CONVENTIONAL ARMS, INCLUDING ILLICIT SMALL ARMS TRADE, ANTI-PERSONNEL MINES, FOCUS OF DRAFT RESOLUTIONS INTRODUCED IN FIRST COMMITTEE

16 October 2002
GA/DIS/3234

CONVENTIONAL ARMS, INCLUDING ILLICIT SMALL ARMS TRADE, ANTI-PERSONNEL MINES, FOCUS OF DRAFT RESOLUTIONS INTRODUCED IN FIRST COMMITTEE

16/10/2002
Press ReleaseGA/DIS/3234

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Committee

13th Meeting (AM)

CONVENTIONAL ARMS, INCLUDING ILLICIT SMALL ARMS TRADE, ANTI-PERSONNEL MINES,

FOCUS OF DRAFT RESOLUTIONS INTRODUCED IN FIRST COMMITTEE

Four draft resolutions on conventional weapons were introduced this morning in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) on the illicit small arms trade, conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and on the Ottawa Convention, as it continued its thematic discussion and introduction of all draft texts.

The draft resolution on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons would decide to convene the first of the biennial meetings of States as stipulated in the 2001 programme of action adopted at the 2001 UN Conference, to consider national, regional and global implementation of the Programme.  Introducing the text, the Japanese representative called the action programme "historic" and representative of the collective will to address that serious problem.

According to the draft resolution on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (formerly known as the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects), the General Assembly would call upon all States that had not yet done so to take all measures to become parties, as soon as possible, to the Convention and its Protocols at an early date.  Several speakers expressed satisfaction at ongoing talks to evolve a mandate for negotiating a protocol on explosive remnants of war, which they said would help ensure the Convention's vitality as a key element of the multilateral disarmament machinery on conventional weapons and of international humanitarian law. 

Introducing the 119-power draft resolution on the Ottawa Convention, (formally known as the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on Their Destruction), which would reaffirm the General Assembly's determination to put an end to the suffering and casualties caused by anti-personnel mines, the representative of Belgium said the text reflected the spirit of the Convention, namely that of openness and cooperation between mine-affected and other countries, as well as governments and non-governmental organizations. 

Expressing pride at co-sponsoring that draft, the Canadian representative said the treaty had made a real contribution to lessening the tragedies caused by anti-personnel mines.  With much more to be done, however, she called on all States to join in the effort to realize that important security objective. 

According to a draft introduced by the representative of Pakistan, the Assembly would decide to give urgent consideration to the issues involving conventional arms control at regional and subregional levels.  Emphasizing that the text sought to promote disarmament in an area that had not received due attention in multilateral disarmament forums, he said that preservation of the balance of defence capabilities at the lowest levels of armament would contribute to peace and security, particularly in the troubled regions of the world.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Sweden, Fiji on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum, Switzerland, Netherlands, Madagascar, Colombia, South Africa, Slovenia, Brazil, Belgium, Norway, Kenya, Thailand, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone and Nicaragua.

The Committee meets again at 10 a.m. tomorrow to continue its second phase of work.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its second phase of work, namely thematic discussions on conventional weapons, as well as the introduction and consideration of related draft resolutions and decisions.

Introductions of draft texts on the following topics were expected:  the illicit small arms trade; the Ottawa Convention; conventional arms control at the regional and sub-regional levels; and the Conventional Weapons Convention.

By a draft resolution on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects (document A/C.1/57/L.33/Rev.1), the Assembly would decide to convene the first of the biennial meetings of States as stipulated in the 2001 programme of action, to consider national, regional and global implementation of the programme.

It would encourage all initiatives to mobilize resources and expertise to promote implementation, and it would decide to consider further steps to enhance international cooperation at its next session, taking into consideration the views of States on such further steps, provided to the Secretary-General, that could be undertaken.

A draft resolution on implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and On Their Destruction (Ottawa Convention) (document A/C.1/57/L.36) would have the Assembly urge all States that had signed but not ratified the Convention to do so without delay.  It would urge all States parties to provide the Secretary-General with complete and timely information, as required under article 7 of the Convention, in order to promote transparency and compliance.

