12 July 2005
Meeting to Assess 2001 Action Programme Aimed at Combating Illicit Small Arms Trade Opens at Headquarters
Secretary-General Notes Significant Progress in Implementation, but Warns Illegal Trade Still Major Problem, Further Steps Needed
NEW YORK, 11 July (UN Headquarters) -- “I am delighted to note the progress so far… but we must not relax our efforts to combat the scourge of illicit small arms and light weapons, which continue to kill, maim and displace scores of thousands of innocent people every year”, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said this morning as a meeting convened at Headquarters to assess progress in implementing a 2001 action plan against the illicit trade in small arms.
In a message to today’s meeting, delivered by Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs Nobuyasu Abe, the Secretary-General said since the adoption of the Programme of Action, States had nationally and collectively demonstrated their steadfast commitment to working together, within a multilateral framework, to address the accumulation and proliferation of such arms. More than 60 States had established national coordinating bodies, and many had developed national action plans to address the problem of proliferation. Minimum common understandings on transfer controls had begun to emerge, thanks to enhanced dialogue among States; and serious efforts were being made to continue to build the capacity of States to implement the Programme of Action.
The 2001 Programme of Action identifies national, regional and global measures, which include legislation on illegal manufacturing, possession, stockpiling and trade in small arms; stockpile management and destruction of weapons confiscated, seized, or collected; identification and tracing of illicit arms; international cooperation and assistance to States to strengthen their ability to identify and trace the illicit weapons; and public awareness campaigns.
Meeting in anticipation of the 2006 conference that will review progress in the implementation of the Programme of Action, participants in today’s Second Biennial Meeting noted that it also came in the wake of successful negotiations on an international instrument that would enable States to identify and trace illicit small arms and light weapons in a timely and reliable manner.
Like the first review meeting in July 2003, this year’s five-day session provides an opportunity for States, international and regional organizations, and civil society to exchange information on the implementation of the Programme, consider regional and international initiatives and highlight successes and best practices in controlling and curbing the spread of small arms and light weapons.
In his opening statement, Under-Secretary-General Abe, said that since the landmark conference in 2001, prevention of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons had become one of the major priorities of the United Nations, as the threat presented by their illicit proliferation had become abundantly clear. The Programme of Action had proven to be a valuable and effective tool to tackle some of the common threats and achieve some of the common goals faced by the international community.
Listing the achievements in the past two years, he mentioned a series of workshops and seminars that had been organized to promote the implementation of the Programme; consultations on the issue of brokering in small arms and light weapons; and partnerships that had emerged among governments, non-governmental organizations, civil society and international organizations. On 3 July, the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunition (the Firearms Protocol) had entered into force -- a legally binding document, which sought to fight crime related to those weapons in the context of the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime.
More than 30 country representatives presented their national reports and discussed future priorities today. Speakers indicated that significant progress had been made in implementing the 2001 Programme of Action, but cautioned against complacency, as four years on, the illegal trade and transfer in small arms and light weapons still presented a serious challenge. Greater international cooperation was needed to effectively block the spread and availability of illicit arms. With terrorism high on the international agenda, speakers also emphasized the need to tackle both new and old threats.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union, the representative of the United Kingdom said that the focus should be on such crucial elements as transfer controls, marking and tracing, brokering activities and the relationship between small arms and development. The question of transfer to non-State actors -- highlighted by the use of Man Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS) to endanger civil aviation -- was another area of great relevance. Global standards on the marking and tracing of small arms and light weapons were essential, and end-user certificates needed to be dealt with.
The representative of Norway said that the report by the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change had noted the threat posed by small arms and light weapons and recommended that Member States should expedite and conclude negotiations on legally binding agreements on marking and tracing, as well as brokering and transfer of small arms and light weapons. The Secretary-General had supported that recommendation in his “In Larger Freedom” report. Now it was up to Member States to act on those recommendations and make them part of the September Summit outcome document.
Speaking on behalf of the African group, Nigeria’s representative urged Member States to pay special attention to the concerns of African States, whose efforts in stemming illicit arms trafficking in the region had met with tremendous difficulties, arising mostly from the need for capacity-building and different forms of assistance, as well as the lack of meaningful international cooperation in promoting effective controls on the supply-side of the small arms trade. He also reiterated the need for effective disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes in post-conflict areas to be implemented under the regular United Nations budget, and as part of the mandate of peacekeeping operations.
Statements were also made by representatives of Australia, Uruguay (on behalf of MERCOSUR), Canada, China, Indonesia, Japan, India, Russian Federation, Gabon, Samoa (on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum), Chile, Trinidad and Tobago, Switzerland, Republic of Moldova, Israel, France, Belarus, Mexico, Morocco, South Africa, United States, Uganda, Togo, New Zealand, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Cambodia, Mali, Kenya and Thailand.
During the organizational segment, Pasi Patokallio (Finland) was elected as the Meeting’s Chairman, and Armenia, Belarus, El Salvador, Finland, Gabon, Haiti, Indoensia, Japan, Norway, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Senegal, South Africa, United Kingdom and Venezuela were elected to the Bureau. The Meeting also agreed on its agenda, rules of procedure and programme of work for the week-long session. Also addressed this morning was the issue of non-governmental organization participation.
The meeting will continue its consideration of the implementation of the Programme of Action at 10 a.m., Tuesday, 12 June.
The Second United Nations Biennial Meeting of States to Consider 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 began its work at Headquarters today. The objective of the meeting, which will last until Friday, 15 July, is to evaluate the implementation since the action Programme’s adoption at a conference on the subject in July 2001. Like the first review meeting in July 2003, this year’s session will provide an opportunity for States to exchange information on the implementation of the Programme, consider regional and international initiatives, and highlight successes and best practices in controlling and curbing the spread of small arms and light weapons.
Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, NOBUYASU ABE, said that adoption four years ago of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons had marked the beginning of concerted United Nations action to address the excessive accumulation and proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons with their concomitant threat to international peace and security. Member States had committed themselves to meet on a biennial basis, starting in 2003, to exchange information and experiences in their implementation of the historic Programme of Action. Today, the second of such meetings came in the wake of the successful conclusion of the work of the open-ended working group to negotiate an international instrument to enable States to identify and trace, in a timely and reliable manner, illicit small arms and light weapons, and on the eve of the 2006 conference to review progress in the implementation of the Programme of Action.
The prevention of illicit trade in small arms and light weapons had become one of the major priorities of the United Nations, especially since the landmark conference in 2001, as the threat presented by illicit proliferation of such weapons had become abundantly clear. They had not only hampered development, political and social stability, but had also maimed and killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people around the world. In his “In larger Freedom” report, the Secretary-General had noted that the world must advance the causes of security, development and human rights together, otherwise, none would succeed. Collective security today depended on accepting that the threats each region of the world perceived as most urgent were, in fact, equally so for all.
