Risks linked to surplus weapons stockpiles, illicit arms brokering examined as Biennial Meeting of States on small arms continues
Meeting of States to Consider Action
Programme on Illicit Small Arms Trade
3rd & 4th Meetings (AM & PM)
As a first step towards reducing the risks associated with surplus stockpiles of small arms -- potential sources of illegal weapons in circulation -- the international community should raise States’ awareness of the urgent need to effectively manage those stockpiles, delegates heard today as the Biennial Meeting of States on combating the illicit small arms and light weapons trade continued.
Member States also discussed the role that illicit brokers played in the global trade of illegal small arms at this Biennial Meeting, which has been held every two years since 2003 to consider the implementation of the 2001 Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects. The Meeting of States runs from 14 to 18 July.
Identified as one of the most acute small arms problems in a recent report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council, stockpile management and control was crucial to reducing the accumulation of surplus weapons and their diversion into illicit markets, experts said. Leaking Government stockpiles were a prominent source of illegal small arms in circulation, and destruction of obsolete weapons was far better than continued storage. The Secretary-General even determined that safe small arms stockpile management was a litmus test of a Government’s ability to function as a guarantor of peace, security and development for its citizens.
Prompting that debate, Switzerland’s representative said that many States were not even aware that they had stockpile management problems and a ‘self-assessment’ would help them recognize and deal with their own problems and national responsibilities. By raising awareness and encouraging States to review existing arrangements, the international community could go a long way towards addressing existing difficulties. Yet too few requests for assistance were received by Switzerland and other States and organizations that could offer it.
Italy had had direct experience in managing weapons stockpiles, its speaker said. For example, when purchasing man-portable aviation weapons, national authorities were obliged to manage stocks according to strict standards, previously agreed with the exporting countries. That included the possibility of regular visits by the exporting countries to Italy’s depots to verify that the agreed standards were met. Italy also enjoyed excellent cooperation with the United Nations in terms of weapons stockpile management at the Organization’s base in Brindisi.
On the question of illicit brokering, a former consultant with the Group of Governmental Experts on illicit brokering expressed concern that the pace of action to prevent the practice had been very slow. While 40 States now had legislation to regulate arms brokers, many such laws were weak and not fully implemented. As the markets for weapons and military equipment became more global, the activity in the grey and illicit markets was even more dangerous to human and State security. He urged countries to address the inconsistencies in domestic legislation and strengthen licensing and certification procedures.
Many speakers in today’s debate drew attention to the findings of the Group of Governmental Experts, which had been mandated to consider further steps to enhance international cooperation in the efforts to curb small arms brokering. In its 2007 report to the General Assembly, the Group stressed that States should imposed penalties for all illicit brokering activities, as well as arms transfers that violated Security Council embargoes. The report also contains the first agreed description of what constitutes illicit brokering in small arms.
Pakistan’s delegate suggested that a comprehensive action plan to combat illicit brokering should entail information sharing on arms cartels and robust national laws dealing with the illicit weapons trade. Pakistan had destroyed tens of thousands of small arms, along with millions of rounds of ammunition. He echoed the emphasis many other delegations had placed on the importance of international cooperation and assistance in carrying out national laws.
A representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross said that arms brokering activities required a uniform, global and legally-binding regulatory framework because of the transnational character of the arms trade. Until such a framework was developed, he encouraged States to fully implement existing regional instruments that contained provisions on the control of arms brokering and trade and adopt similar standards in regions in which those did not already exist.
Speaking on the issue of stockpiling were the representatives of France (on behalf of the European Union), Qatar, Gabon, Russian Federation, Norway, Belarus, United Kingdom, Nigeria, Japan, Barbados, Brazil, Australia, China, Germany, Panama, Kenya, Netherlands, Malaysia, Yemen, India, Albania, Indonesia (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Israel, Burundi, Nicaragua, Liberia, New Zealand, Uruguay, Paraguay, Senegal, Chile, Namibia, South Africa, Canada and Benin.
Speaking on this issue of illicit brokering were Mali, France (on behalf of the European Union), Norway, Republic of Congo, Viet Nam, Switzerland, Russian Federation, Australia, Italy, China, Republic of Korea, Gabon, Japan, Belarus, Brazil, Barbados, Netherlands, Kenya, United Kingdom, Mexico, Lithuania, Benin, Finland, Algeria, India, Israel, Dominican Republic, Turkey, Iran, Ethiopia, Columbia and Sierra Leone.
The Executive Secretary of the Regional Centre on Small Arms and Light Weapons (RECSA) also spoke.
The Meeting of States will meet again on Wednesday, 16 July, to continue the discussion.
The Third 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 met today to consider the question of stockpile management and surplus disposal, and illicit brokering.
JÜRG STREULI ( Switzerland) said States could address all major problems relating to small arms and light weapons stockpiles by adopting and maintaining effective stockpile-management systems. The three serious risks associated with stockpiles were the accumulation of surplus; the risk posed by stockpiles; and the threat of loss, theft and diversion of small arms to illicit markets. In order to reduce those risks all components of stockpile management must work together. That meant having trained personnel working under a clear legal and procedural framework with the appropriate infrastructure. Such a system, explained in Discussion Paper Three, required three essential components: legislation; procedures; and operations. Yet it was ineffective in many countries and did not exist in others.
To shift from sub-standard stockpile management towards effective management, the first step was raising awareness among States and pushing them to review their stockpile-management arrangements, he said. Many States were unaware that they had stockpile-management problems and a ‘self-assessment’ would help them recognize and deal with their own problems and national responsibilities. By raising awareness and encouraging States to review their existing arrangements, the international community could go a long way towards addressing existing difficulties. However, too few requests for assistance were received by Switzerland and other States and organizations which could offer it.
MIKAEL GRIFFON (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said a large number of illegal small arms and light weapons in circulation came from ill-guarded and poorly-managed stockpiles, as well as ammunition. For that reason, in 2006, two European Union nations -- Germany and France -- had decided to launch a process within the United Nations focused on the destruction of surplus conventional ammunition stockpiles. That process was thought to make up for a perceived deficiency in the Programme of Action, which covered only aspects relating to weapons. Since then, the European Union, in conjunction with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), had engaged in a €1 million project to destroy more than 27,000 small arms and light weapons in Ukraine. That programme had begun in August 2006 and another €80,000 would be spent to destroy ammunition.
TARIQ AL-ANSARI (Qatar), speaking on behalf of the Group of Arab States, said the problem of poor stockpile management contributed to the injuries and deaths of up to a million people, most of them civilians. Since the adoption of the Programme of Action, the Arab Group had begun implementing a regional programme to improve stockpile management, in partnership with the United Nations or partners from the developed world. Their aim was to harmonize stockpile-related national laws in the region. In pursuing that task, technical assistance from the United Nations, subregional organizations and developed partners was important.
