26/10/2001
Press Release
GA/DIS/3210



Fifty-sixth General Assembly

First Committee

15th Meeting (AM)


FIRST COMMITTEE TEXT CALLS FOR SMALL ARMS REVIEW CONFERENCE BY 2006,


BIENNIAL MEETINGS TO ASSESS ILLICIT ARMS TRADE ACTION PROGRAMME


Six Other Disarmament Draft Resolutions Also Introduced

Disarmament Under-Secretary-General Notes New Demands on Department


A new draft resolution of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) would have the General Assembly decide to convene a conference no later than 2006 to review progress made in implementing the Programme of Action adopted at the one United Nations Conference aimed at eliminating the illicit small arms trade.


Also by that 81-Power text, introduced this morning by the representative of Colombia, the Assembly would decide on the date and venue of the Conference at its fifty-eighth session. It would also decide to convene a meeting of States on a biennial basis, commencing in 2003, to consider national, regional and global implementation of the Action Programme.


Six other texts were also introduced today, concerning:  assistance to States for curbing illicit small arms traffic; regional disarmament; conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels; security questions in Central Africa; good-neighbourliness in South-Eastern Europe; and the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons).


Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Jayantha Dhanapala, told the Committee that the draft on a further Conference on small arms in 2006 had entrusted the Secretary-General with a number of new tasks, for which the programme budget implications had not yet been assessed.  The limited resources of the Department for Disarmament Affairs had been fully utilized to carry out its mandate in two main areas of concern; weapons of mass destruction, in particular nuclear disarmament and the elimination of those weapons, and also conventional arms, including current and future challenges.


Now, new demands had been made on the Department, owing to the emerging trends in the field of disarmament and security, he said.  Without additional resources, beyond the moderate increase presently being considered, the Disarmament Department would be unable to effectively perform the new tasks


15th Meeting (AM)                                      26 October 2001 


entrusted to it under the present draft text.  He reiterated the Secretary-General's appeal to Member States to ensure that resources were made available for the high priority areas and urged the Committee's support for a modest request.


By the terms of a draft text on assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and collecting them, introduced by the representative of Mali, the Assembly would encourage the Secretary-General to pursue action aimed at curbing the illicit circulation of small arms and to collect such arms in the affected States that so requested, with the support of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa and in close cooperation with the Organization of African Unity (OAU). 


Under a related text introduced by the representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa, the Assembly would emphasize the need to make the early-warning mechanism in Central Africa operational, so that it would serve as an instrument for analyzing and monitoring the political situations in the States members of the Committee with a view to preventing the outbreak of future armed conflicts, and as a technical body through which the member States would carry out the Committee's 1992 programme of work. 


Under a draft introduced by the representative of Pakistan, the Assembly would call upon States to conclude agreements, wherever possible, for nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament and confidence-building measures at the regional and subregional levels and affirm that global and regional approaches to disarmament complemented each other and should, therefore, be pursued simultaneously to promote regional and international peace and security.


By terms of another text introduced by that representative, the Assembly would decide to give urgent consideration to the issues involved and request the Conference on Disarmament to consider the formulation of principles that could serve as a framework for regional agreements on conventional arms control.


According to the draft resolution introduced by the representative of Sweden on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, the Assembly would call upon all States that had not yet done so to become parties to the Convention and its Protocols, particularly to the Amended Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby Traps and Other Devices (Protocol II).


A draft resolution on the maintenance of international security-good neighbourliness, stability and development in South-Eastern Europe was introduced by the representative of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.  By the text the Assembly would call upon all States, the relevant international organizations and competent organs of the United Nations to respect the principles of territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states and the inviolability of borders, and continue to take measures to eliminate threats to international peace and security and prevent conflicts which could lead to the violent disintegration of States.


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      Representatives for the following delegations made comments on the thematic issues this morning:  South Africa, Japan, Netherlands, Australia, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Nauru, Guinea, Nepal, Uruguay [on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR)], Niger, Belgium (on behalf of the European Union), Norway and Poland.  The observer for Switzerland also spoke.


The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. Monday, 29 October, to continue the second stage of its work.


Background


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its second phase of work, namely thematic discussions on all disarmament and security items and the introduction and consideration of related draft resolutions and decisions. 


Introductions of draft texts on the following topics were expected:  illicit small arms trade; Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons; assistance to States for curbing illicit small arms traffic; security questions in Central Africa; good-neighbourliness in South-Eastern Europe; regional disarmament; and conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels.


A draft text on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons (document A/C.1/56/L.47) would have the Assembly decide to convene a conference no later than 2006 to review progress made in the implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, the date and venue to be decided at its fifty-eighth session.


The Assembly would also decide to convene a meeting of States on a biennial basis, commencing in 2003, to consider national, regional and global implementation of the Programme of Action.  It would call upon all States to implement it and encourage the United Nations and other appropriate international and regional organizations to undertake initiatives to promote the implementation of the Action Programme.


