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Rapid Spread of Small Arms, Light Weapons Still Threatening World Peace, Exacerbating Plight of Civilians in Conflict Zones, Disarmament Chief Tells Security Council

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SC/14656

SECURITY COUNCIL
8874TH MEETING (AM)

The proliferation and stockpiling of illicit weapons continue to threaten international peace and security, exacerbating the plight of civilians in strife-torn countries worldwide, the senior United Nations disarmament official told the Security Council today.

“The misuse, illicit transfer and destabilizing accumulation of small arms and light weapons, and their ammunition, remain a defining factor in undermining peace and security at the national, regional and global levels and have deeply aggravated situations for vulnerable populations already suffering from conflict,” Izumi Nakamitsu, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said in a briefing to the 15‑member organ.

Presenting the Secretary‑General’s biennial report on small arms and light weapons (document  S/2021/839), she said that their use can render arms embargoes ineffective, sustain conflict dynamics, and endanger peacekeepers, aid workers and local populations, while stymieing the implementation of peace agreements.

While commending the Council’s increasing consideration of the issue in its work, as reflected in its inclusion of arms‑related provisions in recent peace operation mandates in Abyei, Mali, Central African Republic and elsewhere, she encouraged the Council to also focus on conflict‑prevention, pointing out that poorly maintained stockpiles impact peace in conflict and post‑conflict settings.

Noting the issue’s impact on women, peace, security and children, she called for strengthened integration and analysis of sex- and age‑disaggregated data on small arms and light weapons, and for support to be lent to civil society organizations. Citing the growing threat of illicit reactivation of poorly deactivated small arms and the shift in weapon purchases through the darknet — making them difficult to detect and investigate — she called for the early adoption of measures to address such emerging challenges so that small arms control remains effective.

David Lochheed, Senior Researcher of the Small Arms Survey, also briefed the Council, providing a vivid illustration of the grave impact of the issue on peacekeeping operations on the ground, describing trends in the proliferation of such weapons, and proposing comprehensive solutions to tackle the problem. Over the course of 15 years in peacekeeping operations, he observed that the unchecked proliferation of arms, ammunitions and explosives poses one of the greatest challenges to peacekeeping. Improvised explosive devices had a particularly devastating effect in asymmetric conflicts such as in Mali, where they accounted for nearly 60 per cent of the United Nations fatalities from malicious acts in MINUSMA, with the balance of the killings being carried out by small arms and weapons. Peacekeeping operations must prioritize counterproliferation, he said, expressing hope that “the sacrifices of our fallen peacekeepers encourage our collective action on this issue”.

Also briefing the Council was Badreldin Elamin Abdelgadir, Executive Secretary of the Regional Centre on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region, Horn of Africa and Bordering States, who enumerated the many factors contributing to the dangerous armed conflicts that raged in the region, including weak legislative policy, poor governance and economic marginalization. Pointing out that seven of the 13 current peacekeeping operations are in Africa, of which five are in the subregion covered by the Centre, he stressed: “Strengthening the fight against the proliferation of illicit weapons would go a long way in reducing the need for peace operations.”

In the ensuing discussion, many Council members took the floor to express concern about the continuing threats posed by the proliferation of small arms and light weapons to security, agreeing that it contributed to human rights abuses and exacerbated transnational organized crime and terrorism. Several commended regional efforts toward conflict prevention and arms control, such as the African Union’s “Silencing the Guns” initiative, while also emphasizing the importance of tackling the gender‑dimension of the issue, given its impact on sexual and gender-based violence.

Ireland’s representative was among the speakers who expressed concern about the disproportionate impact of the unchecked proliferation of such weapons on women and girls, which fuels gender-based violence and human trafficking in countries such as South Sudan and Somalia. The stark facts set out in the Secretary‑General’s report highlight the importance of responding to the threat and doing so in a gender-sensitive manner, she stressed. She also underscored the need for sharing information to ensure effective weapons tracing and making use of regional leadership and engagement to address the issue.

In a similar vein, the representative of France noted the Council’s efforts to mark and trace stockpiles, adding that it could certainly do more. She called on States to join the Arms Trade Treaty and Firearms Protocol, and encouraged them to also mark weapons and support the International Tracing Instrument. Moreover, she pointed out that the Council should update its sanctions regimes and address the problems posed by ammunition, and attendant risks such as theft and the manufacture of improvised explosive devices.

