|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Fourth Biennial Meeting of States
on Illicit Trade in Small Arms
1st & 2nd Meetings (AM & PM)
Global Scourge from Illicit Trade in Small Arms Continues to ‘Wreak Havoc’,
Says UN Disarmament Head, as Meeting on 2001 Action Programme Opens
Tells Delegates Serious Gaps Remain in Implementation at National Level;
Improved Border Control among Issues to Be Discussed at Fourth Biennial Meeting
“The global scourge from the illicit trade in small arms and ammunition continues to wreak havoc” and was highly destabilizing, impacting upon security and development in literally all regions of the world, Sergio Duarte, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said today at the opening of the Fourth Biennial Meeting of States on combating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.
Since 2003, Member States have gathered 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, which was adopted in 2001. The Programme of Action contains a number of measures to control the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, including legislation, destruction of confiscated weapons and strengthening the ability of States to identify and trace those weapons. The Fourth Meeting runs from 14 to 18 June. Earlier meetings were held in 2003, 2005, and 2008, with a Review Conference held in 2006.
While the illicit trade in small arms and ammunition manifested itself in different ways — youth gangs terrorizing a neighbourhood or pirates capturing a commercial vessel, for example — Mr. Duarte added that a common characteristic was the ability to massively multiply force through the use of illicitly acquired fire power. In the face of that, over the past decade the Programme of Action had assumed a central role in the international response. However, serious gaps remained regarding its implementation at the national level. The meeting this week could serve to further discuss the improvements required, including enhancing measurability, acknowledging the value of web-based information platforms, and matching assistance needs with available resources, he said.
Pablo Macedo (Mexico), who was elected Chairperson of the Meeting of States, noted that perhaps the highest cost was the thousands of lives lost daily through the firing of illicit firearms. Stressing that Members States had the opportunity to tackle that threat during the current meeting, he said that a clear message must be sent to arms traffickers and concrete measures that supplemented national, regional or global measures must be produced.
During the ensuing debate, several representatives expressed disappointment that the 2006 review conference on progress made in implementing the Programme of Action had not agreed on a final document. Indonesia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said it was “high time” for all Member States — especially major arms producers — to gather their political will for collective success at the meeting.
Agreeing, Pakistan’s representative said the meeting should concentrate on “doables” and avoid statements of a very general nature. The focus should be on things that could be done or which were being done, as there was very little time at the disposal of Member States.
For his part, Uruguay’s representative cited a discussion paper he had drafted, with a view to arriving at concrete results. The paper addressed problems related to the lack of effectiveness in the prevention and combating of the illicit small arms trade across borders.
Several delegates also called for a strengthening of legislative regimes and border control mechanisms by, among other things, improving training programmes and updating equipment. Pointing to the special challenges presented by extensive and isolated borders, Colombia’s representative called for bolstering coordination and cooperation within and between States, and at regional and subregional levels. Cooperation was a necessary tool to exchange timely and reliable information, he stressed.
France’s delegate highlighted the question of controlling arms flows, noting that air transport, in particular, was quicker and more discreet than sea and land. The dearth of information sharing was one of the loopholes exploited by illegal air transporters, which also necessitated cooperation at regional and subregional levels.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Spain (on behalf of the European Union), Panama (on behalf of the Central American Integration System (SICA) Member States), Egypt, Lithuania, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)), Nigeria (in a national capacity and on behalf of the African Group), India, Japan, United States, Australia, Philippines, Mexico, Switzerland, Algeria, Israel, Argentina (on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR)), Kenya, Sierra Leone, Cuba, Morocco, Peru, Canada, Ecuador, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Thailand, Iran, Senegal, Libya, Bolivia, Uganda, China, and Jamaica.
At the outset, delegates elected, by acclamation, the representatives of Algeria, Australia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Finland, Guatemala, Japan, Mali, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Sudan, and Switzerland as Vice-Chairpersons of the Meeting.
Sarah Parker of the Small Arms Survey presented an analysis of national reports.
In addition, the Chairperson announced that the following representatives had agreed to act as “Friends of the Chair”, or facilitators: Federico Perazza of Uruguay, on prevention and combating of illicit trade in small arms and light weapons across borders; Sarah de Zoeten of Australia, on international cooperation and assistance; Lawrence Obisakin of Nigeria, on other issues; and William Kullman, on the international tracing instrument.
The meeting of will reconvene at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 15 June, to consider international cooperation and assistance.
The 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 met this morning to begin its fourth biennial meeting.
The provisional programme of work (document A/CONF.192/BMS/2010/L.2/Rev.1) included consideration of the implementation of the 2001 Programme of Action at national, regional and global levels with a view of preventing, combating and eradicating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons across borders, international cooperation and assistance, and considering the implementation of the International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons.
