4896th Meeting (AM & PM))
SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR EFFECTIVE IMPLEMENTATION OF ARMS EMBARGOES, WELCOMES
NEGOTIATIONS ON INTERNATIONAL INSTRUMENT TO TRACE SMALL ARMS
Presidential Statement, following Day-long Debate on Issue,
Also Encourages Cooperation to Prevent Diversion of Arms to Terrorists
The Security Council today encouraged the arms-exporting countries to exercise the highest degree of responsibility in small arms and light weapons transactions, and encouraged international and regional cooperation in the consideration of the origin and transfers of such weapons to prevent their diversion to terrorist groups.
Through a statement read out by its President, Heraldo Muñoz (Chile), to be issued as document S/PRST/2004/1, the Council also reiterated its call on all Member States to effectively implement arms embargoes and other sanction measures imposed by the Council, and urged Member States able to do so to provide assistance to interested States to strengthen their capacity to fulfil their obligations in that regard.
Also by that text, the Council welcomed General Assembly resolution 58/241 of 23 December 2003, by which it decided to establish an open-ended working group to negotiate an international instrument to enable States to identify and trace illicit small arms and light weapons.
Introducing the Secretary-General’s report on small arms, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs Nobuyasu Abe said that the establishment of the working group was one of two recent, significant events in the global fight against the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons. The other was the 2003 first biennial meeting of States, which allowed States, international and regional organizations and civil society to draw the lessons from the first two years of implementation of the Programme of Action adopted at the 2001 Conference on small arms and light weapons.
The progress indicated in the Secretary-General’s report, noted the representative of the Philippines, should not give a “false sense of relief” that the solutions to combating the illicit small arms traffic were in sight. The light at the end of the tunnel was still far from visible for two reasons: the magnitude of the problem; and the fact that it had been just over two years since the adoption in 2001 of the Programme of Action, an important tool in the international community’s efforts to combat the scourge.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union, Ireland’s representative said that the problem had not diminished in any significant way in the past two years. Estimates of small arms stockpiles worldwide varied considerably, but recent figures suggested that as many as 600 million were in circulation. The death toll from the misuse of those weapons remained dramatic by any standards –- perhaps as many as 500,000 people each year. The problem of the excessive and destabilizing accumulations of small arms was a global one, requiring a coordinated response at national, subregional, regional and international levels.
Unfortunately, noted Brazil’s representative, there were still loopholes in the legal transference of arms that allowed a diversion of arms from the legal to the illegal market, despite efforts at various levels. For that reason, the Assembly’s decision to set up a body responsible for devising an international instrument for identification and tracing was crucial. He, like other speakers, expected the resulting document to be legally binding and responsive to the urgent need to stem the illegal flow of weapons.
Export controls, stated the representative of the United Kingdom, were also an essential tool in combating the illicit flow of small arms and light weapons, which killed as many as half a million people per year. One measure to improve such controls was to enhance the effectiveness and verification of end-user certificates, through an evaluation of the environment for which those were issued.
Also during the discussion, speakers welcomed the recent decision to expand the scope of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms; highlighted the value of complementarity between the Security Council and the General Assembly in combating the illicit flow of small arms and light weapons; expressed support for the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the Council call for strict enforcement of arms embargoes; and stressed the need to address the link between the illicit flow of weapons, the illegal exploitation of natural resources and drug trafficking.
Statements were also made today by the representatives of Romania, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Benin, Germany, Spain, United States, France, China, Angola, Algeria, Chile, Norway, Egypt, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Japan, South Africa, Colombia, Ukraine, New Zealand (on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum Group), Switzerland, Peru, Syria, Canada, Zimbabwe, India, Indonesia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Costa Rica and Armenia.
The meeting began at 10:17 a.m. and suspended at 1:20 p.m. It then resumed at 3:35 p.m. and adjourned at 5:10 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to hold an open debate on the issue of small arms, for which it had before it the Secretary-General’s report (document S/2003/1217). The report reflects initiatives undertaken to implement the Secretary-General’s recommendations on ways and means in which the Council could contribute to dealing with the question of illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in situations under its consideration.
According to the report, significant progress has been achieved in the implementation of recommendations 1 (on tracing illicit small arms and light weapons), 7 (on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in post-conflict situation), 9 (on control over the export and transit of small arms and light weapons), and 12 (on transparency in armaments), contained in the Secretary-General’s report entitled “Small arms” of 20 September 2002. There are also encouraging indications that efforts are being made to implement recommendations 2 (on the Interpol Weapons and Explosives Tracking System), 3 (on the small arms advisory service), and 6 (on links between illicit small and light weapons and the illicit exploitation of natural and other resources).
Regarding recommendation 4 (on interaction with the General Assembly), while no structured interaction has been established yet between the Security Council and the Assembly on the general topic of small arms and light weapons, the issues of end-user certificates and illicit brokering activities have emerged as areas of common efforts by both organs. Progress with regard to recommendations 5 (on the enforcement of Security Council resolutions on sanctions) and 11 (on coercive measures against Member States that deliberately violate arms embargoes) depends almost entirely on the political will and technical capacity of Member States. Nevertheless, further efforts by the Council to stimulate Member States in fulfilling their obligations and to assist them in the strengthening of their capacity will be required.
The implementation of recommendation 10 (on the use of arms embargoes) presents a mixed picture: while some arms embargoes were effectively employed as a key instrument to consolidate the peace process in certain conflict and post-conflict situations, the restriction on the supply of ammunition to areas of instability requires more attention and vigorous action to achieve the desired objectives.
Finally, the need to finance disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes through the assessed budget for peacekeeping (recommendation 8) remains an issue of concern. The key disarmament, demobilization and reintegration task assigned to peacekeeping missions has been to support national governments in the disarmament and demobilization of combatants. Disarmament and demobilization tasks include a broad range of military and non-military activities. While some activities in these two phases of a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration operation may be undertaken by the relevant United Nations specialized agencies, non-governmental organizations and national agencies, the voluntary funding available for disarmament and demobilization activities, particularly in the early stages of such an operation, is often very limited. This risks jeopardizing not only the operation itself, but also the entire peace process.
A secure funding basis, from the assessed budget for peacekeeping, would ensure that combatants and their dependants, as required by Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) of 31 October 2000, could be successfully managed and returned to their communities, where they could then take full advantage of planned reintegration activities funded from voluntary sources.
Appropriately equipped specialized units for the disposal of explosive ordnance, to undertake the safe collection, destruction and disposal of ammunition and explosives, would necessitate financial support from Member States, when considering disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, to ensure that peacekeeping missions have the capacities needed to safely manage the large quantities of weapons and ammunition involved. The Secretariat, on its part, will work with Member States to establish these capacities in the United Nations Standby Arrangements System. These capacities should be deployed to a mission as early as possible, since often a significant quantity of weapons, ammunition and explosives is surrendered to a peacekeeping force in the early days of a mission.
Introducing the Secretary-General’s report, NOBUYASU ABE, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, said that it provided an overview of the implementation of the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General’s previous report on small arms (document S/2002/1053). Those recommendations covered four main topics, namely, first, the implementation of the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons; second, Security Council mandated sanctions and arms embargoes; third, conflict prevention, peace-building and the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of former combatants; and fourth, confidence building measures.
The present report, he said, highlighted the progress made in respect of tracing illicit small arms and light weapons; demobilization, disarmament and reintegration; control over the export and transit of small arms and light weapons; the links between illicit small arms and light weapons and the illicit exploitation of natural and other resources; and transparency in armaments. It also identified some areas of greater challenge, namely: the enforcement of Council resolutions on sanctions; the imposition of coercive measures against Member States that deliberately violated arms embargoes; the restriction on the supply of ammunition to areas of instability; and the need to finance demobilization, disarmament and reintegration programmes through the assessed budget for peacekeeping operations.
Today’s debate, he noted, was taking place in the wake of two events of particular significance in the global fight against the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons. First, the First Biennial Meeting of States, held in New York from 7 to 11 July 2003, which allowed States, international and regional organizations and civil society to draw the lessons from the first two years of implementation of the Programme of Action adopted at the July 2001 Conference on small arms and light weapons. Second, the establishment by the General Assembly at its fifty-eighth session of an open-ended working group to negotiate an international instrument on tracing illicit small arms and light weapons, which would start substantive work soon.
