OPANAL participated in the United Nations General Assembly First Committee

New York, October 19, 2020. The Secretary-General of the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL), Ambassador Flávio Roberto Bonzanini, participated in the General Debate of the First Committee of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The First Committee is responsible for discussing exclusively the issues of disarmament and other issues related to international security, and is held from 6 October to 6 November 2020 at UN Headquarters in New York under the restrictions related to COVID-19, with limited in-person and also remote representation.

In his statement, delivered through video message, Ambassador Bonzanini highlighted the fact that for the full implementation of the Treaty of Tlatelolco “the Nuclear Weapons States and the States that administer de jure or de facto territories in the region […] undertook obligations thereon by signing and ratifying Additional Protocols to the Treaty of Tlatelolco. This implies respecting the military denuclearization of the zone and providing guarantees to the States Party of not being object of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons”.

However, the Secretary-General emphasized that “[…] by means of interpretative declarations, which are in fact reservations, the commitments of some of the States Party to the Protocols have been limited.”

In this regard, Ambassador Bonzanini also noted that “since 2016, OPANAL has been offering those States a way out of this problem, having proposed the signing of Adjustments which would eliminate misunderstandings and provide full respect of the Treaty. France and the Russian Federation have responded to our proposal of Adjustement, albeit in a flat negative fashion. The United Kingdom has not accepted to receive the representatives of the five Member States of OPANAL Council to present our proposal. The United States of America has not provided any response.”

The Secretary-General also reiterated the call made by OPANAL Member States to these countries: the United States of America, France, the United Kingdom and Russia to reconsider their approach towards the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Latin America and the Caribbean, and to carry out discussions in bona fide, with the aim to find a mutually agreed solution.

On the other hand, the Secretary-General stressed the importance OPANAL attaches to strengthening the norm that establishes Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones and emphasized that in recent years, collaboration and communication between the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Latin America and the Caribbean and representatives of the existing zones and Mongolia have increased significantly. With this objective in mind, OPANAL Member States are maintaining a frank and fruitful dialogue to establish a formal and more permanent framework to strengthen and increase cooperation.

Ambassador Bonzanini also recalled that this year, in the context of the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the creation of the United Nations, an institution that laid the foundations for lasting peace and security and that also provides effective responses and solutions to the most diverse and global challenges, the complete elimination of nuclear weapons remains the most critical.

Read the full text of the speech.

Watch the recording.

Likewise, within the framework of the work of the First Committee, on October 26, 2020, the Secretary-General participated in the event “Discussions and exchanges with independent experts and other high-level officials,” where he spoke about the role of the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones in the context of international security, the importance of preserving bilateral arms control agreements, interpretative declarations made by the States Parties to Additional Protocols I and II of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, as well as education for disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. Read the text of the statement or watch the recording here.