On 20 May 2022, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (UNRCPD) conducted its second online training on national reporting on the UN Programme of Action on small arms (UN PoA) for government officials in Asia and the Pacific, in preparation for the upcoming Eight Biennial Meeting of States (BMS8).
In the context of the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects and its corresponding International Tracing Instrument (ITI), States have agreed to submit national reports on their implementation efforts to the United Nations every two years.
The training, which provided government officials with a technical and thematic overview of the reporting template by UN experts, drew nearly 40 participants from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, Lao PDR, New Zealand, the Maldives, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
States’ national reports on the implementation of the UN PoA and its ITI make it possible to analyse the trends, challenges and opportunities related to the instruments’ operationalization. The UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (ODA) will present the global data at the forthcoming Eighth Biennial Meetings of States (BMS8), scheduled to take place from 27 June to 1 July 2022 in New York. At BMS8, States will take stock of the national, regional and global implementation of both international instruments.
Ms. Soo Hyun Kim, Acting Director of UNRCPD, welcomed participants by delivering an overview of the UN PoA and its convergence with relevant frameworks such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. “Combatting the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons contributes to sustainable development goal (SDG) 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions”, she noted. Ms. Kim reiterated UNRCPD’s support to Member States for the effective implementation of the PoA, as well as with the preparation of national reports in the weeks leading to BMS8.
In his opening remarks, Ambassador Enrique A. Manalo, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations and Chair for BMS8, highlighted the critical role of reporting as a means of sharing Member States’ best practices in addressing thematic priorities, including emerging technologies and threats, such as modular and polymer weapons. Ambassador Manalo encouraged all States to develop national coordination mechanisms and appoint national point of contacts so that national-level stakeholders are enabled to cooperate and share information in an effective manner, thereby improving implementation of the UN PoA.
Mr. Ivor Fung, Deputy Chief of the Conventional Arms Branch at the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, echoed the Ambassador’s call for increased reporting within the region. Specifically, Mr. Fung pointed towards the value in fostering a culture of reporting, evaluation and transparency within the context of the UN PoA and other international small arms control frameworks. This development would be particularly vital for State cooperation during the upcoming BMS8 conference and other on-going multilateral processes, including the Open-Ended Working Group on Conventional Ammunition.
Mr. Takashi Mashiko, Programme Officer and Trust Fund Manager at ODA’s Conventional Arms Branch, started the working-section of the meeting by presenting mandates on national reporting and an overview of national reporting trends over the years since 2002. Emphasis was given to the comparatively low percentage of national reports and national points of contact submitted by the Asia-Pacific group. Additionally, Mr. Mashiko made note of the limited presence of gender disaggregated data, national targets and national action plans (NAPs) within the region. He then presented the online reporting interface and went through sections of the reporting template, specifically pertaining to the seizure and tracing of illicit small arms as outlined in SDG indicator 16.4.2. Mr. Mashiko concluded with a practical step-by-step overview of best practices in coordinating illicit SALW data collection for adoption by national bodies.
Next, Ms. Elli Kytömäki, Associate Research Officer at UNRCPD, presented a thematic review of reporting sections. With a particular focus given to national coordination infrastructure, diversion, collection, surplus reporting and international tracing, Ms. Kytömäki presented some examples of good practice as taken from 2018-2020 UN PoA national reporting. Her presentation concluded with a breakdown of reporting recommendations developed during BMS7, held at the UN in New York in July 2021, which includes drafting project proposals and request for assistance on identified needs for the effective implementation of the PoA, acknowledging gender-relevant initiatives and documenting progress made towards data collection under SDG indicator 16.4.2.
Ms. Ida Scarpino, Regional Project Coordinator on Gender & Small Arms and Light Weapons Control at UNRCPD, closed the workshop with a presentation covering thematic sections of international cooperation and assistance and gender and additional information, with emphasis on the progressive langue on gender language in the PoA process and related indicators in the reporting template. Ms. Scarpino provided detailed examples of how to report assistance activities and requests within the template, a particularly important step in attracting project donors and implementers, along with a comprehensive series of entry points for sex-and-age-disaggregated data collection pertaining to small arms control and examples of best practices from previously submitted national reports.
The working session of the training concluded with a Q&A session and a call to submit the national reports by the deadline of 31 May 2022.
The online training was organized in the framework of the Office for Disarmament Affairs’ global project on gender and small arms and light weapons, funded by the European Union (EU), which supports the commitments that States have made under the UN PoA and the preparatory work for BMS8, and benefited from the support of the Centre’s project on Gun Free Zones funded by the Government of Sweden.
A video recording of the training is available here.