|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6288th Meeting (AM & PM)
Security Council Presidential Statement Urges Joint Efforts by Central African
States in Battle to Curb Small Arms Proliferation
Expressing grave concern over trafficking in small arms and light weapons, particularly in Central Africa, the Security Council today encouraged States in that subregion to join forces in order fully to implement measures to curb the illicit trade and to create mechanisms and regional networks for sharing information on the circulation and trafficking of weapons.
In a presidential statement read out by Alfred Alexis Moungara Moussotsi (Gabon), whose country holds the Council’s rotating presidency, members underscored the vital importance of effective regulations and controls to prevent the diversion or re-export of arms. They called for the creation of a Central African subregional register of arms dealers, as well as a legally binding instrument to control small arms and light weapons, their ammunition and the equipment for their manufacture.
Alarmed over the illicit transfer of small arms in contravention of arms embargoes and export bans, the Council also encouraged the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) to help countries in the subregion implement arms embargoes, and encouraged committees charged with monitoring embargoes in Central African and neighbouring countries to create channels of communication with the subregional body and the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa.
The Council expressed grave concern over the wide-ranging humanitarian and socio-economic consequences of small arms proliferation, which, by fuelling armed conflict, exacerbated the risk of gender-based violence and recruitment of child soldiers, in addition to seriously threatening peace, reconciliation, safety, security, stability and sustainable development.
Furthermore, the Council encouraged Member States to take vigorous action to restrict the supply of small arms and to unstable areas in Central Africa, and to cooperate fully with the Chair of the United Nations fourth biennial meeting of States on implementing the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects, scheduled for June, in order to ensure a successful outcome.
In a day-long debate prior to the Council’s adoption of the presidential statement, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro urged support for a global arms trade treaty and for the implementation of community-based disarmament and confidence-building projects. She called on Central African States to make the best possible use of United Nations tools and expertise, such as the Programme of Action; the United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms; and the International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons.
Priority must also be given to stockpile management, the security of weapons and ammunition, and measures to control the import, export, transit and retransfer of weapons, she said. Regional peace and security required a strong commitment on the part of Governments in the subregion and State suppliers of weapons to eradicate arms trafficking. “ Central Africa is awash with illicit weapons -- exacerbating intercommunal violence, increasing cross-border crime and threatening ongoing peace and national reconciliation processes,” she said. “The primary responsibility to eradicate this illicit trade remains with States.”
Pointing out that the illicit trade was fuelled by secrecy, she said that sizeable local demand, especially among the many militia and rebel groups in the subregion, coupled with limited national and regional capacity, porous borders and the spillover effects of conflict, impeded effective control over small arms. The increasingly apparent link between arms trafficking and the illicit exploitation of and trade in natural resources further fuelled regional conflict, she added.
Briefing the Council, Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna, said the illegal arms trade was valued at an estimated $200 million to $300 million annually. Africa was the most profitable market for arms smuggling and suffered the greatest number of casualties, he said.
Criminal groups received major rewards from firearms, as a result of which some of the world’s highest murder rates were to be found in several African countries, he said. “Think of how drugged-up kids of the RUF [Revolutionary United Front] held Sierra Leone to ransom for a decade, or the destruction caused by the marauding Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda for years,” he added. “In short, illicit arms fuel the violence that undermines security, development and justice.”
Of the 34 countries least likely to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, 22 were in the midst of or emerging from conflicts in regions that were magnets for crime, violence and arms trafficking, he continued. To reduce supply, mainly from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, greater efforts were needed to improve the safekeeping and destruction of stockpiles.
Emphasizing that following the money trail was the best way to combat crime, he urged States to implement article 52 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption and article 7 of the Firearms Protocol, which required parties to know their customers and reveal the beneficiaries of funds deposited in high-value accounts. States should also use the Firearms Protocol to seal loopholes in national legislation, tighten weapon-transportation regulations and develop regional databases on seizures, among other things, he said.
Louis Sylvain-Goma, Secretary-General of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), said threats to security posed by small arms and light weapons exceeded the subregional body’s capacity to counter them. Their sources were infinite, with some 80 per cent of them coming from former Warsaw Pact countries and China. All sectors of the population carried them, including women and children, giving rise to a new kind of social conflict that disrupted the family structure, he said, adding that they undermined State relationships and impeded efforts for regional integration.
About 7 million small arms and light weapons had been made and bought in Central Africa in the past 15 years, 45 per cent of which had been destroyed, while the majority remained hidden, he said. Combating the illicit movement of those arms was part of the subregion’s collective security strategy. To that end, Central African Heads of State had turned to the United Nations to help settle conflicts, which had led to creation of the Standing Advisory Committee, he said. They had adopted the Bamako Declaration of 2000, as well as recommendations on implementing the United Nations Programme of Action.
He said that, in the future, ECCAS hoped to perfect a legal instrument on small arms and light weapons, with the active participation of national commissions and police cooperation. Furthermore, it aimed to carry out a strategy to ensure security in the Gulf of Guinea; to implement reform policies for security sectors, so as to ensure weapons were traceable; and to support disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes at rates of 90 per cent.
Also during the debate, several Council members took the floor to underline the need to address the root causes of armed conflict in Central Africa, which fuelled the illicit arms trade, and to end impunity. They expressed their support for the various steps that Central African States had undertaken to curb trafficking, including the creation of a legally binding subregional instrument.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Nigeria, Uganda, Turkey, Japan, France, Lebanon, United States, Mexico, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Brazil, Russian Federation, Austria, United Kingdom, Gabon, Botswana, Chad, Morocco, Costa Rica, Germany, Switzerland, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of Korea, Australia, Central African Republic and South Africa.
Representatives of the African Union and the European Union also delivered statements.
The meeting began at 10:21 a.m. and suspended at 1:32 p.m. Resuming at 3:42 p.m., it ended at 4:50 p.m.
The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2010/6 reads as follows:
“The Security Council reaffirms the statements of its Presidents of 24 September 1999 (S/PRST/1999/28), 31 August 2001 (S/PRST/2001/21), 31 October 2002 (S/PRST/2002/30) and 29 June 2007 (S/PRST/2007/24), and its resolution 1209 (1998) of 19 November 1998, welcomes all initiatives taken by Member States following the adoption of the Programme of Action by the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects and takes note of the progress towards an arms trade treaty.
