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First Committee - "Nuclear-Weapon Free Southern Hemisphere and Adjacent Areas"

Statement by Ambassador Celina Assumpção do Valle Pereira
Deputy Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations in Geneva
New York, 14 October 2002

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Mr. President,

I have the honor of introducing draft resolution L.34, on a "Nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas", on behalf of the following co-sponsors: (list).

I also wish to acknowledge that, after L. 34 was tabled, other countries also decided to co-sponsor the draft resolution.  I would point out that the majority of those countries are members of the four existing Nuclear Weapon Free Zones.

This is the seventh consecutive year that a draft resolution on this important matter is introduced to the consideration of the First committee. Once again, Brazil has the honor of being joined by New Zealand as initiators of a resolution that last year gathered 148 votes in favor.  This score sustains the overwhelming majority of votes that has characterized the passing of this resolution since 1996. We express the hope that the L.34 will enjoy the same broad support.

This year’s draft resolution has some changes relatively to resolution 56/24 G. Besides the required actualizations, they allude to two particular important developments.  First, it welcomes the decision taken by Cuba to ratify the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which will fulfill the establishment of the first inhabited Nuclear Weapon Free Zone, encompassing all States of Latin America and the Caribbean.  Second, it welcomes the ratification by the Kingdom of Tonga of the Treaty of Rarotonga, which completes the list of original parties to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone. These are important steps in our way towards the accomplishment of a Nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere, which we warmly commend.

Mr. Chairman,

The further development of nuclear-weapon-free zones in some regions is one of the most significant measures in the field of nuclear disarmament. Gradually, in various parts of the world, the nuclear option is being ruled out. As a nuclear-weapon free world is an aspiration of our peoples, the objective of eliminating nuclear weapons is reinforced by extending - through new nuclear-weapons free zones - the geographical space where they are illegal.

The regional treaties, with the addition of the Antarctic Treaty, contribute to free from nuclear weapons the Southern Hemisphere, as well as the adjacent areas north of the Equator where the treaties apply. The States Parties to those treaties, in close consultation with their neighbors, renounced the acquisition of nuclear weapons and accepted stringent verification commitments to that effect.

Our initiative aims at achieving the recognition by the General Assembly, for the seventh consecutive year, of the progressive emergence of a nuclear-weapon-free Southern Hemisphere and adjacent areas. Such recognition should be considered as a confirmation of the commitments of the international community towards non-proliferation and disarmament.

We want to reiterate that, as in previous years, our draft resolution does not create new legal obligations. Neither does it contradict any norm of international law applicable to navigation, such as those contained in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

We call upon States that have not yet done so to move towards ratification of the nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties and their protocols.

The idea that most of the globe is nuclear-weapon-free is a powerful beacon. It adds momentum to the process of nuclear disarmament and bolsters the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

Mr. Chairman,

We wish to put on record our appreciation for all those who voted in favor of resolution 56/24 G last year. We expect to continue deserving this support from all those States committed to nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament.

Thank you very much.