, Indonesia and Uzbekistan. Our 12-member team of experts participated in a joint counter explosive threat task force training exercise namely, Ardent Defender-2019 at Ontario, Canada. India conducted the Twentieth International Counter IED seminar at our Special Forces Training Centre in February 2020, which was attended by 34 foreign delegates in addition to 135 Indian delegates and 49 start-ups. About 130 personnel from 13 African States participated in AFINDEX, a multinational exercise on demining and unexploded ordinance held in India in March 2020. We remain committed to capacity building and assistance to countries upon request.
9. India, one of the first signatories to Protocol V in 2005, is cognizant of the grave humanitarian concerns posed by the explosive remnants of war (ERWs) and is fully committed to cooperation and assistance in the implementation of Protocol V. We have also been submitting our national annual reports in a timely manner. India attaches importance to cooperation and providing assistance, to various countries, in the implementation of Protocol V.
10. India believes that the CCW is the most appropriate forum to address emerging issues on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS). India welcomes the progress made in the discussions at the GGE on LAWS during the last four years and reiterates its support to the eleven guiding principles adopted during the annual meeting of the High Contacting Parties to the CCW in November 2019. It reaffirms India’s stance that the work of the GGE on LAWS should continue to be guided by the principles of International Humanitarian Law and human responsibility must be retained across the entire life cycle of the weapon systems.
11. India's ratification of the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities underscores the importance we attach to victim assistance. India welcomes efforts towards victim assistance and technical cooperation both under the UN mandate as well as on a bilateral basis. The ‘India for Humanity’ initiative, launched in October 2018 as part of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th anniversary celebrations and with a focus on Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of compassion, caring and service to humanity, has conducted 13 artificial limb fitment camps in 12 countries and more than 6500 artificial limbs have been fitted till date. India is pleased to convey that, the limb fitment camps, which aim to provide for the physical, economic and social rehabilitation of the affected persons and help them regain their mobility, has now been extended up to March 2023.
12. India has been regularly participating as an Observer in the meetings of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention and looks forward to participating in the Eighteenth Meeting of the States parties later this year.
13. In keeping with India’s commitment to disarmament and non-proliferation objectives, India’s Annual Disarmament and International Security Fellowship Programme for young foreign diplomats, that commenced in 2019 includes modules dedicated to conventional weapons and covers the CCW in a comprehensive manner. We believe that disseminating information about the CCW and the objectives that it seeks to achieve would make a meaningful contribution to its full implementation and its universalization.