Opening the meeting, SERGIO DUARTE, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said that, as the tenth anniversary of the Programme of Action neared, States had gathered this week to take stock of progress to date and to consider how to make the Programme of Action — and its related International Tracing Instrument — increasingly effective and relevant to meet future challenges. As the current meeting was the last biennial meeting before the Review Conference scheduled for 2012, it would certainly be more “forward-looking”.
The global scourge from the illicit trade in small arms and ammunition continued to wreak havoc, albeit in different manifestations: youth gangs terrorizing a neighbourhood; pirates capturing commercial vessels, including oil tankers; armed groups attacking civilians or peacekeepers; insurgents fighting government forces; drug lords randomly killing law enforcers or anyone else interfering with their unlawful business; and bandits hijacking humanitarian aid convoys. They all shared a common characteristic — the ability to massively multiply their force through the use of illicitly acquired fire power. The illicit circulation of arms and ammunition was, therefore, highly destabilizing, impacting security and development in literally all regions of the world: from Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Pacific, to the Americas, he said.
Over the past decade, the Programme of Action had assumed a central role in the international community’s actions against the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons. Significant progress had been achieved in the implementation of the Programme of Action. A number of States had strengthened their relevant legislation to stem the proliferation of illicit small arms at the national level. Also, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes had been developed to assist affected countries. Some States had integrated small arms action plans into national development strategies. But, serious gaps remained regarding implementation of the Programme of Action at the national level. As the Secretary-General had noted earlier, national reports were often unclear on what the challenges were in national implementation, and how they could be overcome. Also, the setting up of procedures for effective operational information exchange with investigative and law enforcement authorities from other States and with INTERPOL left much to be desired.
As had become clear from informal consultations, the biennial meeting would re-consider two familiar but essential themes: the International Tracing Instrument and assistance and cooperation. In addition, some fresh and topical subjects had been introduced in order to broaden implementation efforts. Nevertheless, he said, the themes of illicit brokering and stockpile management remained current and central to the implementation of the Programme of Action at the national and regional levels. In addition, the biennial meeting presented an opportunity to consider future meetings, if States so wished.
In that context, he said that the Secretary-General had indicated that the Programme of Action “lacks measurability and specific numerical targets”. This week’s meeting, as well as the Expert Meeting in January 2011, should be used to discuss further the improvements required at the global level with respect to the Programme of Action. Those could include: improving measurability, acknowledging the value of web-based information platforms, and matching assistance needs with available resources.
Moreover, the Programme of Action did not exist in a vacuum, he continued. In forums within the United Nations system and outside — such as the World Customs Organization — related processes were also underway. Within the United Nations, small arms issues were linked and interwoven with peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts, the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the Firearms Protocol, children and armed conflict and the drive towards an arms trade treaty. Of particular note was the growing emphasis on the linkage between development and armed violence, which would be discussed for the first time this coming September at the High-level Plenary Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals.
PABLO MACEDO (Mexico), chairperson of the Fourth Biennial Meeting, said perhaps the highest cost was the thousands of lives lost daily through the firing of illicit fire arms. Members States had the opportunity to tackle this threat at this meeting, which provided a forum conducive to frank discussions on the challenges. A clear message must be sent to traffickers. It was vital for this meeting to produce concrete measures supplementing national, regional or global measures.
As the Meeting took up its agenda item on consideration of the implementation of the Programme of Action in all its aspects at the national, regional and global levels, SARAH PARKER of the Small Arms Survey presented an analysis of national reports. Stressing that the current analysis was an interim report only, she said that a final report would be prepared later in the year. The analysis of national reports had been prepared to feed into the discussion at the current meeting. The analysis included, among other things, a statistical overview; and information on two of the themes that would be discussed during the biennial meeting: preventing and combating the illicit trade across borders and international cooperation and assistance. It also included general conclusions and findings, although it did not include one of the other themes — strengthening follow-up to the Programme of Action — because almost no States had included that in their reports.
She said that reporting activity had been more intense in 2003, 2005 and 2008, the years when biennial meetings had been held. The year 2009, however, saw the lowest level of reporting ever, with only nine States reporting. As of 6 May this year, 66 States had submitted reports, she said.
FEDERICO PERAZZA (Uruguay) said States had adopted the agenda for the fourth meeting with a focus on the fundamental values of trans-border customs issues. At the last biennial meeting, paragraph 7 of the final report aimed at improving customs control bodies, and paragraph 28 pointed out that States had highlighted a number of important points, including strengthening border control.
