Easy Availability of Weapons Multiplies Probability of Death, Grave Human Rights Violations in Communities throughout World, Biennial Meeting Told

16 June 2010
DC/3249

Easy Availability of Weapons Multiplies Probability of Death, Grave Human Rights Violations in Communities throughout World, Biennial Meeting Told

16 June 2010
General Assembly
DC/3249
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Fourth Biennial Meeting of States

on Illicit Trade in Small Arms

5th & 6th Meetings (AM & PM)

Easy Availability of Weapons Multiplies Probability of Death, Grave Human Rights

Violations in Communities throughout World, Biennial Meeting Told

 

Speakers Focus on Follow-up Mechanisms for 2001 Action Programme;

Afternoon Meeting Hears from Regional, Civil Society Organizations

The easy availability of firearms multiplied the probability of death or grave violations of human rights in communities around the world and, as in warding off a disease, in preventing armed violence these communities must build up resistance and reduce their exposure to the vector of injury — the gun, a representative of a non-governmental organization told delegates today, as the Fourth Biennial Meeting on combating the illicit small arms and light weapons trade reached the halfway mark of its week-long session.

The Meeting considers implementation of the 2001 Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects and runs from 14 to 18 June.  Earlier meetings were held in 2003, 2005 and 2008, with a Review Conference in 2006.

Strong coordinated measures were needed to limit the quantities and types of small arms that could be produced, imported and sold, and to regulate the purchase, use and storage of those weapons, whether by Governments or by civilians, said the director of the International Action Network on Small Arms.  She was one of several speakers from civil society, and international, regional and non-governmental organizations, who spoke in the afternoon, often with firsthand accounts, on the challenges and opportunities connected to the fight against illegal arms.

Armed violence and peace could not co-exist, emphasized a representative of Defend International in Iraq, one of several representatives of non-governmental organizations who spoke under the umbrella of the International Action Network on Small Arms.  The culture of war must be replaced with a culture of peace, and policymakers must realize that today’s problems couldn’t be solved with yesterday’s mindset, she said.

More than one person died per minute as a result of armed violence, stressed a representative of Igarape in Brazil.  Noting that the relationship between armed violence and development was a two-way street, she said that the factors shaping armed violence — income and social inequality, chronic unemployment, uneven access to resources, unregulated urbanization and various forms of marginalization — were often the very same as the causes of underdevelopment.

During the morning, the Meeting focused its discussion on strengthening of the follow-up mechanism of the Programme of Action and preparations for the 2011 Experts Group meeting and the 2012 Review Conference, with delegates taking stock of the effectiveness of implementation of the Programme of Action and putting forth diverse, and sometimes divergent, views and proposals on how best to move forward.

Daniel Prins of the Office for Disarmament Affairs presented various suggestions regarding the 2011 Experts Group meeting and the 2012 Review Conference, as well as for improving measurability of the Programme of Action.  Noting that the Office for Disarmament Affairs had presented a new online reporting template, he suggested that States might refer to that improved implementation tool in the Meeting’s outcome document.  States might also wish to consider agreeing to a two-year reporting cycle for both the tracing instrument and the Programme of Action as a whole, he said.

Cuba’s representative, however, questioned the validity of submitting national reports every two years, stressing that such reports should be voluntary in nature.  On the other hand, his delegation — and several others — agreed that national reports should have a standard format, although he said it was necessary for States to have the option of reporting on what they thought was important and appropriate.

Along those lines, the representative of the United States emphasized that biennial reports would serve to lessen the burden on States and would result in more submissions.  Standardization of reporting would help with analysis of results, but a balance should be considered, he said. 

Presenting a series of proposals, Israel’s representative said that certain principles should be applied as States discussed a workable architecture for the future.  Suggesting the formalization of a five-year Programme of Action meeting cycle, under which themes and designated chairs would be identified in advance, he also proposed fixed 10-day meetings, which he said would provide a clear framework for providing updates and strategies.

Some delegates also expressed the need for financial and technical assistance for countries where arms smuggling was rampant.  The representative of Ethiopia requested assistance in that respect, particularly in capacity-building to enhance a small arms control initiative and to protect its borders.  Such a threat continued to pose a serious challenge for many countries, he said, and also affected the maintenance of regional peace and security.

Emphasizing that one of the main restrictions to progress was financial, the representative of Mozambique, speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), called on United Nations Member States and international organizations to provide further financial as well as technical assistance.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Mexico, Colombia, Russian Federation, Spain (on behalf of the European Union), Trinidad and Tobago, Japan, Australia, Papua New Guinea, China, Switzerland, Canada, India, Côte d’Ivoire, United Kingdom, Pakistan, Ireland, Norway, Colombia, Poland, France, and Libya (on behalf of the Arab Group).

Several international and regional organizations also delivered statements, including:  United Nations Coordinating Action on Small Arms (UN CASA), the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Central American Integration System (SICA), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Organization of American States, the East African Community (EAC), the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, the Regional Centre on Small Arms (RECSA), and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW).

Among non-governmental organizations participating today were the Defense Small Arms Advisory Council, World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities, FAIR Trade Group, National Firearms Association of Canada, Safari Club International, Second Amendment Foundation, Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturing Institute, and Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia.

Other non-governmental organizations speaking under the umbrella of the International Action Network on Small Arms were Transitions of Guatemala, the Institute for Security Studies of South Africa, the Philippine Action Network to Control Arms (PhilANCA), Reseau d’Action sur les Armes Legeres of Cote d’Ivoire, the Peaceful Women in Colombia, and RASALT of Togo.

The Meeting of States will reconvene at 10 a.m. Thursday, 17 June, to continue its discussion.

Background

The Fourth 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 met today to consider strengthening of the follow-up mechanism of the Programme of Action and preparations for the 2011 Experts Group meeting and the 2012 Review Conference.

Opening Remarks

MARLEN GOMEZ (Mexico) presented a discussion paper (document A/CONF.192/BMS/2010/WP.3), which included several suggestions on the current topic.  She said during recent consultations ideas had been fine-tuned, including that no clear link had been established between biennial meetings and their outcomes.  A new instrument had also been adopted after periodic reviews, in 2005, and it was time to take the first steps to boost follow-up mechanisms.

It was important to establish regular review conferences and expert groups, in addition to conferences held by regional groups on related issues.  To encourage participation by all States, a voluntary sponsorship programme could be introduced as a cooperation and assistance programme.  As the ten-year anniversary of the adoption of the Programme of Action was approaching next year, perhaps the Secretary-General could prepare a report on that, she said.

DANIEL AVILA-CAMACHO (Colombia) said his country was open to continue to forge ahead on these subject mentioned by the Mexican delegate.  After all, States were seeking to achieve a forward motion towards identified objectives.

DANIEL PRINS, of the Office for Disarmament Affairs, said that States had agreed to hold a one-week Meeting of Governmental Experts in 2011.  No such meeting had ever been held in the context of the Programme of Action, and the Programme of Action itself did not mention the possibility of such a meeting.  The Meeting of Governmental Experts was scheduled for 10-14 January 2011.  He added that the sixty-fifth General Assembly came too late to start focused preparations for the Meeting of Governmental Experts.

On the subject of the 2012 Review Conference, he said that to effectively prepare for that, States might wish to include in the upcoming General Assembly resolution covering the small arms process that a one-week Preparatory Committee be held in the first half of 2012, similar to 2006.  Such a Preparatory Committee would in particular add value, not only to agree on the administrative documents for the Review Conference, but to discuss working papers on substance.  In other words, the Preparatory Committee should not be the beginning of preparations, but the end of the preparatory phase, after which a draft outcome text for the Review Conference could start circulating.

On improving measurability of the Programme of Action, he said that such an improvement was relevant to the whole spectrum of the Programme of Action.  For this meeting’s outcome document, States might wish to consider referring to the expressed need for increased measurability voiced in the third biennial meeting outcome and in regional Programme of Action meetings.  They might also wish to consider addressing at the 2012 Review Conference the development of goals, targets and indicators for the Programme of Action.  In the view of the Office of Disarmament Affairs, the Meeting of Governmental Experts in 2011 could be a most appropriate opportunity to start an in-depth discussion on how the Programme of Action could become a measurable plan by the 2012 Review Conference.

On the issue of a reporting template, he said his office had presented a new online template, developed with the Small Arms Survey, the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDR) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).  It was available in all United Nations languages.  States might wish to refer to that improved implementation tool in their outcome document.  They might also wish to consider explicitly agreeing to a two-year reporting cycle not only for the tracing instrument, but for the Programme of Action as a whole.

Turning to the Programme of Action Implementation Support System, he said that for the Programme of Action on small arms, which is not a treaty, no provision for an implementation unit in the United Nations Secretariat had been made.  Since Member States had voiced their concern over a lack of centralized information and implementation tools, however, the United Nations had developed, with extra-budgetary funds, a Programme of Action implementation support system.  His office was also working with the informal Group of Interested States in New York to more consistently make use of the implementation system in future group of interested States meetings, matching needs with resources.

Now that the implementation support system had become operational — and since it was essential for the “action” side of the Programme of Action — States might wish to consider including in their outcome document a request to the Secretary-General to provide the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs with sufficient resources for maintaining the system, not later than in 2012 and within existing resources.

Statements

ALEXANDER DEYNEKO ( Russian Federation) said his delegation had analysed the statements made during the meeting thus far, and saw that tremendous efforts had been made at all levels.  The debate was very topical and States had heard some very interesting proposals and had been provided with new information on what had already been achieved.  In most statements, there had been a focus on illicit trafficking and illicit trade, and many States had talked not only about illicit trafficking in arms, but also drugs and other criminal activities.

When speaking about the measures that had been taken in order to combat illicit trafficking in arms, more attention was given by States to methods of response.  There was, however, another dimension when talking about the arms trade:  Where did those arms come from before they fell into the trafficking circuit?  In addition to the response aspect, there was the other aspect of how efforts were focused to combat that illicit trafficking.  Another question concerned the controls that were put into effect by the importing States.  For joint endeavours to be successful, it would be very important to establish partnership networks among the exporting, transit and import States, so that at all stages of the transfer of arms, there was appropriate control.  Naturally, all of that had to be carried out in cooperation with non-governmental organizations and civil society.  Only by joint efforts would there be achievement of the common goal:  to place solid obstacles in the way of illicit trafficking.

FERNANDO VILLEVA SANCHEZ (Spain), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said following the proposed agenda and concerning strengthening the follow-up mechanisms was the work of this meeting and the previous comments were the starting point for debate on these related issues.  This debate should provide guidelines for the 2011 experts meeting and the 2012 review.  The General Assembly resolutions to convene the experts meeting were crucial.  The European Union’s commitment to the Programme of Action was strong.  To date, there had been a lack of concrete proposals for strengthening a follow-up mechanism.

Concerning the working paper at hand, the European Union supported the notion of standard reporting formats and called on all United Nations Member States to submit reports.  The biennial meetings should be able to assess the status of implementation and all aspects of the Programme of Action.  The early designation of a chair and agreement of an agenda deserved to be followed.  It was essential to ascertain clear mandates for these and other meetings, to establish concrete measures to move ahead.  The review conferences, and their results, were conditioned by the progress achieved at, among other things, biennial meetings.  Review conferences should become the appropriate forum to take concrete steps towards advancing the implementation of the Programme of Action.  To date, no specific tools had been used to identify gaps.  He hoped this meeting would be fruitful, in this regard.

Mr. DE FREITAS Trinidad and Tobago said his country was not a firearms manufacturer, but small arms and light weapons had been smuggled in by sea and air.  The cross-border dimension of that was a constant challenge for the Government.  Trinidad and Tobago was committed to the principles of international and regional cooperation and shared responsibility in confronting the phenomenon of small arms proliferation and related violence, as well as tackling associated issues, such as organized crime and the illegal narcotics trade.  It was also committed to multilateral action to implement the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons.  In keeping with its obligations under the Programme of Action, it had submitted its annual reports and updated legislation to provide for the tracing of illicit small arms.  Local authorities were developing and implementing a national tracing mechanism. 

The Government had set up an Inter-Ministerial Guns Retrieval Committee to support local law enforcement agencies, he said.  That Committee had established an electronic platform linking policy, strategy, operations and investigations, which enabled analysts to establish various patterns for case-building by police investigators.  A mechanism was also set up to facilitate the sharing and exchange of information and intelligence between and among investigative, enforcement, scientific and other officials.  Those mechanisms would enable Trinidad and Tobago to be in a better position to track and trace firearms, have greater control of legal firearms, plan strategies and tactics to deal with illegal firearms, and adopt a preventative approach to firearm violence.  It had a memorandum of understanding with the United States to facilitate the use of that country’s e-tracing mechanism.

KEIKO YANAI (Japan) said it was important for States to focus on the ways to reinforce the existing follow-up mechanisms — including national reports, biennial meetings and review conferences — rather than create a new institutional framework.  It was also important to note that building an implementation road map and linking various meetings could only be meaningful if substantial input was provided by States, particularly in the form of national reports and participation in meetings.  Mechanisms to be developed or reinforced should allow States to be flexible, as uniformly applied or restrictive mechanisms would only be counter-productive.