Much progress had been achieved at all levels, he continued. The Programme of Action had proven to be a valuable and effective tool to tackle some of the common threats and achieve some of the common goals faced by the international community. A series of workshops and seminars had been organized to promote the implementation of the Programme of Action; consultations had been held on the issue of brokering in small arms and light weapons. Partnerships had emerged among governments, non-governmental organizations, civil society and international organizations, in search for new ideas in the fight against the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. For example, last February, the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, with support from Finland and the United Kingdom, had organized an international workshop on global principles for arms transfers. Representatives of 31 countries, 4 international organizations and 0 non-governmental organizations had participated in the workshop.
He said another example of growing partnership among governments, civil society and non-governmental organizations had been a meeting last May, organized by the United Kingdom, to explore how an arms trade treaty could help set common global principles for trade in conventional weapons, which, naturally, included small arms and light weapons. Representatives from 22 countries, regional and international organizations had participated in that meeting. An important related event had taken place on July 3, he added, when the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunition, supplementing the International Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (the Firearms Protocol) had entered into force.
While much had been accomplished, there was no time for complacency, he insisted. As the international community explored ways and means to implement the Programme of Action, as it increased cooperation and understanding of the common challenges, countries had an opportunity to learn and share a common vision on how to respond to that global challenge. The Department of Disarmament Affairs, together with other departments of the Secretariat, was committed to assist the international community in its efforts.
Chairman PASI PATOKALLIO (Finland), noting that small arms and light weapons touched the lives and contributed to deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, said there was an urgent need to work locally, nationally, regionally and globally to eradicate small arms and light weapons. Small arms trafficking and proliferation directly affected people on every continent. The upcoming general debate would be an opportunity to report on the implementation of various measures agreed upon in the Programme of Action. He urged delegations to respond at the general debate to questions he had made available to them.
Secretary-General KOFI ANNAN, in a statement delivered by Under-Secretary-General ABE, said that since the adoption of the Programme of Action, States had demonstrated a commitment to seriously address the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. National action plans had been developed and there had been enhanced dialogue among States. Despite such progress, however, the international community must not relax its efforts to combat the scourge of illicit small arms and light weapons, which continued to kill hundreds of thousands of people every year. He hoped this biannual meeting would identify actions that were needed to further enhance the Programme of Action at the national, regional and global levels.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, JOHN FREEMAN (United Kingdom) said that much progress had been made since the 2001 Conference, but, four years on, the United Kingdom remained convinced that the illegal trade and transfer in small arms and light weapons still presented a serious challenge. The Secretary-General had highlighted the threat in his “In Larger Freedom” report. Since September 2001, the alarming rise in terrorist activities had also underlined the importance of the issue.
During the Meeting, the European Union was prepared to share the progress made and was ready to learn from the experiences of other partners, international organizations and non-governmental organizations. The second meeting was an important opportunity to assess progress so far and maintain momentum on implementation. The European Union suggested that the focus should be on such crucial elements as transfer controls, marking and tracing, brokering activities and the relationship between small arms and development. In assessing initiatives undertaken since 2003, he wished to underline that the Union had sought to comply with the provisions of the Programme of Action on several levels by strengthening domestic legislation in order to identify gaps and eliminate loopholes; by actively contributing to regional initiatives; and by providing financial and technical assistance to countries affected by widespread accumulation of those arms.
The Union members had supported the implementation of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) document on small arms and light weapons and the dissemination of OSCE best-practice guidelines on small arms control. The Union had also contributed to the new OSCE agreements on ammunition stockpile management, end-user certificates and verification procedures, brokering and exports on man portable air defence systems (MANPADS). Union members supported new initiatives that included tightened controls over MANPADS, enhanced transparency in small arms transfers, and elements for national legislation on brokering. From 2003 to 2005, the Union had allocated a total of 6 million euros for actions undertaken by affected countries to deal with the excessive accumulation of such weapons. In particular, support had been provided to projects in Cambodia, Latin America and Albania. The Union was now considering contributing 1 million euro to finance destruction of small arms and light weapons in Ukraine. Substantial contribution had been provided to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration projects in a number of countries.
Among the main areas that required further attention, he listed the issue of brokering controls. Strict domestic legislation on brokering, as required by the Union common position, should be accompanied by transparent exchange of information. The Union had been among those who had insisted on the inclusion in last year’s small arms and light weapons resolution of a mandate to establish a group of governmental experts on illicit brokering. The group should be convened as soon as possible after the 2006 review meeting. Also needed were improved transfer controls and cooperation. The question of transfer to non-State actors was another area of great relevance. The use of MANPADS to endanger civil aviation highlighted the problems caused by transfers to non-State actors. Global standards on the marking and tracing of small arms and light weapons were essentials, and end-user certificates needed to be dealt with.
Welcoming the hard work done by the Working Group on Marking and Tracing, he expressed regret that no operational provisions on ammunition and peacekeeping operations had been included, and that the instrument was not legally binding. Assistance should be provided to conflict-prone countries to foster security, disarmament and demobilization, as well as reintegration of ex-combatants into civil society. He welcomed the work within the United Nations to develop common international standards for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and called for sharing of additional best practice on small arms reduction programmes. He also encouraged countries to explore the link between security and development and to address armed violence and arms availability as part of their development assistance programmes. Full account should be taken of the work of relevant non-governmental organizations and civil society.
JOHN DAUTH (Australia) said his delegation was firmly committed to doing its part to implement the Programme of Action. At the national level, Australia had adopted some of the most stringent firearms laws and regulations in the world. It was also developing a more comprehensive National Firearms Management System to provide for the national trafficking of all firearms from the point of import or manufacture to the point of export or destruction.
At the regional level, Australia had assisted the Pacific Islands Forum in developing a common regional approach to weapons control. Last year it co-sponsored with Japan and the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament a workshop in Fiji on Small Arms and Light Weapons for the South Pacific. He said his Government had provided $300,000 to a gun summit in Papua New Guinea last week and continued to provide practical assistance to East Timor, Fiji and Samoa on stockpile security through the construction of armouries.
He added that Australia was committed to building on the recent progress at the international level since the last Biennial Meeting of States and welcomed the successful conclusion of negotiations for an international instrument on the marking and tracing of small arms and light weapons.
Mr. REHREN (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), said that almost 7,000 people would become victims to acts of violence related to the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons throughout the duration of the Meeting. The problem of the illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons was linked to the illicit drug trade, organized crime and terrorism. The impact with which the scourge attacked some sectors of his subregion compelled the States to act in a coordinated way. Such coordination started at the border level, continued at the subregional and regional levels and finally reached the global one. On the regional level, the countries of the region had acted in a concerted and pioneering way within the framework of the Organization of American States (OAS), through the adoption of the Inter-American Convention on firearms, ammunitions, explosives and related materials.
He said that the same determination to look into ways within the international law had been evidenced a few weeks ago, during the meeting of the Working Group negotiating an instrument on marking and tracing. There, MERCOSUR and associated States had stressed the need for a binding instrument. However, the Group had been disappointed with the results of the meeting. Member States of the United Nations had lost a great opportunity to show their determination to fight that threat to peace and international security.