“The Security Council is gravely concerned about the illicit manufacture, transfer and circulation of small arms and light weapons and their excessive accumulation and uncontrolled spread in many regions of the world, particularly in the subregion of Central Africa, which have a wide range of humanitarian and socio-economic consequences, in particular on the security of civilians by fueling armed conflict, which in turn exacerbates the risks of gender-based violence and recruitment of child soldiers, and pose a serious threat to peace, reconciliation, safety, security, stability and sustainable development at local, national, regional and international levels.
“The Security Council, while acknowledging the right of all States to manufacture, import, export, transfer and retain conventional arms for self-defence and security needs consistent with international law and the Charter of the United Nations, underlines the vital importance of effective regulations and controls of the transparent trade in small arms and light weapons in order to prevent their illegal diversion and re-export.
“The Security Council reiterates that Member States should comply with existing arms embargoes and export bans, and take necessary steps to effectively implement these measures imposed by the Council in its relevant resolutions.
“The Security Council is alarmed that illicit transfers of small arms and light weapons in contravention of arms embargoes and export bans, to or by criminal organizations or other irresponsible actors, including those suspected of engaging in terrorist acts, are linked with illicit trafficking of drugs, illegal exploitation of natural resources and illicit trade in such resources. The Security Council encourages all Member States that have not yet done so to accede, ratify and implement the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols, including the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunitions.
“The Security Council welcomes the various initiatives that are currently under way within the subregion, notes the efforts to establish a subregional register of small arms, and encourages the Central African countries to take necessary measures to build up the capacity of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) through the establishment of a subregional register of arms dealers as well as the elaboration of a subregional legally binding instrument on the control of small arms and light weapons, their ammunitions and all equipments that might serve for their manufacture.
“The Security Council reaffirms the importance of addressing the illicit arms trafficking, in particular, of small arms and light weapons through an approach of common and shared responsibility, and encourages the States of the subregion to fully implement relevant measures adopted at the national, subregional, regional and international levels and to consider appropriate steps in this regard.
“The Security Council calls on the States of the subregion to strengthen efforts to establish mechanisms and regional networks among their relevant authorities for information-sharing to combat the illicit circulation and trafficking in small arms and light weapons. The Council also stresses the need for the States of the subregion to strengthen their cooperation, including through regional and subregional organizations, in particular the African Union, in order to identify and take appropriate measures against individuals and entities that engage in illegal trafficking of small arms and light weapons in the Central African subregion.
“The Security Council emphasizes the need for national authorities in the subregion to fully participate in the practical implementation of the Programme of Action adopted on 20 July 2001 by the United Nations Conference of the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects, and the International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons, adopted on 8 December 2005, and encourages Central African countries to regularly submit national reports to the Secretary-General, in accordance with the above-mentioned instrument.
“The Security Council encourages ECCAS to assist Central African countries in ensuring the effective implementation of arms embargoes imposed by the Council and, in this context, establish measures such as inquiries into illicit arms trafficking routes, the follow-up of possible violations and cooperation in border monitoring, in consultation with the countries concerned. In this regard, the Security Council encourages the committees in charge of monitoring arms embargoes in Central African countries and neighbouring countries, consistent with their mandates, to continue to include in the annual reports a substantive section on the implementation of arms embargoes, on possible violation of the measures reported to the Committees and with recommendations, as appropriate, for strengthening the effectiveness of arms embargoes. This information could also be shared with the INTERPOL’s International Weapons and Explosives Tracking System.
“The Security Council encourages the Committees in charge of monitoring arms embargoes in Central African countries and neighbouring countries, consistent with their mandates, to establish channels of communication, with ECCAS, its member States and with the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa.
“The Security Council supports the action of the United Nations missions present in the subregion, consistent with their mandates, to assist disarmament processes in the framework of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, and calls upon international partners to assist the Central African countries to build and strengthen their capacities to set up and implement measures relating to the prevention of illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons, and the security and management of stockpiles of arms, especially small arms and light weapons.
“The Security Council recognizes the importance of the forthcoming United Nations fourth 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, to be held in June 2010, and encourages Member States, including those in the subregion of Central Africa, to fully cooperate with the Chair to ensure a successful outcome of the meeting.
“The Security Council encourages Member States to undertake vigorous actions aimed at restricting the supply of small arms and light weapons and ammunitions to areas of instability in Central Africa.
“The Security Council requests the Secretary-General to take into account in his biennial report, as a follow-up, the content of the present presidential statement.”
Meeting this morning to consider the impact of illicit arms trafficking on peace and security in the Central African region, Security Council members had before them a letter dated 15 March 2010 from the Permanent Representative of Gabon to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (document S/2010/143). It outlines the destabilizing effects of the illicit trade in arms on the security, humanitarian situation and development of countries in the subregion, and describes the actions taken by those countries as well as the objectives of today’s debate.
ASHA-ROSE MIGIRO, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, said the flow of illicit arms into Africa was largely made possible by the secrecy surrounding it. Local demand remained sizeable in the subregion, especially among the many militia and rebel groups, while limited national and regional capacity, porous borders and the spillover effects of conflict impeded effective small arms control. “ Central Africa is awash with illicit weapons -- exacerbating intercommunal violence, increasing cross-border crime and threatening ongoing peace and national reconciliation processes,” she added.
Illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons was never an isolated phenomenon, she emphasized, pointing out that in Central Africa it had complex links not only to conflict, but also to various criminal activities that undermined efforts to engender social justice, foster the rule of law and, ultimately, achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The increasingly apparent link between illicit arms trafficking and the illicit exploitation and trade in natural resources in turn fuelled conflict in Central Africa. “The primary responsibility to eradicate this illicit trade remains with States,” she added, noting that while national measures to promote disarmament and arms control were commendable, challenge loomed large.
Peace and security in Central Africa required a strong commitment by countries in the subregion, as well as State suppliers of weapons, to expand efforts to eradicate weapons trafficking, she said. Those efforts must include greater State commitments to implement global instruments and strengthen capacity to combat those involved in illicit brokering activities, in accordance with the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects, the United Nations Firearms Protocol and the International Tracing Instrument.
Urging support for the adoption of a global arms trade treaty and implementation of community-based disarmament and confidence-building projects, she also called on Central African States to make the best possible use of United Nations tools and expertise. The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs played an important role in helping States regulate conventional armaments and promote disarmament and non-proliferation, she said, welcoming the ministerial decision of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa to mandate the Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa to assist in drafting the subregion’s first legally binding instrument on the “control of small arms and light weapons, ammunition, explosives and equipment supporting their manufacture”.