Noting that stockpile management was a controversial issue that impinged at times on a country’s right to possess weapons for self-defence, he said that, unless the spread of illegal small arms and light weapons was adequately tackled, the Meeting risked being ‘disappointing’. States must examine the root causes of proliferation and attempt to address them. They should peruse the draft resolution on small arms and light weapons, tabled at the sixty-second General Assembly session -- particularly the paragraphs relating to reviewing progress made on the Programme of Action -- and review implementation of the weapons-tracing agreement. States should put aside the controversial aspects of small arms and light weapons that had impeded attempts to achieve consensus in the past.
PHILIPPE NZEGUE MAYILA ( Gabon) said the Ministry of Interior, responsible for the disposal of weapons, exerted strict controls and kept records. The law made it obligatory for those seeking new hunting weapons to turn in their old ones. Gabon imported a quantity of weapons to meet its security needs, while systematically destroying others. With regard to Switzerland’s experience in that area, perhaps that country should approach States needing assistance and provide messages through the United Nations or regional organizations.
PYOTR LITAVRIN (Russian Federation) said the Programme of Action did not cover the sale of ammunition and the question of managing surplus and stockpiled ammunition for small arms and light weapons to prevent them from falling into the illicit trade was one that his country was ready to consider. Yet the working paper before the Meeting focused on ammunition in general, whereas more attention should be paid to preventing ammunition falling into the illicit trade than to explosion as indicated by the working paper.
INGUNN VATNE (Norway), noting that her country belonged to a working group examining ammunition stockpile management, said it touched on improved marking, record keeping and improved physical security measures, among other things. Enhanced stockpile management would contribute greatly to the increased safety and security of civilians. The Programme of Action stipulated that agreeing States must identify their weapons stockpiles so that they could be disposed of in a responsible manner.
She said international cooperation and assistance through regional organizations could help in accomplishing that task, as would knowledge about adequate procedures and techniques; knowing how to take a national inventory on weapons and ammunition; training personnel regarding associated hazards; and building up ‘destruction capacity’ and techniques. The effectiveness of stockpile-management processes depended on the commitment of national authorities. Norway recommended that the Meeting’s draft outcome document include the points under discussion today.
IGOR UGORICH ( Belarus) said effective stockpile management would contribute to a reduced risk of proliferation and help bolster safety and security in tension-prone regions. Belarus had taken great pains to ensure good stockpile management by destroying surplus weapons following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The country’s 2007 updating of its national legal framework in that area had resulted in the destruction of many thousands of units by the Ministry of Defence. However, Belarus had insufficient financial resources to ensure that storage facilities were up to date. Fortunately, various European Union countries had provided assistance in that area and Belarus was presently undertaking to modernize its storage facilities.
PHILIP TISSOT ( United Kingdom), associating himself with the European Union, said his country’s laws on stockpile management were fully compliant with transport, aviation and health legislation. The United Kingdom had made great headway in raising awareness of the issue around the globe. Since 2003, it had suggested ways to increase the scope of the Wassenaar Arrangement on export controls relating to man-portable air defence systems to ensure more effective implementation. The United Kingdom had provided assistance to countries in Africa, Eastern Europe and the Balkans on identifying and destroying surplus weapons and ammunition.
He said more than 5,000 tons of ammunition had been destroyed in Albania; tens of thousands of weapons in Ukraine; thousands more weapons and associated ammunition in Kosovo; and staff had been trained in destruction techniques. More than 150,000 pounds of equipment had been destroyed in Guinea-Bissau under the leadership of a United Kingdom-based non-governmental organization. Funding had also been provided to Montenegro for similar purposes. The completion of projects had not always been a smooth ride; changes in policy or administration had sometimes led to a reversal of commitments and a withdrawal of United Kingdom funding. Looking ahead to future projects, the country would look at funding them within broader security-sector reform programmes.
DANJUMA JOHN OTARU, Chairman of the National Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons of Nigeria, said the strengthening of border control and security was a major policy focus of the Nigerian Government. Nigeria was collaborating with Benin, Niger and Chad on border-security management and joint border security patrols to curb the inflow of weapons. The country had participated in the third Tripartite Training Workshop on enhancing border security for operatives from Nigeria, Niger and Benin, organized by the Small Arms Control Programmes of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission. Nigeria had benefited from international technical and financial support to implement the Programme of Action and other related programmes. The National Committee on Small Arms had launched public awareness-raising campaigns on the dangers and devastating effects of small arms and light weapons.
He said his country was developing a framework for mainstreaming a sustainable culture of peace in line with the African Declaration on Armed Violence and Reduction and Development. The Government’s seven-point agenda focused on ensuring the security of lives and property and addressing the root causes fuelling the demand for arms among the civilian population. Steady progress was being made in implementing the Programme of Action, but challenges remained. Nigeria must install an appropriate legal framework to replace outdated firearms legislation, ratify and fully incorporate the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms into domestic law, and devise a national action plan. However, the country needed technical assistance from international partners to help meet those challenges.
TAKAHIRO SHINYO ( Japan) said one of the main factors behind the trade in small arms and light weapons was the ineffective managements of stockpiles. The lack of awareness about the number of weapons in circulation was a problem and States must demonstrate ownership of the issue.
YESUMITSU KIDA ( Japan) then described his country’s experience in helping to manage small arms in Cambodia from 2003 to 2007, pointing out that Japan had helped that country with its stockpile-management programme. The project had built confidence among the public and the police force through training in the proper stockpile management of small arms.
MOHAMMAD IQBAL DEGIA ( Barbados), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said stockpile management was different for the Caribbean region as it did not stockpile weapons. International cooperation and assistance was vital for the region as it lacked the technical resources and personnel to destroy and confiscate weapons. The region would welcome technical assistance.
FABIO DE OLIVEIRA DIAS (Brazil), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), urged all States to comply fully with the Programme of Action’s provisions relating to stockpile management, the destruction of confiscated weapons, and the establishment of adequate procedures for securing existing arms and identifying and destroying surplus weapons. However, determining the quantity of surplus weapons was the prerogative of national authorities. The countries of MERCOSUR supported the view that assistance should be limited to helping build national capacity to achieve those goals, and to providing assistance and cooperation in maintaining the safety of arsenals.
