12/07/2005
Press Release
DC/2977


Meeting of States to Consider Action

Programme on Illicit Small Arms Trade

3rd & 4th Meetings (AM & PM)


GREATER INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION CRITICAL TO FIGHTING SMALL ARMS TRADE,


SAY SPEAKERS, AS MEETING TO REVIEW 2001 ACTION PROGRAMME CONTINUES


More Than 50 Speakers in Day-Long Debate; Need for Binding

Global Agreements, Links between Arms Trade, Terrorism, among Issues


Greater international cooperation was critical to successfully combat the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons, delegations emphasized at a meeting held at Headquarters today to review progress in the implementation of an action plan to combat the illegal trafficking of such weapons.


Convening for the second day of the Biennial Meeting of States on the Implementation of the 2001 Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, speakers said the Programme of Action had provided firm guidelines for national, regional and global strategies, but stronger action at the international level was required for further progress.


Unless national programmes and laws to combat small arms and light weapons were matched by strong legally binding international instruments, there would not be a significant reduction in the human suffering caused by the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, said the representative of Sierra Leone, one of more than 50 speakers who addressed today’s day-long debate.  The Programme of Action was a means to an end, which must be strengthened through international commitments to achieve the ultimate objective of eradicating the illicit trade of deadly weapons.  That trade was an international problem, he stressed, and it was critical to address the global measures necessary to deal with that international phenomenon.


Other speakers expressed concerns about the links among the illicit arms trade, terrorism, organized crime, and drug trafficking.  The representative of Turkey said Member States should consider innovative strategies to address the close interrelationship among these activities.  He urged Member States to make available all relevant information concerning such activities.


The representative of Lesotho said the greater menace posed by the interlinkage of illicit arms trafficking with transnational organized crime required a global response, especially because of the serious impediment to sustainable development resulting from those scourges.


Other delegations, noting their limited resources for initiatives required to implement the Programme of Action, appealed for greater financial and technical assistance from donor partners.  The representative of Benin reminded the international community that the programme of activities it had undertaken to train military and paramilitary officers required a mobilization of resources.  He called for an increased awareness in the international community of the disastrous effects of illicit arms.  A binding international instrument, he added, was needed for a more coherent, coordinated and effective action against the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons.


Statements were also made by representatives of Colombia, Austria, Pakistan, Guatemala, Argentina, Iran, Venezuela, Congo, Nicaragua (also speaking on behalf of the Central American Integration System (SICA)), Gambia, Republic of Korea, Kazakhstan, Algeria, Myanmar (on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN)), Ukraine, Cuba, Panama, Fiji, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Viet Nam, Serbia and Montenegro, Burkina Faso, Armenia, Libya, El Salvador, Ghana, Jamaica, Rwanda, Bangladesh, United Republic of Tanzania, Guinea, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Malawi, Jordan, Albania, Malaysia, and Angola,. Exercising the right of reply, the representative of Greece also spoke.


Following the statements delivered by delegations, representatives of the following organizations also spoke:  Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe; League of Arab States; Regional Centre on Small Arms; Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE); International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO); Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation; United Nations Coordinating Action on Small Arms (CASA); United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Department of Disarmament Affairs; United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR); and the World Health Organization (WHO).


The meeting will continue its consideration of the implementation of the Programme of Action at 10 a.m., Wednesday, 13 June.


Background


The Second United Nations Biennial Meeting of States to Consider 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 reconvened at Headquarters to continue discussions regarding the implementation of the Programme of Action adopted in July 2001.


Statements


CAMILIO REYES (Colombia) said there had been progress with regard to adoption of legislation for increased control and monitoring policies over the illicit traffic of small arms and light weapons.  There had been a growing recognition of the need to develop national, regional and global perspectives to combat the traffic in small arms.  However, despite such progress, national reports did not reflect sufficient attention about some areas, including the continued existence of enormous amounts of arms in circulation and the need for increased financing for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes.  He stressed the need for greater progress in the fight against the illicit traffic of arms, noting the growing number of victims in the world resulting from the traffic.


He said it was clear to his delegation that the roots of the problem had not been tackled.  Approaches on the national, regional and global levels had been constructive, but were slow and inconsistent.  A broader, more comprehensive approach was needed.  Greater control by State authorities over weapons manufacturing and circulation was critical, as was the need to develop a culture of peace where conflict resolution could be achieved without violence.  The international community must also work harder on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, especially in post-conflict situations.  StrictState control of arms transfers must be established, along with detailed international norms for registering arms transfers.  He urged a more proactive action-oriented approach to eliminate the deadly traffic.  Also critical was a strengthening of legislation on the civilian possession of arms and continued efforts to strengthen the instrument on tracing and marking recently agreed upon.  He urged continued coordination with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that have been working hard to raise public awareness about disarmament issues.


NORBERT HACK (Austria) said that his country currently held the chairmanship of the plenary of the Wassenaar Agreement, and he wanted to make several observations on the important contribution that arrangement was making to the fight against illicit small arms and light weapons through export controls.  Austria attached great importance to the efforts of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies.  He understood that the OSCE would give a presentation of its own activities in that field, but he regretted that there had been no consensus for the Agreement to be present at the meeting.


The Wassenaar Agreement was working hard to promote responsible export policies and effective export controls over small arms and light weapons in order to prevent their uncontrolled proliferation, destabilizing accumulation and diversion, he continued.  In 2002, the Agreement had adopted a document setting out detailed best practice guidelines and criteria for exports of small arms and light weapons.  At the 2003 plenary, Agreement participating States had approved a number of initiatives, which included tightened controls over Man-Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS) exports.  They also agreed to enhance transparency of small arms and light weapons transfers and establish elements for national legislation on arms brokering.  The positive contribution of the Agreement to the fight against illicit small arms and light weapons had been publicly acknowledged.  The Secretary-General, in his recent report, had cited the formal cooperation agreement between the Agreement participating States and West African countries as an example of cooperation between importing and exporting States.


AIZAZ AHMAD CHAUDHRY (Pakistan) said that it was important to recognize and address the small arms and light weapons problem in all its dimensions, including human security, development, law-enforcement, deweaponization and arms control.  The foreign occupation of Afghanistan in 1979 had led to an influx of more than 3 million refugees to his country.  As part of the huge social, economic and environmental cost of those refugees, “a substantial chunk” of the millions of small arms and light weapons that had been dumped in Afghanistan had found its way to Pakistan.  The anarchy in Afghanistan had given rise to narcotics and arms trafficking, which had, in turn, produced a nexus between forces of terrorism and violence that were frequently sponsored from abroad.


Since 2001, Pakistan had been pursuing a proactive policy to combat, prevent and eradicate the illegal trade in small arms and light weapons, including through collection and destruction and public awareness campaigns, he continued.  Among the important steps taken by his country, he highlighted an effective legislative framework and administrative regulations and procedures at both State and provincial levels.  Production of small arms and light weapons was undertaken entirely by the public sector.  All small arms and light weapons produced and sold in Pakistan were uniquely marked, and a record for all weapons under use or possession by law enforcement agencies and armed forces was kept on a permanent basis.  Private arms dealers could only sell a few specified categories of arms under a licence issued by the Government.  The country also observed a strict export-control regime.


By April 2003, some 250,000 illicit small arms and light weapons had been recovered or confiscated, in addition to a large quantity of ammunition, he said.  From May 2003 to 31 May 2005, another 103,600 small arms and light weapons had been confiscated.  Since July 2001, a total of 129,980 persons had been challenged for possessing illegal small arms and light weapons.  For effective law enforcement, reforms in the organizational structure, responsibilities, equipment and facilities of the police force had been introduced.  Use of small arms during cultural festivities had been banned.  Technical surveillance was under way to control arms trafficking from across the borders.  As a frontline State in the global fight against terrorism, Pakistan had established a number of joint counter-terrorism working groups at the regional level.  A Tripartite Commission between Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States had been established in 2003 to promote cooperation, among other things, in tackling the problem of illicit small arms and light weapons.  Pakistan was also actively engaged in international endeavours to curb organized crime, eradicate the narcotics trace and terrorism.


