5127th Meeting (AM & PM)
SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS ON ARMS-EXPORTING COUNTRIES TO EXERCISE ‘HIGHEST DEGREE
OF RESPONSIBILITY’ IN SMALL ARMS TRANSACTIONS
Presidential Statement Follows Day-Long Debate;
Highlights Role Illicit Weapons Trade Plays in Prolonging Conflicts
The Security Council today, recognizing that the dissemination of illicit small arms and light weapons fuelled disputes and prolonged conflicts, encouraged arms-exporting countries to exercise the highest degree of responsibility in the transaction of such weapons.
In a statement read out by its President, Joel W. Adechi of Benin, following a day-long debate on the issue, the Council also encouraged international and regional cooperation in identifying the origin and transfer of small arms and light weapons to prevent their diversion, in particular, to Al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. In addition, it called on all States to enforce the Council’s resolutions on sanctions, including those imposing arms embargoes, and to bring their own domestic implementation into compliance with the Council’s measures on sanctions.
More than 35 speakers addressed the Council, focused on ways of improving the international small arms regime and stressing the importance of action to stop their proliferation. The discussion was based on the Secretary-General’s report, introduced by Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs Nobuyasu Abe, which describes initiatives undertaken to implement 12 core recommendations on ways in which the Council could contribute to dealing with the question of small arms and light weapons in situations under its consideration.
The debate focused on four main areas covered by the recommendations: implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons; sanctions and arms embargoes by the Security Council; conflict prevention, peace strengthening, and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants; and confidence-building measures. Speakers agreed that while significant progress had been achieved at the global, regional and national levels, concrete measures were still needed to: ensure better coordination of various programmes; share information and lessons learned; and improve controls and transparency.
At the same time, more needed to be done to: establish the links between illicit small arms and light weapons and the illicit exploitation of natural and other resources; support the establishment of the Small Arms Advisory Service; and encourage more interaction between the Council and the General Assembly on these matters. Also highlighted in the debate was the need to integrate disarmament, demobilization and reintegration aspects in peacekeeping mandates. Several speakers supported destruction of surplus and obsolete weapons and urged increased stockpile security. It was also said that small arms transfers should be conducted in a very responsible manner and the industry must be carefully controlled.
Many speakers stressed that the question of small arms was not just one of disarmament, but also of development, democracy, human rights and security. The proliferation of such weapons exacerbated conflict, sparked refugee flows and spawned a culture of violence and impunity. They often paid for civil wars, which had severe economic and social consequences, and were used by terrorists and criminal groups.
The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania said that several African countries, including his own, had been adversely affected by the easy availability of small arms -- the weapons of choice in most conflicts and insurgencies. Small arms and dual use instruments, such as machetes, in the hands of undemocratic regimes and insurgent non-State actors, had been responsible for some of the most gross human rights violations, genocides, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Today, car bombs and dynamite sticks were among the deadliest weapons in the arsenals of terrorists. Control over the spread of small arms should, therefore, be one of the major preoccupations of the Security Council in maintaining international peace and security.
Emphasis was also placed on the need to implement clear and strict criteria for arms exports. While acknowledging the importance of existing documents, including the UN Programme of Action on small arms, several speakers insisted that in the absence of binding international norms, the currently negotiated draft instrument that would enable States to identify and trace illicit small arms and light weapons should be of a binding nature, addressing such key areas as weapons marking, record keeping and increasing cooperation in those areas.
In that connection, the representative of the Philippines said that unless binding instruments were in force, disparate approaches to the issue would give the highly organized, illegal traffickers and brokers ample room to conduct their trade with impunity. All efforts in the negotiations on the draft international instrument on marking and tracing should be exerted to conclude by next June. Key to the early conclusion of negotiations was the issue of whether or not the instrument should be legally binding.
Statements were also made today by representatives of Japan, United States, United Kingdom, Argentina, Romania, Brazil, Russian Federation, Greece, China, Algeria, Denmark, France, Benin, South Africa, Luxembourg (on behalf of the European Union), Ukraine, Canada, Switzerland, Mexico, Peru, Egypt, Australia, Nigeria, Senegal, Venezuela, Turkey, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, India, Zambia, Norway, Republic of Moldova, Costa Rica and Mali.
The meeting was called to order at 10:18 a.m., adjourned at 1:20 p.m., resumed at 3:25 p.m. and adjourned at 5 p.m.
The full text of the presidential statement, to be issued as document S/PRST/2005/7, reads as follows:
“The Security Council welcomes the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of his recommendations to the Council entitled “Small Arms” (S/2005/69) of 7 February 2005, and reaffirms the statements of its President of 19 January 2004 (S/PRST/2004/1), of 31 October 2002 (S/PRST/2002/30), and of 31 August 2001 (S/PRST/2001/21), and of 24 September 1999 (S/PRST/1999/28).
“The Security Council recalls its primary responsibility under the Charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security. In this regard, the Security Council recognizes that the dissemination of illicit small arms and light weapons has hampered the peaceful settlement of disputes, fuelled such disputes into armed conflicts and contributed to the prolongation of such armed conflicts. The Council reaffirms the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence 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-defence and security needs.
“The Council encourages the arms-exporting countries to exercise the highest degree of responsibility in small arms and light weapons transactions according to their existing responsibilities under relevant international law. It also encourages international and regional cooperation in identifying the origin and transfer of small arms and light weapons in order to prevent their diversion, in particular, to Al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. The Council welcomes the significant steps that have been taken by Member States and international and regional organizations 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 Council encourages Members to undertake vigorous actions aimed at restricting the supply of small arms, light weapons and ammunitions to areas of instability.
“The Security Council takes note that the United Nations Second Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects will be held July 2005 and encourages Member States to fully cooperate with the Chair of the Meeting to have a successful outcome.
“The Security Council notes with appreciation that regional actions on illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects have been strengthened in recent years, and encourages the continuation of assistance at national, regional and international levels that would fit the needs of Member States to implement the recommendations contained in the Programme of Action adopted by the July 2001 United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.
“The Council welcomes the ongoing efforts by open-ended working group established by resolution 58/241 of 23 December 2003 of the General Assembly 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. It expresses the wish that the ongoing work within the group will lead to a positive conclusion at its third session as scheduled.
“The Security Council welcomes the adoption of resolution 59/86 of 10 December 2004 of the General Assembly by which, among other things, it requested the Secretary-General to continue broad-based consultations on further steps to enhance international cooperation in preventing, combating and eradicating illicit brokering in small arms and light weapons with a view to establishing a Group of Governmental Experts to consider the issue.
“The Security Council welcomes the inclusion of Man-Portable Air-Defence Systems (MANPADS) on an exceptional basis in the United Nations Register on Conventional Arms.
“The Security Council further encourages Member States that have not already done so to establish the necessary legislative or other measures, including the use of authenticated end-user certificates, to ensure effective control over the export and transit of small arms and light weapons.
“The Security Council renews the support given to the plan of ECOWAS to strengthen the moratorium signed in Abuja on 31 October 1998 on the import, export and manufacture of small arms and light weapons, and to replace it with a mandatory convention. It welcomes the decision by the European Council on 2 December 2004 to significantly support this initiative and calls upon all States and organizations in a position to do so to support this endeavour.
“The Council calls upon all Member States to enforce all Security Council resolutions on sanctions, including those imposing arms embargoes, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, and to bring their own domestic implementation into compliance with the Council’s measures on sanctions. The Council calls upon all Member States to continue to make available to the Sanctions Committees all pertinent information on any alleged violations of arms embargoes and to take appropriate measures to investigate such allegations. The Council 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 Security Council underlines the issue of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons must be addressed together with the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process in the post-conflict phases. The Council recognizes that DDR is closely linked with the long-term peace and security in a post-conflict situation and recalls that a growing number of peacekeeping missions contain the DDR element as part of their mandate. In this regard, the Council stresses the importance of a comprehensive international and regional approach to DDR that is not limited to the political and security aspects of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants, but addresses also its social and economic aspects, including special needs of child soldiers and women.
“The Security Council, while bearing in mind that the issue of the illicit small arms and light weapons has a multidisciplinary nature, encourages Member States, in a position to do so, to provide assistance and support to the United Nations Coordinating Action on Small Arms (CASA) mechanism.