Going on to cite other priorities, she said they included stockpile management, the security of weapons and ammunition, and measures to control the import, export, transit and retransfer of weapons. Also, more must be done to build national capacities to mark weapons, keep records and trace illicit arms, in line with international and regional standards, she stressed, adding that it was well understood that weak regional and national regulatory and enforcement capacities in addressing illicit arms trafficking were linked to the structural causes of armed violence. As such, the Standing Committee’s actions were of great significance in designing ways to improve subregional security and creating conditions for sustainable development.
ANTONIO MARIA COSTA, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna, said today’s conflicts took place within rather than between nations, and were fought with light rather than heavy weapons. The illegal arms trade was valued at an estimated $200 million to $300 million annually, accounting for 20 per cent of the total arms trade, he said, noting that Africa, the most profitable market for arms smuggling, suffered the largest number of casualties. Demand for military-grade weapons came from criminal groups, combatant militias and regimes under sanctions, while supplies came from the stockpiles of nations undergoing regime change, clearance sales of obsolete weapons by defence departments, and manufacturers unwilling to meet internationally agreed domestic controls.
Criminal groups received major rewards from firearms, he continued, pointing out that a handful of Somali pirates could hijack oil tankers, cattle raiders stole the livestock of entire villages, bandits hijacked aid shipments and thugs in combat uniform compelled young slaves to mine rare minerals. As a result, some of the world’s highest murder rates were to be found in several African countries. By acquiring military-grade weapons, combatant militias obtained the trappings and firepower of legitimate military forces in a bid to gain credibility. On the other hand, regimes under sanctions needed arms to perpetuate control, irrespective of domestic opposition or international pressure, while arms traffickers circumvented all embargoes.
In such troublesome hands, even small amounts of arms could undermine the socio-economic progress of nations, break a State’s monopoly on the use or force, or create a tipping point in political or military stalemates, he said. “Think of how drugged-up kids of the RUF [Revolutionary United Front] held Sierra Leone to ransom for a decade, or the destruction caused by the marauding Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda for years,” he added. “In short, illicit arms fuel the violence that undermines security, development and justice.” Of the 34 countries least likely to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, 22 were in the midst of or emerging from conflicts in regions that were magnets for crime, violence and arms trafficking.
Noting that the biggest stocks of weapons were in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, he recalled that, in the 1990s, those stockpiles had supplied almost every conflict, particularly those in Africa. Corruption at the supply source as well as transit and destination points had made it possible for tons of weapons to be moved undetected in large cargo planes, he said, stressing that in order to reduce arms trafficking, it was necessary to promote development and security, thus reducing demand. To reduce supply, more most be done to improve the safekeeping and destruction of stockpiles –- not least within the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
There was no need to reinvent the wheel to curtail the illicit arms trade, he emphasized, pointing out that the United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms provided a strong legal instrument. However, the Protocol had only 79 States parties -- half the number of signatories to the other two Protocols on trafficking in firearms. “To cut the illicit flow of weapons, I urge you to use the Firearms Protocol to close loopholes in national legislation; tighten up regulations of weapons transport; develop regional databases on seizures; promote inter-agency cooperation within Government administrations; profile suspicious shipments; and share information with other countries to verify compliance with international agreements,” he said.
But even that was not enough, he said, noting that crime could best be combated by following the money trail. Arms dealers covered their tracks through complex arrangements with front companies that invested the proceeds from crime. “I urge you to implement article 52 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption and article 7 of [the Firearms Protocol] that requires parties to know their customers, and reveal the beneficiaries of funds deposited into high-value accounts,” he said. “Arm trafficking is another pandemic. The therapy is known, the surgical instruments available,” he added, expressing hope that today’s meeting would spur Member States to use those tools to cut the flow of arms.
LOUIS SYLVAIN-GOMA, Secretary-General of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), said his region had been beset by various crises. Of the 10 countries in the Economic Community, seven were in a post-conflict situation and the remaining three had not been spared the problem of rampant crime. The scourge of small arms and light weapons played a role in lawlessness. The sources were infinite. The weapons were simple to handle and found everywhere -– in families and along borders. They undermined State relationships and impeded efforts at regional integration.
Describing the extent of the problem, he said the threats to security posed by such weapons exceeded the Community’s capacity to counter them. Crises in the subregion had had cumulative effects, stimulating armed rebellion, massive population displacement and deterioration of health and education systems. There were six lawless areas in Central Africa, comprising “triangular” relationships among countries. Porous borders facilitated the regrouping of rebel movements and fostered the “unbridled” circulation of small arms and light weapons. Such arms were often “thrown by the roadside” once conflict ended. Some 80 per cent of those weapons came from former Warsaw Pact countries and China, and all sectors of the population carried them, including women and children, which had given rise to a new kind of social conflict that disrupted the family structure.
At the regional level, Central African Heads of States, in the Yaoundé process, had turned to the United Nations to help settle conflicts in the subregion, which had led to creation of the Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa. On the global level, Central African States had adopted the Bamako Declaration (2000). Subregionally, the Economic Community had held a seminar in 2002 on implementing United Nations programmes in the region. Recommendations had been adopted, notably in the areas of establishing, in each State, a national commission on small arms and light weapons; promoting “traceability” by drawing up registers and databanks; promoting civil society; implementing a regional policy of cross-border cooperation; and creating a unit on small arms and light weapons in the Economic Community’s secretariat.
Recalling the Council for Peace and Security in Central Africa, and the 1999 cooperation agreement, he said the Secretariat General of the Economic Community played a key role in combating the problem, along with the African Union and the United Nations. Such an approach fostered the harmonization of institutions to ensure greater effectiveness of actors in the field. He commended the results attained in barely six months of implementing “securitization” in Community member States.
Regarding the Cameroon-Equatorial Guinea-Nigeria triangle, which had seen much piracy, he said joint coastal patrols had made it possible to seize hundreds of weapons and drugs. Moreover, most post-conflict States had implemented disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes. That process had not yet embraced criminal organizations. After conflicts in Angola, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it had not been possible to recover all the arms used. About 7 million small arms and light weapons had been made and bought in Central Africa in the past 15 years, 45 per cent of which had been destroyed. The majority were still hidden. Reforming the security sectors of Central African States required security forces’ strict control over their weapons.
In the future, the Economic Community hoped to perfect a legal instrument on small arms and light weapons, with the active participation of national commissions, he said, and draw on police cooperation efforts to deal with the six lawless areas. It also hoped to carry out a Gulf of Guinea securitization strategy; implement reform policies for security sectors to ensure weapons were traceable; and support disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes at rates of 90 per cent for 2015. Combating the illicit movement of small arms and light weapons was part of the region’s collective security strategy. “We need to deploy all our imagination and ingenuity” upstream and in the field, he said. “If we forget the economic and social dimension, all our efforts will be in vain.”