In preparation for the Review Conference next year, he also underscored the need for developed countries to provide more financial resources to developing countries and foster partnerships for capacity-building.  Political commitments and action were equally essential to resolve the underlying causes of conflicts and disputes in various parts of the world.  Sound planning and effective implementation strategies were vital.  The review should reflect the progress made on such issues as peaceful resolution of disputes, the right to self-defence, and the right of self-determination.


JUAN CARLOS LEAL (Guatemala) said his delegation shared the concerns of the international community regarding the uncontrolled proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons.  The full implementation of the Programme of Action was crucial to the eradication of the traffic of small arms.  As reflected in its national report, his Government had recognized the imperative need to seriously address the problem of small arms proliferation.  One of the most significant advances in those efforts was the establishment of a national commission designed to coordinate a national disarmament programme.  It had also adopted, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), a national programme aimed at eradicating illicit arms.  The Government had also set in motion a national public awareness campaign on disarmament issues.


Turning to regional approaches, he said Guatemala recognized the importance of regional and subregional norms to oversee the control of arms and ammunition.  It had presented its national policy for prevention of violence at a recent regional conference to eradicate illicit trade and small arms.  Guatemala was also party to a number of regional and subregional instruments to combat the scourge of small arms traffic.


GABRIELA MARTINIC (Argentina) said that the Programme of Action was the cornerstone of international efforts to curb the illegal spread of the small arms and light weapons.  It had facilitated the adoption of additional measures in the framework of the United Nations.  Argentina had been cooperating with members of the Organization of American States (OAS) in the fight against the proliferation of firearms since 1997, within the framework of the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacture and Trafficking of Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials -- the first legally binding instrument adopted in that field.  Regarding the situation in the subregion, she fully endorsed the statement by Uruguay on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) yesterday and emphasized a recent adoption of a memorandum of understanding for the exchange of information on illicit manufacture and trafficking in firearms, ammunitions, explosives and related materials among the members of MERCOSUR, which would allow more cooperation in tracing arms and exchange of information on criminal groups.


Argentina had a comprehensive system of arms control through legislation and internal procedures in line with international standards, she said.  The pillars of that system included the computerized database of all arms and legal users and the firearms transfer control regime.  A national register of confiscated and seized arms had recently been introduced.  The country had also been successful in adopting legislation to control the spread of small arms and light weapons.  A strong commitment of the Government with NGOs had made it possible to include a representative of the Argentine Network for Disarmament in the Government.


Turning to the goals of the current meeting, she said that it should be able to identify the measures and recommendations to be discussed at the 2006 Review Conference.  It was important to reaffirm the political will to curb the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  The need to renew political will was not a rhetorical call, as demonstrated by the recent adoption of the instrument that would allow States to mark and trace small arms and light weapons.  She wanted to express her Government’s disappointment over the fact that the open-ended working group had been unable to reach agreement on a legally binding instrument on marking and tracing and include ammunition, since it was an integral part of the problem.  She hoped the situation would change in the near future.


The 2006 Conference would be a unique opportunity to deal with the outstanding issues and strengthen the international commitment in the field of small arms and light weapons, she said.  One of the most indispensable tools was the adoption of strict and effective policies regarding arms transfers.  Among the main challenges, she mentioned a ban on the transfer to unauthorized non-State actors and the establishment of common and minimum standards to be applied to authorizations for legal transfers in conformity with paragraph 11, section II, of the Programme of Action.  It would also be necessary to establish a mechanism that would allow States in need of assistance to meet with those who could provide such aid.


MEHDI DANESH-YAZDI (Iran) said that as a country located at the centre of illicit arms traffic, Iran had sustained much damage resulting from it.  His Government had pursued efforts to implement the Programme of Action with various national control measures.  It had established a comprehensive and revised set of regulations aimed at the effective control to halt the traffic of illicit arms.  An offer of amnesty had resulted in the recovery of thousands of small arms and ammunition.  A public awareness campaign had also been initiated.  He noted his Government’s concern about the close link between drug trafficking and the illicit arms trade and urged greater international cooperation to combat those related problems.


FERMIN TORO JIMENEZ (Venezuela) said the destructive and destabilizing effects of illicit small arms, and the sophistication of organized crime, had risen to such levels that only multilateral cooperation could effectively tackle the problem. Venezuela had been the victim of efforts to unseat its democratically elected Government by means of a coup and was especially concerned about the circulation and proliferation of illicit arms in his country.  His Government continued to adopt measures to improve control of the traffic of illicit arms.  It was working on adopting legislation for the protection and control of arsenals and ammunitions and had recovered and destroyed thousands of ammunitions.


He said Venezuela stood in solidarity with the British people, and especially those who were victims of the recent terrorist attacks, and with all those in the world who had suffered the consequences of the illicit traffic of small arms and light weapons.


BASILE IKOUEBE (Congo), speaking on behalf of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), emphasized the importance of the meeting, particularly in the face of such growing threats as terrorism.  The failure of the second Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) Review Conference had challenged the credibility of the international non-proliferation regime.  The regrets and frustrations in connection with that failure should inspire the participants of the current meeting to achieve success in their work.


Turning to the efforts in his subregion, he said that seven out of the Community’s 11 members had only recently emerged from a situation of armed conflict.  In May 2003, they had organized a seminar in Brazzaville on regional actions in implementation of the Programme of Action.  The programme of priority activities adopted at that meeting had been presented to the first meeting on the Programme of Action review.  Within the framework of their cooperation in that field, the 11 countries had considered the initiatives undertaken at a ministerial meeting in Brazzaville, which had taken place in March this year.


The action undertaken by the countries of the region included adoption of relevant legislation, creation of the national machinery and arms collection programmes, he continued.  Also among the priorities were an exchange of information and the creation of public awareness on the issues related to the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons.  Among the main difficulties, he said, were the porous borders and the lack of qualified personnel to address the problem.  The countries of the region had appealed to the international community for assistance to fight against the illicit trade.


LEANDRO MARIN-ABAUNZA (Nicaragua), on behalf of the Central American Integration System (SICA), said SICA strongly supported all initiatives to tackle the illicit traffic of small arms and light weapons.  Illicit arms were destroying thousands of lives and hindered development.  Under the principle of shared responsibility, the international community could effectively tackle the problem.


At a regional level, there were regional plans in place to combat terrorism, organized crime, and illicit traffic of arms and light weapons, he continued.  Priority areas had been identified, including the need for tighter control of firearms, programmes of arms reduction, and the need to promote a culture of peace.  To combat the illegal traffic of weapons, multidisciplinary commissions had been established to tackle the problem in an integrated fashion.


He said, at the international level, SICA was thankful for the support of countries, including the United Kingdom, Sweden, the United States and Japan, along with various United Nations agencies that had been instrumental in the region’s efforts to combat small arms and light weapons.  He expressed particular concern about organized transnational crime, which was beyond the capability of States.  He reiterated SICA’s commitment to move forward decisively to put an end to the scourge of small arms and light weapons and to negotiate a legally binding international instrument to combat the problem.  The SICA called upon the international community to take part in the effort and to forge a united front with Central America to combat the scourge of small arms and light weapons to build a safer world.


GRISPIN GREY-JOHNSON (Gambia) said that his country belonged to a region that had an estimated 8 million small arms and light weapons in circulation.  Millions of innocent people suffered as a result of their use.  Those arms were produced in other parts of the world, which then indiscriminately sold them to others.  His country had put in place the mechanisms and legislation to fight that heinous trade.  Numerous unlicenced small arms had been recovered and confiscated.  The police could search, arrest and prosecute people who possessed or used illicit arms.  The database administered by the military was used to track and mark the surplus stocks.


