UNIVERSAL ACTION NEEDED TO HALT ILLEGAL PROLIFERATION OF SMALL ARMS AND LIGHT WEAPONS, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL AS HE OPENS MEETING OF STATES PARTIES
UNIVERSAL ACTION NEEDED TO HALT ILLEGAL PROLIFERATION OF SMALL ARMS AND LIGHT WEAPONS, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL AS HE OPENS MEETING OF STATES PARTIES
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Third Biennial Meeting of States
on Illicit Trade in Small Arms
1st & 2nd Meetings (AM & PM)
UNIVERSAL ACTION NEEDED TO HALT ILLEGAL PROLIFERATION OF SMALL ARMS AND LIGHT
WEAPONS, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL AS HE OPENS MEETING OF STATES PARTIES
High numbers of innocent civilians continued to fall victim to small arms, requiring joint action by all to halt their illegal proliferation, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a message delivered on his behalf today at the opening of the Third Biennial Meeting of States on combating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.
Since 2003, Member States have gathered every two years to consider the implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects, which was adopted in 2001. The Programme of Action contains a number of measures to control the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, including legislation, destruction of confiscated weapons, and strengthening the ability of States to identify and trace those weapons. The Third Biennial Meeting of States runs from 14 to 18 July.
In his message, delivered by Sergio Duarte, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, the Secretary-General noted that there were more small arms and light weapons in circulation today than there had been in 2001. All sectors of society, from Governments and parliamentarians, to civil society organizations and local communities, must join together to stem the illicit arms trade.
Pasi Patokallio ( Finland), outgoing Chairperson for the Meeting of States, opened today’s session by stressing the importance of focused international cooperation and noting that States with national action plans and dedicated bodies were more likely to actively pursue the cause. In particular, the regulation of illicit brokerage throughout the world remained weak, with unscrupulous brokers continuing to break Security Council embargoes. Transferring and producing States were not the only ones involved; countries most likely to engage in the illicit arms trade tended to be those that performed poorly on the Millennium Development Goals.
During the ensuing debate, an official of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research noted that States affected by the illicit small arms trade were often unable to communicate their needs to donors, and stressed the need for greater communication between the two.
Agreeing, Indonesia’s delegate, who spoke on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said it had prepared a working paper on how to enhance the flow of assistance to countries needing international assistance and cooperation to build their capacity to control private ownership of small arms, and to trace and identify illicit small arms and light weapons.
Expanding on that topic, the representative of the United Kingdom offered a donor State’s point of view, saying it was important to focus on fewer, but larger, programmes and projects. Member States should explore the possibility of creating informal working groups that could meet periodically to discuss key implementation questions on various issues and themes. Such groups could report their non-binding findings to future biennial meetings.
In the afternoon, the Chief of the Conventional Arms Branch in the Office of Disarmament Affairs delivered a presentation on the “Programme of Action Implementation Support System”, designed to improve the work processes connected to the Programme of Action. The Implementation Support System was intended to act as an online clearing house of international assistance. The website would incorporate a tool, first developed by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, to match needs and resources.
Also speaking were the representatives of Australia, Brazil (on behalf of the Southern Common Market), France (on behalf of the European Union), Nigeria (on behalf of the Group of African States), Philippines, Gabon, Iraq, Japan, Burundi, Ukraine, China, Barbados (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Colombia, Netherlands, India, New Zealand, Trinidad and Tobago, Honduras, Congo, Austria, Kenya, United Republic of Tanzania, Benin, Switzerland, Sweden, Russian Federation, Norway, Algeria, Finland, Sri Lanka, Uganda, South Africa, Ecuador, Paraguay, Guyana, Canada, Japan, Sierra Leone, Turkey and Iran.
Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Regional Centre on Small Arms, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Children’s Fund and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime also spoke.
At the outset, the Meeting elected, by acclamation, Dalius Cekuolis of Lithuania as Chairperson, who announced that Daniel Avila Camachio of Colombia had agreed to act as facilitator on international cooperation and assistance and national capacity-building; Jong Kwon Youn of the Republic of Korea as facilitator on illicit brokering in small arms and light weapons; Jurg Streuli of Switzerland as facilitator on stockpile management and surplus disposal; and Hossam Aly of Egypt as facilitator on the international tracing instrument.
Delegates also elected, by acclamation, the representatives of Bulgaria, Colombia, Czech Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Finland, Japan, Liberia, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Switzerland and Trinidad and Tobago as Vice-Chairpersons of the Meeting.
The Meeting of States will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 15 July, to continue its debate.
The Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects met this morning to begin its third biennial session.
PASI PATOKALLIO (Finland), outgoing Chairperson of the Meeting, said that, seven years after the adoption of the Programme of Action on Illicit Trade in Small Arms, the international community was continuing to exhibit strong commitment towards the cause, with 430 national reports having been submitted on implementation so far. The reports indicated varying degrees of progress: many reviewed legislation to better control possession and transfers; and some showed that functional coordination between bodies in at least 100 countries had led to coherent small-arms control policies. National action plans were important because they provided a basis for focused international cooperation and assistance. States with institutions dedicated to the cause were also more likely to be engaged regionally and internationally.
He said concerted efforts were needed to build and strengthen national capacity and manage stockpiles. Because the diversion of weapons into illicit markets continued to be a problem, end-user certification systems must be improved. Continuing awareness-raising actions should target all levels of Government and civil society. In addition, States must improve the way in which they prioritized their needs so as to enhance international cooperation. The regulation of illicit brokerage remained weak, with unscrupulous brokers continuing to break Security Council embargoes. The recent report by the group of Government experts in small arms brokering provided clear guidance on how to deal with that issue, and was therefore recommended reading. Transferring and producing States were not only the ones involved; there was a need to broaden the world’s understanding of the issue. Countries most likely to engage in the illicit arms trade tended to perform poorly on the Millennium Development Goals.
The illicit trade had a negative impact on women and girls, who were much needed agents of change, he said, stressing that, for that reason, the world must study the issue with a sensitivity to gender issues. Perhaps the international community should study ways to develop alternative livelihoods so as to dissuade people from engaging in such illicit activities. At the present Meeting, States would begin considering implementation of the Programme to identify and trace illicit small arms and light weapons, which was an important tool in combating their spread. They would also consider ways to improve the Programme of Action by improving synergies between regional, national and international initiatives.
