4623rd Meeting (AM & PM)
SPEAKERS IN SECURITY COUNCIL SMALL ARMS DEBATE SUPPORT ACTION PROGRAMME
ADOPTED BY 2001 UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE
Delegates Also Back Secretary-General’s Proposals for Monitoring Mechanisms
Speakers in a day-long Security Council meeting today supported the Programme of Action for the 2001 United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons and proposed ways in which the Council could strengthen its role in preventing such weapons from fuelling conflict.
Among recommendations by the Secretary-General that received widespread support were proposals for the development of an international mechanism for identifying and tracing small arms, and another relating to a permanent mechanism for monitoring embargoes and sanctions under the Council's purview.
Opening this morning's debate, Jayantha Dhanapala, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on small arms and noted that over the last year, Member States had been engaged in the implementation of the Programme of Action. They had participated in national and regional conferences, capacity-building in relevant areas, as well as collaboration between governments and non-governmental organizations. They had also placed pressure on limited United Nations resources.
He said that the role of arms embargoes in controlling the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in conflict situations had been enhanced by the Council’s decision to establish specific monitoring mechanisms. Further strengthening of embargoes and sanctions against violators could be used for both preventive and post-conflict purposes, but disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes ought to be done as thoroughly as possible to dispose of weapons already circulating in conflict areas.
The representative of Denmark, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that the Council, in defining peacekeeping mandates, should continue to strengthen provisions on the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants, as well as measures for the collection and destruction of illicit and surplus weapons. The Council should also establish monitoring mechanisms under each relevant resolution to ensure implementation.
She also stressed the need for initiatives by Member States, the General Assembly, the Security Council and all relevant bodies and organs to be mutually reinforcing. As a first step, the Council should focus on producing concrete
effects and encourage Member States to enforce all sanction resolutions, including those imposing arms embargoes.
Colombia’s representative, recalling that his delegation had presided over the Small Arms Conference last year, said that his country had been hard hit by illicit small-arms trafficking and had tirelessly alerted the international community to the problem. Noting the Council's responsibility to make headway and not limit itself to general discussions, he also stressed the need to avoid duplication of what had already been accomplished.
China’s representative, while also supporting the Programme of Action and previous recommendations on small arms, noted that no consensus had yet been reached on an international instrument to identify and trace illicit weapons. He emphasized the need for concrete measures to be taken after the relevant expert group had submitted its report in that regard.
Singapore's representative pointed out that small arms had caused more damage than weapons of mass destruction and strongly supported a permanent monitoring mechanism for arms embargoes. Syria's representative, on the other hand, said that the consideration of the small arms question should in no way set aside the priorities of the United Nations in the field of disarmament, such as nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
Council President Martin Belinga-Eboutou (Cameroon), speaking in his national capacity, underscored the futility of any efforts to control the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, particularly in Africa, in the absence of effective monitoring and tracing mechanisms. However, he warned that no single mechanism could be a panacea, noting that each region had its own particularities.
Many other speakers stressed the importance of regional efforts. Nigeria’s delegate outlined initiatives by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), including its moratorium on small arms, and Kenya's representative described activities in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa subregions under the Nairobi Declaration. Congo's representative, speaking on behalf of the Economic Community of Central African States, spoke of that subregion's proposals for the control of small arms, which had fed decades of violence.
Other Security Council members speaking today were the representatives of Bulgaria, Mauritius, Mexico, Guinea, United States, Ireland, Russian Federation, France, Norway and the United Kingdom.
The Council also heard from the representatives of the Republic of Korea, Egypt, Ukraine, Chile, Philippines, Australia, Japan, Israel, Costa Rica, India, South Africa, Indonesia, Argentina, Canada, Switzerland, Jamaica, Namibia, Senegal, Zambia, Malawi and Pakistan.
Today's meeting, which began at 10:21 a.m., was suspended at 12:42 p.m. Resuming at 3:20 p.m., it adjourned at 7:21 p.m.
When the Security Council met this morning, it had before it the report of the Secretary-General on small arms (document S/2002/1053), which addresses ways in which the Council can contribute to dealing with the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, taking into account the views of Member States, recent experiences in the field, and the contents of Council presidential statement S/PRST/2001/21.
Among other things, that presidential statement welcomed the adoption of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects adopted at the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, held at Headquarters from 9 to 20 July 2001. It called on all Member States to take the measures required for the prompt implementation of the recommendations contained in the Programme of Action.
The Secretary-General’s report says that small arms and light weapons are the weapons of choice in the great majority of recent conflicts. It is estimated that there are at least 639 million small arms in the world today, nearly 60 per cent of which are legally held by civilians. The spread of illicit small arms and light weapons is a global threat to human security and human rights. Of the estimated 4 million war-related deaths during the 1990s, 90 per cent of those killed were civilians and 80 per cent of those were women and children, mostly victims of the misuse of those weapons.
According to the report, the excessive accumulation and easy availability of small arms have impeded peacekeeping operations and jeopardized post-conflict reconstruction and development efforts, the report says. Proliferation has also obstructed implementation of Security Council arms embargoes, hindered worldwide humanitarian efforts, and exacerbated the phenomenon of child soldiers.
Incorporated in the report are the recommendations of 22 Member States responding to a note verbale from the Department for Disarmament Affairs requesting views on the small arms question. They stress that the Programme of Action provides an adequate basis for further work at the national, regional and global levels, while recognizing that the primary responsibility for addressing the problem rests with States themselves.
The Member States also call on the Council to vigorously promote more effective monitoring and enforcement of all resolutions on sanctions, as the potential of Council-mandated arms embargoes has not been fully realized, according to the report. They also suggest that the Council accord high priority to the inclusion of appropriate provisions for the effective disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants in United Nations peacekeeping mandates.
In addition, the report says, the Secretary-General encourages the Council to consider strengthening the financing of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes through the expansion of measures covered under the budget for peacekeeping operations, thus, ensuring that such activities are not entirely dependent upon voluntary contributions from Member States.
In another recommendation, the Secretary-General says Member States should be called upon to enforce all Council resolutions on sanctions, including those imposing arms embargoes. He strongly encourages the Council to continue its efforts to identify the links between the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and the illicit exploitation of natural and other resources, as well as the trade in illegal drugs.
The Council may wish to call upon Member States to support the development of an international instrument to enable States to identify and trace illicit small arms and light weapons, the Secretary-General further recommends. Also, Member States should be called upon to use, and to provide technical and financial support to, the Interpol Weapons and Explosives Tracking System. The Secretariat is considering the establishment, on the basis of extrabudgetary resources, of a small arms advisory service within the Department for Disarmament Affairs.