In spite of the widespread recognition of the need to arrest the illicit spread of small arms and light weapons, they continued to flow into Africa, he said, despite numerous arms embargoes and sanctions. That meant that the Programme of Action needed to be fine-tuned to make the suppliers more accountable.  The ban on the transfer of small arms and light weapons to unauthorized non-State users was needed.  All countries needed to act in concert to stop the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.  It was also necessary to put in place a rigorous monitoring and identifying regime to bring the perpetrators to account.  There was a need for increased technical assistance and capacity-building so that the countries of his region could achieve greater success in the fight to eradicate the small arms scourge.


SYLVESTER EKUNDAYO ROWE (Sierra Leone) said that, while the Programme of Action did not recognize the primary responsibility of States to solve the problems associated with the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, it did make clear the need for international cooperation and measures at the global level.  Sierra Leone had joined in the consensus for the adoption of the Programme of Action primarily because of the explicit assurances it contained with regard to provisions for international cooperation and assistance.  The illicit trade of deadly weapons was an international problem, and it was critical to address the global measures necessary to deal with that international phenomenon.


He stressed his delegation’s view that unless national programmes and laws to combat small arms and light weapons were matched by strong legally binding international instruments, there would not be a significant reduction in the human suffering caused by the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  The Programme of Action remained a solid foundation on which to build instruments of commitment and obligations, and he urged the international community to take a more proactive approach, including legal action, to combat the traffic of illicit arms.  Based on the magnitude of the consequences of the conflicts in West Africa, Sierra Leone was of the view that illicit small arms and light weapons had become weapons of mass destruction.  The Programme of Action was not an end in itself, but a means to an end, which must be strengthened through international legally binding commitments to achieve the ultimate objective of eradicating the illicit trade of deadly weapons.


SHIN KAK-SOO (Republic of Korea) said that, although it was not a legally binding document, the strong political commitment of the international community to the Programme of Action had helped its members to strengthen their national legislations to curb the illegal transfer of small arms and light weapons.  As a staunch supporter of the cause for negotiating a separate document on marking and tracing, his delegation wholeheartedly welcomed and supported adoption of the international instrument on marking and tracing and looked forward to its full and faithful implementation.  Despite the disappointing lack of legal power, the instrument -- if efficiently implemented with the good will and political support of States -- would work as a mighty force to repel the ominous spread of illicit small arms and light weapons.  He also welcomed the entry into force of the Firearms Protocol.


Continuing, he cautioned against complacency, as small arms and light weapons continued to inflict casualties around the world.  As the two-year negotiations on marking and tracing had come to their end, it was high time to seriously tackle the next significant issue -- illicit brokering.  He fully supported such an endeavour, including the establishment of a group of governmental experts at the United Nations.  The ideal approach would be to launch a three-pillared programme equipped with the Programme of Action, the international instrument on marking and tracing, and a separate framework on illicit brokering, which had yet to be negotiated.


Regarding his country’s national efforts, he said that the Government had developed very strict and effective measures for the control of military and non-military use of small arms and light weapons.  There was an electronic inventory of all the domestic military small arms through a computerized Firearms Management System.  The country had also strengthened its export control measures.  The country intended to continue sharing its experience and expertise with others.


On future challenges, he added that there was still a need to improve the reporting mechanism, both in procedural and substantive aspects.  He hoped that the 2006 Conference would present a good opportunity to address that issue.  He also highlighted the commendable role that the civil society and NGOs played in implementing the Programme of Action.  In that regard, governments were strongly encouraged to strengthen their cooperation and partnership with NGOs.


YERZHAN KAZYKHANOV (Kazakhstan) said international terrorism, illicit arms and drug trafficking were all interrelated problems that cried out for coordinated and joint efforts by the entire international community.  Small arms and light weapons continued to destroy communities and threaten peace and security.  He stressed the urgency of developing and implementing existent international measures to prevent and combat illicit trafficking and manufacturing of small arms and light weapons and to reduce their excessive and destabilizing accumulations throughout the world.  His delegation believed the United Nations should play a leading role in that process.


He said Kazakhstan had prioritized the strengthening of its national export control system and believed that expanded cooperation between States on the issue could be effective in countering international terrorism at both global and regional levels.  In 2004, its law enforcement agencies had succeeded in seizing and removing from circulation more than 11,000 illicit weapons.  With the cooperation of the United Nations Department for Disarmament Affairs, Kazakhstan last year hosted a regional conference to exchange information and discuss the challenges of combating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  His delegation hoped that meeting would make an important contribution to the struggle of the international community in combating the illicit traffic.


LARBI EL HADJ ALI (Algeria) said that the current Meeting presented an opportunity for Member States to sum up the implementation of the Programme and exchange experiences.  Heightened awareness of the threat presented by small arms and light weapons had allowed the international community to put in place certain norms and principles and institute the fight against the illegal flow of such weapons. However, the lack of engagement and determination during the negotiations on the Programme of Action had not facilitated the adoption of more rigorous measures in its aftermath.  The conciliatory and consensual language of the Programme had had an impact on other actions, for instance, the nature of the instrument on tracing and marking.  His delegation still believed that the battle against the illicit trade should not be limited to declarations of political intentions.  The scope of the problem should challenge the international community to adopt prompt and effective measures.


An unambiguous commitment of all States was required, he continued.  Algeria was particularly concerned over the problem of terrorism in relation to small arms and light weapons.  It was important to dismantle the supply networks.  A legal arsenal had been instituted in his country, and measures had been taken to keep track of manufacturing, export and import of such weapons.  Algeria had actively participated in recent regional meetings in Oman and Cairo.  With the help of the Department for Disarmament Affairs and other partners, the country had recently organized a regional meeting on the illicit trade in small arms.


BAKI ILKIN (Turkey), noting Turkey’s recent suffering as a result of the accumulation of small arms and light weapons in the hands of terrorist organizations, said his country was a staunch supporter of international cooperation to combat and eradicate the illicit trade.  The excessive accumulation of small arms and light weapons posed a grave threat to national, regional and global peace and security, as well as to the social development of many countries.  There was a close relationship among illicit arms trafficking and terrorism, organized crime, and drugs and human trafficking.


He said the Programme of Action represented a milestone in placing the issue of small arms and light weapons firmly on the United Nations agenda, and its implementation constituted a concrete contribution to global peace and stability.  In accordance with the Programme of Action, Turkey had made significant improvements in its national marking system, national procedures for the control of arms manufacturing, and techniques for the destruction of small arms.  Turkey urged Member States to consider innovative strategies to address the close interrelationship among the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking and the illicit exploitation of natural and other resources.  He said Member States should make available all relevant information concerning such activities.


KYAW TINT SWE (Myanmar), speaking on behalf of Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that excessive accumulation, uncontrolled spread and illegal use of small arms and light weapons presented a serious challenge.  Combating the scourge required collective will of the international community.  Therefore, the regional measures played a particularly important role.  As an organization fully committed to regional peace and stability, ASEAN provided a framework for cooperation on such issues as transnational crime and arms smuggling.  The ASEAN centre to combat organized crime, the ASEAN Regional Forum and a senior officials meeting were the main forums to deal with the fight against diverse transnational crimes, including trafficking in small arms and light weapons.


In view of close links among terrorism, money laundering, arms smuggling and drug trafficking, ASEAN had been taking a comprehensive, coordinated approach to those crimes, he said.  Adopted on 17 May 2002, the Association’s work programme on transnational crime included a component of arms smuggling and comprised various cooperative activities in such fields as information exchange, legislation, law enforcement, training, institutional building and extraregional cooperation.  Close networking among the police of various countries of the region had been established through ASEANAPOL, which dealt with the preventive, enforcement and operational aspects of cooperation against transnational crime.


The issue of small arms and light weapons was also dealt with within the context of ASEAN Security Community, he said.  That mechanism envisaged the utilization of existing institutions and mechanisms within ASEAN to strengthen national and regional capacities to counter transnational crimes.  A number of regional seminars had been organized to promote awareness of the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons.  At the Tenth ASEAN Summit held in Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, last November, the leaders of the region had adopted an action programme, which gave priority to the establishment of institutionalized coordination mechanisms among relevant bodies.  The outcome of the Working Group on the international instrument on tracing and marking was a significant step forward.  The efforts towards the conclusion of the international instrument were closely associated with other disarmament efforts, especially towards total elimination of all weapons of mass destruction.