The Office of Disarmament Affairs was currently developing a Web-based tool to implement the Programme, which would hopefully demonstrate that simple solutions could go a long way to achieve “lofty goals”, he said. It was encouraging to note the high participation rate among civil society, as well as the increasing number of well-run regional conferences being held around the world. The Meeting of States must transform the momentum into an outcome that could be embraced by the General Assembly to provide guidance for stronger implementation of the Programme of Action.
DALIUS CEKUOLIS (Lithuania), Chairman of the United Nations Third Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, said the Meeting was as important today as the Conference that had produced the Programme of Action in 2001. The world needed a common set of goals and the political will to unite behind them while infusing a good deal of action into the Programme of Action and reinvigorating the small arms process.
He said the Meeting’s focused structure would enable States to aim at a collective action-oriented outcome that would identify specific implementation challenges and opportunities. All delegations were encouraged to move away from prepared statements, engage in an interactive debate and use four discussion papers as they considered their focus themes.
SERGIO DUARTE, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, opened the Meeting by delivering a statement from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in which he said that, by convening the present Meeting, Member States were reaffirming their confidence in the Programme of Action as an important tool to combat the illicit trade. Since the Programme’s adoption seven years ago, weapons collection and destruction activities had resulted in the destruction of thousands of weapons and millions of rounds of ammunition. National coordination bodies had been established and existing ones strengthened. States were increasingly focusing attention on implementing the new International Tracing Instrument.
He said he was encouraged by the recommendations of the Expert Group on illicit brokering, which, if fully implemented, could go a long way towards achieving the international community’s collective goal of preventing illicit brokering in small arms. At present, there were more small arms in circulation than in 2001, indicating the abundance of challenges. Due to both conflict and crime, innocent civilians continued to fall victim to small arms in high numbers and Security Council arms embargoes continued to be violated. Because of those and other remaining challenges, the fight against the illicit arms trade was one of the Organization’s priorities in the field of disarmament. To succeed, all sectors of society must join in, from Governments and parliamentarians, to civil society organizations and local communities. Increasing synergy between the Security Council and the General Assembly was also encouraging, and hopefully the third biennial Meeting would be a results-oriented one.
KERRY MAZE, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, introduced that institution’s study of international cooperation and assistance, noting that too often the States affected by illicit trade could not communicate their needs to donors and stressing the need for greater communication between States and donors. Other important issues to be discussed in the coming week were the targeting of assistance, greater cooperation among countries and the development of more diverse approaches. There was also a need to submit reports in a timely manner.
ADIYATWIDI ADIWOSO ASMADY ( Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, voiced deep concerned over the illicit transfer, manufacture, circulation and excessive accumulation of small arms and light weapons throughout the world. It was important to strive for the full implementation of the Programme of Action, which was the main framework for addressing that problem. The Non-Aligned Movement called on all States, including producers, to limit the use of small arms and light weapons to Governments and authorized entities only. To that end, there was a need to control private ownership of small arms. The biennial Meeting of States was a key follow-up mechanism in that regard.
Calling full implementation of international instruments to trace and identify illicit small arms and light weapons, she said international assistance and cooperation for building the capacity of all States to deal with the issue was essential to the Programme’s full implementation. To enhance the flow of assistance to those that needed it, the Movement had prepared a working paper containing recommendations to that end, including trust fund arrangements. The paper also discussed how technology transfer might be better accomplished and ways to overcome the challenges of matching donor assistance with requests for help.
ROBERT HILL ( Australia) agreed that the efficient matching of implementation needs with practical solutions remained a challenge for all States. Australia’s work in Samoa showed that, with creativity and coordination on the part of the donor country, and the enthusiastic cooperation of the host Government, extraordinary results could be achieved.
Welcoming the work of the Office of Disarmament Affairs in creating the Programme of Action and the database for matching needs and resources created by UNIDIR, he cautioned, however, that resources for the Programme’s implementation must be accessible, bearing in mind that services such as the Internet could not be taken for granted in developing countries.
He said reporting was an area in which there was a clearly identified need for more streamlined coordination at the regional level and, as noted in the Small Arms Survey’s comprehensive analysis of the national reports submitted between 2002 and 2008, national reports should provide the basic data that could be used to match needs with resources. Member States must think creatively about capacity-building and making use, where possible, of existing regional structures.
PIRAGIBE DOS SANTOS TARRAGÔ ( Brazil), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and associated States, said the Programme was a “point of reference” for States to perform at the national, regional and global levels, and called for renewed commitment to it. International cooperation and assistance were essential to the Programme’s implementation, and must not be conditioned upon the presentation of national reports. MERCOSUR reiterated its support for concluding a legally binding international instrument to regulate illicit brokering in small arms and light weapons, and, in that context, requested that the report by the group of governmental experts be taken into account. MERCOSUR also supported addressing the definition of adequate stockpiles and the determination of surplus levels from the perspective of assistance and cooperation, as well as national capacity-building.
Underscoring the need to strengthen the international response to such issues, he said the Programme’s non-legally binding nature was an obstacle to its implementation, adding that it should also deal with ammunition and explosives. Other issues requiring attention included the dissemination of information on prevention, and eradication efforts; the strengthening of cooperation with civil society; the incorporation of a gender and age perspective in implementing the Programme; the establishment of verification systems for end-user certificates; and the elaboration of an international landmark agreement for authenticating and standardizing end-user certificates.
MIKAËL GRIFFON (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, expressed support for the Chairman’s “courageous proposal” of a new approach to the biennial Meeting’s agenda, and stressed the need to maintain a process at the global level that included the participation of all Member States. The discussion papers prepared by the four coordinators responsible for the different issues on the agenda contained many interesting and constructive suggestions of which the European Union had taken note.
