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Statement by H.E. Sven Jürgenson, Permanent Representative of Estonia at the General Debate of the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly First Committee , 14 October 2015


Thank you very much, Mr Chairman. Let me first congratulate you on assuming this position and you can be assured of our full support in your efforts to achieve a successful outcome in this very important session.

Aligning ourselves fully with the statement made by the European Union, we would like to highlight some specific issues to which Estonia attaches particular importance at this year's session of the First Committee.

Mr Chairman, Estonia shares the view of the overwhelming majority of UN Member States that consider the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) as an extremely important instrument in curbing illicit and illegal transfers of conventional arms to conflict zones or parties of armed conflict. We commend the substantive outcome of the First Conference of States Parties in Cancun this year, which established a solid base for the functioning of the ATT – the rules of procedures, financial and management regulations are in place now; the Treaty has also a seat and a first interim Head of its Secretariat. But this does not mean that we now can sit back and relax. There is still much to do in order to ensure the effective implementation of the Treaty. Already by the end of the year, the States Parties have to submit their initial reports on the national implementation of the ATT and they must also pay their first membership fee. Another very important job to do now, is to work towards the universalization of the Treaty. It is also important to get the world’s largest exporters of conventional arms on board. We would like to encourage the States that have not yet signed or ratified the Treaty to do so in an urgent manner. The ATT community has a responsibility to support countries with little experience and low administrative capacity. Estonia is definitely ready to help, mostly through the EU outreach programs and by sharing its expertise and know-how in arms and export control. My country is strongly committed to the implementation of the ATT both on a national and international level.

The entry into force of the ATT reminds us once again of the previous time the international community was able to make progress in concluding a universal treaty of disarmament and non-proliferation. For Estonia, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is indeed a vital multilateral instrument for international disarmament and non-proliferation and we therefore deeply regret, that today, almost 20 years after the opening of the CTBT for signature, the Treaty has still not entered into force. We hope that this year, when we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, will give us an important incentive to enhance multilateral efforts towards the universalization of the Treaty and promotion of its goals. In this regard, we urge all States, particularly those whose adherence is required for the CTBT to enter into force, to sign and ratify the Treaty without further delay.

Mr Chairman, Estonia welcomes the historic agreement on a comprehensive settlement regarding the Iranian nuclear program. This agreement proves that even in the case of extremely complicated international issues, diplomatic efforts can help to provide a peaceful and constructive solution. We call on Iran to fully implement the action plan that was agreed upon. Hopefully, it will help to contribute to the gradual alleviation of tensions in the region. We strongly support the IAEA’s long term mission of verifying and monitoring Iran’s nuclear related commitments and we would like to confirm our commitment to support this process both politically and financially.

Mr Chairman, we regret that the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was not able to agree on an outcome document and we do hope it will be possible next time. Until then, the 2010 Action Plan remains valid and should be fully implemented. For Estonia, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is the true cornerstone of the global efforts to pursue nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. This year, we mark the 45th anniversary of this unique multilateral instrument, witnessing its vitally important role in keeping our world more secure and less armed and paving the way for creating conditions for a nuclear weapons free world, which we all dream about. Bearing in mind the current severe security environment, there are no shortcuts, no simple solutions, no alternatives to this forum. Estonia shares the ultimate goals of the discussions on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, but we are not convinced that simply banning nuclear weapons on paper will get us to the global zero. This process should be realistic, transparent, in an inclusive manner and certainly with the participation of the states possessing nuclear weapons. We need to work methodically and with realism in order to attain the necessary confidence and transparency to effective nuclear disarmament and thus achieve and maintain a world without nuclear weapons. In this regard, we welcome the report of the UN Group of Governmental Experts on how to advance negotiations on the FMCT. We hope that the report will provide an impetus to launch the negotiations as soon as possible. We also support the establishment of a properly mandated and inclusive OEWG to conduct discussions on the ways to identify and elaborate effective measures for nuclear disarmament that will contribute to our shared goals.

