20 March 2012
General Assembly
DC/3327

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

Preparatory Committee for Review Conference

 on Illicit Small Arms Trade

3rd & 4th Meetings (AM & PM)


Delegates Call for More International Assistance, Cooperation in Struggle

 

against Trafficking of Small Arms, Light Weapons

 


Implementation of 2001 Programme of Action

Called ‘Painfully Slow’ as Preparatory Committee Continues Thematic Debate


Although national and regional efforts were being made to combat the illicit arms trade, more international assistance and cooperation was essential for the effective implementation of the relevant Programme of Action, delegations said today as they continued their thematic debate on all aspects of trafficking in small arms and light weapons.


The representative of Bangladesh said that the Programme of Action, when adopted in 2001, had been hailed as a “watershed moment in the history of disarmament and non-proliferation”, but a decade later, its implementation was “painfully slow and uneven”.  Noting that small arms and light weapons threatened peace, safety, security and sustainable development across the globe, he said that they also generated and exacerbated conflict and displaced countless people, including women and children.  “This menace must be stopped,” he emphasized.  In compliance with the Programme of Action, he said, the Government of Bangladesh had put tougher legislative norms and administrative procedures in place to regulate the lawful possession, manufacture and transport of small arms and light weapons.


Numerous delegates emphasized the need for increased border controls, national capacity-building, technology transfers and information sharing.  Others touched upon the need for a legally-binding arms trade treaty, which they said would complement the Programme of Action.  Many delegations also stressed the importance of destroying small arms and light weapons, while emphasizing the need for technical assistance, especially on the part of least developed and conflict-ridden countries, where demand for illegal small arms was huge.


“One of the major challenges faced by least developed countries in implementing the Programme of Action is lack of adequate resources and technical capacity in some areas,” Uganda’s representative said.  Although his country’s Government had disposed of more than 1,300 tons of explosive ordnance and 97,000 assorted small arms and light weapons, he said further support from regional and international partners would be welcome.


Iran’s representative emphasized the need to focus on supply and demand issues, which must be tackled in order to address the problem.  It was “crystal clear” that the overproduction of small arms and light weapons threatened security, and that the cooperation of producers must be secured, he said.  Given its location, Iran had suffered damage from terrorism and other illegal activities, he added.  Furthermore, it was critical to provide transfer technology to developing countries.  Other delegations also emphasized the importance of technology transfers, saying that the countries with the most advanced technology should help those that needed it most.


The Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects contains substantial agreed norms and programmes on several issues, including preventing and combating the illicit production and trafficking of small arms and light weapons; ensuring effective controls over the legal production of those weapons, their holding and transfer; weapons collection and destruction; and control over those arms in post-conflict situations.  Earlier biennial meetings were held in 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2010, and a Review Conference was held in 2006.


In the afternoon, the Preparatory Committee began its consideration of “Follow-up to the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects”.  Delegations highlighted the need for effectiveness, productiveness, concrete results and actions.  They debated whether to consider new items, such as ammunition.


Also speaking during today’s thematic debates were representatives of Egypt, Thailand, Ecuador, Malaysia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, United States, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand (on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum), South Africa, Switzerland, Argentina, Cuba, Republic of Korea, Norway, Japan, Nigeria, Australia, Italy, Indonesia, Peru, Philippines, Netherlands, Sweden, Tunisia, Madagascar, Armenia, Russian Federation, India, Venezuela, France, Germany, Algeria, Pakistan and Belize.  A member of the European Union delegation also addressed the Preparatory Committee.


The Preparatory Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 21 March to continue its thematic debate.


Background


The Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects met this morning to continue its thematic debate on the status of the action plan, adopted by the General Assembly in 2001.  For further information, see Press Release DC/3326 of 19 March 2012.


Before the Preparatory Committee were the following documents:  the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (document A/CONF.192/15); the International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons (document A/60/88); and the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (document A/RES/55/255).


