IN WAKE OF ASSEMBLY CONFERENCE ON SMALL ARMS, SECURITY COUNCIL EXAMINES ITS ROLE IN IMPLEMENTATION OF ACTION PROGRAMME

2 August 2001
SC/7114

IN WAKE OF ASSEMBLY CONFERENCE ON SMALL ARMS, SECURITY COUNCIL EXAMINES ITS ROLE IN IMPLEMENTATION OF ACTION PROGRAMME

02/08/01
Press ReleaseSC/7114

Security Council

4355th Meeting (AM & PM)

IN WAKE OF ASSEMBLY CONFERENCE ON SMALL ARMS, SECURITY COUNCIL

EXAMINES ITS ROLE IN IMPLEMENTATION OF ACTION PROGRAMME

Secretary-General Expresses Concern

Over Lack of Binding Norms for Small Arms, Light Weapons

The carnage caused by small arms and light weapons made that question not just one of disarmament, but also one of development, democracy, human rights and human security.  And their illicit trade was conspicuous for its lack of a framework of binding norms and standards, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Security Council today during its day-long open debate on the subject.

Today’s meeting was chaired by Guillermo Fernandez de Soto, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Colombia, which holds the Council presidency for the month of August.  At the outset of the meeting, he outlined its objectives, which included a critical examination of how the small arms issue had been handled, particularly in conflicts engaging the Council’s attention, since it first appeared on the Council’s agenda in September 1999.  He also sought to deepen understanding of the issue within the Council by broadening the discussion to include States that were not members of the Council.

The meeting took place in the wake of the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, and the majority of speakers today commended the 21 July adoption of its Programme of Action.  The agreed text committed States to develop, strengthen and implement norms and measures aimed at preventing, fighting and ultimately eradicating the illicit manufacturing of and trade in small arms and light weapons.  The Programme also stipulated that special emphasis would be placed on post-conflict situations.

The Secretary-General said he was pleased to participate in a discussion of the contribution the Council could make in addressing the devastating impact of small arms and light weapons on people and societies throughout the world.  The proliferation of those weapons exacerbated conflict, sparked refugee flows, undermined the rule of law and spawned a culture of violence and impunity.  The glorification of guns also sent children a terrible message:  that non-violent solutions were unworkable and unrealistic, and that power was to be found, not in one's skills or intellect, but by intimidating or inflicting harm on others.

On the question of negotiating legally binding instruments, he expressed concern over the lack of a framework of binding norms and standards for small arms and light weapons.  States had established international norms in the areas of

nuclear non-proliferation, and had adopted treaties banning chemical and biological weapons and anti-personnel landmines.  There were no simple solutions, however, and no single method for dealing with the impact of the illicit small arms trade.  But political commitments could make a critical difference in saving lives and easing suffering.  And the Council had a major role to play in making small arms a focus of urgent global attention.

As delegates pondered the question of the Council’s jurisdiction over and contribution to curbing the illicit small arms trade, the representative of the United States said that the Council's role had been circumscribed in the context of the recent General Assembly Conference.  The focus there, he said, had rightly been on Member States and their obligations and efforts to eliminate the illicit small arms trade.  Indeed, the Council should not seek a more elaborate role that lay beyond its competence.  Its role, including decisions to establish or enforce arms embargoes, could be enhanced by greater access to information about the accumulation and use of small arms in conflict areas. 

The representative of Mauritius asserted that three years after the Council adopted a resolution expressing concern over the destabilizing effects of illicit arms flows, particularly to Africa, the continent was still awash with small arms and light weapons.  Although the Council had been making intensive efforts to address ways to end African conflicts, he had yet to witness a decrease in arms flows to Africa.  Unfortunately, when it came to Africa, words aimed at restricting arms transfers had not been adequately translated into deeds.  Arms embargoes by the Council had helped to reduce the flow of small arms to conflict areas, to some extent, but unscrupulous elements had continued to breach them.  The Council should take steps to improve the effectiveness of its arms embargoes, and its ability to monitor them must be enhanced.

Issuing presidential statements and resolutions that had very little meaningful effect on their intended recipients was simply not good enough, the representative of Sierra Leone said.  He wanted to see the Council “dishing out sterner, robust and resolute measures”, in order to attain its desired Charter objectives.  It should also flex its muscular authority over the form and content of the provisions in the Programme of Action of the recent Conference, especially over compliance with arms embargoes.  The Council should also adopt far-reaching mechanisms to ensure that Member States and their authorized entities involved in the production and marketing of small arms complied with legally binding instruments.

Over the past decade, the representative of India said, the Council had established embargoes to cut off the supply of arms to violent non-State actors.  When it found that those were easily bypassed, as in Angola and Sierra Leone, investigations had shown how international criminal networks were being used to sell diamonds and supply arms to those countries.  In Afghanistan, the principal exports of the Taliban were drugs and terrorism, and the arms embargo was “as riddled with holes as the lattice-work for which one of its neighbours is famous”.  Hopefully, the monitoring mechanism set up by the Council for Afghanistan a few days ago would do its work well.  If the arms embargo was still flouted, the

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Council should tackle the problem at its roots, and take measures against those responsible, as it had in West Africa.

The following Council members also spoke:  Jamaica, Bangladesh, France, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, China, Tunisia, Norway, Mali, Ukraine, Ireland, and Singapore.

Statements were made by the representatives of Peru, Japan, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Pakistan, Belgium (on behalf of the European Union), Philippines, South Africa, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Venezuela, Sudan, Egypt, Australia, Canada, Nepal, Costa Rica, Belarus, Ghana, Bulgaria, Nigeria and Thailand. 

The meeting began at 10:35 a.m. and was suspended at 1:14 p.m.  It resumed at 3:11 p.m. and was adjourned at 7:02 p.m.

Background

The Security Council met this morning to hold an open debate on the question of small arms.  It had before it a letter from the Permanent Representative of Colombia, annexed to which is a paper on issues that could be discussed as part of today's open debate (document S/2001/732).

The letter advises that the objectives of today's meeting include the Council’s prospective contribution to the implementation of the Programme of Action that was adopted on 21 July by the Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.  Another objective is to formulate a set of practical and workable recommendations on small arms as they relate to areas directly within the Council’s competence.

The debate is also meant to deepen understanding of the issue within the Council, through the participation of States that are not its members.   Among issues proposed for consideration are recommendations concerning the way small arms may be addressed in Secretary-General's reports, suggestions for sustained follow-up by the Council on small arms, criteria that might apply to the Council receiving special briefings from the Secretary-General on small arms, means to strengthen regional and subregional mechanisms, the possibility of advisory missions on small arms, and arms embargoes.

The item on small arms was first included on the Council’s agenda on

24 September 1999, Colombia's letter advises.

Statement by Council President

GUILLERMO FERNANDEZ DE SOTO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Colombia,   said his country was honoured to hold the presidency of the Council for the   month of August, as that organ had an indispensable part to play in preserving international peace and security.

The problems that arose from the illicit traffic in small arms and their impact on conflict situations had been the growing focus of global attention, he said.  Global, regional, local and national initiatives required the support of all of the organs and programmes of the United Nations, including the Security Council.  The debate proposed by Colombia had several objectives.  The first was to follow up the question of small arms nearly two years after it was included in the Council’s agenda on 24 September 1999.  The second was to critically examine how that question was handled, specifically in those conflict situations that engaged the Council’s attention.

The third objective, he said, was to deepen the understanding of the issue within the Council, by broadening discussion through the express and active participation of States that were not members of the Council.  The fourth was to discuss the Council’s contribution to the implementation of the Programme of Action that was adopted on 21 July.  The final objective was to formulate a set of practical and workable recommendations that could be included in a Council presidential statement or resolution that would define its participation and contribution in that area.  Columbia had also submitted a list of issues for consideration.

Statement by Secretary-General

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said last month's Conference on the illicit arms trade had achieved important progress, for which he thanked Ambassador Camilo Reyes Rodriguez for his instrumental role.

The Conference attracted widespread attention, he said, with the world's media reporting extensively on the cost and carnage caused by these weapons.  Civil society groups from across the globe were deeply and creatively involved.  And after intense and difficult negotiations, Member States forged consensus among diverse views and interests, and adopted a comprehensive Programme of Action.  The international community had begun an important process of constructive global action.

He said that States had committed themselves to develop, strengthen and implement norms and measures aimed at preventing, fighting and ultimately eradicating the illicit manufacturing of, and trade in, small arms and light weapons.  Special emphasis was to be placed on post‑conflict situations and greater support provided to programmes for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants, including child ex-combatants.  They had also agreed to act responsibly in export, import, transit and retransfer of weapons.

States had recognized the need to mark weapons and keep accurate records that would enable timely tracing and identification, he added, and they pledged to improve implementation of arms embargoes decided by the Council.  They also agreed to destroy illicit or surplus weapons as necessary.

He said that the Programme of Action called for greater transparency and  for education and public awareness programmes.  To assess progress, a review conference would be held by the year 2006. 

Those were significant first steps in alleviating a grave threat to international peace and security, Mr. Annan said.  Now, those gains must be consolidated.  A programme of action was a beginning, not an end in itself.  Implementation would be the true test.  He also encouraged governments to continue work on those issues on which consensus could not be found at the Conference.

Turning to the question of negotiating legally binding instruments, he said that the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was conspicuous for its lack of a framework of binding norms and standards.  There was also a need to address the supply side of the problem.  Since the mid-1980s, there had been an increase in the number of companies and countries manufacturing small arms and light weapons.  Some of the world's wealthy nations were the main suppliers, but many developing countries also produced small arms, including for export.

