Thematic Discussion on Conventional Weapons
Statement delivered by Ms. Kaya Dunawa-Pickard
73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly - First Committee
New York, October 2018
Weapons of Mass Destruction may pose an acute threat to humanity, but it is conventional weapons that kill, injure and irrevocably impair the lives of thousands of women, men, girls and boys every year.
Indeed, conventional weapons constitute the majority of weapons employed in conflict, and may: intensify and prolong conflict; contribute to violations of International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law; be used to perpetuate sexual and gender-based violence; and hinder development and exacerbate structural gender inequalities, undermining our collective commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals. This makes it imperative for UN Member States to affirm their commitments to implement, uphold and universalize the international laws and norms on conventional weapons.
Canada has been encouraged to see the broader impacts of conventional weapons figure in recent discussions at the Third Review Conference of the UN Point of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons and the 4th Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty.
We are also supporting the Small Arms Survey’s research into the proliferation and illicit flow of arms. This includes the increased participation of women in multilateral policy-making fora as well as the inclusion of gender analysis in arms control.
The Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention was in many ways the first convention to consider disarmament from a humanitarian impact perspective. It is critical that we continue building political momentum towards universalization of this Convention and the 2025 goal of a mine-free world. Similarly, we call on states to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions to help achieve the goal of a world free of the devastating humanitarian impact of cluster munitions by 2030.
As a precursor to these agreements, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons remains at the intersection between conventional weapons and International Humanitarian Law, including its current work on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems.
For Canada, implementation of all these international instruments is not only a reflection of our commitment to international law on conventional weapons – it also reflects our responsibility to uphold a rules-based international order.
That is why Canada:
- Is prioritizing accession to the Arms Trade Treaty;
- As president of the G7 this year, ensured that conventional weapons had a new focus in our discussions; and,
- Within this Committee, reiterates its call to UN Member States to uphold our collective obligations to protect and reinforce conventional weapons non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament institutions.
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