Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 2, 2021
Thank you, Mr. Chairman; thank you for the opportunity to take the floor.
The United States must vote “no” on draft resolution L.55, “Promoting International Cooperation on Peaceful Uses in the Context of International Security.” We are voting no for three reasons: The resolution fails to protect against the dire risks advanced technologies can pose; a collaborative and inclusive process to consider the text in the Committee was not followed; and this resolution misses an opportunity to ensure equitable access to new technologies.
First, the United States believes this resolution would undermine international cooperation in the field of science and technology. All countries should benefit from cutting-edge technologies, which hold the promise to enrich lives, create prosperity, and solve global challenges. Yet these new technologies also create new risks: they can be abused, used to threaten, and contribute to the proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. For that reason, countries need to cooperate, both within multilateral structures and based on the solid foundation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Biological Weapons Convention, and the Chemical Weapons Convention, to ensure the safe transfer of these technologies for peaceful uses.
Nonproliferation export control regimes are critical for implementing their associated treaties. This resolution would lead to an erosion of those vitally important regimes. There simply is no evidence the existing nonproliferation agreements and regimes have hampered the international exchange of technology or hindered any country’s economic development. In fact, these regimes play an essential role in the international system, which has allowed global trade to flourish.
Second, we have serious concerns about the process behind this resolution. This resolution deserves good faith negotiations and a transparent and inclusive process. For a new resolution on an important topic, Member States have not had sufficient opportunities to discuss it. The edits the United States proposed and the belated engagement we had – including in the only round of informal consultations held – resulted in not one single change to the resolution. Overall, the final text is minimally altered from when it was initially circulated, reflecting a unilateral position rather than a consensus-based, broad international one.
Third and finally, this resolution missed an opportunity to ensure every society benefits from scientific and technological breakthroughs. Every country wants to take advantage of these technologies – and minimize the ways they may harm health, safety, human rights, and international security by falling into the hands of terrorists and malign actors. We need to work together to wrestle with these challenges, and not paper them over.
For decades, we have used bodies like the First Committee to sort out our differences, work through difficult topics on which we rarely enjoy a starting consensus, and agree on a way forward. It is a shame that did not happen this year. We hope we can revive that good-faith spirit in future First Committee deliberations.
Looking forward, it is up to all of us to keep the dialogue going. We expect more conversations about the rules and systems. We need to share the benefits and manage the risks of technological breakthroughs. Given our serious concerns with this initiative, and the lack of meaningful deliberation and debate, we have no other choice but to vote “no” on this resolution, and we urge others to do so, as well.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.