Meanwhile, the representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines observed that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) region continues to be severely impacted by irresponsible and illicit weapons flows, aided by permissive gun laws in many manufacturing countries, although the region does not manufacture or import small arms and light weapons on a large scale. While commending such initiatives as the African Union’s Silencing the Guns and the regional road map for the Western Balkans, she pointed out that such measures will be for naught if States that manufacture arms do not assume greater responsibility for the consequences of the trade of those weapons.

Kenya’s representative, Council President for October, highlighted the strength of regional initiatives as exemplified by the Regional Centre on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region, Horn of Africa and Bordering States. He called on the Council to lend support to Governments in affected areas to enhance their ability to monitor proliferation trends, reform the security sector, and implement disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes in a coordinated manner. Strengthening the capacity of United Nations missions and Governments in weapons and ammunition management is critical to prevent the diversion and illicit trade of small arms and light weapons, he emphasized.

Also speaking today were representatives of Viet Nam, Mexico, Tunisia, United States, India, Russian Federation, Estonia, United Kingdom, China, Niger and Norway.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 12:19 p.m.

Briefings

IZUMI NAKAMITSU, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, introduced the Secretary‑General’s biennial report on small arms and light weapons (document S/2021/839), recalling that since the Security Council began considering the subject 12 years ago it has continued to recognize that illicit flows and excessive accumulation of such weapons compromise the effectiveness of its ability to maintain international peace and security. “The misuse, illicit transfer and destabilizing accumulation of small arms and light weapons, and their ammunition, remain a defining factor in undermining peace and security at the national, regional and global levels and have deeply aggravated situations for vulnerable populations already suffering from conflict,” she said. Where peace operations are mandated, such flows can sustain conflict dynamics, render arms embargoes ineffective, endanger peacekeepers, aid workers and local populations, and complicate implementation of peace agreements. Against this backdrop, she commended the Council’s increasing consideration of the issue in its work, as reflected in its inclusion of arms-related provisions in recent peace operation mandates in Abyei, Central African Republic, Haiti, Mali, Yemen, among other places.

Turning to conflict prevention, she encouraged the Council to integrate weapons and ammunition management considerations into its work, as poorly maintained stockpiles pose humanitarian hazards and are known sources of weapons diversion which impact peace in conflict and post‑conflict settings. In this regard, she emphasized the importance of internationally recognized tools such as the Modular Small‑arms‑control Implementation Compendium, underscored in the publication titled “Aide‑Memoire: Options for Mainstreaming Weapons and Ammunition Management in decisions of the Security Council”, which has recently been updated and is now publicly available. She also encouraged the Council to integrate the consideration of weapons and ammunition into thematic as well as country‑specific discussions, including in addressing the multifaceted threat of the arms-crime-terrorism nexus. Development and implementation of border security and management strategies as well as enhanced stockpile management are effective in disrupting the supply of such weapons to terrorists, she said. Moreover, thematic discussions on issues such as children in armed conflict and the women, peace and security agenda are also important opportunities to reflect on convergence with small arms-related issues as part of the Council’s programme of work, she continued, adding that conventional arms control, including small arms and light weapons control measures, are relevant to all four pillars of the agenda — participation, protection, prevention and relief and recovery, including in contexts of conflict‑related sexual violence. This convergence can be strengthened by integrating the collection and analysis of sex- and age-disaggregated data on small arms and light weapons in related mandates, lending support to civil society organizations, and encouraging States to streamline national action plans and ensure more active exchange of information.

Regarding the growing threat of illicit reactivation of poorly deactivated small arms, she noted that the United Nations has issued specific guidance in a dedicated module of the Modular Small-arms-control Implementation Compendium. She noted a shift in the purchases of weapons and their components through the darknet, which poses difficulties to their detection and criminal investigation, and called for the early adoption of measures to address such emerging challenges so that small arms control remains effective.

Noting that a deeper institutional understanding is needed to tackle the threat of small arms and light weapons and develop comprehensive solutions to address them, she went on to spotlight a number of initiatives, including system-wide guidance on country‑level approaches to integrate small arms control into the Common Country Analysis and sustainable development frameworks, developed by partners of the United Nations Coordinating Action on Small Arms, and the Saving Lives Entity, an immediate response facility within the Peacebuilding Fund, which has begun the allocation of grants to catalyse more comprehensive approaches to small arms control and armed violence reduction efforts in several countries.

