General Assembly

64th Plenary Meeting of General Assembly 73rd Session

General Assembly rejects resolution calling for strengthening Russian-United States compliance with intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty at 64th and 65th plenary meetings.
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The Assembly today rejected a resolution which would have called on the Russian Federation and United States to strengthen compliance for the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), and elected members to various bodies, including one judge to the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.

By a recorded vote of 46 against to 43 in favour, with 78 abstentions, the Assembly rejected the draft resolution titled “Preservation of and compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty” (document A/73/L.70), which would have also called on parties to resume a constructive dialogue on strategic issues premised on openness, mutual confidence and real opportunities for cooperation.

Introducing draft text “L.70”, the representative of the Russian Federation said today represents a turning point as the very future of the agreement is at stake. Its existence was threatened in October when the United States announced its intention to withdraw from the INF. “This is the start of a full-fledged arms race,” he warned, adding that the United States has continuously presented unfounded accusations that Moscow has violated the Treaty. The resolution presented today seeks to give the Assembly the opportunity to recommend that parties continue to comply with the Treaty, he stressed.

The representative of the United States, prior to the vote, said that his country would vote against the text because it is disingenuous for the Russian Federation, as it is in breach of the INF, to put forward a resolution on the Treaty it is violating. The United States has engaged the Russian Federation repeatedly to bring it back into verifiable compliance. Moscow has denied any wrongdoing and pretended it did not know which missile the United States was talking about, he said. If the Russian Federation intended to preserve the Treaty, it could have returned to verifiable compliance within the last five years.

Several delegates explained their positions as well, including China’s representative, who expressed hope that the countries concerned would honour their commitments and properly handle issues through consultation. China opposes any unilateral act of withdrawal from the INF, he said, noting that it voted in favour of the resolution.

The representative of Switzerland, having abstained from the vote, said his country is concerned about the status of the INF and the implications of its possible disintegration. He urged both parties to preserve the Treaty.

New Zealand’s delegate explained that his delegation voted against the resolution not because it disagrees with the importance of the INF, but rather because the draft text sidesteps issues that are critical to the Treaty’s future. Compliance should be addressed through bilateral discussions, he added.

Following six rounds of voting by secret ballot, the Assembly decided to elect Yusuf Aksar (Turkey) to serve as a judge on the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. The meeting was then suspended, and voting will resume once the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) presents its work to the Assembly.

In other matters, the Assembly elected Egypt, Guatemala, Kenya, Mexico and Nepal as members of the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission, each for a two-year term of office beginning 1 January 2019. It also took note of the information contained in a letter (document A/73/603) and a note verbale (to be issued as document A/73/663). The letter, dated 28 November 2018, informed the Assembly President that Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan and Rwanda will serve on the Commission from the troop-contributing countries category from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2020. The note, dated 20 December 2018, said that Canada, Germany, Japan, Norway and Sweden will serve a full two-year term over the same period.

In other matters, the Assembly re-appointed Keiko Kamioka (Japan) as a member of the Joint Inspection Unit for a five-year term of office beginning on 1 January 2020 and expiring 31 December 2024.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Poland, Austria (on behalf of the European Union), Belarus, Ukraine, Liechtenstein, Argentina, Canada, Iran, Peru, Pakistan, Guyana, Viet Nam, Malaysia, Philippines and Azerbaijan.

The Assembly further postponed the date of recess of the seventy-third session and extended the work of the Fifth Committee until Saturday, 22 December 2018.

The meeting was suspended until the completion of the work of the Fifth Committee.

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