Armed violence
UN Photo/Sylvain Liechti

COMBATTING THE ILLICIT TRADE IN SMALL ARMS

Most present-day conflicts are fought with small arms and light weapons. They are the weapons of choice in civil wars and for terrorism, organized crime and gang warfare.

Illicit small arms have a negative impact on security, contribute to the displacement of civilians, facilitate the violation of human rights and hamper social and economic development.

Secretary-General's report to the Security Council on small arms

Programme of Action on Small Arms
UN Photo/Patricia Esteve

COMBATTING THE ILLICIT TRADE IN SMALL ARMS

To address the issue of illicit small arms, the United Nations adopted in 2001 the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (PoA).

The PoA contains concrete suggestions for improved national legislation and controls, regional cooperation, and international assistance and cooperation. It covers a wide range of topics including: small arms manufacturing; marking, record-keeping, and tracing; stockpile management and security; surplus identification and disposal; brokering; public awareness; and DDR programmes.

Programme of Action on Small Arms


COMBATTING THE ILLICIT TRADE IN SMALL ARMS

The Programme of Action on Small Arms recommended starting negotiations on a separate instrument on tracing illicit small arms. In 2005, the International Tracing Instrument (ITI) was adopted by the UN General Assembly.

If weapons can be traced back to their last legal owner, they need to have been marked, and a record should be kept. In the ITI, governments have committed to do just that.

International Tracing Instrument


UN Photo/Martine Perret

COMBATTING THE ILLICIT TRADE IN SMALL ARMS

Since 2001 a number of States have enacted new, or have revised existing legislation. Some States have integrated small arms action plans into national development strategies. The number of regional or sub-regional initiatives, guidelines and instruments inspired by the PoA has multiplied.

Cooperation and assistance among States and regional organizations have increased. And there has been an increased awareness and understanding of how small arms problems relate to broader issues, such as armed violence, economic and social development, transnational crime and terrorism.

Secretary-General's report to the Security Council on small arms


UN Photo/Stephenie Hollyman

COMBATTING THE ILLICIT TRADE IN SMALL ARMS

Member States have gathered periodically to review the implementation of the Programme of Action and the International Tracing Instrument, and how to strengthen their implementation. Over the past decade, four Biennial Meetings of States were held. In 2011, technical officials have gathered for a meeting of governmental experts, to discuss how marking, record-keeping and tracing of small arms could be improved.


UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz

COMBATTING THE ILLICIT TRADE IN SMALL ARMS

The Second Review Conference on the Programme of Action will be held from 27 August to 7 September 2012 in New York. Much has changed since 2001, including that rich countries have agreed that small arms control activities are formally eligible for development assistance. So this will be an opportunity for States to review progress made in the implementation of the Programme of Action and the International Tracing Instrument, and to discuss plans for further implementation in the coming years.

Ambassador Joy Ogwu of Nigeria was nominated as the President of the Review Conference.

Webpage of the Review Conference