BADRELDIN ELAMIN ABDELGADIR, Executive Secretary, Regional Centre on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region, Horn of Africa and Bordering States, said that the Nairobi‑based Centre was established in 2005 as a regional institution with a sole mandate of fighting against small arms proliferation that was required to coordinate implementation of the Nairobi Protocol on the Prevention, Control and Reduction of Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Great Lakes Region, the Horn of Africa and Bordering States the Nairobi Protocol — which was signed by 12 States in April 2004.

He pointed to the many drivers of the spread of illicit weapons in the subregion, including weak legislative and policy frameworks in many countries, as well as outdated arms management and control legislation out of step with current realities and the existing small arms instruments. Weak physical security and management of State‑held weapons also results in proliferation. Internal political dynamics, the struggle for political power through illegal means and bad governance may politically motivate arms supply. Ungoverned spaces drive demand for illicit small arms and light weapons by individuals seeking to guard their lives and properties. Moreover, economic marginalization may lead to youth radicalization and violent extremism which fuel the demand for illegal weapons.

As a result, in the past two decades, the Great Lakes Region and Horn of Africa have experienced some of the most dangerous armed conflicts in Africa, he said, noting that of the 13 current peacekeeping operations, seven are in Africa of which five are in the subregion covered by the Centre. “The strengthened fight against the proliferation of illicit weapons in its totality would go a long way in reducing the need for peace operations”, he stressed. Before peacekeepers are deployed, illicit small arms and light weapons already circulate in the conflict-affected areas. United Nations missions’ mandates should include interventions aimed at severing illicit firearm sources. He also suggested predeployment measures, such as training in weapons and ammunitions management; marking and electronic record keeping of all weapons to be used in the mission; continued accountability measures for all mission stockpiles; effective management or destruction of all collected small arms and light weapons during the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process; and continued efforts to raise public awareness in conflict areas about the bad effects of small arms proliferation.

While peace operations’ technical support to local law enforcement agencies is paramount to enhance weapons management, the inclusion of weapons management training component during troop pre-deployment is highly recommended, he said. The tools and mechanisms are already in place. They include, at the international level, the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects; the International Tracing Instrument, and the Arms Trade Treaty; continental frameworks, such as the Bamako Declaration and the African Union’s “Silencing the Guns” initiative; as well as subregional accords, such as the Nairobi Protocol. Major gaps must be addressed, including domesticating the existing small arms control instruments within the national legislation and providing adequate human and financial resources to implement them. In this regard, the Centre’s expertise and experience can be used to spearhead the fight against small arms proliferation on the African continent.

Arms control programming is not a stand‑alone issue, he said, stressing that it is closely linked to poverty reduction and the Sustainable Development Goals. Therefore, it is vital to package arms control interventions within the wider development programming as there is a link between sustainable development and security. Peace operations relate to full‑blown conflict with formal warring parties but small arms proliferation goes beyond this context to lower‑level transnational organized armed crime which affects human security, he said, stressing the need to support the Centre in carrying out its mandates.

DAVID LOCHHEAD, Senior Researcher, Small Arms Survey, said that his 15 years in peacekeeping operations had demonstrated to him that the unchecked proliferation of arms, ammunitions and explosives poses one of the greatest challenges to peacekeeping today. In 2018, he chaired a Board of Inquiry into the death of his friend and former colleague, Captain Christophe Tangaou Massamaesso of the Togolese armed forces, who was killed by small arms fire in 2017 while deployed in Mali with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Weapons and ammunition analysis showed that the attack that killed his colleague was also materially linked to three other attacks, including on the MINUSMA base in Timbuktu, which killed 28 people in a 24‑hour‑period, he said, adding that arms, ammunition and explosives are important evidence that must contribute to justice for such crimes, in line with Council resolution 2589 (2021), which promotes accountability for acts of violence against peacekeepers. Research and analysis of such weapons are critical to all aspects of mandate implementation, including reducing threats to peacekeeping staff.

In response to a question posed by the Council on trends in the proliferation of such weapons, he described his observations from the dynamics of arms proliferation where peacekeeping operations are conducted, noting that the availability of legacy weapons and ammunition to armed groups can be attributed to historical regional conflict, which causes them to remain in circulation for decades and trafficked across borders. Moreover, he pointed out that when the Department of Peace Operations is deployed in asymmetrical conflicts, as in Mali, improvised explosive devices have a devastating effect, accounting for almost 60 per cent of United Nations fatalities from malicious acts in MINUSMA, “the United Nations’ deadliest peacekeeping operations”, while the balance of killings have largely been carried out by small arms and light weapons. He enumerated other factors that allow such weapons to spread and impact peacekeeping operations, including the looting of massive stockpiles in contexts such as Libya, the spread of craft‑produced firearms, and sporting firearms, and the diversion of commercial explosives which supplies bomb‑building networks across the Sahel subregion.