The Assembly would invite all States that had not ratified or acceded to the Convention to provide, on a voluntary basis, information to make global mine action efforts more effective.  It would renew its call upon all States and other relevant parties to work together to promote, support and advance the care, rehabilitation and social and economic reintegration of mine victims, mine risk education programmes, and the removal of anti-personnel mines placed throughout the world and the assurance of their destruction.

The draft resolution on conventional arms control at regional and subregional levels (document A/C.1/57/L.41) would have the Assembly decide to give urgent consideration to the issues involved.  It would request the Conference on Disarmament to consider the formulation of principles that could serve as the framework for regional agreements on conventional arms control, and look forward to a report of the Conference on the subject.

According to a draft resolution on the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons) (document A/C.1/57/L.46), the Assembly would call upon all States that had not yet done so to take all measures to become parties, as soon as possible, to the Convention and the Protocols annexed thereto, as amended, as well as the amendment of article 1 extending the scope of the convention, with a view to achieving the widest possible adherence to those instruments at an early date. It would also call upon successor States to take appropriate measures so that, ultimately, adherence to these instruments would be universal.

By a further term, the Assembly would call upon all States Parties to the Convention that had not yet done so to express their consent to be bound by the Protocols to the Convention.  It would also call upon them to notify the depository of their consent, at an early date, to be bound by the amendment extending the scope of the Convention and its Protocols to include armed conflicts of a non-international character.

The Assembly would additionally encourage the chairman-designate and the group of governmental experts to conduct work expeditiously with a view to submitting recommendations on explosive remnants of war to States parties for consideration at the earliest possible date.

Statements

HENRIK SALANDER (Sweden) introduced the draft resolution on the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (document A/C.1/57/L.46).  At the second Review Conference of the States parties to the Convention in 2001, important progress had been made in extending the scope of the Convention and its Protocols to also include armed conflicts of a non-international character.  It had also been decided that follow up work should be commissioned under the oversight of a chairman-designate, Rakesh Sood (India), of a meeting of States parties to be held in Geneva on 12 and 13 December.  It was also decided that an open-ended group of governmental experts would be established to address the issue of mines other than anti-personnel mines.

He also recalled the decision for the chairman-designate to undertake consultations on how to promote compliance with the Convention, as well as to invite interested States parties to convene experts to consider possible issues related to small-calibre weapons and ammunition.  The draft resolution expressed support for the work conducted by the chairman-designate, the two coordinators and the group of governmental experts.  It also encouraged further work with a view to submitting to the States parties recommendations on explosive remnants of war, as well as reports on mines other than anti-personnel mines.  With increasing numbers of civilians being afflicted by armed conflicts, the Convention and its Protocols remained a highly important and integral part of international humanitarian law. 

AMRAIYA NAIDU (Fiji), on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum Group, began by extending condolences to Indonesia and to all countries that had lost people in the Bali tragedy.  He then said that preventing terrorist groups from gaining access to weapons was a fundamental security challenge.  The illicit trade in small arms, in particular, had a destabilizing impact in the Pacific Islands region.  The countries of his region were, therefore, committed to instituting effective controls, including national legislation and stockpile management procedures, to stem the flow of such weapons.

He welcomed the adoption of the United Nations programme of action dealing with the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  It provided a comprehensive and dynamic framework for States to follow in combating that trade and he called on the international community to focus on ensuring its implementation.  In that regard, he also welcomed the tabling of the resolution on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.

He was pleased that Japan would host a small arms workshop for Pacific Island countries in 2003.  He was confident that, together with Australia, Japan would ensure that the workshop brought practical, tangible security and governance benefits to his region.  Before concluding, he reiterated the idea of the international community joining together and showing a strong collective resolve to combat the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons.

JEFF SHAW (Australia) fully endorsed the statement just made by the representative of Fiji, especially the call for continued vigilance in addressing small arms problems and implementing the 2001 programme of action.  He was again pleased to co-sponsor the draft on the illicit small arms trade (document A/C.1/57/L.33), as well as the text on the consolidation of peace through practical disarmament measures (document A/C.1/57/L.45).  His country was fully committed to the target of achieving a "landmine-free" world and strongly supported the Ottawa Convention and its eventual universalization.  Australia had been an active co-chair of the committee in charge of stockpile destruction, managed in Geneva as part of the Convention's inter-sessional process.  He was again pleased to co-sponsor a text on implementation of the Ottawa Convention (document A/C.1/57/L.36). 

