193 Note on Australia's Disarmament Activity at UN General Assembly

Canberra, 11 January 1974

This article summarises the main features of Australia's voting and statements at the 28th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on disarmament matters (except on nuclear testing and the Indian Ocean Zone of Peace, which have been reported separately).

There were 16 disarmament resolutions at the UNGA this year, of which five dealt with nuclear testing and the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) Report, and one with the Indian Ocean Zone of Peace. Details of the other 10 resolutions follow:

  1. Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: Review Conference
    100 (Australia) - 2 (China) - 11 (France, India). Australia co-sponsored this resolution, which was the product of negotiations between non-nuclear Conference of the Committee of Disarmament (CCD) members (in particular, Sweden) and the Treaty depository powers (UK, USA, USSR). We took part in its drafting. The resolution calls for the setting up of a Committee to prepare for a conference in 1975 to review the Treaty. Australia will be a member of the Committee.
  2. Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT)
    94 (Australia) - Albania - 19 (UK, USA, USSR). [matter omitted] China did not participate. Last year, Australia abstained with them on a similar resolution.
  3. Responsibility of United Nations for Disarmament Matters
    93 (Australia) - 0 - 20 (USA, UK, USSR, France). China did not participate. This resolution reaffirms the ultimate goal of general and complete disarmament and the responsibility of the United Nations for international disarmament. The nuclear powers either abstained or (in the case of China) did not participate in the voting. In his speech to the General Assembly on 4 October, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Willesee,1 pledged Australia's full support to the efforts of the United Nations to achieve general and complete disarmament subject to effective means of verification.
  4. Napalm and other Incendiary Weapons
    103 (Australia) - 0 - 18 (US, UK, USSR, France). This resolution calls upon the Geneva Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law applicable in Armed Conflicts to begin consideration in 1974 of the question of the prohibition or restriction of use of certain weapons (such as napalm) which may cause unnecessary suffering. Last year, Australia abstained, together with the US and UK, on a resolution concerned with napalm. In supporting this year's resolution, Australia gave priority to the humanitarian and international political aspects of the question.
  5. Chemical and Bacteriological (Biological) Weapons
    118 (Australia) - 0 - 0. China and France did not participate. The resolution reaffirms the importance of reaching early agreement on effective measures for the prohibition of the development and stockpiling of chemical weapons. In a statement in First Committee, the Australian delegate stressed the importance of effective measures. In his speech to the General Assembly on 4 October, Senator Willesee announced that Australia was now taking steps to ratify the Convention on Bacteriological (Biological) Weapons.
  6. Treaty of Tlatelolco
    116 (Australia) - 0 - 12 (USSR). This resolution calls for universal support of the Treaty, which declares Latin America a nuclear free zone. Among the great powers, only the USSR has failed so far to support the Treaty. The Australian delegate commended the Treaty in a First Committee disarmament statement. The Treaty organisation (OPANAL) subsequently expressed their appreciation of this statement.
  7. World Disarmament Conference
    Adopted unanimously. This resolution, sponsored by a non-aligned group, sets up an Ad Hoc Committee of 40 non-nuclear states (selected regionally, and not including Australia) to examine and report on the possibility of holding a World Disarmament Conference. This Committee replaces an unsuccessful Soviet-inspired 35-nation Committee, which was set up in December 1972 but never met formally, primarily because of China's opposition.
  8. Reduction in Military Budgets-(Mexican Resolution)
    93 (Australia) - 2 (China) - 26 (US, UK, France). The resolution sponsored by Mexico calls for a report into the possibilities for reductions in military budgets and consequent increases in aid.
  9. Reduction in Military Budgets-(Soviet Resolution)
    83 (USSR) - 2 (China) - 38 (Australia, US, UK, France). The resolution sponsored by the USSR calls for a 10 per cent cut in the great powers' military budgets, and a corresponding allocation of aid funds by them to a new international aid committee.

[NAA: A1838, 919/10/5 part 37]