Continuing, he expressed the hope that the current meeting would offer an opportunity to identify elements with enough consensus to be dealt with during the revision Conference in 2006. It would be necessary to strengthen mechanisms regarding transfer control. For example, minimum common standards to authorize the export or the prohibition of transfer to non-State actors could be set. Further, a mechanism for greater assistance and cooperation within the framework of the Programme of Action was needed. MERCOSUR and associated States would favour initiatives presented in that direction.
Within MERCOSUR, a working group on firearms and ammunitions had been established a few years ago, he said, whose functions included the evaluation of cooperation, harmonization of legislation, identification of areas subject to collective action, detection of subregional vulnerabilities and their possible solutions, as well as legal aspects on customs, border controls, common registries, establishment of focal points for the exchange of information and regulations of such exchange on manufacture, export, import and legal aspects related to firearms, ammunitions and explosives. There had been institutional approaches through the Regional Centre for Disarmament, which had its headquarters in Lima, as well as with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to find areas for cooperation.
TIM MARTIN (Canada) said the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons exacerbated crime and conflict, undermined respect for humanitarian law, hindered economic development and interfered with peacebuilding efforts. Canada considered the small arms and light weapons problem as a multidimensional threat that required multifaceted action incorporating arms control, crime reduction and peacebuilding components. The ultimate goal was to advance human security. Hence, Canada promoted a people-centred approach to small arms and light weapons that emphasized safety and the well-being of people and their communities. Acknowledging the important contributions made by civil society to the implementation of the Programme of Action, his delegation encouraged a broader civil society participation in this regard.
He said a broader approach to illicit brokering was also required to combat the undermining of compliance with Security Council arms embargoes and efforts to build peace in fragile regions. The next logical step was an international instrument that would assist States to identify and trace those who violated arms embargoes. Canada also encouraged the inclusion of community development initiatives into disarmament programmes, taking into account the needs of all members of the community.
A revised programme of action should include serious attention to the regulation of civilian possession of small arms, the strengthening of State responsibility on arms transfers, and the incorporation of the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials to tackle the misuse of small arms. Canada looked forward to working with other governments and civil society partners to identify common priorities for further action to address the pressing problem of the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons.
ZHANG YISHAN (China) noted the progress that the international community had achieved in implementing the Programme of Action at the national, regional and global levels. Many countries had established national points of contact and coordination agencies and had developed and improved national legislation to combat the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons. Regional organizations had launched various initiatives and taken concrete measures to address the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. Efforts at the global level were also proceeding smoothly.
Turning to the need for renewed efforts in the future, he said domestic legislation must be improved. There were still loopholes in the management by some countries in the marking and record-keeping of small arms and light weapons. Law enforcement in some countries needed to be strengthened and there was a need to further enhance information-sharing and cooperation among law enforcement authorities of different countries.
He added that States bore the primary responsibility to enhance their own institution and capacity-building, to improve their legal systems and strengthen their law enforcement. International and regional coordination should be enhanced, with each region identifying its priorities and improving communication and cooperation among countries in the region. The United Nations, too, must continue to play a leading role in combating the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons.
ADIYATWIDI ADIWOSO ASMADY (Indonesia) said that the challenges and threats posed by illicit small arms and light weapons could not be resolved by any nation acting alone. In a country like Indonesia, which faced separatist movements, the acquisition of such weapons by separatist groups certainly intensified the conflict between the State and the separatists. By and large, accelerated proliferation of small arms and light weapons and their uncontrolled flow had prolonged the duration and enlarged the scope of such conflicts. Furthermore, the illicit transfer of small arms and light weapons posed grave threats to the country’s territorial integrity. The authorities also had to address the problems of the transfer of arms from one conflict zone to the others, recovering used weapons, confiscating them from unlawful holders, as well as home-made weapons and arms smuggling.
A critical element in moving forward against illicit trade and acquisition rested with credible national laws, she continued. Although such legislation and regulations, including the criminalization of illegal manufacturing, processing and stockpiling of such weapons were already in place in Indonesia, they were considered to be inadequate to address the multiple challenges faced by the country. Hence, the question of loopholes was being addressed through the strengthening of legal foundations and regulations. Her Government was engaged in the task of expanding, strengthening and improving the national legislation and procedures to ensure compliance with its regulations to prevent the illicit trade. Despite a lack of adequate resources and limited legal framework, a series of operations had been launched to confiscate illegal weapons. Her country would welcome other countries’ expertise in that regard, as well as technical and financial assistance to further strengthen its capacity.
Turning to regional efforts, she said that in the framework of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the problems of small arms and light weapons were being addressed as an integral part of broader transnational crimes, such as terrorism, drug trafficking, human trafficking, money-laundering and sea piracy. While cooperation on such broad issues was certainly required, it was also important for ASEAN to acknowledge that such problems needed to be tackled as separate issues and given a higher priority. To share common problems, ASEAN had also encouraged cooperation among its members. For instance, the Governments of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines had signed an agreement on information-sharing and establishment of communication procedures. Indonesia’s problems concerning small arms and light weapons could become more complicated in the future. All efforts to combat and eradicate that menace must be supported by better law, facilities and coordination among various agencies. Efforts at the national level must be supported by significant regional and global activities within the framework of the 2001 Programme of Action.
MONA JUUL (Norway) said that her country’s commitment to the Programme of Action reflected its recognition that the illicit spread of small arms and light weapons seriously undermined development and peace initiatives. Armed violence and the fear of violence were among the most pressing problems of the world’s poorest regions. Among other important issues, she listed unaccounted arms transfers to conflict regions. Although small arms themselves did not cause conflict, easy access to them made violence more lethal and conflict more protracted. In addressing the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, governments must develop better laws, regulations and policies to prevent arms from falling in the wrong hands. Just as important was to work, from a humanitarian and development perspective, with the communities that were affected by armed violence. It was important to discuss the issue in relation to development, bridging the divide between security and development concerns.
Among the most high-profile initiatives so far, she mentioned those to disarm ex-combatants. Without successful disarmament, conflicts were more likely to reignite. Specific small arms programmes were needed in countries recovering from conflict and in those that suffered from other forms of armed violence. Some of the most interesting were arms for development programmes, especially in Sierra Leone, Mozambique and Cambodia. Those could serve as a source of inspiration to others. Sensitivity to small arms issues could be integrated into wider development and humanitarian programmes. As governments tackled small arms from a development and humanitarian perspective, they should also work together to prevent further proliferation of small arms into areas of concern. A key part of that was control over illegal trade in weapons.
The United Nations Programme of Action remained a key instrument to control illicit arms trafficking, she said. It was necessary to work on several tracks to speed up its implementation. Much legal and administrative work had been done, but it was still necessary to streamline countries’ national legislation and harmonize it with that of neighbouring countries. Regional efforts were of particular importance. Norway continued to assist such efforts. Civil society partners had proven to be constructive partners in that regard. Marking and tracing, controlling arms brokering and destroying surplus weapons were among the main means identified in the Programme of Action. The report by the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change had noted the threat posed by small arms and light weapons and recommended that Member States should expedite and conclude negotiations on legally binding agreements on marking and tracing, as well as brokering and transfer of small arms and light weapons. The Secretary-General had supported that recommendation in his “In Larger Freedom” report. Now it was up to Member States to act on those recommendations and make them part of the September Summit outcome document.