Turning to regional and global mechanisms that can bolster arms control in conflict-affected situations, he stressed the need to strengthen counter-trafficking approaches informed by baseline research and data collection, noting that the lack of a regional approach has failed to curb hostile actors’ access to illicit weapons. He said peacekeeping operations should develop protocols to feed into global law enforcement and customs operations supported by such bodies as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), as well as the work of arms embargo monitoring expert panels, by adopting new data‑sharing platforms. Further, the use of new technology could amplify and simplify the collection, analysis and sharing of such data, which, combined with new reporting mechanisms, could better inform the Council on global trends in illicit trafficking.

In conclusion, he suggested several innovations and improvements to peacekeeping operations, including the development and field‑testing of advanced data collection tools for peacekeepers to identify and trace illicit materials, improved weapons intelligence capabilities of troop contributors, and the conceptualization of regional approaches to improve trafficking intelligence sharing to inform national and regional responses to the proliferation of arms, ammunition and explosives. Placing counterproliferation back into a central role within peacekeeping operations would improve mandate implementation and protect United Nations staff, as well as contribute to reaching Sustainable Development Goal target 16.4, he said, adding that he hoped that “the sacrifices of our fallen peacekeepers encourage our collective action on this issue”.

Statements

DINH QUY DANG (Viet Nam) said the illicit trade and misuse of small arms and light weapons continues to fuel conflict and hamper recovery and socioeconomic development, remaining a threat that could even undermine the mandate of Council-authorized missions. Addressing this requires joint efforts of all parties to combat arms trafficking, with States bearing the primary responsibility to strengthen national efforts and with regional and international groups playing their role. In addition, the Council must address the illicit trade issue in a contextual manner, he said, commending the 9 of 12 peacekeeping operations whose mandates permit efforts related to arms control and management. He called for more support for these missions so they can better assist host countries in peace processes and post‑conflict reconstruction. Indeed, in post‑conflict situations, efforts to combat the illicit arms trade must continue, including security sector reform, managing and controlling weapons, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. He also called on stakeholders to address the root causes of conflict, including inequality and neglect of international law.

JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMIREZ (Mexico), said his delegation organized a related Arria‑formula meeting on small arms and light weapons proliferation in September and intends to follow up on this topic during its Council Presidency in November. The Council must conduct a critical and objective analysis of the tangible impact of small arms and light weapons and call more strongly for the fulfilment of agreed commitments. The Council’s attention on the subject has been largely directed to promoting and strengthening schemes for weapons and ammunition management, but this is just one component within a much broader sphere, he said, pointing to the need to study the entire life cycle of weapons encompassing production, transfer and end use. Mexico strongly supports the recommendation on effective border controls, which must be comprehensive. The mandates of peacekeeping missions and the renewal of sanctions regimes must reflect the realities on the ground. Noting the disproportionate impact on women and children, he expressed support for the recommendations in the Secretary‑General’s report on the need to strengthen capacities in peace operations, including components devoted to the issue of small arms.

TAREK LADEB (Tunisia) noting that small arms and light weapons are often the direct cause of fatalities among peacekeepers, called on the Council to address the issues related to their illicit transfer and use. Voicing support for regional efforts for conflict prevention and arms control, such as the African Union’s “Silencing the Guns” initiative, he stressed the importance of incorporating the gender dimension, and recognizing that eradicating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons is a key part of combating gender‑based violence. His country does not produce or export weapons of any kind, he said, adding that the Arms Trade Treaty can significantly contribute to finding adequate solutions to the illicit trade in conventional weapons.

JEFFREY DELAURENTIS (United States) said peacekeeping operations present unique challenges in the domain, including managing large caches of weapons seized from former combatants. He noted that in attacks in Sierra Leone in early 2000, the Revolutionary United Front captured 5,000 arms, while the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and MINUSMA also suffered weapon seizures. While the United Nations has made strides in small arms and light weapons management in peacekeeping operations, he said in‑mission protocols are unevenly applied, with active combatants reclaiming armaments, threatening United Nations personnel and the civilians they are mandated to protect. Protocols in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration manual must be operationalized and updated. He noted the United States partnered with the Regional Centre on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region, Horn of Africa and Bordering States on improving accountability of stockpiles and training 500 store keepers. Efforts included building new armouries, providing 1,500 weapons lockers and facilitating the destruction of thousands of arms and tons of ammunition.