In a related term, it would encourage States to take appropriate national measures to destroy surplus, confiscated or collected small arms and light weapons, subject to any legal restraint associated with the preparation of criminal prosecutions, unless another form of disposition or use had been officially authorized and provided that such weapons had been duly marked and registered, and to submit, on a voluntary basis, information to the Secretary-General on types and quantities destroyed as well as the methods of their destruction or disposition.


The Assembly would decide to consider further steps to enhance international cooperation in preventing, combating and eradicating illicit brokering in those weapons at its next session, and it would request the Secretary-General to undertake a United Nations study, commencing at the current session, to examining the feasibility of developing an international instrument to enable States to identify and trace illicit small arms and light weapons and to submit the study to the fifty-eighth session.


      The draft resolution is sponsored by Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, France, Gabon, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, San Marino, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela and Yugoslavia.


According to a draft resolution on the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to be Excessively Injurious or To Have Indiscriminate Effects (document A/C.1/56/L.43), the Assembly would call upon all States that had not yet done so to become parties to the Convention and its Protocols, particularly to the Amended Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby Traps and Other Devices (Protocol II), with a view to achieving its widest possible adherence at an early date. 


The Assembly would call on all States party to the Convention to express their consensus to be bound by that Protocol, and also call upon successor States to take appropriate measures to ensure universal adherence to those instruments.  It welcomed the proposal contained in the Final Declaration of the First Review Conference that the next Review Conference should consider further measures concerning other conventional weapons that may be deemed to cause unnecessary suffering.   


It would note the proposals put forward by states Parties and the International Committee of the Red Cross for consideration of, among others, the issues of:  explosive remnants of war; extension of the scope of the Convention to non-international armed conflicts; land mines other than anti-personnel mines; and small-calibre ammunitions.  It would request the Secretary-General to continue to periodically inform the Assembly of ratifications, acceptances of, and accession to the Convention and its Protocols.  


The draft resolution is sponsored by Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay and Yugoslavia.


By the terms of a draft text on assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and collecting them sponsored by Mali (document A/C.1/56/L.51), the Assembly would encourage the Secretary-General to pursue action aimed at curbing the illicit circulation of small arms and to collect such arms in the affected States that so requested, with the support of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa and in close cooperation with the Organization of African Unity (OAU). 


The Assembly would also encourage the establishment of national commissions against the proliferation of small arms in the Sahara-Sahelian subregion and would invite the international community to support their smooth functioning. 


The Assembly would welcome the Declaration of a Moratorium on the Importation, Exportation and Manufacture of Small Arms and Light Weapons in West Africa, adopted by the heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on 31 October 1998, and encourage the international community to support its implementation. 


By a related term, the Assembly would encourage the involvement of civil society organizations and associations in the efforts of the national committees to combat the illicit trade in small arms and in the implementation of the Moratorium.


By the terms of a draft resolution on the maintenance of international security-good-neighbourliness, stability and development in South-Eastern Europe (document A/56/C.1/L.41), the Assembly would call upon all States, the relevant international organizations and competent organs of the United Nations to respect the principles of territorial integrity and sovereignty of all States and the inviolability of borders, continue to take measures to eliminate threats to international peace and security and prevent conflicts which could lead to the violent disintegration of States. 


The Assembly would call on all participants in the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe, and all concerned international organizations, to continue to support the efforts of South-Eastern European States towards regional stability and cooperation, so as to enable them to pursue sustainable development and integration into European structures.


In a related term, the Assembly would reject the use of violence in pursuit of political aims, and stress that only peaceful political solutions could assure a stable and democratic future for South-Eastern Europe.  It would also stress the importance of regional efforts aimed at preventing conflicts, noting with satisfaction the role of the Multinational Peace Force for South-Eastern Europe. 


The Assembly would urge all States to take effective measures against the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, to help projects aimed at the destruction of surplus stocks of small arms, and stress the importance of closer cooperation among States in such areas as crime prevention, illicit trade in people, organized crime, drug trafficking and money-laundering.


The draft resolution is sponsored by Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, and Yugoslavia.


By the terms of a draft resolution on the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa (document A/C.1/56/L.2), the Assembly would emphasize the need to make the early-warning mechanism in Central Africa operational, so that it would serve as an instrument for analyzing and monitoring the political situations in the States members of the Committee, with a view to preventing the outbreak of future armed conflicts, and as a technical body through which the member States would carry out the Committee's 1992 programme of work. 


In a related provision, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to continue to provide increased assistance to the countries of Central Africa for coping with the problems of refugees and displaced persons in their territories. 


The Assembly would further request the Secretary-General to support the establishment of a network of parliamentarians, with a view to the creation of a subregional parliament in Central Africa.  It would appeal to Member States and to governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to contribute to the Advisory Committee's trust fund.


The draft resolution is sponsored by Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe and Zambia.


A draft resolution on regional disarmament (document A/C.1/56/L.27) would have the Assembly call upon States to conclude agreements, wherever possible, for nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament and confidence-building measures at the regional and subregional levels.


