SECURITY COUNCIL DEBATES GLOBAL PROGRESS AGAINST ILLICIT SMALL ARMS TRADE; STRENGTHENED ARMS EMBARGOES, BROKERING REGULATION AMONG ISSUES RAISED
SECURITY COUNCIL DEBATES GLOBAL PROGRESS AGAINST ILLICIT SMALL ARMS TRADE; STRENGTHENED ARMS EMBARGOES, BROKERING REGULATION AMONG ISSUES RAISED
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5390th Meeting (AM & PM)
Security Council debates global progress against illicit small arms trade;
Strengthened arms embargoes, brokering regulation among issues raised
Meets Ahead of June Conference to Review 2001 Action Programme;
UN Disarmament Official Says Tracing Instrument Adoption Important Step
Ahead of this summer’s conference to review progress made in implementing the 2001 Programme of Action on the illicit small arms trade, the Security Council today examined the progress made in combating that scourge, which is responsible for more than half a million deaths every year and represents a major threat to human security worldwide.
Outlining progress made during the past year, Hannelore Hoppe, Officer-in-Charge of the Department for Disarmament Affairs, said an important step forward in the global struggle against the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons was the adoption by the General Assembly in November of a politically binding international instrument to enable States to identify and trace, in a timely and reliable manner, illicit small arms and light weapons.
That instrument, she continued, contained key provisions aimed at facilitating the work of law enforcement officials as they attempted to trace illicit weapons, and the challenge now was to ensure its full implementation. In that context, serious consideration should be given to international assistance to States in developing the appropriate tools, the technical expertise and infrastructure necessary for the implementation of the instrument.
Among the areas requiring further efforts, she added, was supporting States in building the necessary capacity to improve the effectiveness of the Council’s arms embargoes. Such support could include technical assistance for improved monitoring of national air spaces and maritime borders, as well as the development of means to identify and prosecute those that violated arms embargoes. Efforts also needed to be intensified to systematically integrate long-term small arms and light weapons control measures in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process in post-conflict situations.
In the debate that followed, the representative of the United Kingdom, one of 40 speakers, said the widespread availability of small arms and light weapons in many regions of the world was a major source of insecurity and poverty. Nowhere was that more evident than across large parts of Africa. By fuelling conflict, crime and terrorism, the proliferation of such weapons undermined peace and greatly hindered development.
Echoing the views of many in the debate, he added that this year’s Review Conference presented a vital opportunity to improve efforts to tackle the negative impacts of small arms and light weapons proliferation. The Conference should focus on crucial areas where significant obstacles to full implementation persisted, namely marking and tracing, brokering regulations, transfer controls, ammunition, and the integration of small arms measures into development assistance.
While the majority of speakers welcomed the recent adoption of the instrument for marking and tracing, they regretted that it did not have a legally binding character or contain provisions regarding ammunition. Without ammunition, some noted, small arms and light weapons could not continue to wreak the havoc they did. Also welcomed was the Assembly’s authorization for the convening of the Group of Governmental Experts, which would hopefully lead to progress towards eventual regulation of arms brokering.
Among the concerns raised was the need to include adequate funding for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in the budgets of relevant peacekeeping operations. Oscar Maurtua De Romaña, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Peru, said the Council should bear in mind that States alone could not carry out those actions without the proper financial resources. Many States were unable to cover the remuneration of their armed and police forces, making demobilization and reinsertion difficult. The Council should find a way to increase, through donor countries, the financial resources to support those activities within the framework of peacekeeping operations.
With regard to enforcing the Council’s arms embargoes, Denmark’s representative said Member States should be encouraged to bring their own national legislation in line with the Council’s measures and take the required legal action against “sanctions busters”. The Council, for its part, could employ targeted sanctions, like travel bans against individuals or entities breaching embargoes. In order to get a fuller picture of the financial flows involved, the Council should request more audits and analyses of the money trail in timber, minerals, cocoa or other commodities suspected of financing arms flows.
Slovakia’s representative added that Member States had to make violations of United Nations arms embargoes a criminal offence. Observations of expert and monitoring groups dealing with arms embargoes in various countries clearly demonstrated that violations in that area were widespread and systematic. The Council should strengthen its commitment to finding practical and effective ways to further improve the design monitoring and compliance aspect of the arms embargo regimes.
The Organization, stated Sierra Leone’s representative, continued to spend millions of dollars in peacekeeping operations that were directly or indirectly related to the excessive accumulation and circulation of illicit small arms and light weapons. In those circumstances, the Council should not continue, year after year, to issue presidential statements expressing its grave concern that the destabilizing accumulation of small arms had contributed to the intensity and duration of armed conflicts. The issue should be given due consideration in the Council’s hierarchy of decision-making.
In that connection, Nigeria’s representative felt the international community should complement the Council’s resolution 1540 (2004) banning accessibility of weapons of mass destruction to non-State actors with a separate resolution covering small arms and light weapons, which had become the weapons of choice in almost all conflicts, including those with which the Council was seized. The illicit circulation of small arms and light weapons could be controlled and armed conflicts reduced if, and only if, transfer of such weapons was limited to Governments and licensed traders.
Also participating in the debate were the representatives of Qatar, China, United Republic of Tanzania, Congo, Greece, Russian Federation, United States, France, Japan, Ghana, Argentina, Austria (on behalf of the European Union), Guyana (on behalf of the Rio Group), Australia, Ukraine, Egypt, South Africa, Papua New Guinea (on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum), Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala, Republic of Korea, Senegal, Canada, Indonesia, Cambodia, Fiji, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Norway.
The meeting, which began at 10:05 a.m., suspended at 1:25 p.m. It then resumed at 3:08 p.m. and adjourned at 4:15 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning for an open debate on small arms ahead of the June/July Conference to Review Progress Made in 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.
Before the Council was a report of the Secretary-General (document S/2006/109) dated 17 February, which reflects the initiatives undertaken to implement his 12 recommendations on ways in which the Council could contribute to dealing with the question of the illicit small arms trade in situations under its consideration. In its presidential statement of 31 August 2001 (document S/PRST/2001/21), the Security Council had asked the Secretary-General to make specific recommendations on ways and means in which it could contribute to deal with the illicit small arms trade. The present report is the third in a series of follow-up reports to his first submission of 20 September 2002. (For the first two reports, see document S/2003/1217 and Corr.1 and document S/2005/69).
Covering the period from January to December 2005, the report says that the most significant achievement during the period under review was the adoption of the International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons, which fulfils the Secretary-General’s first recommendation. He is also pleased with the Council’s recent emphasis on the importance of inter-mission cooperation with regard to the prevention of cross-border movement of arms and combatants, the illicit exploitation of natural resources, the implementation of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process and the monitoring of arms embargoes.
The report says that the effectiveness and relevance of the Instrument will depend on the commitment of Member States to implement it fully. With regard to his second recommendation, on the Interpol Weapons Electronic Tracing System, the Secretary-General looks forward to closer cooperation between the United Nations and Interpol in implementing the international instrument.
Regarding recommendation 3, on establishing a small arms advisory service, the Secretary-General says that the Council should call on Member States to provide support to the Coordination Action on Small Arms (CASA) mechanism, in order to enhance its effectiveness as a platform for the development of a coordinated and coherent United Nations approach to the small arms problem and its relevance as a provider of services to Member States. Regarding recommendation 4, on the Council’s interaction with the General Assembly, he says that would contribute to developing a coherent and comprehensive United Nations policy on small arms and light weapons, which is particularly important in light of the forthcoming Conference.
Concerning the implementation of recommendation 5, on enforcement of all Council resolutions, including arms embargoes, the report says that success will depend on the political will and relevant technical capacity of Member States. On recommendation 6, concerning the link between the illicit small arms trade, natural and other resources, and the illegal drug trade, the Secretary-General notes the continuing attention paid by the Council to those links and to developing strategies to address them. He encourages the pursuit of concrete actions, such as the independent audit proposed by the Group of Experts on Côte d’Ivoire.
