Ban applauds progress on control of small arms trade, but sees challenges ahead

Small arms confiscated from ex-combatants demobilized in Katanga (file photo)

14 July 2008 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today that states have made considerable progress in combating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, but cautioned that many challenges still remain.

“Weapons collection and destruction activities have continued, with thousands of weapons and millions of rounds of ammunition destroyed; national coordination bodies have been established and existing ones strengthened; and States are increasingly focusing their attention on implementing the new International Tracing Instrument,” Mr. Ban told a meeting in New York on the global implementation of the Programme on Illicit Trade in Small Arms.

The Secretary-General noted that by holding the meeting, Member States had reaffirmed their confidence in efforts to curb the illegal small arms trade despite the inconclusive outcome of the 2006 Review Conference on the issue.

Commenting on the work of the Expert Group on illicit brokering, Mr. Ban said he was particularly encouraged by its recommendations. “If fully implemented, these actions can go a long way towards achieving our collective goal of preventing illicit brokering in small arms,” he added, in the statement delivered by Sergio de Queiroz Duart, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.

The Secretary-General stressed that the illicit arms trade is one of the UN’s top disarmament priorities.

“There are more small arms in circulation now than there were in 2001; because of both conflict and crime, innocent civilians continue to fall victim to those weapons in high numbers; and Security Council arms embargoes continue to be violated,” he said.

He called on all sectors of society to join the campaign on small arms, from governments and parliamentarians to civil society organizations and local communities.


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