There was still a long way to go to ensure regular submission of reports and more detailed descriptions of national practices, she said.  There was a need to further consider effective ways to encourage States to submit their national reports.  Regional centres for peace and disarmament could play an important role, in that regard.  Linking the substantive work of the various meetings of States could also help strengthen the implementation of the Programme of Action, provided that the designated chairperson was given the necessary flexibility to conduct the business.  She added that her delegation believed that the ultimate goal in implementing the Programme of Action was to reduce the number of small arms victims, and therefore the related meetings could focus more on that subject.

RONI ADAM (Israel) said that, as States discussed a workable architecture for the future, certain principles should be applied.  First, the Programme of Action must be universal in nature and action-oriented.  There must also be clear links between such meetings and the many provisions of the Programme of Action.  That would ensure that gatherings such as the current one focused on the situation on the ground.  In addition, the design of any Programme of Action should act as building blocks to examine, review and evaluate all aspects related to it.  He also said it was important to move past the current sporadic meeting schedule that did not fully yield the results that were sought.  It would be useful to formalize a practice whereby there existed a five-year Programme of Action meeting cycle.  That proposal would further enhance interaction between experts, among other things.  He proposed institutionalizing fixed 10-day meetings, which he said would provide a clear framework for providing updates and strategies.

Further, he said it would be strongly advisable to identify themes and designated chairs in advance of each five-year cycle.  Also, national reports due every two years should focus on the identified themes.  Such organization of work would bolster efforts and allow for analysis.  It was also essential to alternate the meeting venues between New York and Geneva, which would expand and solidify the pool of knowledge on the issues, making it possible to benefit from a wider group of experts in the field.  Moreover, a Preparatory Committee could be held six months in advance to set the agenda, programme of work, rules of procedure and format of the outcome.  It was also important to discuss possible subsidiary meetings that could be held in parallel with the general debate.  All of those proposals could, and should, be achieved within existing resources, which would help guide the work to eradicate the plague in illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.

PHILIP ALPERS (Australia) said this discussion was timely and would have positive benefits for the implementation of the Programme of Action.  However, the question was, is the Programme of Action being implemented and is it having an impact?  Answering those questions would shed light of future actions and on what methods had worked and why.  The Programme of Action provided little guidance on process, institutions and follow-up mechanisms.  More could be done to promote concrete implementation.

He said follow-up mechanisms should be a focus of this and future meetings.  Each biennial meeting of States should contain a flexible session for discussion, as was the case yesterday.  Each meeting should aim to build on the work and discussions of previous meetings.  Review conferences would be an important opportunity to review and identify future actions.  He supported the Office for Disarmament Affairs proposal for a 2012 preparatory meeting, as well as moving to a regular six-year cycle of meetings, where review conferences were followed by expert meetings and meetings of States.

On national reporting, there should be a focus on streamlining reporting to be submitted biennially.  The analysis undertaken by the Small Arms Survey was important and he encouraged States to support future similar reports.  Special attention should be given to least-developed States and vulnerable States.  Australia had provided $100,000 to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for regional activities under a sponsorship programme.  A lot more must be done to realize the goals of the Programme of Action.

Mr. COSTNER the United States said it was important to proceed with a focus on implementation at this biennial meeting.  He supported a six-year cycle of meetings, but cautioned that meetings should not be scheduled if they were just going to be “talk-shops”.  Instead, they should have solid agendas.  Preparatory meetings were not yet scheduled to date, with only a January meeting of experts coming up in 2011.  On this topic, he requested the Office for Disarmament Affairs to delay the coming experts to 2012, to allow for more preparation.  Despite the type of meeting, themes should be agreed upon well in advance, and the chair should be designated early.  If the January experts meeting went ahead as scheduled, a chair should be named as early as possible.

Regarding reporting, biennial reports would lessen the burden on States and would result in more submissions.  Standardization of reporting would help with analysis of results, but a balance should be considered.  The United States supported a voluntary sponsorship programme to help to ensure full participation of Member States.

Turning to implementation, adding a resource person or others should be done efficiently to avoid spending scarce resources.  In general, budgetary implications also needed to be taken in to account.

ROBERT G. AISI ( Papua New Guinea) noted that while his country did not manufacture or export arms of any kind, it suffered greatly from the illicit use of and trade in small arms and light weapons.  The Government was therefore charged with developing baseline data to monitor and measure reductions in levels of armed violence, the types of weapons used and whether they are new.  In addition, it needed to deal with current problems stemming from the use of such weapons in conflict and crime situations.

Since 2005, his country had progressed in several initiatives outlined in its report for that year.  Among achievements made, he highlighted a nationwide Guns Control Awareness and Road show programme, which resulted in the completion of the Guns Control Report Recommendations.  The report — which included 227 recommendations — underscored the use of a holistic approach in addressing weapons issues through legislation and policy, as well as effective operational enforcement and awareness in partnership with civil society organizations, he said. 

Continuing, he said the Government was discussing a more focused institutional arrangement with a policy team as part of an implementation strategy, benefiting from studying materials produced by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR).  Further, it had refurbished all its military armouries and ammunition storage facilities and installed a computerized system for monitoring access to, and issuance of, firearms in conjunction with the Australian Government.  Finally, he noted that his country was in the process of finalizing its first ever National Anti-Corruption Strategy to fulfil its obligations under the United Nations Convention against Corruption.  Finally, it would be submitting a detailed national report on implementation of the 2001 Programme of Action by December 2010.

LEI SUN (China) said that follow-up measures were important, because they invigorated the Programme of Action.  The international community had made positive progress in implementing the Programme of Action.  China had participated in a constructive manner in activities related to the implementation of the follow-up mechanisms of the Programme of Action.  China also welcomed any measures and suggestions that would help and support strengthening the mechanisms of the Programme of Action based on existing mechanisms, although it believed that the work of strengthening should be advanced gradually and according to each country.  Otherwise, States might end up in the situation of “more haste and less speed”.  He emphasized that the Programme of Action had gone through tough negotiations and was a result of compromise.  China would continue to make contributions to help in eradicating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.

Mr. LAUBER (Switzerland) said that national reports were an important tool for implementation of the Programme of Action.  Such reports should be submitted every two years, as they helped to facilitate analysis of progress made in implementing the Programme of Action.  It would be desirable if the national reports could be prepared on the basis of a common format.