The glorification of guns sent children a terrible message:  that non-violent solutions were unworkable and unrealistic, and that power was to be found, not in one's skills or intellect, but by intimidating or inflicting harm on others, he said.  The fact that small arms required such minimal training had surely played a role in the recruitment of some 300,000 child combatants around the world.  Children were the most vulnerable victims of those weapons, and their special needs had not been given sufficient attention.

He said that small arms were easy to buy, easy to use, easy to transport and easy to conceal.  Their proliferation exacerbated conflict, sparked refugee flows, undermined the rule of law and spawned a culture of violence and impunity.  They were an issue for development, democracy, human rights and human security.  Last month's landmark conference was not meant to infringe on national sovereignty, limit the right of States to defend themselves, or interfere with their responsibility to provide security.  Nor was it meant to take guns away from their legal owners.

No country was immune from that threat of small arms, and there were no simple solutions, and no single method for dealing with the impact of the illicit trade, he said.  Political commitments could make a critical difference in saving lives and easing suffering.  And the Council had a major role to play in making small arms a focus of urgent global attention.

Statements

JAMES CUNNIHGHAM (United States) said that everybody in the Council chamber recognized the agonizing results of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, especially in the areas of conflict.  Today’s open meeting continued the momentum of the successful Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, which had reached consensus on a comprehensive Programme of Action.  If diligently carried out by the Member States, the Programme of Action would make significant progress towards curbing that illegal and deadly trade.

The United States believed that steps to tackle the problem of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons must be practical and effective, he continued.  The most effective way was through strict export and import controls, strong brokering laws, and ensuring the security of small arms and light weapons stockpiles.  The United States had one of the strongest systems in the world for regulating the export of arms.  Small arms and light weapons made in the United States could not be exported without the approval of the Department of State, nor could they be retransferred without approval of the United States.  His country rigorously monitored arms transfers and routinely investigated suspicious activities.  The United States had also been active internationally in stemming the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. 

The focus of the Conference, as reflected in the Programme of Action, was properly on Member States and their obligations and efforts to eliminate the illicit small arms trade, he said.  Thus, the Security Council’s role was circumscribed.  He did not believe that the Council should seek a more elaborate role beyond its competence, but it did have an important role to play.  The paper submitted by Colombia thoughtfully focussed on a number of important issues.  The matter of information flow to the Council was a key theme.  Information on the role of small arms and light weapons could be of great value in helping the Council evaluate specific areas of conflict, including decisions to establish or enforce arms embargoes.  Also, as called for in the Programme of Action, the United States urged Member States to take all appropriate legal and administrative means against violators of Security Council arms embargoes.

Thus, while the function of the Council in accomplishing the Programme of Action was limited, he said, it had an opportunity, through the leadership of Colombia, to thoughtfully define its role.  The Conference’s Programme of Action was just one week old, and its success should be a priority.  That depended on the political will of Member States.  The United States looked forward to working with the other countries to fulfil the Programme of Action.

PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said that the urgent need to address the proliferation and illegal use of small arms and light weapons could no longer be ignored or denied by the international community.  Today’s open debate, which followed the recent conclusion of the International Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects was very appropriate.  She welcomed the convening of the 2001 Conference and the adoption of the Programme of Action as the first significant initiative.  The Conference had   been a watershed in a wider process that must now harness the momentum for comprehensive international action, and determine the most effective strategies. 

For the Council, that objective was the maintenance of international peace and security, involving conflict prevention, peacekeeping, peace-building and humanitarian intervention, she continued.  When it had last considered the item in 1999, the Council had acknowledged the destabilizing accumulation of small arms as a contributing factor in the intensity and duration of armed conflict and in the undermining of peace agreements.  The Council had also expressed particular concern at the humanitarian impact and socio-economic implications of the excessive accumulation and transfer of small arms and light weapons.

Since that debate, new conflicts had arisen, including, for example, the one in Ethiopia and Eritrea, she said.  That reality was a compelling reason for the Council, within the framework of its assessment and decision-making in conflict and post-conflict situations, to include specific consideration of the issue of small arms and light weapons.  She hoped that today’s debate would lead to specific proposals and recommendations for the mainstreaming of small arms within the work of the Council.  The Secretary-General could be encouraged to include an analysis on the proliferation of small arms in his reports to the Security Council on conflict situations, and identify sources of supply and financing of those weapons, where possible. 

The Council should improve significantly its attention to the disarmament component of demobilization programmes, she continued.  Greater attention should be placed on devising more effective programmes.  Such consideration should include the securing of accurate information on the origin, volume and nature of small arms and light weapons in the possession of ex-combatants and the civilian population.  Such programmes should also include clear guidelines for the disposal and destruction of weapons.  In that regard, the Council should pay special attention to the destruction of weapons in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to preclude access to those weapons by other rebel groups such as the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).

She said that the sanctions committees of the Council also had a principal role in defining the Council’s approach to the question of small arms.  There was an urgent need for more innovative strategies to address the issue of the illicit exploitation of natural resources being used by combatants for purchasing weapons.  Business and financial institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other actors at the international and local levels should be involved in the efforts to curb the ability of local groups to secure the resources for such purchases.  The sanctions committees should also give greater attention to the establishment of monitoring mechanisms.  Jamaica reiterated its position that more effective domestic and international regulation of the legal arms trade was central to any strategy to effectively control the illicit trafficking in and use of small arms and light weapons.

There was a need for the Council to design and implement more effective arms embargoes, which could be strictly enforced, she said.  The importance of regional agreement and cooperation in that regard must be underscored.  The Council may wish to consider holding consultations with the heads of regional organizations when they met at the United Nations Headquarters next year, to consider follow-up for implementation of the Programme of Action on small arms.  Regular consultations and coordination among all entities within the United Nations were also needed.  Existing mechanisms should be strengthened to enhance in-house capacity to undertake more research and analysis.  Rather than establishing another group of experts, institutions like the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) should be strengthened.

In conclusion, she added that the new initiatives would, of course, demand additional resources.  For that reason, Jamaica was very disappointed that the outcome of the Conference on small arms did not see specific commitment to the investment of new and additional resources for the implementation of the Programme of Action.

ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said the use of small arms and light weapons had increased exponentially as conflicts had become more intra-State in nature.  Indeed, the proliferation often sustained or exacerbated conflicts, devastated societies and economies and, over the past decade, caused nearly half a million deaths a year.

He said that unbridled cross-border arms flows remained a problem even after conflicts had been resolved.  In a recent report, the Secretary-General had emphasized the need to impose local arms embargoes, as well as the deployment of United Nations forces along national borders to stop smuggling activities.  In the case of Kosovo, the Council had imposed a prohibition on the sale of small arms, but that measure needed to be strengthened with stipulations imposing severe punishment to curb large-scale smuggling.  The Council had also addressed the issue in regards to East Timor, and legislative measures taken by the United Nations Transitional Administration for East Timor (UNTAET) to create small arms regulations and security arrangements had been commendable, and could be replicated in similar situations.

He said that States participating in the recent Conference had pledged to take all necessary measures against any activities that violates Council arms embargoes.  It was also necessary for all States to provide the Council’s sanctions committees with information regarding violations of embargoes.  He added that regional cooperation, particularly information sharing between customs agencies, could play an important role in monitoring the flow of arms.

He went on to say that no discussion of the small arms issue could be complete without addressing the human rights and humanitarian perspective.  A survey released on the eve of the Conference had underscored the link between irresponsible use of lethal small arms and massive violations of humanitarian laws and civilian human rights.  He believed the Council's actions could be greatly enhanced if reports from the Secretary-General contained an analysis of the availability, stockpiles, brokering and transportation arrangements of such weapons.  The Council should support weapons destruction efforts, and he called for inclusion of such provisions in peace agreements.  Bangladesh also affirmed the need for the declaration of “child-soldier-free-zones” in various regions in order to offset the intolerable forced recruitment of children in conflict areas.

YVES DOUTRIAUX  (France) said the threat posed by the illicit traffic in small arms was not a new issue.  It made the maintenance and consolidation of peace uncertain, thus requiring action at all levels.  It was gratifying to note the outcome of the first United Nations Conference on the subject, which had identified a number of measures to be taken on an urgent basis.  Indeed, it was the  responsibility of every State to control the flows and accumulations of those weapons.

For its part, the Council must call upon all States to rapidly implement the Programme of Action adopted at the July Conference, he said.  In terms of marking, international cooperation was needed to investigate the active networks.  The Council had seen and now understood the scope of the problem.  Lessons must learned and applied at the global level, and a mechanism for cooperation among States must be set up in order to put an end to the illicit trafficking.  France and Switzerland had developed a draft instrument, which had received broad support at the Conference and was included in the follow-up mechanism of the Programme of Action.  Traceability projects should also be taken forward, for that was truly at the heart of the collective efforts to prevent the illicit small arms trade.

He said that in the General Assembly’s First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) in the autumn, a United Nations study would be launched on the traceability of small arms and on a draft international instrument towards that goal.  In societies already rendered vulnerable by a lack of political stability or economic and social development, and where protracted conflicts had not been ended by political settlements, uncontrolled proliferation of weapons was most harmful.  Arms trafficking had not only fuelled such conflicts, but had been the spark that had set off the powder keg and undermined peaceful attempts at settling conflict.