The Assembly would affirm that global and regional approaches to disarmament complemented each other and should, therefore, be pursued simultaneously to promote regional and international peace and security.  It would support and encourage efforts aimed at promoting confidence-building measures at the regional and subregional levels in order to ease regional tensions and to further disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation measures at those levels.


Further, the Assembly would stress that sustained efforts were needed, within the framework of the Conference on Disarmament and under the umbrella of the United Nations, to make progress on the entire range of disarmament issues.


The draft resolution is sponsored by Bangladesh, Colombia, Egypt, Fiji, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Turkey.


By terms of the draft resolution on conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels (document A/C.1/56/L.28), the Assembly -- convinced that conventional arms control should be pursued primarily in the regional and subregional contexts, since most threats to peace and security in the post-cold war era arose mainly among States located in the same region or subregion -- would decide to give urgent consideration to the issues involved.


The Assembly would request the Conference on Disarmament to consider the formulation of principles that could serve as a framework for regional agreements on conventional arms control and looked forward to a report of the Conference on the subject.  It would also ask the Secretary-General to seek the views of Member States on the subject and submit a report to it at its next session.


The draft resolution is sponsored by Bangladesh, Fiji, Germany, Italy, Nepal, Pakistan, Spain, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Ukraine.


CAMILO REYES (Colombia) introduced the draft resolution on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects (document A/C.1/56/L.47).  He said that the fact that small arms and light weapons caused the deaths of 400,000 people annually was evidence enough of the gravity of the problem.


The United Nations Conference on small arms held this past July had resulted in the adoption of a programme of action, he said.  The programme was also a statement of States’ political resolve to fight the problem.  It included comprehensive steps to be taken at the national, regional, and global levels to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade, as well as a follow-up mechanism.


The delegations of Japan, South Africa and Colombia had been working with other interested delegations to prepare the draft resolution, he said.  The draft recalled in its preamble all resolutions adopted by the General Assembly on the subject and welcomed the programme of action adopted at the Conference.  Its operative paragraphs included follow-up on measures, including a review Conference no later than 2006 and reviewing progress made in implementing the programme of action on a biennial basis beginning in 2003.  It also requested the Secretary-General to undertake a United Nations study to examine the feasibility of creating an international instrument to deal with the issues.


The resolution called upon all States to implement the programme of action, he continued.  It also called upon other international and regional organizations, civil society and NGOs to develop initiatives to ensure that resources and expertise would be devoted to the issues.  It called on States to destroy surplus small arms and light weapons on a voluntary basis.  It called on States to provide information to the Secretary-General on the quantity and type of weapons they had destroyed and for reports on progress made in implementing the programme of action.


More than 70 delegations had sponsored the draft resolution and it should be adopted by consensus, he said.  After long negotiations, the international community now had a map.  The following steps could be taken immediately:  strengthen laws to effectively control the production and transfer of small arms; make the illicit manufacture, possession or storage of those weapons a criminal offense; establish national entities to coordinate implementation of the programme of action; and to establish or appoint a national contact centre to enhance cooperation with other States.  Those activities would generate the momentum needed to implement the more difficult measures.  He concluded by reminding the first Committee of the importance of ensuring that the Department of Disarmament affairs be given all the political and financial resources it needed.


JAYANTHA DHANAPALA, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, said he had asked for the floor to comment on the draft just introduced on small arms (document A/C.1/56/L.47).  By its terms, the Secretary-General had been entrusted with a number of activities, as contained in the operative portion of the text.  Given that those were new tasks entrusted to the Secretary-General and that no programme budget implications had been assessed, a statement by the Secretary-General on financial implications was required, and was being provided.


He said that, while disarmament had been identified by the General Assembly in resolution 55/233 as one of the eight priority areas of the Organization, the Department for Disarmament Affairs was, in fact, the smallest department in the Secretariat and its share of the total proposed programme budget for the biennium 2002-2003 was 0.57 per cent.  The Department's limited resources had been fully utilized to carry out its mandate in the two main areas of concern:  weapons of mass destruction, in particular nuclear disarmament and the elimination of nuclear weapons; and conventional arms, including current and future challenges posed by small arms and light weapons and practical disarmament measures.


At the same time, new demands had been made on the Department, oweing to the emerging trends in the field of disarmament and security, he went on.  The Department needed to respond to an increasing number of requests for assistance in practical disarmament measures, received from -- in addition to Albania -- Bolivia, Cambodia, Congo-Brazzaville, Kenya and Niger.  Thus, the Department had requested a moderate increase in the budget, which was presently being considered by the Fifth Committee.  Without additional resources, the Department would not be able to effectively perform the new tasks entrusted to it under the present draft text.  The financial statement being prepared by the Department would be submitted to the Committee.