VICTOR KRYZHANIVSKYI (Ukraine) said that there was no common civil use of small arms and light weapons in Ukraine, except for hunting and sports purposes.  All stocks of such weapons belonged to governmental security forces and were kept under strict control.  The country had enacted an adequate national legislation and put in place appropriate governmental structures and procedures to exercise effective control over small arms and light weapons.  The production, marking, possession and destruction of small arms and light weapons were licensed in Ukraine and were supervised in accordance with a number of regulations issued by the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of the Interior.  A strict marking system was in place.  Destruction of surplus small arms and light weapons, as well as of those which were unserviceable or had been seized in connection with illicit traffic, were carried out regularly.  Information concerning the quantity of small arms and light weapons destroyed was transmitted to the OSCE.


The national plan to implement the Programme of Action and the OSCE Document on Small Arms and Light Weapons had been approved by the Cabinet of Ministers in November 2001, he continued.  It contained a list of obligations and measures to be taken and defined relevant ministries and other State authorities responsible for their fulfilment.  The Security Council resolutions that imposed sanctions regimes served as the country’s guidelines for the adoption of relevant legislation and regulations.  Ukraine carried out a responsible policy in the sphere of international arms transfers.  Strict implementation of the existing instruments and the recently agreed international instrument on tracing illicit small arms and light weapons at the national level were the most important aspects of the efforts to counter illegal trade.


In conclusion, he informed the Meeting that the decision had been taken in Brussels in April to launch in his country a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) partnership project to dispose of 133,000 tonnes of munitions, 1.5 million small arms and light weapons, and 1,000 MANPADS.  The first phase of the project would last three years.


ORLANDO REQUEIJO GUAL (Cuba) said the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons had humanitarian and socio-economic consequences, undermined development and promoted criminality.  Stressing the role of States in combating the illicit traffic of small arms and light weapons, he said national initiatives must be supplemented with international cooperation, including financial and technical assistance.  He urged all States to implement initiatives designed to ensure the transfer of small arms and light weapons was conducted only by, and between, governments.


He said Cuba reaffirmed the right to manufacture, import and keep small arms and light weapons to provide for national self-defence.  The Cuban people had suffered from hundreds of terrorist acts organized and funded from United States territory, with the complicity and tolerance of the United States Government.  It was public knowledge that terrorist groups based in southern Florida possessed arms and engaged in training in the Florida Everglades.  He reaffirmed his Government’s support of the Programme of Action and all United Nations initiatives to combat the illicit traffic of small arms and light weapons.


HERNAN TEJEIRA (Panama) said that the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons was a threat to international security, because of its direct links with transnational organized crime and the large number of casualties it caused in many parts of the world.  Panama wanted to contribute to the fight against that scourge at the global and regional levels.  No enterprises in the country had been authorized to export or produce arms or ammunition, and the imports were under strict government control.  The fight against the scourge required a coherent and consistent policy.  Panama had recently established a multidisciplinary commission on the issue.  The Government reaffirmed its full readiness to cooperate with the international community in its efforts to eradicate the illicit manufacture and trade in small arms and light weapons.


FILIMONE KAU (Fiji) said the task of combating and eradicating the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons was a national responsibility and all Member States should, therefore, make every effort to implement the Programme of Action.  For its part, Fiji had contributed through various initiatives, including the hosting of two important regional meetings.  The Asia-Pacific region was as vulnerable as any other region, and Fiji appealed to the United Nations system to allocate to Fiji its fair share of support and assistance.


Noting that Fiji was a small island developing State with limited resources and expertise, he said its capacity for controlling illicit weapons posed a grave challenge.  The limited capability of law enforcement agencies and the lack of adequate equipment for border control presented a serious threat to Fiji and other Pacific islands.  He stressed the critical need for outside assistance to overcome the challenges posed by the growing traffic in arms and its associated crimes.


FRANCISCO OVALLE (Dominican Republic) said that his country was aware of its responsibility to prevent the illicit trafficking in light weapons.  Numerous programmes had been initiated in his country, and he was pleased to report that a draft bill had been introduced on the matter, in keeping with the Programme of Action.  Training was being provided to the police and security personnel.


There was a clear relationship between drug trafficking, corruption and illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons, he continued.  That meant that it was necessary to combat the transnational organizations involved in those activities.  Repressive measures and legal measures at the national level alone would not be sufficient.  Special policies should be devised to deal with the vulnerable groups of population, where the scourge usually occurred.  It was also necessary to take into account the fact that, in most cases, the countries most affected were not necessarily the ones that produced small arms and light weapons.  The problem of borders was of great concern.  Common efforts and measures should be taken at the regional and international levels.  To create genuine security in the region, more resolute support should be provided to Haiti and its people.  Mechanisms of rapid response should be elaborated to address various problems associated with small arms and light weapons.


ABDUL ATTA (Egypt) said his Government had participated in many regional forums and initiatives aimed at combating the illicit traffic of arms, including a regional meeting in Amman, Jordan, in 2003 and a meeting of Arab States in April 2005 in Algiers, which were convened to follow up the Programme of Action.  Among its national initiatives, Egypt had participated constructively in the working group that concluded last month on the international instrument on marking and tracing of small arms and light weapons.


He stressed the need for good preparation for the upcoming review conference to ensure achievement of the goals of the Programme of Action.  In addition to the need for full respect for the right of self-defence and the right to self-determination, the existing conflicts in many parts of the world presented critical challenges.  As long as the international community failed to deal with the root causes of conflict, the illicit traffic of arms would continue to kill and injure people in many parts of the world.


LUONG MINH (Viet Nam) said that the State maintained control over all types of weapons in his country.  In implementation of the Programme of Action, the country had taken numerous measures over the last two years, including the issuance of regulations and legislation.  Acquisition and the use of weapons were regulated under the law.  Weapons that were manufactured in small quantities in Viet Nam were clearly marked to facilitate their tracking.  Education work on the issue of small arms and light weapons had been initiated among the population. Illegal weapons were identified and confiscated. At the regional level, the country had recently hosted a meeting on transnational crime.


Mr. MARIN-ABAUNZA (Nicaragua), noting that security, safety and peace were the most vital issues of our time, said the problem posed by weapons was one of greatest evils facing the world.  The accumulation of weapons was a grave threat to national, regional and global security.  Nicaragua had suffered from the horrors of war and was ready to contribute to all efforts to maintain peace and security.  In the 1980s, his country had lived through armed conflict that resulted in the loss of thousands of human lives.  Weapons had led to nothing but grief and death.  Nicaragua promoted all efforts to fight the illicit traffic of arms and to have greater control over the flow of weapons.


Since the 1980s, a variety of programmes had been implemented to collect and destroy weapons.  Nicaragua had initiated a new programme of weapons collection and was already seeing results.  His Government understood the need to prioritize in order to effectively combat the illicit traffic of arms.  He reiterated Nicaragua’s commitment to all efforts to control and limit the flow of weapons in Central America.  Regional security needed renewed impetus to secure peace in the region and to promote stability and transparency.  Nicaragua was convinced it was the primary responsibility of every State to combat and eradicate the illicit traffic of firearms.  It was critical to coordinate national, regional and global efforts and to have common guidelines to regulate the import, export and transfer of weapons in accordance with national laws and international agreements.


