Statement by Mr. Md. Rafiqul Alam Molla, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the UN at the Thematic Debate: Combined Clusters I: Nuclear Weapons, Other Weapons of Mass Destruction, Outer space (disarmament aspects) and Conventional Weapons of the First Committee of the 76th UNGA, 12 October 2021

Mr. Chair,

The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed nearly every aspect of our world including creating a devastating impact on human life and the economy. The pandemic, however, failed to slow down the global nuclear weapons spending.  Despite the enormous need for resources to deal with the current global health crisis, 72.6 billion US dollars were spent to upkeep nuclear weapons in 2020. This is an astounding figure.

Mr. Chair,

Bangladesh aligns itself with the Statement delivered by Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) under this thematic cluster. Allow me to share some specific thoughts in my national capacity:

First, Bangladesh’s position towards nuclear weapons is unambiguously clear. As a state party to the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), we hope the First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty in March 2022 will be an important milestone towards achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.

We believe that investment in nuclear weapons can neither ensure nor guarantee global peace and security. We call upon all Nuclear Weapon States to implement their treaty obligation without any delay. We reaffirm that all efforts must be made to produce a meaningful, tangible and sustainable outcome at the 10th NPT Review Conference which is due in early 2022.

We call for increased investment in research of nuclear technology, and explore the potentials of the peaceful use of nuclear energy for the benefit of humankind.

Second, Bangladesh condemns, in the strongest terms, the use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere, under any circumstances. We believe, those responsible for use of chemical weapons must be held accountable in a transparent manner. As part of our commitment, we enacted the Chemical Weapons (Prohibition) Act in 2006, formulated the Enrollment Rules in 2010, and following that established Bangladesh National Authority for Chemical Weapons Conventions.

We also remain resolute in fulfilling the provisions of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC). The member states must redouble their efforts to eliminate all categories of chemical weapons in its entirety and prevent emergence of new types of weapon of mass destruction (WMD).

Third, we, as a state party to the Outer Space Treaty, ardently support the fundamental premise of the treaty that outer space should be explored and used for the benefit of all humankind. Accordingly, we believe states, regardless of their level of capacity in space science research and technology, ought to be able to bring their perspectives and concerns when defining the future rules for the outer space.

With the launching of the Bangabandhu-1 satellite, Bangladesh now has a much greater stake in ensuring the safe, secure and sustainable use of the outer space. We reiterate our call to have a universal, non-discriminatory international legally binding instrument for preventing the arms race in the outer space.

We urge the major space actors to play a critical role to make the outer space safe and sustainable for human endeavour.

Fourth, Bangladesh underlines the need for a balanced, full and effective implementation of the Program of Action (PoA) and the International Tracing Instrument to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) in all its aspects. In this regard, we take note of successful completion of BMS7.

As a signatory to the Arms Trade Treaty, we firmly believe that every state must have the sovereign right to acquire, manufacture, export, import and retain conventional arms and their components for security related requirements and self-defence.

We also reaffirm our commitment to fulfill the obligations under the Certain Conventional Weapons Convention (CCW) and its Protocols, which we are party to.

Finally, Mr. Chair, global military expenditure was about 2 trillion USD in 2020, despite the economic toll of the pandemic. Imagine, what we could have achieved with this amount in the field of development, particularly in the fight against poverty. Let us make the right choice to be on the right side of the history.

I thank you.