14 July 2008

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message to the third 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, delivered by Sergio de Queiroz Duarte, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, in New York, 14 july:

I send warm greetings to all participants in the third Biennial Meeting of States to consider the national, regional and global implementation of the Programme of Action on Illicit Trade in Small Arms.  By convening this meeting, following the inconclusive outcome of the 2006 Review Conference, Member States reaffirm their confidence in the Programme of Action as an important tool in the combat against the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.

Since adopting the Programme of Action seven years ago, States have made considerable progress in implementing it.  Weapons collection and destruction activities have continued, with thousands of weapons and millions of rounds of ammunition destroyed; national coordination bodies have been established and existing ones strengthened; and States are increasingly focusing their attention on implementing the new International Tracing Instrument.

I am particularly encouraged by the specific recommendations made by the expert group on illicit brokering.  If fully implemented, these actions can go a long way towards achieving our collective goal of preventing illicit brokering in small arms.

Despite this progress made, challenges abound.  There are more small arms in circulation now than there were in 2001; because of both conflict and crime, innocent civilians continue to fall victim to those weapons in high numbers; and Security Council arms embargoes continue to be violated.  Because of these and other remaining challenges, the fight against the illicit arms trade is one of the UN’s priorities in the field of disarmament.

To succeed, we need all sectors of society to join in, from Governments and parliamentarians to civil society organizations and local communities.  I am encouraged that the Security Council has requested recurring biennial reports to coincide with the two-year cycle of the Biennial Meeting of States.  This approach should generate synergy between the Council and the General Assembly.

I commend you for resolving to make this meeting a results-oriented one, and wish you every success in your deliberations.

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For information media • not an official record