VLADO RADI (Serbia and Montenegro) said that the country’s measures in implementation of the Programme of Action included planned establishment of a coordinating body that would include all relevant ministries and representatives of the governments of the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Montenegro.  The preparations were carried out in cooperation with the UNDP office in Belgrade.  Among relevant legislation, he mentioned the adoption of a law on foreign sales of arms, military equipment and dual-purpose goods at the beginning of this year.  The provisions of the law balanced relevant pieces of domestic legislation, regulations and administrative procedures to ensure a truly effective export control.  The Law on Hand-Held Firearms, Devices and Ammunition Testing targeted manufacturers of arms and military equipment, and specifically small arms and light weapons.  It provided for the procedure and methodology of marking each piece of small arms and light weapons.  The law on arms and military equipment production was being drafted.


He said that no small arms and light weapons had been destroyed either by the military or the police in 2004, as no donor showed interest.  However, Serbia and Montenegro had been the most successful among the countries of the region between 2001 and 2004, as it destroyed more than 100,000 arms and more than 2 million rounds of ammunition.  Better potential donor arrangement possibilities would be explored in 2005.  The process of transformation and reorganization of the Army of Serbia and Montenegro was under way.  Regional cooperation on all aspects of small arms and light weapons had been improved.  Serbia and Montenegro had actively contributed to the prevention of illicit trafficking, the fight against separatism and terrorism, and the suppression of organized crime.  Special attention was attributed to public awareness and information exchange with countries in the region.


Turning to the 2006 Review Conference, he said that its success would, in many respects, depend on close interaction of the United Nations with regional organizations working in the sphere of international security and arms control.  Taking into account the importance of the efforts to prevent especially dangerous small arms, first of all MANPADS, from getting into the hands of terrorists, Serbia and Montenegro had destroyed 1,200 MANPADS in February 2004, as a good will step.  The country also looked forward to working constructively with others on negotiations for international instruments on the marking and tracing of small arms and light weapons.


PAUL YAMEOGO (Burkina Faso) said that since the First Biennial Meeting, Burkina Faso had undertaken a review of civilian arms that included a public awareness campaign.  It had established a hotline accessible to everyone to share information on illegal traffic of weapons.  His Government was gravely concerned about the proliferation in his country of weapons produced both locally and abroad.  The weapons registry was being updated, but efforts were being hampered by the lack of financial resources required for the collection of information and for computerizing the collected data.


He stressed the will of his Government to fight resolutely against the illegal trade of arms, which hindered development and undermined national and regional security.  His delegation hoped this meeting would promote the solidarity among all States that was needed, along with the active participation of civil society, to control and ultimately eradicate the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons.


DZIUNIK AGHAJANIAN (Armenia) said that the adoption of the Programme of Action in 2001 had been an acknowledgement of the threat small arms posed to international peace and security.  Three weeks ago, the international community had successfully concluded negotiations on the instrument to trace the illicit small arms, which should become the next critical step in combating the illicit proliferation of those weapons.  Since the adoption of the Programme of Action, Armenia had submitted two national reports on its implementation.


Highlighting some of the country’s achievements, she said that steps had been taken to improve the legislation.  The Government decision on the rules and procedures of licencing arms production had entered into force in July 2003.  Armenia’s new Criminal Code directly addressed the criminal offences of illegal manufacture, possession, stockpiling, acquisition, sales, transportation and theft of arms and ammunition or explosives.  The Government exercised stringent controls over the possession, manufacturing and trading of small arms on the territory of the country and kept accurate records.  The country’s law on arms had a section dealing with information on civil and service arms and bullets, which must be recorded.  Circulation of unmarked small arms was strictly forbidden.  The Government attached great importance to public education and raising awareness, as one of the most productive tools in combating illicit circulation of small arms.


Regarding regional efforts, she said that the country successfully cooperated with regional organizations and the OSCE.  Further steps could be taken by establishing a full-scale cross-border and regional cooperation in the efforts against illicit trafficking.  It would also be useful to have a regional mechanism of dialogue and consultation among law enforcement agencies of the region on matters related to small arms.  The establishment of a regional register of small arms and specific subregional transparency and confidence-building measures could prove to be fruitful.


HADI LUHASHI (Libya) said that the authorities in his country were strictly implementing all laws related to the implementation of the Programme of Action.  The Government had sole control over all transactions related to arms.  No person was allowed to own, manufacture or sell arms without a licence.  Libya’s legislation stipulated that any person involved in the transfer of arms or ammunition without a licence could be sentenced to life imprisonment.  All weapons and ammunition transferred without a permit were confiscated.  Libya was cooperating with countries of the region in their efforts to eradicate all forms of transnational organized crime.


GUILLERMO MELENDEZ (El Salvador) said the efforts of States to combat illicit traffic in arms could be strengthened with effective security measures.  Efforts made by El Salvador, in accordance with the Programme of Action, were detailed in its national report and included administrative, legal and weapons reduction measures.  El Salvador continued to implement laws and regulations for the manufacturing and trade of arms.  The national civil police was working to prevent and combat illicit arms trafficking and since 1996 had destroyed thousands of firearms.


He said his Government was especially concerned about the impact of small arms on crime and had reviewed legislation related to weapons and had increased the cost of firearms licences by 85 per cent.  The national civil police was the focal point for exchange of information on the flow of arms.  The subregional office for INTERPOL was also critical for information on arms trafficking.  The national report should be used to help determine the need for resources and assistance in the area of firearm registration and for the strengthening of national measures to regulate and control the trafficking of weapons.


NANA FREMA BUSIA, Chairperson of Ghana National Commission on Small Arms, said that only through a concerted approach at the national, regional and international levels could the international community effectively rein in the menace of small arms and light weapons.  Ghana had experienced more than its fair share of the adverse impact of indiscriminate use of illegally acquired weapons.  The Government’s commitment to the Programme of Action was, therefore, premised on the recognition that arms proliferation could undermine political stability and the risk to human security that the small arms and light weapons problem represented.


The Ghana National Commission on Small Arms had been established with the mandate to develop and implement a national action plan for adoption by the Government, she continued.  The country was working on an integrated small arms control strategy, which included cross-border control, legislative review, computerization of the registration process, research into the small arms problem in Ghana and an intensive awareness campaign.  The Commission had initiated a useful dialogue with blacksmiths, which had yielded insights into support measures that could be provided to control the levels of illicit production.  It had also embarked on a campaign to build partnerships on human security and requested members of the media to join the endeavour as mouthpieces for the battle cry for developmental security.  In fulfilment of the United Nations tracing requirement, the firearms bureau was establishing a national computerized database to provide a network for licences and registered arms and facilitate monitoring.  Consultations were under way to enhance legal controls through legislative amendment and harmonization.


The country had actively participated in multilateral small arms and light weapons initiatives, notably the “Biting the Bullet” consultative group process regarding the issue of arms transfers, with particular focus on transfers to non-State actors; the arms trade treaty initiative with Oxfam and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) networking meetings.  The programme of action for effective small arms control was capital intensive and required enormous government resources and concerted donor support.  Ghana was grateful for the support of the United Kingdom for its ongoing programme.  The country needed ever-increasing resources for the comprehensive phase of the programme, which would link research with policy and targeted intervention to generate stakeholder cooperation.


LIPUO MOTEETEE (Lesotho), noting the havoc and loss of life caused by small arms and light weapons, said the illicit spread of such weapons posed an even greater menace, as it was interlinked with transnational organized crime, some of the greatest impediments to sustainable development.  That challenge required a global response.


In accordance with the Programme of Action, the Government of Lesotho had constructed secure storage facilities for unlicenced weapons that were confiscated or voluntarily returned by civilians.  A national focal point had been established for the purposes of coordinating programmes adopted to combat the illicit arms trade and for increasing public awareness on the dangers of illicit arms.  The Government was also in the process of amending all relevant legislation.  Lesotho was working closely with other countries in the southern Africa region and was committed to the implementation of the Programme of Action and to other global initiatives to combat the spread of illicit small arms and light weapons.


JANICE MILLER (Jamaica) said that increased proliferation in small arms and light weapons and the linkages to transnational organized crime and the trade in arms and drugs was a situation faced by many countries.  Jamaica was all too familiar with that situation, evidenced by high rates of criminal activity and violent crime.  The entry of small arms and light weapons into Jamaica continued to be a source of concern.  The smuggling of arms was not just restricted to the actual weapons themselves, but also included parts and ammunition.  The weapons had been entering Jamaica from the main manufacturers in the region.