She commended the efforts of the Working Group, which had produced agreement on a politically binding instrument just three weeks ago. The next step to deal effectively with the issue of illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was to develop effective national legislation on brokering and enhance international cooperation in that area. There was now greater awareness of the nature of the problem and a number of commendable collection and destruction programmes had been initiated through the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and nationally by countries like South Africa. Norway contributed to a number of those programmes. Other problems that needed to be addressed included the question of civilian ownership of small arms and light weapons and the efforts to secure agreement on an arms trade treaty covering all trade in conventional weapons.
CHUKA CHIDEBELEZE UDEDIBIA (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the full implementation of the 2001 United Nations Programme of Action on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons remained a key element in promoting long-term security and creating conditions for sustainable development in Africa. At the national level, individual African countries had continued to adopt various measures towards the implementation of the Programme of Action. There was wide recognition of the consequences of illicit circulation of small arms on peace, security and stability, and the matter had received priority attention. The same motivation had guided efforts at regional and subregional levels.
He said that since the first Biennial Meeting in 2003, efforts by African States in stemming illicit arms trafficking in the region had met with tremendous difficulties, arising mostly from the need for capacity-building and different forms of assistance, as well as the lack of meaningful international cooperation in promoting effective controls on the supply-side of the small arms trade. The African Group urged Member States to pay special attention to these concerns. There was a need for greater cooperation in the establishment of necessary structures for promoting durable peace. He reiterated the need for effective disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes in post-conflict areas to be implemented under the regular United Nations budget and as part of the mandate of peacekeeping operations.
The African Group welcomed the agreement reached last month in New York on an international instrument in tracing illicit small arms and light weapons as a basis for the emergence of a stronger instrument in the future that would effectively tackle the problem. Arms brokering played a significant role in the illicit arms trade and the African Group called for the establishment of an effective international regime to control the practice. It further urged Member States to limit trade in small arms and light weapons to governments and to authorized registered licensed traders. That was the most effective way to control the diversion of such weapons into illicit networks.
YOSHIKI MINE (Japan) said that his country had actively and steadily implemented the Programme of Action since its adoption in 2001. Within the framework of the United Nations, Japan, together with Colombia and South Africa, had co-sponsored several General Assembly resolutions on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. It had also contributed to regional and subregional efforts to implement the Programme by holding seminars in Almaty, Fiji, Beijing and other Asian cities, in cooperation with the United Nations. One of the measures to gauge the current status of implementation was the submission of reports from Member States. In that respect, it may be necessary to reconsider appropriate contents of the reports, frequency of their submission and other relevant issues. The upcoming Review Conference would be a good opportunity to examine, among other things, how to make best use of national reports.
Continuing, he emphasized the importance of a “two-pillar approach” -- promoting the projects on the ground and the international rule-making efforts, in parallel. His country would continue to provide assistance to projects for collecting and destroying surplus small arms and light weapons in affected countries and for capacity-building in areas of law enforcement and import/export control. Japan would also strengthen its efforts in providing aid in the field of conflict prevention and post-conflict recovery processes, which constituted an important element of peacebuilding, a major focus of Japan’s mid-term official development assistance (ODA) policy. He hoped the international community would render wider support and cooperation to the Coordinate Action on Small Arms (CASA) project, which was expected to work as a comprehensive database on a variety of aspects of small arms and light weapons and to provide basic data necessary for the formation and implementation of relevant projects.
Japan intended to promote further cooperation with small arms- and light weapons-affected countries, in particular in Africa, he said. The country’s Prime Minister had recently announced that Japan would enhance its support to “Consolidation of Peace” in Africa, focusing on human security. He welcomed the consensus reached on the international instrument to enable States to identify and trace illicit small arms and light weapons. It was essential that each State promote international cooperation in tracing and steadily implement that document. By gathering the momentum created by the open-ended working group on tracing, the group of governmental experts on brokering, which would be established after the Review Conference next year, was also expected to produce a positive outcome. Further action was needed to strengthen controls over transfer of small arms and light weapons. Japan did not, in principle, export arms to other countries in accordance with the relevant laws, as well as the three principles of arms export.
JAYANT PRASAD (India) said that given the prevalence of intra-State conflicts and terrorism in different parts of the world, it was critical to combat the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, which gravely endangered the security of States and hampered development. The ready availability of illicit weapons fostered organized crime, drug trafficking and illegal exploitation of natural resources and promoted sectarian violence, insurgency and terrorism. India, therefore, remained committed to the full implementation of the Programme of Action.
He said India had established comprehensive legal and administrative mechanisms for effective control and regulation of such weapons. All small arms and light weapons manufactured in India were uniquely marked and a comprehensive record enabled their tracing. Furthermore, India followed a strict policy with regard to export of small arms and light weapons that included the requirement for end-use certificates and a ban on export to countries under United Nations embargo.
He added that India would have liked the Programme of Action to include additional provisions to increase its efficacy, such as prohibiting the transfer of weapons to non-State actors and individuals and groups not authorized to possess such weapons. His Government would remain focused on national implementation of the Programme of Action.
PETR LITRAVIN (Russian Federation) said that the progress achieved since 2001 included increased awareness of the threat of small arms and light weapons and the efforts to draft an international instrument to stop the illicit trade. However, despite all the efforts, the problem persisted and had even become worse in certain regions. One of the main challenges remaining was the implementation of the provisions of the Programme of Action related to strengthening national legislation, improving regional efforts and increasing coordination of efforts to prevent the traffic of small arms and light weapons.
Continuing, he emphasized the importance of preventing small arms and light weapons from falling into the wrong hands. Towards that end, it was important to refuse to supply non-State actors and improve the international small arms trade regime. Reducing the number of intermediaries would reduce the chance of the small arms and light weapons being leaked to non-authorized users. Russia had important experience in that regard. Another challenge that did not receive adequate attention was unlicensed manufacturing of small arms and light weapons. Some manufacturers also used expired licenses. Random checks of storage facilities by exporters could be of great use, particularly as far as man portable air defence systems were concerned. The issue of intensifying control over the supply of those weapons was the focus of attention of many international organizations, as well as the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). He welcomed the decision to make MANPADS a separate item on the United Nations registry. The role of the United Nations and its potential had not yet been fully tapped in that regard.
On regional aspects, he said that CIS had adopted a decision on control measures with regard to international transfer of MANPADS. Countries of the CIS were working on a draft multilateral agreement on operational information on such weapons that were sold and acquired among CIS. He also drew attention to the fact that international efforts to curb illegal spread of small arms and light weapons could be achieved only if both exporters and recipients of small arms and light weapons were involved.
