|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Secretary-General, in Security Council, Calls for Universal Ratification
Of Arms Trade Treaty, More Support for Weapons Management
Following are Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the Security Council meeting on small arms, in New York on 26 September:
Thank you for your initiative. At the outset, I would like to sincerely welcome your [Julie Bishop] participation and presiding over this Security Council, immediately after your appointment as Foreign Minister of the new Australian Government.
In recent years, the Security Council has recognized the devastating impact of small arms on peace and development. The excessive accumulation of arms has fuelled insecurity and conflict from Mali to Afghanistan and beyond. But, weapons trafficking has affected far more than the immediate security situation. Armed conflict is the main cause of people fleeing their homes and of food insecurity.
The uncontrolled availability of guns and bullets threatens peace processes and fragile reconciliation efforts. It leads to a vast range of human rights violations, including killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, enforced disappearance, torture and forced recruitment of children by armed groups. It exacerbates inter-community violence and organized crime. And it undermines our work for social justice, the rule of law and the Millennium Development Goals. The world is over-armed and peace is underfunded.
Earlier this year, States took a historic step forward by adopting the Arms Trade Treaty, which fully includes small arms and ammunition in its scope. This landmark measure obligates States to regulate international arms transfers, including prohibiting shipments to Governments that fail to use them in conformity with the United Nations Charter.
The Treaty will also help address weapons diversion from Government stockpiles — a growing and disturbing source of arms for pirates, rebels and warlords. The Arms Trade Treaty will complement and strengthen a number of existing international instruments.
I urge all States to sign and ratify it without delay. Already, more than half of all Member States have signed. I want to thank members of the Security Council who have helped to lead the way.
As detailed in my recent report to the Security Council, the absence of regulations combined with easy access and a lucrative illicit arms trade make for a lethal combination. We have seen it in the emptying of weapons depots in Libya, bringing instability to the Sahel region. We have seen it fuel lawlessness from Guinea Bissau to the Central African Republic to Iraq to the high seas. Moreover, poorly managed ammunition stockpiles pose an additional risk of explosion at great cost to people and the environment.
I am pleased that the Council has recognized that States require additional support in weapons management. The standards on weapons and ammunition management developed by the United Nations can be of great assistance. Innovations, such as weapon-tracking technologies and the personalization of firearms, can help. Arms embargoes are also vital.
Yet, unscrupulous brokers are adept at evading such strictures. The various monitoring groups of Security Council sanctions committees need more and better information. My report includes a number of recommendations that the Security Council may wish to consider when mandating peacekeeping operations and special political missions.
In the last year alone, more than a dozen peacekeepers in Darfur, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been killed in action by small arms.
Peacekeeping missions are addressing the challenge in a number of ways, including assistance with stockpile management and the collection and destruction of weapons. United Nations police observers in Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire, for example, developed a guide to record arms and ammunition. And an embargo monitoring capacity has been effectively established by the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire.
Small arms remain a big concern. The challenge lies at the intersection of human rights, security, development, crime, international trade, public health and counter-terrorism. Small arms are a source of crises, conflict and criminality. Member States, the United Nations system, regional organizations and civil society have made progress, but much remains to be done.
I want to, once again, commend the Security Council for taking up vital issues of disarmament and also non-proliferation. I urge this to continue. Let us commit to advance our work together and build a safer more secure world for all.
* *** *For information media • not an official record