24 September 1999


Press Release
SC/6732



SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS AT MINISTERIAL LEVEL TO CONSIDER ISSUE OF SMALL ARMS

19990924

Presidential Statement Calls for Effective Implementation of Arms Embargoes Imposed by Council

The Security Council this morning, at a ministerial-level meeting held to discuss the question of small arms, called for effective implementation of arms embargoes imposed by Council resolutions.

In a statement read out by Council President and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands Jozias van Aartsen, the Council encouraged Member States to provide Council sanctions committees with available information on alleged violations of arms embargoes. It recommended that the chairmen of the sanctions committees invite relevant persons from United Nations organs, organizations and committees, as well as other intergovernmental and regional organizations and parties concerned, to provide information on implementation and enforcement of embargoes.

The Council also called for measures to discourage arms flows to countries or regions engaged in or emerging from armed conflicts. The Council further encouraged Member States to establish and abide by voluntary national or regional moratoria on arms transfers with a view to facilitating the process of reconciliation in those countries and regions.

Recognizing the importance of incorporating within specific peace agreements, clear terms for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants, the Council requested the Secretary-General to provide the negotiators of peace accords with a record of best practices based upon experience in the field.

The Council also asked the Secretary-General to develop a reference manual on ecologically safe methods of weapons destruction to enable Member States to ensure the disposal of weapons voluntarily surrendered by civilians or retrieved from former combatants. It invited Member States to facilitate the preparation of such a manual. Further, the Council requested the Secretary-General to specifically include the humanitarian and socio-economic implications of the excessive and destabilizing accumulation and transfer of small arms and light weapons in the studies he is currently undertaking.

Also this morning, the Council welcomed the recommendations of the Group of Governmental Experts on Small Arms, including the convening of an international conference on the illicit arms trade in all its aspects no later than 2001. It encouraged Member States to participate actively and constructively in the conference and any preparatory meetings. In addition, the Council underlined the importance of effective national regulations and controls on small arms transfers.

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It also encouraged governments of arms-exporting countries to exercise the highest degree of responsibility in those transactions.

Opening today’s meeting, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that efforts to promote peace and security -- through conflict prevention, development, diplomacy or intervention – depended, to large extent, on limiting the tools of war and violence. Measures for disarmament and demobilization should be included in peace agreements and the mandates of all United Nations peacekeeping operations. He called on the international community to seize the opportunity provided by the international conference on small arms, to be held in 2001, as a means to demonstrate its commitment to reversing the proliferation of small arms.

Stressing the need for international cooperation, the United Kingdom's Foreign Minister, Robin Cook, said that meeting the challenge posed by small arms required action on the part of producers and purchasers, businesses and bureaucrats. The United Kingdom strongly supported work on a firearms protocol. The international community should explore the feasibility of an international legal basis for marking firearms, so they could be tracked.

The challenges posed by such weapons could not be addressed by individual governments alone, least of all countries in regions of conflict, said Gambia's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Momodou Lamin Sedat Jobe. Due to the magnitude of the problem, international processes were needed to reinforce local, national or regional efforts. International efforts to address illicit transfers and excessive accumulation should be encouraged, but in a coherent and coordinated manner.

The international community must also address the culture of impunity related to arms trafficking, the representative of Namibia said. The effort to rid Africa of superfluous small arms was a shared responsibility of the region's leaders and the international community. Attention must be directed at arms transferred to irresponsible regimes which distributed them among ethnic groups bent on committing ethnic cleansing.

Also this morning, the Council heard from the following: France's Minister Delegate for Cooperation and Francophonie, Charles Josselin; Slovenia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Boris Frlec; Malaysia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar; Canada's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Lloyd Axworthy; Argentina's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Guido Di Tella; Brazil's Minister for Foreign Relations, Luiz Felipe Lampreia; Bahrain's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Shaikh Mohammed Bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa; Gabon's Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Francophonie, Jean Ping; the United States Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright; as well as the representatives of the Russian Federation and China.

The meeting began at 9:55 a.m. and adjourned at 11:57 a.m.


Council Work Programme

The Security Council met this morning to consider the question of small arms. While this is the first time the Council has reviewed the issue as a separate item, it has been considered in the context of other questions.