Of particular importance, therefore, was ensuring that States abstained from supplying such weapons to non-State entities or groups.  Also, a preventative disarmament mechanism must be developed.  The recent report on preventing armed conflict was a timely reminder for States of their responsibilities under the United Nations Charter.  Practical measures for the collection and destruction of weapons were of crucial importance.  The Council could ask the Secretary-General to prepare, within six months, a report based on recent experiences in that regard.  The Council could use such information towards implementing the Action Programme.  The Secretary-General could also provide statistics on the quantities of small arms in circulation on a regional and subregional basis, in order to alert the Council to possible threats to international peace and security.  He also underscored the importance of strict respect for arms embargoes adopted by the Council.

STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom) said that the first-ever United Nations conference on small arms had signalled a change in international efforts to control the spread and misuse of small arms.  It must be regarded as a start of a long process of implementation, with a practical follow-up.  The success of the Conference would be measured by the extent of its impact on the illicit trade and accumulation of small arms and light weapons in the world. 

The Council could make a real contribution in that respect, for so many of the issues involved had an impact on its work, he said.  The idea of mainstreaming the issue of small arms in the work of the Council deserved attention.  The more the Council could concentrate on making a practical difference, the more its work would be worth.  The United Kingdom strongly supported the Programme of Action that had come out of the Conference.  It had established a comprehensive small arms and light weapons reduction programme, allocating ₤19.5 million over a three-year period in support of the implementation of the Programme and the follow-up to the Conference.  His country would do its part.  It was vitally important for the international community to play its part as well.

GENNADY M. GATILOV (Russian Federation) said that his country shared the apprehension of a broad group of countries regarding the uncontrolled spread of small arms and light weapons that threatened regional peace and security.  Without a global solution to that dangerous spread, it was impossible to regulate conflicts, ensure individual security, and maintain stable economic development.  His country, as a major producer and exporter of those weapons, was carrying out a responsible policy by tightening controls over manufacture and transfer, and by destroying the surplus.  Since 1998, at the arsenals and bases of the Defence Ministry, more than 420,000 units of small arms and close combat weapons had been disposed of, and 44,000 more units would be destroyed by 2002.  At the same time, the Internal Affairs Ministry last year destroyed a few thousand units.  The remaining ones would be disposed of after criminal investigations were completed.

He said he also noted Article 51 of the Charter, which concerned the legitimate right of States to self-defence.  That right included the legal acquisition of necessary weapons.  At the same time, every State bore a responsibility to tighten and control the export, manufacture and supply of those weapons, and to strengthen their efforts against illegal proliferation.  In the Russian Federation, laws had been enacted to regulate the internal weapons trade, as well as the export trade.  The Council often encountered conflicts in which those arms played a decisive role. 

The Council should devote more attention to the problem of the illegal flows and destabilizing effects, particularly in Kosovo, where a great number of small arms were in circulation.  The proliferation had complicated the achievement of a settlement, and threatened the lives of peacekeeping.  Indeed, those arms flows had destabilizing consequences for the entire Balkan region and had contributed to the present situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.  Also on the agenda was enhancing the effect of the arms embargoes regimes imposed by the Council.  Porous arms embargoes, however, only aggravated confrontations and undermined the Council, and the United Nations as a whole.  The proper way to resolve the problem was the adoption of monitoring mechanisms, such as those employed regarding the anti-Taliban sanctions.

He said his country was also ready to consider regional initiatives, if those were voluntary and non-discriminatory.  A report of the Secretary-General summarizing the work done by the Organization on the small arms problem, as well as the results of the recent Conference, would be useful.  Continuing today’s discussion within the Council was also important, and greater emphasis should be devoted to the consideration of specific situations threatening international peace and security.

WANG YINGFAN (China) said the Programme of Action adopted last month at the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects identified concrete measures to be taken to deal with that issue at all levels.  It marked a good beginning to finding a solution to the problem. The Council had also faced the issue of small arms and light weapons very often, especially when reviewing regional hotspots.  In 1999, it even adopted a presidential statement on the issue.  Such actions were also important components of the international effort to find an early solution to the illicit trade in small arms.

He said the excessive accumulation of and illegal trafficking in small arms and light weapons was most salient in Africa.  Special attention must, therefore, be paid to the issue in that region.  Firmly against the illegal production of small arms, his country had already made a great contribution towards attempting to solve the problem.  Citing a five-point proposal by China, he said that, first, countries should formulate and improve their legislation and regulations on the production, possession, holding and stockpiling of small arms, as well as take practical measures to ensure strict enforcement.

Second, he continued, countries and regions should step up their cooperation and coordination in combating the illicit trade.  Third, the international community should further support countries and regions in their efforts to deal with the issue of small arms.  Fourth, while seeking to end tensions and conflicts, the international community should also make vigorous efforts to help affected countries develop their economies, eradicate poverty and realize sustainable development, endurable peace, as well as stability.  Such actions would uproot the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons from its breeding grounds.  Finally, he added, the sovereignty of States must be respected and their right to legal production, possession and transfer of small arms should not be compromised.

MOKHTAR CHAOUACHI (Tunisia) said today’s meeting was particularly timely in view of the importance of the problem of the spread of easily available and exportable small arms and light weapons.  The United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade of Small Arms and Light Weapons had adopted an important document, which represented a first step in a lengthy process of putting an end to the problem. 

New hotbeds of tension were emerging around the world, he continued, and the problem of small arms contributed to their exacerbation and extension.  To prevent conflicts, it was most important to tackle their root causes.  The international community had to act on all levels -– national, regional and international -- in that respect, and should consider the problem as a whole, in the context of DDR of ex-combatants into society.  The Council had devoted particular attention to those aspects, and it should dedicate itself to further increasing its efficiency in conflict prevention. 

He went on to say that the accumulation of weapons was not in itself a destabilizing factor and did not automatically lead to violence.  It was important to take into account specific situations in specific countries.  The developing countries, which were particularly vulnerable, should strengthen their national legislation on small arms and light weapons.  They must be assisted by the international community in DDR.  It was also important to ban the export of those weapons to conflict zones.  The African Ministerial Meeting in Mali in November-December last year had devoted particular attention to the problem of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, adopting a realistic approach and proposing practical measures.

Efforts must be focused on strengthening international cooperation, he continued, for the problem transcended the capacity of individual countries.  Individual countries, however, had primary responsibility to undertake action to cope with the scourge of small arms and light weapons.  Any action must take into account the right of legitimate self-defence of States.  While supporting international efforts to cope with the problem of small arms and light weapons,  it was also important not to neglect the problem of nuclear arms, which still presented a serious threat, and the need to achieve nuclear disarmament.

JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius) said that Africa was the continent most affected by those weapons.  In its resolution 1209 (1998), the Council expressed grave concern over the destabilizing effects of illicit arms flows, particularly to Africa.  Three years later, Africa was still awash with small arms and light weapons, which continued to fuel and sustain innumerable conflicts.  Expert panels had established beyond doubt the nexus between the acquisition of weapons through illegal means and the illegal exploitation of natural resources, such as diamonds and other precious metals, which were used to pay for those arms.

He said that, although the Council had been making intensive efforts to address ways to end various African conflicts, he had yet to witness a decrease in the arms flows to Africa.  Unfortunately, when it came to Africa, words aimed at restricting arms transfers had not been adequately translated into deeds.  The Council’s presidential statement of 24 September 1999 had called for measures to discourage arms flows to countries or regions engaged in or emerging from armed conflicts.  It had also encouraged governments of arms-exporting countries to exercise the highest degree of responsibility in their transactions.  Those countries had a duty under international law to ascertain that the end-user would put the consignments to their rightful use.  They should also be able to verify and confirm the identity of the end-users, and their ability to retain control over the arms and ammunition.

Targeted sanctions in recent years had shown their effectiveness, he said. The imposition of sanctions in the form of arms embargoes by the Council had, to some extent, helped to reduce the flow of small arms to conflict areas.  Such measures also made the acquisition of those weapons more difficult and expensive.  Unscrupulous elements, however, had continued to breach many United Nations arms embargoes.  The Security Council had to take further measures to improve the effectiveness of its arms embargoes.  The ability of the Council, sanctions committees and Secretariat to monitor arms embargoes must be enhanced, and the Council had to show the political determination to do so.  It was important for the sanctions committees to be provided with the means to submit, in their annual reports, a section on the implementation of arms embargoes or their possible violation.

WEGGER CHRISTIAN STRØMMEN (Norway) thanked the President for conducting today’s meeting and said that his country would make a joint statement with Mali.

Presenting that joint statement with Norway, SEKOU KASSE (Mali) said the two countries had cooperated on practical efforts to curb the small arms problem in his region.  They attached high priority to the question of small arms and light weapons and shared positions on the critical issues in that respect, as had been made clear during the recent United Nations Small Arms Conference. 

In view of the importance of the problem, today’s meeting was particularly timely, he continued.  Mali and Norway hoped that the Programme of Action adopted by the Conference would stimulate international efforts to stop illegal trade and proliferation of small arms.  Although the Conference had been a step in the right direction, however, he would have preferred a far more ambitious document to have come from it.  Many African countries shared that opinion, for their continent was most affected by the proliferation of small-calibre arms.  Norway and Mali believed that there was an urgent need for an international agreement on export criteria.  It was also necessary to further elaborate international legal instruments on the marking and tracing of small arms and on brokering operations.  It was regrettable that the Conference had not achieved agreement on the control of possession of such arms by non-State actors.

On the regional and subregional levels, African countries had undertaken numerous efforts to combat the problem, he said.  Recent initiatives of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) were examples of their commitment in that respect.  For example, the moratorium by ECOWAS on small arms and light weapons had been recently extended by three years.  Now, more than ever, it was necessary to support African initiatives and develop conflict-prevention mechanisms, in particular through international regulations, to prevent the spread of small arms and reduce their stocks.  Mali and Norway also called on the donor community to provide more assistance to conflict-prevention initiatives. 