Noting that the Council could focus the international community’s attention on the need to mobilize resources for weapons collection efforts, the Secretary-General further recommends that it encourage States that have not done so to establish the necessary legislative or other measures, including the use of authenticated end-user certificates, to ensure effective control over the export and transit of small arms and light weapons.
He calls on the Council to pursue more vigorously and expeditiously the use of embargoes on arms exports to countries or regions threatened by, engaged in or emerging from armed conflict, giving particular attention to the restriction of the supply of ammunition suitable for weapons already extensively available in such countries and regions. The Council may wish to consider coercive measures against Member States that deliberately violate arms embargoes and to establish monitoring mechanisms to oversee their rigorous and comprehensive enforcement.
Finally, the Secretary-General recommends that Member States should be called upon to enhance transparency in armaments, including through universal and consistent participation in the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and the United Nations standardized instrument for reporting military expenditures, and to undertake other confidence-building measures in defence and security matters.
Introduction of Secretary-General’s Report
JAYANTHA DHANAPALA, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, introducing the Secretary-General’s report, said the importance of the Council’s consideration of the question of small arms could not be overstated, for those were the weapons of choice in most recent conflicts, particularly those under the Council’s consideration. The illicit sale or excessive stockpiling of such weapons posed complex and multifaceted challenges to international peace and stability. Failure to rise to those challenges would jeopardize many of the most fundamental goals of the Charter.
The unrestricted supply of small arms made conflicts much more protracted and deadly, and promoted a culture of violence and impunity, he said. There was growing evidence of close links between illicit small arms and light weapons and both terrorism and drug trafficking. Some 300,000 deaths every year were caused by armed conflicts in the developing world, and 200,000 deaths were linked to homicide and suicide in the industrialized world, due to the misuse of small arms. Civil conflicts had brought economic and social devastation to many societies. Even in non-conflict situations where small arms proliferated, human security stood threatened to a degree that compromised public safety and social stability.
The United Nations had played a critical role in placing the issue of small arms and light weapons on the international agenda, initiating the preparatory process for the July 2001 Small Arms Conference, which adopted a Programme of Action. The Council had contributed to that effort by addressing the small arms issue in situations under its consideration, and by promoting global efforts to combat illicit small arms and light weapons.
He said the Secretary-General’s 12 recommendations in his report covered implementation of the Programme of Action, Council-mandated sanctions and arms embargoes; conflict prevention, peace-building and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; and confidence-building measures. Over the last year, Member States had engaged in the implementation of the Programme of Action with great enthusiasm, with initiatives such as national and regional conferences, capacity building in relevant areas, and collaboration between governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). They had also placed added pressure on limited United Nations resources. The Secretariat intended to establish a Small Arms Advisory Service (SAAS) within the Department for Disarmament Affairs, on the basis of extra-budgetary resources, to enhance the effectiveness of the Coordinating Action on Small Arms (CASA) mechanism.
The role of arms embargoes in controlling the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in conflict situations had been enhanced by the Council’s decision to establish specific monitoring mechanisms. Further improvements would require the imposition of arms embargoes to countries and regions emerging from or threatened by armed conflict. Coercive measures should be considered against those States that deliberately violated arms embargoes. Arms embargoes did little to control weapons already existing in conflict areas, however, and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration ought to be carried out as thoroughly as possible. Consideration should also be given to restricting the supply of ammunition.
STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria), associating himself with the statement to be made by the representative of Denmark on behalf of the European Union, said his country was playing an active role in both European Union and South-East European activity for the control of small arms and light weapons.
He said his country also supported measures to control small arms and light weapons in Africa and Afghanistan, as well as in post-conflict situations, as part of peacekeeping mandate. The full range of the Secretary-General’s recommendations for Security Council activity to combat the illicit trade, stockpiling and spread of small arms and light weapons should be implemented, he said, emphasizing also the useful role of NGOs in that effort.
JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius) said that, despite recent General Assembly and Security Council efforts to check the illicit flow of small arms, there had been no substantial reduction, and their circulation had increased, if anything. In light of that fact, concrete, practical means and recommendations were needed to curb and eliminate the illicit flow of arms, 40 per cent of which were held illegally by bandits and terrorists.
He said that among the reasons for the existing situation were the uncoordinated efforts by the Assembly and the Council, as well as separate undertakings at the regional and subregional levels. The problem would only be resolved through cooperation among all the key players. Furthermore, decisions and recommendations were left to the discretion of individual countries, and proper monitoring was non-existent. He advised the Council to set up a proper monitoring system.
Another reason was that sales of small arms were not restricted to bona fide dealers, and end-users were not clearly known, he said. Also, manufacturers did not mark their weapons appropriately to allow for easy identification and tracing. Mauritius supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation for legislative and regulatory measures to control the export and transit of such weapons. It was also important that buyer countries exercise full and effective control over the arms that they bought or possessed.
It was known that specific individuals and companies were habitual offenders in conducting illegal sales, he said, pointing out that, as long as action was not taken against those engaged in such activities, illicit small arms would continue to fall into the wrong hands, perpetuating a vicious cycle. Calling for strict national registration of such arms and a comprehensive disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programme to collect and dispose of them, he said that arms embargoes provided only temporary solutions.
ZHANG YISHAN (China) said that, in recent years, the excessive accumulation of and illicit trafficking in small arms had exacerbated conflicts and fuelled criminal activities such as terrorism and drug trafficking. It had given rise to many humanitarian problems and affected peacekeeping operations in post-conflict regions. The question of small arms was related increasingly to the work of the Council, which had established DDR programmes. The Council’s work on small arms was an important complement to the work of others and should not duplicate it.
Stressing that weapons collection and disposal measures during peacekeeping operations must abide strictly by Council mandates, he said the Council should support efforts by countries and regions to address the issue and encourage United Nations agencies in implementing DDR programmes. The Secretary-General had made some important recommendations and given assurances of adequate resources for such programmes, while other questions merited further discussion.
He noted that the recommendation for an international instrument to identify and trace illicit small arms had been discussed during last year’s conference, and no consensus had been reached on such an action. Measures to be taken should be considered after the expert group had submitted its report in that regard. Noting that the small arms question was closely related to the situation in each region, he said that countries should base their decisions on the political, military and security situations and voluntarily carry out measures that conformed to their needs. Also, the Council should bear in mind when deciding on arms embargoes that the causes of armed conflicts varied.
ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia), recalling that his country had presided over the Small Arms Conference last year, said Colombia had been hard hit by the illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons and had tirelessly alerted the international community to the problem. The negative impact of that question on peace, security and social development must not be neglected, he emphasized.
Noting the Council’s responsibility to make headway and not limit itself to general discussions, he stressed the need to avoid duplication of what had already been accomplished. Colombia had produced a working paper, to be issued as an official Council document, suggesting that the Council take into consideration the Secretary-General’s recommendations.