RAFF BUKUN-OLU WOLE ONEMOLA ( Nigeria) said illicit arms trafficking had a profound impact on Africa in general, and Central Africa in particular. It undermined good governance, tourism and investment, while jeopardizing economic development, putting democracy at risk and heightening intra-State conflicts. The proliferation of armed guerrilla groups caused internal instability to turn into larger-scale war, and the resulting conflicts led to the internal displacement of millions. The role of natural resources in fuelling conflicts could not be overemphasized, he said, noting that it was in the interest of fighters to be supplied with weapons as long as they shared the benefits of a country’s mineral wealth.
He called for a strengthening of subregional mechanisms for combating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, along the lines of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Ammunition and Other Related Materials. ECOWAS members had created national focal points to implement the Convention. To prevent weapons from ending up in the hands of those who should not have them, Governments must adhere to international and regional arms embargos and sanction violators. The United Nations should redouble its efforts to monitor compliance with laws to prevent the use of weapons, and States should adopt international arms trade treaties in order to set common international standards.
There was currently no uniform practice in that regard, he noted, adding that such a treaty would ensure that people could not move arms into areas of conflict without being prosecuted for doing so. Such a treaty would provide criteria for experts to prevent arms from falling into the hands of human rights abusers. National Governments, especially arms-exporting States, must strengthen mechanisms for preventing the diversion of weapons to illegal markets. They must also ensure that arms exporters followed all laws, regulations and procedures. At present, monitoring provisions were weak, he said, underscoring the need to develop a common international arms certificate that could not be easily fudged or duplicated.
PATRICK MUGOYA ( Uganda) said the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons had had a devastating impact on Africa, fuelling conflicts within and between States and making peaceful conflict resolution difficult. Their ease of use and maintenance had made small arms and light weapons very popular, he said, noting that they threatened peace, reconciliation, safety and sustainable development, especially in the Central and Eastern subregions. They also threatened pastoral border communities, notably those in Kenya and Sudan.
He said illegal trade in natural resources also threatened development in the entire subregion, increased armed violence in urban centres and played a key role in fuelling cross-border activities like drug trafficking and trade in endangered species. African Governments had initiated various mechanisms, including the Nairobi Declaration on the Problem of the Proliferation of Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa. Uganda had created a national focal point to coordinate, combat and control firearms. It had also implemented collection and disposal measures and disposed of more than 4,700 recovered pieces of small arms and light weapons.
All countries around the Great Lakes had established national focal points and more than 200,000 illicit small arms and light weapons had been destroyed to date in the subregion, he said, adding that the challenge was to maintain the momentum. The relevant protocols must be signed and implemented, and it was also necessary to enhance efforts to manage stockpiles, reintegrate former combatants and reduce the demand for weapons. Given the lack of resources, efforts by individual countries to reduce the flow of weapons were likely to have little or no impact, and international support was therefore needed, he said.
ERTUĞRUL APAKAN ( Turkey) said small arms caused an estimated 90 per cent of civilian casualties in modern conflicts around the world. The Great Lakes region was the most tragic example of that. In 1994, more than 800,000 people had been murdered in Rwanda, mostly with small arms, including machetes. The availability of small arms and light weapons resulted in protracted armed conflicts, which were among the greatest obstacles to human development. And, the proliferation of those weapons made peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts highly dangerous.
He said that, while every State had a duty to protect its citizens from the dangers posed by the illicit arms trafficking, the threat’s transboundary nature warranted strong cooperation among States, as well as a multidimensional approach to deal with the problem at local, national, regional and international levels simultaneously. Foreign aid programmes to eradicate the illicit arms trade in the subregion should be expanded. Turkey was committed to implementing the United Nations Programme of Action, and it supported the elaboration of more effective global norms and standards. Reinforcing border and customs controls was indispensable. Transparency and information sharing would promote consistency in the implementation of agreed multilateral standards. He attached importance to the fulfilment by States of their reporting requirements.
YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) said that, due to weak control systems, illicit weapons were in the hands of anti-Government forces in Central Africa, with only a small portion in the hands of State security systems. Most were used for criminal activities, but the problem was not simply an issue of social instability. The weapons trade undermined human rights, the protection of women and children, and socio-economic development. It was an issue of central security and a threat to peace and security. Japan supported national, regional and global efforts to end the trade. It was important to implement the Programme of Action to enable States to identify and trace small arms and light weapons. Also essential was for States concerned to register, control and manage small arms and light weapons and to establish measurable goals for national development plans. He encouraged Central African countries to expedite passage and implementation of binding instruments and to strengthen management of national borders. The Economic Community of Central African States should share best practices with other regions.
He called for global implementation of the 2008 recommendations of the Secretary-General, including the recommendation to tackle small arms and light weapons, peacebuilding and poverty reduction together, and the one to destroy surplus ammunition stockpiles. Arms embargoes were necessary under certain conditions. Peacekeeping operations and regional organizations should cooperate closely. Weapon-holding countries had specific responsibilities, and efforts must be matched by partnerships and stronger collaboration. In the past nine years, Japan had contributed $500 million to support efforts to end the illicit arms trade. It had supported disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other African nations. Japan was unique in that it had a clear policy to not export arms to conflict countries. It was committed to play a lead role in the fight against the illicit small arms and light weapons trade. Since 2005, Japan had submitted a draft resolution to the General Assembly on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, which had received increasing support.
GÉRARD ARAUD ( France) said millions of people had been victims of the illicit trade and distribution of small arms and light weapons since 1945. Central Africa had been “sorely tried” by various conflicts and exposed to related dangers. LRA had shown the ability of groups to despoil entire regions, he said, noting that the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons had been a major factor in destabilizing many countries and hampering economic and social development. Arms trafficking fuelled protracted conflicts, and their illicit delivery to unstable countries made it difficult to find durable solutions.
Given the high financial and human costs of combating the distribution of small arms, he said, it was of capital importance to attack such distribution at its root, which meant enhanced surveillance of manufacturers and brokers knowingly involved in the illicit trade. The Council had set up systems for imposing sanctions and embargoes, and the international community had also created legal tools, including the Programme of Action. France supported the establishment of regional registers of small arms and light weapons, he said, noting that his country helped African States combat trafficking by supporting relevant training centres.
