Review Conference Adopts Text Renewing Commitment to Prevent, Combat, Eradicate Illicit Trade in Small Arms, Light Weapons

7 September 2012

Review Conference Adopts Text Renewing Commitment to Prevent, Combat, Eradicate Illicit Trade in Small Arms, Light Weapons

7 September 2012
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Review Conference

 on Illicit Small Arms Trade

14th Meeting* (PM)

Review Conference Adopts Text Renewing Commitment to Prevent, Combat, Eradicate

Illicit Trade in Small Arms, Light Weapons


Concern Voiced over Accuracy, Lack of Stronger Language in Some Areas

Concluding its two-week session today, the second United Nations conference to review the 2001 Programme of Action on trafficking in small arms and light weapons adopted a consensus outcome document that highlighted the international community’s renewed commitment to preventing, combating and eradicating the illicit trade.

The document’s adoption represented a major achievement for delegations, who had failed to agree on a final outcome at the first review conference, held in 2006.  “We accomplished something great today,” said U. Joy Ogwu ( Nigeria), President of the Conference, formally known as the United Nations Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.

According to the text, Member States renewed their pledge to rid the world of the scourge brought upon it by the illicit manufacture, transfer and circulation of small arms and light weapons, and their excessive accumulation and uncontrolled spread in many parts of the world.  They also committed to mobilizing the necessary political will and resources to implement the Programme of Action and the International Tracing Instrument, with the aim of achieving clear and tangible results over the next six years, through 2018.

Further by the text, States emphasized that the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons continued to sustain conflicts, exacerbate armed violence, undermine respect for international humanitarian law and international human rights law, aid terrorism and illegal armed groups, and facilitate increasing levels of transnational organized crime, as well as trafficking in humans, drugs and certain natural resources.

Recognizing the primary responsibility of Governments in preventing, combating and eradicating small-arms trafficking, Member States welcomed the progress made so far in implementing the Programme of Action and the International Tracing Instrument, including the creation of national laws and action plans.  However, they stressed that implementation remained uneven, and that challenges and obstacles still stood in the way of full implementation.

Also by the text, delegations agreed to strengthen the action programme’s implementation at the national, regional and global levels over the period 2012-2018.  On follow-up measures, they decided to hold a one-week biennial meeting of States in 2014 and 2016, and a one-week open-ended meeting of governmental experts in 2015 to consider the Programme of Action’s full and effective implementation.  They also decided to hold a third review conference in 2018, to be scheduled as a two-week event and preceded by a one-week preparatory committee meeting early that year.

The outcome document also underscored efforts in marking, record-keeping and cooperation in tracing small arms and light weapons.  For instance, Member States agreed to strengthen national measures on marking, including, to the extent possible, upon import and, where possible, measures against the removal or alteration of markings and for the recovery of erased or altered markings.

Before the outcome document’s adoption, the delegate of Iran said it lacked accuracy and practicality in some aspects, while in others it even deviated from the scope and purpose of the Conference.  In negotiations, Iran had made efforts to bring the document back to the appropriate track, but felt it was still not satisfactory.  Nevertheless, Iran wished to see the Conference succeed and would therefore not stand in the way of the consensus, despite its “strong reservation” regarding some parts of the draft text.

Following the adoption, Ms. Ogwu quoted boxing legend Muhammad Ali:  “Champions aren’t made in gyms.  Champions are made from something they have deep inside them — a desire, a dream, a vision; they have to have last-minute stamina… They have to have the skill and the will.  But the will must be stronger.”  She continued:  “Today I want to believe we are champions, and we have built for ourselves a lasting and positive legacy.”

Venezuela’s representative was among many delegates who expressed concern about the inclusion of some new concepts in the outcome document.  Likening the introduction of the concept of trafficking in “natural resources” to opening Pandora’s Box, he said his delegation preferred the term “precious minerals”.

Ghana’s representative said that while the document was “fair and balanced”, he would have preferred stronger language on export implementation, as well as the inclusion of emerging issues such as the role of ammunition, and the effects of armed violence on development.  “The rule of the game is compromise and give and take,” he said, adding, “it may not be the best, but it is a very good document.”

Syria’s representative stressed the right of individual States to safeguard and defend themselves, and their alienable right to self-determination when under foreign occupation.  He urged Member States respect international conventions on the illicit trade in weapons and munitions, expressing concern over the flow of weapons and munitions into his country from neighbouring States.

Representatives of Israel and the United States said they wished to disassociate themselves from preambular paragraph 11 of the Programme of Action, relating to the right to self-determination of people under foreign occupation.

The European Union’s representative said it was regrettable that Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) and General Assembly resolution 65/69 of 2010 had not been incorporated into the text and that no agreement had been reached on gender.  The European Union had also hoped to see mention of Security Council resolution 1612 (2005) on children in armed conflict, the issue of ammunition, and condemnation of any activity in violation of Council arms embargoes.  The bloc looked forward to increased use of indicators and standards, he said, adding that States should also take steps to prevent the use and transfer of man-portable air defence systems and their components.

In other business today, the Conference adopted, without a vote, a draft resolution contained in the report of the Credentials Committee (document A/CONF.192/2012/RC/2), as orally amended.  They also adopted, again by consensus, the report of the Second Review Conference (document A/CONF.192/2012/RC/L.3), as orally amended.

Other speakers delivering statements during today’s meeting were representatives of Iraq (on behalf of the Arab Group), Algeria, Indonesia, Belize (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Mexico, Indonesia (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Cuba, Guatemala, Côte d’Ivoire, Colombia, Germany, Algeria, Brazil, Kenya, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, Nigeria (on behalf of the African Group), Liberia, Czech Republic, New Zealand (speaking also on behalf of Norway and Iceland), Benin, Switzerland, Egypt (on behalf of the facilitators), Sudan and Belgium.  The observer of the Holy See also spoke.

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*     The 6th through 13th Meetings were not covered.

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