In light of those points, he cited a discussion paper he had drafted, after consultations with many delegations, with a view to arriving at concrete results (document A/CONF/BMS/2010/WP1). The paper addressed problems related to the lack of effectiveness in the prevention and combating of the illicit small arms trade across borders. He said national reports provided critical information to the paper. The value of those reports had increased, because it included information on the type of international support required. Legislative regimes should be strengthened, he said, citing another discussion paper. He also recommended strengthened border control mechanisms by, among other things, improving training programmes and updating equipment. In addition, national focal points and global parameters should be established.
IGNACIO MORRO (Spain), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the European Union remained convinced that the ultimate goal of each biennial meeting was to agree on precise and operational recommendations aiming at ensuring the full implementation of the Programme of Action. Such an approach became even more appropriate from the perspective of the 2012 Review Conference. Welcoming the working papers developed by the Chair and the Friends of the Chair, he said such papers provided a good basis and several ideas to develop the work to be conducted during the week.
The issue of the prevention and combat of the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons across borders deserved the utmost consideration, he said, as it was at the core of most of the challenges that Member States decided to address nine years ago when adopting the Programme of Action. The European Union’s activities in that field were guided by the European Union Small Arms and Light Weapons Strategy, adopted at the level of Heads of States in December 2005. In addition, the European Union had adopted in 1998 a Code of Conduct on Arms Exports, and had also developed an Integrated Border Security Model covering all aspects of border policy, in order to prevent and combat illicit trafficking. In recent years, it had also been undertaking several measures to prevent the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons via air transport. Specific warning systems had been developed within the Union to that extent, and it was now concentrating on the development of specific risk assessment tools, he said.
PABLO ANTONIO THALASSINOS (Panama), speaking on behalf of the Central American Integration System (SICA) Member States, said that the question of security was a fundamental issue for promoting sustainable development in SICA countries, since that was part and parcel of their regional agendas. New threats had developed and new challenges and concerns had come to the forefront in those countries, which also had to deal with traditional threats, such as the risks and consequences of organized crime. The Programme of Action was a strategic tool for addressing effectively the multilateral problems generated by illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, given the problems which the SICA countries faced. There was an urgent need to find solutions from a humanitarian and preventive standpoint. It was necessary to be comprehensive and to look towards the long-term, in order to find a lasting solution.
The current biennial meeting provided an opportunity for generating results that would allow States to make effective progress in implementing the Programme of Action and its related mechanisms. He added that armed violence was a constant threat to the security of the region of SICA countries. It was vital to plan strategies to reduce violence and deal with the factors that promoted its existence.
HASAN KLEIB (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the uncontrolled spread of illicit weapons was the choice of tool in most conflicts. The supply of small arms should be limited only to Governments, or authorized entities. The Non-Aligned Movement encouraged robust initiatives by States to mobilize resources and expertise and provide assistance to strengthen the full implementation of the 2001 Programme of Action.
He was disappointed that the 2006 United Nations review conference on progress made in implementing the Programme of Action had not agreed on a final document. He appreciated the papers presented during this current meeting and said it was high time all Member States, especially major producer States, gathered their political will for collective success at the meeting. Member States should coordinate efforts with a view to agreeing on a follow-up to the Programme of Action, and he called for the full implementation of the international instrument to enable States to identify and trace illicit small arms.
He said the United Nations, bilateral and multilateral partners needed to increase their assistance to developing countries of the Non-Aligned Movement for curbing the trade in those weapons. International assistance and cooperation were essential aspects in the full implementation of the Programme of Action. It was also essential to underline the sovereign right of States to acquire, manufacture, export, import and retain conventional arms for their self-defence and security needs. He pointed out the significant imbalance in the production, possession and trade in conventional weapons between developed and Non-Aligned Movement States, and called for a reduction in the production, possession and trade of these weapons by developed States. He also called for intensified actions at regional and international levels to promote dialogue and a culture of peace by encouraging education and public awareness programmes on the problems of the illicit trade.
The representative of Egypt said his country took pride in providing examples of best practices in the overall implementation of the Programme of Action nationally, regionally and internationally. He greatly appreciated the analysis reported by Ms. Parker earlier. He highlighted the amendment to the agenda item on border control and was encouraged that Mr. Perazza was committed to updating his discussion paper on the topic. Egypt was deeply committed to moving these and other issues forward at the current meeting.
DALIUS ČEKUOLIS (Lithuania), associating his delegation with the statement made on behalf of the European Union, said he was pleased that the meeting would concentrate on specific areas under its agenda, as the scope of the Programme of Action was too wide. His delegation was particularly pleased that the programme of work included the topic of the establishment of mechanisms to implement the Programme of Action. Progress in that field could only be achieved through a combination of actions at the international, regional and national levels. At the national level, for instance, Governments should increase efforts to share data.