With regard to recommendation 7, on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, the Secretary-General notes the Council’s emphasis on the importance of inter-mission cooperation in the implementation of “DDR”. Also, detailed provisions on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, such as those included in the mandate of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), are particularly useful and should become more frequent. In this regard, the Secretary-General recommends that the Council explicitly articulate the role of peacekeeping missions on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.
Concerning recommendation 8, on financing for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, he expresses his satisfaction that the General Assembly has noted that reinsertion activities are part of the disarmament and demobilization process and that operational costs related to disarmament and demobilization, including reinsertion, may continue to be included in the budgets of relevant peacekeeping operations. The success of disarmament and demobilization programmes hinges largely on the provision of such transitional assistance to cover the basic needs of former combatants and their families.
Regarding the implementation of recommendation 9, on control over the export and transit of small arms and light weapons, the Secretary-General says it is encouraging to note several ongoing initiatives in the area of control over the export, import and transit of those weapons. The Council should encourage States to enhance their cooperation in this area. It should also encourage them to accede to the Firearms Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
On a more vigorous and expeditious use of arms embargoes and coercive measures against those who deliberately violate them, recommendations 10 and 11, the Secretary-General says he is satisfied with the continued practice of establishing, under the relevant Council resolutions, mechanisms to support, monitor and assess the implementation of sanctions, as well as to provide technical advice to the related sanctions committees, with a view to ensuring full compliance with the embargoes.
With regard to recommendation 12, on enhancing transparency in armaments, the Secretary-General notes with great satisfaction the growing participation of Member States in the two United Nations reporting instruments on armaments. He encourages Member States to continue to lend their support to efforts to promote both instruments so as to achieve universal participation. Following the inclusion of man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS) in the Register of Conventional Arms, he hopes that in the near future, the Register will be expanded to include international transfers of small arms and light weapons.
Introducing the Secretary-General’s report on small arms, HANNELORE HOPPE, Officer-in-Charge of the Department for Disarmament Affairs, said the report underscored continuing progress made in important areas addressed in the recommendations of the 2002 report on ways in which the Council could contribute to dealing with the question of the illicit trade in small arms. An important step forward in the global struggle against the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons was the recent adoption by the General Assembly of a politically binding international instrument to enable States to identify and trace, in a timely and reliable manner, illicit small arms and light weapons.
That instrument, she said, contained key provisions aimed at facilitating the work of law enforcement officials as they attempted to trace illicit weapons. The challenge now was to ensure the full implementation of that instrument. In that context, serious consideration should be given to international assistance to States that so request in developing the appropriate tools, the technical expertise and infrastructure necessary for the implementation of the instrument.
The report highlighted, as an important development, the entry into force of the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. The realization of that instrument’s potential as an effective tool in the efforts to prevent and combat transnational organized crime depended on its wide acceptance by States. The Council might thus wish to encourage States that had not yet done so to ratify or accede to the Protocol.
An encouraging sign of progress was the increased focus on understanding the link between the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and the illicit exploitation of natural resources and on measures to help sever such links. In terms of actions to prevent the diversion of small arms and light weapons to the illicit market, the decision of the Assembly, at its sixtieth session, to establish a group of governmental experts to consider further steps to enhance international cooperation to prevent, combat and eradicate illicit brokering in small arms and light weapons was an important step in the right direction. The Group would commence its work in November of this year, with two more sessions to be held in the course of the first half of 2007.
The report, she continued, also underscored that, despite the progress made so far, more needed to be done to fully implement some of the recommendations. In that regard, she pointed to the need to support States in their efforts to build the necessary capacity to adopt measures aimed at further improving the effectiveness of arms embargoes imposed by the Council. Such support could include technical assistance for improved monitoring of national air spaces and maritime borders, as well as the development of means to identify and prosecute those that violated arms embargoes. She also highlighted the need to intensify efforts to systematically integrate long-term small arms and light weapons control measures in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process in post-conflict situations.
In addition, she emphasized the recent achievements of the Coordination Action on Small Arms (CASA) mechanism, particularly the development of a strategic framework and an Internet database and the initiatives undertaken to raise awareness of the mechanism among United Nations offices in the field. Those initiatives were intended to strengthen the mechanism’s coordinating role, within the United Nations system, as well as its capacity to better respond to requests for assistance from Member States. The sustainability of those efforts could only be secured with the support of Member States.
In June, the United Nations Conference to review progress made in implementing the Programme of Action on the illicit small arms trade would be convened, she noted. The intensity of the debates during the session of the Preparatory Committee for the Conference confirmed, on the one hand, that States remained as committed as they were in 2001 to tackle the challenges posed by the trade. On the other hand, the wide diversity of views expressed regarding the question of small arms on the international agenda was symptomatic of the complexity of the challenges posed.
OSCAR MAURTUA DE ROMAÑA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Peru, aligning himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the Rio Group, said that the seriousness of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was based on its impact on international security and public safety. It compromised the consolidation of the principles of international law and the structure of the modern State, such as the protection of democratic institutions, the rule of law and the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Moreover, the association of small arms to such problems as drug trafficking, organized crime and terrorism also represented a high risk.
The proliferation of arms around the world contributed to the destabilization of countries, the increase in the intensity and duration of armed conflicts and undermining the provision of humanitarian assistance, he said. More than half a million deaths every year were attributed to small arms and light weapons. From that, 300,000 deaths were related to armed conflicts, which meant that they had caused more deaths than nuclear weapons. Furthermore, small arms and light weapons had played a determining role in 47 out of the 49 armed conflicts in the 1990s.
He said the Security Council must maintain its efforts towards the achievement of effective control over embargo regimes and strengthening disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes in conflict and post-conflict areas. If a State did not control its territory, embargoes would not be implemented. Therefore, the Council must work towards the strengthening of the State, with the support of peacekeeping missions, in order to secure the effective control of their borders and the entire national territory. Concerning the disarmament, demobilization and reinsertion of former combatants, the Council should bear in mind that States alone could not carry out those actions without the proper financial resources. Many States were unable to cover the remuneration of their armed and police forces, making demobilization and reinsertion difficult. The Council should find a way to increase, through donor countries, the financial resources to support those activities within the framework of peacekeeping operations.
He said that, in the context of international efforts to combat the illicit trade, his own country had taken a significant step through the ratification of the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing or Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials, which complemented the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. Furthermore, Peru had passed the Amnesty and Regularization Law, which encouraged citizens to surrender their legal or illegal weapons to the pertinent authorities. Supported by the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, Peru had been able to continue the process of massive firearms destruction through such activities as organizing seminars addressed to the national political, judicial and academic authorities. Likewise, new legislation was being prepared with a view to incorporating Peru’s commitments under international instruments.
NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER ( Qatar) noted that the efforts of the international community had led to a consensus on a draft international instrument of a political nature on the marking and tracing of small arms and light weapons. Qatar would have hoped for the working group to have adopted a legally binding instrument. However, different points of view and conflicting interests had impeded the conclusion of a legally binding instrument. He hoped the instrument would be progressively developed into a legally binding one that would provide the means for the effective control of the illegal trafficking of small arms and light weapons.
To guarantee success for the international community’s efforts to track the movements of the illicit trade, he cited the need for a database and central information system that was accessible to Member States and which could be used in sharing and exchanging information. He also supported the recommendation in the report encouraging States that were in a position to do so to assist the Secretariat in establishing the small arms advisory service, using extrabudgetary resources for that purpose. That assistance would allow the service to continue to carry out meetings in the field, with a view to raising awareness and improving the coordination of activities related to the threat of illicit small arms.
He added that Arab States provided the Secretariat of the League of Arab States with the texts of laws and legislation regulating small arms, which the Secretariat then incorporated in a database accessible to its members. That information-sharing mechanism would allow members to keep abreast of the achievements made and benefit from the expertise available in the Arab region.
ZHANG YISHAN ( China) said that the extensive accumulation of, and illicit trafficking in, small arms and light weapons had exacerbated warfare and hampered peacekeeping operations. In recent years the United Nations and the international community had made many efforts in seeking solutions to the problem and had achieved some progress. International and regional seminars had also played an important role in the exchange of ideas and experiences.
Citing the 2001 and other recent conferences, he said the forthcoming review meeting would be another milestone in combating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. He hoped it would clarify the primary role of States in combating trafficking, help them strengthen management controls and prevent the outflow through illegal channels and press for effective implementation of marking and tracing. It was also necessary to continue to encourage the international community regarding the need to eliminate poverty, social injustice and other root causes of trafficking in small arms and light weapons.
He said that the Security Council’s emphasis on the importance of the small arms question had played an important role in effectively reducing trafficking and enhancing regional peace and stability. The Security Council should coordinate its work with that of other United Nations bodies so as to maximize its own work on that question. China had implemented a number of measures, including a programme of action. It had participated in international seminars and hosted seminars aimed at maintaining operational links with other countries.
EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom) said that, coming in the run-up to the 2006 Review Conference, the Secretary-General’s report was a timely reminder of the scale of the menace posed by the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, which particularly affected regions of conflict and the developing world. The widespread availability of those weapons in many regions of the world was a major source of insecurity and poverty. Nowhere was that more evident than across large parts of Africa. By fuelling conflict, crime and terrorism, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons undermined peace and greatly hindered development. His Government was committed to reducing the proliferation of such weapons, the threat they posed and the damage they caused. It focused its efforts on three critical areas: strengthening controls on the supply of such weapons; reducing their availability; and addressing their demand.
This year’s Review Conference, he said, presented a vital opportunity to improve efforts to tackle the negative impacts of small arms and light weapons proliferation. The Conference should focus on crucial areas where significant obstacles to full implementation persisted: marking and tracing; brokering regulations; transfer controls; ammunition; and the integration of small arms measures into development assistance. He added that there was a strong security, developmental, humanitarian and moral case for an arms trade treaty, and called on all States to support the early agreement to the start of a United Nations-based process to take that work forward. In addition, he hoped the negotiations on a Council resolution on small arms and light weapons, which would serve several purposes, could be brought to conclusion soon.
TUVAKO MANONGI (United Republic of Tanzania) said that the Dar es Salaam Declaration on Peace, Security and Development in the Great lakes Region placed the problem of small arms proliferation as one requiring the most urgent discussion. Its signatories pledged to promote common policies and to end the proliferation of small arms and to harmonize existing agreements and mechanisms. As a result, those countries saw the United National Programme of Action adopted by the United Nations Conference on Small arms and Small Weapons, as well as the Security Council’s various presidential statements that sought to bring greater international attention and action to the menace as a crucial component of their efforts.
He said those efforts had borne results in the form of Nairobi Declaration and the Nairobi Protocol on Small Arms, as a clear testimony of the importance that the Great Lakes countries attached to the problem of proliferation. In keeping with the Programme of Action, those efforts needed support. While there were differences over the appropriateness of binding norms and standards, in the view of the Great Lakes countries, when States had established international norms in the area of nuclear weapons and adopted treaties banning chemical and biological weapons and anti-personnel mines, it was only right that they should strive towards a negotiated, legally binding instrument establishing a stringent and verifiable regime to render the illicit trade much more difficult.
While recognizing that the Security Council could not seek a greater role than that prescribed in its mandate, he said it could not, however, remain aloof when its intensive efforts in preventing conflicts or peacekeeping were undermined by the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. Issuing presidential statements that brought little change in the conduct of actors on the ground required a more determined resolve to act. Such resolve and action would best be served by a universal binding framework on small arms and light weapons. In spite of the absence of a stronger global framework, much could be achieved if the Secretary-General’s recommendation were implemented. Little in that direction seemed to have been achieved and the fact that present proposals in his report were a reiteration of past recommendations illustrated a lack of progress in many aspects.
The Council must see how it could help progress in those elements of the proposals bearing on its mandate, he stressed. The Second Summit of he International Conference on the Great Lakes, due to take place in Nairobi later this year, would have an important dimension in support of the subregional initiative on small arms and light weapons. That would be a seminal complement to the United Nations Programme of Action.
PASCAL GAYAMA ( Congo) said the number of small arms and light weapons, and their victims, was still far too high. In Africa, those weapons were commonly called weapons of mass destruction, due to their tragic consequences in many conflict situations. They were also a threat to peacekeepers, as had been seen in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Small arms and light weapons continued to pose a major challenge to peace, and controlling the scourge called for collective efforts on the part of the international community. The most important development since the 2001 Conference was the adoption of the international instrument on tracing. The effectiveness of that instrument would depend on the importance Member States applied to its implementation. He regretted that the instrument did not have a legally binding character or contain provisions regarding ammunition. Without ammunition, such small arms and light weapons could not continue to wreak the havoc they did.
He said only a rigorous control of imports and exports would make it possible to tackle the illicit trade. Arms embargo violations, which continued, must be condemned. He encouraged the establishment of a monitoring mechanism to detect cases of intentional violations. Also, peacekeeping missions and sanctions committees should be empowered to formulate requests regarding arms embargo violations that had been detected. He also cited the need to encourage regional support for strengthening controls on international weapons transfers. Also, priority should be given to strengthening national capacity in such areas as border control and public awareness, which meant that assistance must be given to weaker States.
He added that disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes required much more assistance than that which could be mobilized at the national level. He would like to see a greater involvement of the international financial institutions in the implementation of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes. In addition, particular attention was needed on the links between the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and the illicit exploitation of natural resources.
ADAMANTIOS TH. VASSILAKIS ( Greece) said the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons had contributed enormously to their unlimited proliferation. Some 640 million such weapons existed worldwide and several million were illegally possessed either by transnational crime organizations or by non-State actors. The uncontrolled propagation of small arms had resulted in some 500,000 victims a year and constituted a threat to international peace and security. They significantly contributed to the intensification of conflicts, obstructed relief programmes and undermined peace initiatives. To check the problem, the United Nations had adopted the 2001 Programme of Action. While progress had been made in some aspects of the programme, other areas were still stagnant. He expected that a full evaluation of the Programme’s implementation would be made during the forthcoming Review Conference.
The Assembly’s approval in 2005 of the international instrument to enable States to identify and trace small arms constituted a significant step forward, he said. He hoped that instrument would become legally binding in the near future. It was also encouraging that the Assembly had authorized the convening of the Group of Governmental Experts, which would hopefully lead to progress towards eventual regulation of arms brokering. In order to be effective, the fight had to be expanded to include ammunition. Small arms and light weapons were useless without ammunition. While countries needed small arms and light weapons in order to exercise their inherent right to self-defence, in some instances, small arms were diverted to illegal recipients. A means to fight that loophole in the system was the adoption of the End User’s Certificate.
He said Greece supported the Council’s increased attention to the issue of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants to their societies. The negative humanitarian and development impact of the illicit manufacture, transfer and circulation of small arms would be greatly reduced through the adoption of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration measures. Measures also had to be taken for the strict compliance with United Nations embargoes and sanctions in conflict areas. The Council should not spare any effort to stop their proliferation, as well as to identify potential links between their illicit trade and illicit exploitation of natural resources. Zero tolerance for smugglers must be the rule, as smuggling rekindled conflict through their illegal financing.
Mr. SHCHERBAK ( Russian Federation) said his country had consistently advocated a coordinating role for the United Nations in combating the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, which was particularly important in the context of fighting terrorism and preventing armed conflict. Unfortunately much still remained to be done in that area and it was still too early to start extending the scope of discussions to preventing arms transfers. That discussion would be relevant only when it contributed directly to the prevention of armed conflict. First of all it was necessary to deal with the means to prevent the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, including through national legislation.
He emphasized the need to limit the number of intermediaries and for a clear role for the State in dealing with the question of brokerage, adding that there was a need to control exports through random checks on storage conditions for imported weapons. Another obvious source of small arms was that whereby illegal manufacturing permission was granted for their manufacture. The Russian Federation advocated strong and effective measures against that practice, including a stronger emphasis on weapons bans. Also becoming ever more evident was the need to keep small arms and light weapons in their most dangerous forms from falling into the hands of terrorists. The experience of regional organizations in that context was extremely useful and important.
JACKIE WOLCOTT SANDERS ( United States) said the illicit flow of weapons to conflict areas and the destruction they wrought were evident in Darfur. Illegal flows from the Sudan’s neighbours had contributed to intensifying the conflict and in displacing over 200,000 refugees, among other things. The United States and the Security Council had been active in calling for the parties to adhere to the ceasefire. She could not stress enough that arms embargoes were a significant mechanism for combating the illicit trade. Tackling the global illicit trade was an important initiative that States must address, due to its wide-ranging effects. The illicit trade in such weapons could endanger the work of peacekeepers, and greatly hinder the work of rebuilding war-torn societies.
She emphasized that it was the illicit trade in military small arms that should concern the international community. Among the most effective ways to address that was through strict national export and import controls and the adoption of strong brokering laws. The United States had one of the strongest systems in the world concerning the export of small arms, and rigorously monitored arms transfers. It had also provided technical and financial assistance to numerous States to strengthen their import and export controls. Since 2001, her Government had assisted in the destruction of over 800,000 small arms and light weapons. In addition, since 2000, the United States had provided technical assistance to over 20 countries in stockpile management. The United States had worked hard to meet the provisions of the 2001 Programme of Action. It was imperative to remain focused on the implementation of the provisions of the Programme of Action, without revisiting old debates or getting sidetracked.
MICHEL DUCLOS (France), endorsing the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, said that, at the beginning of the 1990s the international community had begun to deal with the question of small arms at the initiative of African countries, particularly Mali, following the Ottawa Convention on anti-personnel mines. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had played an important role, as has the European Union and Latin America. All those initiatives were rational measures in support of what was being done at the global level, where the United Nations Programme of Action was particularly important.
He proposed that, in line with the international system progressively being put in place, it was time to go further in the control of small arms and light weapons. France supported the arms control convention proposed by Oxfam and felt that a negotiating process to conclude such an instrument should be launched during the next session of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) in September. However, there was a recurring practical problem, concerning the air transport of small arms and light weapons. When rules were sometimes lacking, when they differed, or when States had different capacities, the question was difficult to deal with legally.
Noting that it was time to deal with the link between small arms flows and the illegal exploitation of natural resources, he said the European Union proposed to use the practical experiences of the sanctions committees on Liberia or the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said. In the approach to the illicit trade, there could no longer be a clear distinction between the trade itself and its financing. How were the arms funded in Liberia, if not through diamonds, as had also happened in the Democratic Republic of the Congo? There was a need to draw the right lessons from those examples.
SHINICHI KITAOKA ( Japan) said 2006 was particularly significant for addressing the issue of small arms and light weapons. The first Review Conference would provide an opportunity for Member States to take a comprehensive look at the status of the implementation of the 2001 Programme of Action and set a course for future actions. In an effort to make tangible progress in the field of small arms, international rule-making efforts and implementation of small arms-related projects on the ground should be promoted in parallel, namely a two pillar approach. Only through the balanced efforts in both areas would it be possible to make real headway on the issue.
With regard to rule-making, he said Japan looked forward to the discussion of the group of governmental experts on brokering when it was established following the Review Conference. As a non-arms exporter in principle, Japan believed that it was essential for Member States to strengthen arms transfer control, with a view to curbing the unregulated trade in small arms and light weapons. Just as important as international rule-making efforts was the promotion of projects on the ground. To effectively deal with the issue, national and public authorities of affected countries must implement and enforce those rules. In that respect, assistance was needed in the collection and destruction of weapons and in the development of the capacity of national and local authorities.
The execution of projects on the ground was of paramount importance, he added. Japan considered that the expertise and experience gained by implementing projects in the field should be widely shared with other countries and regions. In that regard, as a number of projects had been carried out by civil society, the participation of non-governmental organizations should be encouraged. Japan welcomed the inclusion of that topic as part of the provisional work programme of the forthcoming Review Conference. He hoped that the Council would continue to pay attention to that cross-cutting issue in the area of international peace and security and requested the Secretary-General to keep Council members up to date with progress reports.
LARS FAABORG-ANDERSEN ( Denmark) said that to retain its position as the main global instrument for a comprehensive approach, the 2001 Programme of Action needed an ambitious, forward-looking review. The benchmark for success would be its ability to act as a catalyst for action-oriented multilateral and bilateral measures. While welcoming the instrument on marking and tracing, Denmark would have preferred it to be legally binding. He encouraged a determined effort on brokering and actively supported efforts to start negotiations on an arms trade treaty. He also called for the adoption of measures on arms control at the upcoming Review Conference. It was clear, he said, that an arms trade treaty would greatly strengthen the effectiveness of arms embargoes. For the Council, arms embargoes were a key instrument to confront the threat emanating from small arms, and while the Council had made progress in enacting embargoes in a timely manner, it was necessary to explore avenues for implementing and monitoring them better.
Member States should be encouraged to bring their own national legislation in line with the Council’s measures and take the required legal action against “sanctions busters”, he said. The Council, for its part, could employ targeted sanctions, like travel bans against individuals or entities breaching embargoes. In order to get a fuller picture of the financial flows involved, the Council should request more audits and analyses of the money trail in timber, minerals, cocoa or other commodities suspected of financing arms flows. Furthermore, peacekeepers should be provided with the necessary mandate and resources to assist in monitoring embargoes. In all those areas, much could be gained from a thorough study of the lessons learned concerning the sanctions regimes against Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia, for instance.
PETER BURIAN ( Slovakia) fully aligned himself with the forthcoming statement by Austria on behalf of the European Union and said that the implications and consequences of small arms proliferation were very disturbing. More efficient actions by the international community were needed to address that issue. He strongly supported all measures in the United Nations Programme of Action on small arms, which, if implemented by all Member States, would greatly mitigate the problem. Member States must demonstrate stronger political will in order to strengthen that global instrument. The upcoming five-year comprehensive review of the 2001 document would present an important opportunity to discuss the extent of progress next summer. The meeting must ensure that the United Nations small arms process was continued and strengthened in the future.
He welcomed the adoption of the International Instrument on tracing small arms. Though non-binding, that instrument was an important step forward. With the necessary political will, it would help to reduce the illicit trafficking and contribute towards a global solution.
He also mentioned United Nations arms embargoes as an important multilateral tool for responding to armed conflict and violations of international norms. Slovakia urged all Member States to respect and enforce all Security Council resolutions, including those imposing arms embargoes. Member States had to make violations of United Nations arms embargoes a criminal offence. Observations of expert and monitoring groups dealing with arms embargoes in various countries clearly demonstrated that violations in that area were widespread and systematic. The Council should strengthen its commitment to finding practical and effective ways to further improve the design monitoring and compliance aspect of the arms embargo regimes.
He added that an essential part of successful small arms control in post-conflict situations was a well-governed security sector, comprising the civil, political and security institutions responsible for protecting the State and the communities within it. In its peacekeeping mandates, the Council should continue to strengthen provisions for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants, as well as measures for collection and destruction of illicit and surplus weapons. He also agreed with the conclusion of the Secretary-General about the need to strengthen interaction between the Security Council and the General Assembly in developing a coherent and comprehensive United Nations small arms policy. Better cooperation between countries at the regional and subregional level and the United Nations should be an important part of that policy.
NANA EFFAH-APENTENG (Ghana) said that, for West Africa, which had experienced widespread havoc and untold suffering owing to the easy availability of small arms and light weapons, such weapons were nothing short of weapons of mass destruction. The Second Continental Conference of African Governmental Experts on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons held in Windhoek, Namibia, had clearly enunciated the region’s position on the issue. The eradication of those weapons remained a matter of utmost priority. More could be done towards that end through financial and technical assistance to Member States, particularly those contiguous to conflict zones, to strengthen their capacity to enforce agreed measures, including prosecuting those who violated embargoes.
He also expressed concern about the need for concrete measures to prevent the illegal exploitation of natural resources to fund the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. Ghana endorsed the suggestion that past reports of the panel of exports and similar bodies in that field could provide useful information on lessons learned. Effective disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes were widely recognized as a key component of a precondition for successful peacebuilding. Nonetheless, while disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes were a necessary first step, they must be underpinned by the provision of employment opportunities for ex-combatants.
Insecure stockpiles of collected weapons were attractive sources of illicit weapons trafficking into neighbouring countries and potential conflict zones, he said. An integral part of weapons collection programmes should be the transparent destruction of surplus stockpiles, taking into consideration the security needs of the country concerned. A crucial area meriting effective international commitment was transfer control, especially to armed rebel groups, organized criminals and terrorists. While it was the right of States to acquire weapons for self-defence and law enforcement, it was equally their responsibility to ensure that weapons legally acquired did not end up in the hands of non-State actors only to be used to fuel violence and conflict. Although some progress had been made in that sphere, the lack of uniform regulation was detrimental to the common cause. What was required was a transparent, non-discriminatory and non-selective international standard on transfer-control and end-user certificates.
Effective transfer controls would be illusory without addressing the issue of brokering, which was central to the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, he said. The establishment of a robust regulation would prevent unscrupulous brokers from acting with impunity and Ghana, therefore, looked forward to the establishment of the Group of Experts to consider further steps to enhance international cooperation to prevent, combat and eradicate illicit brokering of small arms and light weapons.
The inextricable nexus between development and security had been widely acknowledged, he said. While supporting efforts to curb proliferation, it was also necessary to intensify efforts to address the underlying causes of conflict, including poverty. The demand for weapons would remain strong so long as conflicts festered and solutions to their fundamental causes were not addressed. It was, therefore, important that efforts by developing countries towards sustainable development be supported by the international community.
Council President CÉSAR MAYORAL (Argentina), speaking in his national capacity, said the 2001 Programme of Action captured the political will of the international community to face the issue of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. At the same time, Member States had agreed to cooperate with the United Nations system to put into place arms embargoes adopted by the Council, and urged the Council to study, for each case, the possibility of including in the mandates and budgets of peacekeeping operations provisions regarding the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants.
Today, after almost seven years since the Council addressed the issue of small arms for the first time, he was convinced that both the Council and the Assembly should study ways to improve their interaction with regard to issues related to small arms, in order to promote and elaborate long-term strategies in the framework of conflict prevention and peacebuilding, as well as to determine the links between illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons and the illegal exploitation of natural resources.
He said the Council had recognized, through its presidential statements, that the accumulation and uncontrolled spread of small arms and light weapons compromised the Council’s effectiveness in discharging its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. It seemed the time had come for the Council to send a strong political message through a resolution for the implementation of arms embargoes.
GERHARD PFANZELTER ( Austria), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, noted that small arms and light weapons constituted the weapons of choice in the vast majority of conflicts under the Council’s consideration. From Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Sudan to Haiti, Iraq and Afghanistan, they were used by militias, armed groups and terrorists to commit the worst atrocities imaginable against civilian populations, disrupt political processes, control the illegal exploitation of natural resources and contribute to the destabilization of whole regions. The easy availability of small arms and light weapons, ammunition and explosives was, in itself, a fuelling factor for many of those conflicts.
He welcomed the Security Council’s continuing emphasis in arms embargoes on the links between the illicit exploitation of natural resources and the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. However, as evidenced in the reports of the various expert and monitoring groups supporting the Security Council sanctions committees, much remained to be done to make that central tool of the Council more effective. The inability to trace arms flows and the lack of appropriate records often inhibited the effective execution of the work of the expert groups. Global standards on the marking and tracing of small arms and light weapons was essential if the international community was to understand, track and crack down on the illegal trade.
In order to alleviate the serious impact of proliferation on conflict, development and human rights, he said, United Nations efforts to control small arms and light weapons must be intensified, notably through measures on brokering, transfer controls, marking and tracing, end-user certification, stockpile management and destruction, ammunition and especially capacity-building. The European Union welcomed the decision to establish a group of governmental experts to study global regulations on brokering.
The Union recognized the close link between small arms and light weapons and their ammunition, as well as the need to find a coordinated response to those issues, he said. The Union encouraged the use of minimum common standards in transfer controls, including criteria or guidelines to determine whether a proposed transfer would aggravate conflict, repress human rights or undermine development. Such guidelines could also prevent a shipment from being diverted into the illegal market. The 1998 European Union Code of Conduct on arms exports represented one of several examples of agreed regional instruments and many other regions had adopted their own agreements.
The integration of small arms measures into development assistance must be strengthened, he stressed. The classification of assistance for small arms control as official development assistance (ODA) by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee last year had allowed States to include armed violence prevention programmes in their poverty reduction strategies and enabled donors to provide assistance for small arms control as part of their development cooperation programmes.
GEORGE TALBOT (Guyana), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said there was no doubt that the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was a serious threat to security and stability in many parts of the world. Latin America and the Caribbean were not immune to the destabilizing impact of that trade. The Rio Group was aware of the complex and multidimensional nature of the problem, which included security concerns and humanitarian aspects, among other things. The very nature of the problem called for a holistic and coordinated response from the international community. That was an obligation. Such a response must tackle all aspects of the problem, so as to face the challenges that that threat posed to life and sustainable development.
In order to tackle the challenges raised by the illicit trade, he said there was an urgent need to strengthen cooperation and international assistance, including technical and financial assistance, as well as to facilitate efforts at the local, national, regional and global levels. It was crucial to ensure stricter control and broader regulation on the part of national authorities with respect to arms in the possession of civilians, as well to reduce the causes behind the demand for small arms and light weapons. In the lead-up to the Review Conference, he could not help but express the conviction that the progress seen and the measures adopted were far short of what was required to tackle the challenges. For example, he would have preferred a legally binding instrument on marking and tracing. The Rio Group stood ready to strengthen cooperation in that area and build on the limited progress achieved thus far. To fully implement the goals of the 2001 Programme of Action, the international community must tackle areas such as identification and tracing, export and import controls and brokering. He also stressed the need to ban the transfer of any type of arms to non-State actors.
With regard to arms embargoes, he said the Council must design new mechanisms to guarantee compliance with arms embargoes. He supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation that asked States to enforce all Council resolutions imposing such embargoes and to adopt national legislation in that area. He also supported his recommendations which encouraged States that had not yet done so to adopt legislative and other measures, including using authenticated end-user certificates. He was pleased with the decision to expand the scope of the United Nations Register on Conventional Arms, and encouraged arms-exporting counties to exercise the utmost responsibility in their transactions, to prevent the spread of weapons to conflict areas.
CAROLINE MILLAR (Australia) said that Member States should affirm and facilitate legitimate trade in small arms and light weapons through national implementation of effective transfer controls which took into account: relevant arms embargoes; the prevention of destabilizing accumulations of small arms and light weapons; the internal and regional situation of the recipient State; and the risk of diversion to unauthorized users, including terrorists and other criminals. She noted the particular need for effective stockpile management; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; and security sector reform in post-conflict and other developing countries.
The success of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) demonstrated how integrated efforts to improve governance, including in the areas of justice, and law and order, could, in addition to efforts to reduce the availability of small arms and light weapons, reduce demand for weapons and facilitate sustainable peacebuilding. Australia was working with a number of States, both in its region and more widely, on practically-focused outcomes to prevent the destabilizing accumulation of small arms and light weapons, including in the areas of capacity-building and needs assessment. In addition, her country remained concerned about the unauthorized possession and use of MANPADS by non-State actors and the dangers those weapons posed to civilian aviation. She urged all States to implement the Assembly resolutions on that issue, including by enacting and improving legislation to ban the transfer of MANPADS to non-State actors.
SYLVESTER EKUNDAYO ROWE ( Sierra Leone) said today’s meeting was special, because it was not just another annual debate on small arms to be followed by a presidential statement. Argentina had raised the issue to a higher political level in the Council; instead of a presidential statement there would be a draft resolution, which, if adopted, would be the first resolution concerning small arms in the global context.
Despite the devastating consequences of the illicit circulation and use of small arms and light weapons, the Security Council had adopted only two resolutions on the issue. In resolution 1209 (1998), the Council recognized the close relationship of illicit small arms flows to and in Africa with international peace and security. It went on to express “grave concern at the destabilizing effect of illicit arms flows, in particular of small arms, to and in Africa, and at their excessive accumulation and circulation, which threatened national, regional and international security and have serious consequences for development and for the humanitarian situation in the continent”.
That was eight years ago, he said, adding that since then thousands of innocent people had become victims of the direct and indirect use of those weapons, not only in Africa but also in other parts of the world. United Nations peacekeepers had also been deliberately killed in the course of conflicts in which those small but dangerous weapons were frequently used. The Organization continued to spend millions of dollars in peacekeeping operations that were directly or indirectly related to the excessive accumulation and circulation of illicit small arms and light weapons. In those circumstances, the Security Council should not continue, year after year, to issue presidential statements expressing its grave concern that the destabilizing accumulation of small arms had contributed to the intensity and duration of armed conflicts. The issue should be given due consideration in the hierarchy of decision-making in the Security Council.
Had not the Council, two years ago in resolution 1509, expressed its grave concern at the threat of terrorism and the risk that non-State actors may acquire, develop, traffic in or use nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their means of delivery? he asked. Had not the Council accordingly reaffirmed that proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as their means of delivery, constituted a threat to international peace and security? Sierra Leone shared the Secretary-General’s view, expressed in his report “In Larger Freedom”, that States must strive just as hard to eliminate the threat of illicit small arms and light weapons as they did to eliminate weapons of mass destruction.
He said the Council had called on arms-producing and exporting countries to enact stringent laws, regulations and administrative procedures to ensure more effective control over the transfer to West Africa of small arms by manufacturers and brokers, as well as shipping and transit agents. In a presidential statement last year, the Council had encouraged arms-exporting countries to exercise the highest degree of responsibility in small arms and light weapons transactions. Now the Council must go one step further by explicitly encouraging the conclusion of an international arms trade treaty in the same way it had affirmed its support for multilateral treaties aimed at eliminating or preventing the proliferation of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.
VIKTOR V. KRYZHANIVSKYI ( Ukraine) stressed the need for effective control over brokering activities and small arms and light weapons transfers in general. Also, he said it was evident that promoting long-term conditions for development and security was impossible without resolving ongoing conflicts and taking adequate measures aimed at ensuring stability in post-conflict situations. In addition, he supported consideration by the Council of actions against States, entities and individuals that deliberately violated United Nations arms embargoes. It was also important to review the lessons learned to ensure the efficiency of measures that could be further taken by the Council. It would be useful to focus on financial sources of purchases of illegal weapons and to define the role that international organizations, business and financial institutions and other actors at the regional and local levels could play in implementing arms embargoes.
Further, he proposed additional elements to be explored in discussing the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, namely the restriction on the supply of ammunition to areas of instability and the destruction of the excessive small arms and light weapons stockpiles. The effective destruction of old stockpiles could be an important contribution to fight the illicit trade.
MAGED ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt) stressed that the Council’s discussion today must focus on the Council’s primary role in facing the challenges posed by illicit trafficking in small arms. Such a role should be based on three integrated elements: imposing and enforcing embargoes in conflict situations; mandating peacekeeping operations to assist in the implementation of disarmament and demobilization programmes in post-conflict situations; and addressing the links between the illicit arms trafficking and the illegal exploitation of natural resources in conflict-affected regions.
He said that, despite an increasing number of measures undertaken by the Security Council in recent years, most notably the establishment of expert groups and monitoring mechanisms, such measures had yielded only variant levels of success. That was due, in some situations, to the practical difficulties of monitoring arms embargoes, and in others, to the lack of political will in the Council to enforce some of the embargoes and to ensure their implementation. The Council must focus on undertaking an assessment of the causes of successes and failures in ensuring the commitment of all parties and States to the implementation of arms embargoes. It should take duly into account that the end objective should not be confined to the enforcement of arms embargoes, but rather to channel them towards achieving the required degree of security and stability needed for the success of the political process in countries and regions under consideration.
Moreover, the Security Council had a vital role to play in the follow-up to the implementation of disarmament and demobilization programmes in the context of peacekeeping mandates, he said. That role was essential in ensuring security and stability, as well as enhancing the authority of the State and its security apparatus in post-conflict situations. The General Assembly should, through its Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, create guidelines for the collection, storage, securing and destruction of confiscated arms, so as to avoid their recirculation across borders to neighbouring countries. The Council must also accord priority to seriously and effectively addressing the link between illicit small arms trafficking and the illegal exploitation of natural resources, which fuelled and prolonged conflicts, as well as diminished the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations, particularly in Africa.
SABELO SIVUYILE MAQUNGO ( South Africa) said that the implementation of the international instrument on marking and tracing by all States was critical to halting the scourge of the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons. Only through collective efforts at national, regional and international levels could that scourge be effectively dealt with. Also, he viewed the establishment of the necessary legislation to ensure effective control over exports and transit of small arms and light weapons as a very significant measure of the fight against proliferation. In that regard, South Africa was implementing the National Conventional Arms Control Act of 1993, which contained specific guiding principles and criteria when considering arms transfers.
South Africa remained fully committed to the achievement of a peaceful solution to the conflicts on the African continent. Within that context, it supported sanctions mechanisms such as arms embargoes where such sanctions would advance the path to lasting peace and stability, as that complemented South Africa’s role in promoting the peaceful resolution of conflicts on the continent. He supported the need for reliable funding of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes to guarantee the success of peace processes. Effective disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes should include specific measures for the collection and disposal of illicit and surplus small arms. He urged the international community and donors to support such disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes in order to assist countries emerging from conflict.
ROBERT G. AISI ( Papua New Guinea) spoke on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum.
Over the past five years, he said, countries in the Pacific region had continued to struggle with the uncontrolled flow and misuse of small arms and light weapons. However, those countries had taken practical steps at the regional level to combat the problem and to create sustainable solutions. They had continued to use the 2001 Programme of Action as a guide to direct and measure regional action.
The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) was an excellent example of regional cooperation to combat the destabilizing results of small arms proliferation, he said. Deployed at the request of the Solomon Islands in July 2003, RAMSI had helped restore law and order, in large part due to the collection and destruction of some 3,600 weapons and more than 300,000 rounds of ammunition. The Mission’s focus had now moved from conflict resolution to longer-term social and economic stability activities. In the case of Bougainville, the island had recently been declared weapons-free following a 16-year civil war. That had been accomplished by a weapons collection and disposal programme monitored by a United Nations observer mission. The first elections in autonomous Bougainville had been held successfully last June.
Stockpile management and security also remained a strong priority for the region with the leakage of weapons from official stocks, a major source of illicit guns and subsequent criminal activity, he said. Working in partnership with Australia and New Zealand, the Pacific Island Forum countries had made real improvements in that area. With regard to implementing relevant laws, the Pacific Island Forum countries had developed a common regional approach to weapons control which focused on the illicit manufacture of, and trafficking in, firearms, ammunition, explosives and other related materials. Pacific Islands Forum countries also continued to pursue efforts at the national level, which complemented regional work. Papua New Guinea had held the Goroka Guns Summit in July 2005 following cross-country consultations by the Government’s Gun Control Committee. The Summit had proposed more than 200 recommendations, which were before the Cabinet.
HENRIQUE VALLE ( Brazil) said his country attached great significance to the issue of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, given its adverse effects on national public security. Brazil had adapted its legislation to current necessities. In 2003, President Lula sanctioned the innovative Disarmament Statute that restricted the bearing, possession of and commerce in arms, and criminalized international arms trafficking. Brazil also adopted a national arms system as a measure of preventive control. In addition, Brazil, together with its partners in the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), was progressively strengthening cooperation to curb the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.
He said that to fully implement the goals set out by the 2001 Programme of Action, the international community must address the many areas that, so far, had not been adequately dealt with, such as marking and tracing, export and import controls and brokering. He believed that giving legally binding status to the new international instrument on marking and tracing would considerably improve the effectiveness of initiatives in that area. Brazil also called for the inclusion of regulations related to ammunition in the instrument. In addition, Brazil had also been actively supporting discussions on the adoption of international controls on transfers of small arms and light weapons. Such controls might include common criteria for authorization of transfers, as well as common operational procedures for the enforcement of national and international regulations on exports, imports and transit of small arms and light weapons. Urgently needed in that regard was an effective ban on the transfer of weapons to non-State actors.
FEDERICO PERAZZA (Uruguay), associating himself with the Rio Group, said that, according to United Nations figures there were more than 640 million small arms in the world and what was particularly alarming was that 60 per cent of them were in the hands of civilians, in contrast to the 37.8 per cent held by armies, 2.8 per cent by police forces and 0.2 per cent by armed groups. One of the principal problems facing the international community was the accessibility of small arms to civilian populations. Such easy access, as well as the wide variety of methods and means of acquiring them, steadily fed and intensified conflicts and helped prolong them.
The review of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons should not only focus on security and national sovereignty, he said. The illicit small arms trade must also be seen as a problem linked closely to human rights and development. Uruguay was deeply concerned at the failure of the international community to identify the most suitable means to reallocate to economic and social development the resources made available from disarmament and arms reduction, with an eye to reducing the growing disparity between developed and developing countries.
He said his country had not seen the existence of trafficking, but the Government was still committed to destroying such arms that were not legally registered or which had been acquired through illegal activities. From 1998 to date, Uruguay had destroyed 17,595 weapons and the Government also planned to organize a new ceremony at which 1,866 long- and short-range weapons would be destroyed. At the regional level, Uruguay had ratified the Inter-American Convention against Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Explosives and Other Related Materials. It was also implementing the Model Regulations for the Control of the International Movement of Firearms, Their Parts and Components, elaborated by the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission.
MARÍA ÁNGELA HOLGUÍN CUELLAR ( Colombia) recalled that, when the Assembly adopted the international instrument on marking and tracing last November, her country had expressed its disappointment for the non-legally-binding nature of the instrument and for the non-inclusion of ammunition in the text. Colombia remained convinced of the need to have in the future a legally binding instrument for that purpose where minimum standards could be achieved, such as the ones already in progress thanks to the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Material.
She was seriously concerned about the lack of progress on legislation on transit, import and export controls of illicit small arms and on the absence of progress in the use of end-user certificates. It was urgent to establish efficient national end-user certificate systems, as well as to consolidate the existing mechanism for information exchange and verification. Only through a frequent, timely exchange of information among members could regional strategies be agreed in the fight against the problem, so that future additional measures could be achieved, including the double-check of the authenticity of end-user certificates.
Small arms and light weapons were indeed the real weapons of mass destruction, she added. It was then a paradox that most conflicts fuelled by such weapons took place in the developing world whereas most of those weapons were produced in the developed world. The Council had already acknowledged that arms exporting countries had the obligation to show the highest degree of responsibility in those transactions and it was the duty of every country to hinder the diversion and re-export of small arms and light weapons towards illicit channels.
JORGE SKINNER-KLÉE ( Guatemala) said the increasing attention given to small arms and light weapons was both timely and appropriate. The initiative of the 2001 Programme of Action was the Assembly’s, but the Council’s contribution to its implementation was essential, as the body responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security. In 1999, the Council recognized the destabilizing effect of small arms and light weapons as a factor to stepping up and extending armed conflicts and contributing to undermining peace agreements and post-conflict peacebuilding efforts.
He said that the ambitious scope of the international instrument on marking and tracing did not meet the needs of the most affected countries. He hoped that instrument, together with commitments undertaken under the Inter-American Convention, would be effective. It would also be appropriate to address the issue of illicit brokering in small arms, as well as ways to strengthen monitoring of the Council’s arms embargoes. The proliferation of small arms and light weapons not only fuelled conflicts, but stimulated their re-occurrence. It was essential for the Council to include relevant disarmament, demobilization and reintegration measures in peacekeeping operations, including the destruction of excessive stockpiles, which was closely related to arms control. Guatemala would be hosting a regional meeting in May for the Latin American and Caribbean region, which he hoped would contribute to the forthcoming Review Conference.
Y.J. CHOI ( Republic of Korea) said the Council should play a more active role in efforts to curb the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. The Council could make further efforts to strengthen the monitoring systems for its arms embargoes. Another key area was the continuing incorporation of comprehensive disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes into peacekeeping operations. Second, particular attention should be paid to the illicit brokering of small arms and light weapons, which continued to undermine compliance with the Council’s arms embargoes. He fully supported a broader and more effective approach to preventing illicit brokering and welcomed the establishment of a group of governmental experts to review that issue.
Third, the establishment of effective legal systems and relevant administrative measures at the State level, including the use of authenticated end-user certificates, was critical to ensuring effective control over the production and trade of small arms and light weapons. His country had established and implemented strict and efficient legislative and administrative measures to control the military and non-military use of small arms and light weapons in every phase of their existence, from manufacturing to storage, management, transfer and dismantlement. Fourth, transparency was indispensable if States were to work together in a spirit of cooperation and trust to overcome the challenge of small arms and light weapons proliferation. He believed the Secretary-General’s suggestion to expand the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms to include international transfers of small arms and light weapons deserved positive consideration.
PAUL BADJI ( Senegal) said that small arms and light weapons merited the most sustained attention of the international community, in general, and the Security Council, in particular, given their disastrous consequences for communities, development and security. Such sustained attention was even more important considering that small arms and light weapons were a common denominator for all United Nations Member States, since they existed everywhere. He hoped the review conference would allow Member States to take the essential actions that must be taken at all levels as defined in the Programme of Action, so as to ensure correct implementation.
Regarding implementation, he said his country was pleased with the valuable contribution of non-governmental organizations in the area of small arms and light weapons. Senegal reiterated that they should be given their rightful place during the review conference, including during deliberations by Member States. A binding instrument on marking and tracing must be completed promptly. On brokerage, a group of experts on that question should meet as soon as possible. Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes should receive stepped up attention, particularly with respect to the reintegration component. Such programmes must be inclusive and must be developed in collaboration with the affected communities, taking fully into account the concerns of women and children who were often the first victims of small arms and light weapons.
Emphasizing the link between the Programme of Action and the United Nations Weapons Register, he said the time had come for Member States to reflect on ways to effect the formal inclusion of small arms in the Register, with a view to ensuring coherent global management of the problem. While the Programme of Action aimed at preventing, combating and eliminating the illicit small arms trade, the Register was a transparent mechanism concerned with the transfer of legal weapons. An effective combination of the two instruments could allow better management of the small arms scourge, while ensuring improved regulation of international small arms transfers, particularly to non-State actors.
GILBERT LAURIN ( Canada) said that, as was tragically evident, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons represented a major threat to human security throughout the world. No country, no State and no community were immune. Small arms alone were instrumental in the deaths of approximately half a million people per year -- 10,000 per week. Many, possibly millions more people, fell victim to their indirect consequences, creating an obstacle to sustainable development.
He urged the Council to continue to pursue increased cooperation with Interpol to better identify points of diversion in the trade of small arms and to continue to encourage greater international cooperation to stem the illicit flow of small arms to conflict and post-conflict zones. He believed peacekeeping operations and sanctions committees should, among other things, be mandated to initiate small arms traces to assist States to identify and pursue those who violated arms embargoes. In addition, he supported the Council’s decision to include provisions for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in the mandates of peacekeeping operations. He encouraged the Council to include disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in the budgets of peacekeeping operations.
REZLAN ISHAR JENIE (Indonesia), addressing recommendation 4 in the Secretary-General’s report, said that enhanced interaction between the Assembly and the Council would contribute to developing a coherent and comprehensive United Nations policy on small arms and light weapons. While currently the two principal organs had addressed the issue within their respective mandates, interaction and coordination between them on the issue would encourage complementarity of their work. Regarding recommendation 5, he shared the concern which was raised by a coalition of international non-governmental organizations, that quite a number of United Nations embargoes imposed in the last decade had been repeatedly violated. Further steps by the Council to remedy that would be required.
In recommendation 7, he said, the Council was encouraged to call on relevant parties to conflicts under its consideration to recognize the importance of activities related to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and of including such measures in negotiated agreements. He encouraged the continuation of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes in conflict areas such as the programme that was implemented in UNOCI. With reference to recommendation 9, pertaining to the Council encouraging States that lacked legislative or other measures to ensure effective control over the export and transit of small arms and light weapons, he had no doubt that such mechanisms could, indeed, contribute to more responsible and legal transfers of weapons. However, he hoped that that would continue to be implemented without prejudice to the right of States to legally trade or acquire such weapons for the purpose of their defence and security.
CHEM WIDHYA ( Cambodia) said that, after three decades of genocide and conflict, his country was well placed to reiterate its unequivocal commitment to the collection and destruction of small arms and light weapons in order to cement peace, social security and political stability. Cambodia had developed a number of programmes ranging from law enforcement to the “Weapon for Development” programme, which had led to the destruction of more than 170,000 units of collected and surplus weapons since 1998.
Cambodia’s success in small arms control, weapons collection and destruction had led the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to endorse it as a lead country to coordinate the regional body’s programme to counter arms smuggling. Cambodia had accordingly proposed the establishment of a resource centre to facilitate and mobilize efforts and resources to control the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in South-East Asia.
He said that, on the international front, Cambodia reiterated its unequivocal commitment to the full implementation of the 2001 United Nations Programme of Action. Cambodia supported the resolution on combating and preventing the proliferation of small arms and light weapons adopted by the General Assembly last December. Further, his Government fully supported the upcoming Review Conference and, despite controversies during the debate of the Preparatory Committee, had full confidence in the upcoming event and strongly hoped that it would help in the further implementation of the Programme of Action.
ISIKIA R. SAVUA (Fiji) said that, as a peacekeeping troop contributor for the last 28 years, his country understood only too well the difficulties associated with trying to maintain peace in areas with porous borders and acting as easy conduits to the movement of weapons and combatants. Fiji was encouraged by the Council’s recent emphasis on the prevention of cross-border movement of arms and combatants, the implementation of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process and the monitoring of arms embargoes. Fiji looked forward to participating in United Nations peacekeeping operations in areas of relative peace where international instruments were implemented and the Council’s area of emphasis was diligently observed.
However, in the Sudan, Liberia, Kosovo, Baghdad, Basra and Erbil, the Council’s initiative had to be given time for the hope to be truly ingrained, he said. Those instruments would assist nations emerging from conflict to stabilize their economies and security situation. They would also lend significant assistance to improving the lot of women, children and the helpless, who often looked at life without the hope that their situation would change. The Security Council, by its action, led the international community to provide that hope and to change the status quo.
He said that the pervasive and destructive effect of uncontrolled and illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons on the natural resources of nations and the thriving trade in conflict diamonds stymied the development of countries, perpetuated the struggle of the poor and multiplied the ill effects of pandemics. The implementation of adopted international conventions and the insistence that nations conform and take appropriate actions to strengthen their efforts would have the added impetus of strengthening the collective responsibility to act. The Security Council’s holistic approach to action on its various resolutions and adopted decisions was a welcome move to ensure that something would be done.
AMINU BASHIR WALI (Nigeria) said he remained convinced that the best and most effective strategy for reducing the accessibility of small arms and light weapons to non-State actors was through the conclusion of a legally binding international instrument on that issue. The international community should complement the Council’s resolution 1540 (2004) banning accessibility of weapons of mass destruction to non-State actors with a separate resolution covering small arms and light weapons, which had become the weapons of choice in almost all conflicts, including those with which the Council was seized. He reaffirmed Nigeria’s conviction that the illicit circulation of small arms and light weapons could be controlled and armed conflicts reduced if, and only if, transfer of such weapons was limited to Governments and licensed traders. The international community would, thereby, ensure the use of those weapons for legitimate purposes.
He also emphasized the importance of ensuring the effective collection of weapons, their storage and destruction in post-conflict situations in the context of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes. The inclusion of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes in the mandate of UNOCI was timely, and he was confident that those programmes would continue to form part of future mandates of peacekeeping operations, if the international community wanted to avoid a relapse into conflict. Regarding the adoption of the international instrument on marking and tracing, he said only a legally binding international instrument on the transfer of small arms and light weapons would satisfy the aspirations of victim States and peoples. Also, he agreed with the Secretary-General that the time was ripe for agreement on brokering in small arms and light weapons, as that was critical to the success of efforts to curb illicit small arms proliferation.
JOSEPH CHRISTMAS ( Saint Kitts and Nevis) said that, for some time, his country had been experiencing a significant increase in all types of crime, in particular crimes against persons and property, which had paralleled the increase in firearms offences. At the end of the 1980s, such serious crimes as murder and manslaughter averaged about 2 per year, but over the last five years, it was averaging more than 10 per year, a fivefold increase since 1990. Meanwhile, over the same period there had been an 18-fold increase in firearms crimes and offences. At that rate, the consequences would be disastrous for the country’s economy in a few years’ time, in particular on the tourism sector, even as the Government strove to develop it to offset the closure of the 350-year-old sugar industry in the face of trade liberalization pressures and escalating costs.
Not only was the illicit trafficking in small arms having a negative effect on Saint Kitts and Nevis and other Caribbean islands, it continued to have a devastating effect on many parts of Africa, he said. The resources of that region -- so rich in natural resources that it should easily be among the world’s most prosperous continents -- had attracted the wrong type of players, whose greed, aided by the illicit trafficking in arms, among other things, had helped to fuel conflicts and retard development, making Africa the poorest continent. There was also a corresponding link with the illicit trafficking in drugs and humans. All those areas should be addressed simultaneously.
If the concept of collective security, as emphatically underscored at the September 2005 World Summit, was to have any real meaning, the international community must act to help less able countries to combat the scourge, he said. It was a just request, because most of those affected did not manufacture the weapons. Saint Kitts and Nevis aligned itself with the urgent necessity for international cooperation and assistance in supporting the efforts of national Governments to prevent, control and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.
JOHAN L. LØVALD ( Norway) said he was pleased the Council would for the first time pass a resolution on small arms and light weapons. That underlined the serious security dimension of the problem, and heralded more decisive and consistent action on the part of the Council. It was a welcome signal ahead of the upcoming Review Conference. The Council had a key role to play in eliminating the spread of illegal small arms and light weapons, which must be a core element in the Council’s peace efforts. Effective arms embargoes now constituted an integral part of Council resolutions on most conflict areas, and special monitoring mechanisms were increasingly being put in place to assist the peace missions in that regard. That was a welcome development. He was also pleased to note than an increasing number of arms embargoes explicitly included ammunition, which should be subject to the same regulations as the weapons for which they were intended.
He believed that to deal effectively with the destabilizing effect of illicit small arms and light weapons, it was necessary to curb illicit brokering. He hoped the group of governmental experts would recommend the negotiation of an international instrument against illicit brokering. He was also in favour of the negotiation of an arms trade treaty that would regulate all transfers of conventional weapons, as that would greatly enhance control of the export and transit of small arms and light weapons. In addition, he welcomed the more consistent inclusion of clear provisions regarding disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in the mandates of peacekeeping operations. Furthermore, he concurred with the Secretary-General that closer interaction between the Council and the Assembly would contribute to a coherent and comprehensive United Nations policy on small arms and light weapons.
Response by Officer in Charge of Disarmament Affairs
Ms. HOPPE, responding to remarks by delegates, said the debate had demonstrated that with the Review Conference due in a few months’ time today’s debate was timely and the delegates’ statements underlined the support of Member States for action on the question of small arms and light weapons.
Saying the Secretariat was encouraged by the Security Council’s determination to interact with the Secretariat, as well as with the General Assembly and other United Nations bodies, she also noted the Council’s resolve to strengthen arms embargoes and their related monitoring mechanisms. The Council had also underscored that the steps required to enhance and eradicate small arms proliferation should be complemented so as to control brokerage at the national level. The Secretariat looked forward to the outcome of today’s debate.
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