Proposing the strengthening of arms embargoes based on lessons learned from the past, he said there was a wealth of input that deserved careful consideration. Targeted sanctions, as in the cases of the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia and, recently, Somalia, was an area in which the Council could define a global strategy. The lack of effective results in some cases indicated the need for a new approach to sanctions, he said.
ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico), noting the devastating and destabilizing effects of small arms and light weapons around the world, said that responsibility for their control fell on all States, but particularly on producing and exporting countries, from whom greater accountability should be demanded. Noting that his own country participated in regional instruments aimed at controlling the illicit trade in small arms, as well as those targeting organized crime, he said that the actions of the Security Council itself on the subject required much more firmness.
The Security Council should pursue the coordination of activities against the illicit small arms trade, he said, noting that the easy availability of such weapons fuelled many conflicts around the world. Member States should develop an instrument to consolidate progress achieved in the field and to go much further. In implementing the Secretary-General’s recommendations, concerted national, regional and international efforts should be undertaken alongside those of regional organizations, bringing all available technologies into play to evaluate the issue and provide education on it.
MAMADY TRAORE (Guinea) said that the effects of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, especially in the West African subregion, were tragic. The links in such trafficking must be closed off and comprehensive measures taken at all levels. The international community should support fully the moratorium on small arms and light weapons established by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Guinea had created a national commission to support the moratorium, and he was pleased with the support that the Department for Disarmament Affairs had given to such national and regional efforts. Calling for the provision of sufficient resources to enable the Department to carry out its work effectively, he suggested that Security Council working groups develop coordinating initiatives to strengthen the current machinery for the control of small arms and light weapons, and guarantee the involvement of all actors at all levels.
RICHARD S. WILLIAMSON (United States) said the most effective way to prevent small arms and light weapons from getting into the hands of those who would misuse them was through strict export and import controls, strong brokering laws, ensuring the security of small arms and light weapons stockpiles, and destroying surpluses. His country had one of the strongest systems in the world for regulating the export of arms. It rigorously monitored arms transfers and routinely investigated suspicious activities. It also offered bilateral financial and technical assistance to help countries develop national export and import controls and improve border security against arms smugglers, and to secure and destroy illicit stocks of small arms and light weapons in conflict-prone regions.
He said the United States strongly supported effective export and import controls, restraint in trade to regions of conflict, strict observance and enforcement of Council embargoes. The lack of success of some of those embargoes was due to porous borders, weak enforcement, and a lack of political will by national governments. The Panel of Experts’ report noted that in many cases of illegal imports to Liberia, the end-user certificates were all from ECOWAS members. It was crucial that ECOWAS members should take the necessary steps to effectively enforce their own Moratorium on the Import, Export, and Manufacture of Light Weapons. It was disappointing that only half of the member States had created their own Moratorium.
He said the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire was an example of the bleeding of the supply of weapons between military and civilian populations. He urged the parties to negotiate a peaceful solution to the current crisis, but noted that the responsibility to control small arms could not be placed on one State alone. Côte d’Ivoire’s neighbours were contributing to instability by allowing the illicit trade and passage of small arms across their borders. Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration provisions were an important element of negotiated peace settlements.
FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons had led to the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children. All States, particularly arms-manufacturing States, must make an effort to end the tragedy. In combating the illicit trade in such weapons, all States had to be treated on an equal footing and without double standards. It was also essential, in the case of popular struggles to end occupation, not to fall in line with small groups trying to change the principles of human rights to further their narrow interests.
The final document of the Conference on the subject had affirmed the need to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States and not to interfere in internal affairs, as well as the right to self-defence of States. All States had the right to establish their own defence systems, he said.
Consideration of the issue must not divert attention from the roots of conflicts in many parts of the world. Those roots often stemmed from the consequences of colonialism or from foreign occupations. Consideration of the issue of small arms should in no way set aside the priorities of the United Nations in the field of disarmament, such as nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction. The Council could encourage initiatives to improve implementation of the Conference Programme of Action, for example, by providing assistance to State that requested it. The Council must also reaffirm the following rights: the inherent right to self-defence, collectively of individually; the right of every State to manufacture small arms and light weapons and import them; and the right of peoples to liberate their land from occupation.
GERARD CORR (Ireland) said that arms control activities remained an essential dimension in conflict prevention. The United Nations, Member States and regional organizations had the main responsibility for monitoring and enforcing arms embargoes, and Ireland supported consideration of Council action against States that deliberately violated such embargoes. It was also important that the Security Council encourage States to establish the necessary measures to ensure effective control over the export and transit of small arms and light weapons. That included the use of authenticated end-user certificates. It was evident from various reports from the panels established to examine the issue that forged end-user certificates had been the route through which illegal arms shipments had been made in recent conflicts.
Despite considerable progress, there was still some distance to go, he said -- for example, in detailed monitoring, controlling financial sources used for purchase of illegal weapons, working with business, financial institutions and other actors on implementing arms embargoes. The Secretary-General’s report rightly drew attention to the link between the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and the illicit exploitation of natural and other resources. The recommendations of various panels investigating such links, including those of the panel on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, should also be examined.
Ireland also strongly supported the recommendation of the Secretary-General that the Council call upon parties to conflict to place DDR activities in the texts of negotiated agreements, and that DDR activities and weapons collection and disposal activities be included in the mandates of peacekeeping operations. His delegation also agreed that consideration should be given to ensuring that DDR activities were not entirely dependent on contributions from Member States; he, therefore, favoured strengthening the financing of DDR programmes through the expansion of measures covered under the budget for peacekeeping operations.
ALEXANDER KONUZIN (Russian Federation), calling for an enhanced coordinating role for the United Nations in the area of small arms and light weapons, described the Programme of Action emerging from last year’s Conference as an important step. Hopefully, progress would continue in the 2003 follow-up. It was appropriate for the Security Council to work on the problem since small arms fed the conflicts with which it was engaged. He noted, however, that while the arms embargo against the Taliban, for example, was fully warranted and effective, the monitoring of such embargoes should be stepped up and violations must be investigated by the sanctions committee concerned.
He called for a clear articulation of DDR programmes, alongside practically resourced programmes to retrieve small arms with the cooperation of parties to conflicts. Specific and practical measures to control the weapons should be undertaken in coordination with region organizations both for preventive purposes and in post-conflict stages. Technical and financial assistance should be provided to the countries most affected by the illegal circulation of weapons, he emphasized, calling for the fine-tuning and codification of small arms control regimes.
YVES DOUTRIAUX (France), supporting the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, stressed that the Security Council must give its full support to measures taken by Member States to implement the 2001 Programme of Action to combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. In particular, the Council should encourage the establishment of an international instrument for the identification and tracing of such weapons and undertake a review of arms transfers through non-State actors, who were particularly important in such conflicts as those in Africa.
The importance of DDR programmes had been already shown to be crucial, he said, emphasizing the need to make mechanisms for the monitoring of sanctions and embargoes more effective. In addition, the public naming of violators had proven to be effective and should be further developed. The Council should continue its reflections and expert-level work, particularly in conjunction with the sanctions committees.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said that the spread of small arms was a global threat to human security, human rights and international humanitarian law, and that such weapons undermined peace-building and conflict-prevention efforts. Expressing concern that unaccounted arms transfers to conflict regions seemed to continue unabated, he noted that there was also a massive exploitation of natural resources in several war-torn societies for the purchase of arms. Preventing, combating and eliminating the uncontrolled spread and destabilizing accumulation of small arms and light weapons must be an integral part of the Council’s peace efforts, he emphasized.
The Council should consider provisions for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, as well as measures for weapons collection, disposal and destruction, in the context of negotiated settlements, he said. There should also be a more solid financial basis for those crucial activities in peacekeeping budgets. Arms embargoes should be used more vigorously and expeditiously, and the Council must continue to promote the effective implementation of existing embargoes through its sanctions committees and expert panels. The Council should also consider taking decisive action against Member States that deliberately violated embargoes.
He underlined the critical importance of tracing in identifying the origin and supply routes of illicit weapons to conflict areas, and called on Member States to support the development of an international instrument on tracing. The Council should also support efforts to develop further steps to enhance international cooperation in preventing, combating and eradicating illicit arms brokering. If a small arms advisory service was to provide added value, it should primarily have a coordinating and advocacy function. Such a service should develop an operational capacity and avoid duplicating what others were already doing well.
DAVID BROUCHER (United Kingdom) said the Security Council should continue to encourage all Member States to implement the Programme of Action at the national, regional and global levels, and to allocate sufficient and appropriate resources to that task. More must be done to ensure the authenticity of end-user certificates and to prevent the diversion of goods from their intended destinations. The United Kingdom, which had a mechanism in place to confirm the accuracy of information contained in end-user certificates, would be prepared to
consider exchanging information with others on a more systematic, case-by-case, bilateral basis.
A register of all small arms brokers would be maintained, he said, but the bureaucratic act of registration did not count as much as the ability to scrutinize, approve or refuse licences. The regulation of deals made by brokers was the key. Further clarity on whether international standards that might be formulated on the transfer of ownership of arms consignments would apply to domestic or international transfers, or both, would be welcomed. The United Kingdom recommended the development of rigorous export criteria controls, along the lines of the European Union Code of Conduct on Arms Exports, to assess whether an international transfer of arms was permissible.
Stressing the importance of strengthening the ability of the Security Council and the sanctions committees to monitor implementation and enforcement of sanctions, he said that the establishment of a permanent monitoring mechanism under the Council's authority had been proposed jointly with France. That would give the United Nations a permanent capacity to monitor the enforcement of sanctions.
CHRISTINE LEE (Singapore) noted that, according to United Nations statistics, small arms and light weapons, not weapons of mass destruction, caused the most damage. If used in a legitimate fashion, small arms could help in restoring peace, order and justice, but an excess of small arms could spread death, the more so because they were easily disposed of, cheap and easily usable even by children. They destabilized governments, disrupted development, encouraged a culture of violence and impunity, and could be used by terrorists.
She said that the illicit trafficking in small arms and their flow into situations of conflict and post-conflict must be stemmed. The establishment by the Council of groups of experts and mechanisms to monitor sanctions had been encouraging, but the Council should also establish a permanent mechanism to monitor all arms embargoes. She noted, in that regard, that it was often the same States that violated embargoes.
Although DDR programmes were welcome, she said, the reintegration of ex-combatants was often a weak link. In that regard, the United Nations must help governments to find the required means. The Council should work with civil society and NGOs on that issue.
As the meeting resumed in the afternoon, Council President MARTIN BELINGA EBOUTOU (Cameroon), speaking in his national capacity, associated himself with the statement to be made by the representative of the Congo on behalf of the Economic Community of Central African States. Cameroon belonged to a region that was heavily affected by the illicit small arms trade, and considered the 2001 Programme of Action an appropriate framework for international action on the problem. With regard to that Programme, sanctions and embargoes were still the instruments best suited for action by the Security Council, but their effectiveness depended largely on the cooperation of numerous actors at the international, regional and national levels.
Noting that the role of States was particularly important, he expressed support for the development of an international instrument to monitor and trace international arms transfers of arms. All efforts to control the illicit trade, particularly in Africa, would be futile without such measures, he said, adding that moratoria and the like were not panaceas. While each region had its own particularities, all actions must add up to a comprehensive overall strategy, that would include arms collection and disposal.
LEE HO JIN (Republic of Korea), noting that the destabilizing accumulation and illicit transfer of small arms and light weapons posed major security concerns for the entire international community, said that recent developments had highlighted the further dangers posed by the likelihood of their use by terrorists and other non-State actors. The success of the Programme of Action would depend largely on political will on the part of the international community. The Council should continue to play a constructive role in promoting the Programme whose
12 recommendations were a valuable input for future Council action.
Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes were crucial for consolidating the peace and promoting an environment for sustainable development, he said. More effective implementation of such programmes would also help to ensure the safety of all civilians in conflict areas. Stressing the need to incorporate DDR programmes into the mandates and budgets of all peacekeeping operations, he said the Council was fully equipped to integrate the relevant recommendations as a core element of future peacekeeping activities.
Lessons learned from the past had shown that weapons embargoes alone were not sufficient, he said. Sanctions should be fine-tuned to effectively target countries or regions in order to achieve greater success. In addition to the vigorous and expeditious use of arms embargoes, the Council should pursue the use of monitoring mechanisms with a view to ensuring successful enforcement. The Council should also call on Member States to establish and implement legislation or measures to regulate the movement of small arms and light weapons.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said that the hundreds of thousands of people who fell victim annually to small arms and light weapons made it necessary for the Council to tackle the issue. Measures adopted by the Council, such as independent expert panels and embargo-monitoring mechanisms had had limited success in the area of small arms and light weapons. That fact could be attributed to the practical difficulties of monitoring arms imports and to the absence of the political will in the Council to enforce embargoes in some cases, such as in Somalia, over the last 10 years.
He endorsed the Secretary-General’s recommendation to improve procedures for information exchange between the Council and the Assembly. Noting that the Council had the ability to include in its peacekeeping mandates clear provisions regarding DDR of ex-combatants, and explicit measures to deal with small arms, he recommended that the Assembly’s Special Committee on Peacekeeping look into the role of DDR programmes and their financial implications.
