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Resolutions adopted by the Committee addressed the full range of arms control and disarmament issues, including nuclear weapons and nuclear testing issues, chemical and other weapons of mass destruction, arms transfers, regional arms control and studies relating to these subjects.
General Disarmament Issues
Resolution 46/36 B, entitled "Charting potential uses of resources allocated to military activities for civilian endeavors to protect the environment," noted the completion of the Secretary General's report on the subject and was adopted by consensus.
Following the adoption by consensus of resolution 46/27 on "Education and information for disarmament," the United States explained that:
.. had this resolution been put to a vote, the United States would have abstained in view of our reservations regarding several of its paragraphs.... Nevertheless, given the overall spirit and motivation in which the cosponsors put forward this resolution, the United States decided to join consensus on [resolution 46/27].
The United States introduced, with the cosponsorship of 36 nations, resolution 46/26, "Compliance with arms limitations and disarmament agreements." Adopted by consensus, the resolution urged all parties "to implement and comply with the entirety of the spirit and provisions of such agreements," and welcomed the role that the United Nations has played "in restoring the integrity of certain arms limitation and disarmament agreements and in the removal of threats to the peace."
Resolution 46/25, "Transparency of military expenditures," called all states to participate in the standardized UN reporting system on military expenditures and encouraged the UN Disarmament Commission to complete its work on objective information on military matters in 1992. It was adopted by consensus.
For nearly 10 years leading up to 1989, an ad hoc committee of the CD in Geneva negotiated on a Comprehensive Program of Disarmament (CPD). In 1989 the CD decided, by consensus, not to reestablish the committee until circumstances were more conducive to progress. In 1991 a resolution was again tabled in the First Committee asking the Conference on Disarmament to reestablish the ad hoc committee, despite the CD's decision not to do so. The 1991 version of the resolution engendered more opposition than that of the previous year, but was still adopted in plenary 123 to 6 (U.S.), with 32 abstentions. (Resolution 46/38 B.)
An annual resolution on the "World Disarmament Campaign" was essentially identical to 1990's consensus text, and the
United States was again able to support its adoption by consensus. (Resolution 46/37 A.)
Regional Disarmament. Resolution 46/36 F on "Regional disarmament, including confidence-building measures," was adopted without a vote. The United States cosponsored resolution 46/36 I on regional disarmament, subsequently adopted by vote of 154 (U.S.) to 0, with 4 abstentions. Decision 46/412 invited member states to convey to the Secretary General their views on "Conventional disarmament on a regional scale,” and was adopted by consensus.
Confidence-Building Measures. Resolution 46/36 F (above) on regional disarmament employed the concept of confidencebuilding measures, which also formed the basis for several other resolutions. Resolution 45/58 I on "Confidence and security building measures and conventional disarmament in Europe" was also adopted in 1990 by consensus and welcomed the determination of the parties to the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) to implement its provisions, the determination of member states of the CSCE to implement provisions of the Vienna document on Confidence and Security-Building Measures (CSBM), as well as the decision of those states to continue negotiations in these fields.
A resolution on "Regional confidence-building measures" supported and encouraged efforts aimed at "promoting confidence-building measures at the regional and subregional levels in order to ease regional tensions and to further disarmament and non-proliferation measures" and suggested the establishment under UN auspices of a standing advisory committee on security questions in Central Africa. It (Resolution 46/37 B) passed by consensus. After the vote, After the vote, the United States explained:
While we support the concept of regional confidence-building measures, we are obliged to consider the financial implications. The United States is opposed and will strongly object to any initiative in the future to seek funding of the (standing advisory) committee from the UN regular budget.
Nuclear/Mass Destruction Weapons
Radiological Weapons. Two resolutions dealing with radiological weapons were introduced in 1991. The first, resolution 46/36 E, on the CD negotiations on the prohibition of the development, production, stockpiling and use of radiological weapons was adopted by consensus. The second, on the "Prohibition of the dumping of radioactive wastes,” was also adopted by con
sensus, as resolution 46/36 K. After the vote, the United States
We agree that radioactive waste could be one source of radioactive material that has the potential to be used in radiological weapons, and that this is the only aspect appropriate to address in [disarmament fora]. . In our view, radioactive waste dumping cannot be regulated by arms control measures [.] These are environmental and public safety issues which are already addressed in other fora.
Bilateral Nuclear Arms Negotiations. General Assembly resolutions dealing with the U.S.-Soviet negotiations on nucleararms reductions generally have welcomed the conclusion of previous negotiations and urged the two participants to undertake further efforts in this field. The United States preferred a single, nonpolemical resolution adopted by consensus, which encouraged bilateral negotiations. It could not accept, however, any resolution that introduced extraneous issues or which attempted to instruct the United States and the Soviet Union on how to conduct negotiations, what to negotiate, or when to finish.
