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Arms Control and International Security: Remarks at UN General Assembly First Committee Discussion
November 1, 2018

Remarks by Robert Wood 
U.S. Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament and U.S. Special Representative for Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) Issues 

United Nations
New York City
October 26, 2018

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, the 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 because it has brought together States with diverse national security concerns, but shared concern over certain threats that affect us all. In particular, the United States supported the outcome of the CCW Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems in 2018. This GGE was successful and productive, despite some States’ efforts to politicize the discussions. States engaged in discussions on complex topics, heard presentations from military experts and adopted a substantive report that included ten possible guiding principles for future work on emerging technologies in the area of LAWS. We think it is important to continue to engage in these reality-based discussions.

Mr. Chairman, the United States continues to urge all Member States to implement fully the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons and the International Tracing Instrument. The third Review Conference of the PoA provided an opportunity to renew our shared commitments to ending the human suffering caused by the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. We must build upon the momentum of our hard work and focus our efforts on tackling the challenges Member States face in its full implementation. We should not create unattainable or unnecessary requirements, particularly those that are not within the scope of the PoA. Some Member States have already accomplished a great deal since the PoA was finalized in 2001. Yet, we have a long way to go to realize the achievement of our political commitments made more than 17 years ago. The United States remains committed to seeing the full implementation of the PoA, and will continue providing both financial and technical conventional weapons destruction assistance to combat illicit trafficiking.

Mr. Chairman, although it has been some time since the world has seen Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) used to bring down a civilian airliner, this significant threat remains. In furtherance of our efforts in seeing the full implementation of the PoA, the United States continues to work with partners to deter their illicit trafficking and use, including through training programs for border security forces, destruction of excess state-held stocks, and assisting with the mitigation of MANPADS threats near critical aviation sites such as international airports. Since 2003, the United States has cooperated with countries around the globe to destroy more than 38,000 excess, loosely secured, illicitly held, or otherwise 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 is committed to ensuring that conventional arms are transferred in a responsible manner. To this end, the United States attended the meetings of the Working Groups and the fourth Conference of State Parties of the Arms Trade Treaty in Tokyo. Further, we have continued to satisfy our financial and reporting obligations and we encourage States Parties to do the same.

Mr. Chairman, the United States remains the world’s single largest financial supporter of conventional weapons destruction programs. We remain committed to providing assistance that reduces excess arms and ammunition from State-held stockpiles, improves stockpile security, and remediates landmines and explosive remnants of war in order to facilitate stability, security, and prosperity in countries recovering from conflict, and to prevent illicit small arms and light weapons proliferation. Since 1993 we have provided more than $3.2 billion in assistance to more than 100 countries through our conventional weapons destruction program, which covers both weapons and ammunition destruction and stockpile security, as well as humanitarian mine action. We remain committed to these programs, particularly as humanitarian mine action plays an increasing role in our effort to deliver rapid stabilization assistance in both post conflict and conflict zones.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.