Continuing, he said he welcomed the progress made at the second review conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, presided over by his delegation in December 2001.  Particularly welcome had been the decision to establish an open-ended working group of governmental experts on explosive remnants of war and mines other than anti-personnel mines.  That would help ensure the Convention's vitality as a key element of the multilateral disarmament machinery and international humanitarian law.  He was pleased, therefore, to co-sponsor the related draft on the Convention (document A/C.1/57/L.46).  He was also pleased to co-sponsor the draft on transparency in armaments, as that was a crucial element of efforts to build understanding and competence in conventional arms control.  Those weapons had been responsible for more injuries, deaths, economic hardship and political instability than any other class of weapon.

CHRISTIAN FAESSLER (Switzerland) said that his Government was concerned about the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons.  Together with the French Government, it had examined the possibility of a tracing mechanism aimed at reducing the uncontrolled flows of small arms.  He welcomed the fact that a United Nations group of experts was now studying the feasibility of elaborating a legal instrument to that end.  In that context, he also called for the idea of a voluntary political instrument to be explored.  Based on the United Nations related programme of action, those initiatives would be discussed in informational consultative meetings to be held on 22 October, from 3 to 5 p.m., in Conference Room 4.

He said his government attached high importance to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.  In that regard, he welcomed the results of the 2001 review conference, especially the decision to enlarge the Convention’s scope to include non-international armed conflicts.  He regretted, however, the fact that the new expanded scope did not apply to the Convention’s Protocols adopted after 1 January 2002.  With respect to explosive remnants of war, he said that his Government had submitted a proposal for an international regulation on “submunitions”.  That proposal would establish technical specifications that would prevent submunitions from becoming explosive.

CHRIS SANDERS (Netherlands) expressed his support for the draft resolution on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (document A/C.1/57/L.46), which had been introduced by Sweden and co-sponsored by the Netherlands.  The Convention and its Protocols served to reduce the unnecessary suffering of combatants, as well as civilians, and was a major instrument of international humanitarian law.  Over the past year, the group of governmental experts to the Convention had considered measures to address the issue of explosive remnants of war.  The number of casualties caused by unexploded munitions after a conflict had ended was staggering, and at least of the same magnitude as the casualties caused by landmines.  Yet, there was no instrument to deal with that great problem.  As coordinator for that complex issue, he expressed his satisfaction with the work done during the year.  He was now preparing for the December session of the group of experts and had submitted a draft proposal on possible further work.

RADAFIARISOA LEA RAHOLINIRINA (Madagascar) extended her condolences to the countries affected by the Bali tragedy.  Turning to the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, she said growing crime was a major destabilizing factor in societies throughout the world.  She, therefore, called on the international community to be more effective in combating crime and small arms.  The United Nations programme of action dealing with small arms and light weapons was a good first step.

She supported the establishment of a consultative group to help States implement the programme of action.  Additionally, she hoped that the financial resources needed for implementation would be addressed.  Insisting that the small arms trade needed to be tackled at its source, she suggested examining the role of producers.  She was concerned that 98 countries had arms industries, but only 22 of them published information on their sales and exports.  In that regard, she called for greater transparency in the weapons markets and supported the idea of an international instrument designed to monitor supply channels.  Before concluding, she called for small arms to be taken as seriously as weapons of mass destruction.

KUNIKO INOGUCHI (Japan) introduced the draft on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons (document A/C.1/57/L.33) on behalf of Colombia, South Africa and the other 105 co-sponsors.  Her country had been tackling the issues related to small arms and light weapons since 1995, when it first proposed a draft resolution on the subject.  That had eventually led to the convening of the first United Nations Conference on the illicit small arms trade in July 2001.  The programme of action that had been adopted by consensus was historic and represented the collective will of the international community to address the serious problems caused by those weapons.

She said that last year's resolution had described the paths that must be taken to meet the new challenges.  Further steps should be taken this year under the new text.  Hopefully, the venue and timing of the first two biennial meetings, which were stipulated in the 2001 programme of action, would be decided.  That meeting should provide the opportunity for a fruitful consideration of implementation of the action programme.  The new draft also welcomed the first meeting of the group of governmental experts, established under last year's resolution to examine the feasibility of developing an international instrument to enable States to identify and trace illicit small arms and light weapons.