Efforts to negotiate a single text nearly succeeded in 1991, but it proved impossible to remove the last obstacle, a characterization of the existence of nuclear arsenals as "threatening" to world peace. Resolution 46/36 ] was, consequently, adopted 130 to 0, with 26 (U.S.) abstentions. In its explanation of vote, the United States said:
We are aware that improvements have been made in the resolution in the course of negotiation during the past few weeks. We thank the large number of governments that have expressed appreciation and support for the steps we have taken to reduce nuclear arsenals. But we cannot join consensus on a resolution that goes back to the stale rhetoric of a past era, that condemns equally all nuclearweapons states as threats to the rest of the world, and that distorts U.S.-Soviet statements to promote further steps that the United States cannot accept.
Non-Use of Nuclear Weapons. Only one resolution was adopted in this category in 1991. (Resolution 46/37 D.) Entitled, "Convention on the prohibition of use of nuclear weapons," it criticized nuclear deterrence, claimed "use of nuclear weapons would be a violation of the Charter of the United Nations," and called upon the CD to commence negotiations on an international convention prohibiting use or threat of use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances. The United States opposed the resolution on several grounds: the UN Charter provides no basis for such a declaration and neither prohibits the use of force in self-defense nor outlaws nuclear weapons for defense or deterrence. The resolution was adopted 122 to 16 (U.S.) with 22 abstentions.
Nuclear Freeze. Resolution 46/37 C calling for a freeze on nuclear weapons was adopted by a vote of 119 to 18 (U.S.), with 23 abstentions.
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: Extension Conference. Decision 46/413 took note of the intent of the parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to form a preparatory committee in 1993 for the 1995 conference, at which the decision to extend the NPT will be taken. It was adopted without a vote.
Chemical and Biological Weapons. Continuing concern of the international community over the use of chemical and biological weapons and their proliferation was reflected in the three resolutions adopted. Resolution 46/35 C, "Chemical and bacteriological (biological) weapons," on the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) negotiations underway at the CD in Geneva, was cosponsored by the United States and adopted by consensus. It commended "the Conference's decision to intensify the [CWC] negotiations . . . with the view to striving to achieve a final agreement on the convention in 1992."
The United States also cosponsored a resolution condemning "vigorously all actions that violate or threaten to violate" the 1925 Geneva Protocol on the Prohibition of Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and calling on all states to "observe strictly the principles and objectives of the 1925 Geneva Protocol." Resolution 46/35 B, “Chemical and bacteriological (biological) weapons: measures to uphold the authority of the 1925 Geneva Protocol," was adopted by consen
Finally, the United States cosponsored resolution 46/35 A, adopted by consensus, on implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention. The resolution also welcomed with satisfaction the results of the third review conference of the parties to the convention, held in September.
Comprehensive Test Ban. Only one draft resolution on a comprehensive nuclear test ban was introduced in 1991. Entitled "Comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty," it urged the Geneva CD to reestablish its Ad Hoc Committee on a Nuclear Test Ban with an appropriate mandate. It also urged nuclear weapon states to agree promptly to appropriate verifiable and militarily significant interim measures, with a view to concluding a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty. Resolution 46/29 was adopted 147 to 2 (U.S.), with 4 abstentions.
Resolution 46/28 addressed the Limited Test Ban Treaty Amendment Conference, held in January with a view toward
amending the Limited Test Ban Treaty to convert it into a comprehensive test ban. It supported, inter alia, ongoing consultations of the president of the LTBT Amendment Conference. The resolution was adopted by a vote of 110 to 2 (U.S.), with 35 abstentions.
The United States made an explanation of vote on both test ban-related resolutions together as follows:
The United States policy on nuclear testing is well known. . The United States recognizes that [resolution 46/29] contains some improvements as compared to previous resolutions on this issue. Regrettably, however, none of these improvements affects the basic thrust of the resolution, which remains contrary to U.S. policy. To cite just one example, the resolution urges an early and unconditional discontinuance of all nuclear tests, a step that the United States sees as a long-term objective to be viewed in the context of certain essential conditions.
Under the circumstances, the United States could not but vote against this resolution.
As regards [resolution 46/28], the United States finds it contrary not only to its policy on nuclear testing but also to our position on the LTBT Amendment Conference. As stated at the end of the Conference, the United States considers the Amendment Conference terminated. We will not participate in or recognize any further action concerning that Conference that other parties may pursue on their own. The United States regards the Limited Test Ban Treaty as a highly valuable arms control instrument the integrity of which must not be placed at risk.
Fissionable Material for Weapons Purposes. Resolution 46/ 36 D on the "Prohibition of the production of fissionable material for weapons purposes" was significantly altered in comparison to the 1990 text, by requesting the Geneva CD to unconditionally take up the issue. After adoption of the resolution by a vote of 152 to 2 (U.S.), with 3 abstentions, the United States explained:
The United States does not accept the basic premise of this resolution. Nevertheless, since it was initially introduced, the United States has abstained rather than oppose the resolution. It has done so in particular because the resolution has not called for immediate action on this issue. Regrettably, however, the resolution before us today differs in this respect from its predecessors. The United States does not believe it is productive for the Conference on Disarmament to engage in active consideration of this issue at the current stage of the arms control process[.]
Inhumane Weapons. A procedural resolution on the "Convention on prohibitions or restrictions on the use of certain conventional weapons which may be deemed to be excessively injurious or to have indiscriminate effects" (Resolution 46/40)