He added that it was important to not forget that the current meeting was the last biennial meeting before the Review Conference in 2012. Previous experience had shown that it was only through an intensive preparatory process that meaningful results at the Review Conference could be achieved. He encouraged fruitful discussion that would lead to the adoption of an outcome document on Friday.
CAMILLO GONSALVES (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and aligning his group with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the issue of the illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons was a high priority for CARICOM member States. His region considered the Programme of Action to be an important multilateral mechanism in the fight against the illicit trafficking in small arms, and remained fully committed to its implementation. The problem of illicit small arms within CARICOM was in no small way linked with the illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs and related transnational organized crime. The scourge of crime and violence that his region’s societies had experienced as a result of illicit trafficking had caused significant loss of life and human suffering, and it continued to pose a serious threat to the safety and security of citizens and development.
While many of CARICOM’s member States did not share borders, the borders nonetheless remained highly porous, and the Governments, therefore, remained conscious of the need for increasingly enhanced measures for strengthened controls at land, sea and air borders and continued to institute cooperative and information-sharing mechanisms to further such controls. On that note, CARICOM welcomed international mechanisms geared at promoting the surveillance and protection of the sea from all forms of illicit activities, such as the trafficking of small arms and light weapons. Moreover, CARICOM member states viewed regional cooperation as vital to addressing security challenges, including those related to the illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons.
Although some gains had been made in enhanced regional cooperation in the area of security, he said that challenges remained, including a lack of required technological and human resources and institutional capacity to adequately patrol and monitor borders. There was also a need for technical assistance and training for personnel who addressed the issue of border controls. He also reiterated CARICOM’s call for the reopening of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Barbados as a critical element in demonstrating the commitment of the United Nations system to assisting the region in its efforts to combat the illicit trade in small arms, drug trafficking and transnational organized crime.
LAWRENCE OLUFEMI OBISAKIN (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group, highlighted the negative and destabilizing effects caused by illicit small arms on the world, particularly in Africa, and urged Member States to redouble efforts towards the dream of the drastic reduction and eventual elimination of these illicit arms. He applauded the legally-binding instruments that had already attained some level of implementation in Africa and suggested harmonizing these instruments with those of other regional groups.
AMANDEEP SINGH GILL (India) said the task before this meeting to consider the implementation of the Programme of Action, especially as a means of combating terrorism and crime, was of the utmost importance to India. He appreciated the reports submitted by delegates and the contributions of organizations that shed light of the issues being discussed here. India’s position on small arms was described in its current national report, he said.
On the topic of agenda item 6A, on border control, he pointed to a discussion paper prepared by the representative of Uruguay. He acknowledged that insufficient resources and the absence of coordination mechanisms were some of the factors contributing to the problems. India’s own 15,000-km border was under the control of government management and a border-development programme. India and Nepal, sharing an open border, routinely discussed issues of mutual concern. Transit points were established and integrated border-management projects were ongoing with Bhutan and Bangladesh.
Uruguay’s suggestion of establishing national focal points was important, he said. India recognized that the international community had taken modest steps to end the threat posed by small arms and there had been a welcomed increase in commitment. In light of this, he said tracing small arms and light weapons was an issue that needed to be addressed.
Ms. YANAI (Japan) attached great importance to the issue of small arms and light weapons, and recalled that her Government had presented a draft resolution on the issue to the General Assembly since 1995. It had also hosted a number of related conferences and workshops, and had a long track record of providing assistance to projects related to small arms and light weapons. The working paper made specific references to border controls, among other things, and also gave some useful suggestions for possible actions that might be taken by the meeting. As covered in the paper, specific things to be considered included holding meetings concerning enforcement authorities, strengthening border control mechanisms, and establishing a focal point, and her delegation considered all of those to be important elements.
In Japan, the possession of guns was strictly controlled by the law. Strict regulations contributed to a very low rate of gun-related crime. Arms, however, were smuggled into the country, and border control for gun smuggling remained a challenge to her country. The Government had taken major steps in that regard, including the frequent and timely exchange of information, joint exercises and training, and law enforcement. As an island country, measures were also being taken to control borders. In addition, she stressed that international cooperation was essential for ensuring effective border control. Her Government had initiated various activities in that area, including holding working-level meetings, and establishing new networks for information exchange. While different regions must grapple with their own challenges, it was necessary to take stock of national experiences — both challenges and successes — and to identify areas where cooperation was required.
RAZA BASHIR TARAR (Pakistan) said that, as his delegation had suggested during informal discussions, there was very little time at the disposal of Member States. The meeting had to try to concentrate on “doables” to avoid very general statements. While there was no doubt about the materials or views on the relevant topics, it was necessary to focus on things that could be done or which were being done. As a note of caution, he said it might be advisable to avoid the introduction of elements that might generate a lot of debate and “not get us anywhere”.