CAMILO REYES RODRIGUEZ (Colombia) extended his condolences to the government of Indonesia in light of the Bali tragedy.  Referring to the representative from Japan, he then said that he supported her presentation of the draft resolution dealing with the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons (document A/C.1/57/L.33).  States and non-governmental organizations had worked together frequently to deal with the issue of small arms and it was necessary to recognize such organizations for their tireless work in implementing the programme of action.  He also wanted to see international agencies and civil society brought into the implementation process.  He thanked the Department of Disarmament Affairs for its work and spoke of the importance of keeping the political momentum intact.

NCUMISA NOTUTELA (South Africa) said the 2001 programme of action was the only multilaterally negotiated and politically binding programme aimed at combating the illicit small arms trade.  The commitment of States and regional and subregional organizations, made in the context of the action plan, was a step in the right direction.  She also appreciated efforts by the United Nations Department for Disarmament Affairs to support implementation of the programme.  The main objective of the current draft resolution was to identify those issues on which specific action was needed during the current Assembly session.  Mobilization of resources and expertise was also encouraged.  Japan had correctly identified the urgent issues on which attention should be focused, namely the first of two biennial meetings, which should share progress made, or not made, on implementation.

ALJAZ ARIH (Slovenia) said he fully supported all efforts to combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  Slovenia belonged to the Human Security Network, which viewed the question of the threat to human security posed by the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons as one of its most important tasks.  He also strongly supported the Secretary-General's proposal to develop international mechanisms for identifying and tracing small arms and monitoring embargoes and sanctions.  Establishing such mechanisms was one of the preconditions for more effective actions in the field. 

He noted that, since 1990, four million men, women and children had been caught in the crossfire and perished in the killing fields all over the globe, including thousands in his "neighbourhood".  A great number of those weapons were illegally possessed by individuals in many countries of his region.  He was deeply concerned about that fact and vitally interested in prompt action at all levels.  Slovenia, together with the Department for Disarmament Affairs, would organize a regional conference on the issue to take place in the first half of 2003.  He was committed to a strengthened peace and security in South East Europe, leading to eradicating the illicit small arms trade through marking and tracing, controlling imports and exports, and weapons collection and destruction.  Only effective cooperation at the regional and subregional levels would solve that global problem. 

SHAUKAT UMER (Pakistan) introduced the draft resolution on conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels (document A/C.1/57/L.41).  He said it sought to promote disarmament in an area that had not received due attention in multilateral disarmament forums.  It outlined in its preamble several vital principles relating to that pursuit and emphasized that arms control played a pivotal role in promoting peace and security.  Indeed, in the post-cold-war era, threats to peace had lain primarily in States in the same region or subregion.  Preservation of the balance of defence capabilities at the lowest levels of armaments would contribute to peace and security. 

He noted that, in its operative portion, the text would decide to give urgent consideration to the issue and request the Conference on Disarmament to consider formulation of principles that could serve as a framework for regional agreements.  The draft encapsulated universally recognized principles, adherence to which could prove instrumental in the cause of peace, particularly in the troubled regions of the world.  Hopefully, it would be adopted without any objection.

SANTIAGO IRAZABAL MOURAO (Brazil), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), said that out of all types of weapons, small arms claimed the greatest number of victims.  He said that in the MERCOSUR countries, as well as in Bolivia and Chile, such weapons were posing serious security threats.  On the global level, he looked forward to seeing the programme of action being supported as actively as possible.  The programme was less ambitious than desired, but it was a good first step, nevertheless, and provided a basis for future progress.

He was pleased that the 2001 Conference had initiated collective action, and he trusted that the international community would take advantage of the meetings planned for 2003 and 2005 in order to enlarge the scope of action.  He voiced support for the Inter-American Convention dealing with small arms and said that all MERCOSUR countries were carrying out destruction programs and exchanging information, in order to standardize criteria for dealing with such weapons.

Such subregional initiatives had allowed MERCOSUR to establish proper controls.  Additionally, a network of non-governmental organizations had proven to be an effective tool for educating people and increasing awareness of the problem of small arms. The successes that had been enjoyed, however, did not mean that the task was complete.  For example, identification of trafficking routes and means of supply still had to be coordinated at the national level.  He supported the work of the group of experts and their study.  He also wanted to see continued cooperation between States, civil society and non-governmental organizations.