He said the European Union had always been aware of its responsibilities and commitments under chapter III of the Programme of Action and considered assistance and cooperation as having a key role in achieving the objective and means contained in the December 2005 Strategy to Combat Illicit Accumulation and Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons and their Ammunition. The European Union was the primary player at the global level for projects and technical cooperation in that area. Its member States continued to provide national funding for a number of projects in support of the Programme of Action and would continue to be involved via the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the European Commission. It had funded the destruction of small arms and light weapons as well as demilitarization programmes in Ukraine and Albania, and was financing the establishment of a database for the training of trainers that was intended for law enforcement agencies.
Acting in its institutional capacity and through its member States, the European Union would continue to help those countries requesting help in implementing the Programme of Action, he said. Yet goodwill and resources were not sufficient without the political will and determination of national Governments to commit to the Programme’s objectives. Nor would the technical projects aimed at destroying small arms and light weapons stockpiles be enough without parallel efforts at the legislative and administrative levels. Legislative provision should be adopted in many regions and countries, while existing ones should be strengthened to target the export, import, transfer and brokering of small arms and light weapons. National reports submitted to the United Nations were an indispensable basis for assistance and cooperation between States.
LAWRENCE OLUFEMI OBISAKIN ( Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group of States and aligning himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said full implementation of the Programme of Action was key to promoting long-term security and favourable conditions for socio-economic development in Africa. The African Union Peace and Security Council had reaffirmed that peace, security and stability were crucial prerequisites for the continent’s development and economic integration with the rest of the world. That Council also understood that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons undermined efforts to improve African standards of living, and could only be stemmed through well-coordinated continental cooperation.
Agreeing that poorly managed stockpiles posed a serious risk to public safety, not just a source of weapons but also by the explosions they caused, he said that securing often outdated national armouries called for extensive capital outlay and technological know-how. As such, all stakeholders, including producers and “victims”, must work together and look upon illicit brokerage of small arms and light weapons as a serious threat to world peace. The African Group welcomed the work of the group of governmental experts on the subject, scheduled to meet for the last time later in the month. It was to be hoped that the outcome of that meeting would contribute to peace. Member States were further urged to limit the trade in such weapons to Governments and Government-authorized licensed traders. Africa was awash with such weapons and both producers and brokers must learn to approach the issue as a global security challenge, not an opportunity to sell more arms.
HILARIO DAVIDE (Philippines), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the illicit trade in small arms created a serious threat to international peace and security as they were cheaply manufactured and killed vast numbers of people. The best way to solve the problems posed by the illicit trade in small arms was to implement the Programme of Action. The Philippines called on States to meet that challenge and fulfil their commitments.
He said States should develop mechanisms to force the sharing of information among countries and work through multilateral or regional initiatives to increase the prosecution of offenders. Non-governmental organizations played a vital role in controlling the illicit trade in small arms.
PHILIPPE NZENGUE-MAYILA, Vice-Minister for Interior Affairs, Local Collectivities, Security and Immigration of Gabon, associated himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, saying States must be politically aligned in order to tackle the problem effectively, with the understanding that the illicit small arms trade went beyond national borders. Countries in Central Africa had set up partnerships, with the help of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), to combat illicit weapons proliferation, such as the initiative to unite heads of police to prevent the movement of weapons.
Under the aegis of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa, countries in that region had set up a body to implement the Programme of Action, he said. However, better cooperation required dissemination and exchange of information through databanks, which did not yet exist. Also, law enforcement authorities must be trained and given detection tools, such as x-ray devices. Gabon called for greater donor assistance to those initiatives and others like it.
T. HAMID AL-BAYATI ( Iraq) said that, since the fall of the former Iraqi regime, the new Government had worked diligently towards fulfilling the Programme of Action, ending the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, and stopping terrorist activities. It had also attempted to control stockpiles and to organize and track their ownership. Iraq had increased its participation in and cooperation with regional and international activities to combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. It called on neighbouring States to provide assistance in that effort by controlling their borders with Iraq and preventing the smuggling of small arms and light weapons.
Through a focal point, Iraq was continuously submitting to the United Nations its periodic reports on the trade and stockpiling of small arms and light weapons, he continued. The country required specific elements of assistance, however, including help in exchanging experiences in the field of small arms and light weapons between States regionally and internationally; capacity-building and training for individuals responsible for preventing the use of small arms and light weapons; financial support and specific training courses for individuals tasked with fulfilling programmes to combat the illicit trade; and coordinating with international organizations and civil society in creating a future strategy to increase awareness of the trade. The Iraqi Government called on in-country United Nations to coordinate their activities to combat the small arms trade with the relevant national authorities.
TAKAHIRO SHINYO ( Japan) said his country supported the use of reports and improved dialogue to make better use of existing resources, and considered those tools essential to the strengthening of the Programme of Action. There was a need to assess conditions on the ground and for information on the entry points from where small arms began circulating within countries. More information and details, such as decreases in casualties, would help make assistance more worthwhile. There was a strong interaction between development and security, and it was very important to strengthen the relationship between the small arms field and development fields.
Ms. MAZE said in response to a question that the goal of the Programme of Action was to help States create priorities and fit their small arms programmes into national frameworks.
ALAIN GUILLAUME BUNYONI, Minister for Public Security of Burundi, said the international community’s strengthened commitment to combating the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons demonstrated a broader understanding of how certain countries were being “damaged” by those weapons. Indeed, international cooperation, particularly in the area of capacity-building, was essential to the successful implementation of the Programme of Action in countries like Burundi. Assistance must be channelled to Africa’s various regional centres, such as the one headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, which worked in collaboration with the East African Community.
Other programmes meriting assistance included an initiative established through the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund, which supported the security-sector reform in Burundi, he said, while stressing the usefulness of greater information exchange regarding the movement of small arms and light weapons through a common database that would be available worldwide. In addition, national capacities to tackle the phenomenon must be reinforced. Burundi had begun holding seminars to raise awareness on the subject among parliamentarians, senators, the army, national police and intelligence services. However, the country needed a steady stream of assistance from donors in order to continue those activities. The National Disarmament Commission also required financial support in order to succeed.
ALEXANDER HORIN, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, said strict implementation of the Programme and the recently agreed instrument on tracing illicit small arms and light weapons at the national level were most important in countering the illicit trade. International cooperation in such areas as arms transfers and strengthening national measures to enforce implementation were also priorities.
