|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Fourth Biennial Meeting of States
on Illicit Trade in Small Arms
9th & 10th Meetings (AM & PM)
Biennial Meeting on Implementation of 2001 Programme of Action against Illicit
Small Arms Trade Adopts Final Outcome Document, Concludes Session
Outcome Text Includes Sections on Illicit Trade across Borders,
Assistance, Strengthening Follow-Up, International Tracing Instrument
The Fourth Biennial Meeting of States to consider the implementation of the 2001 Programme of Action aimed at eradicating the illicit small arms trade today adopted by consensus its outcome document, as it concluded its week-long session.
Sergio Duarte, United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, praised all delegates and organizers for a successful session and for reaching a consensus on the important outcome.
Pablo Macedo (Mexico), Chairperson of the Meeting, said the final outcome document was not only balanced and powerful, but part of an ongoing dynamic process that would help in the fight against the illicit arms trade.
Indeed, the Meeting had followed many consultations and debates over the past months to try to accommodate all the different positions, he said, adding that, although not perfect, the final document reflected hearty support for the fight against the scourge of illegal weapons and how best to implement the 2001 Programme of Action. Those issues would also continue to be discussed in the General Assembly and in the governmental experts meeting in January, he said.
While some issues in the document faced lengthy discussions during the final session, Liberia’s representative echoed the sentiments of many delegates when he implored States to be flexible. Similarly, Switzerland’s representative said: “We owe it to the world to reach consensus.”
The Programme of Action, which was endorsed by United Nations Member States in 2001, establishes a global framework for curbing the illicit trade in small arms. It contains substantial agreed norms and programmes on several issues, including preventing and combating the illicit production and trafficking of small arms and light weapons; ensuring effective controls of the legal production of those weapons, their holding and transfer; weapons collection and destruction; and the control of those arms in post-conflict situations. Earlier biennial meetings were held in 2003, 2005 and 2008, with a Review Conference held in 2006.
The adoption came after a week of intense debate, on the following topics: cross-border illicit arms trade; international cooperation and assistance; strengthening follow-up mechanisms and preparations for the 2011 Experts Group meeting and the 2012 Review Conference; other issues and the identification of related priority issues and their implementation challenges and opportunities; as well as the international tracing instrument. All those topics were addressed in separate section of the outcome document.
Regarding cross-border issues, the text elaborated, among other things, that States recognized the urgent need to prevent, combat and eradicate cross-border illicit weapons trafficking, and reiterated that Governments bore the primary responsibility for it. States also, by the text, emphasized the need to enhance cooperation and coordination among customs, border controls and police authorities, within and among States, in order to make it easier for competent authorities to identify and seize small arms and light weapons illegally traded by air, sea and land.
States were also, among other things, encouraged to enact laws to strengthen border controls, and enhance cooperation at national, subregional, regional and international levels, the text stated. By the text, States recommended convening subregional, regional and interregional meetings to exchange information related to small arms trafficking.
The section on international cooperation noted that States recognized the need for close international cooperation, and should consider steps to enhance understanding of existing tools and mechanisms for addressing assistance needs and for matching needs with available resources. By the text, States also stressed the importance of the development and implementation of public awareness programmes on the problems and consequences of the illicit arms trade.
Looking forward, the text encouraged States to promote international cooperation and assistance at the national, bilateral, regional and multilateral levels. States also, by the text, identified a series of additional measures, including that States were encouraged to share knowledge and expertise on implementing the Programme of Action, to nominate national focal points and provide them with support and to recognize the role of the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations could play in assisting States.
In the section on strengthening the follow-up mechanism of the Programme of Action and preparations for the 2011 Experts Group meeting and the 2012 Review Conference, States stressed the fundamental importance of voluntary national reporting as follow-up. States also noted the need for broad participation at United Nations Programme of Action meetings, including the provision by those States in a position to do so, on a voluntary basis, of assistance for that purpose.
The text also said States should make every effort to produce, on a voluntary basis, a comprehensive report on their implementation of the Programme of Action every two years, timed to coincide with biennial meetings of States and review conferences. States in a position to do so were encouraged to use the new reporting template prepared by the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs. In order to increase engagement of States in the Programme of Action process, States were, by the text, encouraged to consider the timely establishment of a voluntary sponsorship fund through which financial assistance could be provided, upon request, to States otherwise unable to participate in Programme of Action meetings.
Regarding other issues and the identification of related priority issues and their implementation challenges and opportunities, the document included an itemized list, including ammunition, strengthening regulatory control frameworks, illicit and unlicensed manufacturing, demand and supply issues, special needs of women, youth, children and vulnerable groups, the gender perspective, enhanced partnerships with civil society and the private sector, security sector and governance reform, and private security providers.
By the text, States emphasized the importance of promoting dialogue and a culture of peace by encouraging education and public awareness programmes on the problems of the illicit trade in small arms in all its aspects, involving all sectors of society.
Also included in the final outcome document was an annex on the International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons, which States agreed on yesterday. The annex included sections on implementation, international cooperation and the way forward. In the annex, States emphasized the need for greater practical steps to increase cooperation, including the circulation of national marking practices and the identification of points of contact and more regular communication with those contacts.
Pointing the way forward, States were encouraged to, among other things, use the United Nations template when reporting on their implementation of the Instrument, to support the roles of the United Nations in promoting the Instrument and INTERPOL in assisting in the implementation of the Instrument, to strengthen efforts taken by regional organizations to support the Instrument’s implementation, as well as enhance bilateral, regional and international cooperation. The text also mentioned that States recognized the important role civil society played in promoting the Instrument’s full implementation.
On the consideration of the draft final document, statements were made by the representatives of Iran, Iraq, United Republic of Tanzania, Peru, Spain (on behalf of the European Union), Brazil, Syria, India, Cuba, Mexico, Colombia, New Zealand, Guatemala, Egypt, Senegal, Dominican Republic, Ghana, Venezuela, Morocco, Algeria, United Kingdom, Sierra Leone, Israel, Panama, Australia, Nigeria, South Africa, Turkey, Canada, Indonesia, Libya and Mexico.
Mr. Macedo also announced that Jim McLay of New Zealand was nominated as Chairperson of the upcoming meeting of governmental experts in 2011.
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