Transparency Indispensable According to Namibian Defence Minister

Windhoek, 18-20 June 2002

Mr. Erkki Nghimitina, Defence Minister of Namibia, assured those in attendance at the United Nations Workshop on Transparency in Armaments, that Namibia is committed to all international arms conventions and to all respective reporting mechanisms.

“Secrecy on military expenditures and capabilities,” he stated, “leads States to maintain armament levels above what would be necessary for defence purposes, since there is no data available to them on the arms levels of their neighbours or potential adversaries. Namibia believes that conflicts, wherever they arise, ought to be resolved by peaceful means and under the supervision of the United Nations or regional agencies.”

The Workshop, which covered the UN Register of Conventional Arms, the UN Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditures and other Confidence- and Security-Building Measures, was hosted by the the Government of the Republic of Namibia and sponsored by Canada, Germany, Japan and the Netherlands, and was attended by 49 participants, mostly government officials.

The United Nations Secretariat maintains the above-mentioned global arms transparency instruments on the basis of separate mandates from the General Assembly. These are voluntary instruments and therefore their progress depends primarily on the willingness and ability of Governments to participate in them.

The mandate for holding such workshops comes from the Report of the 2000 Group of Governmental Experts on the continuing operation and further development of the Register of Conventional Arms. The Group of Experts urged the holding of regional and subregional workshops to increase familiarity with the Register with a view to encouraging greater participation. The mandate is also partly related to General Assembly resolution 56/14 on “Transparency of military expenditures”, which specifically seeks to promote the UN standardized instrument for reporting military expenditures through regional and subregional symposia and training seminars.

The workshops are designed to focus attention on the two UN instruments and on issues that are related to their further progress. This workshop is the first of its kind to be held in the southern African subregion, as was the recent UN arms transparency workshop in Accra in the context of West Africa. Other workshops on the UN arms transparency instruments are planned for 2002.