73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly
General Debate of the First Committee
Statement by H.E. Dr. A. Rohan Perera
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
17th October 2018
The delegation of Sri Lanka wishes to join all other delegations in congratulating you and the other members of the Bureau on your election.
The issue of disarmament remains more critical than ever. The world continues to be affected by violent conflict; weapons of mass destruction--- nuclear weapons, chemical weapons and biological weapons are extant and in use along with other controversial weapons such as cluster munitions; while brutal acts of terrorism and violent extremism continue to be on the rise. In addition, the exponential influence of technology has given rise to novel challenges in the security sphere, including cybercrime and cyber warfare. Against this backdrop, geo-political dynamics are increasingly fractious, and a common vision and global commitment for complete disarmament grows more and more elusive.
Sri Lanka continues to stand steadfast in its commitment to the non-proliferation and eradication of all nuclear weapons. In this regard, we reiterate that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty remains the bedrock multilateral nuclear-arms control agreement. Sri Lanka was one of the first States to sign both the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968 and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996. We were and continue to remain a stalwart supporter of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted last year.
Sri Lanka stands strong in its conviction that the threat of nuclear weapons persists as one of the most daunting challenges to humankind and one that requires urgent, concerted and committed action from all of us as Member States. We thus urge all States to continue taking steps towards a world free of nuclear weapons.
It is well established that Cluster Munitions pose severe humanitarian threats, and contains social and developmental consequences. The method of deployment of these explosives means that they are indiscriminate, unable to distinguish between military targets and civilians. This is in clear violation of the cardinal principles of International Humanitarian Law. In addition, the grave danger they pose is enduring, with many turning into de-facto landmines, able to kill and maim indiscriminately long after conflict has ended. Sri Lanka is unequivocally committed to the cause of ending the use and prevalence of these destructive, indiscriminate and inhumane weapons.
In this regard, we affirm the importance of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which Sri Lanka acceded to in March of this year. Sri Lanka assumed the Presidency of the 9th Meeting of States Parties to the Cluster Munitions Convention last month and in keeping with past practice, is taking the lead in tabling the resolution titled ‘Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions’, this year, in our capacity as President. Sri Lanka also held a side-event last week, here in New York, to promote the universalization of the CCM, and we are encouraged by the wide attendance of member states at the event. Having already acceded to the Ottawa Treaty banning anti-personnel landmines, we look forward to demonstrating similar commitment and action in the vision of the eradication of Cluster Munitions.
Sri Lanka remains committed to the prevention, curbing and eradication of the illicit trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons. These flows of trade are often a factor behind the forced displacement of civilians and massive human rights violations. We must work to create conditions for addressing all relevant dimensions of the problem of illicit small arms, including weapons collection and destruction, adequate legal and policy frameworks, institutional arrangements, proper stockpile management, as well as education and awareness. We thank the Secretary-General for his comprehensive report on this topic and reaffirm his vision that human beings must be placed “at the centre of efforts relating to conventional arms control, including small arms and light weapons”.
Finally, we continue to reaffirm our commitment to protect outer space as a common boon of mankind, and to take all measures for the peaceful use of outer space, and the prevention of an arms race in outer space. We affirm the recognition that the exploration and use of outer space should be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries. Towards this goal, the existing legal framework on Outer Space must be reinforced and strengthened.
Sri Lanka reaffirms its commitment to the disarmament agenda, and continues to pledge its full support and commitment to the multilateral disarmament machinery. We reiterate the necessity of concerted, collective action towards the non-proliferation and eradication of nuclear weapons, controversial weapons such as cluster munitions; the curbing of the illicit trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons; and the prevention of an arms race in outer space. My delegation looks forward to meaningful and constructive engagement on these issues and others at this Session of the First Committee, and continuing to work towards reinforcing and enhancing the global agenda for peace and disarmament.