SARAH PARKER ( Australia) said the Programme of Action attached great importance to stockpile management, and the working paper presented earlier made a good ‘to-do’ checklist. For its own part, Australia was actively promoting best practices in the Pacific region, including through simple measures that did not require much financial resources to implement. Such measures might include harmonization of policies among the military, police and collection services. Keeping a good record of weapons serial numbers was another important, low-cost measure that countries could take in managing their stockpiles; another was strict adherence to the two-person rule, whereby no person was authorized to enter an armoury alone, and a third was daily visual inspections of stockpiles.
Among the States of the Pacific region, numerical accounting for weapons was not particularly accurate, she said, adding that small arms ‘leaks’ had the effect of impeding arms reduction and jeopardizing peacebuilding initiatives. Recently, Australia had begun working with Papua New Guinea to develop a defence force weapons standardization programme, under which surplus weapons were identified and destroyed. It was working with the constabulary on gun control and safety efforts, as well as building armouries which would ensure that weapons were securely contained. Similar work was being done in Samoa. Assistance with stockpile management had, to date, been undertaken through bilateral channels, but Australia was open to discussing partnerships with non-governmental organizations. The Australian Government was also interested in discussing the crafting of a protocol on that issue.
SHI ZHONGJUN ( China) said her country attached great importance to efforts to strengthen stockpile management and called on States to share information on destroying stockpiles. International assistance, such as technical help and training, should be provided to help countries dispose of surplus weapons with the United Nations playing a role. China had instituted many measures to improve stockpile management, including by the use of special security guards at warehouses, where managers maintained rigorous control of inventory. China remained ready to provide assistance to other countries.
MICHAEL HASENAU ( Germany) said problems arising from the accumulation of surplus conventional arms and ammunition stockpiles were of growing concern to the international community. The magnitude of the problem was indicated by the increasing regularity of accidental explosive events within ammunition storage facilities worldwide. The comprehensive management of conventional arms and ammunition stockpiles was the only long-term solution to combating the growth of surplus stockpiles.
Germany recommended that States undertake a thorough review of existing stockpile-management practices and urged those that did not have the means to do so to request technical assistance. Additionally, States should develop or improve, as appropriate, their legislative and regulative frameworks governing the safe and secure storage of conventional arms stockpiles, including small arms and light weapons. Technical guidelines for stockpile management should be developed within the United Nations to enable States to improve national stockpile-management capacity and combat the proliferation of conventional arms and ammunition.
JUAN HERNANDEZ MORALES ( Panama) said millions of people throughout Latin America had been afflicted by the illicit trade in small arms and the region had suffered greatly. Panama was adopting legislation, within the framework of the Programme of Action, to combat it. A primary goal was to control the ownership of weapons and provide a legal framework for the licensing, import, export, marketing and leasing of firearms. Panama confirmed its willingness to work with the international community in combating the illicit trade in firearms.
PAOLO CUCULI ( Italy) said that, in order for the Programme of Action to succeed, it was crucial that national authorities engage in raising awareness on the need for enhanced weapons-stockpile management. Often, when discussing how to stem illegal weapons proliferation, the international community talked of export controls, whereby importing countries would agree not to re-export weapons procured from producing countries. Perhaps the exporting countries should also consider attaching provisions on proper stockpile management when concluding contracts for their sale and delivery.
He said his country had direct experience in that regard. When purchasing man-portable aviation weapons, for instance, national authorities were obliged to manage stocks according to strict standards previously agreed with the exporting countries, including the possibility of exporting countries carrying out regular visits to Italy’s depots to verify that the agreed standards were met. Italy enjoyed excellent cooperation with the United Nations in terms of weapons-stockpile management at the Organization’s base in Brindisi.
FRANCIS T. KIMEMIA ( Kenya) said that the management of small-arms stockpiles, from record-keeping to inventory maintenance, was very important to the security of the East African subregion. There was a need to destroy weapons very quickly so they did not return to the market, and to manage existing legal firearms so they did not end up in the illicit trade. Training personnel in stockpile management was very important and Kenya was active in that area. The country had also woven the management of small arms into general security issues so it could be mainstreamed into day-to-day security management.
JOHANNES LANDMAN ( Netherlands) said stockpile management lay at the core of successful small-arms control policy. To address proliferation, the international community should devote its energy to ‘drying up’ the illegal trade in weapons, and enforcing strict stockpile security was the one way to achieve that. For its own part, the Netherlands had supported stockpile management and destruction in places like Ukraine, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He went on to say that, while it was true that decision-making on stockpile management and surplus disposal was a national prerogative and duty, the donor community also had a responsibility to assist where possible. The new Implementation Support System of the Programme of Action might be a useful way to match offers of assistance with requests for aid. Donors could use the site to outline the types of programmes they were willing to fund. Regarding the relationship between violence and development, a side event on the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development was scheduled to take place later today.
AHMAD FUAD ABDUL AZIZ ( Malaysia) said his country was instituting the Programme of Action by putting the necessary legislation in place and strongly supporting the monitoring of firearms, whether through ownership, trade in exports and imports, or the general transit of such goods. Monitoring was important in preventing the illegal manufacture of small arms.
The Ministry of Home Affairs was the main agency for coordinating the monitoring of small arms and the Government wished to ensure that domestic legislation was in order. Malaysia had introduced mechanisms to trace firearms, and the police anti-smuggling unit had instituted practices to help control the transit of small arms across the county’s borders.
ISMAIL ALMAABRI (Yemen), associating himself with the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country supported fully all measures and initiatives to end the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. It was to be hoped that all States would focus their efforts on ending the death and destruction posed by those weapons, particularly in poor nations. Dedicated to banning illegal arms in its major cities, Yemen had recovered huge numbers so far and was working to verify the ownership of many more. It would then look to ban illegal weapons countrywide.
He said his country had recently closed a number of sales points while seizing weapons being sold illegally. A new law prevented the import of weapons without explicit authorization from the Ministry of Defence. Yemen had entered into weapons-management treaties with other countries in the region. It welcomed efforts by the working group on the issue of brokering, whose work touched on surplus weapons disposal. Yemen would be interested in studying ways to control the activities of terrorists and mafia groups, the activities of which created a culture of violence. All arms-producing countries should take into consideration the damage caused to often poor and unstable countries awash with illegal weapons.
PRABHAT KUMAR ( India) said proper stockpile management was crucial in controlling the trade in illicit small arms, as was the destruction of weapons taken from terrorists. India was committed to comprehensive stockpile management as the proper recording and centralized storage of seized illegal weapons was very important. India had undertaken several bilateral agreements, including one on the exchange of capacity-building and assistance.
ADRIAN NERITANI (Albania), associating himself with the European Union, stressed that the illegal transfer of small arms had a negative impact on human rights and development. Albania was fulfilling its obligations under the Programme of Action and other commitments. It continued to work hard to destroy illegal weapons and had received training in that area over the years. The country had destroyed weapons consistently since 2000, and had gained expertise through training and support, though technical challenges remained. Albania was wiling to cooperate fully with the international community in that area.
WITJAKSONO ADJI (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, explained that, in his country, the military and police managed the weapons stockpiles and civilian ownership of small arms was banned. Both the military and police had facilities and procedures governing the proper containment and disposal of weapons. As in Indonesia, States must be free to conduct their own assessments in order to ascertain their needs regarding the secure containment of weapons. While oversight and disposal of stockpiles was a national prerogative, Indonesia was keen to learn about stockpile management from the best practices of other countries.
ISRAEL TIKOCHINSKI ( Israel) said the Programme of Action provided the guidelines that the international community could use to control the illicit trade in small arms and help manage stockpiles, which posed a serious risk to public safety and security. Inadequate national management of stockpiles had led to many deaths. Israel carefully guarded its stockpiles of small arms and light weapons. Surplus weapons designated for destruction were also carefully monitored and counted regularly. Several companies in Israel had expertise in that area of stockpile management and control.
ALAIN GUILLAUME BUNYONI, Minister for Public Security of Burundi, said his country had taken measures to stem the illicit brokerage of small arms, and steps on stockpile management and disposal through dedicated institutions and a framework governing weapons identification, destruction of obsolete weapons and disarmament of the civilian population. Each member of the Nairobi Regional Centre on Small Arms, to which Burundi belonged, benefited from police and defence-force training. They also received special machines to mark weapons, which were then registered in a computerized database. However, members needed financial and technical support to strengthen their capacity to manage those stockpiles along those lines. Burundi had begun to destroy ammunition and weapons to prevent them from finding their way into illegal circulation. More than 100 units of both weapons and ammunition had been destroyed, and sites had been prepared for the disposal of bombs and other explosives.
HORACIO SOBALVARRO ( Nicaragua) said his country was working with the Programme of Action and had complied with its progress reports. Nicaragua was working actively to dispose of weapons by using private companies and regional organizations to do so as it needed assistance to eliminate surplus weapons. Between 2005 and 2007, Nicaragua had reduced its arsenal of weapons by 80 per cent and had consequently seen a reduction in crimes committed with those firearms.
WORLEA-SAYWAH DUNAH ( Liberia) said large numbers of his country’s people, mostly youth, had been killed as a direct result of the transfer and trafficking of small arms and light weapons into Liberia up until the United Nations intervention in 2003. With international help, the Government had been able to set up the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons, and had ratified the ECOWAS Convention on preventing their spread. Lack of control over decommissioned and surplus ammunition and weapons often resulted in their circulation within conflict-afflicted regions, which, in turn, was one of the main causes of continued violence.
He said the transfer and easy movement of weapons across borders, coupled with the presence of thousands of experienced youth, often enabled the formation of non-State groups that went on to cause problems in countries other than their own. It was common in Africa to exchange illegally acquired natural resources for arms, and there was a link between the illegal trade in gold and diamonds and the proliferation of illegal weapons. When considering ways to combat the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, the Programme of Action should adopt a multifaceted approach that also paid attention to such links. Producing countries, in particular, should take greater responsibility regarding the spread of weapons in that way.
JILLIAN DEMPSTER ( New Zealand) said effective implementation of the principles of stockpile management was not always easy. It required political will and national commitment, which were essential to the success of such a programme. The enhancement of donor and recipient coordination was also crucial. Meetings like the present one were very important as they helped countries share information.
FEDERICO PERRAZZA (Uruguay), associating himself with MERCOSUR, said the disposal of weapons was the prerogative of Member States and only national authorities could decide which weapons constituted a ‘surplus’. For its own part, Uruguay’s legal standards regarding the marking and tracing of small arms and light weapons contributed to the responsible use of firearms by the Armed Forces, private security forces and civilians and to their import, distribution, marketing, storing and ultimate use.
He said the public was well educated on the responsible use of firearms, and was involved in raising awareness among young people in primary and secondary schools of the harmful consequences of the irresponsible use and possession of firearms. Since 1998, strict procedures had been put in place for the destruction of confiscated weapons. The Government would soon destroy more than 1,000 confiscated, decommissioned and seized firearms, bringing the total to 34,000 since the law was enacted. Smelting the weapons involved first deactivating certain components and explosives that had the potential to be re-used. Uruguay urged donors to step up their assistance to improve stockpile-management practices.
DORIS ROMAN GONZALEZ ( Paraguay), associating herself with MERCOSUR, said that determination of the level of weapons surplus was important to effective stockpile management. Paraguay had no major weapons stockpiles and was working with the Secretary to the Environment to ensure that the destruction of weapons did not harm the environment. International cooperation and assistance was important in effective stockpile management and surplus disposal.
EMMANUEL RENÉ MOISE (Senegal), associating himself with the statement by the African Group, said that, two years ago, his country had noted the lack of international cooperation among countries in terms of financing, capacity-building and information exchange, when implementing the Programme of Action. Senegal continued to call for increased cooperation between States and paid tribute to partners that had provided funding to help developing countries combat the spread of small arms and light weapons.
Noting that combating illegal brokering and instituting tracing procedures received the least amount of funding, he said the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms, which had resulted in African spin-off projects relating to stockpile management, was particularly important. The international community should provide as much assistance as possible to help implement that Convention. Most poor States lacked a framework to deal with the spread of illegal arms, due in large part to the presence of illegal brokering. The Government of Senegal had helped prepare a document to tackle illicit brokering. Stockpile disposal was complex, and training was an important element in ensuring its success. In conjunction with its neighbours, Senegal sought to implement a programme whereby weapons could be surrendered in return for economic assistance.
RODRIGO TOLEDO (Chile), associating himself with MERCOSUR and the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed the hope that the Meeting’s final document would reflect concrete results and have a practical tone. Chile wished to highlight Colombia’s work on illicit weapons in South America, and underscored that the region needed more work in that complex area.
Turning to international cooperation and assistance, he said it should not be conditional on the delivery of national reports. While there was a need to enact legislation on the disposal of surplus stockpiles, further study was required on the possibility of standardizing working procedures to carry out stockpile-management activities. To that end, a protocol on management activities could be useful. It was also necessary to have legally binding procedures on the tracking small arms and light weapons.
PETER MWATILE (Namibia), associating himself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the Programme of Action, saying the Government of Namibia enforced the Bamako Declaration and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol to control the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons, as well as the effective management of stockpiles. The negative consequences of illegal proliferation must increasingly be emphasized, since small arms contributed to violence, fuelled crime and encouraged terrorism.
In implementing its five-year action plan, Namibia had realized the importance of international cooperation to ensure that programmes were adequately funded, he said. At present, the country was experiencing a $2.5 million resource gap and thanked the United Kingdom for its assistance so far. Namibia had made good progress in stockpile management and surplus disposal. At the moment, the Government was amending existing laws to control the illicit brokering of small arms. To date, 10,000 rounds of ammunition, and thousands more firearms, detonators, hand grenades, rockets, mortars and anti-tank mines had been seized and destroyed. Namibia had established a framework to implement a national action plan to eliminate illegal small arms and light weapons, but it needed international assistance for the successful completion of that plan.
D. WENSLEY ( South Africa) noted that effective management of national stockpiles not only covered the physical security of those weapons, but extended to issues such as effective legislation, procurement, marking and record-keeping, security during transport, surplus identification and disposal, and the training of personnel dealing with those aspects. Unfortunately, absolute security of arms stockpiles could not be guaranteed, even in States with the most sophisticated technologies. The problem was heightened in States that did not have the resources to adequately cover all aspects of stockpile management. That led to a much greater risk in poorer States of arms being diverted to the illegal market.
He said that South African police had joined forces with counterparts from neighbouring States to conduct cross-border training and the destruction of surplus arms, ammunition and explosives. His country provided technical and capacity-building assistance to those States, and served as a good example to other countries that might be in a position to do the same.
ANDREW SHORE ( Canada) said it was critical for countries to manage their weapons stockpiles to prevent the weapons’ diversion into illicit trade and to prevent safety problems, such as explosions of those arms. Canada had supported weapons destruction activities in several countries, including Albania, Colombia and Ukraine, and it had learned that destruction activities were most effective when conducted through the host Government and a regional organization.
He said his country was also strengthening its arms verification unit and building expertise to support partners such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Its assistance activities included local training and help with security assessments.
BONAVENTURE D’OLIVEIRA ( Benin) said stockpile management was an important aspect in the fight against the illegal small arms trade. The world’s poorest developing countries, including Benin, owing to their economic situation, were increasingly less able to dedicate resources to the security sector, even as security threats continued to grow. Exacerbating the issue, weak Governments tended to have an adverse impact on stockpile management. In some cases, countries with stockpile management problems did not even know they had a problem.
He said the programme of action for the control of small arms and light weapons within the ECOWAS Convention on arms proliferation had carried out a study on each State in the region, in which it examined the challenges each faced with regard to stockpile management. Under that framework, the chief of the army in Benin had recently signed an agreement on the better management of military stockpiles. However, financial and technical assistance would be needed to ensure its full implementation. In addition, the international community must establish a programme to collect and destroy obsolete weapons and surplus stockpiles to minimize the danger posed by those weapons during containment. Transparency was also important. In post-conflict regions, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration exercises must be implemented in a way that prevented cross-border circulation. The mandate of peacekeeping operations and security sector reform programmes should pay due attention to such issues.
On the question of illicit brokering, BRIAN WOOD, a former consultant with the Group of Governmental Experts on illicit brokering, said the pace of action to prevent that practice had been very slow. The term ‘illicit brokering’ was first used in 1996, after the genocide in Rwanda. Today, 40 States had laws to regulate arms brokers, but many laws were weak and not fully implemented. The markets for weapons and military equipment were becoming more global, and activity in the grey and illicit markets was dangerous to human and State security.
He recalled thatthe General Assembly last year in a resolution hadrecognized that illicit brokering was a serious problem requiring the international community’s urgent attention. The Group of Environmental Experts set up to examine that question had agreed on a description of such a broker -- a personal entity acting as an intermediary that acted in return for some type of benefit, financial or otherwise. Brokers could easily move from one country to another to avoid complicated regulations, and each country without robust controls could prove to be the weak link in the chain that led to illicit brokering. There were too few national laws on the activity, and some were inadequately designed.
States needed to address the inconsistencies in domestic legislation, and strengthen licensing and certification procedures, he urged. The international community should press ahead to build on regional and subregional instruments. The number of States with laws to regulate illicit brokering -- now at 40 -- should be increased to more than 100, within a specific time frame. More cooperation was needed among key international organizations, along with more voluntary information-sharing among States, and legal assistanceto help the prosecution of illegal brokering activities.
SIRAKORO SANGARE (Mali), aligning himself with the statement made by the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said Mali’s national commission to combat the illegal small arms trade had conducted two nationwide surveys to take stock of weapons in circulation. At the regional level, Mali was heavily involved in implementing the ECOWAS Convention relating to small arms and light weapons. He found civil society action in that regard particularly encouraging.
Mr. GRIFFON ( France), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said controls imposed by States were the first stage in preventing illicit brokering of arms. In 2003, the European Union adopted a common position on the control of arms brokering, which applied to small arms and light weapons, among other weapons. The European Union believed it would be beneficial if specific provisions on brokering in the 2001 Programme of Action were more vigorously applied. The Programme recommended that States consider steps to enhance international cooperation in preventing, combating and eradicating illicit brokering in small arms and light weapons, which was why the General Assembly had passed a resolution in 2005 to establish a group of governmental experts to consider further steps to enhance global cooperation in that regard.
When that group had met in 2007, he noted, it had produced a report arguing for more structured action at the regional and international level. It had also agreed on a definition of illicit brokering of small arms and light weapons and closely associated activities, which could serve as an important basis for lawmakers seeking to craft legislation on that ‘elusive issue’. The European Union supported the group’s outcome and regretted that the General Assembly had been unable to welcome its recommendations last year. Even so, it hoped that States would regularly report on actions they had taken on that issue. For their part, members of the European Union had undertaken various activities to reinforce efforts to combat the illicit transport by air of small arms and light weapons.
Continuing in his national capacity, he said that France had sought to combat the illicit small arms and light weapons trafficking by air transport. The movement of small arms frequently involved air transport, and traffickers avoided detection by forging flight documents, flight plans and so on. France’s initiative sought to strengthen air control systems, in close cooperation with air transport companies. The Government aimed to produce a set of guidelines, to enhance cooperation between States and by raising awareness of the issue, especially among transit States.
Ms. VATNE ( Norway) said her country, which was a member of the Group of Governmental Experts, would have preferred stronger recommendations from the Group. Yet, Norway supported the Group’s output.
She noted that many countries lacked adequate laws to regulate brokering. Regional organizations, which had produced best practices to regulate brokering, along with the expert Group’s guidelines, could guide those States without any laws or with weak laws, as they developed the necessary regulations.
It was important to recognize the link between illicit brokering and other illegal activities, such as illegal diamond trading, she said. International provisions might not be enough to regulate illicit brokering, as brokers could move from State and State. Therefore, strong national laws were also needed.
BONIFACE LEZONA ( Congo), returning to the topic of stockpile management, said his country was currently taking stock of arms at its depots and was establishing a registry of weapons. The Government was also collecting weapons in connection with its disarmament, demobilization and reintegration exercises, as supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Thousands of weapons and associated ammunitions, as well as explosive devices, had been collected between 2005 and 2007. The Congolese Armed Forces and mine advisory groups had then destroyed a large amount of those weapons and ammunition. International cooperation would go a long way to help strengthen those efforts, secure existing stockpiles, and facilitate the exchange of information between institutions involved in stockpile management.
He recalled that General Assembly resolution 62/47 had recognized the grave problem posed by illegal trade in small arms and light weapons. As for those involved in illegal brokering activities -- who evaded customs by forging end-user certificates, flight plans, passports, customs papers, and so on -- an ordinance was passed in October 2007 in the Congo, establishing a regime to deal with them. That project would also require international assistance for complete follow-through, including to train investigative officers and other experts.
HOANG CHI TRUNG (Viet Nam), expressing his country’s support for the United Nations Programme of Action, stressed that illicit brokering had a negative impact on security and development. Viet Nam had taken various measures to implement the Programme and manage all activities related to small arms. Weapons were uniquely marked by manufacturers, for example, and their possession was limited to agencies of national defence and security.
He said his country had entered into several regional agreements to control the illicit trade in small arms and weapons. International cooperation was essential. Viet Nam also took part in many regional and national workshops.
RITA ADAM ( Switzerland) said that international cooperation was crucial to better application of the Programme of Action. In Switzerland, a comprehensive set of laws governed arms brokering and exports of small arms and light weapons, specifying who could be granted licenses. Would-be brokers must fulfil certain criteria, including that they possessed clear human rights records, had no connection to groups that used child soldiers, and did not come from a State under an arms embargo. Swiss laws governing exports of arms and weapons were in line with international obligations.
She encouraged all States to adopt the necessary measures to control brokering activities in their territories by introducing legislation, which might include criminal sanctions against those that broke the law. To prevent illegal arms brokering, Switzerland was encouraging regional and bilateral efforts on cooperation and capacity-building in the area of brokering. Her Government welcomed any steps to establish an information system on brokering activities.
Mr. LITAVRIN ( Russian Federation) said that national Governments chose their means of regulating arms brokers, and only 40 countries, or about 20 per cent of United Nations Member States, had adopted legal provisions to control the activities of arms brokers. Moreover, the measures taken by those 40 States were not sufficient to monitor illicit brokering, and that illicit activity fed into other illegal activities. In some States, illegal brokers numbered in the hundreds.
MARIANNE NICHOLAS ( Australia) said that the Programme of Action focused on national legislation and international cooperation to control illegal arms brokering. Australia’s laws criminalized certain forms of brokering, and laws on dual-use goods were currently being developed. Effective national legislation should form the basis for licensing legitimate brokers, and should: include a definition of brokering and other related terms; apply to nationals and extra-territorial nationals; and provide a clear identification of goods and services, such as financing and transportation, which impacted supply. National laws should, among other things, outline the powers given to licensing authorities; clearly delineate licensing procedures; contain provisions on denying brokering licenses; and provide guidance on action to be taking in cases of non-compliance.
She said that, once effective laws were in place, they must be monitored and implemented. That required trained staff, as well as outreach activities with the arms industry. Controlling brokers’ activities was a relatively new field. As part of the growing momentum at the United Nations for action on brokering, the Republic of Korea and Australia had co-chaired a seminar on brokering in March 2007, attended by 80 participants. The meeting had examined such issues as possible export control regimes. Australia stood ready to work with all States.
Mr. CUCULI ( Italy) said that discussions on brokering rarely mentioned the already existing United Nations protocol on firearms, which supplemented the Convention on terrorism and organized crime. The protocol was legally binding and could well complement the implementation of the Programme of Action being discussed today. The firearms protocol foresaw the establishment of a system to monitor brokering activities, including licensing procedures. States parties to the protocol were encouraged to exchange information on brokers and brokering, and to maintain good records. He suggested that the Biennial Meeting of States make a reference to the firearm protocol in its final outcome document.
Ms. SHI ( China) said that the regulation of illicit brokering was essential to controlling the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. Countries should strengthen their legislative framework, and carry out the relevant laws in the overall framework of export controls. Countries should also use the expertise of international organizations, such as INTERPOL.
She said her country, as a Security Council member, consistently implemented relevant Security Council resolutions regarding the regulation of arms brokering. Any activities that violated regulations generated severe criminal and administrative penalties, she added.
YOUN JONG KWON (Republic of Korea), who had recently been in a car accident, reflected on the notion that, while some people used cars to run over other people on purpose, it was still not illegal to sell cars to them. That being the case, what could States do to fulfil the obligation to protect their people? In a similar way, how could States assign responsibility to the arms industry -- which relied on a long chain of commerce involving many brokers and sellers, as well as buyers? It was generally understood that under-regulation of arms brokering could undermine peace and socio-economic development. A number of regions had legally-binding instruments governing the arms trade, which the international community would do well to study. The group of experts had also developed a list of practical measures that States could adopt to tackle the issue. The content of that report was helpful. Nearly three years had passed since a ‘disappointing’ review conference on the Programme of Action. He, thus, urged States to work towards a more meaningful outcome at this year’s Meeting.
Mr. MAYILA ( Gabon) noted the need to strengthen legal frameworks governing the purchase and sale of weapons. Establishing a legally-binding instrument on brokering would send a clear message to those involved in the illegal small arms and light weapons trade. Cooperation between affected States and those with expertise should also be strengthened. He reaffirmed his country’s commitment to regulating the production and sale of outlawed weapons.
YOSHINOBU HIRAISHI ( Japan) said that given the increasing international nature of arms brokering, it was no longer effective to just have national legislation to regulate arms brokers; international and regional cooperation was required. The report of the Group of Eight industrialized countries (G-8) contained recommendations on national implementation, national cooperation on information sharing, technical assistance and capacity-building, promoting effective reporting and dealing with violations of arms embargoes. He encouraged all States to cooperate through information sharing and other means, adding that global awareness of the issue of small arms was constantly rising.
Mr. UGORICH ( Belarus) said that in his country individual transactions involving small arms and light weapons could only be carried out with the necessary license. He called for normative controls to regulate the brokering of small arms and light weapons, and stressed the need to incorporate control measures over the exports of those weapons. He also pointed to the responsibility of financial mediators.
Mr. DE OLIVEIRA DIAS Brazil, speaking on behalf of MERCOSUR, said that MERCOSUR members had been convening a working group on firearms and ammunition since 2000. The issue of illicit brokering was considered integral to full implementation of the Programme of Action, yet, most States had no national legislation on that matter. Legal weapons brokering should be conducted in a transparent manner, governed by strict standards and procedures to safeguard against the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. Greater efforts must be made to conclude a legally-binding instrument to regulate brokering, and States should implement the recommendations contained in the Governmental Expert Group’s report.
Mr. DEGIA ( Barbados), speaking on behalf of CARICOM, said that a failure to address illegal brokering undermined the general attempt to combat the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons. The world needed to create greater transparency in the weapons trade, since improved accountability was critical to address problems associated with that activity. Arms brokering needed to be better monitored and subjected to more rigorous standards. The illegal arms trade was a grave problem for island States with porous borders, especially those that were trans-shipment points between Central and South America, and between the Americas and Europe. CARICOM members were constantly seeking to improve monitoring of aerial and sea routes, but its activities were constrained by limited resources. Assistance from development partners would be greatly welcomed.
Mr. LANDMAN ( Netherlands) said his country and the United Kingdom had prepared a non-paper on the issue of illicit brokering, which was a key obstacle to curbing the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. He called for the urgent implementation of the recommendations of the Group of Experts. Development of national laws was also very important to tackle illicit brokering. Regional cooperation could also be instrumental in implementing those recommendations, and there was an important role for regional organizations in that regard.
Mr. KIMEMIA ( Kenya) said that, in the Great Lakes region and Horn of Africa, the issue of illicit brokering was addressed through the Nairobi Protocol. Under it, States parties must ensure that registered brokers obtained a license for each individual transaction they made, and that Governments must regulate all manufacturers, dealers, transporters and financiers involved in the arms trade. Governments must ensure that those involved in those transactions provide complete disclosure of their import-export activities, including proof of license and the names of all brokers involved in the transaction. Kenya supported the work of the Group of Governmental Experts on the issue, and had taken note of its report, which contained concrete recommendations and steps for implementing the Programme of Action. Those recommendations were a good basis for the development of ‘best practice’ guidelines.
Mr. TISSOT ( United Kingdom) said that arms brokering was an area that few States had taken forward, but if addressed properly, it could significantly impact crime resolution, crime prevention and drug trafficking. The United Kingdom was ready to offer support and advice, so that other States could take advantage of the United Kingdom’s experience in drafting and implementing legislation in that area. He encouraged States to share information on the nature of the brokering problem in general and on the identities of, and particular techniques applied by, illicit brokers. He supported the engagement of international organizations, such as INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization and the civil aviation authorities, in order to better organize and coordinate efforts.
Concerning the outcome document, he proposed that reference be made to the fact that progress continued on developing common understandings of the basic issues and scope of the brokering problem. Some 40 States had introduced legislation or administrative procedures to regulate the activities of those who were involved in brokering. At the same time, there should be recognition that there was still much to do before the majority of Member States could say that they had fulfilled their Programme of Action commitment to develop adequate national legislation or administrative procedures regulating brokering activities.
ROBERTO DONDISCH GLOWINSKI ( Mexico) noted that illegal brokering undermined the Security Council’s efforts at enforcing its embargoes, and provided non-State armed groups with weapons. The Meeting of States parties, therefore, must advance talks on brokering to prevent the diversion of weapons into the black market. The Antigua Declaration supported the creation of a legally-binding instrument to regulate arms brokering in a way that complemented the 2001 Programme of Action. The Expert Group’s efforts were a good first step in that direction. He hoped that the Meeting’s outcome document would establish a road map that addressed the issue of illegal brokering. Mexico would soon submit a proposal containing some ideas on the topic.
RITA KAZRAGIENE ( Lithuania) said that arms brokering was a legitimate branch of the arms trade. Unfortunately, illicit brokering had had such a negative impact on the implementation of Security Council arms embargoes that the trade was now subjected to rigorous laws, established to prohibit and prosecute illicit brokering. Yet, national laws should allow legal brokers to conduct their business without unnecessary impediments. Lithuania’s national legal framework to control the national export of arms, introduced in 2002, had made it compulsory for brokers to register each and every transaction and to present annual reports on their transactions, including information on the type of weapons sold and their quantity.
Based on its long experience, the Government of Lithuania suggested that illicit brokering be addressed within a stringent national arms export control system, she said. The international arms trade was a dynamic phenomenon, and so self-assessments must be conducted on a regular basis to improve national controls. In turn, those assessments should be shared with other States, because illicit brokering could only be tackled effectively if neighbouring countries shared their experience and information with one another. Lithuania stood ready to render any assistance to countries wishing it.
JUAN BAUTISTA SOSA MARIN ( Cuba) said that prevention and eradication of the illicit small arms and light weapons trade required the joint effort of the international community under United Nations auspices. He supported the recommendations contained in the Programme of Action, noting that some measures had preceded recent commitments of the international community. A decree in Cuba on control of arms and ammunition, in accordance with current national and international needs, was awaiting approval. There were no surpluses of small arms and light weapons in Cuba.
Mr. D’OLIVEIRA (Benin), speaking on the subject of illegal arms brokering, said that the working document proposed in this afternoon’s introductory statement had said that brokering should only be ‘regulated’. Benin wished to add that illegal brokering should be stigmatized, since it was a crime. He suggested that since most countries did not have a legal framework to govern brokering, and since those with a framework did not adhere to it, the international community must establish a model to promote harmonization of all States’ practices in that area. Several African countries had met in Cotounou, Benin, to finalize such an instrument, with ECOWAS’ support. On that basis, it would be possible for participating countries to exchange information on brokering, among other things. As for methods to strengthen enforcement of embargoes, it was crucial to establish ways to evaluate the capacity of neighbouring States to monitor their borders, and to mobilize targeted assistance for such activities.
SANNA POUTIAINEN (Finland), aligning herself with the statement of the European Union, said that the basic principles governing the arms brokering in Finland were very strict, and the same controls that applied to brokering applied to the illicit small arms trade. In addition to proper legislation, Finland encouraged cooperation among regional and international organizations.
She said that cooperation at the regional level was key to controlling the illicit arms trade. Information sharing was a way to develop effective national systems. Finland encouraged all States to participate in international agreements to regulate international arms brokering.
LARBI EL HADJ ALI ( Algeria) agreed with previous speakers that the discussion paper before the Meeting offered a useful opportunity to examine the issue in depth. The close monitoring of brokering activities and the creation of administrative procedures that helped monitor the export and import of weapons were necessary.