He stated that the Secretary-General was encouraged by the continued efforts of the Council to address the challenge posed by illicit small arms and light weapons in the context of situations under the Council’s consideration. Today’s meeting would contribute to strengthening the achievements obtained thus far, as well as to identifying the best approaches to address the areas of continued concern.
JULIAN KING (United Kingdom) said his country was committed to the full implementation of the 2001 Programme of Action, and had contributed some £20 million to that endeavour in recent years. It also fully supported an international instrument to enable States to identify and trace, in a timely manner, the illicit small arms and light weapons trade. Export controls were also an essential tool. One measure to improve such controls was to enhance the effectiveness and verification of end-user certificates, through an evaluation of the environment for which those were issued. Such an initiative should consider whether the end-user was a realistic destination for the quantity and type of goods requested.
Concerning preparations for the 2006 Review Conference on small arms, he said his Government last year had launched two relevant initiatives. The first, the transfer of control initiative, sought to raise awareness and build consensus at all levels of the need to develop harmonized guidelines, with a view to developing international agreement at the Review Conference. The second was the armed violence and policy initiative, which sought to encourage donors to design and develop programmes that took account of, and sought to address, the root causes of armed violence. On the transfer and control initiative, the United Kingdom would use next year to build consensus. While that was not an easy task, if efforts were sustained between now and the Conference, the initiative stood “a real chance of success”.
He welcomed the recent decision to expand the scope of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, as well as the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the Council call for strict enforcement of arms embargoes and its focus on practical measures, including further consideration of financing and improving the “disarmament, demobilization and reintegration” process into the mandates of peacekeeping operations. He also supported international efforts to tackle the problems of weapons of mass destruction. Around the world, small arms and light weapons were weapons of mass destruction, killing as many as half a million people per year. He would continue to support United Nations efforts to tackle that awful blight.
MIHNEA MOTOC (Romania) said that the humanitarian implications of small arms had alerted the international community to the urgency of curbing the illicit trafficking. Their availability might prolong fighting and reduce the willingness to negotiate peaceful solutions, as well as limit the capacity of States and international organizations to engage in conflict prevention, and management and resolution efforts. Those arms were also used by criminal organizations, operating either on a national or transnational basis. As a result, the “militarization of crimes” threatened not only countries torn by internal conflict, but also States that were routes of transit or trans-shipment for illegal transactions. Countries facing economic and social difficulties were especially vulnerable.
On the other hand, he said, countries had the right to self-defence, in accordance with the United Nations Charter. Arms production and transfers for that purpose, therefore, were legitimate. To conduct arms trading in a responsible manner, government and policy recommendations must carefully control the arms industry, and clear and strict criteria on arms exports should be implemented. Most weapons “start their lives legally”. Governments should tighten legislation and regulations governing legal production and trade, and then invest significant resources to implementation. Also, greater recognition was needed about the interdependency of domestic laws and international policies.
The fight against terrorism and organized crime required well trained and well equipped security forces and effective controls to curb access, he said. Member States were still far from achieving global legal standards to help keep small arms from human rights abusers. A step forward had been the United Nations Firearms Protocol in combating organized crime, to which Romania was preparing to accede. Concrete measures should also be strengthened to render most efficient the use of all mechanisms and networks in existence, the establishment of national focal points for information sharing, and improvement of public awareness and transparency by enhancing cooperation between government and industry and by publishing annual reports on transfers. For its part, the Council could improve the effectiveness of its arms embargoes by putting an end to “the economy of war” and encouraging moratoriums of arms sales to conflict areas.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that the easy availability of small arms and light weapons had continued to stoke conflicts and caused a higher number of casualties, in addition to making peacekeeping and peace-building more difficult. The Secretary-General’s report had highlighted the effectiveness of measures such as government controls, meaningful disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes and greater attention to end-user certification. In addition, the 2001 Programme of Action was in the process of implementation, and the biennial meeting in 2003 had noted forward movement and identified areas where further work was needed. The working group established by the Assembly was another step forward.
However, there were mixed results on the Secretary-General’s recommendations. First, the slow response in breaking the vicious cycle of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and the illegal exploitation of natural resources. Second, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration had not gathered pace, primarily due to resource constraints. Third, Member States’ lack of capacity in legal and technical areas had put further constraints on the fight against small arms and light weapons.
For effective implementation, he said, a host of measures at the national, regional and international levels were needed. Among them, the developed countries must make the necessary resources available to developing countries. Also required was political commitment to resolving the underlying causes of disputes. His Government was implementing a number of measures to control the flow of small arms and light weapons. For example, it was keeping record of all types of arms manufactured by the public sector or imported into the country. Also, all small arms and light weapons were distinctly marked for use by civilians, the police and armed forces. In addition, there was strict certification for all small arms to ensure compliance with United Nations embargoes. Further, a public awareness campaign had been launched since 2001. Those measures had yielded encouraging results.
LAURO L. BAJA (Philippines) said that, while the Secretary-General’s report indicated significant progress in some of his recommendations, that should not give a “false sense of relief” that the solutions to combating the illicit small arms traffic were in sight. The light at the end of the tunnel was still far from visible for two reasons: the magnitude of the problem; and the fact that it had been just over two years since the adoption in July 2001 of the Programme of Action to combat that scourge.
He said that the scope of the problem covered both the proliferation of millions of loose firearms, which claimed millions of lives each year, and the entrenched clandestine system of illegal arms trafficking. Identification and appreciation of the gravity and complexity of that menace by the international community was, itself, a significant accomplishment, which would facilitate adoption of enforcement measures. The importance of that first critical step -– completion of the diagnostic phase -– could not be overemphasized.
The next step concerned the prescriptive stage, he said. The first was the value of complementarity between the Security Council and the General Assembly. The latter was seized with universal norms setting the rule-making to control the proliferation, while the Council was more focused on practical measures, such as arms embargoes and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in conflict situations. The nuances of organic competencies should be carefully weighed, so as not to slow down the progress of work by overburdening the Council with the same issues already under consideration by the Assembly.
Finally, he said, the process leading to regional cooperation should be pursued just as vigorously as the wider multilateral cooperative processes and the national processes of formulating and enforcing legislative and regulatory measures. There should be parallel efforts to develop regional arrangements, as that was a vital segment of the policy continuum. In fact, global experience had shown that the illegal trafficking in small arms and light weapons had mainly passed through porous border routes of conflict areas. Promoting regional awareness of the issue and encouraging regional cooperation in the fields of information exchange, law-enforcement training, customs and airport controls, among others, was a valuable exercise.
ALEXANDER V. KONUZIN (Russian Federation) said the United Nations had been playing a leading role in formulating a comprehensive approach to the small arms problem. The first priority was to solve the problem of the illicit small arms trade. Last year, the holding of several important events had showed the existence in the international community of substantial potential to combat the illicit traffic in those weapons. For example, the first meeting of States to consider implementation of the 2001 Programme of Action had been held. Emphasis had been placed on the use of regional and subregional organizations to solve that most complex task of curbing the illicit traffic. This year, an open-ended working group would begin preparing a document to enable States, in a timely and reliable manner, to mark and trace illicit small arms and light weapons. Establishment of a comprehensive monitoring mechanism would put up a serious barrier to the illicit trafficking worldwide.
He said he was convinced that the main work in that area should be carried out in the framework of existing formats. The Council had repeatedly dealt with the problem. Its consideration of that topic in March had been extremely useful and timely in the context of solving the complex problems of the maintenance and restoration of international peace and security in Africa, particularly in West Africa. The Council missions to the countries of Central and West Africa had also paid great attention to the issue. The Russian Federation had consistently advocated severe measures whenever arms were supplied to illegally formed groups.
Priority should also be given to monitoring of compliance with the arms embargoes levied by the Council and enhancing the effectiveness of monitoring machinery for tracking violations, he said. Special attention had been given to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in the context of conducting peacekeeping operations. An important prerequisite for its success was including in the mandate the collection and destruction of small arms and light weapons. Donor support for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes was also important. Practical experience had confirmed the direct link between the illicit small arms traffic with the activities of unlawful armed groupings, the exploitation of natural resources, the involvement of child combatants, massive violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and transborder crime. Ever more dangerous was the linkage between the illicit small arms trade and international terrorism. Special attention should be given to achievable measures at the preventive stage and post-conflict phase of a settlement, he said.