The country had been undertaking various efforts at the national level, in order to deal with that problem, she continued.  Such action included identification of the source of the weapons, the strengthening of its borders, especially through increased security at ports, and the amendment of relevant legislation governing the importation of arms and ammunition.  For example, in the area of port security, Jamaica had obtained International Shipping and Port Facility Security Code certification for most of its ports and installed machinery to examine incoming and outgoing cargo containers.


At the subregional level, the country was a member of the Caribbean Community Task Force on Crime and Security, she continued.  It was also involved in the exchange of information at the regional level and was a signatory to the OAS Inter-American Convention against illicit manufacturing and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives and related material. Jamaica appreciated the technical and other assistance provided at the bilateral level to deal with the trafficking in small arms and light weapons.


She believed, however, that any real action in dealing with the phenomenon lay in addressing the real root of the problem –- curtailment of the sources of weapons.  More robust action was needed at the international level to bolster national and regional activity in implementing the Programme of Action.  In that context, Jamaica was disappointed that the open-ended working group on a tracing and marking instrument had been unable to agree on the legally binding nature of the instrument.  She called on the international community to elaborate a legally binding instrument to assist States in identifying the illicit weapons that entered their territories.


STANISLAS KAMANZI (Rwanda) said that in no other part of the world was the Programme of Action more urgently required than in the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa.  Small arms and light weapons had claimed thousands of lives each year.  The trade that enabled small arms and light weapons to get into the hands of dangerous, non-State militia must be brought to a swift end. The implementation of the Programme of Action was central to that effort.


At the national level, Rwanda had undertaken a series of measures to implement the Programme of Action, including the strengthening of the legal framework and streamlining of administrative procedures to ensure more effective regulation and control of weapons and the civilian possession of arms.  It had enhanced the capacity of the police and local authorities to implement legislation on small arms and light weapons.  Programmes had been initiated to promote more effective information sharing and increased public awareness.  Thousands of arms and ammunition had been recovered and destroyed.  His Government also worked closely with numerous NGOs that had provided invaluable support in its efforts to implement the Programme of Action.  Rwanda would continue to work with its international partners to implement the Programme of Action.


IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that some progress had been achieved since the Programme of Action had been adopted in 2001, but there was no room for complacency.  Related violence and crimes were still to be eradicated.  While fighting the menace, it was important to address both the supply and demand sides of the problem.  He looked forward to the 2006 Review Conference to consolidate the progress achieved.


The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was seriously hindering Bangladesh’s efforts to improve law and order, he said.  The unbridled flow of small arms across the country’s porous borders had become an obstacle to establishing an environment where people could peacefully engage in socio-economic activities with a sense of security.  The regional organizations could play an important role in preventing, combating and eradicating the illicit trade.  He was dismayed at the serious violations of humanitarian law in conflict situations where lethal and irresponsible use of such arms was rampant.  The issue of small arms and light weapons -- the real weapons of mass destruction -– must be viewed in the overall perspective of peace and security.  To stop the cycle of violence, it was necessary to focus on prevention.


Bangladesh was committed to the full implementation of the Programme of Action, he said.  The country had put in place a number of stringent statutory regulations and executive orders to regulate lawful possession, manufacture, conversion, sale, export, import and transport of small arms and light weapons.  He called for enhanced international cooperation, particularly in the field of capacity-building in that regard.


TUVAKO MANONGI (United Republic of Tanzania) stressed his delegation’s concerns about the internal armed conflicts that had ravaged many countries in the sub-Saharan region.  Those conflicts had been fuelled by illicit arms and had profound adverse security and development consequences to the countries and the region as a whole.  The lack of security had displaced populations across the region and had disrupted economic and social activities.  There was a breakdown in law and order as armed gangs engaged in widespread criminal activity.  In view of the situation, his Government attached great importance to and supported the Programme of Action.


At the national level, Tanzania had established a national action plan to combat the illicit arms trade.  It had adopted regulations and administrative procedures on all matters related to firearms and had developed a training curriculum for firearm officers in the country.  It had collected and destroyed thousand of illegally owned firearms.  A national NGO network had been established, extending to all regions of the country.  He firmly believed that taking action was the only way forward for the African continent to successfully deal with the problem of small arms and light weapons.


MAHMOUD CISSE, President, National Commission for Small Arms of Guinea, said that, undoubtedly, the proliferation and circulation of illicit small arms and light weapons constituted a hindrance to the economic and social development of developing countries, particularly those in Africa.  His country was concerned about that problem and was implementing the United Nations Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons.  For the implementation of that instrument, Guinea had established a national commission to combat proliferation and illicit circulation of small arms, which coordinated and implemented the national policy on the matter.


Significant measures had been introduced to pursue legislative reform, introduce control over small arms, destroy surplus and confiscated arms and munitions, he said.  He was thankful to the donors who had assisted in the implementation of destruction operations. Campaigns to raise awareness had been undertaken.  The country was committed to the African Union’s and ECOWAS’ programmes to control the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  He appealed for donors’ assistance to the ECOWAS Small Arms Unit.  Guinea was determined to continue its implementation of the Programme of Action.  He hoped that efforts would continue to free Africa from the scourges of violence, international crime and uncontrolled spread of small arms.


The representative of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) said his delegation fully supported the implementation of the Programme of Action and had adopted numerous programmes and measures to combat the flow of illicit arms in its country.  A national campaign for public awareness was under way and had resulted in the surrender of thousands of arms and weapons.  New laws had been adopted to better regulate and control the flow of weapons.  Last year, the police had confiscated more than 1,000 weapons and the confiscation rate was rising.  That progress had been reflected in the reduction of the crime rate.  Along with the national strategy to reduce weapons, his Government had also initiated efforts to strengthen border control and to promote a continuous exchange of information with neighbouring countries.  He reiterated his country’s support for all activities and efforts at the regional and global levels to effectively combat the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons.


BROWN BESWICK CHIMPHAMBA (Malawi) said that his country viewed as a positive development the recent agreement by the open-ended working group on an international instrument that would enable States to identify and trace illicit small arms and light weapons in a timely and reliable manner.  Among his country’s efforts to implement the Programme of Action, he mentioned the establishment of a national focal point on small arms and light weapons, with the help of the country’s NGOs.  When fully operational, the focal point would develop a national plan of action on small arms and light weapons.  It would also oversee and manage the implementation of the Programme of Action and conduct research on relevant issues.


Malawi’s Firearms Act had been operational since 1967 and needed to be reviewed to reflect the current situation, he said.  He was encouraged by the interest shown by the British Department for International Development to support the review of that Act. Currently, the only policy regarding the Government’s approach to small arms control was the Operational Implementation Programme for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Firearms Protocol, dated August 2002.  As a developing country, Malawi welcomed any further assistance to enable the national focal point to perform its coordination role.  At the global and regional levels, Malawi had been actively involved in negotiations for the conclusion of legally binding instruments aimed at solving the problem of small arms and light weapons proliferation.


Ms. MAJALI (Jordan) stressed the need for additional measures at the international level to combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  Jordan had taken the fight against the illicit trade in small arms very seriously and had adopted laws to regulate and organize the purchase of small arms and to regulate their import, export, transfer, and manufacturing.  In order to deal effectively with the problem, it was critical to strengthen international cooperation, in particular by providing assistance to countries that needed such assistance to strengthen their capacity to combat the illicit arms trade.  Those countries deserved assistance to help them improve the low standards of living that served as one of the basic causes of the trafficking of illicit arms.  Those arms needed to be placed under stricter government control to ensure they were transferred legally.