He said that, when introducing the programme budget implications for the biennium 2002-2003 in the Fifth Committee, the Secretary-General had pointed out that he was proposing a budget totaling $2.52 billion, which was a 0.5 per cent real resource reduction.  The Secretary-General had noted that his proposals had called for small, but important increases in certain priority areas, including disarmament.  He had appealed to Member States to make sure that resources were available for the high priority areas.  He reiterated that appeal and urged the Committee's support for a modest request in resources to enable the Disarmament Department to effectively discharge its responsibilities.


JEAN PHILIP DU PREEZ (South Africa) Commented on the draft text on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons (document A/C.1/56/L.47).  Japan, Colombia and South Africa had introduced the draft text in order to capture the progress that had been made this past year, with the adoption of a programme of action by a United Nations Conference on small arms.


The programme of action consolidated or replaced some resolutions passed by the First Committee on the subject, he said.  He praised the work of the representatives of Colombia and Mozambique for their contributions to the progress in combating the illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons.  The programme of action would enable the international community to address the problems stemming from the availability of those weapons.  It meant that, for the first time, the international community had a comprehensive, achievable plan that was based on the inputs from affected States.  The Conference had not been an end in itself, but was the beginning of an agreed framework for future work.  The success of the programme of action depended ultimately on the follow-up to the decisions, not the decisions themselves.


The main purpose of the draft text was to enable the General Assembly to act on the programme of action and to solidify the follow-up efforts to it.  It encouraged the destruction of stockpiles, the mobilization of expertise, and the provision of assistance to States for implementing the programme of action.  The Secretary-General should make sure that resources are available to the Secretariat to help States follow up.  He supported Under-Secretary-General Dhanapala’s appeal to increase funding for the Department of Disarmament Affairs.  The number of the sponsors of the resolution emphasized the broad support it enjoyed.  It should be adopted without a vote.


SEICHIRO NOBORU (Japan), commented on the draft text on the illicit trade in small arms (document A/C.1/56/L.47).  He said that Japan had been involved with small arms issues since 1995 and had played a role in the Conference on small arms that had taken place in July.  He was pleased that the conference had produced a programme of action that provided a framework for future action against problems posed by the illicit trade.


With the adoption of the programme of action, the international community’s efforts to combat the scourge of small arms had entered a new phase, he said.  The programme of action described effective solutions at the national, regional and global levels.  The resolution was a joint effort symbolizing the cooperation between the affected States and the ones with the capacity to produce small arms, as well as between the States of the North and South.  He underlined that, for success, States must be given the concrete means to implement the programme of action.  He thanked the Department of Disarmament Affairs and its Under-Secretary-General, for their continuing good work.


HENRIK SALANDER (Sweden) introduced a draft resolution on the 1980 Convention on the Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which may be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (document A/C.1/56/L.43).  He said that 2001 was an important year for the Convention, because a second review conference would convene in December.  It would be an important opportunity to develop the Convention as an instrument of humanitarian law. 


The Convention remained an integral part of international law applicable in armed conflicts, he said.  Because of the large number of civilians being afflicted by conflict, he said, it was more important than ever for the international community to fully implement the Convention and its Protocols, which was what the draft resolution called for.  The resolution also reflected another development —- that States parties were to meet annually to consult and cooperate on issues related to the second Protocol.  The resolution also addressed the issue of the upcoming second review Conference to be held in Geneva on 11 and 12 December.


He said proposals put forward in preparation for the Conference dealt with: compliance mechanisms; explosive remnants of war; extension of the scope of the Convention to non-international conflicts; landmines; and small-calibre ammunition.  He hoped the Conference would result in better protection for civilians in conflict situations.  The draft resolution was intended to promote the universalization of an important part of international humanitarian law and should, therefore, be adopted by consensus.  


CHRIS SANDERS (Netherlands) said he supported the draft resolution on the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.  That Convention and its Protocols reduced unnecessary suffering for both combatants and civilians.  Together, they were major instruments of international humanitarian law.  It was important that the rules pertaining to armed conflict were codified into international legally-binding instruments and that the norm be applied to all categories of conventional weapons, munitions and methods of conducting war.  He attached great importance, therefore, to the upcoming review conference of the Convention in December, as that provided the parties with opportunities to further develop and strengthen the regime.  He stressed the importance of the universalization of adherence to the Convention and its Protocols and joined Sweden in expressing the hope that the draft text be adopted without a vote.


BRONTE MOULES (Australia) commented on the draft text on Certain Conventional Weapons (document A/C.1/56/L.43).  She said that, as a co-sponsor of the resolution, Australia looked forward to the upcoming second review conference.  The Convention was an important instrument of international humanitarian law and one of its important attributes was that it could be developed to meet new challenges.  The effectiveness of the Convention and its continued relevance could be assured at the upcoming review conference.


The draft resolution’s operative paragraph 5 lists the substantive issues to be considered at the review conference, she said.  Those issues included proposals concerning weapons not yet covered under the Convention and others aimed at strengthening existing provisions.  Given the prospects for progress, and the importance of having the resources to do so, she welcomed operative paragraph 6 of the draft resolution.  Aside from the valued work of several ambassadors in making proposals, the chance to review the operation of the Convention’s existing provisions and protocols was also of great importance.  Australia’s priority was the universalization of the Convention and its protocols.  The International Committee of the Red Cross’ efforts in the context of the Convention were welcomed, as it had been a driving force behind the proposal on the explosive remnants of war.