NAWAF SALAM ( Lebanon), noting that Central Africa was one of the areas most affected by small arms, described them as weapons of mass destruction because of the huge number of casualties they caused, particularly among women and children. However, there was no international weapons regime to end the illicit trade. Some 100 factories produced 8 million weapons annually, and 700 million small arms were currently in circulation, which represented one weapon for every 10 people in the world. Small arms were a universal threat to humanity, he said, noting that populations continued to suffer the economic and development consequences of the illicit trade in such weapons, which hindered progress towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals.
The problem was an integral part of a wider conflict, in which the use of weapons intersected with issues of security, organized crime, human rights and development. There was a need to implement the Programme of Action, an effort that should be accompanied by steps to address the root causes of the illicit trade, and to encourage armed groups to reintegrate combatants into society by giving them incentives to do so. He commended the efforts of non-governmental organizations in that regard. It was also important to strengthen international cooperation to establish controls and ensure effective oversight and monitoring. A compromise was needed on a binding international instrument to end the illicit use of small arms and light weapons. However, such restrictions should not apply in cases of self-defence, resistance to foreign occupation or struggle for self-determination, he stressed.
ROSEMARY DICARLO ( United States) said thousands of conventional arms flooded illegally into every African conflict zone, which had led to millions of deaths, displaced people and dollars spent on humanitarian efforts. An estimated 14 million refugees around the world were homeless due to the illicit trade, and the instability they created was a massive obstacle to development. Of the 20 countries with the lowest levels of human development, all but one were in Africa, she said, citing the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the transfer of arms had fuelled a terrible conflict. A vicious cycle of insecurity had stoked conflict in Central Africa, and to stem the tide of illicit arms flows, States must observe and enforce United Nations sanctions while implementing other national and international instruments.
The United States was proud of its extensive export control system and had helped other countries raise their standards and prohibit transfers to rogue States, she said. It had always had supported effective action to control international arms transfers, because legal -- but reckless -- transfers fuelled the arms trade. For that reason, the United States would support negotiations for a strong arms trade treaty as long as the relevant decisions were taken by consensus. The United States was dedicated to combating the illicit arms trade and, since 2001, had funded the destruction of more than 2 million small arms and light weapons in over 38 countries, including six members of the Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa. Illicit arms trafficking should be a source of global concern, and its links to narco-trafficking and organized crime were especially troubling. The United States would participate in the June meeting to consider implementation of the Programme of Action, which would help lay the basis for a successful review conference in 2012, she said.
CLAUDE HELLER (Mexico), noting that arms trafficking strengthened organized crime and undermined stability, said it was also a stumbling block to development, and he called on Governments to design strategies to identify elements common to all serious crimes in order to facilitate the rule of law and a clampdown on impunity. Hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed by firearms every year and Central Africa was one of the regions that had suffered most. Protracted conflicts in weapon-holding States impeded reconciliation and peacebuilding, and had a pernicious effect on trade. Weapons procured in one region were illegally sold in another, he said, calling for measures to combat the illicit arms trade on the basis of shared responsibility.
In the last 10 years, the United Nations had devoted many resources to that issue, but judging from the extreme availability of black market such weapons, major challenges remained, he said. The Organization must play a more active role as it had the necessary instruments to respond, including the Programme of Action. Inviting States and others actors to Mexico to participate in the June meeting on the issue, he supported the proposal for a subregional list of arms traffickers in Central Africa, and steps to bring the perpetrators to justice. There should be ongoing dialogue between the United Nations and the Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa.
IVAN BARBALIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina), supporting the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, highlighted the threat posed by the illicit small arms and light weapons trade on the security and development of Central Africa, calling for the full implementation in the region of the 2001 Programme of Action, and encouraging States of the region to adopt the code of conduct for the defence and security forces of Central Africa. He called on those States to harmonize and tighten national legal frameworks to control those weapons and work towards the establishment of a regional register. For those efforts, financial and technical assistance was crucial. He called on Member States to develop and enforce a binding legal instrument to monitor light weapons. The draft legal instrument presented by the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions for Central Africa was a significant step for the control of small arms. He hoped the upcoming ministerial meeting of the group would result in concrete action in that regard.
LI BAODONG (China), noting that the proliferation of and trafficking in small arms and light weapons affected economic and social development in Central Africa, said he was pleased that countries in the subregion were taking active measures to combat the illicit trade. Each State must formulate a set of rules governing the production, transfer and stockpile of such weapons, monitor trade and combat illicit transactions. There should be more global attention to the problem for the benefit of Central African countries.
The fundamental way to eliminate conflict would be to help those countries eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development, he said. For its part, the Council should continue to work in an active and steady manner on the issue. It should coordinate its work with other relevant United Nations bodies and boost cooperation with regional and subregional actors, such as the African Union, to create an enabling environment for combating illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons. China was willing to work towards an early and appropriate solution to the problem, and supported the adoption of a presidential statement on the topic.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil) urged the international community to spare no efforts in tackling the challenge. While several important initiatives had recently been adopted in different parts of the continent, including by national Governments, in Central Africa, the illegal trade in arms was still a source of particular concern, given that some conflicts were still in course and because of the severe impact on civilians, especially women and children. While the problem was not exclusive to Central Africa and might not threaten peace and security in other parts of the world, it concerned all. The review next June of the Programme of Action would be an excellent opportunity to engage all Member States in strengthening that key United Nations Programme. Brazil, together with its partners in the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), had been working for a legally binding instrument to regulate the small arms and light weapons trade. Her Government also supported a legally binding instrument to allow States to identify and trace, in a timely and reliable manner, illicit small arms and light weapons.
She said the United Nations Programme of Action should be expanded to also cover ammunition and explosives. Additionally, an arms trade treaty would go a long way towards regulating the trade and curbing the illicit arms traffic. Brazil was actively involved in those negotiations and urged all countries to fully engage in the preparations for the 2012 United Nations conference on the treaty. In addition to the multilateral response to arms trafficking, affected regions should also strive to create stronger regulatory frameworks.
IGOR N. SHCHERBAK ( Russian Federation) said his Government supported the coordination role of the United Nations in efforts to strengthen control over the illicit arms trade. As such, he called for strict respect for embargoes and welcomed the adoption by Central African countries of a preliminary plan to create a legal instrument to control small arms and light weapons as well as their ammunition.
At the same time, he expressed regret at the absence of a common approach to countering the illicit trade, saying he hoped for the success of the Review Conference on the Programme of Action, slated for next August. The problem of illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons was directly tied to the struggle against instability, poverty and underdevelopment, among other issues, he said.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING ( Austria), associating himself with the European Union, said small arms and light weapons facilitated human rights violations like rape and the forced recruitment of children by armed forces. Resolution 1894 (2009) noted that small arms and light weapons impeded the provision of humanitarian assistance and undermined the confidence needed for peace and stability. The presidential statement underlined the harm they caused, including through gender-based violence.