ALFRED MOUNGARA MOUSSOTSI (Gabon), noting his delegation’s concern about the uncontrolled circulation of small arms in regions of armed conflict, said his Government had taken numerous steps to combat the problem. There were two ministries that worked to combat the sale, import and possession of small arms. With regard to regulation of these weapons, a number of laws had been adopted to improve control. Small arms and light weapons fuelled banditry and, therefore, his Government was creating agencies to deal with the cross-border illicit movement of arms. Those efforts had led to the effective halting of banditry and to the seizure of illicit weapons. There was a focal point appointed to create synergy among security forces to combat small arms and light weapons.
He added that Gabon subscribed to the consensus on a policy for tracing and marking small arms and light weapons. That was an important step that should lead to strong legal instruments to prevent small arms and light weapons from falling into the hands of criminals.
ALI’IOAIGA FETURI ELISAIA (Samoa), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum Group, said that while his region remained relatively free from large-scale transfers of automatic weapons, the countries of the Group understood the dangers posed by the uncontrolled and ready availability of small arms and light weapons. The region was taking action. Pacific Island countries continued to cooperate closely to address the challenges of small arms proliferation in the region, including through the Nadi Framework -- the region’s agreed common approach to weapons control. In 2003, the Framework’s draft model firearms legislation had been endorsed by the Forum leaders, which includes provisions governing marking and record-keeping for civilian and security force weapons, as well as border controls.
Last year, Australia, Japan and the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament had co-sponsored a workshop in Fiji on small arms and light weapons in the South Pacific, he continued. The region had also made important progress towards improving the physical security and safety of its armouries. In early 2006, New Zealand would host a firearms safety seminar for Pacific Island participants. The regional assistance mission to the Solomon Islands was an excellent example of regional cooperation to combat the destabilizing impact of small arms proliferation.
CELESTINO MIGLIORE, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said that the Programme of Action adopted in 2001 had led to a growing awareness of the complex question of the control of small arms and light weapons. Despite that positive development, greater international cooperation was needed to effectively block the spread and availability of illicit arms. There was a need to adopt a more comprehensive concept of collective security, one that would tackle both new and old threats and that would address the security concerns of all States.
He said the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was a threat to peace, development, and security. The Holy See called for a common approach, not only towards the illicit trade in small arms, but also to related activities such as terrorism, organized crime and the trafficking in persons. There was also a critical need to consider the special concerns of children in disarmament programmes. Long-term strategies must be developed to halt the scourge of small arms proliferation for the sake of promoting peace and security.
ALFREDO LABBÉ (Chile) associated himself with the position of MERCOSUR and said that the establishment of an expert group to tackle the issue of illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects might have been a beginning of a strategy to tackle a serious problem that might be called an epidemic. An intrinsic link existed between development, disarmament and human rights. Small arms and light weapons mostly affected the vulnerable groups of the population, including women, children and the elderly. Their spread threatened the peace and security all over the globe and fuelled criminality.
Most small arms and light weapons began their life as a legal commodity, he continued. Tracing those weapons was key to the struggle to prevent and combat their illicit spread, and States needed to adopt programmes of action that included tracing activities. An international instrument was needed to fill the gaps of existing treaties and enhance them. Chile was actively participating in the efforts to curb the scourge of small arms and light weapons and was taking an active part in the work of the MERCOSUR. One important element in combating the illegal spread of small arms and light weapons was the need to provide a legally binding character to relevant international instruments on the matter. His delegation had made that position public in the recent negotiations on marking and tracing. Unfortunately, it had been impossible to achieve a legally binding instrument -- a fact that his delegation regretted.
SERENA JOSEPH-HARRIS (Trinidad and Tobago) said the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was the most significant instrument of crime and was linked to the drug trade and other transnational criminal activity. The use of small arms and light weapons had contributed to drug-related violence, gang warfare, youth violence, and random street crimes against private citizens.
Trinidad and Tobago did not produce firearms and their prevalence could only be attributed to the illicit entry of small arms and light weapons at authorized and non-official ports of entry. In response to that vulnerability, which was exacerbated by her country’s marine frontiers, her Government had made special efforts to increase its marine and aerial surveillance capacities.
She said Trinidad and Tobago’s institutional framework to combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was being bolstered on all fronts. Legislation had been enacted to increase penalties for illicit arms trafficking and possession. Enforcement measures were being complemented with initiatives aimed at securing both aerial and marine borders. A regional security plan was being developed to eradicate the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons. She said her Government recognized that the only effective approach to the eradication of the illicit arms trade was through a strategic framework of measures complemented by multilateral cooperation at regional and global levels.
Mr. HUSY (Switzerland) said that work of the open-ended working group to negotiate an international instrument on tracing small arms and light weapons, which his country had had the honour to chair, had been successful in many respects. Also, for some time now, some States had been providing assistance to countries encountering difficulties in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and destroying stocks of small arms and light weapons. There had been a remarkable success in United Nations cooperation with regional organizations. Increasingly, the international community could count on contributions from the civil society and research institutions. For its part, Switzerland would continue to invest in research.
While much had been achieved, the road ahead was still long, he continued. As 2006 review conference approached, he stressed the importance of stepped-up cooperative efforts. If was important to monitor implementation of existing instruments and learn lessons from experience and best practices. It would be necessary to establish a mechanism to enhance the success in 2006 and beyond. The implementation of the Programme of Action meant that it was necessary to set criteria that were legally binding in the control of exports. Uniform norms and standards were needed. Among the issues that had not been dealt with by the Programme of Action was the role of non-State actors and the danger of small arms and light weapons falling into the wrong hands. The options to address those issues included efforts to limit the supply to armed groups, and better customs and border controls in the regions of conflict. Stocks of small arms and light weapons should be monitored in post-conflict situations. It was also important to establish dialogue with non-State armed groups.
ANDREI GALBUR (Republic of Moldova), noting that the problem of small arms and light weapons undermined security and development, stressed the importance of regional cooperation and the role of regional organizations in combating the traffic of illicit arms. Despite the efforts undertaken by his Government, he said Moldova could not implement the measures stipulated by the Programme of Action on its entire territory, due to the presence of a separatist region that was controlled by a regime supported from abroad. The existence of that separatist regime enhanced the problem of small arms and light weapons not only in Moldova, but in the entire region, since one of the main reasons for its continued existence was the illegal production and trade of arms. There was no national or international control over the manufacture of small arms in that region of his country. He, therefore, reiterated the importance and necessity of an international inspection mission to that region.
Of particular concern to his Government were the weapons and ammunition stockpiled in the Transnistria region belonging to the Russian Federation. The illegal foreign military presence destabilized security in the whole region. His delegation called on the Russian Federation to complete without delay the withdrawal of its troops and military equipment from the territory of Moldova, in accordance with its 1999 Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Istanbul Summit commitments.
MEIR ITZCHAKI (Israel) said that illicit proliferation and use of small arms and light weapons affected societies worldwide and posed a serious threat to international peace and security, post-conflict rebuilding and reconciliation. For many States the Programme of Action to address the problem of illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was not just a theoretical exercise, but a daily practice. By adopting that document in July 2001, the international community has expressed its determination to put an end to the scourge. The Programme of Action was, therefore, a significant milestone and an important contribution that, if implemented, would enable States to better curb illicit trade. It seemed, however, that there was still a need for many aspects of the Programme of Action to be implemented, for human suffering caused by small arms and light weapons continued. That suffering was often aggravated by the widespread use of small arms and light weapons by terrorists, organized crime and for the abuse of human rights.
For Israel, he said, it was self-evident that the international fight against terrorism and illicit trade in small arms must begin at home. It could only succeed if every single State made a sincere commitment to prevent small arms from being obtained by the wrong hands, in particular terrorists. Controls must encompass strong legislation, including the licensing of production and the possession of all small arms and light weapons. Laws and regulations needed to ensure robust export controls, including licensing brokers. Such measures were not the objective in themselves, but rather the means to ensure that no arms reached the hands of those seeking to create impediments to normal life for many people around the world. In that context, his Government welcomed the positive outcome of the Open-Ended Working Group on the International Instrument for the Timely and Reliable Identification and Tracing of Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons, which it viewed as another means for cooperation in the attempt to curb illicit the traffic. States had not only a prerogative, but also a national responsibility to ensure that each and every small arms was properly marked and accurate records were kept. Israel’s experience and practices in the field of marking and record-keeping had been reflected in the new instrument.
Today, there was a firm Israeli desire to cease hostilities, he said. His Government was about to carry out its decision of disengagement from the Gaza Strip and northern part of the West Bank. He expected that the Palestinian Authority would implement its commitment to collect small arms from terrorist organizations and bar terrorists from obtaining small arms and munitions. Denying the financial and other resources to acquire them was a fundamental and crucial step for progress in the peace process.
He added that Israeli civilians had been particularly vulnerable to the effects of illicit transfers and use of small arms. The terrorist attack in Mombassa, in November 2002, where anti-aircraft missiles had been fired at an Israeli civilian aircraft carrying more than a hundred passengers, highlighted the problem of MANPADS falling into the wrong hands. There must be safeguards to ensure that those weapons were not supplied to clients that might transfer them to terrorists. In that regard, the Government of Israel had incorporated the Wassenaar guidelines on the transfer of MANPADS. He also welcomed the First Committee resolution on MANPADS and, in particular, the call not to transfer them into the hands on non-State actors. In order to address that problem, a comprehensive approach should be adopted. His Government was looking for a way to better address the MANPADS problem, in both the United Nations framework and other appropriate fora.
JEAN-PIERRE VIDON (France) said his country worked within the European framework. He noted that four years after the consensus reached on the Programme of Action, the supply of thousands of illicit small arms and light weapons to non-State actors continued to have a devastating impact on the rule of law, the economy and on security. It also had a severe impact on social systems and on the health of women and children. Those non-State actors and armed criminal groups had the capacity to destabilize States and regions with almost total impunity. That impunity was something that those who were involved in trafficking had benefited from. They have been able to hide by the means of loopholes in both national and international legal systems.
He said the adoption of the Programme of Action in 2001 was only one step in the process of combating the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. There was a need for a comprehensive approach incorporating regional and global approaches. France hoped there would be joint criteria at international level on transfers of small arms and light weapons. On a regional level, pragmatic steps were necessary to improve cross-border cooperation among the security services of States. His delegation hoped the thematic debates would allow States to improve implementation of the Programme of Action.
ALEG IVANOU (Belarus) said that the Programme of Action had been significantly supplemented with the international instrument on tracing, adopted in June 2005. In spite of the difficult negotiations, the adoption of the instrument, in principle, symbolized the capacity of States to reach consensus on the way to solving urging problems connected with the illicit trade. While confirming his country’s commitment to the international efforts in that regard, he said it was important to take into account the views of all States involved in the process, in order for the mechanism to become universal and effective in practice.
He welcomed the request of the Assembly, in resolution 59/86, to establish a group of governmental experts to consider further steps to enhance international cooperation in preventing and eradicating illicit brokering in small arms. It was important to clearly define the mandate of the group before it started its work. Belarus also attached special attention to the issues of transparency and information exchange. The country prepared and presented, on an annual basis, national reports on its export control, arms and military equipment export policy, as well as the national data for the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms.
On the way to the practical implementation of the programmes connected with small arms, Belarus had made an official request for assistance in destroying its surplus and increasing the security of small arms stockpiles at the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation in Vienna, in 2003. At present, the OSCE experts, in close cooperation with Belarus, were preparing a final version of the project to attract financial and technical assistance. Taking into account the importance of the efforts to prevent especially dangerous small arms, first of all MANPADS, from getting into the hands of terrorists, Belarus had destroyed 14 such weapons in May 2005, as a goodwill step. In the future, priority should be given to elaborating universal mechanisms on assisting States in salving the small arms-related problems, including destruction of the conventional arms surplus. It was worth considering strengthening the cooperation between the United Nations and the OSCE in the sphere of small arms and light weapons control. That and other urgent issues should be considered during the 2006 Review Conference.
LUIS ALFONSO DE ALBA (Mexico) said that the Organization of American States (OAS) continued to support the efforts of States parties to combat the manufacture and traffic of illicit firearms. He noted that there were still many States that showed no progress in implementing the Programme of Action. Mexico attached major importance to the follow-up and implementation of the Programme of Action. His Government had worked to combat the proliferation of small arms and light weapons on the national and regional levels. Mexico’s legislature was considering a bill on the reform of federal law on firearms and explosives to maximize cooperation and to improve procedures on providing licenses to individuals, and to State and private security entities. There was a need to agree on specific measures for a binding legal instrument that would strengthen international cooperation on this matter.
He added that it was critical to regulate the possession by civilians of small arms and light weapons. Controlling that would greatly contribute to increased security and combat the culture of violence. He highlighted the contribution of many non-governmental organizations in implementing the Programme of Action and in developing complementary initiatives.
LOTFI BOUCHAARA (Morocco) said that considerable progress had been made in the implementation of the 2001 Programme of Action. It included adoption of an international instrument on marking and tracing of small arms and light weapons, in June. It was regrettable that agreement on a legally binding instrument had not been achieved. Nevertheless, the new instrument could play an important role in complementing the existing instruments. He welcomed the decision to establish a group of experts on brokering.
The impact of small arms and light weapons trafficking on peace and stability in Africa was enormous, he continued. Thus, it was important to adopt practical and tangible measures to combat that scourge. He welcomed the encouraging role played by the United Nations in that field. Morocco attached great importance to the implementation of the Programme of Action and would be submitting its report, detailing legislative action and procedures for production, stockpiling and tracing of small arms and light weapons in effect in the country. Prior to the forthcoming 2006 Review Conference, it was important to identify the main areas of future action and reconfirm countries’ commitment to the Programme of Action.
