Human Cost of Illicit Flow of Small Arms, Light Weapons Stressed in Security Council Debate
Human Cost of Illicit Flow of Small Arms, Light Weapons Stressed in Security Council Debate
Speakers Call for Effective Management of Deadly Materiel
Underscoring the human suffering caused by the widespread availability of small arms and light weapons in conflict zones at an all-day open debate in the Security Council today, speakers called for the urgent management of such deadly materiel through national action, implementation of treaties and strengthened international cooperation.
“Small arms do not only make easy the taking and maiming of lives, but also kill economies and the social bonds on which every kind of collective institution and progress rely,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein said following Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s opening remarks. Denial of education and health, criminality, illicit plundering of natural resources, decreased trade and investment, violence against women and girls, gang violence and the collapse of the rule of law were facilitated by widespread access to the weapons.
“These are the weapons of the easy kill: the most portable, most easily accessible, most casual instruments of death — even a small child can, with its tiny muscles, vanquish a life,” he said, while noting that it was usually the most vulnerable, including children, that were killed. The worst human cruelty was also assisted by the availability of arms. In that way, arms profiteering was the partner of war crimes.
Mr. Ban, introducing his latest report on the issue (document S/2015/289), said that the widespread availability of weapons was a major factor in the over 250 conflicts of the past decade, leading to more than 50,000 deaths each year and record levels of displacement. “Deny access to illegal weapons and ammunition, and you deny criminals, armed groups and extremists a central means to perpetrate violence intimidation and harm,” he stated.
Among the complex causes of conflict, weapons could be most clearly addressed, he noted. “Guns can be licensed, marked or confiscated; ammunition can be tracked, removed or destroyed; and depots can be guarded, cleared or secured,” he said.
Both Mr. Ban and Mr. al Hussein pointed to the hope for better management of small arms provided by the coming into force of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). They called for its universal accession and genuine implementation. In addition, they pointed to a need for United Nations operations to incorporate assistance for arms management into their activities.
Following their statements, the president of the Côte d’Ivoire chapter of the West Africa Action Network on Small Arms, Karamoko Diakité, recounted the terror he experienced after an electoral dispute led to the anarchic distribution of small arms and ammunition by some political and district leaders, after those weapons had entered his country in violation of the arms embargo. Thousands were killed and the total cost was beyond estimation.
“We were terrorized for days, hunted like animals, without food, without water, without receiving help, constantly living in fear of being killed,” he said. Groups of young, lawless offenders in possession of arms would not hesitate to take a life or to indulge in all forms of abuse on a terrorized and paralysed population, particularly on women and girls.
Arms had also poured into the region after the fall of Muammar Qadhafi in Libya and were feeding terrorist movements in Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon, he said. Advocating mechanisms to stem the flow of such weapons, he, too, urged accession to the ATT.
After Mr. Diakité’s presentation, some 60 speakers took the floor, with most emphasizing the devastating impact of small arms and light weapons on populations and their socioeconomic condition in conflict areas in their regions and around the world. Most called for increased international cooperation to stem the problem, with many urging implementation of the ATT and of management mechanisms that supported registry and monitoring measures.
Some speakers stressed the importance of differentiating between legitimate and illicit trade in weapons. The representative of the United States stressed, in that context, that nations had the right to defend themselves and their citizens and that the lawful and appropriate manufacture and purchase of small arms must be respected. However, he stressed, such arms should never be allowed to be diverted.
Others insisted on the need to completely stop the flow of arms to non-State actors, with some speaking about the effects on Syria, and regretting that this issue was not included in a resolution that failed to come out of negotiations in time for the meeting. Venezuela’s representative stated: “The transfer of conventional weapons to non-State actors must end, whether they were so-called democratic opposition groups or militias. The Council must adopt a decisive resolution that clearly prohibited the transfer of arms and ammunition to all such groups. We cannot have a two-faced approach to this,” he said.
The representative of the Russian Federation said that the proposed resolution had ignored a variety of his country’s suggestions. It also contained language that infringed on the sovereignty of States by calling for United Nations missions to have arms control responsibilities, while, he stressed, the main obligation for controlling the proliferation of small arms and light weapons fell on States.
The representative of Lithuania, which had proposed the new resolution, said it had focused on practical steps to prevent illicit transfers, making significant additions to the previous resolution 2117 (2013). She called on all delegations to build on the evolving consensus to finalize what she called an important text.
“We can make a difference in the lives of those women, those widows, those girls and boys, those elderly and those displaced that often have no other recourse, no other defences than the resolve and determination of the international community to act on their behalf,” she said. “We should. And we must.”
Also speaking today were the representatives of China, Malaysia, Jordan, Chad, Nigeria, New Zealand, France, Spain, United Kingdom, Angola, Chile, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Colombia, Iraq, Romania, Brazil, Slovenia, Mexico, Sweden, Botswana, Pakistan, Japan, Kazakhstan, Belgium, South Africa, Mozambique, Israel, Switzerland, Austria, Slovakia, India, Indonesia, Algeria, Germany, Italy, Kenya, Paraguay, Republic of Korea, Finland, Croatia, Moldova, Australia, Morocco, Netherlands, Armenia, Ukraine, Argentina, Egypt, Serbia, Thailand, Montenegro, Benin, Ireland and Turkey.
The Permanent Observer of the African Union and the Head of the Delegation of the European Union also spoke.
The representatives of the Russian Federation and Ukraine took the floor for a second time.
The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 4:55 p.m.
BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that the widespread availability of small arms and light weapons was a factor in the over 250 conflicts of the past decade, leading to more than 50,000 deaths each year and record levels of displacement. Civilians, including children, suffered the most. The diversion of weaponry, through poor management, allowed rebels, gangs, criminal organizations, pirates, terrorist groups and insurgents to bolster their firepower.
The recent entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), he said, laid the foundation for a global framework of arms transfer controls. It required exporting States Parties to ensure that their exports would not be used to violate arms embargoes, fuel conflict, facilitate terrorism or violate international law. He encouraged all Member States to accede to the Treaty and to faithfully implement it.
His report, he said, stressed the need to ensure that the use of weapons and ammunition by security forces conformed with commitments under such treaties and instruments, including safe storage, enforcement of arms embargoes and cooperation with United Nations missions tasked with identification, tracing and stockpile management. Member States contributing troops and police could assist by deploying personnel with the relevant expertise. Greater efforts to accelerate the exchange of operational information on arms-trafficking were also needed. In all such areas, the tested standards and guidelines of the United Nations should be utilized, augmented by good practices developed by States. The monitoring of ammunition, in particular, required far more attention.
Among the complex causes of conflict, weapons might be the simplest to address since they were physical commodities, he said. “Guns can be licensed, marked or confiscated; ammunition can be tracked, removed or destroyed; and depots can be guarded, cleared or secured,” he noted. “Deny access to illegal weapons and ammunition and you deny criminals, armed groups and extremists a central means to perpetrate violence, intimidation and harm. This must be our common goal.”
ZEID RA’AD AL HUSSEIN, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, noted that the devastation caused by small arms never failed to elicit unanimous declarations of dismay, but States then push for weak management regimes. “The reason is clear,” he said: “The trade in small arms is a multi-billion-dollar business.” However, the human and economic cost loomed even larger.
