After 3 sessions of work that spanned a period of 4 months in New York and Geneva, the 2019 Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms (UNROCA) concluded its work, on Friday.
The Group was composed of experts from 15 countries, namely, Argentina, Brazil, China, Croatia, France, Germany, India, Japan, The Netherlands, Russian Federation, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, the United States and the United Kingdom. Reflecting current trends in international disarmament and arms regulation processes, more than 50% of the experts participating in the work of the Group were women, including the Group’s Chair, Ms. Mariela Fogante of Argentina. Ms. Fogante was the first woman to Chair a Group of experts in the area of conventional arms since 1999.
The Register was established by the General Assembly in 1991, to enable Member States to report to the United Nations their international transfers of conventional arms. It is an instrument that promotes transparency in armaments and serves as an early-warning tool. Every year through UNROCA, UN Member States share information on annual international transfers (imports and exports) of arms. Governments are encouraged to report their annual acquisition of weapons through domestic suppliers and their military holdings as well. The UN Register constitutes an important confidence-building measure that can build trust among States and contribute to preventive diplomacy, peace and stability.
Such groups of governmental experts are convened every three years, under a mandate of the General Assembly of the United Nations. to review the functioning and recommend on the further development of the Register. As with previous Groups, the 2019 GGE adopted a consensus report containing a number of recommendations to ensure that the Register remains relevant and keeps pace with technological developments. This Group reached a milestone in the history of the instrument, as it recommended that UN Member States report international transfers of small arms and light weapons in parallel with reporting on the major weapons systems covered by the Register, which are clustered in seven categories: battle tanks, armoured vehicles, large artillery, manned and unmanned aerial combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, and missiles and missile launchers. The Group referred to this approach as the “seven plus one” formula. Another achievement was the inclusion in the report of a section dedicated to the use of the Register as a tool for confidence-building among States.