Describing national efforts, he said there was no common civil use of small arms and light weapons. All stocks belonged to Government security forces and were under strict control. Ukraine attached particular importance to ensuring that effective export control procedures met all international requirements, and adhered strictly to decisions taken by the Security Council, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Wassenaar Arrangement. The Programme acknowledged that the multifaceted challenge posed by the illicit trade involved security, conflict prevention and humanitarian dimensions, among other things. Ukraine’s substantial inheritance of small arms and light weapons after the collapse of the Soviet Union represented a huge “oversize” in terms of what its armed forces needed. The country often experienced the tragic effects of exploding munitions and weapons, and strongly wished to get rid of them.
SHI ZHONG JUN (China) said that, notwithstanding the great achievements of recent years, many countries still found it difficult to implement the Programme of Action and tracing instrument because they lacked funding as well as technical and human resources. Strengthened international cooperation and assistance should therefore be a priority and dialogue should be enhanced, so as to arrive at ways to facilitate exchanges regarding best practices in law enforcement, training and legislation.
He said States should work together to identify challenges and explore effective solutions in international cooperation and assistance, with a view to increasing specific assistance to programmes in developing countries. The United Nations should help coordinate those activities to ensure that cooperation between States bore fruit. Implementation support systems, such as the development of a database to track supply and demand, would play a positive role, and INTERPOL could help in that regard.
China stood ready to participate in any way possible, he said, adding that in 2005, the country had sponsored, alongside the United Nations, Japan and Switzerland, a workshop on small arms and light weapons. It had also contributed to the trust fund to address related problems in the Americas. Through the Beijing Action Plan targeted at Africa, China would provide financial assistance and training to countries on that continent.
MOHAMMAD IQBAL DEGIA (Barbados), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that, even though the countries of CARICOM did not produce arms or trade in them on a large scale, the region was still afflicted by the problems accompanying the illicit trade in small arms. The trade was linked to other regional problems, such as the illicit trade in drugs, and required a holistic approach. National responsibility and action were important to correct the problems. As the region worked actively to deepen regional economic integration, international cooperation was essential to addressing all regional issues. Despite the severity of the small arms problem, the Caribbean’s voice had been marginalized and CARICOM called on the United Nations to reopen its regional office in Barbados.
PHILIP TISSOT, Deputy Head of the Security Policy Group, Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom, said his country faced several challenges in its capacity as a donor State, and called for greater cooperation among Governments, civil society and international, regional and subregional organizations in meeting those challenges. There was a need for experts in certain fields and for funding from a variety of sources. It was also important to focus on fewer and larger programmes and projects.
He urged Member States to explore the possibility of creating informal working groups that could meet periodically to discuss key implementation questions on various issues and themes. Such small groups could report their non-binding findings to future biennial meetings. According to a national statement posted on its website, the United Kingdom remained committed to full implementation of all aspects of the Programme of Action.
NORA QUINTERO ( Colombia) said Latin American and Caribbean countries had created a working document dealing with issues under consideration by the Meeting, which suggested the establishment of a monitoring mechanism to oversee progress in implementing the Programme of Action. In addition, they had suggested that another review conference be held on the subject. In the meantime, countries must work towards creating the necessary procedures to achieve Programme targets at the national and regional levels. News about existing mechanisms and initiatives, such as those aimed at strengthening legislation, must be shared globally. Towards that end, regional organizations should create space for exchanging information between States.
She said the working paper focused also on the need to harmonize laws across regions and to strengthen the capacity of customs police, intelligence officials and weapons monitoring bodies of various countries. Tighter border controls would also be useful, as would greater judicial cooperation among States. The working document produced by the Non-Aligned Movement was welcome and important. There was a need to establish a support system for countries seeking to implement the Programme of Action, and the United Nations must be more active in following up on action in that field.
Mr. LANDMAN ( Netherlands) said much work had been done in the United Nations to curb the illicit trade in small arms, but the problems remained very plentiful. The Netherlands urged Member States to strive for full implementation of the Programme of Action and stressed that international cooperation was key to its successful implementation. A more efficient and targeted approach was necessary and countries should assess their needs as donor countries made their resources known. The Netherlands was strongly committed to implementation of the Programme of Action and had found a partner in Uganda. More mutual cooperation was needed among Governments to address the issue of illicit brokering in small arms.
SURESH KUMAR (India), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country’s strict export policies included requiring end-user certificates and special export licensing of arms traders, and a strict adherence to embargoes. The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons often involved money laundering rackets by transnational criminal organizations, making them, in effect, terrorists. There was no justification for any act of terrorism, and the Meeting of States should unite to fight it. It was also important that the issue not be obfuscated by undue attention to tackling the “roots of terrorism”. It must be seen for what it was -- preventing the transfer of illicitly traded small arms and light weapons to non-State actors and terrorists.
He said his country had submitted five reports under the framework of a Security Council resolution dedicated to small arms and light weapons. Along with other Bay of Bengal States, India had established a working group to coordinate efforts in intelligence-sharing and counter-terrorism. Those States had met three times so far, the last meeting having taken place in Myanmar. India was working separately with the European Union on the same issue, and had signed a memorandum of understanding with Italy to combat terrorism and transnational crime.
International cooperation was necessary for the implementation of the Programme of Action, but that should not be seen as a north-south issue as cooperation was required among all States. Armed violence should not be linked with development, and development plans should not be linked with law and order issues. India welcomed Colombia’s working paper looking into the resource implications of the Programme of Action, and stood ready to work with States and regional organizations in that regard.
Ms. DEMPSTER ( New Zealand) said the international community must prioritize its goals in order to be successful. For its own part, New Zealand would enhance its implementation of the Programme of Action by assisting Pacific Island nations to improve the security, maintenance and management of their armouries. Along with other regional partners, it had contributed to the destruction of weapons in neighbouring islands and in the disarmament of combatants. The international community should support national efforts to assess their own needs, because officials in charge of monitoring weapons in small countries were often severely overburdened.
She noted that assistance programmes, if not properly designed, could divert attention to areas that were not priorities of the recipient countries. For that reason, assisting States must pay attention to specific obstacles faced by individual countries. New Zealand was currently helping its partners to take stock of their needs, and hoped to coordinate with other donors in that endeavour. What was the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research doing about assessing the needs of small States?
