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Arms Control and International Security: Thematic Discussion on Conventional Weapons
October 24, 2017

Statement by Ambassador Robert A. Wood
Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament

Delegation of the United States of America
72nd United Nations General Assembly First Committee

New York City, October 18, 2017

As Delivered

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, Tthe United States is a High Contracting Party to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) and all of its Protocols.  We view the CCW as an important instrument that has brought together States with diverse national security concerns.  We are deeply disappointed that a lack of funding has prevented High Contracting Parties from convening all the meetings scheduled for 2017, pursuant to the decisions of the Fifth CCW Review Conference in December 2016.  In particular, we have lost the opportunity to continue our expert discussions on improvised explosive devices under CCW Amended Protocol II, and had to reduce the length of the planned Group of Government Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems from 10 to 5 days.  We encourage all High Contracting Parties to pay their share of the assessed costs in a timely fashion to ensure that we can continue this important work.

Mr. Chairman, the United States continues to urge all Member States to implement fully the UN Programme of Action on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons and the International Tracing Instrument.  We must continue to focus on the technical implementation challenges of existing commitments if the international community is to be successful in combating the illicit SA/LW trade.  We look forward to working with Member States as we prepare for the 2018 Review Conference.

Mr. Chairman, Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) continue to represent a global threat.  Continued instability in the Middle East and Africa, has given terrorists unprecedented access to shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, which pose a serious threat to civil and military aviation around the world.  The United States is cooperating with partners around the globe to secure these missiles, prevent their smuggling by extremists, and protect the targets that terrorists seek to attack.  The United States has also worked with partners to establish strict export controls over the transfer of all MANPADS.  Additionally, since 2003, the United States has cooperated with countries around the globe to destroy more than 38,000 excess, loosely secured, or illicitly held at-risk MANPADS missiles, and thousands more launchers, in more than 40 countries.

Mr. Chairman, the United States strongly supports the UN Register of Conventional Arms.  The Register pioneered international discussion of international transfers of conventional arms, and it remains the cornerstone of international efforts to address the problems arising from irresponsible transfers of such arms.  The United States urges all States to report data on their international transfers of conventional arms, and to include data on transfers of small arms and light weapons alongside the traditional categories of heavy weapons.

Mr. Chairman, the United States remains committed to ensuring that conventional arms are transferred in a responsible manner.  The Arms Trade Treaty held its Third Conference of States Parties (CSP3), September 11-15, in Geneva under the able presidency of Finnish Ambassador Klaus Korhonen.  2016 saw the Arms Trade Treaty begin the important shift from administrative to substantive work.  We look forward to continuing work next year under the guidance of Japanese Ambassador Nobushige Takamizawa, the President of CSP4.

Mr. Chairman, the United States has been the world’s single largest financial supporter of humanitarian mine action, and we remain committed to eliminating loosely secured or otherwise at-risk conventional weapons and munitions.  Since 1993 we have provided more than $2.8 billion to more than 100 countries for conventional weapons destruction, including clearance of landmines, improvised explosive devices, and unexploded ordnance; the disposal of excess SA/LW and munitions; and improved security for conventional weapons storage.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman