23 January 2006

Preparatory Committee for Review Conference on Illicit Small Arms Trade Concludes Session without Agreement on Draft Final Document

NEW YORK, 20 January (UN Headquarters) -- As the Preparatory Committee for the upcoming Review Conference on the illicit small arms trade concluded its session this evening without agreement on a draft final document to forward to the review, its Chairman said that, from what he had seen in the past two weeks, delegations still did not realize the gravity of the problem or the urgency of the action that was required to defeat it.

In light of the adoption today of just a few texts of an organizational nature to be handed over to the five-year review of implementation of the Action Programme on the illicit small arms trade in June, the Chairman, Sylvester E. Rowe (Sierra Leone), warned that there was "a long, long way to go" in combating the illicit small arms and light weapons scourge.  What had been achieved and what had not been achieved in this session should be measured against the human dimension of that danger.  He hoped that when the Review Conference began in June that everyone would have that yardstick in the back of their minds.

The Review Conference, to be held in New York from 26 June to 7 July, would be the first review of a Programme of Action adopted by consensus by more than 170 United Nations Member States.  Gravely concerned about the illicit small arms trade, those States committed in 2001 to a series of actions to prevent, combat and eradicate it.  They also recognized the wide range of humanitarian and socio-economic consequences of the trade, and the serious threat that posed to peace, security, stability and sustainable development.

Today, before adopting the report of the Preparatory Committee, the Chairman made some oral amendments to the text, including a reference to the fact that, in his own capacity, he had produced a conference room paper.  It could not reflect all the views expressed, and its substance was neither discussed nor agreed.  The report would also indicate that the summaries of the moderators of the interactive thematic debates, national statements, working papers, conference room papers, national reports and other relevant documents submitted to the Committee would be passed on to the President designate.

Several drafts of an organizational nature were also adopted, including a decision to unanimously endorse the candidacy of Prasad Kariyawasam of Sri Lanka for the presidency of the Conference.  Also by that text, members asked the President-Designate to undertake the necessary consultations and handle technical and other organizational matters in the period before the Conference.

Among the other documents to be forwarded to the Conference were a draft provisional agenda (document A/CONF.192/2006/PC/L.2), background documentation, including the text of the Programme of Action (document A/CONF.192/2006/PC/L.4), and guidelines for the election of the Secretary-General and other officers.

Japan's representative expressed the view that every agenda item in the Review Conference's programme of work should be geared to evolving a final outcome document.  Recalling that some delegates had even suggested that discussions on a final document should begin on the very first day of the Conference, he stressed that the time allocation was a decisive factor in the Conference's success.

Concluding today's meeting, Mr. Rowe thanked delegations sincerely for their cooperation.  Recalling a poem by W.H. Auden, he said, "let mortals beware of words.  No more words."

In a brief formal meeting on Thursday morning, he had informed members that the Vice-Chairman from Haiti was Michelet Alouidor.

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