He also suggested the use of regional agreements to help curb cross-border operations, as well as the use of tracing instruments to follow the path of weapons across borders. Other measures to control illicit brokering included the creation of strict licensing procedures that would monitor producers, distributors, traders and all others involved in the process.
Mr. KUMAR ( India) said his country supported the efforts of the Governmental Expert Group in recommending the appropriate penalties for illicit brokering activities, including those that violated arms embargoes. India’s national reports talked of penal provisions within its laws relating to the illegal small arms and light weapons trade. There was a ban on arms trade to countries under United Nations embargo. Countries must keep in mind the complex nature of the arms trade, which involved extra-territorial nationals, and they would do well to take note of the French initiative to monitor the transport of arms through the air.
Mr. TIKOCHINSKI ( Israel) said that his country was greatly concerned by the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons, particularly their transfer to terrorists. Only if every State made a sincere attempt to halt the transfer of weapons to non-State actors and terrorists would the world succeed in wiping out the illegal arms trade. Towards that goal, States must enact laws and regulations to ensure robust export controls and oversee brokering activities in a strict manner.
He said that Israel, for its part, had participated in the activities of the Governmental Expert Group on brokering. It had acted over the years to curb arms trafficking through strict enforcement of national law and policy, covering production, marking, marketing, licensing, brokering and registration of brokers. The Israeli defence export control act was aimed at banning exports to regions or States under Security Council embargo, non-State entities, underground movements, guerrilla groups, criminal organizations, terrorists, and groups in areas embroiled in armed conflict. It criminalized brokering activities not in compliance with United Nations resolutions, and published the text of those resolutions on its Ministry of Defence website.
ESTANISLAO GONELL ( Dominican Republic) expressed support for the working document submitted by Colombia, and noted that the Dominican Republic did not produce firearms. In fact, the control of firearms was a top priority for his Government, which was committed to addressing the problem.
He said the Dominican Republic shared information with various countries and considered the harmonization of laws on exports and imports of weapons, and the creation of joint databases on measures essential to controlling the illicit small arms trade. His country supported the report of the Expert Governmental Group, as well as the implementation of adequate laws at the national level. The exchange of information at the international level was also essential.
ISMAIL COBANOGLU ( Turkey) said that transfer controls were essential to maintaining effective control over the arms trade. Preventing illicit trade in small arms demanded effective legislation and strong law enforcement agencies. Those agencies needed sufficient training and technical assistance. He noted that illicit arms brokering carried severe criminal penalties in Turkey.
JAVED CHEEMA ( Pakistan), aligning himself with the statement by the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country had extensive familiarity with the illicit arms trade, given its proximity to countries experiencing armed resistance. Pakistan believed that the international community must address the root causes of conflicts, in order to eliminate a major source of demand of small arms and light weapons. A comprehensive action plan against brokering would entail sharing of information on arms cartels. Robust national laws dealing with the illicit trade of weapons must be crafted.
He said his Government had destroyed tens of thousands of small arms, along with millions of rounds of ammunition. Arms licensing procedures had recently been tightened, and law enforcement mechanisms had been improved. Awareness-raising campaigns were being conducted through the media and non-governmental organizations. The Government controlled the import and export of ammunition, which fell under a legal framework that also protected stockpiles and prevented pilferage. There was a sole manufacturer of ammunition in Pakistan, which was obliged to follow a rigorous system of marking and record-keeping. He echoed the emphasis of several other delegations on the importance of international cooperation and assistance in carrying out national laws.
SEYED ROBATJAZI ( Iran) said a comprehensive approach to the Programme was essential to control the illicit small arms trade. The international community needed to be careful to avoid any imbalances, however, in its implementation. He noted that illicit brokering was an important facet of the Programme. That was not an issue for some States, where progress had been achieved at the national level.
WORKNEM GEBEYEHU NEGEWO ( Ethiopia), aligning his statement with the Group of African States and the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country was endeavouring to withstand the impact of the illegal arms trade. In light of the harm inflicted on human lives by illegal weapons, as well as its impact on economic development, his Government had devised a plan to establish border controls to thwart arms smuggling. However, international financial assistance was needed for the plan to be properly implemented. Border control personnel also needed training.
He said that new regulations now required all citizens possessing firearms to register them. The current administration was presently submitting to parliament a draft proclamation addressing the issue. Light weapons could only be imported into the country by Government organs, such as the military or police. As for weapons stockpiles, the Government had succeeded in destroying thousands of small arms and light weapons. A national committee was being set up to ensure effective implementation of the Programme of Action, but Ethiopia would need steady financial help from others, in order to carry out its obligations fully.
NOHRA QUINTERO ( Colombia) stressed the importance of the question of illicit brokering and agreed that the international community needed to address the problem very soon. The illicit brokering in arms was closely linked to terrorism and other issues that were a threat to international peace and security, and the international community should adopt a legally-binding instrument on it. The issue of identification, marking and tracing of firearms should also be addressed, including through such measures as information sharing and border controls to prevent the loss and diversion of firearms. Countries needed should work together to build national capacity and take concrete action to halt the illicit small arms trade.
MODIBO LYMAN ( Sierra Leone) said his country had become aware of the illegal brokering problem during the war with Liberia, in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Parliament would soon pass a bill against illegal arms brokering. It was understood that INTERPOL would soon establish a database to assist national agencies to monitor the movement of illegal firearms. Sierra Leone would strive to use such information to strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation to the best of its ability, in order to investigate and prosecute individuals involved in the illegal brokering of small arms and light weapons.
ROBERT YOUNG, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said arms brokering activities required a uniform, global and legally-binding regulatory framework because of the transnational character of the arms trade. He urged States to pursue that important objective. Until such a framework was developed, the International Committee of the Red Cross encouraged States to adhere to and fully implement existing regional instruments that contained provisions on the control of arms brokering and trade, and adopt similar standards in regions in which those did not already exist.
FRANCIS K. SANG, Executive Secretary, Regional Centre on Small Arms and Light Weapons, said that illicit brokering was a major avenue for the proliferation of illegal arms. The countries of the Great Lakes region faced a tremendous problem with regard to illegal arms brokering. The Nairobi Protocol mandated that each State party develop a system for monitoring arms brokering through national legislation, in line with the Programme of Action. However, few countries had enacted proper measures. So far, Seychelles was the only nation with laws to control arms brokering. For its part, the Regional Centre offered assistance to legal committees charged with drafting revised laws in the region. It also held periodic regional workshops and meetings, serving as a platform to review progress on licensing, record-keeping, and similar activities. It was looking to help member States establish proper registration procedures for arms brokers and craft appropriate penalties for illicit brokering activities performed within States’ judicial control. However, international assistance was required to ensure that the programme could continue.
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