Continuing, he said that DDR programmes were among the most important instruments available to the Council.  Such programmes should be an integral part of future peacekeeping operations, and the two countries proposed that the Secretary-General should submit a report on the lessons learned from the practice in that respect.  Practical disarmament measures must be placed in the broader context of development.  Mali and Norway were, above all, concerned over the problems of child soldiers, who should receive urgent attention within the framework of such programmes.  DDR programmes must also include measures for repatriation and resettlement of ex-combatants.  Also needed was long-term and predictable financing.  He preferred a system where DDR would be financed through contributions of Member States. 

Another important tool at the Council’s disposal was an imposition of arms embargoes, he said.  Purchase of small arms was often financed by diamonds from conflicts and other raw materials of great value, and he believed that an effective monitoring mechanism, which was being considered by the Council, would be of great importance in enforcing sanctions..

VALERY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) said that the problem under discussion today must be addressed by the Council in accordance with its mandate.  The uncontrolled spread of small arms undermined implementation of peace agreements and hampered post-conflict peace-building throughout the world.  Those weapons were often the primary tools of violence in conflicts, particularly in areas where their illicit supply had flourished.  The global dimension of the problem had been clearly identified at the recent United Nations Conference.  He was convinced that the Organization should play a leading role in combating illicit trafficking in those weapons, as well as restraining their proliferation.

He said that the Council had its own distinctive role to play.  It could add value by improving the effectiveness of its arms embargoes by putting an end to the economy of war, by encouraging moratoriums of arms sales to conflict regions, and by supporting DDR measures.  The Council’s arms embargoes on “hot spots” could play a central role in checking the proliferation and eradication of illicit small arms flows.  The Council must ensure full implementation of its arms embargoes and other sanctions targeting the groups that paid for those weapons.  Effective monitoring mechanisms should be developed and put in place to prevent arms embargo violations.  He strongly supported the need to establish effective national export control systems to prevent illegal transfers.

While great challenges lay ahead, a number of important developments should be promoted, including the United Nations Conference, which had provided a unique opportunity for the international community to develop a strategy for coordinating collective efforts in that field.  He welcomed the outcome document, which reflected realistic approaches and would facilitate concerned efforts by all States towards an eventual solution.  Strengthening international cooperation required the priority attention of all States and regional organizations.  In most cases, such efforts required technical and financial assistance.  Those countries with the resources and experience should be called upon to provide such assistance, wherever necessary.  His country pursued a responsible policy in arms trading, for which it had a national system of effective procedures.  It had also fulfilled all of its obligations as a party to relevant export control regimes.  It would take an active part, at the global level, in curbing proliferation of illicit small arms. 

DAVID COONEY (Ireland) welcomed today’s initiative and said that the recent United Nations Small Arms Conference had been a culmination of recent international efforts, with many activities at subregional and regional levels.  The Programme of Action adopted by that event could become a launching pad for what Ireland hoped would be a dynamic follow-up process.  While he would have liked to see even stronger commitments emerge from the Conference, he welcomed the very significant achievements made.

There was no question that the proliferation of small arms contributed to the proliferation of conflicts which came to the attention of the Security Council, he continued, and also to the development of many cross-cutting problems that it was obliged to address, such as child soldiers and the increased suffering of women and children in armed conflict.  It was possible to draw a number of conclusions from previous Security Council discussions of small arms and other associated issues.

The present capacity of the international community to deal with the problem was unsatisfactory, he said.  Primary action must be taken at both national and regional levels.  On the one hand, it was the primary responsibility of governments to regulate trade in small arms and light weapons.  All parties must address that issue in an open and self-critical manner, in order to achieve tangible progress in the near future.  The international community should not permit the United Nations to be used as a vehicle for reinforcing obstacles derived from domestic legislative and constitutional positions.  Action on the regional level was also imperative, because many issues could only be addressed within the context of regional security and through mutual cooperation.  It was incumbent on governments to ensure full compliance with Security Council arms embargoes.

He went on to say that it was also necessary to examine both the demand and supply sides of the small arms and light weapons trade, and to exercise restraint in exporting small arms.  Monitoring activities of dubious arms brokers was also important.  Sanctions were one of the tools available to the Council.  Although weapons were not manufactured in Ireland, the European Union and the countries associated with it encompassed a major part on the world’s weapons production.  That placed a special responsibility on the Union to check the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects and to cooperate in the alleviation of its consequences.

Regarding the Council’s contribution, he said that it must show leadership on the issue of small arms and light weapons.  It was important for the Council to reflect the thrust of the Programme of Action adopted at the Small Arms Conference.  It had already started to consider such important problems as child soldiers, and the demobilization of ex-combatants and the effective disposal of their weaponry.  The Small Arms Conference was an important step forward.  Ireland took very seriously the politically binding commitments it had undertaken by agreeing to the Programme of Action.

CHRISTINE LEE (Singapore) said that since the problem of illicit small arms was multifaceted and linked to so many other issues, the Security Council needed to act in tandem with the General Assembly to address the issue on all fronts.  The Council should also place special emphasis on countries which were most affected by the illegal small arms and light weapons.  “We must find better ways of implementing arms embargoes", she said, and welcomed the recent establishment of a monitoring and assistance mechanism for sanctions on the Taliban in Afghanistan.  That was a step in the right direction. 

She said that a related initiative, which could improve monitoring, would be the establishment of an international database of authorized arms traders, as well as a "blacklist" of traders convicted of illicit arms trafficking.  Such a database would go a long way in addressing the problem of illegal arms proliferation throughout the world.  She also stressed that stopping the supply of illicit small arms would be ineffective if excess arms still in circulation were not recovered through disarmament and demobilization processes.

While no one would dispute that disarmament in a post conflict situation was dangerous and difficult, the Council must still address it as a priority as the persistence of small arms impeded peace-building and redevelopment.  In addition, the easy availability of such weapons also threatened the security of United Nations personnel and peacekeepers.  According to the 2001 Small Arms Survey,   456 international peacekeepers and staff members of the Organization were killed by small arms between January 1992 and March 1997.  Perhaps some of those lives could have been saved had there been more effective disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR).

GUILLERMO FERNANDEZ DE SOTO, speaking in his capacity as Foreign Affairs Minister of Colombia, said it was ironic that most of the conflicts in which small arms and light weapons were used took place in the developing world, and that most of those arms were produced in the developed world.  That terrible irony required application of a principle that had already been accepted in the fight against the illicit drug trade, namely, that of shared responsibility.  Everyone must resolutely confront the problem and seek solutions that apportioned responsibility with a view to preventing, combating and eradicating the illicit trade in those weapons.  The recent Conference marked a first step.  Progress had also been made towards defining important elements for the fight against the scourge, such as the marking and tracing of arms, as well as the control of exports, surpluses and intermediaries in their legal trade.

He said that, with respect to the arms embargoes imposed by the Council, the Conference had pledged to adopt all appropriate measures to cooperate with the United Nations system in their strict enforcement.  The Council had been urged to take DDR into account in the mandates and budgets of peacekeeping operations.  The Conference had also reached agreement on the elaboration and implementation of effective programmes in that field, including the collection, control, storage and destruction of small arms and light weapons.  Clearly, the small arms problem went beyond the possibilities of any individual efforts.  Nevertheless, its dimension should not be an obstacle for further concerted actions at all levels.

Speaking as a Council member, he said that his country stood ready to help that body assume its responsibility and make a true difference in the treatment of the question.  Efforts should be made to systematize significant experiences, with a view to compiling the best practices for use by the Council and the Secretariat.  The Secretary-General might coordinate such an effort.  It was also essential for the Council to complement and reinforce regional initiatives.  It should promote a continuous dialogue with regional organizations, particularly those in Africa, to mutually support their work in that field. 

He said that it was also necessary to emphasize the transnational character of the illicit small arms trade, which knew no territorial, political or ideological frontiers.  Bearing in mind that many of those weapons originated in countries and regions where armed conflicts had ended, it was a matter of urgency that the Council adopted strategies to thwart the activities of traffickers and criminals.  There should also be closer cooperation among States for the destruction of surplus weapons, the voluntary collection of small arms and the confiscation of illegal weapons.  Such cooperation might include border control operations between the police and customs authorities. 

JORGE VALDEZ (Peru) said a recurring theme had been the recognition of the important role the United Nations, and in particular its main bodies, were called upon to play in addressing the illicit trade.  That role encompassed setting and developing action strategies, disseminating information, apprising and alerting people to the excessive and destabilizing effects caused by the accumulation of those arms, and making the issue a priority on the current international agenda. The Security Council had taken on specific tasks related to small arms and it had done so on its own.  There had not been, however, an interactive dialogue with other bodies of the Organization.  The Council's actions, therefore, had not reflected a general, coordinated and unanimous vision of the United Nations membership.

He said the Council, as well as other bodies of the United Nations, particularly the General Assembly, shared a particular responsibility in the area of combating illicit small arms.  The Programme of Action served to provide general direction and constituted the fundamental international framework for dealing with the problem.  It recognized the specific responsibility of the Council in underscoring the impact of small arms on both the duration and intensity of armed conflicts, and their effects on the most vulnerable sectors of society.  The Programme also emphasized the importance of regional and subregional mechanisms and the role they were required to play.  The Council should thus establish the appropriate permanent channels of communication to enable it to gather the opinions of those mechanisms on the particular circumstances of each conflict.

