Since its very inception, disarmament has been a major objective of the Non-Aligned Movement. NAM Member States have acknowledged the potential impact, both positive and negative, that the accelerating pace of technological change and developments in science and technology may have on international security and disarmament. In 1988, India, one of the founding NAM Members, sponsored a draft in United Nations which recognised that increasing amounts of technological resources were being devoted to developing new weapon systems, which caused uncertainty and insecurity.
Since then, NAM Member States have been at forefront in emphasising the role of technology in the context of international security and disarmament. Resolution 72/28 on the ‘Role of Science and Technology in the context of International Security and Disarmament’, which was adopted at the 72nd Session of the UN First Committee in 2017 and subsequently at the UN General Assembly by consensus was led by India.
The Resolution recognised that cross-cutting concerns related to emerging technologies include the potential for their misuse by terrorists, proliferation, including Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and their delivery vehicles, risk of arms races and instability, possible incompatibility with existing international law, in particular International Humanitarian Law, as well as ethical concerns such as the violation of human dignity and the loss of human control. NAM has welcomed the adoption of General Assembly Resolution A/RES/73/32 entitled “Role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament” which was adopted on December 5 2018. Res. 73/32 recognises that scientific and technological development can have both civilian and military applications and that progress in science and technology for civilian applications needs to be maintained and encouraged. The Resolution acknowledges that accelerating pace of technological change necessitates a system-wide assessment of the potential impact of developments in science and technology on international security and disarmament, with due regard to avoiding duplication and complementing efforts already under way in United Nations entities and within the framework of the relevant international conventions.
In this context, NAM has called upon Member States to continue efforts to apply developments in science and technology for disarmament-related purposes, including the verification of disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation instruments, and to make disarmament-related technologies available to interested States. NAM has urged the Member States to remain vigilant in understanding new and emerging developments in science and technology that could imperil international security, and underlines the importance of Member States engaging with experts from industry, the research community and civil society in addressing this challenge.
NAM Member States reiterated the above position in their replies to the 2019 Secretary-General’s report on current developments in science and technology and their potential impacts on international security and disarmament efforts. Cuba stated that developing States cannot be compelled, on the pretext of humanitarian reasons, to use specific scientific and technical advances to modernize or employ their weapons. In this regard, the characteristics, particularities and capacities of each State must be taken into account; as must the necessary balance between humanitarian and national security considerations.
Egypt emphasized that the development of science and technology in civil uses must be encouraged and adapted to serve the goals of sustainable development. Technology exchanges needed to be promoted for peaceful uses. Egypt urged Member States of the United Nations to take into account technical advances that could have an adverse effect on international peace and security. Egypt stressed that cooperation with industrial and scientific research experts and the international community was of the utmost importance in curbing the negative effects of technology on international security and disarmament.
NAM has also highlighted the need to regulate the transfer of technologies for peaceful uses, in accordance with relevant international obligations, to address the risk of proliferation by States or non-State actors.