“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 and contribute to the wider objective of preventing illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons.
“The Security Council requests the Secretary-General to update the Council on 28 February 2006 for its earliest possible consideration of the implementation of all the recommendations contained in his report entitled “Small arms” of 20 September 2002 (S/2002/1053).”
Before the Council was the Secretary-General’s report on Small arms (document S/2005/69) dated 7 February 2005, which reflects initiatives undertaken to implement his 12 core recommendations on ways in which the Council could contribute in dealing with the question of small arms and light weapons in situations under its consideration.
The Secretary-General notes the progress achieved in the implementation of recommendation 1, on tracing illicit small arms and light weapons, particularly the work of the Open-ended Working Group, which, on 24 January 2005, began negotiations on a draft international instrument for the timely and reliable identification and tracing of illicit small arms and light weapons. Regarding recommendation 2, on the Interpol Weapons and Explosives Tracking System, Canada has joined the United States in providing funding for that project’s continuation. Regrettably, however, there is no noticeable change regarding recommendation 3, on the Small Arms Advisory Service.
With respect to recommendation 4, on the interaction between the Council and the General Assembly, no structured interaction has been established between the two organs, though the implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects has emerged as a key issue on the agendas of both organs. The Secretary-General is particularly pleased with the progress being made on the issue of illicit brokering in small arms and light weapons, which has been an area of concern, particularly in connection with the activities of terrorist groups.
The report states that while Security Council action has led to significant progress in the implementation of recommendation 5, on the enforcement of the Council’s sanctions resolutions, the results will depend on the political will and relevant technical capacity of Member States. In addition, more remains to be done with regard to recommendation 6, on the links between illicit small arms and light weapons and the illicit exploitation of natural and other resources.
Regarding recommendation 7, on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in post-conflict situations, the report says it is crucial that the Security Council adopt a comprehensive and regional approach in addressing cross-border activities. Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes are more likely to succeed if rigorous measures are in place to curb links between illicit trade in natural and other resources, illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons, cross-border abduction and recruitment and armed conflicts. Moreover, provisions relating to such programmes should continue to address not only the political and security aspects, but also the social and economic aspects, especially the needs of former combatants, including women and children, and of receiving communities. Furthermore, much remains to be done in respect of recommendation 8, on financing for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. The Council could consider including in the assessed budget of peacekeeping missions provisions for technical, financial and logistical support for the reintegration phase.
The report lists conflicts in -– and cites the relevant Security Council resolutions pertaining to -- the following countries with respect to recommendation 7: Afghanistan, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Sudan.
With respect to recommendation 9, on control over the export and transit of small arms and light weapons, the report states that the Security Council continued to encourage States that have not yet done so to establish the necessary legislative or other measures to ensure effective control, including the use of authenticated end-user certificates. Concerning recommendations 10, on a more vigorous and expeditious use of arms embargoes, and 11, on coercive measures against those who deliberately violate arms embargoes, the recent practice of establishing mechanisms to support, monitor and assess implementation of sanctions, as well as to provide technical advice to the related sanctions committees, is satisfactory. There is also a more vigorous effort on the Council’s part to adopt measures to identify and punish violators or those who support violations.
Regarding recommendation 12, the Secretary-General reports remarkable progress in efforts to increase participation in the two reporting instruments on arms transparency –- the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and the United Nations standardized instrument for reporting military expenditures. Also encouraging is the inclusion of man-portable air-defence systems (MANPADS) in the Register, as well as growing support for bringing the international transfer of small arms and light weapons within the Register’s reporting system.
NOBUYASU ABE, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, presented the Secretary-General’s report, which he said describes initiatives taken to implement the recommendations in the Secretary-General’s report on dealing with the illicit trafficking in small arms. The recommendations covered four main areas: implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons; sanctions and arms embargoes as decided by Security Council; conflict prevention, peace strengthening and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants; and confidence-building measures. Much progress had been achieved in some key areas such as enhancing cooperation in the tracing of small arms and light weapons, the adoption of more rigorous measures against violations of arms embargoes, and transparency in armaments. The increasingly vigorous actions taken by the Council regarding the implementation of sanctions and arms embargoes were particularly encouraging.
The systematic monitoring of sanctions was another important development, he continued. Equally noteworthy was the adoption by the Council of measure to punish violators of arms embargoes and those that supported such violations. Greater attention by the Council to women and children and receiving communities in the context of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration was also commendable. The report also underscored that more needed to be done in a number of areas, including the links between the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and the exploitation of natural resources, greater interaction between the Council and the General Assembly on the issue and support for the establishment of the small arms advisory service.
He noted that today’s debate took place in the wake of the second substantive session of the open-ended working group on an international instrument for the tracing of small arms and light weapons held recently in New York. Although the group seemed to be moving closer to agreement on some issues, it was still far from reaching consensus on others, such as the nature of the international instrument. He hoped the group would be able to build consensus on key issues by the end of the third session to be held later this year.
YORIKO KAWAGUCHI, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Japan, said the question of small arms and light weapons was a multi-disciplinary one in the sense that widespread use of small arms not only resulted in a large number of casualties, but also had a socio-economic dimension. It gave rise to such other issues as child soldiers and the disruption of recovery and development in post-conflict situations. It was an important area where the nexus of peace and development demonstrated itself. That was why Japan attached great importance to that issue. One of her country’s contributions to efforts in that area was Japan’s chairmanship of the United Nations Panel and Group of Governmental Experts on Small Arms. Also, as one of the co-sponsors of annual Assembly resolutions on small arms and light weapons, he believed it was significant that the texts were adopted by consensus.
Among the issues his Government considered to be important in addressing the issue of small arms and light weapons, she mentioned the implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. In support of the Programme, Japan had sponsored several seminars and workshops, and another one was being planned by Japan, China, Switzerland and the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, as a regional initiative. One of the most important tasks set out in the Programme of Action related to marking and tracing illicit small arms and light weapons. As the report before the Council pointed out, the open-ended working group established by the Assembly had made some progress, and Japan had made a number of constructive contributions to discussions there. As a non-exporter of weapons, in principle, Japan would continue to work towards a successful outcome at the working group.
Turning to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in post-conflict situations, she said that while progress was made in a number of areas, there were many more challenges to overcome. Japan had been taking concrete actions in that regard. In Afghanistan, for instance, Japan had been assisting in the process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration through the dispatch of experts, provision of training for ex-soldiers and implementation of a reintegration project at the grass-roots level. Her country was also involved in similar projects in Africa.
She added that she had promoted the idea of consolidation of peace as one of the pillars of Japan’s foreign policy during her tenure as Foreign Minister. The idea was to provide assistance for countries in post-conflict situations to make a smooth transition towards nation-building. That policy was in line with the High-Level Panel’s key notion that international peace and security were closely linked with development problems in today’s globalized world. Collection and destruction of illicit small arms and small weapons, capacity-building in the development of appropriate legislation and regulations, as well as import and export control, were the areas where international cooperation was especially needed. With that in mind, Japan had been conducting a weapons-for-development project in Cambodia for the past two years.
STUART HOLLIDAY (United States) said that small steps by individual countries and collective steps by regional and subregional organizations would go a long way towards establishing norms and practices that would diminish the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. The international instrument for the timely and reliable identification and tracing of such weapons should be practical and effective, and should not interfere with already existing commitments in other forums. Welcoming the Secretary-General’s report, he said that large dividends in threat reduction could be achieved with a relatively modest investment. He welcomed the Secretary-General’s attention to the destruction of small arms and light weapons and urged consideration of improvements in physical storage facilities and stockpile security. He also urged States to focus on those activities for their own surplus and obsolete weapons. Such preventive activities were relatively inexpensive and could generally be accomplished using locally available infrastructure and personnel.
Since the inception of its small arms and light weapons destruction programme in 2001, the United States had provided assistance for the destruction of over 700,000 small arms and light weapons and destroyed over 75 million rounds of ammunition in 20 countries, he said. With a more focused approach to mitigate the threat posed by the proliferation of MANPADS to undesirable end-users, the United States had expanded its destruction programmes to safeguard and eliminate those dangerous weapons. Since 2003, it had destroyed over 10,500 MANPADS. Effective export and import controls, and their enforcement, were the keystone to any successful effort to mitigate the problems of illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. Unfortunately, in many countries, few, if any, laws existed to regulate the import and export of small arms and light weapons. In places where such laws did exist, enforcement was often weak. Any export-control system should contain reliable and meaningful mechanisms for the licensing of production and transfer of small arms and light weapons.