On 8 July, the Council met to consider the maintanence of international peace and security and post-conflict peace-building: disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants in a peacekeeping environment. In a statement following that meeting, the Council expressed concern that armed fighting among various parties and factions continued despite the conclusion of peace agreements by warring parties and the presence of United Nations peacekeeping missions on the ground. It recognized that a major contributory factor was the continued availability of armaments, particularly small arms and light weapons, to conflicting parties.

The Council stressed the need for the implementation of practical measures to promote the success of peacekeeping activities, including the prevention and reduction of the excessive and destabilizing flow, accumulation and illegitimate use of small arms and light weapons.

In 1997, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to study the question and make recommendations. During its fifty-third session, it requested a follow-up report, which is available as document A/54/258.

Statements

KOFI ANNAN, United Nations Secretary-General, said small arms and light weapons were the primary tools of violence in many of the world’s conflicts. Their proliferation aggravated the violence associated with terrorism and organized crime. Even in societies that were not beset by civil war, the availability of small arms contributed to violence and political instability. Those, in turn, damaged development prospects and human security. Many of those weapons were passed from one conflict to the next by unscrupulous arms merchants, who took advantage of legal loopholes or exploited inadequate national monitoring and enforcement structures.

The United Nations was dedicated to addressing the supply and demand aspects of the trade in small arms, which had become the instrument of choice for the killers of our time, he said. The Organization had played a leading role in putting the issue of small arms firmly on the international agenda. His 1997 Report on Small Arms to the General Assembly had served as a catalyst for a wider series of initiatives. He welcomed the General Assembly's decision last December to convene a conference on all aspects of illicit arms trafficking by the year 2001.

The Security Council had been seized with the issue, initially in the context of implementing the Secretary-General's report on Africa, he said. In the contexts of Angola and children in armed conflict, and the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the Council had shown wisdom in focusing on the need to reverse the proliferation of small arms.

Controlling the availability of small arms was a prerequisite for a successful peace-building process, and for conflict prevention, he said. He appealed to the Council to devote greater attention to conflict prevention and provide leadership in that area. Further, it was essential that specific measures for disarmament and demobilization be included in peace agreements and mandates of all United Nations peacekeeping operations.

While great challenges remained, there had been successes in the struggle against small arms proliferation and illicit arms trafficking, he said. In Africa, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had declared a moratorium on the production and transfer of small arms, covering 16 countries. Other endeavours included action by the European Union to prevent illicit trafficking in conventional arms in Europe. In 1997, the Organization of American States (OAS) had adopted the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials.

The momentum for combating small arms proliferation had also come from civil society, which had been increasingly active on the issue, he continued. The establishment, early this year, of the International Action Network on Small Arms had helped to sharpen public focus on small arms, which had helped gain the public support necessary for success.

The international community must seize the opportunity provided by the international conference in the year 2001 to demonstrate its will and commitment to reversing the global proliferation of small arms, he said. Efforts to promote peace and security -- through conflict prevention, development, diplomacy or intervention -- depended to large extent on the more specific challenge of limiting the tools of war and violence. With the Council's leadership, and the efforts of governments, success was possible.

CHARLES JOSSELIN, Minister Delegate for Cooperation and Francophonie of France, said that there was a proliferation of internal conflicts in which the distinction between combatants and civilians was blurred, more so than in inter- State conflicts in which regular armies fought each other. For several decades, small arms had taken more victims than arms of mass destruction. Action must be taken in many fields at all levels -– global, regional and national.

The legal transfer of small arms and light weapons must be controlled, and the relevant Council resolutions must be implemented, he said. At the same time, States must assume their responsibilities regarding the enforcement of national regulations, if there was to be successful control in that area. The European Union had adopted joint action on the transfer of small arms and light weapons. The conclusion of a protocol on the production of illicit firearms, along with the conclusion of the convention on organized crime, should make it possible to take control. The marketing of small arms and light weapons was a particularly critical issue.

He said the success of peace-building in post-conflict situations included the collection and disposal of weapons that were kept by combatants, so they did not fall back into the hands of opposition forces. That action must go hand in hand with demobilization. It was everyone's responsibility to see that such operations were properly resourced. Also, attention must be given to the plight of child soldiers. They must be taught that life had values other than violence. Africa was not the only continent concerned. The Council must deal with the issue of small arms in its universal aspects.