Turning to border controls, he said his Government was strengthening and upgrading controls at international borders. For example, 1,000 checkposts had been put in place between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Also, it was necessary for all States to understand that discussion regarding small arms and light weapons was a cooperative process and that the issue was a complex problem with huge global dimensions. In addition, it was necessary to understand that timely action lay with national Governments.
DANIEL AVILA-CAMACHO (Colombia) said trans-border trafficking in illicit small arms was a critical issue for his country. Extensive and isolated borders were especially challenging, and he said coordination and cooperation needed to be bolstered. It was vital that assistance coordination was established within and between States, and at regional and subregional levels. Cooperation was a necessary tool to exchange timely and reliable information.
Colombia, with help from the United Nations, had made headway, he said, including in making action plans with countries in the region to trace and identify routes for the supply of arms that crossed his country’s borders. The arms entering Colombia illegally ended up in the hands of criminals and terrorists, but cooperation had helped the government to bolster border control. His country’s challenges and experiences should be shared with other countries. He welcomed the treatment of the border issue in this forum. The final document of the meeting should be geared towards action to make real progress in continuing to improve border control. Identifying and tracking the routes followed by criminals needed to be addressed through cooperative efforts. Colombia’s own successes and efforts were included in its national report, which had been submitted to the United Nations.
The representative of France said the question of border control in combating the illicit trade of small arms was essential and linked to the question of controlling flows, an issue his country had taken an interest in recently. Air transport, in particular, was quicker and more discreet than sea and land, and the air companies involved found ways around controls. International organizations involved with air regulation had no real power to enforce those rules.
Air travel for legitimate cargo, such as aid, was being jeopardized by this illegal air transport, he said, adding that cooperation was necessary at regional and subregional levels. The dearth of information sharing was one of the loopholes exploited by illegal air transporters. Controlling shipments and documents was critical for all forms of transport, to stymie the efforts of smuggling by air.
STEPHEN R. COSTNER ( United States) said his delegation agreed with and supported “virtually everything” in the working paper presented by Mr. Perazza. He noted a few comments for further consideration, but stressed that the paper was well thought out.
PHILIP KIMPTON ( Australia) highlighted the difficult aspect of the issue of movement of small arms and light weapons across borders. It was necessary to enhance both national controls and international cooperation and assistance. While multilateral cooperation was essential, regional cooperation was absolutely critical. His delegation welcomed the inclusion in the meeting’s programme of work the issue of regional and subregional mechanisms related to the Programme of Action.
For its part, Australia had hosted a regional meeting in Sydney on the Programme of Action in June 2009, which had been organised by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs. In addition, he said that fostering practical cooperation between border control agencies and law enforcement officials was critical, and that information-sharing was fundamental in that context. It was necessary to look at ways to better prevent illicit movement of guns across borders. There were a number of Australian Government programmes with a strong focus on the Pacific region. Further, his delegation looked forward to an outcome that reinforced the existing regimes, and hoped that discussions might encourage greater capacity-building.
LIBRAN CABACTULAN (Philippines) said the best solution for combating the illegal trade of small arms was to implement the Programme of Action. His country had stringent laws prohibiting the transport of illegal arms, used authenticated end-user certificates and did not re-export or retransfer previously imported small arms. Export control laws regulated arms produced by manufacturers and information exchange agreements in the region addressed arms issues. The Philippines supported the United Nations, especially its Security Council resolutions regarding arms and related issues, he said.
ROBERTO DONDISCH (Mexico) said attention to cross-border trafficking was essential and the Programme of Action was the appropriate instrument through which to do so. The global nature of trafficking on small arms meant that experiences with these issues should be reviewed. Only through regional cooperation could the scourge be eradicated. Regulating production and manufacturing, export and transfer needed to be bolstered.
MR. LAUBER (Switzerland) said combating the scourge of the illicit cross-border arms trade was a major focus of the Programme of Action, and particular attention needed to be placed on implementation. Although the issue was already on the agenda of regional and subregional forums, it also required a multilateral approach. His delegation encouraged States to intensify their actions to provide border control to combat the illicit trade.
He also underscored the importance of advocating for regional, national and global cooperation in order to consolidate and strengthen border control. That would further strengthen implementation of the Programme of Action and, therefore, integrated management could be slowly introduced at border controls, thereby assisting state agencies. His delegation also supported a strengthening of the border control mechanisms, as it was clear that such mechanisms must be coordinated among neighbouring States. Setting up international guidelines or an international instrument was “quite ambitious”, he said, although he stressed the need to begin discussions concerning the parameters for combating the illicit trade.