ADAM THOMSON (United Kingdom) welcomed full support that he hoped would be expressed in the presidential statement to be adopted today to the implementation at the national, regional and international levels of the United Nations Programme to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons. More responsibility was needed in the management of such transfers. Availability was so widespread that restraint by traditional suppliers, although necessary, was not sufficient. A broader international approach was needed. The Programme of Action contained important guidance on controlling transfers, and it was necessary to build on that. For example, it was necessary to identify key common factors for consideration before issuing a licence for an international transfer of small arms and support regions and countries concerned with capacity-building.
The objective was to introduce minimum common international controls on transfers with the Programme of Action at the review meeting on small arms in 2006, he continued. There were signs that an increasing number of countries supported the need for improved transfer controls. An agreement on reducing illicit transfers of small arms would be a major achievement. In the longer term, his country was also working with partner governments in support of an international arms trade treaty, which would be a vital tool extending the international rule of law on conventional arms. The United Kingdom supported efforts in the 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. The European Union as a whole supported the idea of a legally binding instrument that would also include ammunition. He hoped the group’s work would conclude positively at its third and final session in June. His country also supported the establishment of a group of governmental experts to consider further steps to enhance international cooperation in preventing, combating and eradicating illicit brokering in small arms.
The United Kingdom supported the expanded scope of the Register of Conventional Arms as a global transparency measure, he said. Welcoming the inclusion of MANPADS and light artillery within the scope of the Register, as well as voluntary reporting of small arms transfers, he added that the significant threat posed by MANPADS had been acknowledged globally, and measures to prevent their diversion must be strengthened. He regretted that the 2003 Group of Government Experts had been unable to reach consensus on the inclusion of small arms within the scope of the Register, and he hoped that would be possible in the next review. Only through full transparency of the global trade could the international community fully address the problem of their diversion in the illicit market. The Register was a unique confidence-building measure in the field of conventional arms, and he encouraged participation by all Member States.
In conclusion, he said that the 2003 biennial meeting had shown that much remained to be done to implement national, regional and international commitments under the Programme. The United Kingdom called on States to help the countries affected by armed violence to build their capacity to control small arms transfers. Such assistance was most effective when conducted within development partnerships aligned with broader development goals. The common aim for the 2005 biennial meeting must be significant progress in international efforts to tackle that problem, which was at the heart of many conflicts today.
CESAR MAYORAL (Argentina) said that small arms was a complex issue because it had several dimensions, including public security, human security and armed conflicts, depending on the region or subregion affected. It demanded a coherent approach by the various organs in the United Nations system. When the presidential statement was being prepared, Argentina had urged focus on two areas under the primary competence of the Council -- arms embargoes; and the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants. He fully supported recommendations 5 and 9 in the Secretary-General’s report. All Member States should be encouraged to implement all Council resolutions on sanctions, including those that imposed arms embargoes, pursuant to the Charter. Member States should also be urged to adopt laws to that effect, including those on end-user certificates.
He stated that disarmament, demobilization and reintegration were an essential component of peacekeeping operations, to avoid the recurrence of armed conflicts. From its own experience in peacekeeping, Argentina believed it was necessary to take up the social and economic aspects of that issue. On matters under the Council’s competence on small arms, he needed to mention the dangers of the divergence of such weapons, including MANPADS, to terrorist groups. He welcomed the decision to broaden the scope of the Conventional Arms Register and encouraged arms exporting countries to be as responsible as they could and avoid the flow of weapons to areas of instability. Today’s debate was a good opportunity for the Council to reiterate its support for the General Assembly and the implementation of the Programme of Action. Argentina was committed to the full implementation of that Programme. With its partners in the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), it was working within the working group on preparing an instrument for the identification and tracing of small arms and light weapons. He hoped that instrument would be a legally binding one, also covering illicit ammunition.
MIHNEA MOTOC (Romania) said that the question of small arms was not just one of disarmament, but also of development, democracy, human rights and security. The proliferation of such weapons exacerbated conflict, sparked refugee flows and spawned a culture of violence and impunity. They often paid for civil wars, which had severe economic and social consequences. The humanitarian implications of small arms had alerted the international community to the urgency of curbing their illicit trafficking, which would reduce violence and the risk of civil wars. Small arms were also used by terrorists and criminal groups. The illicit trade in small arms became a threat not only to countries torn by internal conflict, but also to States that were free from instability, but were routes of transit or trans-shipment.
On the other hand, countries retained the legitimate right to self-defence in accordance with the United Nations Charter, he continued. Arms production and transfers for that purpose were legal -– which, in turn, meant that transfers should be conducted in a very responsible manner. The arms industry must be carefully controlled, and clear and strict criteria on arms exports should be implemented. While there were no simple solutions, political commitments could make a critical difference in conflict-affected countries and regions. In recent years, an increasing number of States had committed themselves to regional and international standards to strengthen export controls in order to prevent illicit trafficking of small arms. The United Nations Plan of Action, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) document of 2000 and the European Union Code of Conduct were the most relevant instruments, in that respect.
On Romania’s policy on small arms, he said that it would continue to be focused on combating illicit trafficking, pursuing a responsible and transparent policy on legal transfers and on promoting the removal and further destruction of surpluses. Implementing its commitments under the Programme of Action, Romania had started in early 2002 a programme of destruction of its small arms.
Governments needed to tighten legislation and regulations governing production and trade, in particular on marking and tracing, and then invest significant resources in implementation, he continued. Also needed was greater recognition of the fact that domestic laws and international policies were interdependent and that each country’s laws impacted on others. While significant progress had been achieved at the global, regional and national levels, concrete measures should be further undertaken in several directions: better coordination of various programmes; establishment of national points of contact for information-sharing and cooperation; and improvement of public awareness and transparency through enhanced cooperation between governments and the industry and publication of annual reports on arms transfers. Another important issue was weapons management and, in particular, control of civilian possession of small arms and light weapons in post-conflict countries.
HENRIQUE VALLE (Brazil) said that the step taken by the Assembly towards constituting 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 was crucial. He expected that the document to be produced by its third session would be legally binding and responsive to the urgent necessity of interrupting the illegal flow of such weapons. The next step should be to consider how to improve international cooperation in preventing, combating and eradicating illicit brokering in small arms and light weapons.
Unfortunately, despite national efforts, there were still loopholes in the regime for the legal transfer of arms that allowed for the diversion of arms to the illegal market, he noted. Brazil stood as an example of such efforts, having adapted its legislation to current necessities. Last year, President Lula da Silva sanctioned the innovative Disarmament Statute, which restricted the bearing, possession and commerce in arms, in addition to criminalizing international arms trafficking. Aside from strengthening legislative measures, it also regularly exchanged information with its neighbours and had established border procedures.
He highlighted the need for a comprehensive approach to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants, and fully agreed with the Secretary-General’s concern with the social and economic aspects in post-conflict situations. It was crucial for peacekeeping operations to include provisions for technical, financial and logistical support for the reintegration phase.
AUGUSTINE P. MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) said that the national security, law and order in many African countries, including Tanzania, had been adversely affected by the easy availability of small arms due to many factors, including porous borders, recurrent subregional conflict and the presence of armed elements among refugees. Small arms were the weapons of choice in most conventional conflicts and insurgencies. Small arms and dual-use instruments, such as machetes in the hands of undemocratic regimes and insurgent non-State actors, had been responsible for some of the most gross human rights violations, genocides, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Today, car bombs and dynamite sticks were among the deadliest weapons in the arsenals of terrorists. Control over the spread of small arms should, therefore, be one of the major preoccupations of the Security Council in discharging its primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security.
