Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Mr. Andrey Grebenshchikov, Representative of the Russian Federation in the First Committee of the 73rd UN GA Session on «Conventional Weapons» cluster

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Distinguished Mr. Chairman,

Distinguished colleagues,

Russia attaches great importance to the issues of conventional weapons. Therefore, we consider the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (CCW, Convention on «Inhumane» Weapons) as a significant multilateral instrument in this field. The unique nature of the CCW is in its capability to strike a right balance between humanitarian concerns and the legitimate defense interests of States.

On our part, we are making a tangible contribution to the strengthening of this key instrument of international humanitarian law and, first of all, of its Amended «mines» Protocol II and Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War. It can be illustrated by the operations on humanitarian demining carried out by the Russian Engineer Troops on the territory of Syria - two in Palmira and one each in Aleppo and Deir ez-Zor.

We believe that elaboration of any new arrangements in the CCW framework is possible only through a thorough expert work on a balanced basis and provided that such arrangements do not undermine the time-tested fundamental provisions of the CCW. Thus, we continue to treat with caution the ongoing discussions within the CCW on the issue of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS). Despite the establishment of the CCW specialized Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) and the substantial consensus report, agreed by the GGE as a result of its work in 2018, we continue to regard the LAWS topic as quite raw and notional one. We maintain doubts about further prospects of the GGE for there are no operational samples of such systems so far, the basic performance characteristics of LAWS remain unclear, as well as the key notional concepts, and significant differences in the positions of States are in display.

We are against the resumption of any independent expert work on the issue of mines other than anti-personnel mines (MOTAPMs) within the framework of the CCW. We believe that the existing humanitarian concerns with regard to MOTAPMs can be efficiently addressed within the existing norms of International Humanitarian Law, in particular, the CCW Amended Protocol II.

We share the goals and objectives of the Convention on the Prohibition of Landmines (Ottawa Convention). We do not exclude the possibility of our joining it in the future. Russia continues its work to address a number of technical, organizational and financial issues related to the implementation of the Ottawa Convention.

Simultaneously, we continue to take effective measures aimed at reducing the “mine” threat. We actively assist in increasing the technical, consultative and operational potential for the purposes of demining. Remarkable contribution in this regard is made by the International Demining Center which has organized the training of experts in demining, as well as in identifying  and deactivating the IEDs, the training of operators of mobile robotic units and EOD specialists. We are ready to develop cooperation on the mine issues with all interested states.

Our assessment of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM, Oslo Convention) remains unchanged. This Convention is a politicized document fitting the very definition of cluster munitions (CM) to the interests of certain states trying to gain unilateral military and technical advantages. The CCM only declares the prohibition of CMs, but, in essence, it does not contain such a ban. It provides for an artificial rearrangement of the market of such weapons, with prohibiting the so-called «bad» CMs and authorizing certain types of high-tech CMs to the advantage of a specific group of states-manufacturers. We view it as a reflection of the “double standards”. Another shortcoming of this document is that it allows any state - in the lack of any ground - to use such weapons during military operations conducted together with the  states - nonparties to the Convention.

We still do not see any sense in joining the International Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). We have to recognize that the standards established by this instrument are substantially lower than the Russian ones. We are first of all not satisfied with the absence of any direct prohibitions under the ATT of unlicensed production and transfer of arms to non-state actors, as well as the absence of any provisions that would regulate the procedure of the re-export of military goods (only on the basis of the permission of initial exporting states). In this context, the ATT continues to contain serious risks of weapons transfer into the hands of criminals and terrorists, as well as of destabilization of situation in various world hotbeds.

We are seriously concerned about the practice of the Treaty’s application. We regard it unacceptable when some states-parties keep supplying - directly or indirectly - military products to the zones of interstate domestic armed conflicts. In this connection and for clear reasons our special concerns are raised by the transfers of military goods and munitions to Ukraine. In 2015-2017, a number of such supplies was recorded, while absolutely nothing within the framework of the ATT was done to prevent such violations.

We attach great importance to the implementation of the UN Program of Actions (PoA) to prevent and eradicate the illicit small arms and light weapons (SALW) trade. The Program remains the only specialized global instrument of fighting the illicit SALW trade. However, the PoA is sure to be far from exhausting its potential and much is to be done to increase its practical output.

We believe that the strengthening of national control over all stages of the  SALW «lifecycle» - from their production up to disposition - would substantially reduce the risks of illegal SALW proliferation. Among other necessary measures we need to introduce a prohibition on the supplies of all types of SALW to unauthorized entities of the recipient state, strict regulation of brokers’ activity, prevention of unauthorized re-export of weapons and the cessation of “pirate” production of weapons, i.e. without a license or under expired licenses.

We note with satisfaction that practically all our ideas were duly reflected in the final declaration of the Third PoA Review Conference (New York, June, 18-29).

We intend to continue to advance all Russian priorities without exception during the work of PoA review mechanisms, including the 7th and 8th biannual PA review meetings of states scheduled for 2020 and 2022 respectively. We look forward to support of all interested states.

Thank you for attention.