MOHAMMED BELAOURA (Algeria) said that discussion of preventing and combating the illicit trade in small arms was important and essential, so that the proliferation of those weapons could be avoided. He reaffirmed his delegation’s commitment to the Programme of Action, and said that his Government would work to further implement it at the regional and other levels. His Government had also strengthened its operational activities aimed at stopping criminal networks who attempted to bring contraband weapons into the country.
He stressed that regional and subregional cooperation was essential to prevent the trade in weapons and to control borders. Algeria was cooperating with its neighbouring countries. The “disturbing” situation in the region could only lead the Government to redouble its efforts and strengthen cooperation. Countries of the region had held a ministerial meeting in March in order to coordinate actions and have a common front. Algeria continued to support legal instruments at regional or subregional levels, so that there could be better coordinated actions among countries.
MEIR ITZCHAKI (Israel) said a focused thematic debate, adopted in this and the previous meeting, was important in addressing issues related to small arms. Regarding the paper on preventing the cross-border illicit trade in small arms, presented by the representative of Uruguay, he said border and custom control was critical in preventing the transfer of arms to terrorists, a problem in Israel’s region. The paper identified areas that could be effective in combating the problem. To these recommendations, he would add a suggestion that coherency in action, among Interpol and other such organizations, should be enhanced and that confidence-building measures should be established on regional levels. He said facilitation of a means to identify trafficking of weapons by air was another important factor and information sharing needed to be institutionalized, internally and internationally. Existing instruments should be used and national points of contact should also be established, he said.
Mr. MEISZNER (Argentina), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), said ammunition and explosives should be included in discussions on small arms issues. He thanked the representative of Uruguay for introducing a pertinent, valuable discussion paper on border controls. Border control was the prime responsibility of a State. He highlighted the importance for countries to cooperate in this area and to strengthen national capacities.
In 2001, a working group was established in MERCOSUR to harmonize national legislation on fire arms. This group had met twice a year, with its last meeting on fire arms analyzing data on confiscated arms. He pledged to work with the Andean States regarding its efforts related to small arms, applauding recent efforts.
FRANCIS KIMEMIA (Kenya) said the East African community was greatly concerned over it porous borders, and he supported United Nations efforts in the field of border controls. Small arms were a challenge, as those weapons fuelled terrorism, piracy and human trafficking, among other criminal activities. In Kenya, measures and strategies had been adopted, including cooperating more with immigration and customs in managing borders.
In some parts of Kenya that attracted fire arms, communities themselves had been able to address those problems. Increased police posts in vulnerable areas had also helped in reducing conflict. The Government had also embarked on resource management. A project for youths who had surrendered their arms to the Government was in place. The national budget passed last week included the benefits of peace dividends, with better roads and infrastructure.
State-owned fire arms were covered by a Government programme to mark arms, which enhances identification and tracing. So far, more than 20,000 arms had been marked by police. The armed forces were also in the process of marking its arms. Kenya had destroyed 25,179 illicit small arms and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Security agencies had embarked on new responses to fire arms challenges. Kenya’s initiatives had been able to reduce the menace of small arms to nearly zero, he said.
LAWRENCE BASSIE (Sierra Leone) said, as a post-conflict State, his country had suffered the brunt of the illicit trade in small arms. Sierra Leone obtained assistance from the Economic Community of West African States Small Arms Control Programme to address these and other issues. Within the Programme of Action, regulation of weapons in civilian possession was an important part. If the Programme was to move forward, discussions should be frank and commitments should be firm. Technical and financial assistance needed to be provided. Marking and tracing, and the arms trade treaty were also critical parts of the Programme of Action.
RODOLFO BENITEZ VERSON (Cuba) said greater cooperation among States would enhance border controls. Among the problems stemming from the cross-border trade was terrorism, to which no reference had been made in the documents before Member States. Small arms used for terrorist purposes had been used against his country, with Cuba having halted many of these illegal arms. In various parts of the document, references were made to shared responsibility, the scope of which was not entirely clear. More discussions were needed. For any final document to be agreed upon, emphasis should be placed on States to make firm efforts. He said establishing a new international instrument geared towards border control would not be feasible or advisable. Full implementation of the existing instruments should move forward. Cuba was ready to exchange views in detail on these various issues, and was committed to make a constructive contribution to this meeting.
SIHAM MOURABIT (Morocco) said this meeting should build on the previous biennial meeting, moving ahead on previous regional and sub-regional successes. She said while those successes were positive, some of them were limited given the proliferation of illicit arms, porous borders and weak laws, and more needed to be done. Lessons should be learned, for instance, about border controls and efforts to achieve regional stabilization. Trafficking was an important matter, which fed organized crime and terrorism and undermined the security and stability of States. This meeting should produce useful measures to prevent this illegal trade.