He also said that the time had come to assess to what extent the Programme of Action was effective in eradicating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  The proposal to set up an implementation plan for the Programme of Action warranted further consideration.  Further, a rotation of meetings between New York and Geneva would make it possible to better tap potential skills.  In addition, creating a progress report was an avenue to be explored, as it might help in identifying follow-up measures and in developing a plan of action with a view to the 2012 Review Conference, he said.

SUNEETA MILLINGTON (Canada) said that much more needed to be done to effectively achieve the goals related to the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  In efforts to examine implementation mechanisms and measure progress, her country had prepared an informal “Implementation Matrix”, an internal tool which States could use to measure individual progress and one that visually identified any gaps in implementation.  She hoped that work, within the agenda item, would streamline, stabilize and strengthen existing processes, highlight opportunities to develop new processes, and help determine the best allocation of time and resources.

Ahead of the Open-Ended Meeting of Governmental Experts (OEMGE) in 2011, she offered suggestions relating to the structure and function of such meetings.  Drawing on her Government’s experience in organizing an international meeting of experts in Geneva in 2007, she said the 2011 meeting could follow a similar model, with discussion and consideration of practical aspects of implementation concentrated in one subject area.  Cooperation and assistance issues could be examined through the lens of that one topic.  Urging States to consider establishing voluntary sponsorship programs to increase engagement in the process, she believed that tremendous gains could be made through effectively honouring commitments.  Without full implementation and tools to follow-up on commitments, she said, there was a risk of the Programme of Action becoming “more program than action”.

AMANDEEP SINGH GILL (India) said the annual reports, the biennial meeting of States and review conferences were steps forward.  The Office for Disarmament Affairs should continue with its mandate.  A template reflecting the implementing of the Programme of Action might be helpful.  The timely designation of chairs was important.  Regarding proposals for increasing the number of meetings in the current six-year cycle, possibilities should be examined.  The General Assembly resolution on the illicit trade of small arms was critical to the implementation of the Programme of Action.  The coming 2011 experts meeting could act as a preparatory platform for a review conference.

ADJOUSSOU DESIRE (C ôte d’Ivoire) said cross-border cooperation was one of the most sensitive areas in which capacity-building was essential.  Any cooperation between States must rest upon an exchange of information, common border management and legal implications.  The outcome document of this meeting should emphasize this role of cooperation for the effective implementation of the Programme of Action.

Collection and destruction of stockpiles, registration, tracing and marking were areas that needed sharp attention, and national surveys should be established along with practicing transparency and mutual confidence-building measures, he said.  Côte d’Ivoire had submitted an application for assistance to collect and destroy weapons.  To better synchronize the Review Conference and biennial meetings, a transparency mechanism should be devised to ensure the Programme of Action’s implementation.  A mechanism to exchange experience should also be established to learn the best possible lessons from States.  He thanked Denmark and Japan for assistance during Côte d’Ivoire’s challenging times in dealing with these issues.

DAVID VINCENT (United Kingdom), expressing support for the statement made on behalf of the European Union, said that, in discussing issues for possible inclusion in the outcome document as potential agenda items for the 2011 Experts Group meeting and 2012 Review Conference, one important issue was measuring not only the impact of the Programme of Action implementation on the illicit trade, but also the impact it had on the humanitarian and socio-economic consequences of that trade.  Another issue was the integration of small arms control into broader conflict prevention, armed violence reduction and development strategies and interventions.

The United Kingdom supported, and continued to support, work to combat the illicit trade in small arms, predominantly through a cross-government strategy and funding mechanism.  A number of small arms and light weapons control activities undertaken by a range of agencies, organizations and individuals had been funded by the United Kingdom in support of that strategy.  While successes had been achieved, there were also considerable challenges that were still faced, as well as lessons that could be learned. One such challenge was how to measure the achievements made against the illicit trade through implementation of the Programme of Action and, in turn, how that had affected the key concerns outlined in the Programme of Action, including, among others, conflict, human suffering, terrorism, organized crime, poverty and underdevelopment.  Further, the complexity and inter-related nature of such problems, and the multisectoral responses required to tackle them, highlighted that small arms control efforts alone might not have a sufficient impact on such deep and multifaceted problems.

ELIAS FELEKE ( Ethiopia) said Ethiopia had established a coordinating agency on small arms and light weapons in 2000, which had officially launched its activities in December 2004.  Civil society was also represented by three non-governmental organizations under the national focal point.  His Government was committed, both political and legally, to the national and international measures to combat illicit small arms.  The national focal point, together with the media, had embarked on continued awareness campaigns, in order to disseminate information to the wider population.

Ethiopia needed assistance in that respect, he said, particularly in capacity-building to enhance a small arms control initiative and to protect its borders against the illicit trade in small arms.  Such a threat continued to pose a serious challenge, and also affected the maintenance of regional peace and security.  Ethiopia was working actively with neighbouring countries in that regard, and maintained friendly relations with neighbouring States.  He added that Ethiopia was “highly concerned” with Algeria’s behaviour, which was, among other things, supplying arms to terrorist groups.  He requested the international community to continue to condemn the acts of Algeria in unequivocal terms.

RAZA BASHIR TARAR (Pakistan) said, based on suggestions made at this meeting, there had been no concrete suggestions about how to cover the additional costs attached to some of the proposals.  Turning to national reporting, he said the templates and formats should be designed with simplicity in mind, and should include information such as measures taken, measures planned, assessments of Programme of Action implementation, and assistance needs.  Also, there was no need for Member States to get hemmed in by discussions about what meetings should be taking place in the coming years.  Pakistan believed more work could be done between meetings.

RUAIDHRI DOWLING (Ireland) said States, subregional groups and civil society were responsible for making sure the Programme of Action was implemented successfully.  The Survey of Small Arms showed national reports could be used in many ways.  The new online reporting tool was a positive step in helping States complete reporting.  Regular analysis was needed.  He also supported a proposal for a resource person tasked to manage information on implementation, which would be helpful and useful.

ODD MALME (Norway) said that if the Programme of Action was to remain a relevant forum, it was important that the impact of the Programme be evaluated.  It was necessary to take stock of the current status and measure it against the desired outcome of the process.  His Government was concerned about the low level of implementation reports presented by States and by the content in the reports.  Such reports were a central avenue in measuring the effect of the Programme of Action and for identifying challenges.  Instead of creating new mechanisms, States should strengthen current reporting mechanisms.  His delegation was also willing to discuss biennial reporting, if that increased the number and quality of reports presented by States.  Moreover, his delegation supported the use of tools and templates as mentioned by Mr. Prins this morning.