SHERAZ GASRI (France) said the uncontrolled spread of small arms and light weapons feeds conflict, crime and terrorism “and we have all paid the price and will continue to do so.” The Security Council has played its role, marking and tracing stockpiles, but she noted it could certainly do more. Calling on States to join the Arms Trade Treaty and Firearms Protocol, she encouraged them to also mark weapons and support the International Tracing Instrument. The Council should update its sanctions regimes, and it is also important to address the problem of ammunition, which presents specific risks including theft and the manufacture of improvised explosive devices. She highlighted that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and other organizations and regional blocs are adapting to realities on the ground, and the Council and international community must help them build capacity in that area. That is the purpose of the Franco‑German initiative to coordinate the fight against firearms trafficking in the Western Balkans, she noted.

T. S. TIRUMURTI (India), stressing that the primary responsibility for addressing the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons lies with Member States, said the Council must address the danger posed by such illicit transfers to the safety of peacekeepers. Arms embargos are an important tool at the disposal of the Council, he said, voicing concern that they continue to be blatantly violated. Peacekeeping missions could support host countries by strengthening the capacities of the law enforcement and security agencies in safe handling, upkeep and stockpile management of arms and weapons, he said, also highlighting the increase in volume and the quality of the arsenal acquired by terrorist organizations.

DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) said his delegation understands that today’s discussion is taking place in the context of peacekeeping, not as a disarmament story. The Secretary‑General’s biennial report should devote more attention to the peacekeeping aspect of the topic. The existing mechanisms in this arena, such as the Programme of Action, should be better reflected in the report. The presence of many uncontrolled small arms and light weapons not only hinders the security of civilians and peacekeeping missions, but also diminishes the possibility of ending armed confrontation and creating conditions towards reconciliation. The responsibility for controlling small arms and light weapons lies with the Governments of the countries where those weapons are located. In this regard, he underscored the need to revise the sanctions regimes against certain countries, such as in the Central African Republic, Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia, so that States can properly be armed and prepared to maintain the rule of law. Bringing sustainable development, gender or climate change into the Council discussion on this topic does not add any value, since the General Assembly is the priority platform for discussing small arms and light weapons in the broader context. Ensuring the safety of stockpiles and the destruction of its surplus are the prerogative of the States themselves and an integral part of their sovereignty, he said.

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia) noted that various United Nations peace operations, such as those in Haiti, Sudan and Mali, are mandated to support weapons management in the context of community violence reduction, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and security sector reform programmes. Welcoming that the United Nations Mine Action Service is also often an integrated component of such missions, he asked the Security Council to include the tasks of record‑keeping and weapons tracing more systematically in peace operations’ mandates, in line with international instruments and standards. He also called for strengthening cooperation and information‑sharing between peace operations and panels of experts, noting that the systematic collection and analysis of data on seized, found and surrendered weapons can provide important information about sources and supply chains of armed actors. Estonia supports the Secretary‑General’s recommendation to consider the establishment or designation of a unit or cell within a peace mission with respective expertise and skills.

JAMES PAUL ROSCOE (United Kingdom) drew attention to ongoing efforts to curb arms trafficking and to control the legal weapons trade. Highlighting such recent achievements as the Biennial Meetings of States on the Programme of Action on Small Arms, he also noted the United Kingdom’s support for the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), including a risk analysis toolkit to strengthen understanding on how conventional arms control can contribute to conflict prevention, management and resolution. Expressing support for the Secretary‑General’s report on children affected by armed conflict and the gender dimensions of gun trafficking, he said such initiatives are in line with the Arms Trade Treaty, which remains a key multilateral tool to ensure a well‑regulated legal weapons trade. Such regional approaches as the African Union’s Silencing the Guns initiative and the Western Balkans road map are making inroads, he said, adding that the United Kingdom is leading a review of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) best practice guidance on stockpile management while continuing to support efforts to address the risk of ammunition stockpiles and other key areas.

GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) said the stark facts underlined by the Secretary‑General’s report, including that small arms and light weapons facilitate more human rights abuses than any other weapon, underlined the importance of addressing the threat. She said the Council must consistently and systematically scrutinize the impact of these weapons as drivers of conflict. Peace operations mandated by the Council have a crucial role to play in this regard. She went on to underscore the importance of effectively managing and processing weapons and ammunition stockpiles, building the capacity of host States, and making use of regional leadership and engagement in addressing the issue. Moreover, she highlighted the importance of information‑sharing to ensure effective weapons tracing. Turning to the women, peace and security agenda, she said the proliferation of such weapons negatively impacts the security of women and girls in countries like Somalia and South Sudan, facilitating violence, including sexual and gender‑based violence and human trafficking. This is “unconscionable” and highlights the need for a gender‑sensitive response to the issue, she said.

