Central American Parliamentarians on Illicit Trade in Small Arms

Costa Rica, 3-5 May 2002

At the close of the UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms in July last year, the overarching concern of the participants was to ensure that the Programme of Action adopted by the Conference be implemented to the fullest degree. As a contribution to that process, Central American parliamentarians gathered at the University for Peace outside of the Costa Rican capital, to debate the Programme of Action in preparation for a larger debate during the Third Inter-Parliamentary Meeting on firearms issues, expected to be held in September 2002 in Madrid.

The UN Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UN-LiREC), the Swedish Fellowship of Reconciliation (SWEFOR), and the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), organized and financially backed the meeting in coordination with the University for Peace.

Several themes were agreed upon for presentation to the meeting in Madrid:

harmonization of national laws on firearms, ammunition and explosives;

elaboration of a White Book of national legislation on firearms; and

identification of subregional priorities.

Parliamentary initiatives, such as reform of firearms laws, legislation on producers and exporters of firearms, and the role of subregional parliamentary institutions and national parliaments, would be considered at the September meeting.

Specific Central American initiatives, such as local education drives and a Culture of Peace project, would also be transmitted. Since UN-LiREC incorporates a development theme into its peace and security framework, talks were also held regarding support from development agencies and the exploration of the peace and development nexus.

Participants included 46 parliamentarians from the region, as well as from Sweden and Spain. Also attending were representatives from subregional parliamentary institutions, government officials, officials from international organizations and development agencies, as well as experts and representatives of civil society.