BETTY ESCORCIA (Colombia) said that the adoption of the Programme of Action in 2001 was a step forward in the lives of many people.  States had heard comments that there was a need to improve implementation, but it was also necessary to look at the current state of the problem and to see how things would stand if the Programme of Action didn’t exist.  Her delegation agreed that the Programme of Action process needed a mechanism or cycle of meetings to exchange practical experiences.  It also supported the idea of biennial reports, which would allow States to deal with issues.  Regarding the agenda of the 2011 Meeting of Experts, she said that some of those issues should be addressed during the current meeting.

LUKASZ ZIELINSKI (Poland) said to make the best use of available mechanisms it was essential to know what had been achieved and what remained to the done.  Advance naming of the chairs of future meetings was important, as was the decision on themes and issues to be discussed.  National reporting provided important data to assess implementation goals, and a two-year reporting cycle should be considered.

MARIN SIRAKOV (France) said thematic continuity between various conferences would streamline processes.  Further, improving the number and quality of States reports was essential.  Preparing an implementation report to prepare for the 2012 review conference was an excellent idea.  He recommended that a voluntary fund be established.  In view of the coming review conference, various proposals to be considered at that meeting should be agreed upon early in the process.

RODOLFO ELISEO BENITEZ VERSON ( Cuba) said his delegation supported the adoption of reasonable and practical measures geared to strengthening and making more efficient the monitoring mechanism of the Programme of Action.  That issue should be properly addressed at the Review Conference in 2012.  The monitoring mechanism must be predicated on coherence, continuity and a comprehensive integrated approach.  At present, it was based on biennial meetings, review conferences and the national reports.  In addition, the General Assembly focused on the issue annually and adopted resolutions pertaining to illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons and the question of implementation of the Programme of Action.  As such, his delegation did not think it was necessary to have additional meetings, as there were ample meetings already scheduled.  Instead, it was important to continue working to make existing meetings more efficient.

Regarding the holding of biennial meetings, Cuba did not object to such an occurrence, although he stressed that in no way should that be construed as meaning that certain issues in the Programme of Action were more important than other issues.  The Programme of Action was a single, balanced package in which all aspects were closely inter-related.  With respect to the suggestion to request the Secretary-General to submit a report to ascertain the state of implementation of the Programme of Action 10 years after its implementation, his delegation had misgivings about that proposal.  It was important for the Secretary-General to continue, as he had always done up until now, in giving his full support to the Programme of Action and its implementation.  At the same time, it was up to States — and not the Secretariat — to shoulder the responsibility of assessing how the implementation of the Programme of Action had gone over that 10-year period.  Member States had the responsibility to take the necessary measures to implement the Programme of Action.

With respect to the early designation of issues, Cuba would have no objection provided that the States might have the necessary time for consultation in order to determine which issues should be discussed, and also that the necessary leeway allowed a given issue to be included at a later stage in the process, should the issue be considered of key importance.  He added that national reports should be voluntary in nature, and his delegation would question the validity of a suggestion to have them be submitted every two years.  It did, however, agree with having a standard format, although it was important for States to have the option of reporting on what they thought was important and appropriate.

ELGANNAS ABDURRAHMAN (Libya), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said the Group looked forward to achieving consensus at the end of the meeting.  The illicit trade in small arms and was a very complex issue.  The Arab Group recognized that the phenomenon had dire consequences on national, regional and international peace and security and, therefore, the Group attached great importance to it.  Members of the Arab League had stressed in a 2001 conference that addressing the issue should not compromise international priorities in the areas of disarmament.  In addition, he said there was a need to address the root causes of conflict.  The Programme of Action to combat the illicit trade in small arms was the basis for cooperation in that regard.

DANIEL PRINS, of the Office for Disarmament Affairs and representing the United Nations Coordination Action on Small Arms (UN CASA), said boundaries between underdevelopment, conflict and war had become increasingly blurred and the uncontrolled circulation of small arms and their increasingly harmful use in conflict and non-conflict settings impeded the diverse actions requested by United Nations Member States to bolster security and development.  The Programme of Action had set out a comprehensive framework for a coordinated international response to these problems and framed States’ concerns about the humanitarian impact of these weapons.  CASA was established to meet the challenges of coordinating the small arms issues within the United Nations, bringing together twenty-two United Nations system partners covering global arms-related agreements.

However, he said States could only successfully cope with arms challenges through integrated approaches.  The ongoing arms trade treaty discussions was one example of such a comprehensive approach.  The implementation of the Programme of Action would greatly benefit from this and other all-encompassing approaches.

ANDERS BYREN, of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), said illicit trafficking and the uncontrolled spread of arms was an area of great concern.  Regarding surplus weapons, States recognized the attention needed to dispose of these arms.  The availability of arms had exacerbated ethnic and domestic conflicts.  From 2000 onwards, the OSCE had developed a set of measures to address these and other issues.  Yet, despite OSCE activities to fight the illicit trade of arms, challenges had mounted.  OSCE was now, among other things, pursuing projects and programmes on man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS), end-user certification and political deliberations on the air transport of small arms.

To follow-up on recent new ideas, the OSCE adopted an action plan with concrete measures, including those on tracing and marking.  Gaps still existed in efforts to stamp out illicit arms.  The OSCE report to this meeting included its plan of action, which could be found at the Meeting’s website.

FRED PARKER, of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) said one of the organization’s working groups focused on, among other things, the prevention of the proliferation of small arms and efforts to implement the Programme of Action.  Experiences and ideas were exchanged at meetings, with one recent gathering in Brussels promoting best practices between States, bringing together 16 States and non-governmental and regional organizations.  NATO’s school offered two courses related to the Programme of Action.  In addition, a trust fund had produced tangible results, including addressing the consequences of defence reform, and a project through which allies sponsored and implemented specific projects.  The fund also aimed to reduce stockpiles and encouraged practical applications, with thousands of arms having been destroyed to date.

Ms. SACASA, a representative of Central American Integration System (SICA), said this forum fostered new alternatives and solutions.  Central America had been suffering the consequences of the use of firearms.  Her organization had been assembling strategies to combat this scourge in a comprehensive manner from a perspective of human development.  The organization’s programmes, including gun collection and destruction, had aimed to foster a culture of peace.  Technical programmes, including a regional code of conduct for arms transfer, had led to the idea of a binding treaty on small arms in the region.  However, there was a lack of coordination among agencies, which should ideally work together in a concerted way.  Challenges remained, among them budgetary and human resource limitations.  However, projects were under way, including a tracking system showing the commitment of the States in the region.  Regional and national efforts should focus on international cooperation, with a view of shared responsibility.