CHEICKNA KEITA (Mali) introduced a draft resolution on assistance to States for curbing the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons (A/C.1/56/L.51 Rev 1) on behalf of ECOWAS.  The phenomena of insecurity and large-scale gang activity were linked to the circulation of small arms, which constituted a threat to the security and stability of States and regions.


In the preambular section of the draft text, regional and United Nations efforts to combat the problems of the trade in small arms were recalled, he said.  It also recalled the ideas expressed in the Millennium Report and in the Declaration of Bamako concerning the issues of small arms and welcomed the adoption of the programme of action at the United Nations Conference on small arms.


The draft resolution’s operative paragraphs describe the efforts of ECOWAS States and the United Nations to combat the scourge, he said.  It also called for States to create national commissions to deal with the problem and for civil society to support those efforts.  It recalled the moratorium on import and export of light weapons and suggested the possibility of extending it further.  He implored the international community to support the efforts of ECOWAS in combating the problems stemming from the availability of small arms.


MOUSSA NEBIE (Burkina Faso) said that conventional arms and light weapons had caused a tremendous loss of life and fueled armed conflict.  It had appeared that the network of distribution and dissemination of those arms could not be checked.  He reaffirmed his country's full support for the Bamako Declaration on the proliferation, circulation and trade of illicit light weapons.  His Government, aware that those arms destabilized States in the subregion --handicapping the creation of the climate of peace needed for social and economic development -- had established a high-level authority for controlling the import of those arms and their use. 


He said that that authority was comprised of members of the Government, National Assembly and the Chamber of Representatives and had as its task the control of all arms imports in accordance with the relevant moratorium in Africa on the illicit arms trade.  He commended the effective convening of the July Conference on small arms.  The action programme was not as good as States had wanted, but it was an important step towards a global solution to that phenomenon, which had so affected his country.  The Government had also established a National Committee to help implement measures to combat the illicit circulation of small arms.


RADAFIARISOA LEA RAHOLINIRINA (Madagascar) said that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons had become a major concern of the international community, taking into account the grave danger to international stability and security.  To reduce their excessive accumulation was a major global challenge.  The many political, economic and social consequences of that phenomenon had affected everyone.  The great availability of those weapons had ensured the creation of a culture of violence and impunity, which had taken root in many regions, particularly in Africa.  Those arms had increased the potential of repressive power and become a source of great suffering, especially among women and children. 


She said that the international community must continue to deal with the related matters.  In that context, she was pleased at the convening of the first United Nations Conference on the subject last July, which had sought to define a global and concerted approach to the phenomenon.  Even if light weapons could not be eradicated, and even if the Conference had not achieved all the desired results, the increased awareness of the need to limit their presence and end their proliferation had been an important step towards controlling one of the most pressing problems of the century.  More attention should be given to small arms held by individuals and their transfer to non-State groups, in order to come closer to the aspirations of the international community.


MATTHIAS HALTER, the observer of Switzerland, commented on the draft resolution on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (document A/C.1/56/L.43).  He was pleased that humanitarian considerations had strengthened awareness of the necessity to make progress on a more regular and structured Convention process.  He welcomed proposals on such issues as the expansion of the Convention to non-international conflicts and the explosive remnants of war.  Switzerland had made two of its own proposals, one on the regulation of sub-munitions and another concerning small-calibre ammunition.


Sub-munitions had had to be seen in the context of the proposal concerning the explosive remnants of war made by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), he said.  Sub-munitions had injurious effects on a scale similar to landmines.  The objective of Switzerland’s proposal was to provide for self-destruction and deactivation, with a 98 per cent degree of reliability for such munitions.  The technology to achieve that was available and affordable.  He expected the review conference to agree on a mandate for a group of experts to begin negotiations on a protocol on explosive remnants of war, including sub-munitions in a time frame that reflected the urgency of the problem.


The aim of the small-calibre ammunition proposal was to reinforce a basic humanitarian rule dating to 1899 concerning injuries caused by bullets, he said.  Switzerland had created a testing method to determine the wounding potential of small arms ammunition.  He expected the review conference to agree to ask a group of experts to pursue discussions on how best to deal with small arms ammunition in the context of the Convention.


VINCI NIEL CLODUMAR (Nauru) made a statement on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum Group concerning conventional weapons and small arms.  He said that the attacks of 11 September had highlighted the need for effective disarmament controls and machinery.  That included the pressing task of controlling the spread of small arms, to bring safety and prosperity to vulnerable people.  In the Pacific region, the possession of even a handful of unsophisticated weapons could threaten the security of people and their governments.