It was clear that such challenges required firm responses at the national, regional and global levels, he said, commending the initiative by the Economic Community of Central African States to create a legally binding instrument as a core initiative that deserved support. Austria looked forward to its adoption. It also supported the creation of a register of arms dealers and was pleased that the presidential statement would acknowledge those two important initiatives. The Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa also deserved full support. Austria was pleased that the African Union’s “African” strategy included an element on small arms and light weapons.
He said his country supported an arms trade treaty and the establishment of rules to regulate small arms transfers, noting that, pending its adoption, the Programme of Action was the only global instrument to prevent the illicit trade. For the fourth biennial meeting on the United Nations Programme of Action, Austria and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) would provide support for the participation of African delegations. Austria was committed to helping Central African States build the capacities required to counter and prevent the illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons, as well as their ammunition, he said.
MARK LYALL GRANT ( United Kingdom) said information-sharing and transparency helped tackle the illicit arms trade, as transparent systems were less vulnerable to manipulation. It was essential to close the gaps in the procedures for licensing arms use, and easier to spot and correct diversions in transparent systems than in opaque ones. There was a need to promote regional confidence-building, stability and security.
While acknowledging the right of States to legally trade arms for purposes of self-defence, he emphasized the importance of robust control measures to prevent the use of weapons to undermine peace and security. A legally binding arms trade treaty was needed to control the trade while respecting the inherent right of States to use arms in self-defence. The arms embargo in Central Africa required the active cooperation of the subregion’s countries in order to be effective, he said, stressing that any violations must be promptly reported.
He said his country provided funding to non-governmental organizations for the enhancement of the regulation of small arms use and transfer in order to reduce conflict. It also supported non-governmental organizations providing independent policy research and analysis on small arms issues in Burundi and elsewhere. The United Kingdom had assisted efforts to control the supply of small arms and light weapons, and to enhance export controls. It had supported the work of UNDP in order to target the root causes of armed violence by supporting the prevention of such violence, he said.
Council President EMANUEL ISSOZE-NGONDET ( Gabon), speaking in his national capacity, recalled said that, since 2002, the Secretary-General had published five reports on the question of illicit weapons trafficking and identified efforts to deal with the problem. He said that with today’s debate, his country sought to commit the Council to taking account of changes and considering innovative measures to eliminate the illicit trade from the subregion. Gabon also hoped to stimulate debate on the provisions of the 2001 Programme of Action and various Council resolutions. The proliferation of small arms was a major international concern and the illicit trafficking in such weapons had exacerbated crises around the world.
Recalling that Central African countries had decided in 2007 to create a legally binding instrument for the control of small arms and light weapons, he said the next meeting of the Standing Advisory Committee would take place in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, later this year, to consider a draft text. Gabon would work to enhance national and subregional measures to combat the illicit trade and was determined to increase transparency, notably through the creation of a subregional registry. Gabon favoured the adoption of a treaty on arms trade standards which would enhance existing instruments, he said, adding that the presidential statement before the Council reflected the Gabonese Government’s commitment to combat the illicit trade.
TÉTE ANTÓNIO, Permanent Observer of the African Union to the United Nations, said it was a paradox that Africa produced only a small number of weapons, but was beset by an illicit flood of such weapons. Child soldiers, arms trafficking, terrorist networks and piracy plagued certain areas of the continent, which was now witnessing the new phenomenon of fundamentalist religious groups trafficking weapons in Central Africa.
He recalled that the African Union had adopted a common position during its first conference on the subject, held in Bamako in 2000. It recognized that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons undermined good governance and economic development on the continent, and recommended certain measures, including the voluntary surrender of small arms and the reintegration of former combatants, in addition to launching an appeal for international partners to help fight the illicit trade.
The joint African position adopted in Windhoek, Namibia, in 2005 required the African Union to develop legally binding instruments to combat the proliferation of small arms, he continued. However, while the African Union had continued its endeavours to meet its obligation to develop peacebuilding measures, good strategies and action plans were not the main point, which was implementation.
It was important that the Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa have the necessary means to play an active role, he emphasized, welcoming the opening of a United Nations bureau in Central Africa. Illicit trafficking must be holistically analysed in the subregion, as must the illegal exploitation of natural resources. It was high time that the latter scourge was fought with the same vigour as the former, he stressed.
CHARLES NTWAAGAE ( Botswana) said that in order to increase safety, security and development in Central Africa, the international community must step up efforts to eradicate illicit small arms trafficking through financial and technical support to countries in the subregion and by strengthening the capacity of the Economic Community of Central African States. Botswana appreciated the role of the Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa in that regard and welcomed its proposed legal instrument, the establishment of which required international support.
Emphasizing his country’s commitment to full implementation of the 2001 Programme of Action and other international and regional strategies, he expressed hope that today’s debate would enrich the understanding of security issues in Central Africa ahead of important upcoming meetings. Cooperation at the regional, bilateral and international levels was of prime importance for the successful implementation of commitments under all agreements, he said, calling for innovative measures to deal with specific aspects of arms trafficking and the mitigation of its impact.
AHMAD ALLAM-MI ( Chad), noting that the ability of countries in the subregion to promote good governance and security had been sorely tried by illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons, said it posed a constant threat to democracy and sustainable development. Citizens were the first victims of bandits and armed criminals. Since States were fragile and limited in terms of human resources, the global community must help by bolstering material and human resources, and by assisting in the revision and harmonization of national legislation with international principles.
Welcoming the calibre of work done to develop peace and security policies under the aegis of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee, he said his country had set up a crisis management instrument, which had helped in the implementation of peace and security promises. Civil wars undermined young States and led to problems in controlling arms movements, while porous borders were hard to monitor and allowed easy movement by traffickers. A lack of security was therefore a major challenge for States in the subregion, he said, adding that military efforts must be supported by information that would help uncover and punish the traffickers.
Whereas States were primarily responsible for dealing with illicit arms trafficking, sanctions were an imperative, he said. Armed groups in Chad were supported from the outside and had introduced weapons to various regions in the country. The Government regularly tried to recover those weapons by setting up a national disarmament commission which had recovered more than 10,000 of them. Political life had improved considerably, especially since the normalization of relations with Sudan, which had opened the way for cooperation on secure common borders. Nonetheless, Chad needed international support to buttress its own resources, he said.
