Kazakhstan, as president of the UN Security Council for the month of January, convened a Security Council session on nonproliferation and confidence-building measures on Jan. 18 presided over by President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and followed it Jan. 19 with a ministerial-level debate on Afghanistan and Central Asia chaired by Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Kairat Abdrakhmanov.
Addressing the council, Nazarbayev recalled announcing 25 years ago at the 47th UN General Assembly session the initiative to build a regional structure on security and confidence building, which has now brought 26 countries – from Israel and Egypt to India and Pakistan – together as part of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA).
“However, after a quarter of a century, I am back in the UN for my country’s presidency at the council, and I must admit that the issue of mutual confidence at both bilateral and global levels is acute and becoming more urgent,” he said. In his view, confidence building measures shall be a top priority on the global agenda as they represent a vital element for maintaining global security architecture and consolidating peace across the globe.
Nazarbayev urged nations to follow Kazakhstan’s lead in nuclear disarmament, noting that his country established and strengthened its independence, reached non-aggression pacts and built global recognition by denuclearisation. “We call for the leadership of North Korea to follow this lead,” Nazarbayev said.
The president suggested rethinking the existing the nonproliferation regime based on the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), including making withdrawal from the treaty more complex, and opined that new multilateral political decisions may be required. “Without questioning the NPT, I propose to draft a special resolution of the council that would define the consequences, including sanctions and enforcement measures, for NPT violators,” the President stated.
He also called for an end to military blocs, calling them “provocative and meaningless” in today’s security environment.
Abdrakhmanov, opening the debates on Afghanistan, reiterated that the transformation of Central Asia and Afghanistan into a model zone of peace, cooperation and security is one of Kazakhstan’s seven priority areas.
In this regard, he called on others to explore the development potential in Afghanistan instead of seeing it as a threat. This potential can be rooted in Afghan-Central Asia border zones, which will be further developed into regional infrastructure, trade, investment and transit transportation projects, he said. Abdrakhmanov listed three aspects that, in his view, will ensure success in Afghanistan: always considering the interrelation of security and development; recognising that Afghanistan’s issues are not country-specific but will require solutions that extend beyond a single state; and ensuring that UN structures coordinate and integrate their development strategies in order to make full use of limited resources.
Following the nonproliferation meeting, the council made a statement saying that its primary responsibility will remain “the maintenance of international peace and security,” including its commitment to and respect for the “political independence, sovereign equality and territorial integrity of all States and the need for States to comply with their obligations under international law.” Unlike previous documents, this statement by the president of the Security Council for the first time offers a broad-scale approach to local issues that might take place in any part of the world; it outlines some measures, such as conflict-prevention, a regional approach and bringing UN resources together as the tools the council aims to use in solving the security issues.
Following the Afghanistan debate, parties supported the adoption of the UNSC presidential statement that once again reaffirmed the council’s commitment “to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan and the Central Asian States.”
Kazakhstan has not only tried to draw the council’s attention to combating security challenges and exploring development potential in wider Central Asia, as well as strengthening nonproliferation regimes, but has also highlighted the policy measures it sees as most viable for the region: non-military tools and conflict prevention measures; securing the council’s commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries; and ensuring that international partners and UN offices coordinate their efforts and policies.