ROBIN COOK, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, said that it was important that the Council found time to consider the underlying causes of crises. One of the clearest causes was the plentiful supply of small arms. Access to small arms provided the means and the temptation to start conflicts and fuelled the tension and suspicion which sustained them. While diplomatic efforts had brought weapons of mass destruction under control, over the same period the assault rifle had become the weapon for mass killing. In the last decade, 3 million people had died in conflicts fought with small arms alone. The term “small arms” was inadequate, as there was nothing small about the misery and disruption they had caused.

Most of the conflicts had taken place in the developing world, but most of the firearms were made in the industrialized world, so responsibility belonged to all, he said. There were three main areas where cooperation was required. First, existing firearms that were out of control must be impounded and destroyed. The number of firearms in the world was not known, but there were probably more firearms than personal computers. New imaginative ways to secure the surrender of firearms must be developed.

Second, the flow of firearms must also be reduced, he said. The ECOWAS moratorium was welcome, but manufacturing countries had an equal responsibility. The European Union had developed a code of conduct requiring consultation about contracts for sales that were refused, and a joint action seeking to ensure that the ownership of military firepower was the preserve of legitimate governments.

Finally, the illicit trade in firearms –- a trade just as deadly as the drugs trade -- must be halted, he said. His country strongly supported work on a firearms protocol. The international community should explore the feasibility of an international legal basis for marking firearms, so they could be tracked. Meeting the challenge posed by small arms would require concerted action by: producers and purchasers; businesses and bureaucrats; and border guards. Today’s Council debate provided a clear signal of the international community’s resolve.

BORIS FRLEC, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, said he looked favourably on the draft prepared by Canada on the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. He would support the Council’s presidential statement.

The surplus and insufficient control of small arms was the source of the small arms problem, he said. Attention should be paid to effective stockpile management and disposal of surplus weapons to prevent illicit arms flows. Countries with the resources and expertise should provide assistance to that end. Further, because small arms played an important role in both legal and illicit international arms transfers, and they were outside the scope of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms transfers, the Disarmament Commission’s guidelines for international arms transfers, adopted in 1996, should apply.

In addition, he said small arms and light weapons remaining in affected areas after conflicts were resolved presented a serious impediment to post- conflict peace-building and reconstruction. The Security Council should consider disarmament as a most crucial component of post-conflict activities, when defining mandates. It should pay due attention to weapons collection, disposal and destruction. The Council sanctions committees should also address the role of small arms and light weapons in implementing arms embargoes. Monitoring mechanisms to prevent violations of arms embargoes should be put in place, and the Council should call for better compliance with reporting on national implementation measures.

Anti-personnel mines, which were in the category of small arms and light weapons, had a strong humanitarian connotation, he added. He cited the Slovenia- based International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance as an example of regional and international cooperation for addressing landmine problems. The Demining Trust Fund could serve as a model for cooperation on issues related to small arms and light weapons. It would provide an example of how to assist affected countries.

DATUK SERI SYED HAMID ALBAR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, said the proliferation of small arms impeded efforts at peacemaking and peace-building, and the illicit trade in small arms threatened international peace and security. The problem must be addressed practically at the national, regional and global levels. It should be approached from a holistic perspective, including such elements as arms control and disarmament, post-conflict peace-building, conflict prevention and socio-economic development.

The United Nations, and the Security Council in particular, could and should play a critical role in checking the proliferation of small arms, he continued. The United Nations should continue to become a central forum for enhancing public awareness of the consequences of the use of small arms. It should continue to serve as a clearing house for information, to facilitate an exchange of national experiences and to arrive at agreements and arrangements suited to the specific situations of Member States. Malaysia welcomed the Secretary-General's decision to establish the Coordinated Action on Small Arms (CASA). Also, the many recommendations in Mr. Annan's report on small arms deserved serious consideration.

Other initiatives were being undertaken by various parties to develop viable policy options, he noted. He reviewed some efforts by regional organizations and also drew attention to the important role being played by non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Malaysia supported any initiative by the United Nations, individual countries and NGOs in dealing with the issue.