“These are the weapons of the easy kill: the most portable, most easily accessible, most casual instruments of death — even a small child can, with its tiny muscles, vanquish a life. In war, however appallingly, it is often the child that receives the bullet.” The most vulnerable, those who could not flee conflict, were often the primary victims of arms-fuelled conflict, and inexplicable human cruelty was assisted by the availability of arms. Arms profiteering, he stressed, was the partner of war crimes.
The contrast was breathtakingly stark, he said, between the comfortable profits of the weapons brokers and the victims of their use. “Small arms do not only make easy the taking and maiming of lives, but also kill economies and the social bonds on which every kind of collective institution and progress rely,” he stated. Denial of education and health, criminality, illicit plundering of natural resources, decreased trade and investment, violence against women and girls, gang violence and the collapse of the rule of law were also facilitated.
He called the entry into force of the ATT a source of hope in that bleak landscape, if it was widely acceded to and implemented genuinely, particularly articles 6 and 7, which provided for the human rights standards that were at the heart of the Treaty. The Council should continue to strongly support the ATT and should mandate operations to build implementation capacity into their activities. He further supported consideration of the suggestion of his predecessor, Navi Pillay, to make a condition of each large arms sale the funding of a small human rights monitoring team, and other creative thinking about this serious problem.
KARAMOKO DIAKITÉ, President of the West African Network on Small Arms, recounted his first-hand experience of being threatened by armed individuals in his native Côte d’Ivoire. “We were terrorized for days, hunted like animals, without food, without water, without receiving help, constantly living in fear of being killed,” he said, describing his experience with the armed men who were acting out after being denied Ivoirian citizenship. “Where do these weapons and their ammunition come from, these weapons that enable all this violence all this suffering?”, he asked. He had experienced the consequences of the collapse of Government control, where power fell to groups of young, lawless offenders, who had no difficulty getting a hold of arms and ammunition, and who, without any reason, would not hesitate to take a life or to indulge in all forms of abuse on a terrorized and paralysed population, particularly on women and girls.
An electoral dispute in Côte d’Ivoire had led to a strong anarchic distribution of small arms and ammunition by some political and district leaders, he said. Those weapons and their ammunition had entered the country in violation of a United Nations arms embargo from neighbouring countries, as well as trafficking circuits. The cost in human life was well over 3,000 and the total cost to the country was beyond estimation. “The ease of access to weapons and ammunition acquired by illicit means, by leakages from stockpiles, from military and police stock, and even by local manufacturing, were the main factors in this tragic toll,” he said. Similarly, illegal weapons and ammunition coming from the abandoned arsenals after the fall of Qadhafi in Libya started to pour into the region and presently continued to feed terrorist movements in Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon. As a consequence, democratic institutions were being destabilized and organized crime was spreading rapidly.
The international community should urgently mobilize to counter the problem of illicit weapons and ammunition, and should act quickly to curb the proliferation of such weapons in Africa, he said. It was more necessary than ever that Member States be encouraged to implement the United Nations Plan of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons and the ATT. Member States must do all they could to ensure that they were meeting all relevant international obligations and commitments to control the movement and misuse of small arms and light weapons, and to stem the flood of arms into conflict zones. They must do more to enhance and strengthen international cooperation and assistance. They should ensure that all peacekeeping operations included, as fundamental to their mandates, the need to prevent and combat small arms and light weapons proliferation and misuse. They should also support civil society in that regard. Finally, they should actively promote and support a full role for women as participants and decision-makers in addressing the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons.
LIU JIEYI (China) said that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, as well as the onset of new technology, had created a dangerous global situation. Political and diplomatic means should be used to resolve conflict, and efforts should be stepped up for peacekeeping and post-conflict operations so as to stop the illicit trade at the root. The United Nations should have a leadership role in that fight. All Member States should implement the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, he stressed, noting that the second open-ended meeting on the Programme of Action should create new impetus. Further, supply sources should be interrupted, States should adopt responsible policies on arms trade, and domestic laws should be strengthened to prevent small arms and light weapons from falling into the illicit trade. All law enforcement agencies should strengthen their cooperation and contact with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) to increase the practical exchange of information to prevent terrorists and those involved in transnational organized crime from accessing such arms and weapons. China had always opposed the illegal trade of small arms and light weapons, and took a prudent approach to the legal trade. “We do not transfer arms to countries or regions under United Nations arms embargos or to non-State actors,” he said. Strong national measures were also in place to prevent the diversion of weapons. China was ready to join the rest of the international community in an “unremitting effort” to stop the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and their abuse.
PETR ILIICHEV (Russian Federation) said that his country shared the concern about the growing proliferation of small arms and light weapons which were used by terrorists and illegal armed groups. To prevent those weapons from reaching the black market, Member States must implement the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons. Today, it remained the only specialized international document to prevent the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons. At the same time, the potential of the programme was far from being met, and much remained to be done for its implementation. A proposed approach by his country on strengthening controls over small arms and light weapons would help to lower the risk of their proliferation and diversion. That approach included measures to strictly regulate broker activities, and to end pirated production, among other elements. However, those measures had hardly been included in the Council resolution that was being drafted, which the Russian Federation would not be able to support in its current form. The authors of that text had ignored Russian proposals, and the result lacked balance. Moreover, the draft contained a number of substantive innovations that infringed on the sovereignty of States, notably stating that missions of the United Nations could have mandates including arms control. The main responsibility for controlling the proliferation of small arms and light weapons fell on States. In its current form, the draft resolution could also pave the way for “double standards” in the future.
RAMLAN IBRAHIM (Malaysia) encouraged the Council to focus on small arms and light weapons as the main cause of death in armed conflicts, instead of focusing solely on non-proliferation. The apparent ease in which those weapons were obtained through illicit methods continued to exacerbate and prolong armed conflicts and post-conflict situations. The proliferation of inexpensive and light-weight small arms and light weapons in conflict regions contributed to the recruitment of children as combatants. He called on the Council to address the impact of those weapons on children in armed conflict in a more comprehensive manner. Since marking and tracing of illicit small arms and light weapons continued to be limited, he said, more capacity-building was needed, especially on physical security and stockpile management, calling for increased facilitation of technology transfer to developing States.
DINA KAWAR (Jordan) said that the illicit trade in small arms must be stemmed in addition to halting the arms race between States and their regular transfers, which also had many terrible consequences on populations, as well. Diverted arms were a particularly terrible threat, and were used by terrorists and criminals and have led to the proliferation of conflicts, with multiplication of suffering, most notably among women and children. States suffering from the consequences must be assisted in varied ways to overcome the impacts, in addition to receiving help to curb the phenomenon. In addition, decisive laws were needed to stem the global trade and relevant treaties must be implemented. Border security must be strengthened. Her country had been working on the issue, but the matter was global.