Statements


OSAMA ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Group and the Arab Group, said that despite the failure of the 2006 Review Conference and the lack of necessary international assistance, progress had been made in implementing the Programme of Action.  “So the task at hand today is primarily to assess how best to support those efforts through availing proportionate funding to address the needs of the affected States,” he said.  States should abide by the Programme adopted by consensus in 2001, and attempts to add new commitments or reinterpret the letter and spirit of the text should be avoided, he emphasized.  He went on to underscore the need to redouble efforts to address the underlying causes of conflicts in Africa — a region stricken by poverty, epidemics and marginalization.  Developing countries had carried out their responsibilities within their limited abilities, he said, urging developed countries as well as international financial institutions and organizations similarly to fulfil their obligations.  On ways to gauge the effectiveness of international assistance, he called for reports by major arms exporters regarding their implementation of financial and technical assistance.  He also called attention to a working paper on “Enhancing International Cooperation and Assistance”, submitted by the Non-Aligned Movement.


KARNTIMON RUKSAKIATI (Thailand), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said major changes under new legislation would include the registration of all weapons in her country.  Thailand had established an electronic database to monitor and catalogue small arms, despite budgetary issues that were hindering its efforts.  The Government was reviewing its export legislation and documents while continuing to enhance regional coordination to combat the flow of illicit weapons, she said, adding that her country attached high importance to the sharing of information through a regional framework.  Regarding international cooperation, she said more efforts must be made across the board, noting that a lack of expertise and financing still posed major challenges.  Thailand looked forward to learning from other countries about their experiences in combating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.


JOSÉ EDUARDO PROAÑO (Ecuador), associating himself with the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and the Non-Aligned Movement, discussed the programme that his country’s Government had implemented to combat the illicit trade.  Ecuador was working for the adoption of a policy that would create a Government organization whose sole purpose would be to govern and monitor small arms and light weapons, he said, adding that the country had banned their production and importation by individuals.  He said incompatible markings, especially in the same region, only increased the problem, and it was important to adopt comparable markings and to ensure strict implementation.  The Ecuadorean Government had adopted legislation on the destruction of small arms, he said, recalling that it had destroyed nearly 7,000 weapons in 2011.  He underscored the contribution made by the United Nations in the region, and the need to further strengthen its commitment in that regard.


Mr. ABD RAZAK (Malaysia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that his country’s Ministry of Home Affairs was responsible for putting into place regulations for the effective control over the production of small arms and light weapons.  At the regional level, Malaysia participated in various dialogues with regional groups.  Some of the regional frameworks entailed collaboration with international security organizations such as the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL).  International cooperation was critical to addressing challenges posed by border control in some of South-East Asia’s countries, he emphasized, adding that the Review Conference was being held at a timely and appropriate moment to address the issue of small arms and light weapons.


JOSÉ IKONGO (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said that, being in a conflict zone and with pockets of insecurity within its own borders, his country’s Government was active in the areas of legislation, mobilization and international cooperation in pursuit of a national plan to deal with small arms and light weapons.  It had established a national commission and was enacting legislation, having issued a decree on small arms and ammunition and signed the relevant regional protocols.  The Government had also undertaken the destruction of weapons, the management of stockpiles, as well as joint bilateral projects, including some with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), dealing with capacity-building and the problems of arms proliferation.  The national commission advised the Government on the relevant instruments to which the country was a party, including the Kinshasa Convention.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo had also participated in regional and subregional initiatives, he said, before concluding by noting that the future rested on implementation of the Programme of Action.


STEVE COSTNER (United States), emphasizing the need for greater transparency and coordination among donor States, urged those requiring assistance to be open in their requests.  In addition, States receiving assistance needed to commit the necessary political will to sustain programmes receiving international assistance.  Regional organizations could enhance cooperation and assistance, including the sharing of best practices in combating illicit weapons trafficking.  However, given the funding constraints that donor States faced, he suggested that pooling resources with other donors could help ease the burden.


RODRIGO PINTADO (Mexico) said his country had experienced rapid progress in implementing the Programme of Action, emphasizing that combating the illicit arms trade and organized crime were among Mexico’s foreign-policy priorities.  Among other things, the Review Conference should determine whether the Programme of Action was capable of responding to new threats of illicit trade.  The momentum of the 2010 Fourth Biennial Meeting must be preserved to ensure that weapons did not continue to take thousands of lives, he said, adding that the Preparatory Committee must make substantive progress.  Expressing support for the proposal to compile a list of suggestions, he said the final document should address the marking and tracing of small arms as well as civilian access to them.  The Programme of Action must be flexible enough to deal with new threats and developments, and options for follow-up mechanisms should also be explored.  Further progress was needed to ensure that the Programme of Action became a legally-binding instrument, he said, stressing the importance of sharing lessons learned regarding its implementation, as well as the critical nature of border-control issues.


