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1C: Opening statement

Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Odd-Inge Kvalheim at the General Assembly 75th Session First Committee General Debate, 9 October 2020.

| First Committee

Chair,

Let me start by thanking you for your leadership in working out the modalities for this year’s First Committee. The COVID-19 pandemic poses new challenges to our work. Despite this it is important that we are able to conduct our business to the best of our ability. We are confident that we will be able to do so within the framework you have drawn up for us.

Chair,

Norway is fully committed to the objective of the total elimination of nuclear weapons. This can only be achieved through balanced, mutual, irreversible and verifiable elimination of these weapons.

The NPT is the cornerstone of our common efforts on disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy and applications. Norway is working for the universalisation and full implementation of the NPT. We support the effort to have the 10th Review Conference take place as soon as possible.

In Berlin, on 25 February, a group of 16 countries issued a ministerial declaration on advancing nuclear disarmament. The group identified 22 concrete actions – or stepping stones – for this purpose. We encourage all states to sign up to these actions.

We welcome the US initiative ‘Creating an Environment for Nuclear Disarmament’.

Nuclear disarmament verification (NDV) is vital for making progress on nuclear disarmament. Together with the UK, Norway initiated work on this topic as early as in 2007. Our work showed that nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states can both engage in nuclear disarmament verification without being in breach of their non-proliferation obligations under the NPT. We are encouraged to see that the work on NDV is gaining momentum, and that an increasing number of states are engaging substantively in this area.

For this year’s Committee,  we are tabling a decision on NDV together with partner countries to keep the topic on the agenda for UNGA 76. A similar decision was tabled in 2017 and 2018. We hope all states will support this decision.

Chair,

Norway is advocating the rapid entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the negotiation and conclusion of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. The Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements and the Additional Protocol constitute the global verification standard, enabling the lAEA to monitor and evaluate compliance with obligations under the NPT.

The nuclear weapons and missile programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea remain completely unacceptable. We stand firmly behind the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and call upon the DPRK to return to meaningful negotiations.

The fact that Iran does not observe the limitations set by the JCPOA is of deep concern. We urge Iran to return to full compliance with the agreement and to cooperate fully with the IAEA on all its safeguards obligations.

Chair,

Dialogue on arms control and strategic stability between major powers plays a crucial role in promoting global security. We welcome the ongoing talks on arms control and New START between the US and Russia. New START is important to ensure strategic stability and to promote the global disarmament and non-proliferation regime. We therefore encourage an extension of the current agreement with a view to expanding it. We support the invitation from the US to China to participate in such a dialogue.

Chair,

Norway condemns the attack with a Novichok nerve agent against the Russian citizen Aleksei Navalny. We strongly urge the Russian Federation to investigate this matter in the most extensive and transparent way. 

We remain deeply concerned about the continued possession of chemical weapons and production facilities by the Syrian regime.

We are appalled by the recurrent use of chemical weapons in recent years. We continue to vigorously condemn all use of chemical weapons.  Any breach of the global non-use norm is unacceptable, and we demand an end to impunity for the perpetrators of these horrific crimes.

Norway reiterates its full support to the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW and its Director-General.

The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention remains a crucial pillar of the global disarmament architecture. We are concerned about the difficult financial situation of the Convention.

Chair,

The COVID-19 pandemic has further increased our reliance on information and communications technologies. We are seeing a continuous rise in malicious cyber-activity, from both state and non-state actors. Lately, we have witnessed that such actors even take advantage of a global pandemic – including by targeting critical infrastructure that is essential for mitigating this crisis. This is unacceptable, and shows the urgent need for joint action by all states. A globally accessible, free, open and secure cyberspace is now, more than ever, fundamental to how the world operates.

We welcome the discussions in the Group of Governmental Experts and the Open-ended Working Group. These further our understanding and facilitate the implementation of the consensually agreed framework for cyber-stability; based on the applicability of international law, complemented by legally non-binding voluntary norms, confidence-building measures and capacity building. It is important that the GGE and the OEWG are allowed to conclude their efforts in an orderly and constructive manner. Based on the outcome of both processes, we should consider how to further advance the agenda of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace at next year’s meeting of this Committee.

Chair,

Activities in outer space, and the global infrastructure for their support, are also of relevance to global and national security. Norway remains committed to preventing an arms race in space in order to maintain outer space as a peaceful, safe, stable, secure and sustainable environment, open and accessible to all. The initiative by the United Kingdom for a resolution on reducing space threats aims to lay the groundwork for potential discussions on responsible behaviour, as well as threat perception and management, in outer space. Such discussions could form a substantive contribution to preventing an arms race in outer space. This would benefit all, both space-faring states and  states supporting or relying on space-based services.

Chair,

Landmines and cluster munitions indiscriminately kill and maim long after the end of a conflict. The Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention has been hugely successful, yet challenges remain. Recently, we have seen a worrying rise in the use of improvised landmines and related injuries. It is essential to address this under the framework of the Convention, and improved risk education is an important part of this. The Action Plan adopted in Oslo last year provides a reference point and guideline for implementation. We look forward to the adoption of a new, effective, action plan for the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Lausanne later this year.

We must continue to combat all irresponsible and illegal trade in small arms and light weapons. The Arms Trade Treaty is gaining valuable ground. Norway continues to support efforts towards effective treaty implementation in order to establish universal norms for a responsible international arms trade.

Chair,

We underline the importance of incorporating a gender perspective into all arms control efforts.

Chair,

Norway strongly supports The Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCoC). More states are developing or already operate space programmes, and the ongoing proliferation of ballistic missile systems continues to be of great concern to the international community. As a multilateral transparency and confidence-building instrument, HCoC can make a difference by reducing the destabilising effects of ballistic missile activities. We were pleased to welcome three new Subscribing States during our Chairmanship from 2019-2020, and will continue to work for full universalisation of the Code.