XOLISA MFUNDISO MABHONGO (South Africa), highlighting several aspects of his country’s national report, said regulations had been promulgated for the two main legislative frameworks addressing issues related to small arms and light weapons. South African authorities had declared an amnesty from prosecution for the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition for the first half of 2005, leading to the recovery of thousands of firearms. A public awareness campaign had also been conducted during this period.
At the regional level, one of the foremost issues to be undertaken was the full implementation of the provisions of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Firearms Protocol, which provided the region with a legal basis upon which to deal with both the legal and illicit trade in firearms. South Africa remained committed to the implementation of the Programme of Action and hoped the meeting would enable the international community to obtain a clearer sense of the challenges that lay ahead in the implementation of the Programme of Action at the global, regional and, most importantly, at the national levels.
STEVE COSTNER (United States) said that effective and candid reporting by both affected States and donors should help match the needs to potential resources. The international community could not seriously consider the way forward or develop new initiatives for 2006 until it had thoroughly assessed progress in fulfilling commitments made in the Programme of Action. Just last month, Member States had concluded negotiations on an international instrument to enable them to identify and trace illicit small arms and light weapons. He welcomed that important achievement and looked forward to its adoption by the General Assembly this fall.
A good example of significant strides in implementing the Programme of Action on a regional basis was the way MANPADS had been addressed, he continued. At the national level, he applauded the States that had taken the initiative to seek small arms destruction assistance. One of his country’s most significant contributions had been in the area of destruction assistance projects run by the Department of State, coupled with physical security and stockpile management programmes by the Defence Threat Destruction Agency. Such programmes were a high priority for his country. Among the activities undertaken by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in support of the Programme of Action was a Basic Firearms Identification Course for international law enforcement professionals. Between January 1994 and December 2004, the ATF had responded to over 147,000 requests from foreign governments for assistance in tracing illegal firearms.
In conclusion, he said that the Programme of Action had given the international community a solid foundation four years ago to forcefully tackle the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. He urged States to continue their work to develop and implement all provisions of the Programme. That would require addressing many factors underlying the illicit trade worldwide. Such trade persisted, in part, because of lax enforcement of laws and regulations, or their absence altogether. It also occurred because of poor governance and an environment that tolerated illegal commerce, often involving corruption among government officials. Stricter border security and export controls would certainly bring the international community closer to its goals.
FRANCIS K. BUTAGIRA (Uganda) said peace and development could not prevail, as long as there was rampant illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. His Government had adopted a national action plan, which provided a framework for coordinated action to reduce the volume of small arms and light weapons in circulation and to prevent the proliferation of such arms. Uganda was in the process of reviewing national legislation, in order to conform with the requirements of the Programme of Action. Guidelines had been developed espousing best practices in stockpile management, import and export and transfer control, and the marking and tracing of weapons, along with public awareness and legal assistance. He said the ongoing legislative review process would reinforce national controls that required permits to include provisions for verification of permits and requirements for end-user certificates.
He said his delegation welcomed the increased international interest to promote stronger regulation in international arms transfers and supported all international efforts to secure international agreements on common standards on small arms and light weapons transfers. His Government was convinced that only a peaceful approach to disarmament would lead to a more sustainable peace.
AMINU BASHIR WALI (Nigeria) said that his country had spent over $12 billion in the last 15 years on different measures to stem the tide of recurrent conflicts in West Africa, which was fuelled by the illicit circulation of an estimated 8 million small arms and light weapons in the subregion. His country’s support for international efforts to control the circulation of those arms and weapons to non-State actors was, therefore, not in doubt. He viewed as a positive development the recent agreement on an international instrument that would enable States to identify and trace illicit small arms in a timely and reliable manner. While indicating the political will of the international community to address the problem, that instrument should be considered as only a stopgap measure, for it was only through a legally binding international instrument that the transfer of small arms to non-State actors could be controlled and criminalized.
Turning to the national efforts, he said that the Government had constituted the National Committee on Small Arms in May 2001. There was now a national arms register database, which was useful for policy formulation. The country operated a strict firearms regime: under the Firearms Control Act, possession or acquisition of firearms for personal use required approval of the highest authority in the land. Such an approval was given only in exceptional cases. Efforts to control illicit small arms had been extended to the nation’s borders. For example, in November 2003, the country had hosted a seminar on enhanced border control and security among the border operatives of Benin and Niger. There was now regular joint border patrol, which enabled the three countries to keep track of illicit small arms. Nigeria’s police had intensified its cooperation with its counterparts from other West African countries in tracing the movement of illicit arms across borders through the Interpol Bureau for West Africa. Some 2,564 illegal firearms and 118,574 pieces of assorted ammunition had been confiscated in the second quarter of 2004.
Support of the international community for the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons should be reflected in the adoption and implementation of practical measures to eliminate the threat of illicit small arms. Those should include genuine attempts to prevent conflicts and support negotiated solutions. It was important to create a political atmosphere conducive to harmonious relationships at national and sub-national levels and foster a sense of belonging among all populations in affected countries and regions. But above all, the international community should address the economic challenges faced by the victims to enable them to have a stake in their policies.
TOYI ASSIAH (Togo) said his Government’s national commission had taken up the recommendations of the Programme of Action. There was a need for long-term strategies to put an end to illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in order to prevent conflict. His country was facing a resurgence of the scourge and he called on the international community to develop an effective strategy to combat the problem. His Government had initiated plans to train trainers and to build national capacity to more effectively combat the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. It was only by combining efforts at the national, regional and global level that the full implementation of the Programme of Action could be achieved. Noting that the proliferation of illicit arms was closely tied to poverty, he said the mobilization of financial resources could help eradicate the scourge of that illicit trade.
NICHOLAS KIDDLE (New Zealand) said that proliferation of small arms and light weapons remained a significant challenge, but he was encouraged by the progress in strengthening controls, as evidenced by the entry into force of the Firearms Protocol and the adoption of the instrument on tracing the illicit small arms and light weapons. His country remained committed to achieving further progress at brokering and to a successful outcome of the 2006 Review Conference. He looked forward to the establishment of the group of experts on brokering. Preparing for the challenges in 2006 and 2007, he stressed his full support for Oxfam’s initiative for an arms trade treaty. In addition, his delegation was closely examining recent proposals put forward by the Government of the United Kingdom.
At the regional level, the Pacific remained the highest priority for his country, he said. This year, the country planned to assist several projects on armoury, small arms munitions, and disposal programmes in Tonga, Cook Islands, Vanuatu and Tokelau. The country also remained committed to the regional assistance mission in the Solomon Islands. As outlined by the Pacific Islands Forum, the country intended to follow up the Nadi initiative with a new seminar on firearms safety, to be hosted in New Zealand in February 2006.
CHEIKH NIANG (Senegal) said the ravage caused by the illicit spread of small arms and light weapons were well known. There were millions dead, maimed or displaced because of the scourge. In his country, there were draconian procedures aimed at monitoring the manufacture, trade and stockpiling of weapons. All weapons were marked and noted in a database, before being sent to their end-users.