JOEL W. ADECHI (Benin) said that the easy availability and illegal flow of small arms had been the source of the continuation of several conflicts. In Africa, the situation was particularly disturbing, since small arms and light weapons had encouraged the use of force in the settlement of disputes, instead of dialogue and negotiation. Once conflicts started, the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons had helped to fuel them. Other worrying phenomena associated with that scourge were child soldiers, the illegal exploitation of natural resources and the fuelling of a war economy. The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons posed a grave challenge to countries in crisis. The porous nature of borders and security control would bring the risk of destabilization to parts of Africa. That was particularly obvious in West Africa.
All of that had led to the mobilization of the international community and the United Nations, especially commanding the attention of the Security Council, he said. He thanked the Secretary-General for his report listing the initiatives taken thus far. It was encouraging to note that the work of the panel of experts had led to the establishment by the Assembly of a working group on the elaboration of an instrument on marking and tracing. Such an instrument should be able to strengthen the capacity of States to cooperate in identifying and tracing small arms and light weapons. The phenomenon of illicit trafficking continued, because control mechanisms were easy to escape and information was not being exchanged. Closer cooperation between States was crucial.
The Council, he added, could look at ways to further ensure compliance with arms embargoes, especially the possibility of putting an end to the delivery of ammunition, as without ammunition any weapons become useless. A moratorium, such as that of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), could contribute to curbing the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) said that, although small arms and light weapons were mainly held by private individuals, they killed more individuals than any other type of weapons. Two key areas where they played a prominent role in past deliberations of the Council had been the disarmament of ex-combatants and the imposition of arms embargoes. Perhaps of equal importance could be the prevention of armed conflict through disarmament. As a consequence of the increasingly complex nature of peacekeeping, the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants had become a standard element in almost every peacekeeping mandate of the past few years. There were various approaches to disarmament. One had been to offer payments for giving up weapons. Such an approach might work in limited cases, where there was no likelihood of a return to conflict. Another had been to provide incentives that were more in line with transforming the military life of a combatant into a civilian life.
He highlighted, as another focus, attention to arms stocks, either from the weapons collected from ex-combatants or those held in army depots. Collecting arms stocks, guarding posts and the destruction of arms were essential preconditions for peacekeeping. Guarding and possibly reducing existing stocks was but one side of the coin. Such measures would have little effect unless the influx of new weapons was prevented. The Council, therefore, must strengthen its arms embargoes. Those served their purpose only if everybody observed them meticulously. In the field, precaution must be taken at the points of entry for weapons, for which peacekeeping operations could play an important role. Member States that were countries of origin must be aware of their responsibilities under international law to control and, if necessary, interdict arms shipments of non-State actors.
The Council should observe all segments of arms shipments, not only the receiving end, he said. Efforts under way in the General Assembly to evolve a marking and tracing instrument would be extremely useful. Germany required licenses for all small arms transfers and transactions, and it would actively support the work of the open-ended working group. The Council would profit from such an instrument, which would facilitate implementation of its arms embargoes. Likewise, efforts to regulate arms brokerage should be intensified. Initially approved standards of brokerage would also lead to more effective arms embargoes.
INOCENCIO ARIAS (Spain) said that the Secretary-General’s report indicated that there were important gaps in the implementation of the recommendations to combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. Such weapons, although not considered weapons of mass destruction, represented a significant threat to peace and stability in many countries. They were the main instruments of violence in internal conflicts. Their proliferation also related to the scourges of terrorism and increasing crime. Also related to that was the illegal exploitation of natural resources and drug trafficking. The 2001 Programme of Action was a politically binding instrument and called for complementary work both internationally and domestically. It was not in vain that the Programme’s preamble gave to States the main responsibility for adopting measures to combat the illicit trade. He welcomed the Assembly’s decision to establish a working group on elaborating an instrument on marking and tracing.
It was appropriate, he said, for the Council to become increasingly involved in combating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. It should promote the adoption of national measures for that fight. Increasing the effectiveness of end-user certificates and ending unlawful brokerage had already been discussed in the First Committee, but had not yielded concrete measures. The Council should explore specific modalities in connection with the Assembly on such issues. Strengthening international and regional cooperation were key elements in combating the illicit trade.
His country was participating in a number of initiatives, including the application of the European Union’s Code of Conduct. It also participated in the permanent parliamentary forum on small arms and light weapons in Central America, which had as its objective the harmonization of national laws on those weapons, and was an excellent example of regional cooperation in that area.
STUART HOLLIDAY (United States) said his country recognized the agonizing consequences of the illicit small arms trade, especially in areas of conflict where the problem was most acute. The widespread proliferation of those illicit arms exacerbated conflict, hindered economic and social development, fuelled crime and terrorism, and contributed to the continued destabilization of war-torn societies. A practical, results-oriented approach was best. Each country must begin its efforts at the national level by adopting strict export and import controls and strong arms brokering laws, ensuring the security of small arms and light weapons stockpiles held for their national defence, and disposing of excess weapons.
He said the United States had been pleased to participate in the biennial meeting of States in July 2003 to review progress made in fulfilling the recommendations of the 2001 Programme of Action. The vast majority of participating States had provided national reports on the status of their efforts in that regard, which greatly aided efforts to understand and diagnose the problems associated with the illicit small arms trade. Many of the Secretary-General’s recommendations were aimed squarely at the immediate problems of illicit arms trafficking in regions of conflict. With regard to improvements in the transparency of armaments, he commended the work of the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts in expanding the Register of Conventional Arms to include reporting on transfers of man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS), and voluntary reporting on the small arms and light weapons destruction programme.
The United States was deeply concerned with the grave threat to civil aviation posed by the proliferation of MANPADS to terrorist groups and their State sponsors, he said. He called on all Member States to provide full and accurate reporting of MANPADS transfers in their annual submissions to the Register and to encourage adoption of the MANPADS guidelines developed by the Group of Eight industrialized countries (G-8) and the Wassenaar Arrangement last year. Given its acute concern over the proliferation of MANPADS to terrorist groups, the United States recently expanded its assistance programmes to safeguard and eliminate those dangerous weapons. Since the inception of its small arms and light weapons destruction programme in 2000, the United States had provided assistance for the destruction of nearly 700,000 weapons and more than 75 million rounds of ammunition in 13 countries. It also continued to actively participate in regional and international efforts.
RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil) said that, unfortunately, there were still loopholes in the legal transference of arms that allowed a diversion of arms from the legal to the illegal market, despite national efforts. Brazil stood as an example of such efforts, having changed its legislation to the necessities of current times. Recently, President Lula da Silva sanctioned the innovative Disarmament Statute, which restricted the bearing, possession and commerce of arms, in addition to criminalizing international arms trafficking. Brazil had also adopted the National Arms System, as a measure of preventive control. Aside from the strengthening of legislative measures, the country also regularly exchanged information with its neighbours and had established border procedures.
With its Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) partners, Brazil had endeavoured to establish a Joint Mechanism of Registry of Buyers and Vendors of Firearms, Ammunition and Explosives, he said. With the Registry, as well as other measures related to disarmament, the Inter-American Convention against the Fabrication and Illicit Traffic of Firearms was in effect. Even with such national, subregional and regional efforts, the problem had not been solved. For that reason, the step taken by the Assembly towards constituting a working group responsible for devising an international instrument for the identification and tracing of small arms was crucial. He expected that the document to be produced would be legally binding and responsive to the urgent necessity of interrupting the illegal flow of weapons.
The solution to the problem of small arms required the commitment of all States, the assistance of civil society and the input of international, regional and subregional bodies, he said. Alone, the Council was not able to meet the challenge. It was positive, however, that it was discussing the matter and listening to the opinion of Member States regarding expectations for its actions.
MICHEL DUCLOS (France) said that conventional weapons claimed the most victims in today’s world. His country had supported and actively implemented the 2001 Programme of Action. In that regard, he welcomed the adoption by the Assembly of a resolution setting up the open-ended working group to negotiate an international instrument on marking and tracing. The questions of brokering and end-user certificates also deserved the attention of the international community. Combating the illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons was a major concern for the international community. It was a global, regional and national concern.
In Europe, conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and changes in Eastern Europe had involved the dangerous proliferation of small arms, he noted. France was particularly concerned over the continued proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Africa, a major factor in the destabilization of States. There was a need for greater cooperation and participation of the international community, along with Africa, to combat trafficking in small arms and light weapons. Particular attention should be given in the context of post-conflict processes in West Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as peacekeeping missions in Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire.
To counter the spread of illicit weapons, it was necessary to develop and promote the regional dimension of the fight, he said. France, along with the Netherlands, had submitted a resolution to the Assembly on promoting the Programme of Action on a regional scale and to impart the experience of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which had led to the publication of eight guides to good practices.
ZHANG YISHAN (China) said that the international community’s close attention to that question had reflected the common awareness that the proliferation and illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons was destabilizing countries and regions and impeding their economic development. The United Nations had already taken a series of effective actions to deal with that issue, thereby providing a legal and policy basis for the small arms question. In the past three years, great progress had been made in accelerating implementation of the Firearms Protocol and the 2001 Programme of Action. The success of the 2003 first biennial meeting of States had given a fresh impetus to full implementation of the Action Programme.
He said that the recently concluded General Assembly session had resulted in the establishment of a working group to identify and trace small arms. That would stimulate international efforts to combat the illicit small arms trade. The Council had also attached increasing importance to the issue and had adopted various statements and resolutions. It had also emphasized the importance of settling the issue during its consideration of thematic topics, including the protection of civilians in armed conflict. All of those steps had helped to reduce the flow of illicit small arms and strengthen stability in the regions concerned. The Council should continue to pay close attention to the issue, actively promote implementation of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, and monitor adherence to the relevant arms embargoes.
The Council might also strengthen its coordination with the General Assembly, he said. China attached great importance to the issue and had actively participated in international efforts in that regard. In recent years, it had been seriously implementing the Programme of Action and was now preparing to ratify the Firearms Protocol. It had also actively participated in the working group to identify and trace small arms. It joined others in facilitating an early and proper settlement of that question around the world.
ISMAEL ABRAAO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said that preventing and combating the spread of small arms and light weapons was an integral part of the Council’s peace efforts and a key assignment for the Council in discharging its primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. Such weapons were killing massively and were the main deadly instruments in the hands of terrorists around the world. The 2001 Programme of Action had acknowledged that the excessive accumulation and proliferation of small arms and light weapons had a wide range of consequences and posed serious threats to sustainable development, peace and security. It was also directly linked to the fuelling of conflicts. The challenge was to develop an adequate framework in which all relevant dimensions of the problem could be effectively tackled in years to come. Concrete measures were needed at national, regional and international levels in areas such as transparency, information exchange, marking and tracing.
The Programme of Action, he said, provided an important tool for the international community to combat the illicit trade. He was encouraged to see that regional and subregional organizations were giving the issue of small arms priority. With the adoption of the Bamako Declaration, the African Union had articulated a continent-wide strategy to tackle the small arms problem. Also, the renewal of the ECOWAS Moratorium and the initiatives taken within the framework of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) represented genuine efforts to address the issue. Angola had a bitter experience with arms trafficking, fuelled by the illicit exploitation of natural resources. That had prompted the Council to decisive action, imposing a strict arms embargo, which had been crucial for bringing the conflict to an end.
The relative progress achieved since the adoption of the 2001 Programme of Action represented an important step forward on issues such as marking, tracing and keeping records. It was important for the Council to support efforts by governments and institutions to develop further steps to enhance cooperation to combat illicit arms brokering. Only a comprehensive approach could address the issue of small arms and light weapons at all levels, including the link between the illicit and licit trade. The international community’s efforts must be focused on the implementation of the Programme of Action. It also fully supported the presidential statement to be adopted at the end of the meeting.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) emphasized that the small arms question was an area of shared responsibility between the General Assembly and the Security Council. The Assembly was doing its share admirably. Following the convening of the small arms conference in July 2001 and subsequent adoption of the Programme of Action, great progress had been made in heightening the collective awareness of the spread of that scourge and the scope of its threat. The Council, constantly faced with the serious consequences of that scourge in managing conflict situations and combating international terrorism, had taken the initiative to join its efforts with those of the Assembly. He agreed with the Secretary-General that interaction between those two main bodies should be strengthened, in order to promote the development of long-term strategies to end illicit small arms proliferation.
He suggested that that interaction should be carried out in four frameworks: the open-ended working group charged with negotiating an international marking and tracing instrument; establishment of additional steps to strengthen international cooperation to prevent illicit brokering, especially through the establishment of national registers of brokers; pursuing a regime of end-user certificates and evolving an international and verification mechanism to control exports more effectively; and improving transparency in arms, especially through universal and consistent participation in the United Nations Register. Transparency must also cover national production and purchases linked to that, as well as to military procurements. The establishment of a machinery to enhance cooperation between the Assembly and the Council was also desirable.
The Council, because it bore the crucial responsibility for maintaining international peace and security, should make further use of ways and means to combat the illicit circulation and trading of small arms. It should remind Member States, particularly the producers, of their obligation to implement all resolutions containing sanctions such as arms embargoes. The Council should also mirror the concerns expressed by the Secretary-General, including the need to provide disarmament, demobilization and reintegration operations with adequate financing, without which peacekeeping efforts would only have been wasted. Adoption by the Council of enforcement measures to deal with neighbouring and supplying nations should be contemplated. Furthermore, a precise analysis of the factors that gave rise to the trafficking would clarify confusion between the illicit and licit arms trade, bearing in mind States’ rights to self-defence. He also reaffirmed the importance of global cooperation in combating transitional crime, as that was linked to international efforts to combat terrorism.
Council President HERALDO MUÑOZ (Chile), speaking in his national capacity, said that reports on small arms and light weapons concurred that there existed a marked tendency towards the excessive accumulation and proliferation of such weapons. Such weapons were the cause of increased killing, social ills and conflicts. Small arms in streets often killed more people than open warfare. He reiterated that combating the scourge was a primary task of the Council. Hence, it was important for the Council to comprehensively and effectively carry out disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes in post-conflict situations. It was also necessary for arms-exporting countries to show the utmost responsibility in their dealings. There was a need to intensify international cooperation concerning the origin of such weapons. The important strides in that area should be complemented by greater cooperation. He expressed gratitude for the Secretary-General’s report and supported the need for the Council to continue addressing such an important topic.
RICHARD RYAN (Ireland), on behalf of the European Union, said that the Union had remained consistent, through the political and practical actions of its members, in its commitment to the full implementation of the Programme of Action. Unfortunately, the problem had not diminished in any significant way in the past two years. Estimates of small arms stockpiles worldwide varied considerably, but recent figures suggested that as many as 600 million were in circulation. The death toll from the misuse of those weapons remained dramatic by any standards –- perhaps as many as 500,000 people each year. The problem of the excessive and destabilizing accumulations of small arms was a global one, requiring a coordinated response at national, subregional, regional and international levels.
Welcoming the Secretary-General’s report on behalf of the Union, he said that, overall, it was balanced, noting where advances had been made, without shying away from highlighting areas where progress was lagging or where a more proactive approach was needed. He also welcomed the concrete progress to elaborate an international marking and tracing instrument. A multilateral, legally binding instrument would greatly strengthen abilities to tackle issues of illicit weapons flows, illegal trades, and also curtail acquisition of those arms by terrorists. Also welcome had been the decision to expand the scope of the Register of Conventional Arms. The Union also supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the Council pursue, more vigorously and expeditiously, the use of arms embargoes to countries or regions threatened by, engaged in, or emerging from armed conflict, and to seek additional ways to promote their effective implementation.
The Union’s code of conduct on arms exports had been in operation since 1998 and could serve as a model, he said. The Union was currently looking at the elaboration of common national and international standards, which would aim to ensure that the legal trade was not diverted into illegal channels, and also to limit the excessive accumulation of small arms in areas of tension or armed conflict. Controls on brokers and on brokering was another area of particular concern and one to which the Union was paying priority attention. In June 2003, it adopted a common position on arms brokering, requiring member States to introduce legislation to effectively control brokers’ activities. Also, the Union had allocated assistance of approximately 7.7 million euro in the period 2001 to 2003 to affected countries to help them deal with the excessive and destabilizing accumulations.
JOHAN LØVALD (Norway) said the Governments of Norway and the Netherlands had launched an international initiative to enhance international cooperation on illicit brokering in small arms and light weapons. That initiative aimed at developing effective national control mechanisms for arms brokering. As a result, the Governments of the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Norway would sponsor a conference organized by ECOWAS in February/March this year to improve regional cooperation on small arms issues in West Africa.
He said under that Dutch-Norwegian initiative, his Government would also be supporting the efforts of the Secretary-General to promote increased regional cooperation against illicit trade in small arms in accordance with General Assembly resolution 58/241. As Members prepared for the next biennial conference of States on the Programme of Action scheduled for next year, he urged them to put emphasis on several areas, among them, assisting countries in developing their capacity to implement the Programme of Action and produce national reports on their implementation; developing regional cooperation to implement the Programme of Action; supporting the participation of civil society in the implementation of the Programme of Action, highlighting the humanitarian aspects of illicit arms trade; and developing national legislation on the arms trade. He hoped considerable progress would have been made by the next biennial conference in 2005, and that by 2006, Members should be ready to discuss a comprehensive international legally binding agreement.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said that the effectiveness and credibility of the Council did not result just from the fact that it was the only mechanism established to maintain international peace and security, but also from the fact that it was constantly grappling with new challenges to peace and security. The recognition of the gravity of the problem of small arms and light weapons made it imperative for the Council to address it in an effective manner. Coordination between the Council and the Assembly was essential to tackling issues related to small arms and light weapons. The Assembly had achieved tangible progress, as demonstrated in its recommendation to establish a working group to elaborate an international instrument on marking and tracing. He hoped that the efforts of the working group in 2004 and 2005 would be successful.
Despite the fact that the imposition of arms embargoes was the most frequently used mechanism to control arms flows, the Secretary-General’s report showed the difficulties in enforcing such embargoes. The compliance by Member States with Council resolutions mandating arms embargoes was needed to maintain the credibility of the embargoes. The Council could consider such measures as the publication of the names of States that violated the arms embargoes. He noted the link between the supply of weapons, the illegal exploitation of natural resources and drug trafficking. The Council had examined the trade in diamonds and its relation to the fuelling of conflicts. The Council’s action and evolution regarding peacekeeping operations allowed for the incorporation of provisions within peacekeeping mandates related to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, in addition to specific measures relating to the collection and destruction of surplus small arms and light weapons.
KIM SAM-HOON (Republic of Korea) observed that despite the collective efforts of the international community, the proliferation and trafficking of small arms and light weapons continued to pose serious problems around the world. That trade exacerbated conflict, impeded post-conflict peace-building and each year claimed at least 500,000 lives, the majority of whom were civilians, including women and children. The excessive accumulation, uncontrolled circulation and accessibility of those weapons represented a significant security threat that spanned the mandates of the United Nations and needed to be addressed at the national, regional and global levels.
He said the enforcement of Security Council arms embargoes was also critical in the fight to curb the proliferation and illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. His country supported proposals to establish a standing monitoring mechanism for targeted sanctions and the illicit trade in high-value commodities in armed conflict. As the majority of illegal weapons started out as legal weapons that then fell into illegal possession and use due to inadequate transfer controls, he stressed the importance of implementing rigorous export and import controls on the national, regional and global levels. In that regard, he continued, the Republic of Korea strongly supported measures to discourage arms flows to countries or regions of conflict, or those emerging from armed conflict, as well as calls for the governments of arms-exporting countries to exercise a greater degree of responsibility for their actions.
CARLOS PUJALTE (Mexico) said the Council should address the proliferation of small arms in the framework of its chief responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. Treatment of that matter should include a broad perspective on the destabilizing effects of that proliferation, which precluded the creation of conditions for stability and sustained development. The link between that and transnational organized crime should also be considered. For that reason, his country had promoted, in the context of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, the idea of including that matter on the Committee’s agenda.
He said that the main response of the Council to the problem had been through arms embargoes. The results, however, had not been fully satisfactory. The problem had been exacerbated by the following: the diversity of sources of production; the many forms of transport; lax internal regulation; the lack of international legal instruments governing that trade; the traffic in used weapons; and the black market. That was why both domestic and international efforts were needed. At the national level, more and better controls were needed to cover sales. At the international level, the Council should encourage States to provide information about transfers. Over the long term, a legally binding instrument should ensure punishment of the illicit traffickers and should also contemplate the brokerage aspects.
The responsibility for dealing with the trafficking and production of illicit arms fell to all States, not only the receiving States, he said. Exporter and producing countries had a greater responsibility, and could be required to show a greater degree of commitment. He welcomed the adoption without a vote by the General Assembly of resolution 58/241, which called for negotiations in 2004 of a legally binding instrument on tracing and marking. As indicated in the Secretary-General’s report, and also in that resolution, the Secretary-General had been asked to consult with all Member States, regional and subregional organizations, international organizations and experts in the field, regarding adoption of new measures aimed at intensifying international cooperation to prevent, combat and eliminate illicit brokering of small arms.
KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) highlighted two events warranting special mention. The first was the holding of the first biennial meeting on small arms, and the second was the unanimous adoption of the Assembly resolution establishing the working group to elaborate an international instrument on tracing. Tracing was an important method for detecting and criminalizing the illicit transfer of small arms. In particular, the creation of an international instrument on tracing was an important task to tackle the issue of small arms from the supply side. He looked forward to seeing concrete results produced by the working group, which would begin its activities in February.
He stated that, in order to implement an arms embargo effectively, it was not enough simply to adopt a Council resolution. It was necessary, after its adoption, that its implementation be monitored, and, if violations were found, enforcement measures must be taken. In addition, control of small arms on the demand side was equally important. That meant that, to address the problem of conflicts in various parts of the world, it was also necessary for the international community to pursue measures to eliminate the demand for small arms. In particular, for the sake of bringing a conflict to an end and creating a stable society, promotion of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former soldiers was absolutely critical. To encourage cooperation in weapons collection efforts, reasonable economic incentives must be provided, and, moreover, it was also essential that proper employment opportunities be provided to induce them to give up their weapons.
HENRI RAUBENHEIMER (South Africa) said that the proliferation and excessive accumulation of small arms and light weapons continued to pose a threat to the security and stability of many nations, inhibited their development and undermined good governance. The human suffering caused by those weapons, therefore, needed to be addressed urgently, in a practical and action-oriented manner, which would provide substance to the many statements made on the issue in the recent past, he said.
He believed the negotiations on a tracing instrument would culminate in a practical and effective instrument that would assist Member States to trace the origin of, and the routes used to transfer, those weapons. Such an instrument would also facilitate the effective implementation of arms embargoes. Also, cooperation between Members on tracing illicit small arms and light weapons, and the minimum standards for the making and record-keeping of those weapons, would make it increasingly harder to undertake activities intended to circumvent such embargoes, he stated.
He pointed out that the international community had learned through experience, with fraudulent end-user certificates and illicit brokering activities, that if those activities were not curtailed, it would have failed in its endeavours to eradicate the scourge of illicit small arms and illicit light weapons. Thus, although no concrete work on the issue of end-user certificates had yet been mandated by the United Nations, South Africa believed that at its fifty-ninth session the General Assembly should consider the possibility of establishing a mechanism to study that important issue and provide the Assembly with recommendations on how to deal with it.
He added that his country’s policy on small arms had identified the importance of regional approaches to address the problem and had learned from its own experience that peace and security were conditions for sustained development. The inclusion in the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) of a peace and security initiative mapped out the commitment of the African continent to the promotion of long-term conditions of development and security. South Africa believed that the Security Council and the General Assembly had two complementary, but distinct roles to play in preventing, combating and eradicating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. Therefore, it was important to avoid a duplication of initiatives in areas of common efforts by the Council and the Assembly, as identified by the Secretary-General’s report, he said.
LUIS GUILLERMO GIRALDO (Colombia) said that an elemental and effective way to solve and prevent the wrongly named “low intensity” conflicts was to make them virtually impossible through the combat of the illicit small arms trade. The question should be asked whether the tasks undertaken had been enough and whether those had been effective enough to end the small arms scourge. Could the Council deal with the issue under Chapter VII? he asked. The Secretary-General’s recommendations should be divided between those that could be implemented directly by the Council –- in peace-building, conflict prevention, arms embargoes and monitoring –- and those that should be implemented by Member States.
Despite what the Secretary-General deemed as “significant progress” and the start of talks this year on an international marking and tracing instrument, a lack of compliance with arms embargoes was prevalent, owing to inadequate legislation and lack of enforcement, or technical capacity limitations. Also, there had been no meaningful progress on legislation to ensure effective control over the import, export and transit of small arms and light weapons, or on end-user certificates. Further, during the biennial meeting of States, only
98 countries had presented reports; 78 of them had export-import control laws, and only 39 met end-user certificate requirements.
Even more worrying was the fact that only 16 countries had domestic regulations covering brokerage activities, he said. Efforts to control exports should not be based on criteria that took into account only the views of the producing and exporting countries, without taking into account the importing countries and those affected by the illicit arms trade. Existing criteria was subjective and could violate the right of each State to import and retain small arms and light weapons for its self-defence and security. It was more fair and efficient to establish strong national end-user regimes and to develop an end-use certificate system at the regional and global levels.
Less progress had been registered by the Council with regard to those recommendations, which were under its authority, he said. For example, the Council had not enhanced its interaction with the General Assembly, nor had it registered major progress with regard to the links between the illicit small arms trade and the illicit exploitation of natural resources. It had made no progress at all on the links with the trade in illegal drugs. On disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, the Council had made some important efforts, but financing for those programmes was still insufficient. That left in post-conflict zones a huge quantity of arms and ammunition, which were then transferred. The Council should also give more attention to its arms embargoes, particularly against non-State agents. Neighbouring countries had the responsibility to ensure that their territories were not used to send small arms and ammunition to non-State armed actors in conflict areas.
MARKIYAN KULYK (Ukraine) said that it was essential to provide for regional coordination between national control systems and mechanisms for the prevention of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. He reiterated that the responsibility for establishing control over the trafficking in small arms and light weapons rested with the States acquiring those weapons. At the same time, those States should be encouraged to improve their abilities to curb the illicit trafficking in small arms. That might require the substantial financial assistance of the international community.
Excessive accumulation of, and illicit trafficking in, small arms and light weapons continued to fuel, intensify and delay the resolution of conflicts. The series of innovative measures taken by the Council to enhance compliance with arms embargoes, including by establishing independent panels of experts and monitoring mechanisms, resulted in positive outcomes, especially in Angola and Sierra Leone. At the same time, the problem of illicit trafficking persisted in some other areas, such as Somalia and Afghanistan. The restriction on the supply of ammunition to areas of instability required more attention of the Council, as well as the issue of identifying links between small arms and light weapons and the illicit exploitation of natural and other resources. He supported consideration by the Council of actions against States that deliberately violated arms embargoes.
He believed that, at the current stage, it was important to review the lessons learned in order to ensure the efficiency of measures that could be further taken by the Council. In that connection, it would be useful to continue to focus on financial sources used for the purchase of illegal weapons and to define the role that the relevant international organizations, businesses and financial institutions and other actors at the regional and local levels could play in implementing arms embargoes.
The Council suspended its discussion at 1:20 p.m. and resumed at 3:35 p.m.
TIM McIVOR (New Zealand), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum Group, said that national and regional action remained critical to effective implementation of the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons. His region had experienced the lawlessness and political instability that accompanied the unchecked proliferation of such weapons. It had benefited from the Council’s support in managing the role of small arms in respect of the post-conflict situation in Bougainville, where the collection and destruction of weapons was a critical part of the ongoing peace process.
Pacific efforts to address the small arms issue centred on a regional approach, he stated. The importance of working collaboratively to address security issues was reaffirmed by Pacific leaders in the Biketawa Declaration, which provided for a regional approach to regional security issues. That declaration formed the basis for the current police and military support Pacific island countries had extended to the Solomon Islands to overcome instability and lawlessness exacerbated by the spread of illicit small arms.
The effective implementation of the Programme of Action remained a priority for the Pacific region, he said. Pacific Island Forum members had agreed on a common regional approach to weapon control, reflected in the Nadi Framework. At their last annual meeting in August 2003, Forum leaders endorsed model weapons control legislation based on that framework. Those steps had been complemented by a regional workshop, co-hosted by Japan and Australia in Tokyo in January 2003, to enhance cooperation in legal and institutional areas, law enforcement and effective small arms-stockpile management.
JENÖ STAEHELIN (Switzerland) urged all Member States interested in the issue of illicit trade in small arms and light weapons to participate constructively in the negotiation process. Such participation would strengthen their common effort in the fight against the illicit trade by establishing an effective and practicable international tracing instrument.
He said the recurrent violation of United Nations arms embargoes needed Members’ full attention, as that was an area that had proved to be extremely difficult to enforce, he said. The international community should not forget the dire consequences a failed arms embargo would have for the people in the respective countries or regions. In his view, the ongoing transfer of weapons and ammunition to conflict parties fuelled armed conflicts, endangered peacekeeping operations, and made the access of humanitarian aid workers to conflict zones more difficult. Most importantly, it put at risk the lives of thousands of civilians and, thus, represented a serious threat to human security. In that regard, the traditional approaches of dealing with illicit arms proliferation should, therefore, be complemented by a human security perspective that focused on the dangers and threats that the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons posed for the lives of people.
Continuing, he pointed out that arms embargoes could only be enforced and loopholes closed if national, regional and international means and mechanism to control the arms trade were put together in an effective way. Switzerland was convinced that international cooperation could only succeed if each State put into force the relevant national legislation. Whether an arms embargo failed or succeeded would always depend on the weakest link in the chain, he said, stressing that monitoring mechanisms were crucial in order to identify those links.
OSWALDO DE RIVERO (Peru) said that small arms endangered human security and made the streets unsafe in the cities of almost all Member States. The illicit small arms trade fed terrorism and the exploitation of natural resources. His country had combated terrorism for more than 13 years and had overcome the arms trafficking scourge. Since the inception of the United Nations, it was small arms and light weapons that daily killed far more people than the much feared weapons of mass destruction, yet the United Nations had no treaty to regulate those small, but deadly, weapons. While progress had advanced with the adoption of the 2001 action plan, the world was still far from having found effective solutions. Not much could be achieved through non-binding statements and resolutions.
He said that, to achieve an effective halt to the illicit small arms trade, the Council could follow the recommendations in the Secretary-General’s report. It should establish concrete mechanisms to compel States to comply with its arms embargoes, find ways of monitoring them and also adopt mandatory measures against Member States that violated them. Also, the Council could support the working group charged with negotiating a tracing and marking instrument. It must coordinate with the General Assembly to promote strategies to combat the illicit proliferation of small arms whenever it took international action to prevent conflict. In addition, it should continue its efforts to establish the links between the illicit trafficking and the illegal exploitation of natural resources and the drug trade.
Also, the Council must include in the mandates of all peace operations concrete provisions to govern the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, he said. Its main activity in that regard should be to collect and eliminate excessive small arms and light weapons, in order to prevent any illicit trafficking, which could create new conflicts. It should also increase the financial resources available to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, with a focus on small arms, to ensure that such an important process did not depend merely on voluntary contributions. The best thing the Council could do today was to provide all possible support for an international legal instrument on tracing small arms. While a treaty could not guarantee an end to the multimillion dollar trade in illicit weapons, it would be a great step forward.
FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said that the 2001 Conference had reaffirmed that the problem of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was complicated and difficult. It was an issue that primarily threatened the lives of innocents, especially women, children and the aged. Therefore, he called on all States to make all efforts to put an end to the tragedy and find effective solutions. The catastrophic damages of small arms and light weapons had become clear in conflicts that befell and continued to befall Africa and other regions. He renewed the call to all Member States to respect embargoes imposed by the Council on the export of small arms and light weapons to African countries suffering conflict.
Dealing with the illicit trade could in no way mean setting aside the other priorities drawn up by the United Nations in the field of disarmament, he stressed. Those priorities were set forth by the international community in the final declaration of the Assembly’s special session on disarmament in 1978. The utmost priority should be given to nuclear arms and weapons of mass destruction. Syria had participated in a workshop, organized by the Department for Disarmament Affairs and held in Cairo, to study the needs and difficulties encountered by Arab States in combating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.