The problem must be clearly defined -- it was complex on the political, legal, technical, economic and social levels -- and approaches and strategies must be formulated to address it, he said. It was important to note that well over 100 Member States did not manufacture weapons domestically, and had to rely on imports to meet their legitimate needs. The flow of small arms, particularly to developing countries, was driven not only by forces of demand, but also of supply.

He supported the convening of an international conference on the illicit trafficking of small arms, he said. Such a conference would afford the opportunity for an in-depth analysis of all aspects of the illicit arms trade. The conference should be focused and action-oriented, and draw upon regional experiences. As the trade in illicit arms affected so many developing countries, it would be appropriate for the conference to be chaired by one of them. Finally, he stressed that global efforts to address the issue of small arms should not detract from efforts to address nuclear disarmament, which remained the greatest threat to life on the planet.

LLOYD AXWORTHY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada, said the proliferation, misuse and excessive accumulation of small arms and light weapons was a direct concern for the Council. The international community needed new ways to approach the problem of small arms. Small arms were ubiquitous, but they were useless without ammunition. The international community must consider how it might track, control or mark ammunition as one way of controlling the lethal effect of those weapons. Sometimes, it was too late to stop the supply of weapons themselves, but if one stopped the supply of bullets, the killing could be stopped.

Canada supported the proposal for a global conference on the illicit arms trade in all its aspects in the year 2001, but one could not wait until 2001 to take action, he said. There must be practical approaches to the problem now and more active measures to limit the uses of those deadly weapons. The Council needed to inform itself about the abuse of small arms and military weapons in its examination of individual conflicts, and make redressing those abuses the centrepiece of efforts to restore stability.

Where appropriate, he added, the Council should impose arms embargoes and other sanctions targeting the illicit trades that paid for those weapons. The Council must ensure full and effective implementation of those measures. As the chair of the Angola sanctions committee, Canada supported choking the illegal diamond revenues that fuelled the war effort of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), and reducing access to petroleum sources that made it possible for them to operate their war machine, as well as to curtail acquisition of the weapons that made the continuation of the war possible. If those efforts were successful, it would help the Council devise models that might apply to other conflicts.

In that context, he said, efforts to control the spread of small arms called for a shift in the way in which sanctions were applied. Comprehensive sanctions could not be used as a way of doing peace and security on the cheap. Sanctions needed to be razor sharp and should be pointed at the perpetrators of the conflict. The General Assembly could reinforce and push the Council to implement Council resolutions. Regional organizations could reinforce stability and security with arrangements on illicit and licit trade and trafficking in those weapons. Individual Member States could act to ensure that they had the legal framework in place to control the import and export of small arms and to destroy those weapons surplus to their legitimate needs.

He said NGOs and civil society could work in partnership with governments to promote the implementation of measures designed to enhance individual security by curbing the spread and use of small weapons and working to build societies that saw no value in the illegal possession and use of arms. The Council should pledge to achieve a global division of labour to fight on all fronts -- from the Council to individual governments to the level of community organizations -- to address the menace of small arms.

SERGEY V. LAVROV (Russian Federation) said the problem of small arms and light weapons proliferation was being addressed in various forums. The Russian Federation recognized the relevance of the subject and understood apprehensions that such proliferation could threaten peace and security. The problem, however, could not be resolved with one stroke. Rather, continuous efforts must aim at the long-term perspective. The United Nations had a leadership role to play. In 1997 and 1999, United Nations experts had prepared reports with specific recommendations and he hoped their implementation would impose order on the uncontrolled trafficking of such weapons.

As affirmed by Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, States had a legitimate right to self-defence, he said. At the same time, he was aware of the concerns on the part of some regarding the need to limit such weapons. Attention should not be focused on radical ideas, but rather on specific and concrete steps, with particular attention to crisis areas.

Regarding the need to enhance the effectiveness of arms embargoes, he said that porous embargoes would only exacerbate conflicts and undermine the United Nations authority. To be effective, there was a need for cooperation between police, and customs and licensing bodies. As a major exporter of small arms and light weapons, the Russian Federation was undertaking efforts to tighten control and intensifying its fight against illicit production and trade, including its rules and procedures for production, transfer, storage and export.

He said he supported the involvement of the United Nations in efforts to collect and destroy light weapons, given the agreement of relevant States, and he was ready to support regional initiatives, if they were non-discriminatory. Both exporters and importers must be involved. It was not appropriate for one country to put forward large-scale initiatives and then have those be presented automatically to others, without consultations. The efforts of the entire international community must be joined.