Ms. MAZE responded by acknowledging that small States were sometimes overlooked and, to prevent that from happening, one approach was to create national action plans based on national surveys. All States were encouraged to conduct such surveys and communicate their findings at international discussions such as the present one.
Ms. JOSEPH-HARRIS (Trinidad and Tobago), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Caribbean Community, said her country embraced the opportunity offered by this week’s Meeting to curb the trade in small arms and recognized that international cooperation was integral to implementing the Programme of Action.
She said her country used legislative and administrative tools to implement its obligations under the Programme as it engaged in bilateral and multilateral initiatives. More than 80 per cent of the murders in Trinidad and Tobago were committed with the use of illicitly procured small arms and light weapons. The country was using a variety of measures, including a review of domestic legislation and the training of law enforcement personnel, to curb the use of illicit small arms. It was also working regionally to secure its borders and monitor trade.
JORGE ARTURO REINA IDIAQUEZ ( Honduras) presented a working document of the Central American Integration System (SICA), associated States and Mexico, saying the programme was a key tool to address the multidimensional problems generated by the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, their ammunition and components.
He expressed concern over the limited scope of the present Meeting and stressed the urgent need for it to include discussion of humanitarian matters in addition to purely technical issues. The international community needed a multidimensional approach that would include security, armed violence, trade, human rights, health and development.
Regarding brokering in small arms and light weapons, he said the recommendations of the group of governmental experts was a first step towards addressing that issue, but the international community needed to create a legally binding instrument as a complement to the Programme. The international community must also create a follow-up mechanism to move implementation of the Programme of Action forward.
LAZARE SAFOUESSE ( Congo), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed the importance of cooperation and international assistance to strengthen national capacities. The proliferation of light arms in Congo was rampant due to violent crisis situations, and the country’s national report, submitted last May, emphasized the need for sustained assistance. In light of the problem in that region, the 10 countries of Central Africa had formed a subregional body devoted to the cause. Among that body’s initiatives was the implementation of a local programme of action adopted in Brazzaville during a seminar on the New York version of the Programme of Action. Participating countries had voiced the need to create a binding instrument on small arms and light weapons, through a system that effectively would control their circulation. The Congo welcomed the assistance provided by the European Union and other partners to that country and the region.
ALEXANDER MARSCHIK (Austria), associating himself with the European Union, agreed that international cooperation and capacity-building were a cornerstone of the Programme of Action, adding that his country also worked within several bilateral programmes with partners around the world.
Referring to remarks by African delegates concerning the threat posed by the small arms trade to the continent’s development efforts, he agreed that Africa was particularly impacted by the illicit trade and that the circulation of light weapons posed a major threat to regional development, peace and security. Austria had supported the destruction of small arms throughout the world. There was now a need to focus on assistance to victims. Austria would agree to work with all Member States.
DANIEL PRINS, Chief, Conventional Arms Branch, Office of Disarmament Affairs, delivered a presentation on the “Programme of Action Implementation Support System”, saying the Implementation Support System was intended to act as a clearing house of international assistance, and was available online for all Programme stakeholders to use. One of its aims was to make national reports widely available to all. In addition, the website contained a “Best Practices” section, where users would be able to search for guidelines on various aspects of the small arms and light weapons issue, such as on their collection and destruction. The site also contained country profiles featuring such information as focal points, national laws and details of national projects.
Noting that the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research had developed a tool for matching needs with resources, he said it would be incorporated fully into the Office of Disarmament Affairs Implementation Support System, so that those seeking aid could be matched with those offering aid. The website would also support an “online advisory network” aimed at bringing together national focal points, from Governments and civil society, through an online forum. More than 400 user accounts had been created so far and a users’ “lounge” would function as a forum where participants could post notes verbales or conference papers, as well as requests for advice and other types of messages.
FRANCIS KIMEMIA (Kenya), associating himself with the African Group, said States and Governments needed to share and exchange reliable information from time to time in addressing the global problem of small arms and light weapons. The use of modern surveillance and detection equipment was critical to addressing the flow of weapons. In that context, Kenya had created a Rapid Deployment Unit within its Administration Police service to assist in border patrols.
He said that, while Kenya’s experience during the recent post-election violence showed the extent to which small arms and light weapons could threaten peace and security, the country was fortunate that none had been used. The Government had placed an emphasis on weapons collection and disposal and stepped up efforts to educate the public and raise awareness of the dynamics of the small arms and light weapons issue. That called for adequate funding to enable Kenya to address challenges at the grass-roots level.
LUTEN MODEST MWAUZI, Assistant Commissioner of Police of the United Republic of Tanzania, said his country had worked steadily between 2001 and 2006 to establish the necessary institutional arrangements for the implementation of the Programme of Action, naming focal points, developing a firearms policy, and reviewing national laws to ensure they matched the Programme’s requirements, among other measures. A computerized database of arms owned by civilians had been created to engage civil society in the cause. It had studied ways to conduct effective stockpile management and destroyed firearms seized and surrendered in western Tanzania, an area bordering the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi.
He said that, since 2006, the United Republic of Tanzania had entered into pacts to conduct joint cross-border operations with its neighbours. It had also conducted training workshops on tracing and marking firearms and was now creating a database of Government-owned firearms. The Government was looking to create laws to better enforce trade embargoes, to make the use of end-user certificates compulsory and to manage the activities of dealers and brokers.
JEAN-MARIE EHOUZOU (Benin), associating himself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the trade in small arms was a global problem that had a harmful impact on peace, security and sustainable development. States, international institutions and civil society, which could promote a culture of peace and good governance, must work together on the issue. The trade in small arms was a constant danger for social progress and a threat to individual and collective peace in West Africa, but the challenges could not be taken up with the region’s limited means. Special attention should be paid to the common management of borders in the subregion. The international community should promote patrolling of borders by joint security forces to halt the negative actions of non-State actors, such as criminal gangs.