BOUBKER SABIK (Morocco) said the illicit trade in and misuse of small arms and light weapons was a great challenge to national Governments.  It was also linked to trafficking in drugs and human beings, organized crime and terrorism.  The use of small arms for kidnapping purposes was another effect of the illicit trade and was particularly serious since the movement of persons and arms had grown in recent years and was increasingly taking place across borders.  The illicit trade undermined security and constituted a threat to peace, he said.  Morocco recognized the State’s responsibility for enforcing the law and had adopted measures to implement the Programme of Action, he said.  Weapons should bear serial numbers, he said, emphasizing the significance of data entries and record-keeping.  Databases should be available at all borders and brought to the attention of security forces, he added.


ANTHONY SIMPSON (New Zealand), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum, said the illicit trade contributed to instability in the region.  The challenges highlighted the integral link between the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons, the maintenance of peace, stability and public safety, and the prospects for sustainable development.  The Pacific States recognized the importance of reporting on their national implementation of the Programme of Action for providing data and identifying specific assistance needs.  Many small States faced inherent difficulties in submitting reports, given their resource constraints, he pointed out, adding that reporting obligations posed particular challenges for small States.  However, measures were being considered to address such issues, including through the possible establishment of national inter-agency working groups.


Enhancing the core capacities of national agencies was fundamental to achieving effective implementation of the Programme of Action, for which support from bilateral, regional and international partners was vital, he said.  Each country’s priorities should be determined by their individual needs and circumstances, but for many Pacific States, they included enhancing national coordination mechanisms, developing and enhancing relevant national legislation and improving stockpile management, among others.  Civil society organizations played an important role in supporting Programme of Action monitoring and implementation in many developing countries.  Regarding the meeting, he stressed the importance of predictability in meeting schedules and commitments, noting that the Programme of Action would benefit from a longer-term approach to determining the format and focus of meetings in each review cycle.


DAVID ROBIN WENSLEY (South Africa), emphasizing that international cooperation was imperative to implementation of the Programme of Action, said the assistance provided must be practical, measurable and have an impact on the ground.  Technical assistance was needed for stockpile management in particular, specifically in the areas of marking, monitoring and border control.  If those were not complemented by adequate follow-up, it would be difficult for them to make a lasting impact, he said, pledging to continue providing assistance in capacity-building and training to neighbouring countries.  While South Africa did not have to deal with terrorism, it endured a large amount of crime, he said, emphasizing that assistance needed to be available and come from funding that was not solely based on development funds.  The proliferation of small arms and light weapons was a collective issue, not a development issue, and should be seen as such, he stressed.


ALEXANDRE FASEL (Switzerland) said international cooperation and assistance projects could be enhanced if the relevant international instruments provided mechanisms that streamlined and coordinated partnerships.  He underlined the importance of existing mechanisms for matching needs with resources, including the Programme of Action Implementation Support System, the Group of Interested States and bilateral assistance programmes.  Reporting should include achievements as well as remaining challenges, he said, adding that another important issue was how projects could take the multifaceted nature of small arms and light weapons issues into account and tie those into larger development frameworks.


PÍA POROLI (Argentina) said the full description of national controls that had been implemented through legislation and administrative procedures was included in her country’s national report.  It was important now to identify the best ways by which to enhance implementation of the Programme of Action.  To being with, munitions and explosives should be included under the instrument, as should gender- and age-related perspectives, she said.  It was also necessary to draw upon an international instrument that made it possible to introduce predictability in the transfer of weapons.  Underscoring the need for a spirit of cooperation, as seen in the Preparatory Committee, she said the conclusion of an arms trade treaty would supplement the transfer-related provisions of the Programme of Action.  Given the global nature of the fight against illicit arms trading, a unified response was needed, and not just through the provision of assistance, she stressed.


