High Representative’s opening statement to the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) of the General Assembly

8th October 2013

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen. I welcome this opportunity to address the Committee and am especially pleased to greet members of delegations who are joining us for the first time.

It is my honour to congratulate your Chairperson on his appointment to guide our work. Ambassador Dabbashi’s extensive diplomatic experience will serve the Committee well. I also wish to recognize the members of the Bureau and to assure them and all delegations of the fullest cooperation of the Office for Disarmament Affairs throughout the work of the Committee.

One of the curious ironies about the UN is that it is located on the banks of the East River, which flows daily—with the tides—in two directions. The past work of this Committee has followed a similar course, resembling in many ways a river with counter-currents.

On one level, its deliberations have been characterized by polarized debates on past setbacks, disappointments, unfulfilled commitments, and common frustrations. Yet there is another current flowing in the opposite direction, representing the growth of global solidarity behind principles, standards, and norms regarding both disarmament and the regulation of armaments. This is the current that led to the adoption this year of the Arms Trade Treaty.

As it opens its 2013 session, the Committee is once again confronting these two currents. Yet we have seen many positive developments and our work now appears to be flowing in the right direction. (Read entire statement in PDF…) [source: UNODA]