RITA ADAM ( Switzerland) said that, since the end of the 1990s, her country had financed various projects of its own, making full use of its expertise in the destruction of arms. Since the provision of cooperation and assistance was an important element of the Programme of Action, States seeking assistance must be adept at quantifying their needs. In that regard, Switzerland supported the Implementation Support System of the Office of Disarmament Affairs as well as the matching tool developed by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research.
She expressed agreement with the notion of a link between development and armed violence, saying the question of illicit small arms and light weapons must be examined in the context of the broader issue of development. Governments must be made aware of the negative effects of armed crisis on development, and know how to develop partnerships with civil society in order to tackle such problems. The Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development, signed by 92 States, would be featured at a side-event tomorrow.
TOMAS ROSANDER ( Sweden), associating himself with the European Union, said any measures that could provide more transparency of reports was worth supporting. Sweden had posted on the Government website a statement outlining its international efforts to combat the illicit trade in small arms.
PYOTR LITAVRIN ( Russian Federation) said the main task facing the world was implementation of the Programme to strengthen national capacity and develop regional cooperation. There was a global need to stiffen prohibitions on supplies of weapons, which had been instituted by the Security Council to monitor trafficking in small arms and enhance the role of sanctions. Not much progress had been made in implementation at the regional level and a lack of funds negatively impacted States’ ability to carry out the Programme. The main responsibility for combating the illicit trade remained with Governments in countries where the weapons were first produced and then put into circulation.
INGUUNN VATNE ( Norway) noted that, without country ownership, implementation of the Programme of Action was unlikely to be effective. United Nations mechanisms to match needs with resources should be helpful to States wishing to identify funding possibilities, which could be bilateral or multilateral. In addition, many countries faced interlinked problems, including those of a humanitarian nature, in addition to persistent internal and external conflicts, high crime rates and others which drove the demand for weapons as a tool for security or a source of income. There was therefore a need to focus on the root causes driving demand, while simultaneously examining issues of supply.
She said the question of illicit small arms and light weapons was multifaceted, and all its aspects must be given due recognition when crafting poverty reduction strategies. The desire to tackle development problems was the basis of Norway’s dedication to the cause. Indeed, funding for small arms and light weapons projects could come from the budget set aside for humanitarian, disarmament, or peace and reconciliation activities. The multifaceted nature of the problem was one area in which understanding had increased since 2001. The 2005 World Summit Outcome document and the Secretary-General’s report to the Security Council on small arms each emphasised the importance of a holistic approach. That outlook should be adopted by countries seeking to help, as well as those seeking help. International and regional cooperation was essential in preventing the diversion of weapons into the illegal market. The outcome document from the Meeting should provide concrete recommendations to that effect.
LARBI EL HADJALI (Algeria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, expressed support for the strengthening of the national capacity of Member States to reach the objectives of the Programme of Action. Algeria also supported the exchange of information and greater training assistance and the technology needed to combat the trade in small arms. The Meeting was an opportunity to strengthen national capacity as Member States identified the difficulties encountered so far. Algeria supported greater legal cooperation, the training of security agents and military personnel, and bilateral cooperation beyond its borders. An international approach was the surest way to combat the problem.
TAPIO TOLVANEN ( Finland), associating himself with the European Union, stressed the need for full implementation of the Programme of Action through international cooperation. For its own part, Finland supported a programme of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) aimed at building the capacity of those States to control the flow of small arms in that subregion. It was also supporting OSCE efforts to provide practical assistance in destroying excess arms and ensuring adequate storage for remaining ones.
Agreeing that lack of development was one of the causes of armed violence, she said the Geneva Declaration on armed violence and development, adopted in 2006, highlighted the role to be played by States in reducing violence associated with war, crime and social unrest. States which had agreed to the Declaration were asked to demonstrate a reduction in violence by 2015. Finland was a member of the core group that had created the Declaration, and supported the work of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research on matching needs with resources.
W. W. GAMAGE ( Sri Lanka) said the ready availability of small arms had had a dramatic effect on public safety in many countries. The challenges and threats posed by those arms could not be addressed by countries acting alone, since their international dimension required multilateral action. Sri Lanka looked forward to hearing a global response that would strengthen national efforts, and it appreciated the assistance it had received from the Office of Disarmament Affairs, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as well as donor Governments.
He said his country’s National Commission had undertaken various activities towards implementation of the Programme of Action, including campaigns to raise awareness, training of police officers, collection and destruction of arms, creation of a database on small arms and light weapons in circulation, and surveys intended to create a national action plan. The National Commission, chaired by the Secretary of Defence, would perform a thorough assessment before embarking on remedial action. However, Sri Lanka needed support to fulfil its goals since activities envisioned by the future action plan would involve several ministries and departments.
CAROLINA TINANGON ( Indonesia), speaking in her national capacity, said international assistance, cooperation and capacity-building were essential for the full implementation of the Programme of Action. While matching needs and resources was a challenge in the effective provision of international assistance, research had proved beneficial in understanding the problems faced by States in mobilizing assistance and increasing national capacity-building efforts. Indonesia welcomed the establishment of the Implementation Support System, and eagerly anticipated the database for matching needs and resources, which would allow information to be centralized.
Describing national efforts to combat the illicit trade in and trafficking of small arms and light weapons, she said the Government of Indonesia was considering broadening the scope of its existing legislation. Regionally, Indonesia urged the promotion of cooperation among bordering countries. All regional cooperation should be supported by skilled human resources, financial capacity and adequate equipment. National reports were among the many tools for understanding State needs, and Indonesia called for increased awareness among national stakeholders of the Programme’s commitments.
LUVUUMA SAMUEL SSUUNA, Coordinator, National Focal Point on Small Arms and Light Weapons of Uganda, said his country was committed to devising mechanisms to mitigate the avenues through which small arms and light weapons ended up in the hands of unscrupulous individuals and organizations. Ugandans in the north and north-east had been victims of those weapons due to the proliferation of small arms entering the country across porous borders.
He said countries in the region were cooperating to address the problem, and Uganda had put in place a five-year National Action Plan on Small Arms and Light Weapons in 2004. It focused religiously on the strategic themes of control, reduction and prevention, while also setting out a framework for action on the national level. A functional analysis of small arms and light weapons had been carried out through a consultancy commissioned by the Regional Centre on Small Arms. As a member of the Nairobi Declaration/Protocol, Uganda had made efforts to mark all weapons in legal custody and collect for destruction any illicit, surplus or obsolete arms. To that end, the military and police had destroyed more than 57,000 weapons in May and June 2006. Another stockpile of 237 tons had been destroyed last November.