He stressed that the difficulties facing Arab States was a result of the current situation, which was one of Israel’s occupation of Arab land and Israel’s arsenal of all types of weapons. In a desire to transform the Middle East into an area free of weapons of mass destruction, Syria had tabled a resolution in the Council to free the region of such weapons. He hoped the text could receive the support of all members of the Council.
The Council must seek to find the root causes of conflicts in which small arms and light weapons were used. The Council could also encourage initiatives aimed at mobilizing resources and expertise to encourage the implementation of the Programme of Action. It could also provide assistance to States to overcome difficulties faced in implementing the Programme.
GILBERT LAURIN (Canada) said he was encouraged by recent progress on the issue of small arms and light weapons. Enhanced interaction between the Council and the General Assembly could also be beneficial. Today’s debate would allow the Council to review the achievements thus far, reflect on the lessons learned and address outstanding challenges with renewed vigour. Compliance with arms embargoes was key to international peace and security. He called on all Member States to comply with arms embargoes imposed by the Council. He urged the Council to utilize the tools available to it to investigate alleged violations. Where appropriate, the Council should consider measures to address violations. He also urged the Council to take appropriate measures to break the link between the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, the illegal exploitation of natural resources and drug trafficking.
Canada recognized the need for consistent and verifiable end-user certificates. State responsibility for arms transfers must also be examined. Effective disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes also merited additional attention from the Council. It was important to note that the responsibility to address that issue fell not only to the Council, but also to governments, international organizations and civil society. Small arms and light weapons were still one of the main causes of human suffering around the world. To succeed, strategies to combat the scourge must recognize certain requirements. For example, it was necessary to work locally with those who daily suffered, bring in civil society in designing programmes, and promote demand reduction strategies. It was also important to strengthen public security.
B.G. CHIDY AUSIKU (Zimbabwe) said that, in southern Africa, a growing number of issues that knew no borders, such as the smuggling and trade in small arms and light weapons and drugs, demanded a coordinated regional response. The Southern Africa Regional Action Programme on Light Arms and Illicit Trafficking was guided by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit decisions of August 1999. Under a philosophy that was best described as “cooperation is better than competition”, the SADC had developed a well coordinated framework to effectively combat armed transborder crime and curb the flow of small arms and light weapons. It had also established the Southern African Regional Police Cooperation, which acted as the regional database for information associated with those flows.
Among other measures, Zimbabwe signed and ratified the SADC Protocol on Firearms, Ammunition and Other Related Materials, he said. That instrument reflected priority needs relating to: coordinating procedures for the import, export and transit of firearms shipments; standardized marking and identification of firearms at the time of manufacture, import or export; ensuring transparency and information exchange; and promoting legal uniformity and minimum standards relating to the manufacture, possession, import, export and transfer of firearms and ammunition. At the national level, Zimbabwe did not manufacture small arms, nor did it have a national coordination agency designed to deal specifically with them. There was a mechanism of interaction and cooperation, however, between appropriate ministries and State agencies in the field of arms control and disarmament, and the politico-military dimension of security.
He said his country and most of its neighbours had waged wars of national liberation and knew the importance of well coordinated and funded disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes. Some of the projects essential for that process included: the provision of small-scale credit to returning female ex-combatants and refugees; integration of demobilized soldiers into the economic and social reconstruction process through support for small-scale projects that provided income and employment opportunities; funding for vocational training and the promotion of micro-enterprise; and support for national programmes of reintegration counselling and referral services. In the case of the SADC, support by the international community of the regional peacekeeping training centre should be “unwavering”. That centre provided training for army and civilian police personnel who participated in United Nations peacekeeping missions.
VIJAY K. NAMBIAR (India) said his country was particularly aware of the complexity and lethality of the illicit small arms traffic. Since 1990, the Government had seized, in just the States of the north and north-east, approximately 39,000 weapons of all types. Their markings clearly indicated that the source of those weapons lay outside India. Over the past two decades, thousands of innocent civilians in India had fallen victim to the acts of terrorists, who used illicitly obtained small arms and light weapons for their nefarious activities. “We have paid a high developmental cost as a result”, he said. Thus, his country had been actively associated with the various United Nations initiatives to address that problem.
He said that the illicit trade occurred because of illicit production or because licit production or licit stocks entered the “gray and black markets”, thus, swelling the illicit weapons market. Those arms ended up in the possession of criminals and, worse, got into the hands of unscrupulous arms brokers, ultimately ending up in conflict areas and in the hands of extremists and terrorists. The 2001 Programme of Action recognized that measures were needed to ensure effective controls over legal arms transfers. India followed a very strict policy with regard to the exports of those weapons, which included a requirement for end-user certificates on a government-to-government basis, as well as a ban on exports to countries under United Nations embargo. Hopefully, all other States would also do the same.
For its part, the international community must ensure that the arms trade flowed only through channels authorized by both the exporting and importing governments, he said. Greater exchange of information and collaboration between governments was essential. Linkages among the illicit small arms trade, the illicit exploitation of natural resources, and narcotic drugs had been important in the context of Somalia and Liberia. The Council should give careful consideration to recommendations and findings of committees constituted to investigate such linkages. The international community must also extend assistance to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes. The Council should take effective and practical steps, based on the report, to restrict the availability and use of illicit small arms and help implement the action plan.
REZLAN ISHAR JENIE (Indonesia) said that, while the Council’s efforts had led to positive results in some areas of the world, the problem had persisted in others, with the potential to ignite even greater disasters. Illegal arms transfers had not spared any country or region. A sizeable number of those illegally possessed weapons flowed into his region, fuelled violent crimes, gave rise to additional conflicts, and engendered instability and insecurity at the national and regional levels. Indeed, that had become part of the growing menace of transnational organized crime. Indonesia had been an unfortunate victim of those vicious activities. Because of its long coastlines and unique geographical attributes, it was particularly vulnerable to illegal small arms transfers. Organized crime was now easily making huge “illegal and unconscionable” profits across borders in different countries through advanced transportation means and communication technologies.
Hence, he said, the fight against individuals and organizations that indulged in the illicit arms trade had become a national priority. That fight must take into account the implications for Indonesia’s territorial integrity, as well as its commitment to maintain national unity. The “unsettling” state of affairs had also hindered the resolution of separatist tendencies in certain parts of the country, which were detrimental to national stability and security. Against that backdrop, he welcomed the Secretary-General’s recommendations, particularly the call for an international marking and tracing instrument. Also gratifying had been the call for greater interaction between the Assembly and the Council.
In the post-conflict period in the countries cited in the report, which were mostly in Africa, commendable progress had been made in such diverse areas as consolidating State authority, implementing disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and resettlement programmes, fostering human rights and national reconciliation, and promoting socio-economic progress. Those efforts had been undertaken within the right of States to self-defence and security, and without prejudice to their corresponding right for effective control over the export, import, transit and storage of small weapons. He commended the Secretary-General’s proposal for the maintenance of a comprehensive approach, including assistance for capacity-building and confidence-building, conflict-prevention initiatives and peacekeeping operations, and the establishment of a secure environment for sustainable development.
JOE ROBERT PEMAGBI (Sierra Leone) said that the establishment of the open-ended working group to negotiate an international instrument on marking and tracing was one of the most far-reaching decisions in current efforts to eradicate that scourge. For a country that had experienced the agony and devastating effects of that inhuman trade, Sierra Leone wholeheartedly supported any action directed at the source of the problem -– the manufacturing and supply channel. That was not because he had underestimated the so-called consumer side of the equation, but because the firearms industry had not done enough, as far as legally binding measures were concerned, to check the flow of those deadly weapons and ensure that they did not reach non-State actors.
He urged the Council to continue to acknowledge that the illicit small arms trade posed a serious threat to international peace and security. As the organ with the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, it must assume its responsibility for removing that threat. Thus, it must go beyond statements of support and should, for instance, seek other means of enforcing its arms embargoes. As the Secretary-General had noted, while the embargoes remained the most frequently imposed sanctions measure by the Council, those had proved extremely difficult to enforce. The Council, as a matter of urgency, should address the lack of compliance of Member States, as well as the lack of adequate legislation, enforcement or technical capacity. It should consider steps that could assist Member States in implementing the mandatory arms embargoes.
