Existing Tools Aimed at Illicit Small Arms Trade Must Better Connect Assistance Needs with Resources, Says Speakers at Biennial Meeting
Fourth Biennial Meeting of States
on Illicit Trade in Small Arms
3rd & 4th Meetings (AM & PM)
International Cooperation in Implementing 2001 Action Programme Focus; Delegates Told - 'Bottom Line Is' Developing Countries Need Assistance
Fine-tuning existing tools to stem the flow of the nefarious illicit arms trade topped a volley of suggestions that were the focus of debate today as the Fourth Biennial Meeting of States on combating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons continued.
The Biennial Meetings had indeed come a long way towards broadening international cooperation and assistance, along with creating systems to match needs with resources to stamp out the scourge of illegal arms, a representative of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) told delegates. She stressed, however, that existing tools and processes urgently needed to be honed to ensure the successful implementation of the Programme of Action. Further, more needed to be done to improve checklists and systems that partnered States with the resources needed to fight the illegal arms trade.
A case in point was a web-based tool already integrated into the Programme of Action implementation system platform, making it possible to recognize needs, Japan's representative said. The problem was that the available information was not specific enough, she said, suggesting the use of UNIDIR's existing needs checklist as a part of the web-based system. A comprehensive approach to providing assistance was also needed, and it was important that small arms programmes be integrated into development programming at the national level.
However, Venezuela's representative cautioned that new initiatives might duplicate existing efforts, and she urged that cooperation should be built upon realities in the world's regions, tailored for each State or cooperation partnership. Still, in-depth discussions were needed to delve into areas of practical coordination on cross-border issues and aspects of shared responsibility.
Other speakers drew attention to a number of related issues. The representative of Montenegro highlighted the issue of surplus weapons and ammunition collection and destruction, saying it was another critical area that needed more attention in order to counter the destabilizing effects of illicit arms trafficking.
Algeria's representative noted the existence of small arms supplies fuelled conflict to the detriment of development efforts in vulnerable States, while a number of speakers urged that civil society become more involved in discussions and that communities should be included in finding solutions.
In addressing all such issues, the common thread was the need for resources. "The bottom line is" that developing States needed financial assistance, said the representative of Trinidad and Tobago, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). His region was a hub for arms trafficking, but the lack of technological know-how and funding hampered concerted efforts that would put a stop to the weapons flow.
Some other speakers proposed solutions. Let the weapons producers provide the assistance, said Iran's representative. While developing States should make all efforts to combat small arms, developed States, particularly major producing States, should provide negative assistance by reducing production and positive assistance through extending technological knowledge.
Also speaking on the issue of international cooperation and assistance were the representatives of Spain (on behalf of the European Union), Guatemala, Austria, Argentina (on behalf of the Southern Common Market), Bangladesh, Armenia, Gabon, Switzerland, Iraq, United States, Netherlands, Germany, Lebanon, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Kenya, El Salvador, Australia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Viet Nam, China, Colombia, Pakistan, Morocco, Portugal, Sierra Leone, Togo, Djibouti, Botswana, Guyana, Cuba, Zambia, Jamaica, South Africa, Congo, Burundi, Guinea and Mali.
A representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) also spoke on the subject.
Representatives of Azerbaijan and Armenia exercised their right of reply.
Speaking on other issues and of the identification of priority issues were Nigeria, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, India, Australia, Guatemala, Kenya, Cuba, Pakistan, Botswana and Colombia.
The States will meet again Wednesday, 16 June, to continue the discussion.