19 January 2006

Preparatory Committee for Small Arms Review Conference Meets Briefly to Discuss Possible Outcome Texts

NEW YORK, 18 January (UN Headquarters) -- The Preparatory Committee for the upcoming review of implementation of the 2001 action plan to combat the illicit small arms trade met briefly this afternoon to discuss what precisely it would forward to the Review Conference in late June.

The current session began last Monday with a general exchange of views.  At the conclusion of that debate on Thursday, delegations held a series of six interactive thematic debates on:  human/humanitarian, socio-economic and other dimensions of the small arms problem; norms, regulations and administrative procedures; excessive accumulation, misuse and uncontrolled spread; international cooperation and assistance; communication; and follow-up and reporting mechanisms.

Summing up the informal discussion from this morning, Preparatory Committee Chairman Sylvester E. Rowe (Sierra Leone) said that members had addressed his "non-paper".  Its three parts contained the outline of a strategy, a section on issues, and another on specific recommendations.  Members had concentrated on the outline of a strategy, which the Chairman suggested could contain: a reaffirmation of the principles in the Programme of Action; concrete measures to strengthen the plan at the national, regional and global/international levels; international cooperation and assistance; and follow-up mechanisms for 2006 and beyond.

The United States' representative said this afternoon that it would be most helpful for delegations to receive copies of the moderators' reports from the thematic debates as soon as possible.  It was important to "get a specific text on the table as soon as possible", to which delegations could react.  Given the wide divergence of views, the draft outcome text should be crafted with the aim of achieving consensus.  That was "almost a dirty word", because it could be so difficult to craft a consensus text.  But, members should keep in mind the difference between reaching consensus on what the Committee forwarded to the Review Conference and reaching consensus on an outcome in the Conference itself.

A discussion ensued, in which several delegations suggested ways to proceed, with the hope of elaborating a consensus draft text by Friday evening. It was decided that, as soon as the Chairman received the "raw material", or moderators' reports this afternoon, they would be circulated to delegations.  Then, very late this evening, or tomorrow morning, members would have the Chair's paper.  It would be based not only on the thematic debates, but also on the conference room and working papers submitted by delegations, on the general debate, and so forth.

The Committee will meet again formally at a date and time to be announced.

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