YADIRA LEDESMA HERNÁNDEZ (Cuba) said that despite the progress achieved so far, more must be done to ensure further international assistance.  Not all countries shared the same social, economic and political realities, which had repercussions on the ways in which Governments addressed the illegal arms trade.  Their efforts must be supplemented by unconditional international assistance, she emphasized.  States must decide if they required assistance to implement the Programme, she said, adding that there could be no “one-size-fits-all” approach.  Efforts must also be made to establish further resources to implement the Programme of Action.


Mr. PARK (Republic of Korea), describing the Programme of Action as the only global instrument that attempted to address the issue of small arms and light weapons, expressed hope that the Review Conference would serve as a stepping stone towards further enhancing its impact.  The Republic of Korea looked to work closely with all Member States to make it a success, he said, noting that the importance of legal instruments could not be exaggerated.  During the preparatory deliberations, delegates should explore possible synergies and the development of further mechanisms at the national, regional and international levels.  The Republic of Korea’s national report outlined how the country was working to combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, he said.


KNUT LANGELAND (Norway) said his country attached great importance to promoting international cooperation and assistance to eradicate the illicit arms trade.  Norway had allocated millions of kroner to various projects linked to the Programme of Action, and to some that supported the Programme’s objectives.  Highlighting the issue of victim assistance, he said that a main focus of the Programme of Action was the toll that small arms and light weapons exacted on human life.  He agreed with the representative of South Africa that cooperation should not be seen only as a North-South thing, and encouraged strengthened South-South cooperation.


HIDEKI UEZONO (Japan) emphasized the importance of the role that United Nations regional institutions could play in implementing the Programme of Action.  Japan supported a project of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament that helped to train law-enforcement personnel in the Asia-Pacific region.  “The programme contributed to tangible results in enhancing the capacity of law-enforcement authorities in regional member States,” he said.  Welcoming the working paper submitted by the Non-Aligned Movement, he expressed support for its emphasis on the need to produce concrete results in capacity-building, adding that Japan had provided such equipment as x-ray detectors and other export-control-related products.


He also highlighted the importance of supporting capacity-building by individual States, referring to the assistance that Japan had provided to help Côte d’Ivoire strengthen community security and prevent the proliferation of small arms.  Lamenting the inflow of arms into illicit market, and the explosions of poorly managed ammunition storage facilities in many nations, he said Japan supported the United Nations SaferGaurd Programme created by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs.  In closing, he called for the involvement of civil society in implementing the Programme of Action.  The upcoming Review Conference should make the best use of resources provided by civil society, he said.  “Regular dialogue and increased cooperation among Member States, international organizations and civil society are also key elements” in bringing the review session to a success, he added.


CHUKA UDEDIBIA (Nigeria) said the inadequacy of the present level of international cooperation and assistance had been an issue of deep concern to many States.  Nigeria considered it essential to tackle challenges in that arena from the source.  While acknowledging the views expressed by Member States, he suggested additional steps for improving international cooperation and assistance, proposing that it should begin at the stage of brokering illicit small arms and light weapons.  Due to the absence of robust and credible challenge to illegal activities, the illegal trade network had enjoyed an advantage, he noted.  Various tools developed to support the Programme of Action’s implementation, such as guidelines, standards, model legislations, references and sources, could be simplified further to suit the needs of all States requiring assistance, he said.  International cooperation and assistance should not be structured as aid programmes, which created patron-client relationships, he noted.


ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran) said the Programme of Action reaffirmed the primary responsibility of States to combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, and recognized the seriousness of related problems, including its links to terrorism and the narcotics trade.  Demand and supply issues must be addressed to tackle those problems, he stressed, saying it was “crystal clear” that the overproduction of weapons exacerbated security, and that efforts to prevent that required the cooperation of producers.  It was also obvious that no country alone could confront those challenges, he said, adding that international cooperation and technical assistance were the keys to success.


Given Iran’s location, the country had suffered damage from terrorism and other illegal activities, he said.  For its part, Iran had made significant progress in implementing the Programme of Action and the International Tracing Instrument.  A set of laws and guidelines were in force, but it was essential to provide for the transfer of technology to developing countries, and the meeting should address that and related issues, he said.  The mechanisms established by the biennial meetings were working, and there was no need to change those, he said, adding that any proposal suggesting limited membership to discuss those issues would not command consensus.