Urging the Council to pay more attention to the implementation of arms embargoes in conflict regions, he said it should adopt measures against countries that continuously violated those embargoes. He also drew attention to the natural right of States to self-defence, collectively and individually, and to the right to self-determination of all peoples, particularly those under foreign occupation.
VALERY P. KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) said that without concerted efforts by the international community to prevent the uncontrolled proliferation of small arms and light weapons, it would be impossible to maintain peace or regional and global security. The adoption of the Programme of Action was only a first step, and it was essential to provide for global and regional coordination between national control systems and mechanisms for the prevention of illicit trafficking. Encouraging States to improve their abilities to curb the illicit trade might require financial assistance from the international community.
He said that, at this stage, lessons learned should be reviewed to ensure the efficiency of measures that could be taken by the Council. It might be useful to focus on the sources of financing for the purchase of illegal weapons and to address the relationship between those sources and the illicit exploitation of natural and other resources. It was also important to define the role that international organizations, business and financial institutions and other actors at the international, regional and local levels could play in implementing arms embargoes.
Stressing that his country conducted a responsible policy in the field of arms control, he said that its legislation envisaged strict measures to prevent illegal manufacturing, possession and trafficking of all types of armaments. A national export-control system provided for effective export/import licensing procedures. The Cabinet had adopted a plan to implement the Programme of Action, as well as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) document on small arms and light weapons, he added.
JUAN GABRIEL VALDES (Chile) said that for many years the world had witnessed the accumulation and illegal traffic of small arms and light weapons, one of the principal scourges causing the deaths of people throughout the world. It also perpetuated, or was one of the underlying causes of, poverty, as well as domestic and international conflicts. The fight to prevent the uncontrolled spread of small arms and to eliminate such weapons was one of the Council’s main tasks, he said.
He recalled that during the Conference on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, Chile had stressed the need for the Programme of Action to include a set of effective measures promoting respect for human life above commercial interests associated with small arms. Chile supported the Programme of Action and had since taken other initiatives. The country had already implemented, at least partially, most of the 12 recommendations formulated by the Secretary-General in his report. Some corresponded to proposed initiatives that were still the subject of debate and had not been translated into action.
ENRIQUE MANALO (Philippines) said that disarmament, demobilization and reintegration should not merely be a post-conflict peace-building measure. With respect to low-intensity, long-running conflicts, it might not be very effective and could even be counter-productive as combatants could turn to crime, piracy and terrorism. Combatants should, therefore, have a viable and practical opportunity to take themselves out of conflicts and to provide for the collection of their small arms.
Strongly supporting Council resolutions 1314 (2000) and 1379 (2001) relating to the protection of children in armed conflict, he said his country was undertaking a comprehensive programme for children in armed conflict, including prevention, advocacy, and rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration components. Measures for prevention were approached through livelihood programmes, educational assistance, health care, and food security, as well as basic facilities and infrastructure.
He said that in July his country had co-sponsored, with Canada, a regional seminar on implementation of the Programme of Action. The seminar had concluded that a regional arrangement should take into account, among other things, the right of each State to manufacture, import and retain small arms for its self-defence and security needs, as well as for its capacity to participate in peacekeeping operations. Civil society should play a role in raising awareness of the dangers associated with the illicit trade in and uncontrolled proliferation of small arms and light weapons. The meeting had drawn up 32 recommendations to be considered by the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), he said.
PETER TESCH (Australia) said that the Council could make a practical and positive impact on international efforts to combat the illicit small arms trade in two particular areas -- the inclusion of DDR activities in peacekeeping mandates, and the rigid enforcement of arms embargoes. He also commended the Secretary-General’s recognition of the important role of strengthened national export-control measures in ensuring effective regulation of small arms exports. Effective national export controls, including end-use certification, were the first line of defence against illicit transfers and helped to prevent exports that might start out as legal and end up in illicit hands.
While the Council’s role was important, he noted, the prime responsibility for combating the illicit small arms trade lay with Member States. The 2001 Programme of Action provided a comprehensive and dynamic framework for Member States to follow in combating the trade at the national, regional and international levels. Good progress had been made in promoting regional cooperation, in particular. The provision of capacity-building assistance to States with development needs was an important means of enhancing regional cooperation.
Australia was strongly committed to continue assisting countries in the South Pacific to combat problems posed by small arms through the institution of better governance and accountability, he said. It had been actively involved in small arms disposal processes in Bougainville and the Solomon Islands, as an element of broader peace-building efforts there. Australia was also working closely with Japan to organize a second small arms workshop for Pacific island countries, following a successful inaugural workshop it had hosted in 2001, he said.
KUNIKO INOGUCHI (Japan) said that excessive accumulation of small arms and light weapons in post-conflict situations disrupted humanitarian aid operations and hindered reconstruction efforts. It could also rekindle conflicts. Regarding the gender element, she said the greatest number of conflict-related deaths among women and children were caused by small arms. Cubing their proliferation was a matter of urgent priority for the entire international community.
She recalled that the 2001 Programme of Action had been consolidated with an Assembly resolution calling for a review conference in 2006 and a biennial meeting next year. That meeting was aimed at providing States and other international actors, including NGOs, with an opportunity to share experiences and lessons learned in implementing the Programme. Japan planned to hold a seminar for Pacific countries to facilitate their implementation of the Programme and would also continue to implement appropriate “Weapons for Development” projects in cooperation with other governments, international and regional organizations and NGOs.
Commending the Secretary-General’s initiative to establish the Small Arms Advisory Service, she drew attention to the significant achievement of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and the United Nations standardized instrument for reporting military expenditures. They were valuable international means for promoting transparency in armaments and international confidence-building. Japan, in cooperation with other countries, had been organizing a series of regional workshops in several countries to further promote the Register’s universality. It had also contributed $2.16 million to the Trust Fund established in the Department for Disarmament Affairs.
She stressed the importance of addressing the root causes of violence, armed conflicts and other threats to international peace and security. In order to prevent the resurgence of conflicts in post-conflict situations, it was important to accelerate the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants and to promote economic and social development, democratization and reconciliation among the parties.
BASILE IKOUEBE (Congo), speaking on behalf of the Economic Community of Central African States, said that the problem at hand particularly affected his region, in which prospects for peace were improving. Urging the Security Council to take measures to cement the progress that had taken place, he said small arms were a particularly important factor in the conflicts in Central Africa.
He described the result of subregional seminar that had supported an advisory service for the control of small arms, a subregional register and other mechanisms. Other proposals concerned subregional projects for collecting weapons, a subregional office of Interpol to investigate the illicit trade in small arms and other regional and international initiatives.
