28–31 August 2001
At the recent United Nations-sponsored regional conference on disarmament issues in Kanazawa, participants evaluated the results of the ground-breaking UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms that took place a month earlier in New York (see Disarmament Update, June/July 2001).
Mitsuro Donowaki of Japan, who had chaired the two UN expert panels that recommended convening the Conference and was a driving force behind it, underlined that the Conference was “the means to start a process” to deal with the issue. Manpreet Vohra of India focused on the use of small arms by terrorists and insurgents to foment sectarian and ethnic unrest and to subvert democratic processes. He urged further restriction on the supply side of small arms and light weapons (SALW), most of which came from a handful of countries. Khalid Aziz Babar of Pakistan explained that the problem of small arms proliferation in his country was rooted in the conflict in Afghanistan that began in 1979. He added that this year the Government of Pakistan had launched a programme for the voluntary surrender of illicit weapons and the revalidation of licenses for automatic weapons. Other speakers expressed hope that the Regional Centre would keep the small arms issue in focus when organizing future meetings.
The small arms discussion took place within the framework of a broader dialogue on the future scope of security and disarmament in the Asia and Pacific region, referred to as the “Kathmandu process”, initiated in 1989 by the UN Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific.
Other issues that were addressed included stability and prosperity in Northeast Asia, the multifaceted dimension of security, including weapons of mass destruction, and the role of Asian institutions and actors in promoting peace and disarmament.