CLAIRE PAULIEN ELIAS (Australia) said her country was committed to providing financial and technical assistance, including on arms-control projects, policing and legal issues to Timor-Leste, Tonga and other countries on a bilateral basis.  Australia’s 10-point plan to address those issues included provisions to ensure that assistance was used wisely, strengthening and refining the relevant mechanisms, matching resources with needs, improving needs-assessment tools beyond national reporting, mapping donor expertise and requirements, identifying national focal points to communicate priority areas and ensuring the ongoing availability of UNDP voluntary sponsorship funds.


ANTONIO BERNARDINI (Italy) noted that 11 years after the Programme of Action’s adoption, the illicit arms trade remained a grave concern.  “We know too well that such trade is fuelling violence, instability and enormous human suffering in many parts of the world,” he said.  It was important that the international community make a commitment to address those issues, he stressed, emphasizing that a focused, concrete and results-oriented approach was needed, given the small number of meetings held during the session.  One concern was the illicit trade in man-portable air defence systems.  Regional action was one element in combating illicit weapons trading, he said, recalling the importance of the United Nations Firearms Protocol in recognizing the role of those weapons in organized transnational crime.  Noting the link between the Programme of Action and the arms trade treaty process, he said the Review Conference must take into account the implications of such a treaty for the Programme of Action.  He also supported the inclusion of small arms and light weapons as a category of conventional weapons in the United Nations Register.


FIKRY CASSIDY (Indonesia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed the validity of the Programme of Action, saying the second Review Conference in August and September would be crucial in tackling the relevant issues and coming up with measures to address shortcomings.  “The prevention, combat and eradication of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons is a wholesome endeavour, to be undertaken persistently at the national, regional and global levels with utmost vigour,” he stressed.


Indonesia appreciated enhanced international cooperation and assistance in recent years, but saw clear room for improvement, particularly for countries and regions lacking necessary capacities, he said.  While stressing the importance of preparing for the Review Conference and its proper follow-up in promoting national, regional and global efforts, he also underscored the right of each State to manufacture, import and retain small arms and light weapons for self-defence and security needs.   Indonesia had long been cognizant of the need for concerted action, he said.  While taking robust national actions, the country had also worked vigorously at the regional and global levels to support the Programme, he said, citing a regional meeting on the Programme’s implementation held in Bali earlier this month.


ALEXIS AQUINO (Peru) said the exchange of information on seized weapons, routes used in the trafficking of weapons and the marking and tracing of firearms was particularly important and required cooperation.  Such an information network would include police, customs authorities, and weapons-control and intelligence agents.  Cooperating countries must make better use of experiences and establish mechanisms for financial support, he said, adding that border and customs control should be one of the top priorities.  On the operational level, Peru supported national capacity-building, he said, reiterating that international assistance and cooperation must also take the importance of national ownership into account.


CARLOS SORRETA ( Philippines) said the illicit transfer of small arms and light weapons was an international problem best solved through international cooperation and assistance.  The Philippines was actively cooperating and collaborating with parallel law-enforcement agencies and with INTERPOL, he said, adding that his country coordinated with the latter to trace illicit arms through the International Weapons and Explosives Tracking System database.  On the regional level, the Philippine Government had helped to forge the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Plan of Action to Combat Transnational Crime, and helped to heighten awareness of the illicit transfer of small arms and light weapons.  Capacity-building in records-keeping processes was crucial, he stressed, noting that it could help States exchange knowledge and expertise, especially between those with well-established records-keeping mechanisms and those whose systems were not as up to date.


ARTHUR SEWANKAMBO KAFEERO (Uganda) said his country was a party to international and regional instruments, including the Nairobi Protocol and the Conflict Early Warning and Early Response Mechanism Protocol.  Among other things, it had established a national focal point on small arms and light weapons, enacting firearms laws and undertaking marking and tracing projects.  Uganda had disposed of more than 1,300 tons of explosive ordnance and 97,000 assorted small arms and light weapons, he said.  Civil society organizations continued to be an integral implementation partner, participating actively in public education and awareness-raising activities, he said.  “One of the major challenges faced by least developed countries in implementing the Programme of Action is lack of adequate resources and technical capacity in some areas,” he said, adding that his country appreciated support from its regional and international partners.