MAHAMAT ZENE CHERIF (Chad) said his country had been long devastated by the effects of small arms and light weapons, suffering widespread death, atrocities and displacement. It was critical to develop global and national mechanisms to address the problem and counter diversion of arms. Proper use, management and stockpile security must be ensured. His country had set up a national disarmament commission that gathered illegally traded arms throughout the territory, bolstered by an awareness-raising campaign and stepped-up border controls, in cooperation with neighbouring countries. Chad had also signed the ATT. Effective measures must be taken to prevent unscrupulous profiteering from arms sales. He condemned in particular the transfer of arms in violation of national sovereignty. Non-State actors were the worst abusers of arms and all States must commit to ending illicit flows of arms to them; perpetrators must be held to account. He called on the Secretary-General to draw greater attention to the problem.
U. JOY OGWU (Nigeria), noting the plague of violence — much of it committed by extremists, which was facilitated by the easy availability of small arms and light weapons — stressed that a more dynamic approach to the elimination of the illicit flows must be applied. Concrete, comprehensive and effective measures were needed, particularly in Africa. Her country had been consistent in insisting on a regional approach, and several regional mechanisms had resulted. She called on Member States of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to work diligently on ending a range of practices that allowed transfers to non-State actors. Global, practical measures were needed, along with minimizing other root causes of conflict and fostering non-violent settlement of conflicts. As one of the first countries to accede to the ATT, she urged more States, particularly large arms producers, to do so.
GERARD VAN BOHEMEN (New Zealand) said firearms were a weapon of first resort in many countries; their presence and use could tear the fabric of society, threaten the security of a country and destabilize a region. Welcoming international efforts to control the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, including the ATT, he regretted the lack of similar agreements on other disarmament negotiations. He expressed hope the Council would adopt a new resolution aimed at encouraging enhanced support from United Nations agencies to host countries to counter illicit transfers and the destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons, among others. He expressed concern over disagreement regarding the language referring to illicit transfers to non-State actors, which was not included in the previous text. Since none of the key arms-exporting protagonists could claim a “clean record”, he added, their positions should not threaten to subvert the larger gains the resolution would represent for the wider United Nations membership.
FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France), associating himself with the European Union, said that today’s debate was based on the stark fact that some 800 million small arms and light weapons were in circulation around the world and were responsible for 90 per cent of victims of armed conflict. The phenomenon was constantly evolving, and the illicit trafficking of those weapons was a challenge to development in many fragile States. France was aware of its responsibilities as an arms-exporting country. Stressing the need to implement the still non-binding Programme of Action, he went on to say that France had been among the first States to promote the ATT, which was both “commanding and innovative”. The Treaty triggered, for the first time, the responsibility of exporting States, and banned the trade of arms when there was a risk of genocide. His country was proud to be among the first to sign and ratify the Treaty, and encouraged others to do the same. Furthermore, the European Union had long adopted common measures against stockpiling small arms and light weapons and a position on the brokering of small arms. He welcomed the deliberation in the Security Council which had led to the adoption of resolution 2117 (2013) and efforts to adopt a new resolution. The report of the Secretary-General on small arms and light weapons contained additional recommendations that would need to be considered, he said.
DAVID PRESSMAN (United States) welcomed increased attention to the stockpiling, illicit transfer and abuse of small arms and light weapons. Addressing the scope of those weapons, he said that a conservative estimate put their trade at $1 billion annually, with black markets accounting for an additional $200 million. Too often, they were being used by children too young, too vulnerable, abused or exploited. The impact and immense misery could be seen in many countries around the world. For example, weapons from Libya alone had been used in Gaza, Egypt, Somalia and many other countries. “We have seen their deadly toll,” including the targeting of civilians based on race or ethnicity. Just three months ago, the Security Council had deplored the conveyance of arms into Darfur, but little had changed since. Stockpile security and management must be addressed, he said, noting that his country was a leader in stockpile destruction and management. The United States also continued to cooperate with law enforcement agencies around the world to trace illicit weapons. More robust enforcement of United Nations embargoes and sanctions regimes was necessary. Currently, bogus end-use certifications and other diversion techniques were used to bring arms into the black market. Nations had the right to defend themselves and their citizens; small arms and light weapons were often manufactured and purchased lawfully and appropriately. That must be respected. However, they must never be allowed to be diverted. He, therefore, supported the resolution being drafted by Lithuania, and encouraged others to do the same. “The misery wreaked by the illicit transfer of small arms deserves our attention,” he said, adding that his country was committed to the collective goal of ensuring a more secure world.
ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain), associating himself with the European Union, said that small arms and light weapons caused the highest number of deaths in modern times. One of the causes of the increase in terrorism today was the increase in the trade in small arms and light weapons. The victims of the illicit trade were civilians, in particular in areas where the State was the weakest or where borders were far from State control. Children and women were particularly affected, as victims of sexual violence, child soldiers or even human shields. The solution to those problems lay with States, which needed to do more to better combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. A new resolution by the Security Council was appropriate as it would give continuation to its resolution 2117 (2013) and would be more effective in preventing the access of terrorists to small arms and light weapons, resulting in a more secure world.
RAFAEL DARÍO RAMIREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela) said that massive diversions of weapons had exacerbated conflicts and violations of human rights and helped cause the collapse of the rule of law in many areas. He recounted what he called the staggering numbers involved, particularly in the Middle East and northern Africa. States must strengthen cooperation mechanisms to allow tracing of arms and ammunition and abide by all international obligations. The distribution of arms to non-State actors in Syria and elsewhere stoked violence, he stated, stressing that there was only a thin line between non-State groups and terrorist groups. The transfer of conventional weapons to non-State actors must be ended, whether they were so-called democratic opposition groups or militias. The Council must adopt a decisive resolution that clearly prohibited transfer of arms and ammunition to all such groups. “We cannot have a two-faced approach to this,” he said.
MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom), describing the huge extent of global arms sales, said that the need for collective action to control the proliferation of small weapons was clear. Arms management was a high priority for his country, which supported proper storage and removal mechanisms, the lack of which he maintained had created havoc in Libya. The United Kingdom also championed the ATT. The core functions of the Treaty must be clarified in a way that made them possible to implement at the upcoming conference of States parties. Underlining the impact of small arms, in particular on women and children, he added that women could play a key role in combating the illicit transfer and misuse of small arms, at the grass-roots and global levels.
ISMAEL ABRÃAO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) underlined the serious consequences of allowing access to small arms and light weapons by non-State actors. Such supplies fuelled terrorism and criminal networks, he said, phenomena that Angola has experienced at various times. He called on the Council and the entire international community to clearly oppose the furnishing of small arms to non-State groups, as in their hands they were weapons of massive destruction. He emphasized the leading role of the United Nations on the issue, but also pointed to the important part to be played by regional organizations. Noting that his country belonged to the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), he said that both were active in working to eliminate the proliferation of small arms. He appealed to the Council to adopt a resolution that addressed the urgent matter of transfers of small arms and light weapons to non-State actors.
CRISTIÁN BARROS MELET (Chile) said that his country supported a robust offensive against the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. It further supported the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, and urged Member States to continue to implement it and to adopt legally binding instruments on marking, tracking and brokering. A key concern was the impact of small arms and light weapons on civilians in conflict areas. Those weapons posed a serious threat to societies, enabling killing, maiming, rape, torture and the conscription of child soldiers. The uncontrolled accumulation and proliferation of those weapons tore the social fabric and led to a climate of impunity. Indeed, the issue cut across all themes of the Council’s work. Calling on all States to protect their populations against the illicit trade and trafficking in small arms and light weapons, he said that the Council could be enriched by an ongoing discussion of the issue. Regarding the resolution being drafted by Lithuania, his delegation felt that it was important to refer to the transfer of small arms and light weapons to non-State groups, given their impact on civilian populations. “This Council cannot remain aloof to the serious consequences of the trade in small arms and light weapons on civilians, including women and children,” he stressed.
RAIMONDA MURMOKAITĖ (Lithuania), Council President, speaking in her national capacity, said the illicit trade and spread of such weapons had led to 500,000 deaths every year, forced displacement, rape, child recruitment by armed groups and the devastation of men, women and children in communities around the world. Since the Council’s last open debate on the topic, major advances had been made, including the entry into force of the ATT. Yet, steps were urgently needed to put resolution 2117 (2013) into practice. Underlining the United Nations’ fundamental aim to protect human beings, she said all of its tools, including peacekeeping operations and sanctions committees, should be wielded together to work as one in fighting the illicit arms trade. The Council should become more open with regard to implementing embargoes by involving neighbouring States and regional actors and should also contribute effectively to the implementation of the ATT.
For its part, Lithuania had proposed the adoption of a new Council resolution that would focus on practical steps with regard to preventing the illicit transfer of small arms, making significant additions to resolution 2117 (2013), she said. After holding intense consultations and bilateral discussions, all delegations should build on newly forced consensual elements and to continue engaging in good faith and flexibility to quickly conclude negotiations on that important text. “We can make a difference in the lives of those women, those widows, those girls and boys, those elderly and those displaced that often have no other recourse, no other defences than the resolve and determination of the international community to act on their behalf,” she said. “We should. And we must.”
RICARDO ROSA CHUPANY, Deputy Minister for Direction of Arms Control of the Ministry of Interior and Police of the Dominican Republic, described the devastating effects of the excessive proliferation of small arms and light weapons, as well as the effect on the development and crime in his country. Efforts to control firearms had, therefore, borne significant fruit in those areas, with a marked reduction in serious crimes in particular. His country did not produce firearms, and since 2006, had banned their import, had created marking mechanisms and was developing a comprehensive possession policy. Thousands of weapons had been confiscated and destroyed. The country had also ratified the ATT in a timely manner, showing the commitment to work seriously on international approaches to the matter.
TETE ANTONIO, Permanent Observer of the African Union to the United Nations, said that, out of the 500 million illicit small arms and light weapons in circulation worldwide, more than 100 million were in Africa. Irresponsible trade and diversion, porous borders between countries and the absence of effective measures to control the illicit proliferation increased the number of those arms. The availability of the weapons consolidated the existence of many non-State actors, including insurgents, armed gang members, pirates and terrorists. Echoing the position expressed by the three African non-permanent Council members, he regretted that the resolution adopted did not address non-State actors. The common African position on the ATT explicitly prohibited the transfer of conventional weapons to them. At the regional level, mechanisms to control the circulation, transfer and use of small arms and light weapons in Africa had been established. For example, he noted collaboration with Germany to develop and launch a project focused on enhancing physical security and stockpile management in the Sahel region. The problem of illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons required, among others, reinforcing the capacity to regulate compliance with existing international and regional instruments.
FERNANDO CARRERA CASTRO (Guatemala), recalling that resolution 2117 (2013) was the first of its kind, stressed that the Council, more than any other forum, had been witness to the effects of the scourge of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. The illicit trafficking in arms affected civilian populations, including women and children, most severely; their proliferation continued at an “alarming” rate. Addressing that complex phenomenon must highlight the role of regional and sub-regional organizations. Guatemala supported the resolution being drafted and hoped that it would be adopted soon. He agreed with the recommendations of the Secretary-General that new approaches were needed to restrict the flows of small arms and light weapons. As his report pointed out, given the traceability of consumer products, the inclusion or non-inclusion of weapons in tracing programmes seemed to be a political question rather than a technical one. He also noted that the use of new technologies could be considered for the management of stockpiles. The common objective should be to curb the overproduction of all types of small arms and light weapons.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING, Head of the European Union Delegation, said that, as small arms and light weapons remained the most frequently used in the majority of recent conflicts, they presented a major challenge to the international community. Council resolution 2117 (2013) represented a “major step” forward in international cooperation on arms control by bringing together a wide range of tools and actions for the Council, Member States, United Nations entities and intergovernmental, regional and subregional organizations to prevent and combat the illicit transfer and trade of those weapons. The European Union had a number of concerns, among them the need to include ammunition as part of a comprehensive approach to arms control and to mark weapons upon production and in existing stockpiles.
The diversion of those weapons was another tremendous problem as was poor security and management, with the international community still lacking monitoring and diagnostic capacity, he said. For its part, the European Union was funding the iTrace project, which provided verified, on-the-ground data on illicit trade routes of diverted or trafficked conventional weapons. Very relevant for the work of the Council’s sanctions committees, the project aimed to support the implementation of the ATT. Echoing the Secretary-General’s call, he said States should make full use of INTERPOL’s iArms Illicit Arms Records and Tracing Management System.
MIGUEL CAMILO RUIZ BLANCO (Colombia) said that his country had suffered the terrible impact of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons for many years. That trade was a phenomenon that did not respect borders, and was connected to transnational organized crime, the drug trade and other nefarious activities. Colombia had begun to request that the topic of small arms and light weapons be included on the agenda of the General Assembly, which had led to the adoption of the Programme of Action. His delegation had also raised the topic in the Council in August 2001, during its presidency, when a presidential statement on small arms and light weapons had been approved. Colombia had also participated in the recent work of States to adopt the ATT, defending the position that small arms and light weapons should be included in that agreement. At the domestic level, Colombia had a number of relevant controls and regulations built into its Constitution. While the international community had developed the necessary instruments to combat the illicit trade, a lack of political will to implement them meant that the scope of the problem was still alarming.
MOHAMED ALI ALHAKIM (Iraq) said that the phenomena of smuggling, trade and trafficking of small arms and light weapons was a major challenge facing societies. The international community was at a “decisive and delicate crossroads” given the crimes perpetrated by terrorist groups. It was, therefore, necessary to redouble efforts to curb the illicit trade in those weapons, especially in the Middle East, where they destabilized countries and threatened civilian populations. Special attention must be accorded to small arms and light weapons being used by the Islamic State in its indiscriminate attacks. In light of that, the Council had adopted several resolutions to prevent that entity from continuing its crimes. He called on all States to stop arming and supporting terrorist groups. Since the adoption of resolution 2117 (2013), the Iraqi Government had adopted legislative and practical steps at all levels to curb the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, in line with all United Nations resolutions. He also urged international partners to support capacity-building in developing countries upon their request.
SIMONA MIRELA MICULESCU (Romania), aligning with the European Union, said that the international community must continue to mobilize and fight illicit small arms and light weapons. At the same time, international efforts to regulate their trade were not aimed at constraining the right of States to defend themselves and to use small arms and light weapons for legitimate purposes and in a responsible manner. Romania had ratified the ATT and strongly believed that arms export control regimes were essential tools for preserving international and regional peace and stability, as well as for enabling sustainable development. “Greater responsibility in transfers of small arms and light weapons is needed to ensure effective prevention and destabilizing accumulation and misuse of such weapons,” she said. Romanian policy on small arms and light weapons was fully in line with Council resolutions, as well as other international and regional measures, and its export control legislation had been in place since 1999. Transparency in armaments was an effective confidence-building measure that could also help to assess if excessive or destabilizing accumulation of arms was taking place, she went on, adding that the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms was a practical and important tool in that respect.
ANTONIO DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA (Brazil) supported United Nations activities to combat the risks associated with the uncontrolled spread of small arms and light weapons, but stressed that the legitimate right to self-defence of States must be kept in mind. The way such weapons were addressed in conflict and non-conflict situations must also be clearly differentiated to determine what cases fell within the purview of the Council. When not related to a specific conflict situation, questions related to use of such arms should be discussed in the Assembly in the framework of the Programme of Action to combat the illicit trade. In addressing the matter, the Council should first emphasize greater coordination among existing initiatives on the ground and strengthen the capacity of national authorities to fulfil their responsibilities. Practical measures for registry and reporting of arms and military expenditures played an important role. The Arms Trade Treaty, which his country was in process of ratifying, could also strengthen control, he said, regretting, however, that it did not include a clear prohibition on arms transfers to unauthorized non-State actors, on which the Council should also take a strong stance. He renewed Brazil’s call for an immediate halt in arms provision to all parties in Syria. At the same time, he also called for the Council to firmly address nuclear disarmament.
ANDREJ LOGAR (Slovenia), associating himself with the European Union, said with a view to the stark realities, including the 250 conflicts that had affected all regions over the last decade, the debate should try to answer fundamental questions about the roles of Member States and the United Nations and the Council in improving the dire situation. Member States could improve national export control mechanisms and dialogue with armament industries. As many in arms producers were not fully aware of the possible consequences of undesired end-users, industry representatives should participate in the first Conference of States Parties of the Arms Trade Treaty to be held in Mexico in August. States could also support international projects such as security sector reform and adopt appropriate national legislation. In closing, he said that more attention should be paid to the Council’s sanctions and embargoes.
JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico) urged Member States to analyse the Secretary-General’s report to better combat the illicit arms trade. With the Programme of Action and the ATT being the only relevant international instruments in that regard, efforts needed to be redoubled to implement them. The devastating humanitarian consequences of the illegal arms trade must be stopped. Stockpiling weapons was another concern, he said, adding that the United Nations should adopt concrete measures to prevent violations of arms embargoes established by the Council. The Treaty, the first of its kind to establish a legal framework and accountability, had been signed by 130 States and ratified by 67, he said, adding that his Government’s commitment to regulating the arms trade could be seen in various ongoing efforts, including hosting the first Conference of States Parties to the instrument.
PER THÖRESSON (Sweden), associating himself with the European Union, said the timely debate emphasized the need to mainstream the issue into the Council’s agenda. In discussions, there should be a greater focus on ammunitions with a view to preventing the misuse of existing stocks and as an item to be included in the Programme of Action. Efforts against the misuse and illicit transfer of arms were paramount to rebuilding peaceful societies, and international cooperation and assistance in that regard were essential. Since weapons affected men, women and children differently, it was important to address male social roles that, in many cases, shaped the phenomenon of armed violence. Women must also participate in combating the illicit arms trade. The ATT was a “giant step forward”, demonstrating that political support could bridge traditional divides and lead to real progress. In addition, for the first time in a binding international instrument, gender-based violence was included as a factor to be considered.
NKOLOI NKOLOI (Botswana), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed hope that today’s debate would lead to concrete recommendations to enhance human security at all levels. In that effort, he urged implementation of previous Council resolutions on the issue. His country was experiencing illicit circulation of small arms that led to an increase in criminal activities, exacerbated by porous borders in the region. The destruction of surplus and seized weapons was a starting point for reducing the amount of arms that could be diverted to illicit use. His country had entered into bilateral framework agreements with neighbouring countries to address such issues, which had so far had a positive effect. He pledged Botswana’s continued cooperation in implementing programmes and identifying new challenges and solutions to close gaps in arms control.
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said the nexus between organized crime, drug-trafficking and the illegal arms trade added a layer of complexity. To address that issue, arms needed to be regulated through enhanced controls and improved standards for their transfer. Enforcement of arms embargoes imposed by the Council, and effective marking and increased cooperation in tracing weapons were necessary. Addressing the issue of demand meant dealing with unresolved disputes, root causes of conflicts, breeding grounds for terrorism and factors behind the rise of organized crime. In addition, arms acquisition by States, motivated by security needs, could not be delinked from their production and sale, which was driven by profit and politics. “It remains a grim irony that weapons, which propel and sustain conflict, come from areas or regions that enjoy peace”, she said. Only four countries account for two thirds of global arms exports, while major importers were developing countries.
YOSHIFUMI OKAMURA (Japan) said his country would continue its steady efforts to tackle the illicit arms trade, including tracing efforts. Even more important were preventing those arms from breaching national borders and stopping their flow, he said, citing examples of weapons fuelling ethnic conflicts in the Balkans in the 1990s and the consequences of the collapse of the Qadhafi regime in Libya that triggered a “tsunami” of arms in the Sahel region, including in Mali. It was important to implement “on the ground” what had been decided in New York, he continued, emphasizing that the role and capacity-building of peacekeeping operations were essential.
KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV (Kazakhstan) said the havoc wreaked by small arms and light weapons destroyed the social fabric of communities and created flows of refugees and displaced persons, pushing families into poverty and increasing risks of disease and hunger. Citing several examples of conflict-prevention and recovery, he said a recent proposal to host in Almaty a new United Nations regional hub would promote sustainable development, humanitarian assistance and disaster risk reduction, while overseeing the implementation of arms embargoes, related international instruments and United Nations sanctions. His country supported a number of efforts, including the enhanced integration of small arms and light weapons-related challenges in mandates of United Nations peacekeeping operations. For its part, Kazakhstan had worked towards keeping the world safe, including by providing information to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and enacting national legislation on export control.
BÉNÉDICTE FRANKINET (Belgium) said the illicit arms trade had posed grave threats to human beings and embargoes would only succeed if violators were brought to justice. Underlining the importance of resolution 2117 (2013), she said the Secretary-General’s report had highlighted gains made in that regard in the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). On tracing and tracking, she said attention needed be paid to a range of issues and more information was needed, including about which Government stockpiles had appeared on the illicit markets. Suggesting a number of other efforts, she said exporters must evaluate risks before transactions and borders, and stockpiles must be better managed. Regional organizations and efforts, including iArms, could also contribute to tracking and sharing results.
JEREMIAH NYAMANE KINGSLEY MAMABOLO (South Africa) said illicit transfers in small arms and light weapons were particularly acute in Africa, where they were being recycled from previous conflicts. Despite advocating for the full implementation of proper stockpile management and effective disarmament in post-conflict situations, he noted that insufficient control over State-owned weapons could result in armed groups, terrorists and criminals acquiring them. On integrating challenges related to small arms and light weapons in United Nations peacekeeping operations, he said they were closely related to stockpile security, border management, record-keeping, tracing and disposal of surplus. Effective disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes needed to be integrated into broader peace-building processes.
ANTÓNIO GUMENDE (Mozambique) said the proliferation of small arms and light weapons was among the main sources of prolonged humanitarian crises in Africa, undermining stability and economic development. In an increasingly globalized world, Africa’s geographical position left it exposed to exploitation by transnational organized crime. After overcoming a devastating conflict 23 years ago, the Government attached great important to forceful action to prevent and combat the illicit weapons trade. As such, Mozambique had implemented legal reforms and had worked closely with civil society organizations since its 16-year-old conflict ended in 1992. More broadly, combating the illicit trade required a shared responsibility among Member States, he said, adding that regional and international efforts, including implementing the Programme of Action, were also important. Complementing ongoing actions was the Arms Trade Treaty, he said, recommending that all States ratify that instrument.
DAVID ROET (Israel) said small arms were the weapons of choice for terrorists who sought to spread fear and undermine stability. For years, Iran had destabilized and radicalized the Middle East, smuggling weapons to its terrorist proxies, including in Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Gaza. Small arms would continue to take the lives of innocent civilians, unless the Council took meaningful steps to enforce the compliance of sanctions and arms embargoes, particularly in regard to Iran. The uncontrolled trafficking of shoulder-fired missiles, known as “MANPADS”, was of particular concern to Israel, since a terrorist had fired them at an Israeli civilian airline. Misleadingly categorized as small arms and light weapons, MANPADS had the potential to cause mass casualties and undermine stability, which needed the immediate attention of the international community.
OLIVIER MARC ZEHNDER (Switzerland) said a holistic approach was needed to address both supply and demand for small arms and light weapons. On the demand side, addressing the nexus between armed violence and development resulted in the Geneva Declaration, supported by 113 States dedicated to developing measure to reduce armed violence in order to enhance sustainable development. On the supply side, life-cycle management of Government-owned weapons and ammunition needed to be improved. Existing instruments, like the International Ammunition Technical Guidelines and the International Small Arms Control Standards, could directly help prevent the diversion of State-owned weapons and ammunition to civilians, criminals or armed groups. Those instruments could also mitigate the risk of unplanned explosions at munition sites. He then expressed support for the inclusion into United Nations peace operations’ mandates of a standardized approach to life-cycle management of small arms and light weapons, including ammunition. On the Arms Trade Treaty, he supported capacity-building efforts and measures to promote its universality.
MARTIN SAJDIK (Austria) expressed concern over the impact of small arms and light weapons and their unauthorized spread on the humanitarian cause of the protection of civilians in armed conflict. Those arms posed an impediment to the provision of humanitarian assistance, with the potential to exacerbate and prolong conflicts, endanger civilians and undermine the security and confidence required for a return to peace and stability. All exporters of small arms had the responsibility to promote their effective control nationally by implementing strict and effective exports controls at the national and international level. He pointed to capacity-building and knowledge-transfer initiatives carried out by Austria in South-East Europe and eastern Africa, which focused on managing national stockpiles and on reducing stockpile surpluses and ammunition.
FRANTIŠEK RUŽIČKA (Slovakia) said that international cooperation and assistance remained essential and complementary to national implementation efforts in carrying out the United Nations Programme of Action. Furthermore, he highlighted the importance of improving stockpile management of small arms and light weapons, particularly in conflict and post-conflict areas and the need to further look into the impact of new technologies on weapons manufacturing, design and storage. Key aspects of efforts to prevent the outburst or resumption of violent conflict fuelled by the uncontrolled flow of those weapons included enhancing border control to prevent illicit trafficking, placing the control of armed forces in the hands of legitimate state authorities and establishing an inclusive, democratic and transparent judicial mechanism. To be effective, such measures must go hand in hand with enhancing the security of communities from violence, which required reforming police and armed forces and introducing mechanisms to promote reconciliation and accountability for human rights abuses.
ASOKE MUKERJI (India) said the illicit arms trade had led to terrorists and armed groups spawning cross-border instability that caused large-scale displacement. As a victim of cross-border terrorism, India was of the view that the phenomenon had imposed a huge cost to the development agenda of States and regions. Such weapons were now being used against United Nations peacekeepers. Sanctions to stop the illicit flow of those arms must be strictly implemented, and international cooperation should continue to focus on the supply side while encouraging effective measures on the demand side. In addressing some of those issues, the ATT contained several deficiencies. As his delegation had pointed out during negotiations, he said there was concern about whether the Treaty could have a meaningful impact on arms trafficking by terrorists and unlawful non-State actors. India had followed a policy of responsibility in conventional arms export, with a control system aligned with international standards.
DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia) said terrorism, organized crime, drugs and human-trafficking flourished under conditions of poverty, wide income disparity, injustice and human rights violations. He called for a comprehensive approach to tackle illicit small arms and light weapons, in which States were responsible for regulating their legitimate trades, as well as curbing and eliminating illicit weapons’ possessions and use. The Arms Trade Treaty should be transparent, non-discriminatory, balanced and not for the pursuit of particular political agendas or some exporting agendas. In addition, nationally identified, prioritized and owned disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in conflict-afflicted countries was needed alongside zero tolerance for violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws by Governments, the United Nations and the international community.
SABRI BOUKADOUM (Algeria) said in every aspect, the illicit arms trade constituted a threat to peace and security and a source of supply for terrorist groups. For its part, his country had taken steps to ensure border control and had strengthened the operational readiness to address threats by terrorist groups. At the Euro-Mediterranean level, his Government was part of efforts to combat and eradicate the illicit trade. In that regard, it was important that international instruments and protocols on weapons and ammunition were implemented. On the issue of illicit arms proliferation, violence against women and children needed to be addressed and focused gender-sensitive efforts needed to be intensified. To tackle that and other related challenges, a comprehensive approach was needed. On the Sahel region, he said Algeria supported a unified strategy to address urgent challenges, including terrorism, kidnapping and transnational organized crime.
THOMAS SCHIEB (Germany) said the resolution put forward by the Lithuanian delegation and the Secretary-General’s report contained many valuable ideas and recommendations. Highlighting several points of interest, he said United Nations mission mandates should include appropriate control elements for small arms and light weapons. Germany had supported the Programme of Action and was focussing on Africa for a new pilot project on improving control coordination. The ATT was a major success and had the potential to exert a significant positive influence on small arms control globally while drawing a clear link between the arms trade and human rights violations. Small arms control policy and regulations needed to keep track of new technological developments, including by addressing the new materials that posed challenges to marking, registering and tracing as stipulated in the International Tracing Instrument and Firearms Protocol, possibly demanding clarifications or amendments.
INIGO LAMBERTINI (Italy) said the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) had developed a core of common understanding and best practices to tackle arms trafficking that could be helpful in shaping a global consensus. Arms trafficking had affected Africa, including the destabilization of the Sahel region after the pillaging of Libya’s arsenals, which contained the world’s largest accumulation of man-portable air defence systems. The only way forward was to secure arms and provide capacity-building for border guards and police while bolstering regional cooperation. For its part, Italy had worked on a range of efforts, including cooperating with interested States on marking and tracing. Indeed, tracing illicit arms in conflict zones was a fundamental prerequisite for finding ways to tackle flows to affected areas. It was important to open discussions and the process to all stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations and private industries, which could promote better understanding of the problem and propose possible solutions.