JAMES VICTOR GBEHO, President of the Commission of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), aligning with statements made on behalf of the Non-Alignment Movement and the African Group, said that success would require a more progressive and coordinated implementation of the Programme of Action.   Highlighting significant achievements since the third Meeting, he noted that 11 States had, to date, ratified the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, their Ammunition and Other Related Materials -- which bans arms transfers by Member States with exception for legitimate defence and security needs, law enforcement and participation in peace support operations, and prohibits without exception arms transfer to non-State actors without importing country approval.  A Plan of Action for the Implementation of the Convention, as well as an Exemption Request Form, was adopted by the Council of Ministers during its 64th session.

The illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons in West Africa, he said, could be attributed to the incapacity of Member States to effectively control their borders – a result of a lack of appropriate equipment and personnel, in addition to low levels of cooperation and information exchange among States.  As such trafficking was carried out in tandem with drug, vehicle and human movement, efforts to improve cross-border control should involve institutions and services responsible for preventing and combating trans-border criminality.

With regard to international cooperation and assistance, the Commission undertook partnership building efforts against the proliferation of small arms which eliminated the duplication of efforts and conserved resources.  Underscoring that small arms transfer was one of the most important issues to be addressed, he noted the strong need for development and respect of agreed principles to govern the issue.  Accessibility of small arms and light weapons to non-State actors was the biggest challenge facing the region and Africa as a whole.  Therefore their transfer should be limited to States.

JOAQUIM BULE (Mozambique), speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and aligning the group with statements made on behalf of the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the issue of small arms and light weapons in each State of the SADC region reflected its varied regional history, namely arms remaining after conflicts, arms passing across borders, and arms purchased and used illegally for the perpetration of violent crime.  Despite the various origins of small arms within the region, the negative impact of the usage of those weapons represented a common threat and, therefore, required joint efforts in addressing the problem.  Since the Third Biennial Meeting of States, SADC member States had continued to implement highly successful joint arms collection and destruction operations, and had passed new, more stringent arms and ammunition legislation.

Cooperation and collaboration between SADC member States was proving a stronger contribution to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms in Africa.  In order to promote continued progress, there was an ongoing requirement to develop and promote the technical capacity that already existed within States and regional bodies.  For example, great progress had been made between SADC States regarding the harmonization of national firearms license databases.  Such a regionally harmonized system would provide a cornerstone for successful implementation of the International Tracing Instrument, through tracing of weapons across the region, the continent and beyond.  However, currently only one SADC State — South Africa — had an online database of the kind that would facilitate effective tracing, and thus the successful implementation of the International Tracing Instrument.

In addition, he said there was a pressing need for increased technical and operational capacity in the area of weapons marking.  In recognizing that one of the main restrictions to progress in implementing the Programme of Action and the International Tracing Instrument by States of the SADC was financial, he called on United Nations Member States and international organizations in a position to do so to provide further financial, as well as technical assistance, where appropriate.  He also acknowledged that States themselves were the key stakeholders in the fight against the proliferation of small arms.

ALISON AUGUST-TREPPEL, speaking on behalf of the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, said her organization had a long history of addressing illicit weapons trafficking in the Western Hemisphere.  While the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States placed the greatest effort on promoting implementation of its own firearms instrument — the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Related Materials (CIFTA) — it was widely recognized that the CIFTA and the Programme of Action shared many similarities and that the Organization of American States and the United Nations were united in their mission to eradicate illicit arms trafficking at the national, regional and international levels.

One of the key similarities between the Programme of Action and CIFTA was the focus on ensuring that adequate laws, regulations and other legislative measures were in place to combat illicit firearms manufacturing and trafficking.  As a legally binding instrument, CIFTA set forth a series of provisions that, upon ratification, States Parties must include in their national firearms laws and regulations.  CIFTA had been signed by all 34 Organization of American States member States and ratified by 30 of them.  To assist States with those legislative requirements, many of which were measures similar to those outlined in the Programme of Action, States parties had adopted various model legislations over the past 10 years on such issues as broker regulations, marking and tracing, strengthening controls at export points, and, most recently, confiscation and forfeiture of illegal firearms.  Like the Programme of Action and the International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons, CIFTA also assigned significant importance to the need for States to mark firearms at the point of manufacture and/or import, she said.

BEATRICE KIRASO, a representative of the East African Community (EAC), said the implementation of the Programme of Action should be viewed from the perspective of the elimination of practices that created fertile grounds for criminal activities.  For its part, the EAC had aimed over the last two years to enhance governance through better record keeping, arms marking and collection of surpluses and surrendered weapons, with over 20,000 arms marked and another 120,000 destroyed.  Over the last four months, the EAC had held high profile events to observe the Year of Peace for Africa.  Political support for eradicating illicit arms had been demonstrated, with States developing a sustainable response to the small arms problem through the promotion of the culture of peace and dialogue, deeply engrained in African socialism.  International cooperation remained critical to implementing the Programme of Action.  She hoped partner States would show support for these and similar efforts.

STEPHEN SINGO, speaking on behalf of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, said its projects included fighting the proliferation of small arms to improve stability in the region.  Progress made included a partnership with Regional Centre on Small Arms (RECSA), with three Member States concluding cooperation agreements on arms marking.  Outreach programmes in border areas were also making strides, as was a disarmament committee, he said.  The Conference also belonged to cross-border efforts, which had promoted security.  The fight against small arms was key to ensuring peace and security.  Member States should, among other things, address demand factors and deal with perpetrators involved with illicit arms.  Bottlenecks that still existed in the fight against small arms required continued support.

FRANCIS SANG, of the Regional Centre on Small Arms, said various projects had produced great strides, including the establishment of four national action plans, the adoption of new small arms legislation in Burundi and Rwanda, and the distribution of 31 arms marking units to twelve Member States.

EMPERATRIZ CRESPIN, a representative of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), said a public health approach was needed to prevent injuries and death from small arms and light weapons.  While the Programme of Action addressed the problems arms posed to human health, there were no specific actions outlined to address the issue.  She recommended a basic action agenda to help States gauge policy options and incorporate public health strategies into national action plans.  The Programme of Action should, among other things, refer to the need for a comprehensive supply and demand approach to control small arms and light weapons proliferation, to recognize that health and development was intricately linked, and to implement a national collection of data on gun-related deaths and related costs, she said.