The line between licit and illicit arms was often hard to establish, he continued. The Russian Federation was not against transparency, in principle, but proposals for international registration of small arms and light weapons transfers would be difficult to implement. He hoped that the international conference on problems in the illicit arms trade would prove a milestone in efforts to address the issue.

GUIDO DI TELLA, Minister for External Relations, International Commerce and Culture of Argentina, said the problem of small arms had three dimensions: humanitarian, economic, and security. The negative impact of the proliferation of small arms on human security must be curbed without violating legitimate national defence as defined in the Charter. However, an integrated approach to the problem was lacking. In that context, he supported the holding of an international conference in 2001. Also, Article 26 of the Charter should be implemented, so as to establish a system for regulating armaments. That responsibility was conferred on the Council, and it must not be evaded.

LUIZ FELIPE LAMPREIA, Minister for Foreign Relations of Brazil, said that the legitimate defence and security needs of States, as foreseen in Article 51 of the Charter, must be borne in mind when proposing measures to deal with the highly complex issue of small arms. Due to its multiple dimensions –- humanitarian, criminal, disarmament and security –- the matter called for an overarching and integrated approach. Its complexity should not, however, deter the global community.

Brazil had fully complied with all arms embargoes imposed by Security Council resolutions, he said. It was active in the Group of Governmental Experts on Small Arms, which was a model clearing house for the diversity of perceptions on the complex issue. The Group had taken note, for example, that there was no internationally accepted definition of what was a proportional and integrated approach to security and development. He reaffirmed Brazil’s interest in having the General Assembly agree to convene, in 2001, an international conference on the

illicit arms trade in all its aspects. That conference would provide the ideal setting for the consideration of measures geared towards providing the effective, generally accepted and ongoing implementation of the recommendations of the Group of Experts.

At the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, Brazil and Canada had proposed the negotiation of a protocol on the illicit manufacturing and trafficking in firearms, ammunition and other related materials to the upcoming Convention on Transnational Organized Crime, he said. Those negotiations were well advanced.

Together with Norway, Brazil had stimulated debate on the marking of light weapons, which was crucial in tracing their origin, he continued. Further, it was essential that global initiatives be accompanied by regional ones. Being a region free of international conflicts, South America traditionally boasted low levels of military expenditures. Small arms was of concern mainly in connection with criminal activities. In other regions, controlling the proliferation of small arms was of direct concern to post-conflict peace-building.

The Council could play an important role in the matter, he added, because in its daily dealings with conflict situations, it came into constant contact with the tragic consequences of the unrestricted spread of small arms. Another reason was because strengthening the arms trade embargoes could have a tangible effect in minimizing the consequences of the arms flow. The presidential statement to be adopted today was an additional element in the international community’s efforts to eliminate the destabilizing proliferation of small arms.

WANG GUANGYA, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, said the excessive accumulation and illegal transfer of small arms had intensified conflicts in some regions and had caused civilian casualties. In July, the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on Small Arms had adopted a report on international progress in dealing with the issue, which would be helpful in preparing for the 2001 international conference on small arms.

China was ready for active involvement in efforts to solve the problems caused by small arms, he said. China exercised strict control over the manufacture and export of small arms, and it had instituted laws for the control of guns and military material. China had achieved great progress in cracking down on the illegal manufacture and smuggling of guns, and it hoped the presidential statement on small arms would give impetus for solving the problem through global and regional cooperation. However, a number of observations were warranted.

First, he said, the Security Council should pay due attention to the issue of small arms, but it should concentrate on issues pertinent to international peace and security. The issue of small arms should be handled by the Department for Disarmament Affairs, the First Committee and other competent United Nations bodies. Second, in solving the problem, the sovereignty of concerned countries should be fully respected and their internal affairs not subjected to interference, so as to avoid complicating conflicts. The rightful self-defence and security needs of countries should be considered and their legitimate right to possess, manufacture and transfer small arms should be guaranteed.

In post-conflict and peace-building situations, he continued, matters related to small arms should be carried out strictly in compliance with voluntary agreements among concerned parties and with due respect for arrangements. And, because the issue of small arms had complex roots and covered widely divergent areas, it was imperative to treat both causes and symptoms of problems on a case- by-case basis. Efforts derived from one experience and benefiting some were not necessarily applicable to others.