ARTHUR AMAYA ANDAMBI (Kenya) said by virtue of his country’s geographical location, it had suffered from the illicit transfer of small arms and light weapons as exemplified by various terrorist attacks. Unprecedented high levels of those arms in the hands of pastoralist communities in the country’s north had been associated with criminal activities such as cattle rustling, poaching and armed robberies. Kenya continued to strengthen its policy and legislative measures to address loopholes in law that made it difficult for the Government to deal with insecurity. At the regional level, he noted Kenya’s involvement in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), as well as Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)-led mediation efforts in South Sudan. On tracing, he informed of measures taken to improve national marking, equipment acquisition, coordination, record keeping and training capacities of entities involved in the interdiction of small arms and light weapons.
FEDERICO ALBERTO GONZÁLEZ FRANCO (Paraguay) said mechanisms created under the Programme of Action and other complementary mechanisms were crucial to counter the threat posed by small arms and light weapons, as well as to facilitate cooperation in that regard. Despite progress, efforts must be redoubled to track those weapons and to increase international cooperation while increasing trust among States towards that end. Recognition of the Arms Trade Treaty was a sign of commitment to eliminate the illicit trade and use of such weapons. It was of utmost importance to improve stockpile security and weapons storage facilities, in accordance with international laws. Technical assistance was required, he said, calling for additional cooperation with partners
OH JOON (Republic of Korea) said faithful implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty would help curb the illicit flow of small arms to conflict zones and to perpetrators of war crimes. While States were primarily responsible for tackling that challenge, the Council had to address the supply and demand-driven aspects of arms transfers. With its legally binding arms embargoes, the Council could make crucial contributions to preventing the flow of arms to conflict zones, he said, calling on that body to strengthen the role of peacekeeping missions in monitoring arms embargoes on the ground. Improving information sharing among States, sanction committees and peacekeeping missions would also contribute to the effective implementation of the embargoes. Turning to the demand side of illicit arms transfer, he called for strengthening of national stockpile security and management to better prevent those weapons from being diverted.
KAI SAUER (Finland) noted a close connection between the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and international terrorism. Measures to reduce their illicit flows would also have a positive security impact on the societies that suffered from various forms of violence and illegal activities. Effective physical security and management of stockpiles of small arms and ammunition was crucial to prevent their illicit transfer and misuse. Fragile States and regions could benefit from the universality and effective implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty, he said, calling for support to help States effectively implement it.
VLADIMIR DROBNJAK (Croatia) said small arms were “cheap, portable and used by all combatants” including criminal and terrorist acts around the world. As such, arms control was very important to his country, which had experienced conflict and was aware of the grave threat posed by the excessive accumulation of such weapons in legal and illegal possession. To tackle that issue, Croatia had led an awareness-raising and arms-collection campaign, which the United Nations had rated as among the most successful of its kind. While national efforts were of utmost importance, cross-border challenges must be addressed on regional and global levels. Success in his region with reducing the amount of unwanted and surplus light weapons in Southeast Europe could set an example of others. On a global level, Croatia had joined all relevant mechanisms, including the Arms Trade Treaty, which was a major arms control milestone. Going forward, it was important to apply a gender perspective to the small arms issue and his delegation welcomed the role civil society could play in arms control efforts.
VLAD LUPAN (Republic of Moldova), Chair-Designate of the second Meeting of Governmental Experts under the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, highlighted concerns raised by States leading up to its session from 1 to 5 June. Citing a range of recent technology trends, he warned that modular weapons fitted with various components were stymieing marking and tracing efforts, arms could be “printed” on 3-D printers and polymers were increasingly substituting metals, hampering detection. While those trends had triggered unique challenges, new technology was also enhancing stockpile management and capabilities in marking, record-keeping and tracing of weapons.
Leading up to next month’s meeting, Member States had specifically indicated the need to discuss the flow of illicit arms to terrorist groups, non-State actors and unrecognized entities, he said. With a focus on recent marking and tracing trends, the meeting provided a platform for all States to discuss what was needed and to identify good practices, which could feed into concrete results at the Programme of Action’s review conference in 2018. Council resolution 2117 (2013) had stressed the need to make “real progress”, which was needed to save lives from carnage and destruction and to ensure stable and sustainable development now and in the post-2015 era. “No development is possible without security,” he said, adding all Member States must work together to achieve “real progress” at every forum, the Council and at the upcoming Meeting of Governmental Experts.
GILLIAN BIRD (Australia) urged the Security Council to address small arms challenges by designing and monitoring peacekeeping and special political mission mandates, including by making better use of police components. The Council’s mandates should integrate arms embargo implementation, stockpile security, surplus disposal, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and security sector reform. Furthermore, the participation of women should be addressed across all of those components. To improve the effectiveness of its arms embargoes, the Council should mandate sanctions expert groups to investigate and collect information on arms-trafficking routes, partners and key players in the arms trade. Sanction committees must be mandated to and action quickly to designate arms traffickers and their facilitators. The United Nations system should also be better positioned to mobilize capacity-building for the host Government, as well as neighbouring States to stop arms and ammunition from reaching the conflict.
ABDERRAZZAK LAASSEL (Morocco) said that, given the global consensus on the destructive effects of small arms and light weapons, the illicit trade was also recognized as elements that extended conflict and violated human rights. Africa, and the Sahel-Saharan region, had unfortunately become the epicentre of weapons-trafficking and transnational organized crime, with recent increases in arms coming from Libya. As such, it was essential to launch international strategies to combat that “evil”, he said, noting that a recent counter-terrorism meeting on the Sahel region, hosted by Morocco, had focused on finding such solutions. More broadly, he called for implementation of the Programme of Action at national, regional and global levels and hoped the Arms Trade Treaty would contribute to similar efforts. As a signatory of the Geneva Declaration, Morocco believed that security was linked with sustainable development while recognizing States’ rights to defend themselves.
KAREL VAN OOSTEROM (Netherlands) welcomed the debate and encouraged the Council to adopt the draft resolution currently under consideration. That action would build on the momentum of resolution 2117 (2013) and help affected countries to address the illicit arms trade in a systematic way. Aligning with the European Union, his delegation underlined the human cost of small arms and light weapons and the importance of protecting civilians from armed conflict and populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The Arms Trade Treaty represented a great step forward, and States must set up export control systems to reduce those human costs. Including ammunition was vital, he said. Going forward, a comprehensive approach was needed to address related issues. That should be done in an integrated manner, including through good governance, strengthening the rule of law and providing alternative livelihood initiatives.
