4 March 2003

United Nations, OSCE to Hold Conference on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in South-Eastern Europe, 11-12 March, in Slovenia

NEW YORK, 3 March (Department for Disarmament Affairs) -- The United Nations, in partnership with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and with the support of the Government of Slovenia, will convene a conference on "The Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects in South-Eastern Europe", from 11 to 12 March in Brdo pri Kranju, near Ljubljana, Slovenia.

The conference is organized pursuant to the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, which was adopted unanimously, in July 2001, by the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. The event will also focus on commitments enshrined in the OSCE Document on Small Arms and Light Weapons, agreed in 2000.

The conference will constitute an opportunity to reaffirm the complementarity of efforts, at the national, subregional, regional and global levels, to curb illicit transfers of small arms and light weapons. Its focus is on information exchange to support the July 2003 first biennial meeting on the implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons. The conference will aim to identify the good practices, lessons learned and challenges that States, regional and international organizations and civil society faced in implementing the Programme of Action and the OSCE Document. International cooperation and assistance will also be discussed, including the role of women in disarmament, peace and security.

The Conference will bring together approximately 70 participants, including members of the European Union and other interested countries. Representatives of regional institutions, the United Nations system, OSCE field missions and civil society have also been invited to express and share their respective experiences.

The close cooperation that has developed over the past year between the OSCE, in particular its Conflict Prevention Centre, and the Department for Disarmament Affairs, through its Regional Disarmament Branch, led the two organizations to organize this conference, with the cooperation of the Government of Slovenia, and the Governments of Germany, Hungary and the Netherlands.

United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs Jayantha Dhanapala, OSCE Secretary General Ján Kubiš, and Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel will open the conference and deliver special addresses.

For further information, please contact Mr. Alain Handy, Regional Disarmament Branch, tel: 1-212 963 2874, e-mail: handy@un.org.

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