JEAN LINT (Belgium) introduced a draft resolution concerning the Ottawa Convention (document A/C.1/57/L.36), also on behalf of the delegations of Nicaragua and Thailand.  Because anti-personnel mines had claimed between 15,000 and 20,000 new victims over the past year, the draft’s preamble reaffirmed the determination to put an end to the suffering caused by them.

He welcomed the Convention’s entry into force and expressed satisfaction that more States had ratified or acceded to it.  He said that, with the joining of Nigeria, Algeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Suriname, Afghanistan, Cameroon, the Comoros, and Gambia, the number of States that had formally accepted the Convention’s obligations now stood at 129.  He maintained that he would work, however, to attract all States to the Convention, thereby making it universal.

After describing through the draft’s operative paragraphs, he stated that it was already supported by 119 co-sponsors from all regions.  He was pleased that the spirit of the Convention reflected openness and cooperation between mine-affected and other States, as well as with non-governmental organizations.

SANTIAGO IRAZABAL MOURAO (Brazil), speaking on behalf of MERCOSUR, said that anti-personnel mines had caused many deaths.  The countries of his region, therefore, were strong supporters of the Ottawa Convention, and the destruction and removal of mines in the area was a high priority.  He called for greater international cooperation in combating the problem of mines and for more assistance to be given to the 50 States that were affected by them.  He also called for greater transparency in the production and transfer of mines.  Because the humanitarian implications were too important to ignore, efforts at subregional, regional and international levels had to be aided by the entire international community, he said.

KNUT LANGELAND (Norway) said he supported the drafts introduced today on the illicit small arms trade, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, and the Ottawa Convention.  He had also co-sponsored the draft to be introduced later on assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms (document A/C.1/57/L.25).  Those drafts were important aspects of the disarmament agenda and each had a clear humanitarian perspective.  In particular, the illicit small arms trade was a global threat to human rights and international humanitarian law.  The 2001 programme of action was a good starting point, requiring full implementation. Important work had been done in tracing and marking; more should be done in illicit brokering. 

He said that since the signing of the Ottawa Convention, the use of anti-personnel mines had been decreasing, more minefields were being cleared and a significant decline in the number of victims had been recorded.  Despite those achievements, however, there was no room for complacency, as those weapons were still being used, maiming too many people and claiming too many lives.  Political and financial commitment would do much to enable implementation of the aims of the Convention.  The further consolidation of partnerships among governments and with civil society groups was also key.  He also expressed his support for the text on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (document A/C.1/57/L.46), as well as the texts on transparency in armaments (document A/C.1/57/L.37), and consolidation of peace through practical disarmament measures (document A/C.1/57/L.45).

MARX KAHENDE (Kenya) supported the draft resolution on the Ottawa Convention (document A/C.1/57/L.36).  He spoke of the destructive capabilities of anti-personnel mines, especially in Africa.  In addition to killing innocent civilians, including children, they hampered post-conflict development.  He said that his Government remained firmly committed to the principles of the Ottawa Convention, and that on a regional level his Government was involved in demining efforts in the Horn of Africa.  He underscored the need for all delegations to sponsor the draft resolution in question.

THAI HATHAIKAHN YAMALI (Thailand) associated herself with the statement made by Belgium on the draft resolution on the Ottawa Convention.  Her country attached great importance to the landmine question and was aware of the devastation those weapons caused, in Thailand, the South East Asia region and worldwide.  The Ottawa Convention was a significant tool for preventing further casualties and the success of the fourth meeting of States parties to the Convention had been welcome.  The parties had shown their full commitment to the Convention's implementation and eventual universalization.  Thailand had organized several regional seminars aimed at building momentum in the region, and it would host the fifth meeting of States parties in Bangkok in September.  Her delegation had co-sponsored the draft since it was first introduced.

MULUGETA ZEWDIE (Ethiopia) called for an international instrument designed to monitor the trade of small arms and light weapons.  His Government had taken steps to implement the programme of action dealing with the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  For example, it had created a national police commission to gather information on small arms and compile a report based on its findings.  He was worried about the financial responsibilities involved with implementation of the programme of action of the 2001 conference.  He called for monetary assistance in that regard.

