28 February 2006

Fifth Expert Review of Register of Conventional Arms at Headquarters, 27 February to 3 March

NEW YORK, 27 February (Department for Disarmament Affairs) -- A group of governmental experts is holding its first meeting, from 27 February to 3 March at United Nations Headquarters, to review the continuing operation and further development of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms.  The second and third meetings will take place on 8 to 12 May and 17 to 28 July, in New York.  This is the fifth periodic review of the Register; previous reviews were conducted in 1994, 1997, 2000 and 2003.

Established in 1992, the Register is a voluntary reporting instrument that covers seven major categories of conventional arms:  battle tanks, large-calibre artillery, combat vehicles, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships (including submarines), and missiles, as well as missile launchers (including man-portable air-defence systems). 

Its primary emphasis is on international transfers (export and/or import) of arms, while participating Governments are also encouraged to provide data on procurement, through national production and military holding in those seven categories, as part of additional background information.  Governments that have nothing to declare on international transfers in a calendar year are called upon to submit a simple "nil" report.  Following agreement in the 2003 group of governmental experts, Governments that are in a position to do so, are now also encouraged to declare their transfers of small arms and light weapons.

So far, 167 Member States have reported to the Register one or more times since 1992, while the average level of participation each year has ranged from 115 to 125 since 2001.

Besides examining the progress made so far, in terms of participation level and the quality of data submitted by States, the governmental experts will examine a range of issues that will include the current scope of the Register, its existing procedures and operation, as well as the implementation of recommendations made by the previous expert group in 2003.

The group will also consider the feedback from regional and subregional workshops organized by the Department for Disarmament Affairs, as well as other meetings over the past two years to promote the continued progress of the Register.

The group was established pursuant to General Assembly resolution 60/226 of 23 December 2005, which requests the Secretary-General, with the assistance of a group of governmental experts to be convened in 2006, on the basis of equitable geographical representation, to prepare a report on the continuing operation of the Register and its further development, with a view to a decision at its sixty-first session.

Twenty Member States, representing different regions and subregions, have been invited to participate in this review, which is being chaired by Roberto García Moritán, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Argentina.

For further information, contact Nazir Kamal, Conventional Arms Branch, Department for Disarmament Affairs, tel: 1-212-963-6195, email: kamaln@un.org .

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