SHAIKH MOHAMMED BIN MUBARAK AL-KHALIFA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bahrain, said the international community must take prompt action to check the flow and fight the illicit trafficking of small and light weapons. Those were dangerous for a multiplicity of reasons, including that they impeded the provision of humanitarian assistance to civilians in conflict zones. His Government was committed to putting an end to all conflicts and called for the establishment of regulations to govern the trade in small arms. It supported all international efforts, within the context of the preparation for the international conference to be held in 2001, that were aimed at the containment and prevention of the illicit flow of such weapons.

In view of its concern with the maintenance of international peace and security, the Security Council should call upon those who traded in such arms to halt their flow to conflict zones. The Council must reconfirm its stand against the illicit traffic of such arms and against the phenomena of terrorism and organized crime. Further, the supply of weapons and funds must be denied to terrorists and fanatics. Their actions should be restricted by the tightening of immigration and residence laws, and they should be prevented from enjoying freedom of work and safe haven.

He hoped the current meeting would lead to the agreement of all Member States on a definitive and unified position, with a view to eliminating the risks and results of the misuse of small arms. He endorsed the content of the presidential statement that would be issued today.

MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said that, like many countries emerging from war, Namibia had been inundated with small arms. While the numbers had been reduced significantly, illicit trafficking continued in his country due to its geographical location. The availability of small arms and light weapons encouraged the outbreak or continuation of hostilities. Weapons forced people to live in an atmosphere of insecurity, where differences became polarized and peace was fragile. That state of affairs was due largely to the impunity with which weapons manufacturers and arms exporters transferred small arms and light weapons to regimes with histories of human rights violations, and to rebel groups and anti-national elements.

The merchants of war, motivated by the prospect of fortune, felt neither urgency to curb transfers nor concern about the devastating consequences arms had on developing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, he said. Arms transfers and trafficking, and the conflicts they fed, had devastating social, political and economic consequences in that region, which, despite its natural resources, had areas that were the poorest in the world.

The international community must seek to address the culture of impunity related to arms trafficking, he continued. Many argued that it was the duty of African leaders alone to constrain the availability and flow of arms to the region. But, he believed that the effort to rid Africa of superfluous small arms was a shared responsibility of the region's leaders and the international community. Attention should also be directed at arms transferred to irresponsible regimes, which would distribute them among ethnic groups bent on committing acts of ethnic cleansing. The governments of arms-exporting countries, as well as recipient countries, should exercise responsibility in transactions.

JEAN PING, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Francophonie of Gabon, said there was an urgent need to adopt measures on the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. Without cooperation between those countries which produced such arms and those who purchased them, all the efforts by individual governments and the United Nations to stem illicit trafficking would not produce the desired result.

He said the African States had adopted measures to combat the illicit movement of arms, including moratoria on the production of small arms and light weapons. Africa was determined to support the fight against illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and expected the rest of the international community to demonstrate the same determination. The Council should ensure full implementation of resolution 1209 (1998) that, among other things, demanded that the Member States that had the ablity to do so cooperate with African States in the implementaion of national, regional and subregional programmes to combat the movement of illegal arms and the neutralization and voluntary destruction of arms.

He appealed to all Member States to take part in the preparatory work and in the conference that would consider all the aspects of the arms trade.

MOMODOU LAMIN SEDAT JOBE, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the Gambia, said in societies where there were social problems, poverty and crime, the availability of small arms had profoundly negative consequences. The problem of small arms and light weapons posed complex challenges to all levels of society. The cold war was over. It was, therefore, no longer acceptable to supply arms as a conflict management device.

The challenges posed by such weapons could not be addressed by individual governments alone, least of all countries in regions of conflict, he said. The problems associated with proliferation went beyond national and regional concerns; they required international and global cooperation. Of course, local efforts were necessary, and even central. Due to the magnitude of the problem, however, international processes were needed to reinforce local, national or regional processes, as well as for the development of international norms to address the problem. International efforts to address the twin problems of illicit transfers and excessive accumulation should be encouraged, but a coherent and coordinated approach was crucial.