Human and financial resources were needed to accomplish post-conflict programmes in a timely manner, he said, expressing the hope that the international community would help the Central African subregion to establish peace once and for all.
YEHUDA LANCRY (Israel) said the best way to curb the illicit circulation of small arms and light weapons throughout the world was through strong national commitment and determination. States bore the primary responsibility for ensuring that no weapons were transferred from their territory without proper oversight. They must undertake adequate marking and recording procedures of all weapons, stringent export controls, and appropriate domestic legislation to prevent the misuse and proliferation of arms. Those actions must be supplemented by regional coordination and cooperative international efforts, as arms proliferation was a transnational problem, exploited mainly by international terrorists and criminal organizations.
Israel continued to face threats, both from States in the region and from terrorist organizations, with increasing access to conventional weapons. The relative speed and ease with which terrorist groups had built up significant stockpiles of conventional arms raised the spectre of their being capable of deploying weapons of mass destruction one day, he said. Although the Oslo agreements greatly restricted the number and type of weapons permitted to the Palestinian Authority, Israel remained perpetually at risk due to the dangerous violation of those accords as had been highlighted by, among other things, the seizure of the ship Karine A, last January, carrying 50 tons of weapons and ammunition bound for the Palestinian Authority.
He called on all the countries in the region to adopt a responsible policy and to take the necessary measures to stop the flow of arms from their respective territories to terrorist groups. Terrorism, after all, was only viable if countries allowed, and even supported, its fortification by weapons transfers. Israel adhered to strict export regimes and its arms transfer policy included tight controls. It also had an extremely advanced and unique marking and record-keeping system, which was an integral part of the production process.
The international community should recognize the right of States to acquire and produce small arms for self-defence and national security, as determined by each State, he said. However, the international community did have the right to insist that the use of those weapons be restricted to those purposes only, and had also the right and obligation to demand that States ensure that weapons did not fall into unauthorized hands.
BRUNO STAGNO UGARTE (Costa Rica) said his country welcomed the Secretary-General’s report on small arms, particularly its emphasis on the need for the Security Council and the General Assembly to coordinate their efforts to regulate them. There must be greater transparency in the international weapons market, and current measures to control it were insufficient.
While Costa Rica welcomed the adoption of the International Convention against International Organized Crime and its three Protocols, it was regrettable that the instrument did not cover the sale or transfer of arms among States or non-State entities. Costa Rica also supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the Security Council resort more frequently to the use of arm embargoes, and adopt measures for observation and verification.
Costa Rica also agreed that the Security Council must respond to the relationship between arms trafficking and exploitation of natural resources. The Council must not only support disarmament efforts, but also promote the reduction of military budgets. Recommendations 7 and 8 in the Secretary-General’s report should seek the total disarmament of societies that were victims of armed conflict.
ARTHUR MBANEFO (Nigeria), reiterated the call for a legally binding international instrument to control access to small arms for non-State actors. He also emphasized the need for full implementation of the Programme of Action of last year’s Conference on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, and he appealed to all States to sign and ratify the United Nations Protocol against the manufacture and trafficking of firearms.
However, he said, the problem still needed to be tackled in a comprehensive and integrated manner. Existing regional and national initiatives should therefore be built upon, to develop a common, international approach. Underlying causes of conflicts should also be addressed. He described actions that Nigeria had initiated, at various levels, to combat the illicit trade in small arms. He stressed that international mechanisms should sanction manufacturers and suppliers which violated global regulations.
ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that the European Union, having played an active part in the 2001 Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms, had hoped for a stronger Programme of Action. In particular, it would have liked to see firmer commitments on export controls, stockpile management, marking, tracing and brokering. As a follow-up to the Conference, however, the Union welcomed the emergence of new partnerships between States, civil society and NGOs.
The 2003 meeting would be the first occasion to take stock of progress made, she said. Its outcome should include proposals for strengthening and further developing the measures contained in the Programme of Action. Legally binding commitments on marking and tracing, as well as brokering, could be further pursued. That must be followed up in 2005, she stressed, adding that only in that way would the international community be able to achieve concrete results and further its initial goals at the 2006 review conference.
She stressed the importance of mutually reinforcing initiatives by Member States, the Assembly, the Council and all relevant bodies and organs. Encouraging the Council to continue its efforts and add impetus to implementation at the operational level, she said that, as a first step, it should focus on a limited number of recommendations seeking to ensure concrete effects. The Council should also encourage Member States to enforce all its sanction resolutions, including those imposing arms embargoes, and call for investigation of violations of those embargoes.
In defining peacekeeping mandates, she said, the Council should continue to strengthen provisions on disarmament, demobilization and the reintegration of former combatants, as well as measures for the collection and destruction of illicit and surplus weapons.
Finally, she said, the Council should establish monitoring mechanisms under each relevant resolution in order to further ensure implementation. The European Union stood ready to contribute to efforts towards a world free of the illicit trade in and proliferation of small arms and light weapons. The European Union Joint Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons constituted the overall framework for its policy in that area, which stipulated principles and measures that the Union would pursue in the relevant international and regional forums, and contained provisions for technical and financial assistance.
VIJAY K. NAMBIAR (India), supporting fully the joint initiative of France and Switzerland to define a political arrangement on cooperation with regard to the traceability of illicit small arms, said there was also a need to strengthen the effectiveness of Interpol's International Weapons and Explosive Tracking System.
The illicit small arms trade was interlinked with the illegal exploitation of natural and other resources as well as the trade in narcotic drugs, he said. Security Council-authorized investigations had uncovered criminal networks used to sell diamonds, supply arms and export drugs to further terrorist interests. The Council should continue monitoring the relevant embargoes, tackling the problem in all its aspects as well as cooperating and sharing information on embargo violations by Member States. In addition, the international community must support economic rehabilitation programmes to encourage the surrender of illegal arms.
He said that perhaps 1 per cent of the global supply of small arms was illicitly held, but that amounted to more than 6 million weapons capable of producing devastating effects on societies and economies. National measures were needed to introduce and monitor standards and conditions on private small arms holdings. Furthermore, all responsible States should undertake an obligation not to supply such weapons to non-State actors and to ensure that trade in them flowed only through channels authorized by both importing and exporting States.
JEANETTE NDHLOVU (South Africa) noted that the internal conflicts in Africa were particularly violent and their impact on civilian populations was catastrophic. Women, children and the elderly not only fell victim to that violence, but were also often forced to flee, with the result that those internally displaced people were no longer economically active. The resulting adverse impact on social and economic development often took decades to overcome, she added.
