Message of the Secretary-General on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, 30 August 2002

The United Nations Register of Conventional Arms is an important tool in the work for increased openness and transparency in the field of armaments. Established in 1992 by General Assembly resolution 46/36 L, this global instrument will complete a decade of operation this year, marking a milestone in its development. 

Over these 10 years, more than 160 governments have reported to the Register at least once. On average, a majority of Member States have participated each year. It is particularly encouraging that submissions by governments for the years 2000 and 2001 recorded sharp increases over all the preceding years.

The Registerís tenth anniversary provides an occasion to reflect on its future developmentóan area that will no doubt be addressed when governmental experts meet next year for their periodic review of the Register. To increase the Registerís relevance in all subregions, and thereby facilitate greater participation, technical adjustments to the agreed categories of weapon systems need to be considered. Continued improvement in the quality of data provided by governments would also help strengthen the Registerís value. And it could be made a more balanced instrument if countries gave the same priority to reporting procurement through national production and military holdings as they give to reporting on international arms transfers. Meanwhile, transparency in non-conventional weapons should be pursued independently of the Register, so as to avert any controversy that could prove detrimental to conventional arms transparency.

The Register enjoys wide international support, and its progress in recent years has been highly encouraging. If the effectiveness of this tool is strengthened further, it can serve as a significant early-warning mechanism, contributing with other instruments to the prevention of conflict and to restraint in arms acquisition. On this tenth anniversary of the Register, I pledge that the United Nations Secretariat will continue to do all it can to facilitate that process.