To address the problems of proliferation, measures for the promotion of social, economic and political conditions of safety and security were indispensable, he said. Also necessary were clear policies to improve domestic regulation, improved controls for production and transfers, and measures to address illicit trade and ensure removal of weapons from conflict situations.

The Security Council could address the issues of proliferation in its interventions, he said. Arms embargoes could play a central role to help reduce proliferation, but they were often honoured more in their breach, than their observance. The Council, therefore, should make constructive efforts to ensure that such embargoes were effective.

While it could be argued that all States had the right to acquire arms for their defence needs, in the case of Africa, development interests required that a minimum of resources be diverted for military purposes, he said. African States should participate in the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, and he supported the establishment of regional registers. While it was true that African States must get their priorities right, it was also true that arms manufacturing States must exercise restraint in supplying arms to African States, particularly in regions of conflict.

MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT, Secretary of State of the United States, said prices of small arms were low, but their social costs were high. Funds were diverted, crops were mortgaged and relief supplies were stolen so the world’s poorest countries could spend hundreds of millions of dollars buying small arms and other weapons. People were the losers. The international community must develop an integrated, comprehensive response. The United States strongly supported the initiatives included in the Council President’s statement.

The United States was engaged in several other initiatives, she said. It would refrain from selling arms to regions of conflict not covered by arms embargoes. It had passed laws to prohibit traffickers who were subject to United States law from brokering illicit deals elsewhere. It was working with the European Union to develop principles of restraint and a joint action plan. It supported the efforts of the United Nations Centre for International Crime Prevention and the Organization of American States (OAS). And it planned to support the West African small arms moratorium.

The United States would commit to completing negotiations on a firearms protocol to the United Nations transnational organized crime convention by the end of 2000, she said. The economy of war, which supported illicit arms flows, must also be attacked. Illicit arms flows were often fuelled by sales of gemstones, precious metals and narcotics. The United States hoped to work with other nations and with industry, at the United Nations, to strengthen certification regimes, particularly with diamond-producing countries. No solution to illicit traffic in small arms would emerge overnight, but governments had a responsibility to keep transactions transparent and make those involved accountable. If they did that, borders could be tightened, it would be harder to move small arms around, and illegitimate traffickers could be driven out of business.

The President of the Council, JOZIAS VAN AARTSEN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, speaking as the representative of his country, said it seemed that all agreed that small arms posed challenges that the Security Council must address, in view of its mandate. A coherent approach must be used in addressing arms proliferation, taking into account all aspects of the highly complex issue. Coherence was called for in the search for practical ways and means to curb the wrongful use of small arms, and coherence should apply to the efforts of the international community, individual countries, regional organizations and civil society. The voice of civil society should be heard in the preparations for the small arms conference in 2001. A “group of friends to the conference” could considerably alleviate the preparatory work to that gathering.

The Security Council could play an important role in alerting member States to the detrimental consequences of continued arms flows to tension zones and regions in conflict, he said. It should encourage member States to refrain from such potentially harmful exports. Also, the Council could consider looking into ways to enhance the effectiveness of present arms embargoes, for example, by reviewing the functioning of all existing sanctions committees.

Further, the Council had a key role to play regarding the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants, he continued. Former combatants and surplus arms were a dangerous combination. When possible, the Council should incorporate adequate measures into United Nations peacekeeping mandates to prevent small arms from causing additional suffering after a conflict ended.

Presidential Statement

Resuming his role as Council President, Mr. VAN AARTSEN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, then read out the following presidential statement, which will be issued as document S/PRST/1999/28:

“The Security Council recalls its primary responsibility under the Charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security, in view of which its attention is drawn inevitably to small arms and light weapons as the most frequently used weapons in the majority of recent armed conflicts.

“The Security Council notes with grave concern that the destabilizing accumulation of small arms has contributed to the intensity and duration of armed conflicts. The Council also notes that the easy availability of small arms can be a contributing factor to undermining peace agreements, complicating peace-building efforts and impeding political, economic and social development. In this regard, the Council acknowledges that the challenge posed by small arms is multifaceted and involves security, humanitarian and development dimensions.

“The Security Council is deeply concerned that countries involved in, emerging from, or close to protracted armed conflicts are particularly vulnerable to violence resulting from the indiscriminate use of small arms in armed conflict. In this regard, the Council recalls the report of the Secretary-General on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict of 8 September (S/1999/957) and its resolution 1265 (1999) of 17 september 1999.