The adoption of the Programme of Action of the United Nations Conference on small arms was welcome, he said.  It strengthened the concerted efforts of the international community to address the humanitarian and economic impacts of the problem.  The adoption of the Programme of Action marked the start of a new phase in international efforts, the focus of which was to ensure effective implementation.


Pacific Island countries would focus on preparing draft model legislation for a common approach to weapons control in the region, he said.  Another key item would be the establishment of points of contact at the national and regional levels.  A small arms workshop hosted by Australia had demonstrated the region’s commitment to combating the problem of small arms.  Regionally and globally, follow-up activities -— supported by States, civil society and non-governmental organizations -- would determine the success of the Programme of Action.


ALPHA DIALO (Guinea) said that now that emotions had settled since the events of 11 September, the world must reflect deeply on that new dimension of international peace and security.  He had a great interest in the illicit circulation and trafficking of light weapons.  The excellent reports of the Secretary-General on the subject had not only showed the complexity of the question, but also the increased awareness of the problem and the relevance of the many consultations between States.  The United Nations Secretariat had made considerable efforts to respond to the expectations of the General Assembly, as reflected in the framework of resolutions adopted by consensus on 20 November 2000.


Regarding the many regional conflicts and wars, particularly in Africa, he said that the best strategy was one that was global and integrated.  The question today was one of the major challenges facing the international community.  Guinea had experienced the displacement of hundreds of thousands of refugees that had fled war in neighbouring countries.  It had also been a victim of repeated rebel attacks on its southern borders.  Thus, Guinea had known and understood the harmful effects of small arms and light weapons.


He said his country, therefore, had always shown a true political will to contribute towards consolidating a regime to control and eradicate that danger.  It had taken an active part in implementing all measures leading to the adoption of the Bamako Declaration, which had reflected the common position of African States on the issue.  It had also adhered to the 1998 moratorium on the import and export of light weapons in West Africa.  The dynamism of civil society in Guinea had been particularly active in consolidating peace in the subregion.


HIRA THAPA (Nepal) commented on the topic of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  He said that since 1990, small arms and light weapons had killed 4 million people —- 90 per cent of them civilians -- and had been the weapon of choice in 46 of the 49 major conflicts.  It was frustrating to realize that the world was awash with 500 million small arms, enough for one in every twelve people in the world.

He said that while the trade in small arms and light weapons was a global scourge, its impact was felt most by developing and underdeveloped countries, where youth were more easily lured into terrorist organizations.  Concerted efforts were necessary to combat the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, which were caused by both the supply of and demand for those weapons. Reduction of demand would require investment in development initiatives and rededication to the creation of a culture of peace.  Nepal had launched a programme integrating security and development in violence-prone areas.


He joined the majority of nations at the United Nations Conference on small arms in emphasizing the two core issues of the small arms problem:  the unrestrained possession by civilians of small arms and light weapons; and the supply of small arms to non-State actors.  The international community should build on the progress made at the Conference by implementing the Programme of Action and pursue ways to address the unhindered access to small arms by civilians and non-State actors.


FELIPE PAOLILLO (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and the associated States of Bolivia and Chile, said that the Programme of Action adopted at the small arms Conference in July was a positive first step towards reducing the future international proliferation of small arms.  At first, many countries in his region had sought a more "daring" international plan, but the approved one reflected the minimum common ground.  Among its most relevant aspects was the characterization of the illicit manufacture and trade in small arms as a crime, and the creation of follow-up mechanisms to monitor and promote implementation of the commitments.


He said that effective implementation of the Programme of Action required governments to focus more on the allocation of resources required for those activities.  Regionally, his country would focus actions on effective implementation of the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials and the model regulations for their control.  MERCOSUR and its associated States had also pledged to implement a common register of vendors and purchasers of firearms, their parts and ammunitions, which would contain both a list of individuals or companies, and of ports of embarkation and arrival.


Not a day passed without news of accidents or deaths resulting from anti-personnel mines, he continued.  The international community had demonstrated its resolute determination to attack the problem through the adoption of the Ottawa Convention.  The majority of Latin American countries, through the Organization of American States had begun their struggle against that scourge one year earlier, with resolutions declaring the Western Hemisphere a zone free of anti-personnel mines.  In 1998, a further step had been taken -- the Heads of State of MERCOSUR and its associated States had subscribed to a political declaration designating their subregion as a zone free of weapons of mass destruction.  It was disappointing that some of the largest producers of those weapons had still not joined the treaty.  He appealed to them to do so.


ADO ELHADJI ABOU (Niger) commented on the draft resolution on assistance to States for curbing the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons (document A/C.1/56/L.51).  He said the attacks of 11 September showed the need to control the spread of all weapons.  While his country supported the international community in all efforts to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, conventional weapons were most important to his country.  Among conventional weapons, small arms and light weapons were of the greatest concern.