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) included a peace and security initiative that mapped out the promotion of long-term conditions for development and security, she said. Also, the African Union had established a Peace and Security Council as a standing decision-making organ for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. In the comprehensive approach to post-conflict peace initiatives as set out in NEPAD, diplomacy and concrete efforts to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate ex-combatants were integral and complementary to each other. Ironically, South Africa’s experience showed that illicit small arms transfers posed a bigger threat to neighbouring countries emerging from civil strife than those involved in it.
Of all the levels at which the Programme of Action should be implemented, none was as important as the need to focus on national implementation measures, she said. She welcomed the Secretary-General’s recommendations regarding the establishment of the necessary national legislative and administrative measures, including the use of authenticated end-user certificates, to ensure effective control over arms transfers. She also supported the development of an international instrument to trace illicit small arms and light weapons. Regarding arms embargoes, she said it was not only incumbent upon all Member States to abide by them, but also to implement them rigorously.
T.M. HAMSAH THAYEB (Indonesia), noting that the only small thing about small arms was their physical size, pointed out that they remained big business, reaping big profits. The deaths, injuries and forced displacement, as well as the loss of homes, property and jobs that they caused defied rational explanation. The escalating severity of the humanitarian impacts of those weapons, largely as a result of new armed conflicts, merited the international community's close attention, and the resulting grim humanitarian, security and economic picture demanded the utmost international cooperation.
Reiterating his country's commitment to the 2001 Programme of Action, he described it as a first step in a comprehensive scheme to address the problem definitively, saying that the United Nations should focus on implementing it. Following the 2001 Conference, the Indonesian Government had convened a workshop to map out its national response, with the primary aim of introducing the Action Programme to participating stakeholders, including governmental and non-governmental institutions.
As a result, he said, there was now a national consensus that implementation should be pursued in a gradual manner, taking into consideration national capacity and limited national resources. Globally, States and the World Customs Organization should enhance their cooperation with Interpol to identify groups and individuals engaged in the illicit small arms trade. Equally important was the need for education and public awareness programmes on the problems posed by the illicit arms trade.
LUIS ENRIQUE CAPPAGLI (Argentina) said that the excess of small arms was a complicated and long-running problem, the solution to which required cooperation at all levels. Last year’s Programme of Action showed the political will to deal with the problem as well as its humanitarian dimensions. Argentina welcomed measures meant to enhance compliance with arms embargoes and supported mechanisms for the identification and tracing of small arms and light weapons.
He requested more details on the Small Arms Advisory Service and suggested that the Council prepare long-term strategies on the problem in cooperation with the General Assembly. He welcomed, in addition, many other recommendations contained in the Secretary-General’s report, including that relating to the exploration of links between the illicit arms trade and other kinds of illicit trafficking. In general, Argentina was in favour of transparency in relation to the traffic in arms, and an integrated approach that realized that small arms were only one factor in the creation of conflicts.
CHRISTOPHER WESTDAL (Canada) said it was gratifying that suggestions made in the Council debate on small arms a year ago had been incorporated into the recommendations of the present report. The priority now, a year after the Conference, was to implement the Programme of Action. The biennial meetings in 2003 and 2005, as well as the conference in 2006, should have real worldwide impact.
He said progress had been made over the past year in a number of areas regarding small arms. Legislation and been developed. Technology had advanced for marking and tracing. Progress had been made on harmful brokering and in the collection and destruction of weapons. Next year's meeting should increase the momentum by fostering productive cooperation between States, regional organizations and non-governmental organizations. His country had undertaken numerous initiatives in that direction. It had sponsored seminars in Asia and had promoted local, national and regional security sector reform in the G-8 Africa Action Plan. It had also supported the work of the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey, producing global baseline data on small arms to show the devastating impact of small arms proliferation.
However, he said, it must be kept in mind that the Conference had not addressed key dimensions to the problem, including the regulation of civilian small arms possession and transfers to non-State actors. Policy and action against small arms proliferation should therefore go beyond the Programme of Action. They should focus on: establishing an international instrument to enable the identification and tracing of arms; developing legislative, administrative and related measures to ensure control over arms export and transit; the monitoring and enforcement of arms embargoes; enhancement of transparency in arms transactions; and, finally, on recognizing the link between the spread of illicit small arms and human rights violations.
JENO STAEHELIN (Switzerland) said that among the most important recommendations by the Secretary-General was the one relating to the elaboration of an international instrument to enable States to identify and trace illicit small arms and light weapons, which required an integrated approach. Switzerland also supported the extension of United Nations peacekeeping mandates to include disarmament, demobilization and reintegration as well as the collection and destruction of illicit or surplus small arms.
He said that the priorities of recent efforts undertaken by his country on that issues included marking and tracing, the promotion of innovative approaches and the dissemination of information. As part of Switzerland’s work in that latter area, he said that the second edition of the yearbook, “Small Arms Survey 2002: Counting the Human Cost”, would be published in October.
STAFFORD NEIL (Jamaica) said while the 12 recommendations in the Secretary-General’s report were generally useful and constructive, they should have gone further in advancing international action and increasing the obligations of Member States, particularly those engaged in the manufacture of and trade in small arms and light weapons. He supported the early elaboration of an international agreement that would tighten control of the production and transfer of those weapons and provide mechanisms for registering, identifying and tracing them.
Emphasizing the links between the illicit small arms trade and narcotrafficking, terrorism and transnational organized crime, he said that the impact of globalization had facilitated illegal transactions across borders and increased the need for regulation and to improve detection. There must be more accountability and stricter methods of control at the source, he stressed, adding that the most-affected States required material and technical assistance to develop training and monitoring mechanisms to control the transit of small arms across borders.
He supported national and international action regarding punitive measures, saying that those involved in the illegal arms trade, both suppliers and purchasers, should be exposed and punished. It was important to apply coercive measures across the board and not selectively, he stressed.
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said that despite the urgent need to fight poverty and diseases such as HIV/AIDS, a lot of money continued to be spent on the production and accumulation of those weapons. The 2001 Programme of Action was only the starting point for comprehensive national, regional and international efforts to address the problem, he said expressing disappointment that the Conference on Small Arms had failed to achieve agreement on two core issues: strict control over private ownership, and supply of small arms to non-State groups.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) had taken several initiatives to implement the Programme of Action, such as the adoption of the SADC Protocol on Firearms and Ammunition, he said. Namibia had held a conference this week providing for civil society organizations and Government officials to discuss the creation of a long-term sustainable national plan of action for arms management and disarmament.
He said that apart from stopping arms from reaching conflict areas, it was equally important to eradicate arms that were already in circulation in those areas. It was crucial that the Council include in peacekeeping mandates clear provisions regarding the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants, as well as specific measures for the collection and disposal of illicit and surplus small arms. The financing for those programmes must be strengthened through the expansion of measures under the peacekeeping budget so that they were not entirely dependent on voluntary contributions.