XOLILE MABHONGO (South Africa), associating himself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the political commitment expressed by developing States could not be translated into concrete national implementation actions without international cooperation and assistance, and the effective matching of needs with resources. Support for capacity-building projects should form a cornerstone for assistance otherwise a main component of the much-needed skills to sustain implementation efforts would not be imparted. Indeed, without national ownership, the often costly assistance programmes could not be sustained.
It was widely recognized that cooperation and assistance under the Programme of Action was not limited to the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, he emphasized, noting that additional focus should be put on national efforts to manage legal State-owned weapons so they did not enter the illicit trade. International cooperation should include the other main themes identified for the biennial Meeting, particularly the broad theme of stockpile management, which encompassed a whole range of measures to minimize the theft and diversion of State-owned weapons. While national reporting could greatly facilitate international cooperation and assistance for those States in need of it, it should not be a prerequisite for receiving that help. In implementing the Programme of Action, developing countries in particular could enter a situation of greater security and stability that would in turn foster economic and social development. Yet expecting them to demonstrate that their implementation programmes were part of overall development strategies would mean setting conditions for international assistance. South Africa could not support that.
MARIA ESPINOSA (Ecuador), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), said her country had made great efforts to fulfil its obligations under the Programme of Action, and was pleased to share news about the progress it had made, often using its own resources. For example, a national programme designed by military engineers to monitor the private use of weapons had led to the creation of a firearms database. In addition, the Government was running three projects with the support of UNDP centred on creating an arms-control system; helping facilitate the exchange of best practices with other countries; and completing a door-to-door survey on the effects of armed violence, with an emphasis on victims.
She said around 260,000 weapons had been confiscated in the country to date. Civil society participation had been significant in crafting proposals and contributing data to national reports. There was also great interest among the public in playing a part in the process, including through “citizen security plans”. Because the issue was a transnational problem, international assistance should focus on judicial, educational and social activities across nations. Such cooperation was essential to successful implementation of the Programme of Action.
LÚCIA MARIA MAIERÁ ( Brazil), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and associated States, said that, in attempting to eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and enforce the Programme of Action, States must identify the variety of areas in which that scheme was to be implemented. The potential challenges and strengths of the Programme must be identified according to each individual country’s situation, with a view to directing assistance to different procedures at the national, regional and global levels. In that process, it would be necessary to increase coordination among stakeholders and strengthen partnerships.
While the countries of MERCOSUR remained committed to the Programme of Action, he said, there should be no conditions attached to the assistance to be provided by the international community, including requirements on the submission of national reports. States and regional organizations should look at how to continue and further technical and financial assistance. MERCOSUR was also concerned that, despite the section on international coordination, the studies submitted during the morning session indicated that the Caribbean region received only 6 per cent of total assistance, much less than other regions.
DORIS GONZALEZ ( Paraguay), associating herself with MERCOSUR, said cooperation and international assistance were important in helping countries consolidate their progress so far. Paraguay had already established an arms tracing centre and would support the creation of a network to connect it with similar institutions in other countries. Ideally, citizens owning firearms would voluntarily make that information available to the competent authorities, which would thus be made available to the network.
On other fronts, mutual cooperation between customs officials in the MERCOSUR States had successfully detected the presence of illegal ammunition, she said. Those officials benefited from the training given by national authorities regarding rules on the possession and transfer of firearms. It would be highly desirable if the international community pooled its resources to facilitate capacity-building in countries seeking to control the entry and exit of firearms. The Meeting’s final document should reflect the points contained in MERCOSUR’s statement to that end.
BIBI SHELIZA ALLY (Guyana), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and CARICOM, said efforts to combat the trade in small arms diverted funding from important areas, such as education and social needs. That in turn impacted countries’ social and economic development. CARICOM had made security an important point of its integration efforts and Guyana was committed to working with the international community to eradicate the dangers of small arms. The country was providing increased funding for police efforts and working with partners like the United Kingdom to improve security. Hopefully, the Meeting would produce more international cooperation and national capacity-building to promote greater implementation of the Programme of Action.
ANDREW SHORE ( Canada) noted that, while there had been an increase in resources for international cooperation and assistance, there was still a large gap between needs and what was on offer. Strategies were needed to determine how best to use limited resources and prevent duplication of efforts. In that regard, Canada welcomed the Implementation Support System database to match resources with needs. Meanwhile, regional organizations should seek to play a stronger role in identifying those needs and national reporting processes should strive to serve a similar purpose.
He noted that the current focus was on conflict or post-conflict States, but attention must also be paid to countries that were not in conflict but which nevertheless experienced high levels of armed violence. The sharing of best practices was an important form of cooperation, and regional and multilateral meetings provided the opportunity to do that, particularly among law enforcement agencies as well as between States and INTERPOL. The exchange of information would be especially handy in identifying transfer routes and shutting down trafficking networks at the border.
YOSHINOBU HIRAISHI ( Japan) thanked the Office of Disarmament Affairs for its easy-to-understand presentation and praised its work in creating the Implementation Support System, which hopefully would strengthen networking between countries and promote the transfer of know-how among them. Japan supported the establishment of the Coordination Action on Small Arms database on which the initiative was based and had contributed $480,000 to its operation in the three years since its founding. Seven years since the adoption of the Programme of Action, the voluminous amount of knowledge must be stored and put to active use. The Implementation Support System would help in doing that, and hopefully it would increase the level of assistance provided. The information exchanged through that mechanism would in turn help improve the quality of assistance.
LAWRENCE L. BASSIE (Sierra Leone), associating himself with the African Group, said the scourge of small arms during his country’s civil war had left many victims. Sierra Leone remained committed to working with civil society groups to address the question of reparations.
ISMAIL COBANOGLU ( Turkey) said more information would be made available on the relevant website of the United Nations. As a country that had experienced the negative impact of illicit trafficking, Turkey hoped the Meeting would shed more light on the question of small arms and light weapons and analyse the causes of their proliferation.