LOTFI BOUCHAARA ( Morocco) called for efforts to reinforce the existing international regime to control small arms and light weapons, stressing that the adoption of global instruments would complement legal frameworks already in place. All regional and subregional arms control policies would benefit from a robust international legal system that ensured the rapid tracing of such weapons. Implementation of the 2001 Programme of Action and the 2005 instrument to mark and trace light weapons would contribute in an important way to eliminating their use, and have a positive impact on Africa generally.
Despite the failure of the 2006 review conference, it had highlighted the importance of the Programme of Action and made it a necessary reference point for regulating small arms and light weapons, he said. In 2008, the biennial meeting of States to deal with the Programme of Action had called for a regional approach, he recalled, noting that the upcoming biennial meeting in July would be an important opportunity to examine better ways to implement the Programme of Action.
Emphasizing the importance of supporting the efforts of Central African countries to curb the trafficking of small arms and light weapons, he said the Bamako and Nairobi protocols, which aimed to create legislative and institutional frameworks, could be the best way forward. The international community must step up aid to help Central African countries to meet those challenges. In 2006, Morocco had actively supported the adoption of the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development, he noted, adding that a growing number of countries had signed it.
JORGE URBINA ( Costa Rica) said the proliferation and illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons created “pernicious” effects on populations, intensified conflict and threatened peace and security. The United Nations had a duty to create instruments to curb the trade of such arms, and the Council must consider trafficking with a view to particular situations that emerged in regions like Central Africa. He urged support for Central African nations in creating a binding legal instrument to monitor flows of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition. He also urged the ministerial meeting of the Standing Advisory Committee to produce instruments ensuring transparent weapons manufacture and monitoring of stockpiles in the region. Also important was the provision of international support, which included the sharing of best practices.
Central African countries must fulfil their arms embargo obligations, he said, adding that interaction with the Council’s sanctions committees should foster implementation. Countries must ensure that Council measures were effective by providing the necessary information. In that context, he was concerned at the lack of reports about the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s compliance with arms embargoes, as required by resolutions 1857 (2008) and 1896 (2009). Weapon producers also had a duty to comply with notification and transfer requirements and to ensure that their weapons were not used to break the law. He encouraged a renewed approach to the issue. Donors of security sector reform programmes should incorporate good stockpile management into those plans. The Council should buttress disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, including for arms and weapons destruction, and in the follow-up of sanctions. Global regulation of the arms trade must be strengthened, and the United Nations must support that aim. Costa Rica had contributed to the arms trade treaty negotiations.
PEDRO SERRANO, Acting Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, said the Union was committed to combating the stockpiling in small arms and light weapons. Those weapons played a major role in destabilizing and weakening State structures and in spreading conflicts, and they created major obstacles to development. In 2005, European Union ministers had adopted a strategy against the stockpiling and illicit trade of those weapons, which sought to mobilize all regional instruments to deal with supply and demand. Since 1992, almost €500 million had been allocated to small arms and light weapons programmes. The United Nations Programme of Action remained the best multilateral instrument to address the scourge. The Union was designing programmes to support its implementation regionally by organizing workshops. Three of those would address the scourge in Central Africa.
He lauded the first pan-African programme launched in cooperation with the African Union to prevent weapons stockpiling. Such projects aimed to ensure capacity-building among the police and awareness-raising among national authorities and civil society. He supported the African Union’s strategy for small arms and light weapons. The European Union had taken steps to address the transport of arms. It sought to share good practices to enhance controls on airlines thought to carry such weapons. He supported Central African efforts to develop a legal instrument and plan of action, and a code of conduct, as well as regional and national efforts in that regard. A global approach to the issue would impact security. It was necessary to deal with the source in order to control the international trade of conventional weapons. A legally binding global instrument would help end the proliferation of conventional weapons, and the European Union was ready to negotiate its terms with other States. In 2009, it had encouraged regional discussions on a future treaty.
PETER WITTIG (Germany), supporting the statement made on behalf of the European Union, said his country had long been committed to a comprehensive approach to combat the destabilizing effects of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition. In that light, he attached great importance to the full implementation and the further development of the relevant Programme of Action, adding that the upcoming meeting of States on the Programme would mark an important step in that process and noting that Germany had long chaired the Group of Interested States on the issue in New York.
Germany, he said, had paid particular attention to the thorough management of national stockpiles of arms and ammunition, chairing a group of experts and contributing to the ongoing United Nations-led process for the development of relevant technical guidelines. It placed utmost importance, in addition, on the highest possible common international standards for the transfers of arms, in the process leading to the conference on the arms trade treaty, to be held in 2012.
Outlining German cooperation on African peace and security, he described support to the East African Community and to the African Union Commission in setting up the African peace and security architecture. Priorities had included the establishment of a continental early warning system and the development of a police component of the African Standby Force. He said the Peacebuilding Commission should strive for close cooperation with the Security Council on curbing the harmful effects of small arms trafficking.
HEIDI GRAU (Switzerland), speaking from her country’s experience as Chair of the Burundi country-specific configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, said that regulation of supply and reduction of demand for illicit small arms and light weapons was key to tackling the devastating effects of their proliferation. A top priority in that respect was the effective implementation of the international marking and tracing instrument and the United Nations Programme of Action. The upcoming meeting of States on the latter was a chance to redouble efforts.
Switzerland, he said, would continue to stress the importance of improving stockpile management through targeted programmes. Weapons collection could also be effective, but must be done in the context of strong rule of law and in a way that reduced demand, targeted ammunition and explosives as well as weapons, and provided for the immediate destruction of collected material. A holistic approach to the issue of armed violence would further reduce demand. In that regard, he urged consideration of the Secretary-General’s recent recommendations. He invited all countries that had not yet done so to sign the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development -- a diplomatic initiative of Switzerland and UNDP designed to help Governments and civil society actors “achieve measurable reductions in the global burden of armed violence in conflict and non-conflict settings”.
RAPHAËL DIEUDONNÉ MABOUNDOU (Congo), citing 2008 statistics which indicated that more than 870 million arms were in circulation worldwide, said they had claimed the lives of some 740,000 people. For more than three decades, trafficking in small arms and light weapons had fed conflicts and cross-border crime in Central Africa, he said, adding that continuing tension provided a fertile breeding ground for small arms proliferation, which threatened peace and security, both in the subregion and internationally, potentially compromising the economic integration that underpinned development strategies. Trafficking also encouraged the illegal exploitation of natural resources, the recruitment of child soldiers and illicit trafficking in children, he said.