KATHERINE VERRIER-FRECHETTE (Canada) said she was proud to co-sponsor the draft resolution on the Ottawa Convention.  That treaty had made a real contribution to lessening the tragedies caused by anti-personnel mines.  At the same time, she was aware that much remained to be done and, as such, called upon all States to join in the effort towards realizing that important security objective.  Canada had also co-sponsored the small arms text, as well as the draft to be introduced by Germany on practical disarmament measures.  Member States, the United Nations, regional organizations and non-governmental organizations had an important role to play in curbing the proliferation of small arms and implementing the 2001 programme of action.  In Canada, a people-centred approach underpinned those efforts.

She said she also recognized the importance of the draft on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which now reflected two recent developments:  the second Review Conference of December 2001, which had launched an extensive inter-sessional process; and the extension of the scope of the Convention and its Protocols to include armed conflict of a non-international character, which her country had accepted.  She hoped the upcoming meetings in December would develop ways to address the issue of the explosive remnants of war and anti-vehicle landmines, in order to advance the humanitarian aims of the Convention.

MARIO NGWENYA (Mozambique) thanked the representative of Belgium for introducing the draft resolution concerning the Ottawa Convention (document A/C.1/57/L.36).  He said that landmines represented a serious threat to stability and security, as well as economic and social development.  The Ottawa Convention, however, had already demonstrated its vitality, relevance, and strength in combating them.

Because two million landmines had been planted in his country, demining activities remained a high priority for his Government, he said.  Within the framework of the Convention, Mozambique had already destroyed 17,000 mines and cleared 8.8 million square meters.  It had also sent demining experts to various parts of the world and trained officials in Angola and Guinea-Bissau.  Before concluding, he reiterated that international cooperation was necessary for the Ottawa Convention to remain strong.  In that context, he called for strong support to be given to the draft resolution by the First Committee.

BONIFACE LEZONA (Republic of the Congo) said that the programme to reintegrate former combatants and reduce the circulation of small arms, begun in 2000, had had the following results:  more than 8,000 ex-combatants had benefited (the original target had been 10,000); some 114,000 arms had been collected; and 2,575 micro-projects had been financed.  Nevertheless, those laudable efforts by the Congolese Government were insufficient.  Indeed, some 25,000 declared ex-combatants were still awaiting rehabilitation, which required continued international support. 

Thus, his delegation had co-sponsored the draft on assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms (document A/C.1/57/L.25), as well as the draft on the illicit small arms trade (document A/C.1/57/L.33).  He urged the Committee to adopt them without a vote and he appealed to States to provide

assistance to post-conflict countries.  He noted with satisfaction the study submitted by the United Nations on disarmament and non-proliferation education.  His Government hoped to take the necessary measures to implement that education programme.

SYLVESTER ROWE (Sierra Leone) extended his condolences to the government of Indonesia in light of the Bali tragedy.  He then said that although weapons of mass destruction posed the greatest threat to mankind, he was equally concerned by small arms and light weapons.  He said that such weapons had killed many people, including children, and destabilized societies throughout the world.  He was pleased by the adoption of a programme of action and said that its implementation was absolutely necessary.  In that regard, his Government had co-sponsored a draft resolution concerning assistance to States in curbing the illicit traffic in small arms (document A/C.1/57/L.25).

He wanted to see the launching of further arms collection measures and peace-building projects in his country.  For its part, Sierra Leone was one of the first countries to adopt the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) moratorium on manufacturing small weapons.

Because the source of small arms had to be tracked down and dealt with, he supported the French-Swiss initiative for tracing such weapons.  He was also concerned by the idea of small arms falling into the hands of non-State entities. It was not enough to destroy weapons after they had caused damage.  Instead, it was necessary to ensure that criminals and terrorists could not get hold of those weapons in the first place.

MARIO H. CASTELLON DUARTE (Nicaragua) said that the Ottawa Convention had been the outgrowth of enormous effort by the international community.  All States parties must be fully committed to the Convention, including those that had not yet acceded to it.  The goal was the total elimination of those weapons and their devastating effects.  The States parties in September had held a meeting designed to raise awareness of the fact that every 20 minutes someone died or was maimed by those weapons.  The related draft resolution encouraged accession and ratification without delay.  The idea behind the text was to increase transparency and compliance. 

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For information media. Not an official record.