PIETER VAN DONKERSGOED ( Netherlands) said the meeting was a chance to take the implementation process forward.  To enable that, it was important to ensure improved self-assessment and priority-setting as starting points.  Concrete instruments, including best-practice guides, could strengthen the capacity of States seeking assistance, he said.  The Programme of Action Implementation Support System, the Group of Interested States and other organizations could further strengthen those instruments, he said.


ROLAND TRICOT of the European Union delegation said he supported more meetings of technical experts on the Programme of Action following the success seen in the last such gathering.  They should concentrate on specific themes and establish performance indicators and other features to enhance implementation of the Programme of Action, he said.


Ms. BLOMBERG (Sweden) said that assessing progress on the Programme of Action’s implementation should include addressing shortcomings.  Sweden was concerned about stockpile management and disposal, and had devoted technical assistance and resources to help countries address that issue.  Small arms and light weapons should be a standard category in the United Nations Conventional Arms Register, she said, adding that she anticipated discussions on that during the Review Conference in August.  Donor and recipient commitments were necessary, and cooperation on illicit brokering should be enhanced.  Member States should focus on improving the coordination of programmes to avoid duplication.


MOUNA MCHÁREK HADIJI (Tunisia) said the Programme of Action was a historic instrument, but even though progress had been made towards its implementation, the world was “flooded” with small arms.  “It is easy to buy small arms, use and carry them,” she said, noting that they threatened peace at all levels.  “We should all commit to adhere to the Programme of Action,” she said, emphasizing the need for regional and subregional efforts to combat supply and demand issues.  She reiterated the General Assembly’s appeal to combat illicit brokerage.  Describing Africa as the continent most affected by conflict and a major arena for the movement of weapons of all kinds and from all origins, she said the Programme of Action was the best way to combat that phenomenon.  The United Nations system, which regulated the manufacture and circulation of arms, could only have successful results if all Member States applied the rules, she added.


MD. MUSTAFIZUR RAHMAN (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the Programme of Action, when adopted in 2001, had been hailed as a “watershed moment in the history of disarmament and non-proliferation”, but a decade later, its implementation was “painfully slow and uneven”.  Since the Programme of Action was a non-legally-binding document lacking clear benchmarks and measurable targets, it was critical that States make every effort to push for robust but achievable implementation targets.  Small arms and light weapons threatened peace, security and sustainable development, he noted, adding that they generated and exacerbated conflict and displaced civilians, including women and children.  “This menace must be stopped,” he emphasized.  On the national level, Bangladesh had put together tougher legislative norms and administrative procedures to regulate the lawful possession and manufacture of small arms and light weapons.  It was equally important to tackle the supply side of the problem, he said, recalling that, over the last two decades, the number of companies and countries manufacturing and exporting small arms and light weapons had increased significantly.  On the regional level, he welcomed initiatives to curb the illicit trade and pledged his country’s commitment to engaging with regional institutional mechanisms in efforts to achieve regional implementation of the Programme of Action.


HÉLÉNA BERNADETTE RAJAONARIVELO (Madagascar) said arms trafficking caused much harm and her country had worked to stem it, as well as other forms of trafficking and piracy.  Awareness-raising and confidence-building efforts issues were among the steps being taken by authorities, alongside training for personnel to enhance security.  As an island, Madagascar had been seriously affected by the trafficking of arms, drugs, minerals and its forest resources.  What was needed now was assistance to help the authorities battle those challenges.


Mr. COSTNER (United States) said his country supported the six-year cycle for meetings, and suggested the institution of technical meetings that would address specific topics.  There was a need for the early designation of a chair for each meeting and a list of priority topics for the agenda, he said, adding that budgetary implications should be kept in mind when considering follow-up meetings.  Resources expended on follow-up meetings could mean fewer resources to help States implement the Programme of Action, he cautioned.


Mr. TANABE (Japan) said many positive comments had been made on the working paper that his country had submitted to the Preparatory Committee the previous day.  Summarizing that document, he said one of the most serious issues was the high possibility of diverting arms to black markets.  States should also discuss improving bilateral, regional and international cooperation.  For its part, Japan had submitted its national report, using the United Nations template.  However, questions in that template could be more specific, he said, noting that reporting should not become an end in itself.  It was essential that Member States enjoy the benefits of reporting, he said.