He was pleased with the Programme of Action that had been adopted at the United Nations Conference on small arms and would support all follow-up activities to it, he said.  Mali had long supported the resolution calling for aid to States for combating the illicit trade and was co-sponsoring the draft text.  At a national level, Mali had set up a national committee to deal with the problem.  Regional and United Nations efforts in demobilization, disarmament and reintegration had helped Niger.  A pilot project to help former combatants move away from weapons-related activities and into development had been established in the region.  Suppressing demand for small arms was another important aim, because it prevented the resumption of hostilities.


He was convinced that the illicit trade, production and circulation of small arms must end, he said.  It engendered great insecurity, which posed a threat to development efforts and wasted the generous contributions of all partners in those efforts.


JEAN LINT (Belgium), on behalf of the European Union and associated States, welcomed the adoption of the 2001 action programme to combat the illicit small arms trade.  That had contained measures to be taken at all levels, in particular in the areas of:  export controls; marking and registering; the management of stocks and surplus; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; as well as cooperation and assistance.  The follow-up process had been covered in the draft resolution introduced today (document A/C.1/56/L.47).  Its sponsors -- Colombia, Japan and South Africa -- could count on the Union's complete support.


He said that only a range of instruments at all levels would lead to progress.  Most illicit weapons found in illicit networks had been manufactured legally and later diverted.  Improving the tracing of weapons and the exchange of information between States would be a concrete step towards defeating that phenomenon.  The Union supported the proposal in operative paragraph 10 for a United Nations study aimed at establishing an international instrument to enable States to identify and follow light weapons in an appropriate and reliable fashion.  He stressed the importance of strengthening international cooperation in preventing, controlling and eliminating the illicit brokering in those arms. 


IGOR DZUNDEV (The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) introduced a draft resolution on the maintenance of international security - good-neighborliness, stability and development in South-Eastern Europe (document A/C.1/56/L.41).  He said the resolution addressed the complex issues of security, stability, disarmament and cooperation, reflecting positive developments in the region in the past year.


The most encouraging developments had been improved cooperation among the countries of the region and their further rapprochement with the European Union, he said.  The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations had also made the climate more positive.  Unfortunately, the region had also faced challenges to its stability, including terrorism and organized crime.  International cooperation was needed to combat the threats, which was why the draft resolution had been proposed.


The draft resolution was balanced and forward-looking, he said.  Its goal was to identify measures and efforts that would lead to further stabilization of the region by eliminating the threats to its security.  Primary responsibility rested with the States themselves, but international organizations had a role to play as well.


He then made several oral amendments.  In the sixth preambular paragraph, which notes progress made by Yugoslavia toward establishing democracy and cooperating with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the word “remarkable” should be changed to “significant”.  In operative paragraph 2, in the seventh line, the words “in South Eastern Europe” should be inserted following the phrase “to prevent conflicts.”


In operative paragraph 3, which deals with the reaffirmation of the urgency of consolidating South-Eastern Europe as a zone of peace, the words “and international” should be deleted from its last line.  In operative paragraph 10, the second line, the words ”of contributors” should be added after the words “European Union”.  Operative paragraph 15, which concerns the recognition of the seriousness of the problem of anti-personnel mines in South Eastern Europe, should have the phrase “some parts of” inserted before the words “South-Eastern Europe.”


ATOKI ILEKA (Democratic Republic of the Congo) introduced a draft resolution on the Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa (A/C.1/56/L.2).  Since its establishment in 1992, the consultative Committee had done all it could to promote confidence-building measures among its Member States, he said.  Efforts to create peace and security in Central Africa had been greatly aided by non-aggression pacts signed under its auspices.  The Committee had held several conferences, including a meeting on the problems of refugees and internally displaced persons in Bujumbura in 2000.  The Committee had helped States to look for ways and means to solve security problems in the region.  In short, its work had been useful and it deserved support.


The draft resolution dealt with the same matters it dealt with last year, he said.  It supported efforts to create stability and an atmosphere conducive for sustainable development.  He stressed the need for support and resources to enable further efforts and successes.  In that regard, he thanked the Secretary-General, the Department of Disarmament Affairs, and the countries that had contributed to the fund to promote peace and security in Central Africa.  He hoped for continued support.


MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) introduced the draft resolutions on regionaldisarmament (document A/C.1/56/L. 27) and on conventional arms control at theregional and subregional levels (document A/C.1/56/L. 28).  International security and disarmament should be pursued both at the international and regional levels.  While international disarmament measures were vital, in most instances, security and disarmament could be most effective when promoted at the regional level.  It was now quite evident that in most areas of tension and potential conflict -- the Middle East, South Asia, North Eastern Asia and Central Asia -- the regional approach could offer a most effective basis to promote disarmament and enhance security. 


He said that adoption of the relevant text would encourage the concerned countries to pursue endeavours to regional disarmament and help strengthen regional and international security.  The co-sponsors hoped that, as last year, the draft would be adopted without a vote.


Turning to the text on conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels, he said that that aimed to promote disarmament endeavours in an area that, so far, had not received due recognition in international disarmament forums.  The text outlined, in its preamble, several vital principles relating to the issue, including the crucial role of conventional arms control in peace and security and that post-cold war threats had arisen mainly among States of the same region or subregion.  It had also noted the desirable objective of preserving a balance in armaments at the lowest possible level.  The militarily significant States had a special responsibility to promote regional security agreements, with the important objective of preventing a possible surprise military attack and avoiding aggression.