While assistance and international cooperation were critical, this cooperation must take into account respect for the national sovereignty of States, and appropriate processes must be taken into consideration. Enhancing control mechanisms would be appropriately addressed by individual States. South-South cooperation could occur at the national or regional level and laws could, thus, be harmonized. The Saharan-Sahelian region must receive appropriate attention to prevent illicit arms trading, as well address Al-Qaida’s interests in arms trafficking. National focal points would help to achieve cooperation regionally and internationally to compile information to combat trafficking.
Mr. OBANDO (Peru), endorsing the statements made on behalf of MERCOSUR and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that illicit trafficking was an element with two sides: one related to internal, domestic security, and the other related to regional security and security at the international level. It was important to promote bilateral instruments for cooperation in police and judicial matters that provided a framework in international law, and to exchange national standards so that all States might be informed of the competence and jurisdiction of the authorities with which they had to deal. It was not only necessary to train the agents of the various entities, but it was also necessary to correspond with entities across the border, he stressed.
KIM JOSLIN ( Canada) said his delegation recognized the importance of the efficient and effective regulation of the legal trade in small arms and light weapons as recognition of the legitimate interests of industry, shooting sports hobbyists and collectors, and in order to prevent diversion to illicit markets. Equally important, however, was cross-border cooperation on the enforcement side that targeted illicit small arms and light weapons networks operating across international borders.
For its part, Canada’s Border Services Agency sought to interdict the illegal crossing of small arms and light weapons across the common border with the United States, while also streamlining the process for law-abiding persons travelling with firearms for legitimate purposes and with the required documentation. Canada-United States Intelligence Border Enforcement Teams combined the intelligence and law enforcement expertise of various agencies and used a coordinated approach to identify and stop the high-risk movement of people and goods between the ports of entry on the Canada-United States border. Canada and the United States also participated in joint investigations to prevent and solve firearms crimes resulting from the smuggling and illicit trafficking of firearms; shared ballistics information that helped detect cross-border crime involving firearms; and cooperated in the tracing of firearms.
WALTER SCHULDT (Ecuador), endorsing the statements made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and MERCOSUR, said his delegation was actively involved in establishing an organizational committee, drafting a new legal framework, and developing major activities intend to improve weapons control in all of its aspects. His delegation would provide strong support in order to achieve the fullest success of the conference, he said.
LUIS CARRANZA (Guatemala) said a study on borders with neighbouring countries reported many porous areas. Controls differed from one country to another, so existing institutional mechanisms varied widely, as was the case with customs authorities. Harmonizing procedures would help paint a clearer picture of trafficking. Trafficking in illegal arms was closely linked with other illegal activities, including human and drug trafficking. Border area challenges must be tackled in specific actions of control and security. Mexico, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador shared borders with Guatemala, and cooperation was needed to address arms trafficking. States needed to harmonize the formats for such information to produce better results and generate confidence among the countries concerned. Given the problems related to borders, national legislation and international regulations needed to be implemented, he said.
MILKA TERRERO (Dominican Republic) said her country was ledged to combating the illicit trade in fire arms, and was implementing projects to control and monitor exports, re-exports, transit and shipping. The Dominican Republic undertook constant efforts to meet international requirements, but it needed additional assistance for training national security officials and other activities. Being a travel hub, the Dominican Republic had taken steps to boost education and train personnel, and it was working on a legally-binding instrument to implement the Programme of Action.
LUEJIT TINPANGA ( Thailand), associating her delegation with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated that the illicit transfer of arms in any form was unacceptable. Despite stringent measures, the illicit trade across borders still posed certain challenges. In addition, trafficking through maritime transport had emerged, presenting another challenge. Therefore, her Government valued practical cooperation at all levels, and maintained close cooperation with its neighbours.
She stressed that geography was another important factor in the problem of border controls. The 2011 open-ended meeting of governmental experts would be an appropriate forum to examine how to better combat illicit trade across borders. Border-related issues were multifaceted, and many were sensitive. Her delegation was ready to share its views and discuss such matters with other Member States.
KHODADAD SEIFI PARGOU (Iran) noted the close link between terrorism, organized crime and drug trafficking, and the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. Porous borders were an aggravated element in that regard. Having borders with several countries, and as a transit route for drug trafficking and the illicit trade, Iran attached great importance to cooperation at the bilateral, subregional and regional levels to fight drug trafficking and the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. Currently, it had several bilateral and multilateral coordination mechanisms with its neighbours to effectively fight those problems in the region. He added that it was necessary to improve the facilitation of the transfer of the technology that improved the fight against drug trafficking, as well as the tracing and detection of small arms and light weapons.
EMMANUEL RENE MOISE ( Senegal) expressed support for the statements made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and on behalf of the African Group. He also stressed that trans-border cooperation among the defence and security services was of the highest concern to his Government.