That information, he continued, should be taken into account before incorporating into mandates measures such as arms embargoes, moratoriums on the import and export of arms, border controls and DDR programmes.  Regarding the latter, the Council should play an essential role in incorporating appropriate measures in the Programme of Action in the mandates of peacekeeping operations.  In that area, the experience gained from cases in which the voluntary surrender of arms was carried out on the basis of non-monetary compensation could also be studied in greater detail.  The exchanges of weapons for farming or building implements, or for the construction of schools and clinics, provided a viable and imaginative alternative that could be used in diverse conflicts, based on a case-by-case analysis.

YUKIO SATOH (Japan) said that his Government had actively participated in international efforts to address the issue of small arms ever since then Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali had first brought the problem to the attention of the international community in 1995.  Japan had introduced the General Assembly resolution that had led to the convening of the Conference on small arms.  That Conference had yet again underscored the suffering that small arms had inflicted upon people all over the world, and reaffirmed the urgent need to halt the excessive accumulation and illicit transfer of those weapons.  The Conference’s Programme of Action would certainly prove to be a historic first step in addressing the complicated issue of small arms, although he was aware of the fact that not all of the participating countries were fully satisfied with the measures contained in it.

He stressed the significant contribution of African countries to the success of the Conference and said that it was now incumbent upon the international community to make the Programme of Action truly meaningful for the countries in Africa severely affected by small arms.  The countries suffering from the scourge of small arms were not confined to Africa, however.  It was the responsibility of the international community to extend support and assistance to people in all affected countries and regions.  It was now up to all the countries to ensure that

the Programme of Action was effectively implemented and to foster even greater international cooperation to free the world from the threat of small arms.

Japan, for its part, planned to host a meeting of experts at the beginning of next year, to further cooperation on the matter, he said.  It was also planning to expand, possibly in cooperation with other donor countries and United Nations agencies, weapons-for-development projects to Africa, the Balkans and the Asia-Pacific region.  It planned to conduct research on past small arms collection projects, with a view to establishing guidelines for future efforts.  Japan’s contribution of $900,000 to United Nations trust funds in the Department of Disarmament Affairs was aimed at promoting projects for resolving small arms problems.

It was important to convene a review conference within the next few years for the purpose of ensuring effective implementation of the Programme of Action, he said.  The Security Council should pay particular attention to the issue of small arms when it considered conflict prevention measures.  The mandates of peacekeeping operations, established by the Council, addressed small arms issues in various ways, such as the collection and storage of weapons.  DDR efforts had become typical features of recent peacekeeping operations.  The establishment of peacekeeping operations provided the international community with valuable opportunities to improve and develop the way it dealt with the issue of small arms, which must be addressed on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the local conditions involved.

The Council PRESIDENT then announced that he was suspending the meeting, and would reconvene the Council in the Afternoon.

Resumption of Meeting

JORGE EDUARDO NAVARETTE (Mexico) said that, after the statements this morning, he did not want to overwhelm the Council with a lengthy speech, but it was important to consider the role of the Council in the resolution of the small arms problem.  The international community had demonstrated a genuine desire to address the problem.  In September 1999, concern had been expressed in the Council about the proliferation and distribution of small arms, particularly in the areas of conflict, as well as their illicit sale. 

So far, excessive availability of small arms had not been reduced, he continued, and it was now necessary to once again appeal to the exporter countries to exercise more responsibility in that respect.  It was necessary to continue the practice of addressing the question of arms trafficking and the provenance of arms by illicit means.  As the Council looked at the question of intermediaries in arms transfers, it should be able to base its actions on new instruments which were being developed.  Coordination mechanisms within the United Nations could be improved, with participation of subregional and regional structures, as well as NGOs.

He went on to say that it was important to study the lessons to be learned in the area of small arms.  Regarding the proposal to dispatch advisory missions to examine the question of small arms in the regions of interest to the Council, Mexico took the view that they should receive consent of the countries involved. They could define specific needs of the affected States.  In conclusion, he reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the Programme of Action that came out of the Small Arms Conference last month.  All United Nations bodies should continue consideration of the issue within their respective mandates.  The implementation of the Programme of Action should be considered at a review conference in several years.

ARNOLDO M. LISTRE (Argentina) said that the United Nations had become aware that the uncontrolled accumulation of small arms and light weapons was costing more than a half million lives each year.  The worldwide weapons trade had been diverted to the black market, which had fuelled most of the regional conflicts around the world since 1990.  Those arms, the Secretary-General had said, should be the next focus of urgent worldwide attention.  They broke down the social fabric of societies, and threatened peace and development, democracy and human rights.  Reducing their availability was a most serious challenge, requiring better laws and regulation and, above all, a political commitment to act with resolution to find effective responses to the problem.  Solutions should also take into account the specific characteristics of each country and region.

Unlike weapons of mass destruction, he said that small arms flows lacked global standards.  Leaders at the Millennium Summit had resolved to undertake specific measures to eliminate the illicit small arms trade, as part of a broad vision of a safer world.  Following the adoption of some pioneering regional initiatives, the July Conference had marked a turning point in States’ attitudes towards the question.  The Programme of Action had established a number of measures to end the traffic, make transfers more transparent, and support regional arms measures.  It also contained a provision criminalizing certain related activities.  In addition, it encouraged the development of measures on brokering and supply issues.

Nevertheless, he continued, an international programme of action was meaningless without instruments to support it.  In his region, a common registry of suppliers and purchasers of firearms, parts, and ammunition had been set up.  Argentina was not immune to the consequences of the illicit arms flows.  Urban violence had increased, often as a consequence of the black market trade in weapons.  That was of great concern to his Government, which had made tackling the phenomenon one of its priorities.  For the Council’s part, it should include in its peacekeeping mandates effective measures for DDR of former combatants.  It should also create mechanisms to monitor the effective implementation of sanctions. 

GABRIEL VALDES (Chile) said that the problem of small arms had universal dimensions and should be addressed not only by the General Assembly, but also by the Security Council.  In addressing the question of “small arms of mass destruction”, it was vital to keep alive the commitment of the international community to combat that scourge on every front.  In addressing the question of small arms and light weapons, it was important to take into account the need for development, as well as the promotion of human rights and the culture of peace. 

One could hardly fail to mention the outcome of the Small Arms Conference last month, he said, which was a significant step forward.  It had addressed a matter of great importance to the whole world.  However, it was disappointing that neither restrictions on private ownership of small arms nor control over non-governmental players had been addressed in the outcome document.  It was important to continue work on the elaboration of an international instrument, which would put significant restrictions on the manufacture and illicit trade in small arms.  Those efforts should be promoted in order to alleviate the suffering associated with those weapons. 

He went on to say that it was clear that the question of illegal manufacture and proliferation of small arms was a matter of immediate concern in post-conflict peace-building.  For that reason, peace agreements, the mandates of peacekeeping missions and post-conflict measures must incorporate the issues of demobilization of ex-combatants, including child soldiers.  It was also essential to assign the resources required for the implementation of programmes in that respect.  The Council should use the monitoring mechanisms under its control, and ensure their full and effective implementation.  Measures to restrict the flow of small arms should take into account how sanctions were applied.  Effectiveness of arms embargoes must be improved. 

He also emphasized the importance of preventive measures and implementation of all existing programmes.  To effectively address the problem of small arms, the Council should have access to all relevant information.  The Council needed to play an energetic role, educating States about the dangers of uncontrolled dissemination of small arms.  It was also necessary to promote cooperation with subregional and regional organizations in order to achieve optimal results.  The question of small arms and light weapons needed to be addressed in all its aspects to remedy the current worldwide tragedy.

LUIZ TUPY CALDAS DE MOURA (Brazil) said that no other United Nations body had dealt with the problem of small arms so frequently as the Council.  The international community had already laid the common basis for today’s debate.  Indeed, it was important to conserve the achievements of the recent Conference and to give the worldwide follow-up progress the opportunity to bear fruit.  At the same time, the Council’s jurisdiction should be borne in mind; no one was seeking to create a parallel effort to the Conference.  The dimension of the problem that was of particular concern to the Council was the conflict dimension.  There, its role related to conflict prevention, including the imposition of arms embargoes and the collection of surplus arms in the post-conflict phase, as well as the DDR of former combatants. 

He said that the Council’s efforts should be combined with those of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and regional and subregional groups.  The fact was that an integrated and balanced approach that took into account the relationship of small arms to organized crime, drug trafficking, and terrorism went beyond the Council’s mandate.  In areas where the Council had jurisdiction, such as with arms embargoes, he was grateful to the sanctions committees for monitoring the illicit small arms trade in regions subjected to sanctions, and for making public those involved in violations.  The reduction of the military capacity of UNITA in Angola was proof that the Council, in conformity with the relevant resolutions, could play a key role in worldwide efforts to combat illegal arms flows.

He said the Council should be ready to engage in dialogue with regional and subregional agencies involved in issues before it, particularly with respect to small arms and arms embargoes.  All States should cooperate with the investigations of the sanctions committee.  It was also important to consider measures to ensure that surplus weapons from a conflict that had ended were not diverted to another ongoing one.  Certainly, the Council alone could not successfully tackle the challenge.  Hopefully, today’s debate would result in a substantive decision that would, once again, reaffirm its determination to work collectively to eradicate the evils caused by small weapons.

JEAN DE RUYT (Belgium) spoke on behalf of the European Union and the associated States of Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

He said that, at the start of the Conference on Small Arms and Light Weapons, the Union had stated that it was essential to be able to achieve concrete results in a number of what it considered to be priority areas.  Those included the development of export controls, an international instrument on marking and tracing, as well as brokering, specific action on stockpile management and the destruction of surpluses, as well as particular emphasis on DDR.  Even though it was not possible for the Union to obtain everything it considered essential, the final text contained important elements relating to the previously identified priorities, as well as for assistance to the world's most affected areas such as Africa.

