On 18 October, the Permanent Mission of Germany and the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) organized a side event on curbing arms flows from the field perspective of Latin America and the Caribbean in the German Mission in New York . The Group of Interested States (GIS) in Practical Disarmament Measures is a New York based informal gathering of States, led by Germany. It matches needs with resources in implementing practical disarmament projects.
Mr. Christoph Anton, Counsellor from the Permanent Mission of Germany and Mr. Daniel Prins, Chief of the Conventional Arms Branch, UNODA moderated the panel. In their opening remarks, they presented a brief overview of the outcomes of the Sixth Biennial Meeting of States on the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons held in June 2016. Furthermore, they highlighted the link between illicit arms trade and development and and noted that disarmament is an integral part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Ms. Mélanie Régimbal, Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) stated that the region is extremely affected by illicit firearms trafficking. Ms. Régimbal presented UNLIREC’s recent activities and advances in the fight against the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons in Latin America. In order to assist the region, UNLIREC provides law enforcement training and implementation courses on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). Moreover, Ms. Régimbal highlighted UNLIREC’s latest projects in the fields of youth dialogues and awareness raising through art.
Mr. Jean-Michel Rousseau, Programme Manager within the Public-Private Partnerships Division at the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), drew attention to a joint project of DCAF and UNLIREC. The project is entitled: ‘Strengthening Oversight and Building Capacities for Small Arms Control and Non-proliferation in the Private Security Sector’. One of the main goals of this initiative is to promote internationally accepted standards, good practices, such as the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers and the United Nations International Small Arms Control Standards.
Mr. Juan Camilo Díaz Reina, Second Secretary from the Permanent Mission of Colombia, introduced Colombia’s disarmament strategy in accordance with the ongoing peace process. The panelist stated that the registration of weapons is the first step to curb the arms flow on the black market. The following steps include the identification and monitoring of arms, as well as the storage and final destruction. Mr. Reina thanked the international community for their efforts and stressed the good cooperation between the United Nations and Colombia.
Ms. Venetia Paiz-Merino from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations noted that the Secretary-General welcomed the joint communiqué issued by the Government of Colombia and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejército del Pueblo. Ms. Paiz-Merino pointed out that the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2261, to establish a political mission of unarmed international observers to monitor and verify the laying down of arms. In addition, she informed the audience about the latest state of the peace process and the interim protocol.
Ms. Charlene Roopnarine, Second Secretary of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago emphasized that sustainable development cannot be realized without peace and security and that peace and security will be at risk without sustainable development. Furthermore, Ms. Roopnarine talked about Trinidad and Tobago’s national efforts for enhancing the Programme of Action and the ATT implementation.
Ms. Mayda de Leon, from the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), presented the view from civil society and underlined that illicit arms trade remains a great problem area in Latin America. She stressed that governments should act as responsible, transparent players and share information to promote security. Ms. Leon highlighted the need for an open information system about small arms and light weapons and promoted IANSA’s work on ammunition regulation.
Text by Julia Bhattacharjee