PAPA LOUIS FALL (Senegal) said that the estimated 500 million units of small arms in the world, one for every 12 persons, were easy to handle, cheap and durable. They fuelled crime and hindered development as well as conflict resolution. They had caused the deaths of 4 million people, 90 per cent of whom were women and children. Although they were not the direct cause of conflict, small arms and light weapons were still the main factors that perpetuated conflicts. In Africa, they were a true disaster, especially in West Africa, where they were regularly recycled with the complicity of extra-continental death merchants.
He said ECOWAS had placed the struggle against illicit trafficking on its agenda as an urgent priority. That commitment had led to the Moratorium on the Manufacture, Import and Export of Small Arms in All Their Aspects, established in 1998, in order to establish a culture of peace and stability. That initiative, as well as others, must be integrated into an international campaign, he said.
In order truly to annihilate the scourge of small arms, the international community must encourage the reinforcement of legal instruments against their proliferation and against transnational criminality, he said. It must encourage transparency in arms transfers and trade, among other things, through yearly reports on weapon transfers. The international community should also promote disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, as well as strengthen national and regional capacities to supervise those programmes. There was also a need for enhanced cooperation between manufacturing and consumer States and for a double system of tracing and marking small arms.
Mr. AMBEYI-LIGABO (Kenya) said that a recent conference on the implementation of the Nairobi Declaration had reaffirmed the political will of governments in the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa to tackle the proliferation of small arms. Among the unresolved questions that must be addressed was the role of State and non-State actors in the proliferation of such weapons.
Kenya supported the Secretary-General's recommendations to the Security Council, particularly those aimed at assisting States to identify and trace small arms, he said. Commending the Secretary-General on his other innovative measures to deal comprehensively with the problem, he appealed to all members of the international community to extend political, financial and technical support to regional initiatives towards common responsibility in eradicating the stockpiling and illicit trafficking of small arms.
MWELWA MUSAMBACHIME (Zambia) said his country had taken important steps at the national and regional levels in the urgent area of small arms, which were used in many conflicts around the world. In a "guns-for-money" programme, as an example, K200,000 Kwacha (about $55) had been offered for all voluntary hand-overs of illegally held arms. The response had been overwhelming and a large number of them had been recovered. The success of regional programmes depended on financial and technical support for efforts such as those of the Southern African Regional Police Chief Cooperation Council of the SADC. Also, the disarmament component of regional efforts must have effective and attractive arms recovery programmes to encourage combatants to hand arms over to authorities and not trade them for money. “Buy back” and other arms recovery programmes should be supported.
He said it was imperative to adopt an international instrument on tracing the illegal trade in small arms. Those movements must be tracked through a legal framework since they fueled conflicts in Africa and other regions. The biennial meeting on small arms in 2003 should be held in New York, where many countries affected by the problem of small arms would be represented. Pledges made at the Small Arms Conference last year to facilitate participation by those in the least developed countries should be honoured. Many of those countries were the hardest hit by the negative impact of small arms and light weapons.
However, all the global efforts to curb those weapons could fail if the current trend to focus on officially held arms was not checked. Some mechanism must be established to control private illicit transfers, which accounted for the bulk of the illicit trade. Also, States should focus on destroying recovered weapons as an effective and practical way of dealing with illegal trade and illicit trafficking. South-South cooperation should be encouraged. In Africa, civil society bodies should be mobilized to spearhead awareness campaigns.
ISAAC LAMBA (Malawi) called on the Council and the Assembly to close ranks with regional and subregional organizations and other multilateral key players to ensure a successful enforcement of previously agreed actions, including the 2001 Programme of Action, to stem the rising tide in the illicit trade in those lethal weapons. There was an urgent need for a United Nations protocol for Member States to regulate or prohibit possession and use of small arms. However, any effective United Nations measure could work only with the cooperation of supplying nations. Even if a mechanism, through national legislation, succeeded to retrieve small arms in circulation, arms manufacturers would have to come under a tough regime of international standards, which the United Nations must establish to regulate the acquisition, and to enhance oversight and accountability.
He said the proliferation of small arms was no doubt a great threat to peace and security, which were the necessary prerequisites for any meaningful development in any country. His Government was working closely with other members of the SADC to implement a range of measures for monitoring and facilitating cross-border operations within the subregion. That was in line with the SADC protocol on firearms, ammunition and other related materials, signed at the SADC Summit held in Blantyre, Malawi, in August last year. Law enforcement agencies in
Malawi had carried out regular surprise operations designed to recover many illegal weapons. Further, with the assistance of the donor community, capacity-building programmes for law enforcement agencies were being conducted. In addition, the country was finalizing the enactment of national legislation for the regulation of small arms and light weapons to contain their ownership and transfer.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said his country had taken action against the small arms menace, including through its adoption of a comprehensive strategy under which more than 150,000 such weapons had been confiscated. Licensing restrictions had then been imposed on them.
Welcoming regional initiatives on small arms, especially those that addressed socio-economic factors, he said that the 2001 Programme of Action might not be perfect, but it was a step forward. Its implementation must now be effected. He also endorsed many of the Secretary-General's recommendations, particularly those aimed at strengthening sanctions regimes. At the same time, he stressed the need to address the root causes of war. In addition, the right of self-defence and that of people under occupation to struggle for self-determination could not be denied.
Closing Remarks by Under-Secretary-General
Responding to questions and to comments made, the Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, JAYANTHA DHANAPALA, said the debate had provided an impetus for the movement to control the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
He said the Conventional Arms Register was a voluntary measure confined to certain categories of conventional weapons and did not include small arms and light weapons. A group of experts would review the Register next year and consideration to those weapons would be given. Regarding marking and tracing, he said the report’s recommendation was intended to encourage the experts to expedite conclusion of the issue.
He said his Department was ready to undertake evaluation missions but had to appeal to extrabudgetary resources. Coordination in the United Nations system was undertaken through the CASA mechanism. He reassured those who had expressed reservations about priorities in disarmament being disturbed, and said the Programme of Action had recognized that the efforts to address the issue of small arms and light weapons were without prejudice to nuclear disarmament and disarmament of weapons of mass destruction.
The Small Arms Advisory Service was meant to harmonize activities in the field of small arms and light weapons and to ensure that such activities were consistent with the Programme of Action. It would serve as a permanent secretariat for CASA and would assist organizations in the conduct of assessment and monitoring. It would be partly financed by the United Nations regular budget. Other outstanding costs would be covered by the Trust Fund or by Member States through the provision of associate experts. It would also be active in the collection of information about implementation by States of the Programme of Action. National points of contact would send information to the Service and would make requests for assistance. The Advisory Service would keep the contact points informed and provide assistance as requested, he said.
* *** *