He said the transboundary nature of the problem demanded monitoring on the ground, while brokering, monitoring and tracing measures should be among the international initiatives. Transparency and information sharing would also help in implementing the Programme of Action. However, a gap between funding and needs remained and additional resources were needed for several issues, including stockpile management, training of border and customs officials, and technical support for legislative measures.
SEYED ROBATJAZI ( Iran) said the misuse of weapons affected innocent civilians and more than half of all illegal weapons were in civilian hands. The United Nations should take serious steps to reassure people that they were safe and secure by eliminating the demand for illegal weapons. The over-production of such weapons facilitated their entry into regions of tension and, as such, the international community should focus on supply as well as demand.
He said international cooperation and assistance were key elements in boosting national capacities and furthering steps to implement the Programme of Action. Special attention should be paid to countries recovering from war and to the root causes of those conflicts, which might include poverty, aggression and occupation. Iran had made significant progress in fulfilling its obligations, despite constraints imposed on it for many years. It had invested resources in the development of technologies not available to it.
ROBERT YOUNG, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said enhanced respect for international humanitarian law was an essential part of efforts to protect civilians from the misuse of arms, and would contribute to reducing demand for weapons. Capacity-building was needed to ensure that military and police forces used weapons in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights law. The International Committee provided States with support for the training of armed, security and police forces. Indeed, such capacity-building and demand-oriented efforts should be seen as integral to implementing the Programme of Action.
Describing a publication entitled Practical Guide, which contains indicators for the avoidance of serious violations of international humanitarian law when making decisions on arms transfers, he said States should deny transfer when there was a likelihood of such violations. All States should adopt international humanitarian law in their national regulation of such issues. Also, given that reducing vulnerability was an important part of addressing demand for weapons, implementation of the Programme of Action should include a focus on violence prevention strategies that addressed the causes of armed violence in specific settings.
FRANCIS K. SANG, Executive Secretary, Regional Centre on Small Arms, said the Nairobi Protocol on the Prevention, Control and Reduction of Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Great Lakes Region, the Horn of Africa and Bordering States, signed in 2004, was a regional response to the problems posed by those weapons. The Nairobi Protocol had been preceded by the Nairobi Declaration on the Problem of Illicit Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa.
Small arms and light weapons were among the main factors sustaining armed conflict and crime, he said. They also played a role in degrading the environment, fuelling the illegal exploitation of natural resources and abetting terrorism and other serious crimes in the region. The Regional Centre was mandated to oversee the Nairobi Declaration and Protocol and coordinate international support for implementing its agenda for action. In that, it was mandated to solicit funds from the international community to supplement those provided by its States parties.
He said that, because the signatories to the Declaration -– Burundi, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania -– were developing countries, they had few resources or technical capacity to adequately address the small arms problem. They needed support to build a strong institutional framework for small arms and light weapons in the region, build law-enforcement capacity, increase information exchange, procure marking equipment to track weapons and develop management databases. They also needed assistance in bridging funding gaps. Thus far, assistance had been uncoordinated, late, and made in a piecemeal and generally inadequate fashion. Funding periods had been too short to create the impact envisioned in the Nairobi Protocol and Declaration. The donor community must urgently pool resources. The development of a Web-based information tool for the Programme of Action would provide information exchange and international cooperation and assistance.
KATRINE SIIG KRISTENSEN, Programme Analyst, Mine Action and Small Arms, Conflict Prevention and Recovery Team, Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said the agency had worked for many years in the area of small arms control, and had dealt with weapons collection and destruction, capacity-building of national players, and the development of legislation. Its years of experience provided many lessons for the international community, including those concerning the need to assess the absorptive capacity of local governments; and to coordinate small arms controls at the national level. National ownership was a key element of successful small arms control. Another effective measure would be the integration of small arms control into other international agreements. The lack of coordination among donors and recipients remained an issue, and it was the responsibility of all stakeholders and recipients to ensure a minimum level of coordination.
JEAN GOUGH, Deputy Regional Director, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said that, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, stability and peace in many countries and regions were increasingly threatened, resulting in hundreds of armed attacks on schools, communities and other places where children should feel protected. Small arms and light weapons were being used in almost all of those attacks. Increasingly aimed at the most vulnerable in a community, the weapons had grave consequences for human rights and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The direct threat was coupled with budgetary allocations for military spending, while prolonged gaps in social investment permanently affected the welfare and development of children and adolescents.
Emphasizing that all violence against children was preventable and none justifiable, she underscored UNICEF’s full commitment to supporting the United Nations small arms process through disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes; awareness-raising campaigns on landmines and small arms; projects supporting children affected by violence in more than 50 countries; research on violence against children; and education programmes promoting conflict resolution, non-violence and a culture of peace. While several key policy frameworks were in place, translating them into measurable reductions in small arms violence at all levels remained a challenge.
To that end, delegations should place the rights of children at the top of efforts to reduce the threat of small arms, she said, urging Governments, civil society and other stakeholders to promote a culture of peace. Coordination should be enhanced and the recommendations of the Secretary-General’s study on violence against children integrated into national action plans on small arms and light weapons. Laws should be implemented on the involvement of children in armed conflict, in accordance with the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes should pay special attention to children’s needs. An integrated approach recognizing both the demand and supply sides of the small arms nexus should be a priority.
SHAMIOS MBIZO, Law, Policy and Outreach Officer of Human Trafficking and Crime Prevention, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said the agency was a leader in the fight against illicit drugs, international organized crime and terrorism. The Firearms Protocol, which had entered into force on 3 July 2005, had 52 signatories and was the first small arms treaty of global application. It provided a comprehensive regulatory framework on firearms and ammunition, and was becoming a steady global standard in the fight against transnational organized crime and its involvement in the illicit manufacturing and trafficking in arms. It was a crucial instrument that complemented implementation of both the Programme of Action and the international tracing instrument. By ratifying the Protocol, Member States committed themselves to adopting a series of crime control measures to criminalize the manufacture and trade of firearms. UNOCD provided operational assistance to Member States in support of the Protocol’s ratification and implementation, such as training seminars and the exchange of information.
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