The ease with which small arms were obtained was an obstacle to peace efforts and must be addressed systematically and comprehensively as part of the disarmament responsibilities of the United Nations as a whole. While the steps already taken were commendable, there was still a need for greater support from a number of actors, including non-governmental organizations, human rights activists, religious bodies and other relevant institutions. Unfortunately, the progress towards reaching an agreement on monitoring and controlling the proliferation of small arms had been slow. He strongly recommended implementation of the Programme of Action adopted by the 2001 Conference on Small Arms. He also welcomed the efforts of the open-ended working group to negotiate an international instrument that would enable States to identify and trace illicit small arms and light weapons. That initiative required more political impetus from exporting and importing countries alike to move it forward. The Secretary-General’s initiative to establish a group of experts to consider that issue should be encouraged.
He also highlighted the link between illicit trade in small arms and illicit exploitation of resources and said that scant attention given to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes in post-conflict situations was a major cause of arms circulation and political instability in post-conflict situations. Most of conflict-ridden areas, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, had been major recipients of small arms. States in those areas should be encouraged to come up with legislation on marking and end-user certificates. They should also exercise restraint in military expenditure and go for transparency in weapon registration, including having credible national arms registers. Efforts aimed at collecting and destroying small arms associated with criminal activities, such as drug trafficking and serious breaches of law and order, should be encouraged and financed.
KONSTANTIN DOLGOV (Russian Federation) said that the conclusions and recommendations of the Secretary-General’s report confirmed that the United Nations must play a lead role in implementing a comprehensive approach in the area of small arms and light weapons. Preventing the illegal spread of such weapons was becoming urgent in the context of combating terrorism and preventing armed conflicts. The international community had a great capacity in the area of combating the illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons. In keeping with General Assembly resolutions, two meetings of the working group on the elaboration of an instrument on identifying and tracing small arms and light weapons had taken place. The draft instrument stressed such key areas as weapons marking, record keeping and increasing cooperation in those areas. The creation of a comprehensive monitoring mechanism should be helpful, in that regard. He attached great importance to the second meeting of States on the implementation of the Programme of Action on small arms, which would make it possible to take stock of implementation.
The Council had discussed the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons on several occasions, as it related to matters on its agenda, he noted. His country was in favour of adopting decisive action in cases where arms were delivered to armed groups. A top priority was monitoring compliance with the Council’s bans and embargoes. Recently, in the context of peacekeeping operations, greater attention had been given to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants and including the collection and destruction of small arms and light weapons in peacekeeping mandates. Donor support for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration was an important condition for its success. It was crucial to continue to give attention to feasible measures to prevent the illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons. He expressed gratitude to Japan for preparing the presidential statement to be adopted later today.
ADAMANTIOS TH. VASSILAKIS (Greece) called for a new binding instrument on the marking and tracing of small arms and light weapons saying that would greatly impede their illegal supply. Another way to combat their illicit trade was the adoption of an end-user certificate for which both the European Union and the OSCE had the relevant provisions in place, which emphasized its implementation.
He said end-user certificates would help ascertain whether arms destined for legal use were diverted to illegal recipients, thus, limiting the flow of small arms and light weapons to unauthorized or undesired users. He said universalization of that measure would significantly contribute to the legal panoply in the fight against the illicit flow of such weapons. While acknowledging the inherent right of countries to self-defence, which made small arms necessary for their armies, as well as police forces, he nonetheless observed that, in some instances, those weapons, though they started legally, arrived in the end at an illegal destination. That loophole had to be efficiently sealed through severe measures in the national legislations of all countries.
He said the flow of ammunition also had to come under control, as small arms were inoperative without their ammunition; and to that end, his country had actively participated in the destruction of excessive ammunition in Albania. Further, Greece was supportive of the view that the Security Council, in its consideration of peacekeeping operations, had always the duty to introduce a component in it dealing with disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of combatants to their local societies. If well implemented, that important measure would enhance stability in conflict-torn countries.
Additionally, he stressed the importance of measures to enforce strict compliance with United Nations embargoes and sanctions in conflict areas, saying the Council should spare no effort to stop the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, as well as identifying potential links between illicit trade in those weapons and illicit exploitation of natural and other resources. Countries had also to exercise restraint when they exported in conflict areas, even though an arms embargo had not been imposed yet.
ZHANG YISHAN (China) said that the illicit trafficking and excessive accumulation of small arms and light weapons had worsened the armed conflicts in certain countries and regions, and disrupted peace processes and the smooth operation of post-conflict reconstruction. In combating such illicit trafficking, national governments shouldered the primary responsibility. The root cause of the problem could only be removed by reinforcing national legal systems and control mechanisms and imposing strict control on domestic small arms and light weapons production and trade. At the same time, as small arms and light weapons had increasingly become a global issue, its appropriate solution required joint efforts by the international community. The United Nations Programme of Action against the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and the Firearms Protocol of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime had laid a policy and legal foundation for the settlement of the issue.
As a complement to international efforts, the Security Council should, within the scope of its mandate, continue to keep its attention on the issue of illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons, carry out earnest supervision on the implementation of the relevant arms embargos, and include the contents of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in the authorization of peacekeeping operations. In addition, the Council should strengthen coordination with the General Assembly and other United Nations bodies in that regard, to achieve complementarity. China had already signed the Firearms Protocol, and was now preparing for its ratification and implementation, as well as for establishing a national data base for small arms and light weapons production, possession and trade, and optimizing its marking system.
LAURO BAJA (Philippines) said, in many parts of the world, small arms and light weapons were weapons of mass destruction and their availability fuelled conflicts, caused a high number of casualties and complicated peacekeeping efforts. The problem thus required a comprehensive and coordinated response at national, subregional and international levels. That was because the problem went beyond the military and disarmament domains: it had humanitarian, as well as socio-economic, consequences.
He said there was need for domestic law, international cooperation, capacity-building and financial assistance to developing countries in addressing the problem. Weapons-exporting nations needed to assume a greater level of responsibility in their operations relative to such arms. For that reason, he endorsed the negotiations on two international instruments dealing with marking and tracing and the illicit trade of such weapons. The two instruments’ successful and early conclusion was needed for cohesion in preventing, combating and eradicating the illicit trade, and would ensure that national legislations, as well as bilateral, subregional and regional arrangements, were aligned or realigned accordingly.
In his view, unless those instruments were in force, disparate approaches at all those levels he had referred to would give the highly organized, illegal traffickers and brokers ample room to conduct their trade with impunity. All efforts in the negotiations on the draft international instrument on marking and tracing should be exerted to conclude by next June. Key to the early conclusion of negotiations was the issue of whether or not the instrument should be legally binding, he stated. In that context, he endorsed the recommendation of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change that called on Member States to expedite and conclude negotiations on legally binding agreements on small arms. He was further concerned that negotiations on the draft international instrument on brokering had been pushed back to the second half of next year.
Concluding, he urged Members States to continue to engage the assistance and cooperation of civil society, who looked at the issue of illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons from the a humanitarian point of view and could also provide the impetus for governments to move forward and thus avoid unnecessary delay.
MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria) welcomed the attention given by the Security Council to the small arms issue -- a matter of great importance for the maintenance of international peace and security. The scope and complexity of the matter of illicit movement of small arms needed to be effectively addressed by the international community. There could be no hesitation. States had a primary responsibility in that respect, and they needed to take steps commensurate with the challenge. At the same time, States had a right to legitimate self-defence, as reflected in the Charter.
Continuing, he stressed the importance of dismantling networks of illegal small arms and light weapons peddlers. States also needed to demonstrate the highest level of responsibility in identifying end-users in arms sales. The General Assembly had made a real contribution to the efforts to combat illicit trade in small arms. The adoption in 2001 of the Programme of Action was an important step forward in combating the scourge, which fed conflict in many areas of the world. Establishment of an open-ended working group had been a timely response to the concerns of the international community over illegal movements of small arms. Following several open debates on small arms, the Council, for its part, had adopted three presidential statements in support of measures in that area.
He agreed with the Secretary-General’s recommendation on the need of interaction between the General Assembly and the Security Council to develop a long-term common strategy commensurate with the challenge, he said. Also, the international community would not be able to curb illicit trafficking in small arms, unless there was effective regional and international cooperation in collecting and destroying small arms in the context of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes. Africa deserved international support in that respect. Among commendable African efforts, he mentioned the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) small arms moratorium, which demonstrated the region’s unwavering support to overcome illicit spread of small arms.
LARS FAABORG-ANDERSEN (Denmark) said the complex challenge of small arms and light weapons must be tackled through a comprehensive approach that addressed the supply and demand side of the equation. Denmark fully supported the expeditious implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action. The ongoing negotiations on marking and tracing small arms, light weapons and ammunition could be a major achievement, and the international community should move towards the adoption of an international legally binding instrument. Developing a tool to confront illicit brokering was the next step forward.
Second, he stressed the need for the Council to continue to explore ways and means of using and enforcing its arms embargoes, which were a pertinent instrument to curb the flow of arms to conflicts and countries that constituted a threat to international peace and security. He agreed with the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the Council should move to use arms embargoes sooner, rather than later, to try to prevent heightened political tension from turning into outright violent conflict. That would also be an effective way of breaking the link between illegal exploitation of natural resources and illicit arms trafficking.
Third, he was particularly concerned for the situation in Africa, where illicit arms transfers and recirculation of weapons from one conflict to another constituted a mounting problem. The challenge could only be tackled by acknowledging the inter-linkage between security and development. In order to break the vicious cycle, it was necessary to address the root causes of why people procured arms. That was why it was crucial to ensure funds for post-conflict rehabilitation and reintegration phases.
JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIERE (France) outlined his country’s participation in the Programme of Action on small arms. France had also been discussing new initiatives to more effectively combat that scourge. France promoted regional activities, in that respect, and participated in the activities of several entities, including the European Union and OSCE. In Africa, it financially supported the implementation of the ECOWAS moratorium. In multilateral forums, he hoped the negotiations would lead to a legally binding instrument that would eventually harmonize international and regional standards on marking and tracing of small arms and light weapons.
In addition to the initiatives already undertaken, it was important to consider new proposals that could command consensus, he continued. Such initiatives needed to be highlighted in the regional dimension. In the European Union, France’s approach was to respond to requests from Eastern and Central Asian countries, which sought to reduce their excess stocks remaining from the times of the cold war. Unless destroyed, such stockpiles could be diverted to non-State actors. Special attention should also be given to transport problems and the need to combat illicit trafficking by air -- a preferred way to violate embargoes. It was also important to consider how to supplement disarmament, demobilization and reintegration activities to make them more effective and how to make peacekeeping operations contribute to tracing small arms. France also attributed great attention to the impact of spread of small arms on development.
Council President JOEL W. ADECHI (Benin), speaking in his national capacity, said that the ill effects of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons were increasingly obvious. It promoted an increase in crises, kindled armed conflicts and prolonged them, and promoted transnational organized crime. Africa, and West Africa in particular, was seriously affected by the proliferation of such weapons. At the first meeting of States to review the implementation of the Programme of Action on small arms, 8 million small arms and light weapons were referred to as circulating in West Africa. The ECOWAS now said that number was 15 million.
The dizzying increase in small arms and light weapons in circulation had taken place, despite the moratorium instituted by ECOWAS. The Community had decided to turn that moratorium into a binding convention to make it more effective, and intended to finalize it by September 2005 at the latest. The implementation of that new instrument would be monitored by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council. The ECOWAS also decided to have a new regional monitoring mechanism in support of the moratorium. He appealed for greater accountability on the part of those supplying arms. The efforts of the international community to support Africa should focus on stemming the flow of illicit small arms and light weapons. The integrated regional approach, which included supporting disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, should be backed up with the provision of enough resources to maximize its impact.
He supported the implementation of the Secretary-General’s recommendation for the identification of violators and adoption of sanctions against violators of the Council’s arms embargoes. In addition, he thanked Japan for the draft presidential statement prepared for adoption later today.
XOLISA MOBHONGO (South Africa) said that three years after the adoption of the Programme of Action on small arms, it was sobering to note that large numbers of illicit arms continued to circulate in Africa, fuelling conflicts. In most instances, peacekeepers were unable to ascertain the origin of those weapons. The second biennial meeting on the implementation of the Programme this year would be the last opportunity before the 2006 Review Conference to reflect on the degree to which Member States had implemented their undertakings in that respect. The adoption by the Assembly of the resolution mandating the open-ended working group to develop an international instrument to enable States to identify and trace small arms was an opportune moment to deal with that issue. An effective international instrument would enhance the ability of States to uncover lines of illicit supply and identify traffickers and points of diversion from legal spheres.
A significant remaining challenge pertained to obtaining consensus on the establishment of an international mechanism with the capacity to process and manage the tracing of illicit arms in a timely and efficient manner, he said. It was through such collective efforts on tracing, as well as envisaged subsequent initiatives outlined in Assembly resolution 59/86 to enhance international cooperation against illicit brokering in those weapons, that the international community would be able to put in place a framework to halt the scourge of small arms. He was pleased that the resolution requested the Secretary-General to hold broad-based consultations on brokering, with a view to the establishment of a group of governmental experts not later than 2007.
South Africa’s national Arms Control Act of May 2003 contained specific guiding principles and criteria to be considered when arms transfer applications were assessed, he said. Those provisions included the principle of adherence to international norms, including Security Council arms embargoes. The Act also stipulated that arms export applications required the provision of authenticated end-user certificates. Through its extensive involvement in peacekeeping in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, his country had experienced the value of effective disarmament, demobilization and reintegration activities. The Secretary-General’s recommendation that strengthened financing of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes needed to be secured was vital. Effective disarmament, demobilization and reintegration should include specific measures for collection and disposal of illicit surplus small arms, and he urged the international community to assist countries emerging from conflict in that respect. Another pillar of the Programme of Action was the regional approach. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) included a peace and security initiative of great importance, in that respect.
JEAN-MARC HOSCHEIT (Luxembourg), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said he supported the Secretary-General’s appeal for the development of long-term strategies to halt the scourge of the illicit proliferation of small arms. He underlined the importance of establishing a group of governmental experts soon after the 2006 Programme of Action Review Conference to consider further steps to enhance international cooperation in preventing, combating and eradicating illicit brokering in such weapons.
He noted the progress made during the recent negotiations on an international instrument for identifying and tracing small arms and light weapons, while deploring the fact that the participating States remained divided on two major issues -- the nature of the instrument and the inclusion of ammunition. The European Union insisted on the inclusion of provision relating to ammunition, as illicit small arms and light weapons depended on a steady supply of ammunition to continue wreaking havoc. The Security Council, as well as Interpol, had an important role to play in the tracing of illicit weapons and related ammunition. Peacekeeping missions and sanctions committees should be empowered to initiate tracing requests in relation to illicit weapons and ammunition found in the course of their operations, or collected in the framework of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes.
The Union, he said, welcomed the Secretary-General’s recommendation to 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 promote their effective implementation. It also supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation to encourage the Council to establish monitoring mechanisms, allowing detection of deliberate violations of United Nations arms embargoes by Member States. In addition, the Union welcomed current efforts to build support for better controls on the transfers of small arms. He also reiterated the Union’s call on all States to submit timely returns of their imports and exports to the Conventional Arms Register, including information on military holdings and procurement through national production.
VALERY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) stressed the importance of the United Nations Programme of Action as the framework for dealing with illicit trade in small arms. However, it was just the first big step towards the goal of controlling the scourge, and he hoped that the follow-up process would find ways for strengthening and further developing the Programme. The efforts to combat proliferation of small arms were largely hampered by inadequate capacity at the national, regional and global levels to trace the sources and lines of supply of illicit arms. While recognizing vital importance of international cooperation in that respect, he believed the States bore the primary responsibility for solving the problems associated with illicit trade.
He said that States should do their best to ensure that the production, export, import, stockpiling, marking, record-keeping and transfer of small arms and light weapons were carried out in strict adherence to both international and national norms and regulations. Each element of tracing -- record-keeping, marking and international cooperation -- should remain a national prerogative. Any arrangement to be established by a new international instrument on tracing should not duplicate, complicate or diminish the effectiveness of existing mechanisms or arrangements, including customs cooperation and mutual legal assistance. Any new instrument should be conforming to States’ existing commitments under relevant bilateral, regional and international arrangements. It should also fully reflect national security interests. Above all, the future instrument should be viable, effective and workable to enjoy the broadest possible support.
While some progress had been made, it was still necessary to cover some distance in detailed monitoring, working with businesses, financial institutions and other actors on the implementation of arms embargoes. He fully supported consideration by the Council of actions against States, entities and individuals that deliberately violated arms embargoes. It was also important to review lessons learned and focus on financial sources of purchase of illegal weapons. Ukraine believed that effective destruction of excessive old stockpiles could become an important contribution to the efforts to combat illicit proliferation. As an example, he mentioned successful implementation of a project in his country to destroy 1.5 million small arms and 133,000 tons of ammunition, as well as future destruction programmes in cooperation with the OSCE. Ukraine conducted a responsible policy in the field of arms control, and measures had been taken to improve national legislation in that regard.
GILBERT LAURIN (Canada) urged the Council to continue aggressive implementation and monitoring of arms embargoes and sanctions regimes. He also encouraged the Council to utilize tools, such as report and recommendations from monitoring groups and expert panels, to ensure greater transparency and cooperation with sanctions regimes. The Council must call on Member States to exercise the highest degree of responsibility in the transfer of small arms, and an effective global response to small arms must address control on transfers between States, as well as transfers to non-State actors. He also urged the Council to consider its role of improving international cooperation with respect to tracing small arms in conflict and post-conflict settings. Peacekeeping operations and sanctions committees should receive the appropriate mandates to initiate traces, which would assist States to identify those who knowingly violate arms embargoes.
He urged the Council to take stronger measures to break the cycle between arms shipments through illicit channels and the exploitation of natural resources. He also urged the Council to: adopt comprehensive and regional approaches to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; include those approaches in the mandates of peacekeeping operations; provide financing for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration under the budget for peacekeeping operations,; and give due consideration to reintegration to ensure sustainable socio-economic development. It was Canada’s view that the international community had fallen short on commitments to make people and their communities safer from armed violence. Now was the time for action. The July 2005 biennial meeting of States and the 2006 Review Conference on the Programme of Action provided platforms to evaluate success and determine the way forward. It was imperative that a more comprehensive approach to the small arms issue be pursued at both those meetings. Aspects of the issue that were neglected in the 2001 Programme of Action must receive adequate attention, including those related to the human and humanitarian impact of small arms.
PETER MAURER (Switzerland) recalled that, in order to become fully effective, the efforts of governments should be supported by multilateral organizations. The Security Council had thus an important role to play. The Council should include in all peacekeeping mandates the requirement to gather information, including on weapons markings, on all small arms and light weapons collected or seized in the context of those missions, including disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes. Peacekeeping mission should also be enabled to initiate tracing requests in relation to those weapons. Needed resources should be included in the regular peacekeeping budget.
Stressing the importance of compliance with arms embargoes and sanctions regimes, he said that their enforcement could be greatly improved by providing sanctions committees with a mandate to initiate tracing requests in relation to illicit weapons found in the course of their investigations. Specific training on the monitoring of arms embargoes and such aspects as collection of baseline data on seized weapons should be encouraged for the staff involved. Ties with the Interpol could be strengthened by assigning a law enforcement component to peacekeeping operations and sanctions committees that had the capacity to interact with that organization.
Illicit exploitation of natural resources was one of the sources of financing for illicit trade in small arms, he continued. The international community was beginning to profit from experiences in that field, in particular through the Kimberley Process. He suggested formalizing the expert panels, so that they could contribute more substantially to the work of the Council, allowing it to identify minimum standards to guide exploitation of natural resources in conflict zones. Switzerland invited the Council to ask the Secretary-General for a specific report on the exploitation of illicit natural resources in conflict situations, including their links with illicit small arms. Furthermore, international efforts could benefit from solid research and support from the civil society.
ENRIQUE BERRUGA FILLOY (Mexico) said that since 1999, in parallel with the preparatory process for the 2001 Conference on Small arms and Light Weapons, the Security Council had been taking up the matter of the proliferation of such arms, particularly in the context of conflicts on its agenda. The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was a multidimensional problem, which prolonged conflicts and contributed to organized crime, among other things. A comprehensive strategy was needed to control the situation. Efforts to combat the illicit production and trafficking in small arms and light weapons must include efforts by producing and exporting countries, which had a primary responsibility. Mexico supported all international efforts to curb the illicit trade in such weapons, and was party to, among others, the Inter-American Convention on Firearms, Ammunitions, Explosives and Associated Materiel, adopted by the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1997.
In his report, the Secretary-General described various activities, including the fact that the open-ended working group had started negotiations on an instrument to identify and trace small arms and light weapons. That working group had recently held its second session, at which Mexico had reiterated the need for a legally binding instrument, which would set a positive precedent for handling other small arms issues in the United Nations. The Secretary-General had also addressed the need to step up efforts to implement other recommendations, such as enhancing interaction between the Council and the General Assembly. Mexico believed it was necessary to look further into the role of brokers, whose activities must be subjected to strict controls. The lack of attention to illegal actions by such individuals derived largely from lacunae in international regulations. Fundamental to controlling arms trafficking was an instrument on arms transfers. One measure could be to require all legal transfers to be accompanied by end-user certificates, in addition to regulation of civilian ownership of small arms.
OSWALDO DE RIVERO (Peru) said that small arms and light weapons were, in a way, the players in all civil wars and all violence that occurred in the world. Easy to acquire and use, they were also easy to hide and hard to trace. Illicit trafficking in small arms was becoming an increasing international threat. Today, small arms caused over half a million deaths a year. Given the volume of the problem, it was a paradox that the international community still did not have a legally binding instrument to regulate their production and use. Thus, it was encouraging to see growing interest of the Council in that issue.
On the actions that could be taken, he said that some of the most important ones should be the establishment of concrete machinery to make States comply with arms embargoes. Measures should be elaborated against the States that violated such embargoes. A tracking system was needed, so that small arms could be followed from the time they were manufactured to the moment they reached their users. It was also necessary to provide disarmament, demobilization and reintegration provisions in the mandates of peacekeeping missions. It was important to increase financial resources for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes.
His Government had taken measures in implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action, he said, and it was prepared to participate in any new initiatives in that regard. It was important to lend support to the working group that was working on an international instrument on marking and tracing of small arms. Such an instrument should be legally binding. He hoped that the Group would be able to successfully conclude its work next summer. Such an instrument would be a major step forward.
AMR ABOUL ATTA (Egypt) said that the General Assembly’s efforts in laying down the conceptual framework for dealing with the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was followed by the Council’s recognition of the seriousness of issue and its humanitarian consequences. The main activity of the Council was based on two elements. The first element was reflected in the imposition of arms embargoes. He supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation urging the Council to attach more importance to the implementation of all provisions of resolutions imposing arms embargoes, in accordance with the provisions of the Charter. He also supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation for considering the relationship between the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and the illegal exploitation of natural resources.
The second element was including clear provisions in peacekeeping mandates on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, through specific measures for the collection of small arms and light weapons and their destruction in a comprehensive framework. In that regard, he stressed the importance of peacekeeping operations considering how best to promote disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes and in the provision of a special allocation for that purpose. Continuity in financing in that regard was crucial. Egypt also supported the Secretary-General’s proposal to improve the exchange of information between the Council and the Assembly, taking into account the distinctions of the mandate and role of the Council, on the one hand, and the role of the Assembly, on the other. While performing its role in the field of small arms and light weapons, the Council should also play a parallel role in enabling countries to exercise their natural rights to defend themselves. He also noted the importance for the international community to lay down an effective international instrument for the marking and tracing of small arms and light weapons and to provide the necessary means to implement it.
Upon resumption of the meeting in the afternoon, JOHN DAUTH (Australia) urged the Council to continue actively considering the security and humanitarian dimensions of illicit small arms trade and their impact on stability in conflict and post-conflict situations. In particular, when imposing United Nations arms embargoes and establishing peacekeeping operations, the Council must be attuned to the impact of illicit small arms transfers. The Council’s continued attention to small arms issues, particularly in the regional context, would strengthen the international community’s resolve to increase pressure, through embargoes and monitoring mechanisms, on those responsible for illicit transfers. As the Council could not work on its own in addressing the small arms threat, it was incumbent on Member States themselves to strictly enforce arms embargoes and implement strong national export controls, including systems of end-user certification, to prevent uncontrolled spread of small arms.
Australia had been active in promoting effective measures against the illicit small arms trade in its region, including by co-hosting last August, with the Governments of Fiji and Japan and the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, the Third Pacific Islands Small Arms Workshop. Its practical focus on the implementation of model weapons control legislation endorsed by Pacific Island Forum Leaders in 2003, was helping to institute a common regional approach to weapon control.
During the last Assembly session, Australia had led the adoption by consensus in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) of a new resolution on preventing the illicit transfer and unauthorized access to and use of Man-Portable Air Defence Systems, creating the first international standard on MANPADS. Australia urged Member States to implement the resolution by taking practical measures to control production, stockpiling, transfer and brokering of MANPADS, and to enact or improve legislation to ban their transfer to non-State actors. Australia welcomed recent progress at the second session of the open-ended working group on the marking and tracing of small arms and light weapons and looked forward to the conclusion of an international instrument at the final session in July. The instrument would be a further concrete step in international efforts to better understand and control illicit transfers.
AMINU BASHIR WALI (Nigeria) said that illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons constituted a major impediment to peace, stability, security and economic development of many developing countries, especially in Africa. Over the past decade alone, the use of illicit small arms and light weapons had claimed more than 20 million victims in Africa, many of whom were women and children. He expected that the final session in June of the working group mandated to negotiate an international instrument on tracing illicit small arms and light weapons would result in a firm agreement on a legally binding instrument that would address that global concern.
One of the greatest difficulties in controlling illicit proliferation of small arms was their easy accessibility to non-State actors, he said. The failure of the international community to hold arms manufacturers, their agents and brokers to account had been largely responsible for the uncontrolled illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Africa. That situation should not be allowed to continue. Four months ago, in the First Committee, his delegation had called on the international community to intensify efforts in investigating and identifying the link between illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and the illicit exploitation of natural and other resources. He was pleased, therefore, to see that that was one of the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General’s report. He urged the Council to ensure the full implementation of the findings and recommendations of its panels of experts and monitoring mechanisms that had investigated such links.
CHEIKH NIANG (Senegal) said that, well familiar with the danger of small arms and light weapons, ECOWAS considered the efforts to combat illicit trafficking to be one of its basic priorities. For that reason, it had initiated a moratorium on the production, importation and exportation of such arms. The States of the region were now working on transforming the moratorium into a legally binding instrument. Once adopted by ECOWAS, the instrument would become part of the legal machinery of the continent. Internationally, he hoped that binding instruments would be concluded on tracking and brokering in small arms and light weapons.
Among the recommendations of most relevance to his delegation, he mentioned those on tracing small arms, on illegal exploitation of resources, transparency, and export and transit of small arms. His country supported all the relevant provisions in the report. Also of great importance was a regional and subregional aspect in the implementation of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes for ex-combatants. To ensure provision of adequate resources for such programmes, he would like a line item on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration to be included in peacekeeping budgets.
Stressing the need to scrupulously adhere to arms embargoes, he emphasized the need to introduce clear machinery on detecting violations and introducing sanctions against the offenders. While satisfied with the report, he believed it should have included recommendations on cooperation to address capacity-building in the area of small arms in the countries and regions lacking the needed financial and human resources.
IMERIA NUÑEZ DE ODREMAN (Venezuela) said that the indiscriminate and illicit use of small arms and light weapons was worsening the situation of insecurity. The main source of illicit trafficking was the legal production, stockpiling and transfer of conventional weapons. Efforts to combat the illicit trade must not infringe on the legitimate right of nations to self-defence, particularly the right to self-determination. She agreed with the recommendations outlined by the Secretary-General, particularly recommendation 1, related to ongoing negotiations in the working group on the tracing of small arms and light weapons. She also agreed with the rights of States to manufacture and purchase small arms and light weapons to meet their security and defence needs, a sovereign right of nations.
She said it was important to denounce the uncertainty expressed by the Spokesman for the United States State Department regarding the purchase of Russian equipment by her Government. The purpose of that purchase was to defend national sovereignty. She rejected the statement made by the Spokesman that the purchased weapons might fall into the wrong hands. Echoing the comments made by her President, she said that the United States had no moral authority whatsoever to question the purchase of such equipment, and asked the Council to be on the watch for any measures to be imposed on Venezuela by the United States. Venezuela was complying with the measures in the Programme of Action on small arms, and had submitted its national report last year. Regionally, it had complied with the norms in the Inter-American Convention on Firearms, Ammunitions, Explosives and Associated Materiel, adopted by the OAS.
BAKI ILKIN (Turkey) said that the threat of small arms had many aspects and weighed no less than that of weapons of mass destruction. It required concerted and resolute action by all United Nations members. The adoption of the United Nations Programme of Action had been a significant step forward. Yet, there was no international legal instrument for dealing with illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. In that context, he underscored the importance of the work of the open-ended working group, which was currently negotiating an international instrument on marking and tracing of small arms. Turkey hoped that such an instrument would contain all the elements needed to guarantee its effectiveness. The instrument should be legally binding and comprehensive in nature, covering all kinds of small weapons, including their ammunition.
Illicit proliferation of small arms required development of long-term strategies, he added. In that respect, he also acknowledged the role of the Council in making small arms a focus of global attention and action. Turkey would continue to support all efforts and advocate enhanced international cooperation to combat and eradicate illicit trade in small and light weapons in the framework of the United Nations and other forums.
REZLAN ISHAR JENIE (Indonesia) said he shared the widely held views on the need for greater interaction between the Assembly and the Council to deal with the threats posed by the illicit transfer of small arms and light weapons. While no structural mechanism had been established between the two organs, he would support continued efforts to develop a coherent policy and a comprehensive strategy of the United Nations on small arms and light weapons. In post-conflict situations, he underscored the importance of implementing programmes related to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, particularly as part of an essential mandate for peacekeeping operations. In that context, he welcomed the work initiated by the Secretariat to develop a set of policies, guidelines and procedures for planning, implementing and monitoring disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.
Given the voluntary nature of the United Nations Register on Conventional Arms, he was gratified to note the remarkable progress made in the participation of two reporting instruments which had contributed greatly to confidence-building and security among Member States. Nonetheless, the Register needed to be further developed in order to attract the widest possible participation. In addition, he commended the work undertaken by the open-ended working group on tracing illicit small arms and light weapons, which had recently completed its second substantive session. In conclusion, he believed that small arms and light weapons continued to pose a grave threat to human security and would not go away without impetus from the highest levels and stronger unity of effort, including from the Council.
KIM SAM-HOON (Republic of Korea) said that a viable and effective international instrument on marking and tracing would be a powerful tool in preventing and eliminating the scourge of illicit small arms and light weapons in both conflict and criminal situations. The smooth and effective implementation of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes in post-conflict situations was also of utmost importance, especially in connection with United Nations peacekeeping operations. Likewise, in order to cut off the routes of illicit arms transfers and stop the illicit flow of arms to conflict zones, it was necessary to achieve full compliance with all relevant Council resolutions on sanctions. In addition, he recognized the need to identify further the links between the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, the illicit exploitation of natural and other resources, and the trade in illegal drugs. Innovative measures should be developed to prevent precious natural resources from becoming a source of revenue for sinister purposes.
He also recognized the need for States to establish legislative and other measures, including the use of authenticated end-user certificates, to ensure effective control over the export and transit of small arms and light weapons. Well established export-control systems, together with sound legislative structures, were imperative for combating and eradicating the illicit transfer of small arms and light weapons. Further, he supported broader participation in the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and the United Nations System for the Standardized Reporting of Military Expenditures. In particular, he welcomed the expanded coverage of the Register to include MANPADS.
NIRUPAM SEN (India) said his delegation remained deeply concerned that small arms and light weapons continued to pose grave danger to the security of States, disrupting political stability and social harmony, and hampering growth and development. Such weapons had also fuelled international terrorism and internal conflicts, and in some regions there was a clear link between the trade in drugs and the exploitation of natural resources. When they fell into the hands of non-State actors, illicit small arms drew “great humanitarian concern”. The impact of that phenomenon was most evident in Africa, particularly the central and western parts of the continent.