Mr. OBISAKIN ( Nigeria), speaking in a national capacity, said there was an urgent need to control and ultimately eliminate the illicit circulation of small arms. Last April, at the nuclear security summit in Washington, D.C., Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan called small arms “weapons of mass destabilization”. For three decades, Nigeria has organized border patrols with neighbours, resulting in the confiscation of smuggled weapons. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) convention on small arms stipulated the strengthening of, among other things, border controls of Member States and of subregional cooperation among defence and security forces, in addition to the enhancement of the capacity of national defence and security forces.
It is the modern dog that can catch the modern thief, he said. As illicit arms dealers were getting more sophisticated, States needed to stay ahead. Nigeria called upon partners for more assistance for air and port surveillance technologies.
The Representative of Libya said small arms were a dangerous issue that threatened national peace and security. Libya was concerned by the continued manufacturing of such weapons, with the volume outstripping the need for them and the illicit trafficking of such weapons the result. This must be combated from every angle. He supported the United Nations Programme of Action, which must be implemented.
Libya had enacted legislation and introduced programmes, legal and legislative measures in order to combat trafficking. He worked with other Arab States, with a view to furthering such ends and to exchange ideas and best practices at the international level.
GUIDO GONZALEZ PAZ (Bolivia) expressed support for the statements made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and MERCOSUR. His delegation acknowledged efforts made by Mr. Perazza and commended the document that had been distributed to delegates. The paper outlined the central considerations in regard to the matters before Member States. Such matters must be approached from angles that recognized shared, but differentiated responsibility. Responsibility must be looked at according to what countries manufactured arms and what countries were subject to the results of that scourge. International efforts should be underpinned by bilateral and regional efforts. In addition, his delegation hoped that there would be a determination to reach decisions during the current review meeting.
AHMED WAFUBA (Uganda) said that the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa had had bitter experiences, as the result of conflicts perpetuated by the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons. The adoption of the Nairobi Declaration on the problem of the proliferation of illicit small arms in March 2000 attested to the great importance countries of the two regions attached to global efforts concerning the need to eradicate illicit small arms. Countries of the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa had adopted a strategy that reinforced and complemented national, regional and global efforts in preventing and combating the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons in all its aspects.
Uganda’s efforts to combat small arms and light weapons were focused on the implementation of the Programme of Action and the Nairobi Declaration. His Government had established a national focal point on small arms and light weapons in 2003. It was also charged with exchanging information with other States on systems, mechanisms and practices to combat small arms and light weapons. Uganda had also launched the National Action Plan on Small Arms and Light Weapons in 2005. In addition, firearms belonging to the Uganda Police and Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces were now being marked. The exercise would later roll out to include other armed groups, including private security guards and civilians.
LEI SUN (China) said the Programme of Action contained measures to be taken at regional and international levels on arms issues. Further enhancement was needed to bolster those measures. He suggested regulating from the source, as well as enhancing the training of officials working in the customs and border control fields. He also suggested strictly administered border controls and border activities, and said cooperation should be intensified based on existing agreements and consensus. Strengthening information exchange was another suggestion.
China was opposed to the illegal manufacture of small arms, and it had developed an explicit policy on imports and exports of these weapons. In China, all arms export activities were exclusively authorized by the Government, and currently there were only twelve companies authorized to export weapons, and only four companies authorized to export small arms and light weapons. No others had the legal right to manufacture, trade, export or broker, with punishments for perpetrators. Licenses issued by the relevant Government departments verified each batch of weapons exported, he said.
RAYMOND WOLFE (Jamaica) said, as a small island developing State, his country continued to grapple with the harmful effects of the illicit small arms trade, which hampered socio-economic development. These illegal weapons exacerbated violence and increased organized crime. Illegal weapons trafficking had occurred through relatively open and moderately secured borders. The porous nature of the borders was a critical challenge and the Ministry of National Security was exploring solutions.
However, the transnational dimension of the problem could not be overstated, he said, with illicit smalls arms fuelling criminal networks extending to countries in South and North America and Europe. The French, United States and United Kingdom governments had contributed greatly to increased surveillance along Jamaica’s coastline and Canada had provided support for training law enforcement agents and other related projects. Cooperation with the United States included a bilateral agreement to intercept drug and gun trafficking by sea. Continued cooperation, at bilateral and regional levels, in the form of capacity-building and the supply of equipment was critical, to be able to respond to the menace of small arms trafficking that threatened the country’s socio-economic stability.
Jamaica was committed to confronting the challenges of the interlinked scourges of narco-trafficking and illicit arms shipments, with efforts including a restructuring of the Transnational Crime and Narcotics Division, and the introduction in Parliament of new anti-crime legislation.
* *** *For information media • not an official record