INGA RHONDA KING (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) said CARICOM recognizes the need for mechanisms to protect its people. Even though the region does not manufacture or import small arms and light weapons on a large scale, it continues to be severely impacted by irresponsible and illicit weapons flows, aided by permissive gun laws in many manufacturing countries. CARICOM has therefore accelerated the road map for implementing measures against the illicit proliferation of firearms and ammunition across the region by 2030. Expressing firm support for the African Union’s Silencing the Guns initiative and the regional road map for the Western Balkans, she stressed that these efforts, however, will all be for naught if States that manufacture arms do not assume greater responsibility for the consequences of the trade of those weapons. Undoubtedly, domestic policies can have harmful implications beyond borders. The misuse of small arms and light weapons continues to hinder the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals, she said, sounding the alarm on the high number of grave violations against children, as well as the serious threat posed to women and girls, all linked to the use of small arms and light weapons.

GENG SHUANG (China) stressed that States bear the primary responsibility to manage small arms and light weapons through such measures as stronger border controls and regulating the flow of such weapons within their borders. He insisted that United Nations peace operations should use new technologies to carry out its mandates effectively and monitor the flow of weapons. Highlighting the need to address “triggers” of proliferation of small weapons and light weapons, he said promoting development and eradicating poverty are key to solving the problem. China announced the global development initiative at the General Assembly last month, he said, encouraging States to join this effort. For its part, China has joined the Arms Trade Treaty and enhanced domestic measures.

ABDOU ABARRY (Niger) said the proliferation of small arms and light weapons continues to heavily impact peace and security in all regions of the world and remains a major challenge to peacebuilding objectives. He underscored the need for specialized training on weapons management before the deployment of “Blue Helmets”, and for the prevention of traffic in such weapons through strengthened border monitoring and the implementation of relevant conventions. Further, the capacity of host countries must be strengthened to facilitate the proper management of stockpiles, he said. Commending international support lent to national and regional efforts to strengthen arms control, including to the Silencing the Guns initiative, he noted that since 1994, Niger’s National Commission for the Collection and Control of Small Arms has helped to curtail their proliferation despite difficulties posed by the country’s porous borders. The impact of the Libyan crisis on the Sahel region illustrates what can happen when such weapons are allowed to proliferate, he said. He went on to observe that women and children are the first victims of violence from the unchecked flow of such weapons, and must necessarily be involved in strategies to combat the phenomenon.

TRINE SKARBOEVIK HEIMERBACK (Norway) said illicit flows of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition threaten both civilians living in conflict areas and the peacekeepers who risk their lives to protect them. Children are disproportionately affected, left vulnerable to injury, displacement and death, as well as recruitment in armed conflict. She encouraged Member States to support mainstreaming small arms measures in other thematic areas, including protection of civilians, counter‑terrorism, and humanitarian assistance. The Security Council must also integrate weapons and ammunition management as a key pillar to support peace processes, with special emphasis on robust physical security and stockpile management. Expressing support for peace and reconciliation efforts, she said conflict parties will be less prone to resort to armed violence if they are involved in a constructive political process. Noting positive developments at the Seventh Biennial Meeting on Small Arms and the Seventh Conference of State Parties under the Arms Trade Treaty, she pointed to such models as the Regional Centre on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region, Horn of Africa and Bordering States and the African Union’s Silencing the Guns initiative.

MARTIN KIMANI (Kenya), Council President for October, spoke in his national capacity, outlining collective efforts required to address the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. Calling for a comprehensive architecture jointly built by the relevant United Nations organs and agencies, regional and subregional organisations as well as civil society, he highlighted the strength of regional initiatives as exemplified by the Regional Centre on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region, Horn of Africa and Bordering States. The African Union’s Silencing the Guns and other regional initiatives should also be supported. He went on to ask the Security Council to emphasize support to Governments in affected areas for enhanced capacity in monitoring proliferation trends, undertaking security sector reforms and the implementation of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes in a coordinated manner. The strengthening of the capacity of United Nations missions and Governments in weapons and ammunition management is critical to the prevention of diversion and illicit trade of small arms and light weapons, he emphasized.