He stressed that follow-up was now vital for ensuring that joint action against illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons was effective in the long term.  The way was now open for the preparation of negotiations concerning marking, tracing and brokering.  That kind of initiative was particularly important to the Union, which had already commenced important work along those lines.  He encouraged the Council to study, on a case-by-case basis, the possibility of including relevant provisions for DDR in the mandates and budgets of peacekeeping operations.  Incorporating such measures in a global strategy was an effective and coherent way of supporting peacekeeping efforts and guaranteeing their durability.

He said that the Conference should be followed by concrete steps and that the States which had to contend with post-conflict situations could be helped and supported by international decisions and measures taken in compliance with the Programme of Action.

ENRIQUE A. MANALO (Philippines) said it was now necessary to build on what had been achieved at last month's General Assembly Conference on small arms.  The proliferation and the excessive accumulation of small arms and light weapons should be a direct concern to the Council.  While the agencies of the United Nations all had particular roles to play in that respect, the Council had a unique and singular role because the top producers of small arms and light weapons were members of the Council -- and all had, in various forums, supported efforts to address that problem. 

He went on to say that the Council could play an important role in two areas:  arms embargoes, and the DDR of ex-combatants. He found it most significant that the Programme of Action adopted by the Assembly recalled the obligation of States to comply fully with the Council’s arms embargoes.  The Programme also included the commitment of States to take appropriate measures against any activity that violated embargoes.  He urged the Council to continue looking into ways of enhancing the effectiveness of arms embargoes, including reviewing the functioning of existing sanctions committees and encouraging States to provide all relevant information on embargo violations.

While it understood the constraints involved, the Philippines strongly supported inclusion of the measures for DDR in peace agreements and in the mandates of peacekeeping operations, he said.  He was glad that the Programme of Action did not limit DDR to post-conflict situation.  If the international community waited until conflicts ended, there might be no one left to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate.  He believed that even before conflicts ceased, even before a conclusive military or political solution was reached, combatants should have a viable and practical opportunity to take themselves out of the conflict and have their weapons collected. 

DUMISANI S. KUMALO (South Africa) said the nature and origin of the Programme of Action as an initiative of the General Assembly should be respected when the Security Council considered initiatives related to small arms and light weapons.  Given the nature of the problem associated with the illicit trade of those weapons, and the fact that the Programme was developed and adopted through a process initiated by the Assembly, the issues should continue to be dealt with within the ambit of that body.  The Council's involvement should be confined to specific issues related to its own agenda.

He said his country recognized the important relationship between the role of the Council in the implementation of the Programme of Action and its responsibilities with regard to international peace and security issues.  It was, however, regrettable that the Programme -- due to the concerns of one State -- did not include a commitment by States not to provide arms to so-called non-State actors or rebel groups.  The continued supply of arms to such entities ran contrary to the Council’s efforts to promote peace and stability in specific areas of conflict.

He said a commitment by all States to provide arms only to governments would have strengthened the Council's efforts to prevent the supply of arms to the rebel factions that continued to destabilize peace and security in many African countries.  In that regard, his country remained concerned that rebel groups and other non-State actors continued to receive arms despite various initiatives by the Council.  As that issue went straight to the core of the problem associated with the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in Africa, he trusted that both the Assembly and the Council would remain seized of the matter.

DON MACKAY (New Zealand) said that arms embargoes could be helpful in achieving the core objective of restoring peace and security.  It might be argued, in some circumstances, that imposing embargoes where the size of opposing arsenals was already skewed might do little more than freeze the existing balance of power.  On the other hand, the Council’s overriding concern should generally be to defuse the conflict situation as much as possible.  The importation of more arms only fuelled the fire and placed additional lives at risk, including peacekeepers. 

He said that while the Council should continue to use its powers, where necessary, it must also be sure that the effect of such measures would both halt the proliferation of small arms and make the prospect of an end to conflict more likely.  The cooperation of all States was needed to ensure that domestic systems were in place to comply with such measures.  Consideration should also be given to strengthening the Secretariat’s capacity to provide support for monitoring by the Council, to ensure that any embargo was not circumvented by illicit trade. 

Recent conflicts in Sierra Leone and Angola had shown, however, that embargoes on weapons alone might be insufficient.  In situations where conflicts were fuelled by the uncontrolled exploitation and smuggling of natural resources, measures should also be taken by the Council to address those factors.  Further work must be undertaken to refine United Nations sanctions, including arms embargoes, to ensure that those were effectively targeted towards achieving sustainable peace with a greater certainty of success.  The Council also had an important role to play in ensuring that the widespread and uncontrolled presence of small arms and light weapons in areas of recent conflict did not disrupt nascent peace-building efforts. 

SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) said it was nearly two years since the question of small arms had been explicitly addressed in the Council.  Yet, the question required the continued engagement of the Council, which should be brought more fully into the fold of international efforts to address that issue.  Indeed, the Council was well equipped to foster DDR of ex-combatants in conflict and post-conflict situations.  That was a core element of conflict prevention and post-conflict peace-building.  At the United Nations Conference on small arms last month, an overwhelming majority of States called for more substantive assistance from the international community for DDR programmes, based on the recognition that without addressing the deep-rooted reasons for the demand for small arms, it would be impossible to end the culture of violence.

He said that the Programme of Action encouraged the Council to consider, on a case-by-case basis, the inclusion of relevant provisions for DDR in the mandates and budgets of peacekeeping operations.  That issue was particularly relevant for the Council, as peacekeeping missions had increasingly engaged in post-conflict reconstruction and even nation-building activities, where the collection and destruction of small arms and the rehabilitation of ex-combatants were critical not only for the success of the mission, but also for the sustainable peace and development of the countries concerned.  At the same time, the Council’s arms embargoes could be powerful tools for curbing the illicit small arms trade.  In that regard, he welcomed the call on each and every State to punish any activity that violated such embargoes.  Preventing the excessive and destabilizing accumulation of arms in areas of actual and potential conflict would minimize their incidence and intensity.

MILOS ALCALAY (Venezuela) said that easy access to small arms and light weapons and their excessive proliferation throughout the world contributed significantly to the seriousness of the situation.  Forty-six of the 49 recent conflicts were waged chiefly with small arms and light weapons.  Today’s debate acquired particular importance against the backdrop of last month’s Conference on small arms, he said.  Its Programme of Action must become a compass for future action, and it was important to ensure the Council’s effective contribution to the issue, which had already been effectively addressed by the General Assembly.  It was necessary to pool various bodies’ efforts in a comprehensive approach, taking into account the imperatives of sustainable development and conflict prevention.

The Council’s role was determined by its responsibility to maintain international peace and security, he continued.  Conflict prevention, DDR of ex-combatants and arms embargoes were among the areas for the Council’s attention. Efforts to find solutions to the problem should follow a comprehensive, balanced and non-discriminatory approach, taking into account the particular situation in particular countries.  With the support of civil society, the main responsibility in that respect should fall on governments.  From that point of view, national self-defence needs should be taken into consideration. 

Specific measures to counteract the proliferation of small arms were also being taken by various regional organizations, he said, and similar efforts were being made in his own region.  Venezuela’s commitment to the cause was attested to by the adoption of the Inter-American Convention against the Manufacture and the Illicit Traffic in Firearms, Munitions, Explosives and Other Related Materials.  He was convinced that the international community must cooperate to tackle the problem of small arms.  The results of the July Conference were the beginning of the implementation process, which would allow the international community to proceed at a greater depth and scale. 

ELFATIH MOHAMED AHMED ERWA (Sudan), speaking on behalf of the Group of Arab States, said that implementation of the Programme of Action required intensive efforts by Member States, the United Nations, and by all relevant international and regional organizations.  The Arab Group had contributed to the success of the Conference through many positive proposals, which had contributed to efforts to reach consensus.  It would again express its regret, however, at the fact that the Programme of Action did not contain a clear commitment by Member States to export weapons only to governments.  That call had been made by all African States, in light of the fact that the African continent was the one most harmed by the threat of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the hands of rebel groups.

He said that the importance of that commitment could be seen clearly in the many conflicts dealt with by the Council, on an almost daily basis.  Criminal groups sought to undermine security on the African continent.  Conflicts had many roots, and all efforts must be concentrated on dealing with those root causes in order to end the human suffering resulting from the illicit arms trade.  The Arab Group believed that issues pertaining to disarmament fell within the mandate of the General Assembly’s First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), which had adopted many resolutions on the subject.  The Council’s role must be a supporting one for those efforts.

The Arab Group understood the link between the spread of small arms in the conflicts under its consideration.  Hopefully, future measures taken by the Council on the subject would be in line with the Action Programme.  At the same time, the Council should give due consideration to the fundamental rights of States to self-defence.  The Council must also respect the right of peoples under occupation to self-determination.  Hopefully, it would strictly abide by the United Nations Charter in that regard, including respect for sovereign equality among States, their territorial integrity and non-interference by other States in a given country’s internal affairs.

He said that any steps undertaken must not encroach on mandates related to nuclear disarmament, to efforts pertaining to weapons of mass destruction, and to conventional weapons.  The Arab Group hoped that the Council would give due consideration to nuclear disarmament and to weapons of mass destruction.  That threat was seen in the Middle East, where Israel possessed weapons of mass destruction and where the world daily witnessed the extreme use of military force against the unarmed Palestinian people struggling for their right to self-determination.

