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"The Nuclear-Weapon Free Southern Hemisphere and Adjacent Areas"

Statement by Ambassador Gelson Fonseca Jr.
Permanent Representative of Brazil to the UN
New York, 23 October 2001

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Mr. Chairman,

I have the honor of introducing, on behalf of 66 co-sponsors, draft resolution L.24, on "The nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas".

I also wish to acknowledge that, after L.24 was printed and besides those 60 countries listed in the draft resolution, Sao Tome and Principe, Benin, Zambia, Samoa and Namibia also decided to co-sponsor that draft. For technical reasons, the name of Guinea, an original co-sponsor, does not appear in the list contained in L.24. We request the Secretariat to review the list accordingly. I should point out that the majority of those countries are members of the four existing Nuclear Weapons-Free Zones.

This is the sixth consecutive year that a draft resolution on this important matter is introduced to the consideration of the first committee. Once again, as it was the case last year, Brazil is honored to be joined by New Zealand as initiators of this draft resolution. This initiative gathered 159 votes in favor in the last General Assembly, sustaining the overwhelming majority of votes that has characterized the passing of this resolution since 1996. We express the hope that the draft as contained in L.24 will enjoy the same broad support.

This year’s draft resolution has no changes relatively to resolution 55/33 I, except for updates. The resolution passed last year included some important changes, in a language that reflected a balanced approach between the aspirations of members of nuclear weapons-free zones, and concerns expressed by interested delegations. The maintenance of the same language is yet another reassurance that the text of this resolution will not be disconnected from reality.

Mr. Chairman,

In the nuclear disarmament area, one of the most significant developments of the last decades is the fact that, in several parts of the world, the nuclear option has already been ruled out.

A nuclear-weapon free world is an aspiration and a common responsibility of the entire international community. The objective of eliminating nuclear weapons is reinforced by extending -- through new nuclear-weapons free zones -- the geographical space where they are illegal. We support the consolidation of existing and the creation of new nuclear-weapons free zones.

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 sixth 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 55/33 I last year. We expect to continue deserving their support.

Thank you very much