MASSIMILIANO D’ANTUONO (Italy), associating himself with the European Union, said he supported the current structure of the follow-up mechanisms, and welcomed the approach that Japan had put forth.  There was a need to use resources effectively, he stressed.  “Meeting for the sake of meeting will no longer suffice,” he said, adding that meetings must deliver concrete results and actions.  Italy supported the idea of establishing clear benchmarks, he said.


KARINE KHOUDAVERDIAN (Armenia) said her country remained committed to the effective and full implementation of the Programme of Action, and acknowledged the important contribution made by civil society.  Armenia supported international organizations dedicated to prohibiting and combating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, which was a multidimensional threat that prolonged conflicts, displaced civilians and caused a great degree of human suffering.  The problem must be tackled on the national, regional and international fronts, she said, adding that her country had taken the necessary measures at the national level.  Member States should ensure that they adopted similar laws, she said, expressing hope that the spirit of cooperation would prevail.


DENIS DAVYDOV (Russian Federation) said it was impossible to ensure the universality of any mechanism without the cooperation of the international community, specifically the United Nations.  He outlined the ways in which his country was eradicating the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons, including its efforts with national and international organizations and the sharing of information.  The Russian Federation also cooperated with INTERPOL through its national central bureau to identify groups and individuals involved in the illicit trade.


Ms. LEDESMA HERNÁNDEZ (Cuba) said the meetings should continue to take place and emphasized that there was no need for additional meetings.  Rather, Cuba called for increased efficiency in the existing meetings, she said, adding that all review conferences and biannual meetings should provide the space for delegates to address any issues they found relevant.  Regarding the establishment of a voluntary fund, she said it should address multiple programmes.  As for national reports, they should be submitted on a voluntary basis.  Biannual reports were better than annual reports in terms of timeliness and relevance, she said.


Mr. FASEL ( Switzerland) said the Review Conference should agree on a basic schedule through the next meeting cycle.  Emphasizing four points, he said an intersessional meeting would provide a mechanism that would strengthen follow-up action.  Second, he said that building on the outcome of the Fourth Biennial Meeting, the Review Conference should include additional expert meetings on a small number of themes, similar to the one held in 2011, which would eliminate time-consuming ad hoc meetings.  Third, a common understanding on expert meetings should be established, and lastly, it was necessary to identify provisions of the Programme of Action and the International Tracing Instrument that would help to better structure the meeting cycle.


AMANDEEP SINGH GILL (India) said the type and frequency of meetings should not impose a burden on Member States, adding that in principle, a meeting should be held every other year.  Concerning the selection of subjects for meetings, he said they should not lead to overlooking challenges in other areas.  There were gaps in the subject of transfers to non-State actors, he said, noting that space should be preserved within the Programme of Action framework to address those issues.  It was also important to keep in mind that priority issues varied from country to country, he said.


ALFREDO FERNANDO TORO-CARNEVALI (Venezuela) said the way forward was full implementation of the Programme of Action’s existing commitments.  Venezuela was afraid that by trying to do too much, the meeting would fail to do what was within its capacity.  Developing countries were still trying to implement the existing Programme, he noted, asking: “How are we expected to fulfil new requirements and demands?”  More financial resources were needed to fulfil existing commitments, he stressed, adding that worthy new proposals could be considered in the future.


PATRICK LE MÉNÈS (France), associating himself with the European Union, said technical expert meetings were often more constructive and productive than regular ones.  He called for more technical meetings that would discuss data mechanisms, suggesting that the need for self-evaluation could also be studied in the process.


WOLFGANG BINDSEIL (Germany), associating himself with the European Union, said the Review Conference should create benchmarks, timelines and standards for the Programme of Action implementation process.


DJAMEL MOKTEFI (Algeria) said there was a need to decide what other mechanisms could be considered.  Acknowledging the interest of some delegations in holding meetings with technical and Government experts, he proposed that any adoption of new guidelines first be agreed by consensus.  The overall theme should also be based on consensus, he said, adding that, at the present stage, it was too early to make a decision, because it was important to wait and hear the challenges facing all States.  The theme of international cooperation and assistance was the best theme for now, he said.