REDA BEBARS (Egypt) said that small arms and light weapons represented one of the most important problems affecting certain areas of the world.  It required a solution, which would take into account the specific situation in each particular region.  The proliferation of small arms should not be seen as a cause of conflicts, but as fuel that fed them.  To put an effective end to that problem, it was important to work through two parallel approaches:  taking into account both the socio-economic causes of conflicts, and the need to confront illicit trade and manufacture of small arms.

Egypt had witnessed a period of stability as far as small arms were concerned, due to its strict legislation on the trade and possession of weapons.  On the regional level, Egypt was working with other African countries to find a solution to the problem of the proliferation of small arms on the continent.  The recent Bamako Declaration, adopted at a November-December meeting, was a pioneering regional initiative which reflected African countries’ commitment to work together.  Egypt had also actively participated in the recent United Nations Conference on small arms, which had produced an important Programme of Action. 

He stressed that dealing with the issue of small arms should not prejudice a number of important rights of States, including the right to self-determination, particularly in the fight against foreign occupation, and the right to their territorial integrity.  Because of the exacerbation of the illicit trade in small and light weapons, the Programme of Action had determined clearly the area of the Council's responsibility, showing the importance of its considering, on a case-by-case basis, demobilization measures as part of the mandates of peacekeeping operations, as appropriate.  It also stressed the importance of enforcing arms embargoes imposed by the Council and determined the priority of national, international and regional efforts in the fight against the proliferation of small arms.

SATYABRATA PAL (India) recalled the Council’s presidential statement of September 1999, in which it said that the prevention of illicit trafficking was of immediate concern in the global search for ways and means to curb the wrongful use of small arms, including their use by terrorists.  He said that perhaps 1 per cent of the global stock of small arms was illicitly held, but that came to 5 million weapons.  Conflict diamonds constituted a similar tiny fraction of the global trade in roughs, but the international community was trying to put in place a stringent, verifiable system of controls to make that illicit trade much more difficult.  Proscribing the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons must have at least as high a priority.

He said that, like any other commodity, the trade in small arms was licit only if both exports and imports went through official, legal channels.  Arms exported by a government that violated none of its laws were nevertheless illicit if those were sent to non-State actors in another country, bypassing or subverting laws there.  The international community must agree, although it was unable to do so at the Conference last month, that the trade in arms must flow only through channels authorized by both exporting and importing governments.  Council members obviously had a special responsibility because among them were the largest arms exporters.

Over the past decade, he said, the Council had established embargoes to cut off the supply of arms to violent non-State actors.  When it found that those were easily bypassed, investigations it authorized had shown how international criminal networks were being used to sell diamonds and supply arms in Angola and Sierra Leone.  In Afghanistan, the principal exports of the Taliban were drugs and terrorism, and the arms embargo was “as riddled with holes as the lattice-work for which one of its neighbours is famous”.  Hopefully, the monitoring mechanism set up by the Council for Afghanistan a few days ago would do its work well.  If the arms embargo was still flouted, the Council, as it had in West Africa, should tackle the problem at its roots and take measures against those responsible.  It was more necessary than ever to have the strictest controls put in place on the manufacture and export of small arms, and quickly. 

BRONTE MOULES (Australia) said her delegation expected the Programme of Action to serve as a practical and dynamic point of reference for further work on small arms and light weapons at national, regional and international levels, as well as by the Security Council.  Several aspects of the Programme had particular relevance for the Council.  One was the need to place particular emphasis on regions of the world where conflicts came to an end and where serious problems with the excessive and destabilizing accumulation of small arms and light weapons had to be dealt with urgently.  Another was the importance of mobilizing political will throughout the international community to prevent and combat the illicit transfer and manufacture of such weaponry.

In addition, she said some of the more specific measures recommended in the Programme of Action complemented the 1999 presidential statement by the Council on small arms.  She cited the call for cooperation with the United Nations system to ensure effective implementation of Council arms embargoes.  Another was the call for consideration by the Council, on a case-by-case basis, of the inclusion of DDR provisions in peacekeeping operations.  In that context, her country emphasized the importance of the safe and timely disposal of surplus arms and secure management of existing arms stockpiles.

She said Australia had strongly supported the development of model legislation on weapons control for the Pacific island countries and was examining ways of improving procedures for effective weapons safekeeping and accountancy in the region.  An important role for the Council was in ensuring that small arms were addressed as an integral element of its approach to conflict prevention and resolution.  Depending on the particular circumstances of each situation, that body was well placed to develop practical recommendations for addressing small arms issues, drawing on lessons learned and on the Programme of Action where applicable.

SHAMSHAD AHMAD (Pakistan) said that the Programme of Action of the just-concluded Conference clearly identified the responsibilities of States at the national, regional and global levels.  Its contents were now being analysed by Member States for the requisite follow-up on their part.  The easy availability of small arms and light weapons had exacerbated the situation in many trouble spots around the world.  That had also made United Nations peacekeeping efforts more difficult and hazardous.

While disarmament programmes and restrictions on the flow of illicit arms helped to address the problem, they were not the real and definitive solution, he continued.  Conflicts attracted arms, whether legal or illegal.  For every demand, there was commensurate supply, and arms would continue to find their way to wherever conflicts existed.  What could be controlled was not the flow of arms but the conflicts themselves.  That was where the role and the responsibility of the Council lay.  Let there be no detraction from its Charter obligations towards the peaceful settlement of disputes and prevention of armed conflicts.  As an old adage went, an ounce of prevention was worth a pound of cure.

Addressing the accumulation, circulation and the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was the responsibility of Member States ,in accordance with the provisions of the Programme of Action adopted by the recent Conference.  The Council, for its part, must play its role as a facilitator of that process by focusing on its own Charter obligations.  Its concern should not be as much with the illicit trade as with conflict prevention and dispute resolution.  The Council must now allow a conflict situation to arise in the first place.  In many cases, violence was generated by denial of justice, and conflicts intensified because of the denial of the inalienable right to self-determination and the continuation of foreign occupation.  It was that, and not the easy access to small arms, that was an impediment to the realization of lasting peace.

He fully shared the view that the initiative taken to address the problem of small arms lay outside the competence of the Council, and today’s meeting was not meant to establish new definitions of the question of small arms or introduce new norms and codes of conduct, he said.  He believed that the best contribution the Council could make would be by fulfilling its Charter obligations and preventing armed conflicts and resolving disputes.  Also, concerted action had to be taken to promote sustainable development and economic well-being in all parts of the world.  The Council should not lose sight of its basic functions and obligations.  Trying to take on tasks beyond the Council’s mandate may be an ambitious exercise, but it was also self-defeating.

PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) welcomed the results of the recent Conference on small arms and said that its Programme of Action demonstrated international determination to tackle the problem of such weapons around the world.  Now, there was a consensus document which acknowledged that the small arms problem on the whole, and not just its illicit aspects, posed a serious threat.  The document reflected agreement on such issues as manufacturing, marking and tracing, record-keeping, expert controls, brokering, stockpile management and collection and destruction.  The Programme of Action also recognized the human dimension of problems linked to small arms.  It was important that the Programme attached importance to the DDR issue. 

Despite its accomplishments, however, the Programme was only a first step, he continued.  Such issues as transfers to non-State actors and regulation of civilian possession had not been agreed upon.  The Programme also contained little detail on such key issues as criteria to help governments to clarify conditions for export authorization or standards for determining what constituted an excessive and destabilizing accumulation or a surplus.

The issues that could not be agreed upon at the Conference must be actively pursued in the future, he said, but even in its current form, the Programme would be lacking if it were not actively implemented.  The issues on which there was agreement should be vigorously pursued, starting now.  On its part, Canada had already begun planning regional implementation seminars, pushing for implementation of the Programme by all pertinent regional organizations of which it was a member.  The Council could play its part by implementing necessary DDR and measures securing the financing for those programmes. 

Thus, while it was wrong not to recognize the achievements, it would be equally wrong not to recognize how far the international community still had to go.  Access, management, transfer and use of small arms must be closely monitored and controlled, whether they were legal or illegal.  It was important to know to whom they had been sold and by whom they were used.  The real assessment of the Conference’s success would be on the ground, not in New York.  That gave the international community the responsibility of converting the decisions from paper to reality, and continuing the battle to complete the Programme of Action and making it more comprehensive in its scope until the scourge of small arms was alleviated.

MURARI RAJ SHARMA (Nepal) said that the message of guns had shown its ugly face in schools, on streets, and in civil wars around the globe.  Of more than  500 million small arms in circulation, a sizable number were in the hands of non-State actors.  If recent experience was any guide, once violence had erupted, the distinction between legal and illegal civilian possession of small arms lost most of its meaning.

He said that small arms were as much a security challenge as they were a development problem.  Parochial political interests, criminal motives, and social discontent fuelled the proliferation of small weapons, making them likely to be used indiscriminately.  To achieve a durable peace and security around the world had meant pursuing a peaceful resolution of conflicts, achieving disarmament and security at a lower level of armaments, stimulating development that was also environmentally sustainable, and promoting justice in a way that gave everyone an equal opportunity to excel.  Considerable progress had been made towards controlling or outlawing weapons of mass destruction, but the international community had just “broken the ground” of disarmament in small arms and light weapons. 