He noted that the preambular portion of the text had also noted the initiatives undertaken in various regions.  A new operative paragraph 3 had been added to the operative part, requesting the Secretary-General to seek the views of Member States and submit a report to the next Assembly session.  The co-sponsors hoped that the text would be adopted without any objection.


Ms. FROHOLM (Norway) said she welcomed the Programme of Action resulting from the small arms Conference and looked forward to the follow-up process, so that those commitments could be quickly translated into action.  She also fully supported the draft resolution on the follow-up conference in 2006 presented by Colombia, Japan and South Africa.  An integrated and comprehensive approach was needed to deal with the complex and multifaceted problems caused by the proliferation and misuse of those weapons.  All aspects of the problem must be addressed and the link between the licit and illicit flows must be examined. 


She said that a feasibility study by the United Nations on an international instrument to enable States to identify and trace illicit arms should be undertaken as soon as possible.  She also supported the Franco-Swiss initiative on tracing and marking.  In her country's national efforts, high priority would be given to assisting affected countries and regions.  A comprehensive and integrated approach must span from arms control to human security and development.  The demand for and misuse of small arms was clearly related to problems of poverty, underdevelopment, insecurity and injustice.  The root causes of conflict and violence must be addressed and small arms action should be placed firmly in the context of peace-building and human development. 


KRZYSZTOF JAKUBOWSKI (Poland) said that, in light of the events of 11 September, it was necessary to take a fresh and careful look at each and every field and niche in the domain of disarmament.  The combination of a sick mind and conventional weapons could bring destruction of massive proportions.  He associated himself with the statement made on behalf of the European Union.  Adding to that, he noted the clear link among the illicit small arms trade and terrorism, trafficking in people and drugs, and organized crime.  Fortunately, the outcome document of the small arms Conference had reflected that interrelationship.


He said that growing attention was being focused on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.  The upcoming review conference provided an opportunity to further strengthen the principle of reducing the human suffering

from warfare.  The Convention was a unique instrument, which simultaneously addressed legitimate military needs and humanitarian values.  His country also urged reducing the deadly threats posed by mines other than anti-personnel mines.  Establishment of minimum detectability standards for such mines, by fitting them with self-destruct, self-neutralization and self-deactivation features, would fully serve the goals of the Convention.


Establishment of a group of governmental experts to deal with the issue of the explosive remnants of war had his full support, he said.  Unexploded remnants of the Second World War were still present in Poland, which continued to clear national territory contaminated by all kinds of munitions.  It had accumulated much experience in that regard, which it now shared with others.  Meanwhile, significant attention had been paid to the Swiss proposal concerning small calibre ammunition.  He welcomed the resolve to further strengthen the humanitarian dimension of the Convention on Certain Conventional weapons and to continue -- at an expert level -- work focused on the wounding potential of small arms ammunition. 


The Committee Secretariat announced the following additional co-sponsors to draft resolutions:


Prevention of an arms race in outer space (document A/C.1/56/L.7) -- Bosnia and Herzegovina, Libya, Mongolia; Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) (document A/C.1/56/L.10) -- Mongolia; new agenda towards a nuclear-weapon-free world (draft decision)(document A/C.1/56/L.15) –- Sweden, Egypt, New Zealand and Brazil; nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere (document A/C.1/56/L.24) –- Guinea, Eritrea, Namibia, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe and Zambia; security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States (document A/C.1/56/L.26) –- Zambia; conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels (document A/C.1/56/L.28) -- Belarus; Ottawa Convention (document A/C.1/56/L.34) -– Namibia, Lithuania, Ghana  Zambia and Liberia.


Also, strengthening security in the Mediterranean (document A/C.1/56/L.37) –- Austria; consolidation of peace through practical disarmament (document A/C.1/56/L.39) –- Eritrea; transparency in armaments (document A/C.1/56/L.40) -- Mongolia; Conventional on Certain Conventional Weapons (document A/C.1/56/L.43) -- Mongolia and Monaco; advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (document A/C.1/56/L.45) – Benin, Bolivia, Congo, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Iraq, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Sudan, Tonga, Burundi, Ethiopia, Honduras, Kenya, Lebanon, Namibia, Niger, Pakistan, Philippines, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay and  Zambia.


And, illicit small arms trade (document A/C.1/56/L.47) –- Austria, Burundi, Cambodia, Croatia, Cyprus, Eritrea, Estonia, Ghana, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malta, Namibia, Nigeria, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Zambia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Georgia and Monaco; Regional Centre in Asia and the Pacific (document A/C.1/56/L.50) –- Uzbekistan, Lao People's Democratic Republic and Viet Nam; assistance to States for curbing the illicit small arms traffic (document A/C.1/56/L.51) -- Ghana.


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