The three pillars of the NPT, namely disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear technology, stand for peace, security and trust. Aggressive actions taken by the Russian armed forces against Ukraine have jeopardized all of those three virtues in the Euro-Atlantic region. By illegally annexing Crimea and exercising the use of force against the territorial integrity and political independence of Ukraine, the Russian Federation has clearly violated, among other international agreements and norms, the Budapest memorandum. We believe without a doubt, that the strategic decision by the Ukrainian Government 20 years ago, to join the NPT as a non-nuclear state in favour of security assurances, was the right one. We call upon the Russian Federation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity and political independence of Ukraine under the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 on security assurances in connection with Ukraine's accession to the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon State. In this regard, we call on Russia to honour international legal norms, as well as its international commitments, to end its illegal annexation of Crimea and to take immediate and concrete steps to fully implement the Minsk agreements.

Mr, Chairman, Estonia is an active observer state to the Conference on Disarmament. We remain deeply concerned by the long-standing deadlock of the Conference on Disarmament and by its persistent inability to commence substantive work. This is a judgment, constantly repeated by all UN nations over the years, and this year again is no exception. The CD’s agenda encompasses global concerns and we believe that those concerns should be negotiated on a non-discriminatory, transparent and multilateral basis, with the wider participation of interested states. At this point, I would like to reiterate Estonia’s request to participate fully and equally in the disarmament discussions as a full member of the CD. We also reiterate our call for the early nomination of a Special Rapporteur to review the issue of membership, in order to bring more relevance and legitimacy to the CD. In our view, we should implement the idea enshrined in the final declaration of the First Session of the UNGA Special Session on Disarmament in 1979, that all nations in the world are responsible for international peace and security and thus they all have the right to participate in international disarmament negotiations."

Mr Chairman, we note with concern, that ballistic missiles and related technologies are still used around the world as operational weapons. We do believe that the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) plays a central role in preventing missile proliferation. This is exactly why my country, following its initial candidature 12 years ago, presented an update of the technical dossier to the MTCR. We believe that Estonia’s membership in the MTCR would serve the regime well. It will extend the territory of the MTCR’s specific controls, add expertise on UAV and space technologies, enlarge the circle for intelligence sharing and information exchange on law enforcement, and as such, support the non-proliferation efforts of the MTCR. We also strongly speak for the membership of all EU Member States in the MTCR, since they all meet the highest standards and criteria of the MTCR, given the fact that they are part of the EU single market and as such, are also potential suppliers of MTCR controlled items. Moreover, as the only multilateral transparency- and confidence-building instrument against ballistic missile proliferation, we continue to support the universality and implementation of the Hague Code of Conduct (HCoC).

Supporting mine clearance activities remains essential for the stabilisation processes of post-conflict states and the safe return of refugees. My country is determined to support humanitarian demining and mine action; we increased our contributions over the past few years and we continue to do so. This includes financial support to the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), as well as to the clean-up of various explosive remnants of war and mine-clearance activities under several bilateral and international humanitarian projects. We also urge all States who have not done so, to join the Mine Ban Treaty.

Finally, Mr Chairman, the broad use of digital services demands a high level of cyber security. For Estonia, socio-economic and politico-military aspects of cyber security are intertwined. We consider it elementary that countries abstain from attacking national critical infrastructure. We also call for responsible behaviour towards global communications infrastructure to promote access to information and trust towards ICTs. We consider it the responsibility of every country to draft and enforce national laws that help control malicious uses of ICTs by non-state actors and to seek ways to better formulate, disseminate and promote responsible and active cyber policy, respective narratives and argumentation. It is also important to take forward the progress achieved at the 2014/2015 UN GGE by further promoting norms of State behaviour that support openness, accountability and other democratic values in cyber space. For Estonia, such goals include unrestricted access to the Internet, the protection of human rights and freedoms, as well as improved cyber security by attitude, design and competence.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.


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