She said Jordan was of the view that there must be greater coordination at the regional and bilateral level to combat illicit arms trafficking.  More effective coordination among all States was required.  The problem of small arms and light weapons in the Middle East was closely related to the Arab-Israeli conflict, as the region continued to suffer as a result of that conflict.  The settlement of that conflict could bring an end to the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons in the region, and Jordan supported all efforts aimed to achieving that end.


SAIMIR F. REPISHTI (Albania) said that, due to the turmoil in 1997 in his country, a large number of small arms and light weapons had spread over its territory and fallen into the hands of civilians.  The Government had initiated a significant arms collection programme to address that problem.  Highlighting some of the country’s achievements, he said that steps had been taken to improve its legislation, including the law on small arms collection and a law on firearms.  Legislation on the import and export of arms and dual-use materials was being drafted.  The modernization of the country’s army would be concluded in 2010.


There was a national strategy on military storehouses and stockpiles, he continued.  However, in implementing its programmes, Albania was experiencing resource shortages.  The Government strived to introduce controls over the possession of small arms.  Under one of the programmes, incentives were provided to poor communities to collect and destroy small arms and light weapons. Education for peace was now part of school- and university-level courses.  Measures were being made across the region to stop trafficking in small arms. A range of national and international organizations were involved in the country’s efforts.


JEAN-FRANCIS ZINSOU (Benin) said that his country had taken significant measures to implement the Programme of Action, including the establishment of a national commission to combat the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.  The commission had organized national training seminars to educate police and defence forces on how to more effectively combat the illicit circulation of arms.  Security measures and border controls had been strengthened as a result of those training seminars.  The commission had also obtained thousands of weapons.  Furthermore, national legislation had been revised to combat the illicit arms trade.


At the regional level, he added, Benin had participated in several meetings with regional bodies to adopt programmes and to implement inter-State activities to strengthen border controls.  He reminded the international community that the programme of activities Benin had undertaken to train military and paramilitary officers required a mobilization of resources.  He appealed to donor countries to fund those activities and urged an increased awareness in the international community of the disastrous effects of illicit arms.  A binding international instrument was needed for a more coherent, coordinated and effective action against the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons.


DATO’ HAMZAH MOHAMAD RUS (Malaysia) called on all States to ensure that the supply of small arms and light weapons be limited only to Governments or to entities duly authorized by Governments and to implement legal restrictions on the unrestricted trade in and ownership of small arms and light weapons.  Full implementation of the Programme of Action would greatly contribute towards ongoing efforts to maintain international peace and security.  Therefore, Malaysia emphasized the importance of its full and early implementation.


Malaysia’s actions to implement the Programme were contained in its report submitted for the year 2004, he said.  The Ministry of Internal Security of Malaysia, the Royal Police and the Customs Department remained at the forefront in taking the necessary steps in preventing, combating and eradiating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. The country had strict laws and regulations relating to all aspects of firearms control, including ownership and possession, licencing, transferring, manufacturing, stockpiling and brokering.  The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was closely linked with terrorist activities.  His Government had established the South-East Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism in Kuala Lumpur on 1 July 2003.  At the regional level, Malaysia continued to focus its efforts through various initiatives by ASEAN.


ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said the widespread availability of illicit arms was one of Angola’s greatest challenges and a burden on his Government, as the country emerged from three decades of civil war.  The circulation of small arms had increased violent crime and fuelled instability and insecurity throughout the country.


He said one of the basic tasks for Angola since 2002 had been the demobilization of its armed forces and the collection of all weaponry.  That action was being carried out as the Government continued efforts to reduce the numbers of small arms in circulation.  Those efforts were accompanied by a public awareness campaign and the voluntary surrender and capture of weapons.  The national police had played a central role in fighting the illicit flow of small arms, recovering thousands of firearms since 2002.  The disarmament of guerrilla forces had also resulted in the recovery and destruction of weapons, mines and missiles.  That was accompanied by public awareness campaigns that aimed to educate civilians about the dangers posed by the trade and possession of small arms.  He thanked all concerned United Nations agencies and donor countries for their continued support and legal assistance that had contributed to the successful implementation of Angola’s national programme of action.


The representative of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia reported on the working table on security issues of the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe, which he had co-chaired.  All countries of the region had made significant progress in developing and adopting effective legislation in the sphere of small arms and light weapons control, he said.  The process of adopting national control strategies was either under way or complete in four of the countries of the region.  There had also been progress in weapons collection, with over 26,000 weapons collected during voluntary collection programmes.  Some 64,000 were seized by law enforcement agencies from July 2003 to June 2005.  Also addressed was the destruction of surplus stockpiles, public awareness and information exchange programmes.  The governments of South-Eastern Europe had continued to appreciate the contribution of civil society institutions.


In terms of border controls, a number of bilateral agreements had been concluded between States, he said.  Cooperation had increased with multilateral programmes to improve controls, such as those developed by the European Union CARDS project and the OSCE Best Practice Guidelines.  Security of stockpiles was ensured in accordance with national standards and continued to move towards the recommendations within the OSCE Best Practice Guidelines.  Cooperation continued to be an important feature within the region.


Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Greece said he would like to reply to the representative of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and kindly remind him that, according to resolution 817 of the Security Council of April 7 1993, the State in reference had been admitted to the United Nations under the name of “The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, pending settlement of the differences that had arisen over the name of the State.  Unfortunately, a solution had not yet been reached.


The representative of the League of Arab States stressed the need for the intensification of efforts at all levels –- national, regional, and global -– in the ongoing efforts to combat the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons.  He noted the progress that had been achieved by the Arab League since 2003, including accomplishments realized in numerous conferences in which the Arab League had participated to discuss priorities and strategies to combat the trade of small arms and light weapons.  Among issues addressed in such meetings were the need for greater Arab coordination to combat the illicit arms trade and for the intensification of efforts on the part of all Arab States.  Arab countries were also called upon to create national focal points for these efforts.  Despite the progress achieved, he said the Arab League was aware that much still remained to be done.  The efforts of Arab League to combat illicit trade in small arms and light weapons stemmed from the conviction of Arab countries that it was critical in improving security conditions in the region.


FRANCIS K. SANG (Kenya), Director and Coordinator of the Regional Centre on Small Arms, said that the Great Lakes region had made remarkable achievements in the implementation of the Programme of Action.  That had primarily been executed through the implementation of the Coordinated Agenda for Action adopted in 2000, the Nairobi declaration on the problem of proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons, as well as the Nairobi protocol for the prevention, control and reduction of small arms and light weapons.  The second ministerial review conference of the Nairobi declaration had been held in Kenya in April 2004, and the third review conference in June 2005, also in Nairobi.  The defining characteristic of the protocol was that, unlike the Nairobi declaration, which was essentially a political commitment, it would be a legally binding instrument when it came into force.


The Regional Centre on Small Arms had been established to coordinate the implementation of the Nairobi declaration and protocol in the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa, he said.  It worked to collect best practices, assist in the provision of technical support and establish ties with national, subregional and international civil society organizations. The region was now at the forefront of the efforts to combat the illicit circulation of small arms and light weapons.  The States parties to the Nairobi declaration and protocol subscribed to the twin principles of ownership and partnership in their implementation.


ROMAN KIRN (Slovenia), on behalf of the Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said the OSCE member States regarded the creation of conditions aimed at minimizing the probability of diversion of small arms and light weapons into illicit trafficking as their main task.  The OSCE document on small arms and light weapons had provided a framework to fulfil these tasks and was a key instrument for combating trafficking and proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the region.  For combating terrorism, the OSCE focused primarily on preventing terrorists from increasing their capabilities, including gaining access to small arms and light weapons. 


In accordance with the Programme of Action, the OSCE had established an information exchange regime for small arms and light weapons, as well as an overview of the information on national policies and practices, the export and import and the destruction of small arms and light weapons provided by Member States.  Such an overview allowed for the building of confidence among participating States which was conducive to conflict prevention and post-conflict rehabilitation.  The OSCE was firmly committed to combating and eradicating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and was ready to actively contribute to the implementation of the Programme of Action in the year leading to the first review conference.