At the subregional level, he said the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had entered a new stage in the struggle against the scourge of illicit arms with a new programme to transform the moratorium into a legally binding treaty. Senegal had set up regional commissions, which were working with civil society to tackle the problem of illicit arms. He highlighted the work of non-governmental organizations, which were working every day in a colossal endeavour with the Government. The success of States could only be achieved through the coordinated effort of international, national and regional bodies.
PRASAD KARIYAWASAM (Sri Lanka) elaborated on his country’s efforts in implementation of the Programme of Action. In particular, a national commission had been established to deal with the proliferation of illicit arms and light weapons in the country, and a national plan had been formulated to collect illicit small arms and light weapons, examine the adequacy of the punitive measures and suggest ways of effectively curbing trafficking. A national survey on illicit small arms would be conducted this year. Action would also be taken by the national commission to fully implement the provisions of the firearms ordinances in Sri Lanka. The country had a strong set of legal provisions for the control of firearms. Nationwide consultations had been initiated with the civil society.
Regarding the collection of illicit small arms and light weapons, he said that the country had achieved mixed results in the last two years. In 2004, the police had conducted a number of well coordinated and successful campaigns to confiscate weapons held by criminal elements. However, two amnesties declared in 2004 -- measures that would permit those who retained weapons illegally to come forward and license their weapons -- had failed to yield expected results. He added that just last Friday, a public weapons destruction event had been organized to mark the international weapons destruction day. More than 35,000 small arms were destroyed at that event.
LUCIA MARIA MAIERÁ (Brazil) said Brazil had intensified efforts towards fully implementing the Programme of Action. There was a new legal and regulatory framework to combat and eradicate the spread of illicit arms and light weapons. The new law improved regulations on marking, now requiring all weapons to bear a barcode allowing for the identification of the manufacturer and purchaser. Her Government had also launched a nationwide initiative aimed at promoting a culture of peace by raising awareness about the danger of the possession of weapons. She reiterated Brazil’s commitment to fully implementing the goals set out by the Programme of Action, adding that the international community must more effectively address the marking and tracing of small arms and light weapons.
OUK KUM LEK (Cambodia) said that war and civil unrest in his country had led to the proliferation of all types of arms and weapons. The 1991 Paris Peace Agreement for the political settlement in Cambodia, along with the general election organized under the auspices of the United Nations in 1993, had marked the starting point for the country to embark on the collection of arms and weapons. However, those efforts had faced many challenges, as pockets of the Khmer Rouge movement remained active in certain parts of the country through 1998.
The decisions of the 2001 Conference on small arms and light weapons had been adopted by his Government, he continued. The past two years had been a great success, as for Cambodia’s efforts to control small arms. More than 100,000 small arms had been collected and destroyed. Awareness programmes had been initiated, and six national projects dealt with such priorities as collection, destruction, registration, safe storage and the search for hidden stockpiles. Special emphasis had been placed on the weapons for development programme, which established incentives for the population for collection and destruction of small arms. Legislative measures had been introduced to gain control of weapons, explosive and ammunition.
The country’s efforts could not have been successful without international assistance and cooperation, he said. He appealed for continued assistance from all concerned United Nations agencies, donor countries and the international community to overcome the country’s limitations in skills and resources.
CHEICK SIDI DIARRA (Mali) said that, as a pioneer in combating illicit trade of small arms, Mali had remained committed to implementing the requirements of the Programme of Action. There had been successful operations to recover and destroy small arms and light weapons. The National Assembly had adopted laws pertaining to firearms and ammunition, in response to the need to update national legislation to more effectively combat the proliferation of small arms. There was a need to heighten public awareness and to heighten the role of civil society to counter the proliferation of small arms. There was also a need to draft an international instrument to mark and trace small arms.
He stressed that the proliferation of small arms was partially related to poverty. It was critical, therefore, to tackle poverty in any effort to combat the trade in illicit arms. He urged the financing of development projects that would address the root causes of the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons.
CYRUS GITUAI (Kenya) said that the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa regions had, in the recent past, witnessed disproportionate violence and displacement of people. However, it was gratifying that, in recent times, peace initiatives had reduced the level of violence and heralded peace, upon which stability could be built. Over the last year, through sustained efforts by Kenya, in a broader effort to reduce demand for illicit arms, two landmark peace deals had been brokered in Sudan and Somalia. Peace and stability in those countries would reduce the flow of arms in Kenya and remove safe havens for terrorists, who had, in the past, taken advantage of the civil strife. He appealed to the international community to provide the material and financial support needed to consolidate those gains.
While the Programme of Action provided a basic road map to addressing the secondary factors in the illicit small arms matrix, it was important to note that, in the sub-Saharan region, issues of development, political marginalization, competition over natural resources, unemployment and ethnic and religious cleavages still remained the primary factors that must be addressed. In that respect, over the past two months, Kenya and Uganda had been working jointly on disarming communities living on the common border through a community-based disarmament process. They would, in due course, be inviting international support to complement their efforts. The two countries remained open to extending that bilateral arrangements to other neighbouring States in the quest for peace.
Among specific measures at the national level, he mentioned the development of a comprehensive national action plan on small arms and light weapons; establishment of provincial and district task forces; training of civil society organizations to enhance their understanding of small arms–related issues; and a review of the existing legislation to provide for stiffer penalties on illicit small arms possession offences. In April 2005, Kenya had initiated the formation of a joint ministerial and technical task force with the Ugandan Government to jointly address the problem of small arms and light weapons among the communities living along the boundary between the two countries. The Government remained steadfast on the need to remove from circulation any recovered illicit arms. Some 4,000 assorted arms had been destroyed in public at the end of June in Nairobi, to promote awareness and confidence. His Government wanted to express its gratitude to a number of partners who had supported it in the fight against the illicit spread of small arms.
LAXANACHANTORN LAOHAPHAN (Thailand) said that his Government had developed legislation and procedures to exercise effective control over the transfer, transit and trans-shipment of small arms and light weapons. It had also rendered full cooperation to other countries in opposing the proliferation and illicit trafficking of conventional weapons and in strengthening capacity-building on export controls, as well as enhancing the efficiency of law enforcement. Recent initiatives included a number of export control measures and stepping up of the control over the transfer of MANPADS. The Thailand Maritime Coordination Centre had been established in an attempt to prevent crimes at sea, piracy and arms smuggling.
At the regional level, Thailand had consistently cooperated with other ASEAN countries in the implementation of the Programme of Action, for example through the ASEAN ministerial and senior officials’ meetings on transnational crime. The country had also provided training and operational assistance to neighbouring countries and worked closely with its neighbours to prevent arms trafficking along the borders. On the international level, the country was working closely with INTERPOL and taking part in international meetings and conferences.
In combating the illicit trade, a country needed to work closely with its private sector, he continued. Arms producers and exporters needed to realize that business profits could not overrule the looming threat of militant non-State actors acquiring those arms. Marking small arms would help to stop the illicit transfer of arms and prevent them from falling into the wrong hands. The non-governmental organizations could also play an instrumental role in combating the illicit trade of small arms.
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