ALLEN YOUNGMAN, Executive Director, Defense Small Arms Advisory Council, said that, as representatives of the legitimate small arms industry, his organization could be an integral part of the process to combat the illicit trade in those weapons.  As long as States wanted to exercise their right to self defence, legitimate defence manufacturers would continue to meet those needs.  The organization was adamantly opposed to the illegal transfer of arms, believing the industry must meet the highest possible standards for arms export licensing.  Also, in referring to “civil society”, he said he hoped that the United Nations would define that term in a manner that included all civil society, not just traditional advocacy groups.  That included organizations such as the Defense Small Arms Advisory Council, which could bring real-world experience to the process.

TED ROWE, President, World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities, said, since the programme of action was adopted, the World Forum had had two very consistent messages:  that the United Nations recognize that the vast majority of small arms in the world were legal firearms; and that the Programme of Action focused on specific solutions to the problem.  He had been disappointed that those messages seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.  There was no acknowledgement or recognition of the existence and legitimacy of legally owned and possessed firearms by the civilian population in the reports of the biennial meetings, regional meetings, expert reports or anywhere else.  For its part, the Programme of Action “lacked focus”.  He suggested that the upcoming 2011 meeting focus on addressing the illegal transfer of large numbers of military small arms and light weapons, rather than on legal civilian firearms owners.  Military small arms should be defined as those capable of fully automatic fire.  The 2012 Review Conference should also focus on the transfer of military arms.  Involvement by non-governmental organizations should be encouraged at both venues.

ROB TALLY, Executive Director, Fair Trade Group, said members of the Group believed that trade servicing the legitimate personal and sporting use of firearms must exist, even as efforts were being made to restrict the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  They also believed that failure to develop a clear definition of small arms and light weapons would only heighten confusion, especially since the primary issues of concern were in the illicit trafficking of fully automatic firearms and more powerful armaments.  Further, controlling illicit transactions should not unduly burden legitimate commercial trade.  In that respect, United States regulatory initiatives provide examples of how not to develop international regulations:  for example, to export $100 worth of firearm parts, like springs or butt stocks, exporters must pay $250 for a permit.  Also, it was misguided to place emphasis on eliminating trade in surplus or obsolete semiautomatic military firearms or parts, since many of those objects had significant collectible value.  They were also not the kinds of firearms that tended to surface in areas of conflict.

GARY MAUSER, representing the National Firearms Association of Canada, said he had a 20-year career in academic research on firearms and crime.  In his professional opinion, there was no empirical evidence to support claims that civilian access to small arms and light weapons engendered criminal or terrorist violence.  A wide variety of other factors had been found important, however:  lack of economic freedom; organized crime; non-democratic government; governmental corruption; drug trafficking; and a history of violent ethnic conflict.  Indeed, surveys showed that firearm ownership was highly concentrated among the largest and wealthiest societies, which were also the most politically stable countries in the world and typically had low levels of violence.  And even if gun bans worked, many alternative weapons were available to would-be murderers — eight decades of police-state enforcement of handgun prohibition would have kept Russian gun ownership low, yet its murder rates had long been four times higher than in the United States.  Politicians often thought that banning guns would be a quick fix, but if anything they made matters worse.  They disarmed the law-abiding, while being ignored by the violent and the criminal.

LAWRENCE RUDOPLH, President, Safari Club International, said hunters and hunting organizations provided developing countries with substantial economic benefits.  For example, in Namibia, the hunting industry and secondary services related to hunting accounted for over 4.5 per cent of the country’s total gross domestic product.  The Namibian hunting sector had also been growing at a rapid pace of 12 per cent per year over the last decade.  Additionally, throughout sub-Saharan Africa, hunting tourism generated over $200 million in revenue per year.  Most of the revenue generated by developing countries remained in the local economy, and could therefore help build economic stability that the United Nations had said would reduce violence.  Delegates to the meeting must separate the illicit weapons trade from the trade required to serve the millions of legitimate firearms users worldwide.  When regulations became barriers to carriage, hunters were much less likely to travel to hunt, and it could cripple the international hunting market.

JULIANNE VERSNEL, representing the Second Amendment Foundation, United States, said her organization considered the rights of firearm’s owners to be a natural right.  Also, much of the policy discussion surrounding the Programme of Action had been concerned with so-called “gender issues”.  As a woman who identified and empathized with women as victims, she held the belief that “you do not protect women by disarming them or those who would protect them”.  As such, delegates should avoid future policies under the Programme of Action that had the effect of taking the means away from women to defend themselves against rape, murder, mutilation or sexual enslavement.  Everyone had the right to life; inherent in the security of a person was the fundamental right of every woman to protect herself.

RICHARD PATTERSON, Managing Director, Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute, said that, as a standards-setting organization, it strongly endorsed the concept of creating standards.  But as the International Small Arms Control Standards (ISACS) develop, the Institute was concerned about adherence to basic standards-setting goals and processes.  With a few exceptions, the initial drafts were based largely on unsubstantiated and superficial assumptions, namely that more guns automatically equalled more violence, and that more gun control automatically equalled less violence.  Firearms were tools, and like any other tool could be used for harm or good.  If ISACS procedures did not examine the whole picture, it would not provide the kind of information needed to form good decisions.  Unfortunately, comments provided by the Institute at the early stages of the ISACS process had been dismissed with little more than a casual “we don’t like this idea.”  In fact, the project would only be successful if it followed the basic principles of all standards; clearly defined the scope of applicability; and was based solely on all relevant facts.  In addition, the results must be measurable and repeatable.

TIM BANNISTER, representing the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia, said tens of thousands of firearms were used by men and women in Australia, and even by youth.  They were part of the three quarters of a million of licensed, law-abiding firearm owners in that country.  They played a front-line role in protecting the native flora and fauna from introduced species, such as foxes, feral cats and feral pigs.  They were wildlife custodians and conservationists, volunteering their time and money to manage and protect animals, habitat, stock and crops from those damaging, introduced species.  Others used their firearms for sport, ranging from clay target shotgun shooting, handgun competitions and rifle competitions.  Others hunted, as many Australians wished to take control of the process in which their food was harvested and prepared.  Such activities were a far cry from the misuses and hurt caused by those using firearms and other means to seek political and financial power.  Delegates should look past prejudices and stereotypes, and should consult non-governmental organizations such as his own, to determine the common good.

A number of representatives of non-governmental organizations spoke under the umbrella of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA).

ALEX GALVEZ, of Transitions in Guatemala, said he was shot when he was a teenager, spending three years fighting illness and uncertainty and pain.  Services did not exist in his country for physical and psychological injuries.  The vast majority of survivors of armed violence did not get to speak at the United Nations, nor to demonstrate the impact light arms had had on many civilian lives.  He noted that no reference in the Programme of Action was made to civilian survivors of firearms.  To raise awareness, he suggested an analysis on the care needed for survivors, and to include survivors of armed violence in discussions, including on national commissions.  As a disabled person injured by armed violence, he said political will was needed to prevent and eliminate the negative impact of small arms and light weapons.