Sierra Leone welcomed the Council’s decision to maintain the arms embargo against Liberia, he said. While the prospects for peace and stability in the Mano River Union countries had improved considerably with the expansion of United Nations peacekeeping operations in Liberia and the start of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme, no one could afford to be complacent. The arms embargo must be “scrupulously” monitored. Also, recognition of the importance of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and related activities could not be overemphasized. At the same time, however, the Council should find a more practical and effective means of addressing the problem of shortfalls in funding those programmes. Timely and adequate funding were critical to their success, as well as to efforts to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit small arms trade.
CHEICK SIDI DIARRA (Mali) said that situations being dealt with by the Council that were fuelled by the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons were basically confined to Africa. In those situations, while the possibility of the use of weapons of mass destruction was nil, the impact of small arms and light weapons was just as devastating. The adverse effects of those conflicts could also be seen in the weak infrastructures of those countries. Whatever the origins of those crises, they had elicited a variety of responses from the international community. They had also elicited continent-wide responses through such mechanisms as the African Union, the SADC and ECOWAS, in addition to international responses through the Council. An example of such response was the fact that the Council had simultaneously authorized six peacekeeping missions in Africa.
The efforts of the international community were often thwarted by the persistence of some crises, due to two primary factors -– the illegal exploitation of natural resources and the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, which were linked and fuelled each other. The continent-wide reaction to the illegal proliferation of small arms and light weapons was enshrined in the 2000 Bamako Declaration and the 2002 Algiers Programme of Action. In resolution 58/241, the Assembly decided to establish an open-ended working group to elaborate an international instrument for the marking and tracing of small arms and light weapons.
He noted that effective participation in various initiatives required technical capacities that not all countries possessed. Also, some of the Secretary-General’s recommendations were not the responsibility of individual States. He stressed the need to raise awareness about the problem of small arms and light weapons, an endeavour in which many actors had a role to play.
BRUNO STAGNO UGARTE (Costa Rica) said that small arms and light weapons violated the entire range of human rights. The Council had recognized their deadly impact and, as a result, had decided to include the topic on its agenda. It had already adopted valuable recommendations, including that all States should use end-user certificates. It had appealed to arms exporters to act more responsibly and had invited States to establish arms brokers’ registries. It had also appealed to States to observe arms embargoes. But, that had not been enough. International action must go beyond those steps. The time had come to prohibit the transfer of military equipment or personnel to States whose military units were participating in human rights violations.
He said it was also high time to prohibit the sale of weapons to any States that did not respect human rights principles and had not joined the relevant treaties. He welcomed the creation of a working group to negotiate a tracing and marking instrument. But, the mandate for those talks had been restricted. It was not enough to create rules about tracing and marking; binding rules that defined when transfers were legitimate must be adopted. Towards that goal, Costa Rica had sponsored the drafting of a treaty, which attempted to be a faithful codification of States’ obligations in terms of arms transfers derived from existing international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law. The draft convention established that all arms transfers must be authorized. It also imposed several other restrictions on such transfers, such as the prohibition of the use of weapons that were excessively injurious or had indiscriminate effects.
The draft also established several bans on arms transfers, such as when it was clear that those weapons would be used in violation of the United Nations Charter or to perpetrate genocide and other crimes against humanity, he said. The draft convention did not seek to create any new obligations, but had sought to specify the “logical and inescapable” rules already in force. It also included some novel measures of a precautionary nature. Hopefully, the draft would become a model for internationally binding agreements, which would facilitate coordination and concrete action on arms transfer regulation.
For its part, the Council must design new mechanisms to guarantee compliance with arms embargoes, he said, especially since compliance in that regard was still deficient. In 2001, 54 countries had been linked to the transfer and sale of weapons, in contradiction to existing arms embargoes. The sanctions committees were political organs that did not have the capacity to carry out technical manifestations. Thus, a mechanism to monitor arms embargoes should be created within the Secretariat. That would serve as technical support for the political action of the sanctions committees. It should be noted that, over the years, both the Assembly and the Council had taken some positive measures to counter the small arms scourge.
ARMEN MARTIROSYAN (Armenia) said how the international community put into practice the provisions of the Programme of Action to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons that was adopted in 2001 would be key to the future and would greatly impact the prospects for achieving peace and security in many areas of conflict. As commonly recognized now, small arms and light weapons were not merely an arms control and disarmament issue. It also had a human rights dimension, as demonstrated by the direct link of the spread of small arms and light weapons and the involvement of children in armed conflicts. It was also linked to terrorism and organized crime.
Hence, the problem needed to be dealt with from an inclusive perspective of national, regional and international security, conflict prevention and post-conflict peace-building, he said. It should also be noted that, while small arms and light weapons played a significant role in exacerbating conflicts, those conflicts were rooted in political, economic, ethnic and cultural differences and disparities. They were often aggravated by governance-related deficiencies, lack of or weak democratic institutions, disrespect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as disregard of the right of peoples to self-determination. The complex nature of conflicts required a comprehensive approach that went beyond the problem of small arms and light weapons alone.
He said harmonization of national control laws and regulations, as well as exchange of national lists of registered brokers, could be carried out within the subregional and regional frameworks, as well. Such initiatives could go parallel to the conflict resolution efforts in regions such as his, by preventing a further arms race and, thus, serving as an important confidence-building measure.
Under-Secretary-General ABE thanked delegations for the encouragement provided to the Secretariat in their work on the small arms question. Work would continue in that regard on the basis of today’s discussion and would assist the Council in its further work. Further, the Secretariat would report to the Council, as appropriate.
The President of the Council, Mr. MUÑOZ (Chile), then read out the following presidential statement, to be issued as S/PRST/2004/1:
“The Security Council welcomes the Report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of his recommendations to the Council entitled Small Arms (S/2003/1217) of 31 December 2003, and reaffirms the Statements of its President of 31 October 2002 (S/PRST/2002/30), of 24 September 1999 (S/PRST/1999/28), and of 31 August 2001 (S/PRST/2001/21).
“The Security Council recalls its primary responsibility under the Charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security, in view of which its attention is drawn inevitably to the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons, as such weapons are the most frequently used in armed conflicts. The Council reaffirms the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations and, subject to the Charter, the right of each State to import, produce and retain small arms and light weapons for its self-defense and security needs.
“The Council welcomes all efforts already undertaken by Member States and calls upon them to fully implement at the national, regional and international levels the recommendations contained in the Programme of Action adopted in July 2001 by the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.
“The Council welcomes the resolution 58/241 of 23 December 2003 of the General Assembly by which, among other things, it decided to establish an open-ended working group to negotiate an international instrument to enable States to identify and trace, in a timely and reliable manner, illicit small arms and light weapons and calls upon all Member States to support all efforts aimed at this purpose.
“The Council encourages the arms-exporting countries to exercise the highest degree of responsibility in small arms and light weapons transactions. It also encourages international and regional cooperation in the consideration of the origin and transfers of small arms and light weapons in order to prevent their diversion to terrorist groups, in particular, Al Qaida. The Council welcomes the significant steps that have been taken by Member States in this regard. The obligation of Member States to enforce the arms embargo should be coupled with enhanced international and regional cooperation concerning arms exports.
“The Security Council reiterates its call on all Member States to effectively implement arms embargoes and other sanction measures imposed by the Council in its relevant resolutions, and urges Member States in a position to do so to provide assistance to interested States in strengthening their capacity to fulfil their obligations in this regard. The Council encourages Members to undertake vigorous actions aimed at restricting the supply of small arms, light weapons and ammunitions to areas of instability. The Council further encourages Member States to provide the Sanctions Committees with available information on alleged violations of arms embargoes and also calls on Member States to give due consideration to the recommendations of the related reports.
“The Council continues to recognize the need to engage the relevant international organizations, non-governmental organizations, business and financial institutions and other actors at the international, regional and local levels to contribute to the implementation of arms embargoes.
“The Security Council reiterates the importance of carrying out disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, an increasingly essential component of peacekeeping mandates, as comprehensively and effectively as possible in post-conflict situations under its consideration.
“The Security Council takes note of the inclusion of Man-Portable Air-Defence Systems (MANPADS) on an exceptional basis in the United Nations Register on Conventional Arms.
“The Security Council requests the Secretary-General to update the Council for its next meeting on the subject on the further implementation of the recommendations contained in his report entitled “small arms” (S/2003/1217), of 31 December 2003.”
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