74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
First Committee – Thematic Debate on Conventional Weapons
Statement by Satya Rodrigo
Deputy Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka
25th October 2019
At the outset, Sri Lanka, would like to join all other delegations in congratulating you and the other members of the Bureau on your election and wish you every success in the work ahead.
My delegation would also like to associate itself with the statement delivered by the distinguished representative of Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, under this thematic item.
As a country that experienced nearly 30 years of terrorist conflict and more recently the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks earlier this year, we are aware of the devastation and destruction that is caused by small arms and light weapons (SALW) and illicit trade of weapons, where non-state actors are able to easily acquire illicit access to SALW
Sri Lanka remains committed to the prevention, curbing and eradication of the illicit trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW).
We are alarmed that global military expenditure is reportedly now exceeding $ 1.8 trillion, and we would like to stress the importance of the reduction of these expenditure and urge that these resources could have been directed towards economic and social development. This is also particularly relevant in the context of Target 4 of SDG 16, where we have resolved to reduce illicit arms flows by 2030.
As a demonstration of our commitment towards disarmament, in 2015 Sri Lanka was honored to have Presided over the Meeting of High Contracting Parties to the Conventions on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) in November 2015.
While recognizing the positive benefits that could accrue from the dual–use nature of technology and new developments including 3 D printing, synthetic biology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the development of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) – or more commonly known as “Killer Robots” devoid of any human control; have created unprecedented risks and challenges to humanity.
These are matters which, if not regulated, have the potential to threaten international peace and security. We encourage State Parties to the CCW to deepen and fast track the discussion within the GGE to urgently address the issues of possible development and deployment of LAWS.
There is a crucial need for the negotiation of a binding legal framework which, inter alia, provides for regulatory norms with meaningful human control as its central thrust.
Next year will mark one decade since the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) entered into force on 1st August 2010. We wish to commend Gambia, Philippines and the Maldives for joining recently.
In September this year, Sri Lanka was privileged to have presided over the Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), and we wish Switzerland every success in the work under their Presidency.
We hope that this year’s Resolution on the Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions will garner more support and we would like to urge all to continue working towards the universalization of the Convention, and a future in which these indiscriminate and inhumane weapons are eliminated completely.
My delegation looks forward to meaningful and constructive engagement on these issues and others at this Session and continues to work towards reinforcing and enhancing the global agenda for peace and disarmament.
I thank you.