Mr. SIMPSON (New Zealand) welcomed the ideas put forth by Japan, but said he looked forward to a dialogue with other States.  He acknowledged the concerns of some delegations over making changes to the current review cycle, but said that significant changes had already been made since 2001, and further changes aimed at addressing challenges would prove beneficial to the process.  He encouraged all delegations to keep an open mind over the next few months, adding that the quality and frequency of reports must be addressed.  Smaller countries should be asked to submit fewer reports and larger countries to produce more intensive ones, he suggested.


Mr. PINTADO (Mexico) said the Programme of Action required a follow-up mechanism and periodic reviews, adding that regional meetings should also be taken into account.  Clearly defined mandates for the biennial and review meetings were also needed.  There was a need, as Japan’s delegate had said, for a schedule to be followed over the coming years.  Technical meetings could also be convened, he said, noting that Japan had launched an excellent initiative that allowed members to discuss the options and alternatives in terms of roads to follow.  The issue of munitions must be addressed, he stressed, pointing out that the international trade in munitions, with an annual $4.5 billion price tag, needed to be traced to prevent their diversion.  A key component to be discussed at the Review Conference should be the need for the political will and commitment to prevent munitions trafficking, he stressed.


Mr. LANGELAND (Norway) said the programme of work should include biennial and governmental expert meetings, cautioning, however, that such meetings should not be seen as an end in themselves.  The programme of work must depend on the Programme of Action, including possible improvements of that instrument.  Stockpile management merited further work, as did the International Tracing Instrument, he said.  Border control and end-user certificates were also possible topics for examination.  All relevant partners must be involved in the programme of work, including regional organizations and civil society.


RAZA BASHIR TARAR (Pakistan) said many meetings would not necessarily enhance implementation of the Programme of Action.  Pakistan supported the existing mechanisms, particularly biennial meetings.  Implementation was a long-term goal requiring political will, resources and patience, he said, emphasizing that efforts should now be geared towards fulfilling existing commitments instead of reopening the Programme of Action.  He called for keeping to those commitments rather than putting new ideas on the table that, while worthy, may not win consensus.


AYESHA BORLAND (Belize) said that follow-up mechanisms should translate into implementation of the Programme of Action.  Belize’s regional experience revealed that the illicit small arms trade was often coupled with illegal drug trafficking.  She supported the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) proposal that meetings should be sharply focused.  She welcomed Japan’s working paper saying it elaborated how follow-up plans could play out.


MOHAMED REFAAT FARGHAL (Egypt) said biennial meetings should not be replaced.  The Programme of Action had been adopted through “a very delicate balance” and no further commitments should be added to an instrument that had already been adopted.


Mr. VAN DONKERSGOED ( Netherlands) said the Review Conference’s mandate was to review progress and the tools to do so must be developed.  Self-assessment and priority setting were two areas that needed further discussions, he said, noting also that the thematic character of recent meetings had produced successful results.  It was important to retain regular meetings of States, and some form of political endorsement should also be required, he said.  He also reiterated the important role of non-governmental organizations and civil society in follow-up conferences at all levels.  The active participation of women in all Programme of Action meetings should also be enhanced.


Mr. COSTNER ( United States) said the Review Conference should focus on implementation of the Programme of Action with no new items on the table.  Some States had mentioned the need to address munitions, which was currently outside the Programme’s scope.  Concerning several references to international ammunition guidelines, he stressed that concern about excess ammunition stockpiles was the subject of a group of governmental experts, outside the Programme of Action process, where it should remain.  He said “donor fatigue” on small arms and light weapons had been exacerbated by the global economic situation.  There was also “meetings fatigue”, given the number of biennial, annual and intersessional meetings that had put a great strain on the United Nations and Member States.  He said it might be possible to turn the biennial meetings into meetings of governmental experts, explaining that the reason for that proposal was dissatisfaction with biennial meetings.  Instead of adding new meetings, the Committee should be “fixing” existing ones, he emphasized.


Mr. PINTADO ( Mexico) said that since the Preparatory Committee was ahead of schedule the thematic debate on the International Tracing Instrument should be taken up tomorrow.


Mr. COSTNER ( United States) agreed.


U. JOY OGWU (Nigeria), Chair of the Preparatory Committee, also concurred, adjourning the meeting.


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For information media • not an official record