Also elaborating on the OSCE initiatives, ALEXANDR SYCHOV (Belarus) -- the Chair of the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation -- briefed the Meeting on such developments as Member States’ efforts to strengthen export controls over MANPAD systems.  A decision was taken on elements for export control of those systems that should be incorporated into national practices, policies and regulations.  A decision had also been made on standard elements for end-user certificates and verification procedures for small arms and light weapons exports.  The OSCE States had agreed on principles on the control of brokering in small arms.  There was an acknowledgement that the lack of international agreements on that issue created loopholes, and participating States had undertaken to control brokering activities in their territories.  OSCE States had also addressed the issue of collection and destruction of weapons in post-conflict situations.


CRISTINA PELLANDINI, representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said the ICRC had worked to encourage States to include in their arms transfer regulations a requirement not to authorize transfers when they were likely to be used to violate humanitarian law.  The ICRC was pleased to note that those efforts had been partly successful.  Moreover, the number of laws and regulations and regional norms on arms transfers that required consideration of humanitarian law had significantly increased.


However, she added, existing regional arms transfer criteria varied and not all regions had adopted such commitments.  There was a need for commonly agreed standards in order to achieve consistent approaches to arms transfer decision-making among States.  The ICRC, therefore, supported the development of an international agreement that would define common standards for regulating arms transfers based on States’ responsibilities under international law, including humanitarian law.  There was also a need to act with greater urgency to prevent illicit arms brokering, identified in the Programme of Action as one of the key areas in which States should consider further measures.


JIEFANG HUANG, Legal Officer of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), said the illicit use of MANPADS posed a serious threat to aviation security.  They had been deployed against civil aircraft in over 40 incidents over the past three decades.


Concerted efforts and responsible policies on the part of all governments were required in order to control those weapons, he said.  The ICAO had been developing standards and recommending practices and procedures that would incorporate preventive measures on the ground.  Many measures were accessible on the secure ICAO AVSEC website.   At its last session, the ICAO Assembly urged all contracting States of ICAO to take measures to exercise strict and effective control on the import, export, transfer or retransfer and storage of MANPADS.  Further, it called upon all such States to take measures to ensure the destruction of non-authorized MANPADS in their territories.


The draft international instrument of the Working Group covered certain portable anti-aircraft weapons, but it did not cover ammunition.  He agreed that ammunition should be addressed in a comprehensive manner as part of a separate process conducted within the framework of the United Nations.


TUGAY ULUCEVIK, a representative of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), said the BSEC member States considered organized crime of all kinds as an impediment to establishing an economic environment conducive to international cooperation and foreign investment.  The BSEC ember States worked towards cooperation and the exchange of information aimed at preventing, suppressing, and investigating crimes, including the illegal trafficking of weapons, ammunition and explosives.  In that context, the BSEC considered the objectives of the Programme of Action and their full implementation as complementary to the regional efforts and cooperation envisaged in the BSEC Charter.


HANNELORE HOPPE, Deputy to the Under-Secretary-General of Disarmament Affairs and Director of the United Nations Coordinating Action on Small Arms (CASA), citing international action on small arms, said that the need for control of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons had been gaining much recognition recently.  Capacity-building for affected countries was essential for eliminating that traffic.  Despite the progress made in such capacity-building, there was still a great need to assist governments to manage their efforts to stop the trade, destroy stores, and trace the flow of small arms. 


She said that much more needed to be done to help States address the causes of the trade in illicit small arms, as well.  The capacity-building challenge was enormous.  CASA members had done much towards that effort, as well as in creating a climate conducive to socio-economic development in countries affected by the illicit trade.  The list of activities to implement its programme of action was extremely long.  The demand for illicit weapons was still high, however.  Children and women continued to be harmed out of proportion by the effects of small arms and light weapons.  She pledged that CASA would continue to work to help them.


HAZEL DE WET, a representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said small arms and light weapons were killing thousands and injuring millions every year.  The widespread use and misuse of small arms and light weapons ignited and fuelled conflicts, causing massive population displacement  and destabilizing regions all over the world.  The devastation caused by the proliferation of small arms and light weapons had a tremendous impact on the well-being of children.  Over the last decade, millions of children had been killed in conflict situations.  The effectiveness of all efforts to combat the proliferation of illicit arms would remain minimal unless the causes of small arms violence were properly addressed and all aspects of the Programme of Action were implemented at each level -– national, regional and global.


Turning to the Programme of Action, she said that while it was a comprehensive document that recognized the many multifaceted issues related to the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons, some aspects remained underdeveloped.  The urgency of combating the illicit trade from both a supply and demand perspective was one such aspect.  Focus on the supply perspective was short-sighted.  It was important also to address the reasons why individuals and societies felt compelled to acquire millions of new weapons each year.  The Programme of Action also did not sufficiently develop the need for action-oriented research.


The representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said that, since 2001, the understanding of illicit small arms and light weapons as a development issue had grown dramatically.  While the Millennium Development Goals did not mention small arms specifically, as such, it was evident that, for example, goals in education could not be met if schools were attacked and children abducted as child soldiers.


The development community could help the situation by providing alternatives to violence and the use of arms, and by consolidating the gains made by weapons-control and disarmament programmes.  Since 2001, that community had also contributed to the implementation of the small arms programme of action at the international, national and regional level.  Substantial support had been provided to countries to help them meet their obligations, as well.


The representative of Egypt reiterated his delegation’s full support of the positive role of international civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations in all aspects of work related to disarmament, and, in particular, nuclear disarmament.  His delegation took the matters related to the Meeting seriously and could not accept a document it had not seen.  Having taken a preliminary look at the list of non-governmental organizations presented by the Secretariat, he had found that several of the non-governmental organizations requesting participation were those whose work was not related to the issues addressed by the meeting.  Nevertheless, his delegation did not want those organizations to bear the responsibility for that situation.  Hence, he requested a list of non-governmental organizations that had actually sent representatives to participate in the Meeting with a view to considering their participation.


ANTONIO EVORA, Small Arms Team Leader, Conventional Arms Branch, Department of Disarmament Affairs, said that an open-ended working group on weapons tracing had made good progress on a legally binding instrument.  In addition, further steps had been made to enhance international efforts to combat the brokering of illicit arms.  There was general agreement on the need for further work on brokering, including definitional issues and the matter of extraterritorial jurisdiction.  Only 32 countries had existing laws to specifically address illicit arms brokering; many others needed assistance in creating such legislation.


Similarly, he said, the lack of adequate control of imports and exports also needed to be addressed with legal instruments.  The effectiveness of such instruments, however, relied on the quality of law enforcement, and many countries needed assistance in that area as well.


PATRICIA LEWIS, a representative of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), said evidence-based research enabled States and civil society actors to increase the efficacy of their work in implementing the Programme of Action.  Also critical to the implementation of the Programme of Action were organizations within the United Nations system that played an invaluable role in enhancing the state of knowledge on small arms issues.


Despite the progress achieved by UNIDIR and other United Nations agencies, research on small arms and light weapons was still in its formative years as a distinct field of study.  There was a gap in the knowledge of the scale and distribution of assistance for the implementation of the Programme of Action.  Research that ascertained the needs and concerns of affected States and local communities was vital for effective policy-making, decision-making and donor collaboration.


DAVID MEDDINGS, Department of Injuries and Violence Prevention, World Health Organization (WHO), said that the ultimate objective of small arms efforts should be a reduction the number of lives shattered by those weapons.  There was a disconnect, however, between current efforts to control small arms and the streets where small arms were illicitly supplied.  The way forward should, therefore, be broadened to address the demand for small arms.  Studies show that the perception of insecurity was the primary factor, in that context.


Social investments could lead to measurable reduction in violence, he said.  It was essential, however, to study the best methods to reduce armed violence in lower-income settings, and to create an international framework to combat such violence based on the knowledge gained.  The impact of the Programme of Action could then be extended well past the disarmament sphere to affect lives around the world.


* *** *