ILONA CARVALHO, of Igarape in Brazil, said that armed violence might be hard to define, but it was easy to recognize.  Millions of people were witnesses to the horrific consequences of armed violence every day.  Each year, more than 740,000 people died as a result of armed violence — that was at least one person a minute. Most of those people dying were killed due to small arms, especially pistols and revolvers.  The Programme of Action was an important mechanism to constructively address the problem of armed violence.  It was also clear that the factors shaping armed violence were often the very same as the causes of underdevelopment, including income and social inequality, chronic unemployment, uneven access to resources, unregulated urbanization and various forms of marginalization.  The relationship between armed violence and development was a two-way street. Not only did underdevelopment contribute to armed violence, but armed violence was also a major disabler of development. There was no safety without development, she said, and development could not be sustainable without security.

GUY LAMB, of the Institute for Security Studies of South Africa, said progress had been made in combating the illicit cross-border arms trade, including through the ECOWAS convention, developing standard operating procedures for police in Southern Africa and research, monitoring and analysing the illicit trade.  However, the transport of these weapons remained unhindered in violence-prone areas.  He called on States in these regions to enact legislation to enhance border control mechanisms and to augment inter-State collaborative processes.  Donor States should assist under-resourced States in this regard.  United Nations Security Council arms embargoes should also be respected.  As a matter of priority, he called on States to enact marking, record-keeping and tracing legislation; mark all small arms and light weapons held by States and civilians; maintain accurate records of weapons; and improve communication and information sharing between States on small arms and light weapons tracing.

JASMIN NARIO-GALACE, of the Philippine Action Network to Control Arms (PhilANCA), applauded recent progress, including the arms collection and destruction operations in Southern Africa, RECSA’s improved stockpile management projects and UNDP support in the former Yugoslavia and the former Soviet Union with arms destruction and stockpile management.  However, hundreds of thousands of people die from armed violence and non-conflict situations each year, she said.  With 12 countries earning more than $100 million a year from small arms sales, more should be done to address the needs States had outlined in their national reports to control stockpile management; dispose of surplus; trace; and mark; and, among other things, establish and maintain national coordination mechanisms.  She appealed to concerned States to take the necessary next step and talk among each other before leaving this meeting.  Combating the illegal trade of small arms was the journey of a thousand miles, but a renowned philosopher once said every journey begins with the first step.  She urged States to take that first step.

WIDAD AKRAWI, of Defend International in Iraq, said that peace lay at the core of the Programme of Action.  Experience told everyone that one of the essential elements to achieve peace, in addition to justice, equality and tolerance, was to get small arms under control — and, thus, to implement the Programme of Action.  Since its adoption, civil society peace activists had led efforts at the national, regional and international level to emphasize that the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and ammunition was a matter of life and death.  Armed violence and peace could not coexist.  It was necessary to overcome the challenges and seek practical solutions.  The culture of war must be replaced with a culture of peace.  Further, the quality of life in our world did not depend on conflict, but on our response to it.  Policymakers must continue to discover that they could not solve today’s problems with yesterday’s mindset, she said.

MICHELE PEPE, of Reseau d’Action sur les Armes Legeres of Côte d’Ivoire, said grass roots communities had raised awareness on the culture of peace and non-violence.  States and ECOWAS had supported important work with civil society to help address the problems of small arms and light weapons.  IANSA, throughout the region, had led projects, including the drafting of a convention on light arms that would be signed by 11 States this November.  In Brazil, civil society had supported a national campaign for a weapons buy-back programme.  Further, civil society delegations were taking part in this meeting, including representatives from Australia, Ghana and Togo.  It was essential that Governments treat civil society as a partner, not an enemy.  Civil society needed to be involved at many levels in finding solutions to the problems related to small arms and light weapons.

MARTHA QUINTERO, of the Peaceful Women in Colombia, said women suffered from violence and crime, some involving weapons.  Many people believed weapons protected women, but this was not so.  A woman in Colombia was shot dead by her husband, she said.  The drug trade had contributed to the 4 million small arms and light weapons in Colombia, one for every ten people.  Machismo was another problem, deadly when mixed with arms, with domestic violence often turning fatal when arms were involved.  Governments and agencies needed to research this area, which could paint a clearer picture of gun violence.  This information could also be included in national reporting, she said.

KOUKOU AKLAVON, of RASALT of Togo, said Africa welcomed the current football competition, which would benefit many daily lives of Africans.  He pointed to the fact that there was now a weapons ban in all football stadiums, complimented by IANSA’s campaign motto:  “Don’t shoot:  a world cup without guns”.  In a tragic incident in Angola, armed men attacked a bus carrying a Togo football team, killing and injuring passengers.  It was a painful reminder of the link between armed violence and football, where criminals used the sport as a means to get their messages heard.  This year, IANSA had asked World Cup football players to wear the “Don’t shoot” slogan t-shirts, including Steven Pienaar of South Africa, Sol Bamba of Côte d’Ivoire, Roque Santa Cruz of Paraguay and Gareth Barry of the United Kingdom.  With the next World Cup in 2014 in Brazil, the campaign had already started, with Carlos Tevez of Argentina calling for another World Cup without arms.

REBECCA PETERS, Director of IANSA, stressed that whatever motivation lay at the root of a conflict, whether between individuals or between communities, the availability of firearms in the immediate environment multiplied the probability of death, serious disability, or grave violations of human rights.  An assault with a gun was far more likely to result in death than an assault with any other common weapon.  Borrowing an analogy from the Public Health Network, she said that combating malaria was more effective using multiple strategies. The mosquito was the vector that carried the disease, but people were more susceptible if their underlying health was poor. Therefore, improving people’s health helped to protect them from malaria — but it was also necessary to reduce their exposure to the mosquito, for example with bed nets.  Likewise, in preventing armed violence, it was necessary to strengthen communities to build up their resistance, but also to reduce their exposure to the vector of injury, which was the gun.

She said that strong coordinated measures were needed to limit the quantities and types of small arms that could be produced, imported and sold, and to regulate the purchase, use and storage of those weapons, whether by Governments or by civilians.  Those must be underpinned by measures enabling the weapons to be tracked, removed and, if necessary, destroyed to protect public safety.  Specifically in terms of the Programme of Action, she urged Member States to consolidate and strengthen the international mechanisms and agencies that supported implementation.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.