U.N. First Committee meeting focuses on landmines, cluster bombs, IEDs

The U.N. General Assembly's First Committee on Disarmament and International Security heard testimony on Monday about the excessively injurious effects of cluster munitions, landmines and improvised explosive devices.

Zahir Tanin, Afghanistan's U.N. representative, said no state was as affected by landmine use than his country. He said that in the past 30 years, more than one million people lost their lives or were disabled by landmines. In 2012 and the first six months of 2013 alone, landmines killed or maimed approximately 3,000 people.

Tanin also said that improvised explosives used by the Taliban and other anti-government groups posed a significant threat. He went on to say that in the past three decades, Afghanistan was one of the main victims of illicitly trafficked small arms and light weapons, fueling a cycle of violence in the region and killing and injuring hundreds of thousands of Afghans.

Tanin said his state lacked sufficient capacity to effectively exert control over illicit arms in Afghanistan. He asked international and regional partners for support.

Alexander Kmnett, Austria's U.N. representative, said that urgent engagement is needed to prevent new arms technology from being used in a way to violate universally recognized principles. He also said that all weapons of mass destruction were relics of the past and could not be recognized with today's understanding of international humanitarian law.