Further, he said that the international community had not yet devised a coherent and effective global strategy to prevent the flow of small arms into conflict-prone zones, to reduce the reliance on them for safety, and to evolve a culture of peace.  As it had in the case of weapons of mass destruction, the United Nations could play a significant role in small arms, too.  In that regard, it had a four-fold obligation to confront the problem:  working with other stakeholders to implement the Programme of Action; in conflict situations, joining forces with governments to impose and enforce arms embargoes; checking illegal local production; and preventing legitimately owned weapons from getting into the wrong hands. 

BERND NIEHAUS (Costa Rica) said the presence of small arms was a catalyst in armed conflict.  The spread of small arms stoked the fires of violence and exacerbated crime and terrorism.  Small arms arsenals also facilitated human rights violations and impeded peace processes.  The easy availability of small arms fuelled common crime and fed organized crime.  Their sale enriched only a few and ignored the interests and needs of the majority.  In the hands of extremists, small arms threatened international peace and security.  The Council could not continue to ignore the suffering or turn a deaf ear to the millions of innocent victims.

He said that the result of the recent Conference was discouraging.  He was dismayed that the Programme of Action had not explicitly prohibited transfers of those arms to certain groups or condemned their dispatch to governments that committed massive systematic human rights violations.  Also, there was nothing in the outcome document to regulate civilian possession of those arms.  Moreover, he regretted that those grave shortcomings had been the result of inflexibility on the part of a few delegations around the table today, who professed to want to maintain peace and security.  The Council must today take the lead in combating the spread of small arms. 

With respect to the disputes under its jurisdiction, he said, the Council should design embargoes, hand in hand with effective verification machinery and with the full cooperation both of the neighbouring countries to a conflict and arms producers.  The Council must condemn and prohibit the transfer of military materiel and staff personnel to those countries taking part in human rights violations.  That ban should also be extended to States that had not respected democratic principles or the rule of international law, and had not ratified international human rights instruments.  The Council should identify illicit supply routes for small arms to areas of conflict and impose appropriate sanctions.

He said that the setting up of expert panels had been useful.  It was also appropriate to include in the mandate of peacekeeping operations the task of monitoring arms embargoes and investigating breaches thereof.  Missions should also be capable of collecting, confiscating and destroying small arms, and promoting the reconversion of the arms industry.

SERGEI S. LING (Belarus) said that the recent Conference on small arms and light weapons was a landmark event in the life of the international community, and the adoption of the outcome document was a big success.  The issue of small arms was no longer a national or regional problem -- it had assumed global importance. The next step was to implement the Programme of Action.  He shared the concern of the international community regarding the illicit trade in small arms, which contributed to the expansion of violence.  Proliferation of small arms could be a real threat to peace and security. 

The international community was aware that the problem of small arms could not be resolved by individual countries alone and required concerted international efforts, he continued.  His country was participating in measures to combat the threat of small arms.  He was convinced that the Council could play an important part by giving closer scrutiny to such issues as the timely reaction to the destabilizing accumulation of small arms and observation of the sanctions.  Also important were aspects of DDR, including sending advisory missions to States at their request, and summarizing better practice at the national and regional level. In conclusion, he pointed out that the Programme of Action was a balanced document, which presented realistic measures for overcoming the problem of the manufacture and illicit trade in small arms.

IBRAHIM M. KAMARA (Sierra Leone) said that the Chair of the Conference on small arms, Ambassador Camilo Reyes of Colombia, had stated that Member States must understand that the Conference and its outcome were only first steps in a process.  The Security Council must now harmonize the positions of Member States in accordance with provisions adopted in the Programme of Action.  It must critically emphasize the need for those States to pursue radical programmes within their respective territories, subregions, and regional groupings aimed at building a greater consensus on the prevention, combat and virtual eradication of the illicit trade in small arms.

He said if the Security Council, in its pursuit of international peace and security, were to achieve its aims, recommendations proposed in various reports of the Secretary-General should be given more attention and consideration, particularly with regard to the issue of small arms and light weapons.  It was simply not good enough to just issue presidential statements and resolutions that had very little meaningful effect on their intended recipients.  His delegation wanted more potent action to emanate from those statements and texts that would have an appropriately direct bearing and reverberating effect on those recipients.

"In short we want to see the Council dishing out sterner, robust and resolute measures in order to attain its desired Charter objectives", he said.  That body should also markedly and fixedly flex its muscular authority over the form and content of the provisions in the Programme of Action, and more specifically over the question of compliance with arms embargoes.  In addition, the Council should adopt mechanisms to ensure that Member States and their respective authorized entities involved in the production and marketing of small arms were forced to comply with relevant legally binding instruments.

NANA EFFAH-APENTENG (Ghana) said the early integration of former combatants into mainstream civilian life was a critical link that promoted reconciliation and prevented the recurrence of conflict.  The Security Council could contribute to that process through the inclusion, where applicable, of relevant provisions for DDR in the mandates and budgets of peacekeeping operations.  The new logic should be one that called for emphasis on preventing a former combatant from taking up a gun as result of a failed DDR effort.  The Council must be seen to be working to make that thinking a reality.

He said that ensuring the effective implementation of Council-imposed arms embargoes was one sure way of curbing the supply of small arms and light weapons to conflict areas, particularly to non-State actors.  What needed to be seen was the Council demonstrating greater cohesion, vigilance and decisiveness in monitoring, exposing and censuring breaches of its embargoes, once such conduct was exposed.  In addition, the Programme of Action highlighted the promotion of conflict-prevention mechanisms as one measure for curbing the need and demand for small arms and light weapons.

The Council's involvement, he continued, through the use of its good offices to encourage affected States to solicit assistance from other States, regional and international organizations in the pursuit of negotiated solutions to conflicts would be pivotal in helping to avert conflict.  The Council could also facilitate the development of an international instrument on small arms, by exhibiting the necessary cooperative support in promoting initiatives such as workshops in various regions/subregions on the small arms issue that would serve as a platform on which to launch the process.

VLADIMIR SOTIROV (Bulgaria) said that the importance of today’s meeting lay in the fact that it had been convened only a few days after the successful completion of the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.  That conference should be assessed as a landmark in the efforts of the United Nations to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade.  The positive outcome of that event was already galvanizing the political will to fight the problem on national, regional and global levels. 

Continuing, he said that Bulgaria was pursuing a responsible policy of stringent control over arms exports, in compliance with existing regional and international standards.  It aligned itself with the criteria contained in the European Union’s Code of Conduct on Arms Exports and its Joint Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons.  The Government had also adopted a special normative act for the implementation of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) document on small arms and light weapons.  The country abided by the provisions of the ECOWAS moratorium on small arms transfers.  A robust system of export control in arms and dual-use goods and technologies existed in the country, and its legislation reflected existing international norms.  In accordance with its international commitments, the Government had already started projects for destruction of small arms surpluses.  Bulgaria also actively promoted regional cooperation and participated in other international actions in that respect. 

In conclusion, he commended the valuable practical work of the Council arms embargo observance mechanisms.  Full and strict implementation of the sanctions could only be achieved through good will and synergy of actions of all relevant actors.  Improved international cooperation and coordination were indispensable for the attainment of that goal.  Bulgaria would continue its cooperation with the Council and its subsidiary bodies on monitoring sanctions, including arms embargoes, and would render all necessary assistance for the implementation of Security Council measures undertaken under Chapter VII of the Charter.

ARTHUR C.I. MBANEFO (Nigeria) said the fact that the issue of small arms and light weapons was being considered by the Security Council was affirmation of the international community's desire to deal with the problem of the growing illicit trade.  In the face of the destructive capacity of small arms, responsible members of the international community could not stand by and allow the phenomenon to continue.  Even though African States lacked the capacity to manufacture small arms and light weapons, the continent, unfortunately, was the recipient of large quantities of those weapons.  The incessant conflicts and wars there had provided an environment in which trade in light arms was carried out in exchange for natural resources.

The lucrative barter of weapons for natural resources such as "blood diamonds" had enabled arms dealers to thrive on the continent, he continued.  It had also helped rebel leaders to sustain conflicts.  He urged the international community to render technical and financial assistance where needed to regional and national efforts aimed at eradicating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  Nigeria also wished to support the call for the creation of a

Small Arms Fund to assist States.  Furthermore, his country urged all Member States to share information on a voluntary basis on their national marking systems on small arms and light weapons.

As a follow-up to the recent Conference on small arms, he called for a review conference no later than 2006 to review the progress made in the implementation of the Programme of Action.  His delegation also supported the recommendation in the outcome document that a further study be undertaken, with existing resources, to examine the feasibility of developing international instruments to enable States to identify and trace illicit small arms and light weapons.

KULKUMUT SINGHARA NA AYUDHAYA (Thailand) noted the timeliness of the debate in the Council, taking place soon after the conclusion of the General Assembly Conference on small arms and light weapons, which had emphasized the importance of eliminating the problem worldwide.  The Programme of Action was an important first step in efforts to combat the proliferation of small arms.  Although the document had not fully met the expectations of the international community, it was important to recognize that the process needed time.  At this stage, it was necessary to begin implementation of actions that had met agreement.

There was a link between the destabilizing accumulation of small arms and international peace and stability, he continued.  What made the problem of small arms an even greater threat was its linkage to drug trafficking, money laundering and cross-border terrorism.  To effectively address the problem, it was important to tackle the associated issues as well.  It was important to remember that the root cause of the problem of small arms was conflict itself.  In that connection, the United Nations must continue to address the problem of conflict prevention. 

Disputes needed to be settled through peaceful means, and that was where the Council could play an important role, he said.  Implementation of arms embargoes was an area where the Council could play a pivotal role.  Many initiatives had already been taken by other international bodies, however, and many aspects of the problem could be better addressed in other forums. 

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For information media. Not an official record.