TIGRAN SAMVELIAN (Armenia) said excessive accumulation, uncontrolled spread and trafficking of small arms and light weapons posed a serious threat to peace and further control mechanisms were needed. Acknowledging important contributions by civil society towards the Programme of Action’s implementation, he said his country supported similar efforts of the United Nations and the OSCE. Guides, such as the OSCE voluntary guidelines on compiling national reports on exports, could be useful to other States in their process of implementing international agreements. Combating the threat of an uncontrolled spread of illicit arms was crucial to strengthen transparency in military matters and to build a climate of trust between all stakeholders. On an international level, Armenia continued to support regulation efforts and had taken a number of steps, including hosting round tables on Programme of Action commitments to, among other things, examine best practices.
KATERYNA BILA (Ukraine) said instability caused by the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and their use could serve as a real precondition to a nuclear conflict. The human cost of those weapons’ illicit execution was extremely dramatic, as could be witnessed in Ukraine, and challenges related to them emerged mostly after the Russian aggression against her country. However, long before occupation started, the Russian Federation provided numerous supplies of arms into Crimea. The continuous flow of sophisticated weapons and ammunition from the Russian Federation to Crimea and eastern Ukraine had had a disastrous and destabilizing effect. After the occupation of Crimea, Russian officials made statements on their right to deploy nuclear weapons on the peninsula, directly threatening security at the regional and global level.
MATEO ESTREME (Argentina) said that, given the devastating effect on civilians in conflict zones, the international community was duty-bound to eliminate the illicit flow of small arms through greater cooperation and practical measures, such as addressing stockpiling and diversion of materiel. Existing mechanisms must be strengthened through both review of export control and domestic policies. Strict compliance with sanctions regimes must be maintained. Failing to deal with the availability of arms made the recurrence of conflict likely in post-conflict situations, as well. The problem was not only illicit trade, but also legitimate trade that was not adequately controlled to keep weapons out of perpetrators of conflict.
AMR ABOULATTA (Egypt) recognized small arms and light weapons as a massive enabling factor of terrorist activities around the world, and called for strict implementation of all relevant Council sanctions aimed at combating terrorism. Investment in development, post-conflict rehabilitation, capacity-building and the establishment of strong State institutions were vital factors in combating the spread of those arms. Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes should be an important element in United Nations peacekeeping operations and special political missions. Also important was assisting post-conflict countries through technology transfer and providing equipment under preferential and concessional terms. As Governments were the first line of defence against terrorism and the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, the international community should never put them in a position of disadvantage in relation to terrorists and/or criminal adversaries.
MILAN MILANOVIĆ (Serbia) said that his country had a national strategy that provided a framework for relevant governmental and non-governmental actors to use in the prevention of unlawful production, possession and trade in small arms and light weapons. Its goal was to establish a national system of effective control of those arms ensuring the reduction of weapons in illegal possession, as well as the number of abuse of legal weapons. Turning to arms exports control, he noted that all the criteria of the European Union code of conduct had been incorporated in national laws, which, together with enhanced border and customs control measures, played an important role in strengthening surveillance and combating illicit arms trade. International, regional and subregional organizations and civil society could also make a significant contribution by developing model legislation, practical guidelines and coherent regional implementation standards, assisting States in the process of assessing their needs or conducting trainings, regional meetings and similar activities.
CHAYAPAN BAMRUNGPHONG (Thailand) said his country was concerned that women and children were often disproportionately affected by the illicit arms trade and the conflict it fuelled. As such, gender-sensitive data must be considered and women must participate in planning and implementing relevant measures. To curb proliferation and promote responsible actions of States to help prevent the spread of illicit arms, strengthened collaboration and coordination under various frameworks were needed. The entry into force of the ATT would undoubtedly reinforce the Programme of Action, but measures should not be duplicated. Aside from preventing the illegal weapons trade, civilian firearms should be strictly regulated. Turning to tracing, he hoped new technologies would be broadly applied to small arms manufacturers. While each country needed to have an effective mechanism to enable the full implementation of their obligations, he pointed out a number of challenges, including possibilities of new maritime trade routes.
NIKOLA IVEZAJ (Montenegro), associating himself with the European Union, said that all were aware of the agonizing impact of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. The uncontrolled availability of those weapons and their trafficking posed a serious threat to peace and reconciliation processes and led to a vast range of human rights violations. It would also undermine the international community’s efforts to achieve sustainable development. To tackle the problem, practical, effective and comprehensive efforts must be undertaken. The most effective way to prevent the misuse of such weapons was through strict export and import controls, strong brokering laws, and as contained in the Secretary-General’s report, urgently addressing stockpile security and management. Peacekeeping and post-conflict peacebuilding missions also played a role in addressing the challenge, as they could contribute by providing assistance with stockpile management and the collection and destruction of weapons. Welcoming the adoption of the ATT, which his country had ratified, he also shared some aspects of Montenegro’s legislative framework on small arms and light weapons.
JEAN-FRANCIS RÉGIS ZINSOU (Benin) affirmed the absolute necessity of international cooperation in eliminating the threat of illicit flows of small arms and light weapons. The epidemic of such weapons circulating in West Africa took a great toll, particularly on young people, traumatizing entire generations of children. Weapons that remained after conflict often continued the cycle of violence. International efforts should include building national and regional capacity to stem the trade and storage of the weapons. A system to harmonize the various international programmes was needed, particularly in terms of tracing and registering. Upcoming international meetings on the various mechanisms should be used to review exhaustively the current system and enhance assistance for technical procedures, he stated, stressing that only effective cooperation among all stakeholders could lead to the action needed to eradicate the threat.
DAVID DONOGHUE (Ireland) recognized that women had been and continued to be a powerful force for change in disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control affairs, and welcomed the renewed focus on both women’s empowerment and the gender impact of illicit arms proliferation. The Global Study on Council resolution 1325 (2000) also addressed the impact of small arms on women affected by conflict, he added. Council resolution 2117 (2013) was an important instrument in bringing forward recognition of the interrelationship between misuse of small arms and light weapons, women, peace and security, and human rights questions. As for the ATT, it recognized, for the first time, the link between international arms transfers and gender-based violence.
LEVENT ELER (Turkey) said that his country, without prejudice to the legitimate right of Member States to self-defence, considered that the illicit trade and excessive accumulation of small arms and light weapons were a serious threat to international peace and security, and shared the concerns expressed by other States about the destabilizing role that those weapons played in protracted conflicts, terrorism and organized crime, including human- and drug-trafficking. Turkey, therefore, unequivocally supported comprehensive efforts to eradicate the problem of those weapons both at the international and national levels. To that end, his country pursued policies and strategies that were compatible with international law, and had signed and intended to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty. He also attached great importance to the fulfilment of the aims set forth by the Programme of Action and the International Tracing Instrument. Combined, they provided a comprehensive framework for global action to fight the illicit trade, which recorded much progress since 2001.
Mr. ILIICHEV (Russian Federation), taking the floor a second time, said it was clear that the Ukraine delegation was using any excuse to spread their disinformation and distract from not abiding with the Minsk agreements. Meanwhile, it must be remembered that Ukraine was using a range of weapons to attack civilians and infrastructure.
Ms. BILA (Ukraine), replying to the statement by the Russian Federation, said that her country fully complied with the Minsk agreements — as opposed to the Russian Federation. However, the subject today was the transfer of weapons. She offered to show evidence of Russia’s participation in that activity in a way that heavily impacted the eastern part of her country.