“The Security Council emphasizes that the right of individual and collective self-defence recognized in Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations and the legitimate security demands of all countries should be fully taken into account. The Council recognizes that small arms are traded globally for legitimate security and commercial considerations. Bearing in mind the considerable volume of this trade, the Council underlines the vital importance of effective national regulations and controls on small arms transfers. The Council also encourages the governments of arms-exporting countries to exercise the highest degree of responsibility in these transactions.

“The Security Council emphasizes that the prevention of illicit trafficking is of immediate concern in the global search for ways and means to curb the wrongful use of small arms, including their use by terrorists.

“The Security Council welcomes the various initiatives that are currently under way, globally and regionally, to address the issue. These initiatives at the regional level include the Economic Community of West African States moratorium on the production and trade in small arms, the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials, the European Union Joint Action on Small Arms and the European Union Code of Conduct on Arms Exports. At the global level, the Council welcomes the negotiation process on the elaboration of an international convention against transnational organized crime, including a draft Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition and Other Related Materials.

“The Security Council emphasizes the importance of regional cooperation in tackling the issue of illicit trafficking in small arms. Initiatives, such as the work done by the Southern African Development Community and the Southern African Regional Police Commissioners Coordinating Organization, illustrate how regional cooperation can be harnessed to tackle small arms proliferation. The Council recognizes that while regions may sometimes benefit from the experiences of others, one region's experience cannot be extended to others without taking into account their different characteristics.

“The Security Council also welcomes and encourages efforts to prevent and combat the excessive and destabilizing accumulation of and illicit trafficking in small arms and invites Member States to involve civil society in these efforts.

“The Security Council notes with satisfaction the growing attention paid within the United Nations system to the problems associated with the destabilizing accumulation of small arms. The Council welcomes the initiative by the Secretary- General for Coordinated Action on Small Arms (CASA), designed to ensure a coherent and coordinated approach to the small arms issue within the United Nations system.

“The Security Council notes that although the humanitarian impact of small arms in a conflict situation is verifiably serious, a detailed analysis is not available. The Council, therefore, requests the Secretary-General to specifically include the humanitarian and socio-economic implications of the excessive and destabilizing accumulation and transfer of small arms and light weapons, including their illicit production and trade, in the studies he is currently undertaking.

“The Security Council calls for effective implementation of arms embargoes, imposed by the Council in its relevant resolutions. The Council encourages Member States to provide the Sanctions Committees with available information on alleged violations of arms embargoes and recommends that the Chairmen of the Sanctions Committees invite relevant persons from organs, organizations and committees of the United Nations system, as well as other intergovernmental and regional organizations and other parties concerned, to provide information on issues relating to the implementation and enforcement of arms embargoes.

“The Security Council also calls for measures to discourage arms flows to countries or regions engaged in or emerging from armed conflicts. The Council encourages Member States to establish and abide by voluntary national or regional moratoriums on arms transfers with a view to facilitating the process of reconciliation in these countries or regions. The Council recalls the precedents for such moratoriums and the international support extended for their implementation.

“The Security Council recognizes the importance of incorporating, as appropriate, within specific peace agreements, with the consent of the parties, and on a case-by-case basis within United Nations peacekeeping mandates, clear terms for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants, including the safe and timely disposal of arms and ammunition. The Council requests the Secretary-General to provide the negotiators of peace accords with a record of best practice based upon experience in the field.

“The Security Council requests the Secretary-General to develop a reference manual for use in the field on ecologically safe methods of weapons destruction in order better to enable Member States to ensure the disposal of weapons voluntarily surrendered by civilians, or retrieved from former combatants. The Council invites Member States to facilitate the preparation of such a manual.

“The Security Council welcomes the recommendations of the Group of Governmental Experts on Small Arms (document A/54/258), including the convening of an international conference on the illicit arms trade in all its aspects no later than 2001, noting the offer by Switzerland to host the conference. The Council encourages Member States to participate actively and constructively in the conference and any preparatory meetings, taking into account the recommendations contained in this statement, with a view to ensuring that the conference makes a meaningful and lasting contribution to reducing the incidence of illicit arms trafficking.”

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