Deputy Secretary-General Tells Security Council Central Africa Awash with Illicit Weapons, Threatening Peace, Reconciliation Processes

19 March 2010

Deputy Secretary-General Tells Security Council Central Africa Awash with Illicit Weapons, Threatening Peace, Reconciliation Processes

19 March 2010
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Deputy Secretary-General Tells Security Council Central Africa Awash


With Illicit Weapons, Threatening Peace, Reconciliation Processes

Following are Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks to the Security Council on the theme “Central Africa:  the Impact of Illicit Weapons on Peace and Security”, today, in New York:

We have long known that the flow of illicit arms to Africa is largely made possible by the secrecy that surrounds it.  We are thus grateful to the Gabonese presidency for convening a debate on this important subject in the Security Council.

The Council has often addressed conventional weapons issues, most frequently in the context of specific crises and in the consideration of arms embargoes. 

In 1999, the Council placed the issue of small arms on its agenda and adopted a presidential statement emphasizing the importance of regional cooperation in tackling the issue. 

Since then, the Council has repeatedly recognized the devastating impact of illicit weapons on international and regional peace and security, social and economic development, and on civilians, women, and children.  The Council has also stressed the need for measures to discourage arms flows in Central Africa. 

In the subregion, local demand continues to be sizeable, especially from many militia and rebel groups.  Limited national and regional capacity, porous borders and the spillover effects of conflicts in the region have impeded effective small arms control.

As a result, Central Africa is awash with illicit weapons -- exacerbating inter-communal violence, increasing cross-border crime and threatening ongoing peace and national reconciliation processes.

Illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons is never an isolated phenomenon.  Weapons trafficking in Central Africa has complex links, not only to conflict, but also to a number of other criminal activities which undermine our efforts to engender social justice, foster the rule of law and, ultimately, achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

The link between the illicit exploitation and trade of natural resources, and the illicit proliferation and trafficking of arms, has become increasingly apparent.  This, in turn, has become one of the major factors fuelling and exacerbating conflicts in Central Africa.

The primary responsibility to eradicate this illicit trade remains with States.  Measures taken by national authorities to promote disarmament and arms control programmes are commendable.  So, too, are collective efforts through the Economic Community of Central African States.  However, the challenge continues to loom large.

In this regard, allow me to make three observations.

First, peace and security in Central Africa require a strong commitment by States in the subregion, together with State suppliers of weapons,to expand their individual and collective efforts to eradicate weapons trafficking. 

Second, such efforts must include greater commitments by the States of the subregion to implement global instruments and to strengthen their capacity to identify and combat those involved in illicit brokering activities.   

These instruments include the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects; the United Nations Firearms Protocol; and the International Tracing Instrument.

We also must support the adoption of an arms trade treaty at the global level, and the implementation of community-based disarmament and confidence-building projects.

Third, the States in Central Africa should make the best possible use of United Nations tools and expertise. 

The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, for example, plays an important role in assisting States in the regulation of conventional armaments and in promoting disarmament and non-proliferation. 

The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa provides States, subregional organizations and civil society with technical advice and capacity-building programmes -- including training, legal assistance and the elaboration of regional registers and transparency instruments. 

The Secretary-General and I welcome the ministerial decision of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa to mandate the Centre to assist in drafting the subregion’s first legally binding instrument on the “control of small arms and light weapons, ammunition, explosives and equipment supporting their manufacture”.

Other urgent priorities include stockpile management, the security of weapons and ammunition, and measures to control the import, export, transit and re-transfer of weapons.  More must also be done to build national capacities to mark weapons, keep adequate records and trace illicit ones in line with international and regional standards.

It is well understood that weak regional and national regulatory and enforcement capacities in addressing illicit arms trafficking are associated with the structural causes of armed violence and conflict.

Therefore, the decisions and actions of the Standing Advisory Committee are of great significance in tackling the tools of violence, designing ways to improve subregional security, and creating the necessary conditions for sustainable development.

The Secretary-General urges the Security Council and all Member States to offer whatever assistance is needed to support States in Central Africa in achieving these goals. 

I once again commend the Government of Gabon for its leadership in bringing this issue to the Council.

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