India, for its part, followed a strict policy with regard to the export of small arms and light weapons, including requirements for end-user certificates on a government-to-government basis, and a ban on exports to countries under United Nations sanctions. India hoped that all other States would undertake obligations not to supply such weapons to non-State actors, and insist on authenticated end-user certificates to ensure effective control over the export and transit of such weapons, he said. For its part, the international community must also ensure that the arms trade only flowed through channels authorized by the exporting and importing governments.
He went on to say that India was committed to seeking stronger and more effective measures to ensure broad cooperation. Any comprehensive treaty that emerges from the open-ended working group on marking and tracing should reflect not only the concerns of United Nations Member States, but also those of the wider international community. India also favoured a legally binding instrument which included ammunition and explosives.
BERNARD MPUNDU (Zambia) said that, despite the way some felt, the suffering and death caused by the ongoing proliferation of and illicit trade in small arms and light weapons could not simply be shrugged off. Indeed, governments had a collective duty to tackle the problem vigorously and collectively to ensure peace and security within and beyond their borders. In that context, Zambia had begun to offer amnesty to anyone who surrendered illegal firearms to the police or provided information leading to the recovery of such weapons. Anyone coming forwards under the programme received the equivalent of $55.00. Since it had gone into effect, some 3,000 weapons had been surrendered, many of which were destroyed in a ceremony this past July.
Since gaining independence in 1964, Zambia had been a sanctuary for many refugees from neighbouring countries fleeing armed conflict, he said. Some of the former armed combatants had entered the country and either sold their arms cheaply to criminals or exchanged them for food. Subsequently, those weapons were used to commit crimes, forcing the Government to enact legislation regulating civilian firearms ownership. That law puts strict controls on the number of weapons permits issued each year -- just 600 -- and also limits the sale of arms and ammunitions to only licensed users.
Zambia had had its share of problems related to the suffering caused by small arms, so, among other things, the Government was active in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Programme on Small Arms and Light Weapons and continued to encourage non-governmental organizations and civil society to become more involved in disseminating information on the scourge, in the hopes that it would enhance national and regional security and ultimately improve the welfare of the people of Zambia. Finally, he called for stronger and more effective export and import controls and stressed that manufacturing and exporting countries were in a much better position to curb the illicit spread of small arms.
MONA JUUL (Norway) said that the Security Council had a key role to play in respect of small arms and light weapons. Preventing, combating and eliminating the uncontrolled spread of small arms must be a core element in the Council’s peace efforts. More attention must be focused on the need for effective arms embargoes. The Council could certainly do its part through the establishment of special monitoring mechanisms and other measures. However, it must not forget that arms embargoes could not be implemented effectively without Member States’ cooperation.
The United Nations Programme of Action on small arms remained the key global instrument in dealing with the issue of small arms. Its national implementation was well under way, and many regional organizations were giving it high priority. Regional efforts were of particular importance, in the light of shared challenges and similar experiences in dealing with the issue. Norway had assisted such efforts in a number of regions and would continue to do so. Also of great importance was the participation of civil society.
Continuing, she said she was pleased with the progress made at the second session of the working group, which negotiated an international instrument to enable States to identify and trace illicit small arms and light weapons. It was imperative that the instrument be legally binding. It should also cover ammunition, for that issue was closely linked to the use and misuse of such weapons. The issue of brokering remained essential to international efforts to deal with the small arms problem. It was significant that the High-Level Panel of Threats, Challenges and Change had recommended that Member States should expedite and conclude negotiations on legally binding agreements on marking and tracing, as well as brokering and transfer. She also shared the belief, expressed in the report, on the need for a comprehensive approach, taking into account economic and social issues, to ensure successful disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants. The issue of securing enough resources for the early phases of rehabilitation must also be properly addressed.
VSEVOLOD GRIGORE (Republic of Moldova) said that the report before the Council acknowledged the significant progress achieved and underscored a series of actions that the Council and the Assembly could take. His delegation shared the conclusion of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change that much more needed to be done in the area of arms control and disarmament, and particularly in relation to the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. The Panel’s recommendation on the acceleration and conclusion of legally binding agreements on the marking and tracing, as well as brokering and transfer, was echoed in Secretary-General’s recommendation 1 in the report. He hoped that upcoming meeting on the Programme of Action and the 2006 Review Conference would be marked by tangible results.
His Government was strongly committed to the implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action, he said. In particular, it had developed an export control system that was largely compatible with the European standards and aligned itself with other efforts at the regional and subregional level. Regretfully, the unresolved conflict in the eastern regions of Moldova, controlled by a separatist regime, continued to pose a serious threat to the security, sovereignty and territorial integrity of his country, and the region as a whole. The region remained an area of illegal production of different types of light weapons and trafficking in small arms.
Due to the lack of control by the constitutional authorities over a segment of the border between Moldova and Ukraine, there were no guarantees that illegally produced or trafficked armaments were not reaching other conflict zones, he said. Furthermore, small arms trafficked from the region lacked serial numbers, which made them ideal for organized criminal and terrorist networks. His Government’s close cooperation with the Government of Ukraine, with the assistance of OSCE and the European Union, would contribute to the elimination of illicit trafficking. The efforts to solve the political conflict were complicated by the presence of large, unaccounted stockpiles of foreign weapons and munitions in the eastern part of the country. It was important to internationally assess the stocks of armaments of the foreign troops stationed in the country and those belonging to the illegal military units from the eastern districts of the Republic. Foreign troops, stationed without the consent of the host State, were subject to complete and unconditional withdrawal in accordance with international commitments.
BRUNO STAGNO (Costa Rica) said that the Council had already adopted a number of valuable recommendations to combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, such as the need for all States to use end-user certificates in their arms transfers, as well as the need to sanction those who violate arms embargoes. The efforts of the international community must go beyond marking and the implementation of existing embargoes. It was important to look at small arms and light weapons from a human rights perspective, as well as ban financial and logistical support to those States whose forces participated in violations of human rights.
In a world of limited resources, it was incomprehensible that developing countries spent $22 billion a year to purchase arms, he noted. The sad reality of over-stockpiling and underdevelopment continued to drain many nations. Such a state could be overcome by, among other things, pursuing shared objectives. Countries had given priority to security, which had consumed a considerable portion of limited resources. In 2001, 16 billion units of ammunition were produced -- more than two bullets for every person on the planet.
While he welcomed the Secretary-General’s report, he regretted that there was no reference to the need to draft a legal instrument to put an end to the irresponsible sale and transfer of weapons, which contributed to violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. He supported the arms trade treaty and appealed to all Member States committed to transparency in the arms trade to support that preventive instrument, which placed limits on the trade in arms. It was time to put an end to irresponsible trafficking in weapons. Nine Member States, including a permanent member of the Council, had publicly supported such an initiative.
The Council must design new measures to ensure compliance with its arms embargoes, he said. Unfortunately, the sanctions committees did not have the technical capacity to carry out true verifications. He suggested the creation of a mechanism within the Secretariat for monitoring compliance with arms embargoes.
CHEICK SIDI DIARRA (Mali) said that it had been a little more than a year since the Council had last considered the issue of small arms. The report before the Council provided an update on the developments since then. Elaborating on those developments, he said that his delegation looked forward to the conclusion of the negotiations in the open-ended working group next summer. He also supported establishment of machinery on providing assistance to Member States on implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action on small arms. The illicit exploitation of natural resources in the areas of conflict and its links to the illicit proliferation of arms was also an important issue. While sanctions were important, embargo measures on natural resources should be relaxed in the post-conflict situation, however.
On disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, he emphasized the importance of guidelines and procedures for the establishment of such programmes. The Council should give all due consideration to the integration aspects of peacekeeping. He also believed that regional management of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes would be of great advantage. The adoption of legislative measures, including end-user certificates, could prevent the spread of small arms and light weapons. The ECOWAS was working closely with the United Nations West Africa Office to implement the recommendations of the Secretary-General. Such collaboration was beneficial to the efforts of the countries of the region. Stressing the importance of strict implementation of the embargoes imposed by the Council on arms and related materials, he also noted the need to establish monitoring bodies. Participation in the Conventional Arms Register was also important.
Mali was strengthening its laws on arms and munitions and taking part in bilateral, regional and international arrangements in that regard. The ECOWAS moratorium on small arms would soon be converted into a legally binding instrument. Cooperation among the States of West Africa was strengthening.
* *** *