He said armed violence had weakened many Central African economies, a problem that had been exacerbated by the challenges of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. The upsurge in armed violence in border areas had forced people into “exodus”, as had happened in northern Congo. Reiterating the call for assistance for those who had fled hostilities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo into neighbouring Congo, he also appealed for funds to help those in the former’s Equateur Province. A workshop on trafficking of small arms and light weapons had been held in Brazzaville on 10 March, he recalled.
ATOKI ILEKA ( Democratic Republic of the Congo) said his country exemplified the tragedy that Central Africa had suffered due to the circulation of small arms and light weapons, which former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan had called “African weapons of mass destruction”. In the last 10 years, the Democratic Republic of the Congo had experienced the most murderous war, involving millions of deaths, internally displaced persons, refugees, massive violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and prevalence of HIV/AIDS in conflict zones. Most importantly, it had sacrificed the young generation -- the face of tomorrow. The country was in a state of reconstruction and, to ensure success, cooperation must be enhanced at the international level.
The question was how to face the challenge and travel together on the path to stability, he said, adding: “In Central Africa, we need a peace to keep.” It was also necessary to build political settlements so as to prevent recourse to violence. The Democratic Republic of the Congo sought better cooperation with United Nations bodies, notably the Council, the General Assembly and the Peacebuilding Commission, as well as with the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. States must tackle the supply networks for small arms and light weapons by marking and identifying weapons with the help of bodies like INTERPOL, without prejudice to the relevant provisions of the United Nations Charter.
It was important to explore the links between arms trafficking and the illegal exploitation of natural resourcesm and to design innovative counter-strategies, he said. There was a need to consider coercive measures against those who violated arms embargoes in the subregion, whether individuals or States. State efforts to combat arms proliferation should be based on the relationship between security, development and human rights. National plans should integrate efforts for peacebuilding, gender equality, women’s empowerment, poverty reduction strategies and concepts of national and human security. Training and building capacity for national arms control programmes was also desirable.
For its part, the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had taken remedial measures to reduce violence by laying out an institutional framework which included a national commission for the control of small arms and light weapons. It had also bolstered operational capacity; in 2009, it had destroyed 100,000 weapons and, on 20 February, it had launched an operation to mark weapons. The country had signed and ratified all legal instruments of the Economic Community of Central African States, and would host the thirtieth ministerial meeting of the Standing Advisory Committee to consider the draft legal instrument on controlling small arms and light weapons. The Democratic Republic of the Congo also planned to organize a regional preparatory meeting ahead of the fourth meeting on an arms trade treaty, to be held in June in New York.
KIM BONG-HYUN (Republic of Korea) said the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons was often closely linked with organized crime, terrorism and drug trafficking, as well as various development, human rights and humanitarian problems, such as child soldiers, refugees, food insecurity and the illegal exploitation of natural resources. Preventing the illicit flow was a key to addressing those issues. Efforts by the Economic Community of Central African States, particularly on a legally binding instrument on subregional monitoring of illicit trafficking, was in line with the global trend to regulate the illicit flow of conventional arms.
He stressed the importance of making the Council’s arms embargo effective for both its direct effect on restraining illegal arms transfers and its far-reaching impact on the Council’s work, including peacekeeping. The United Nations framework would provide an opportunity to strengthen joint efforts to address small arms issues during the fourth biennial meeting of States in Mexico this June. The preparatory committee meeting for the United Nations conference for the arms trade treaty would begin in July, with a view to creating a legally binding instrument on the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms. Considering the grave impact of small arms trafficking on peace and security, they should fall within the scope of that treaty.
ANDREW GOLEDZINOWSKI ( Australia) said that maintaining peace and security involved building confidence between nations and developing an international security system. In part, that required concerted international efforts to prevent the excessive accumulation and proliferation of conventional weapons, and the eradication of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. At the same time, regional solutions to regional problems were critical, he said, commending efforts in Africa, such as the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Firearms Protocol.
For its part, Australia had hosted a regional meeting to further the goals of the United Nations Programme of Action, he said, adding that his country recognized that national security could not be achieved in isolation from regional or global security. Regional arms-control arrangements were important examples of collective measures to prevent threats to peace and security, and underpinned the broader international security framework. It was in those broader frameworks that all States could help build cross-regional security, he said, pointing out that the fourth biennial meeting on the United Nations Programme of Action provided an opportunity to make real international progress. Everyone shared the same goal and must work to free people from fear. Australia looked forward to working with other States to advance that objective, as well as the goals of the Programme of Action and the proposed arms trade treaty.
FERNAND POUKRÉ-KONO ( Central African Republic), noting that the international community was powerless to eliminate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, asked how many measures had been taken without result. The failure to end the trade was due to the permeability of borders, the lack of capacity on the part of national security forces, the absence of trust among the population, and the practice of unnecessarily keeping and storing weapons. Recalling that his country had adopted a comprehensive defence policy in 2003, he said it placed individuals at its centre. A national support programme launched to strengthen security was based on an integrated approach to community policing and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration activities aimed specifically at ex-combatants who continued to threaten peace and security. The fight against the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was not just a security issue, but a human rights matter.
He said the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa was on the verge of concluding their consideration of draft legal instruments, which took into account all aspects of small arms, from manufacture, to sale, to circulation on the market. Nationally, the Central African Republic had created strategies spanning the spectrum from strengthening human security, to adopting laws, to public awareness-raising, to creating an anti-corruption commission. However, inadequate financing impeded implementation, he said, calling on international partners to help by providing States with logistical resources to stem the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
JOHANN PASCHALIS (South Africa), noting that the Council had considered small arms since 1999, said such weapons increased the intensity and duration of armed conflicts and undermined the sustainability of peace agreements. The issue was complex and had a direct bearing on various policy areas, including human rights, poverty and underdevelopment. It required attention at the national, subregional, regional and global levels. It was equally important that the global community support home-grown subregional solutions like the Central African initiative. The adoption of legally binding agreements at the subregional level was a concrete building block to combat illicit small arms proliferation at the broader regional and global levels, he said, citing the SADC Protocol on the Control of Firearms, Ammunition and Other Related Material in that context.
Noting that the United Nations Programme of Action represented a hard-won compromise, he said its full implementation should remain central to national, subregional, regional and international efforts. It was important that the General Assembly, as custodian of the Programme of Action, further explore how to advance synergies between its provisions on cooperation, capacity-building and assistance on the one hand, and regional and subregional initiatives on the other. South Africa supported arms embargoes that contributed to lasting peace, notably as it pertained to the Central African subregion. It recognized the value of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration as vital to the success of peace processes. Peacekeeping mandates must also be backed with system-wide resources to ensure they were effectively carried out, he stressed.
* *** *For information media • not an official record