With illicit trade in small arms and light weapons fuelling conflict, aggravating the humanitarian situation and undermining development, over 50 speakers during today’s open debate in the Security Council emphasized the need for political will and effective arms management to tackle the trafficking and diversion of weapons and ammunition to conflict zones.
Robin Geiss, Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), briefing the 15-member organ, said the diversion and trafficking in weapons and ammunition is “a defining factor” in undermining peace and security. The misuse of illicit arms and ammunition has negative impacts, ranging from deaths, injuries, displacement and psychological harm, to long-term socioeconomic effects on access to health and education, the delivery of humanitarian services, the protection of civilians and sustainable development.
Highlighting the importance of tackling each stage of weapons’ lifecycle, including production, export and stockpiling, he said UNIDIR develops and provides tools to strengthen national ownership of weapons and ammunition management throughout their entire lifecycle. “Today, weapons and ammunition management is increasingly recognized as a fundamental component of conflict prevention and actions to tackle armed violence,” he said.
However, United Nations peace missions do not systematically integrate conventional arms control measures into their conflict prevention and management toolbox, he pointed out, noting that UNIDIR is developing arms-related risk analysis tools that can enhance peace operations’ conflict prevention, management and peacebuilding efforts.
María Pía Devoto, Member of the Control Arms Governance Board — a coalition of 150 civil society member organizations — recalled that the group was created to bring about the Arms Trade Treaty, which requires States parties to develop national control systems to address trafficking and diversion of weapons. She outlined other instruments, agreements and mechanisms at Member States’ disposal to curb the diversion and trafficking of small arms, including the International Tracing Instrument and the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition, also known as the Firearms Protocol.
The illicit trafficking and diversion of small arms and light weapons, along with their retransfer to unauthorized end-users generates high levels of armed violence and foment crime and terrorism, she emphasized. Therefore, it is in the interest of all States to do everything possible to address the problem. The Council has the tools, knowledge and experience to combat the illicit trade in small arms, including its arms embargos. However, arms embargoes are undermined by violations by Members States and non-State actors. Tackling the issue requires political will, she stressed.
In the ensuing discussion, more than 50 speakers took the floor, describing the impact of small arms and light weapons on the peace and stability of local communities, countries and regions, while also exploring actions that could be undertaken by the Council and other actors to address the issue.
Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon, Mexico’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Council President for November, spoke in his national capacity, underscoring that Governments and the private sector must work together to slow the trafficking in small arms and light weapons. Further, the latter must self-regulate its distribution chains to ensure that such weapons do not end up in the wrong hands. “The red thread running through the Mexican Presidency of the Security Council has been prevention,” he stressed, adding that if not for those weapons, most of the armed conflicts on the Council’s agenda would reach a peaceful resolution.
Sanjay Bhattacharyya, Secretary for India’s Ministry of External Affairs, said that the primary responsibility for addressing illicit transfer of small arms lies with Member States. However, some countries are using advanced technologies like drones for cross-border supply of illicit weapons to terrorist groups in violation of other countries’ sovereignty, he warned, unequivocally condemning such actions while calling for greater attention to the terror-crime nexus and the thriving illicit network for procurement and transfer of small arms and financing.
France’s delegate urged the Council to enforce arms embargoes and ensure that peacekeeping and special political operations, when mandated, have the means to effectively combat the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. The Council should also call on all States to adhere to relevant multilateral instruments, such as the Arms Trade Treaty and the Firearms Protocol, and should also encourage States to do more in marking and tracing weapons and their ammunition, detect violations of embargoes and ensure the security of stockpiles.
The representative of the United States emphasized that improving the management of weapons and ammunition is key to preventing diversion of those arms, offering several examples of his country’s support to countries to build capacity and develop resources, including training personnel in Niger and Ecuador. Emphasizing that the Council’s body of work is sufficient, he said: “The shortfall is in States’ national efforts to implement the terms of the relevant resolutions.”
In a similar vein, the Russian Federation’s representative said that the main reasons behind the uncontrolled flows are well known: excessively permissive national legislation and persistent loopholes in national export-control regimes. He also insisted that the Council should not duplicate the functions of the General Assembly, especially on such a universal issue as the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.
Kenya’s representative, however, challenged the Council to undertake every effort to address the problem, questioning why the 15-member organ remains reluctant to do so, given the role of illicit small arms and light weapons in escalating and prolonging destructive conflicts. Noting that Kenya had pushed for listing certain terrorist groups under the appropriate sanctions regimes, but was met with opposition by some Council members who believed such action might undermine humanitarian efforts, he argued that terrorist and insurgent groups’ operations only escalate humanitarian needs.
Costa Rica’s delegate also expressed regret that the Council has not yet fully integrated the consideration of small arms and light weapons, and their ammunition, into its work. “If small arms and light weapons are the fire we fight today in all regions,” she said, “ammunition is the oxygen that fuels it.” She also pointed out that — while export assessments are supposed to consider the risk of gender-based violence — it is not clear how, or even whether, this happens.
Canada’s representative, along with several delegations, also spotlighted the importance of incorporating gender dimensions in formulating responses. He called for full implementation of resolution 2122 (2013), including by ensuring full and meaningful participation for women in eradicating the transfer of these weapons and in related decision-making processes.
As well, the representative of Sweden, also speaking for Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway, pointed out that advancing the integration of gender perspectives is a key priority. The serious effects of weapons on sexual and gender-based violence cannot be stressed enough, she noted, calling for full and equal participation of women in disarmament dialogues.
Niger’s delegate said that such arms have become the main cause of human suffering, particularly for women and children who are targeted by non-State actors and criminal groups. He stressed the importance of regional instruments, underscoring that the African Union’s “Silencing the Guns in 2030”, as well as other initiatives by States in Central and West Africa, deserved support.
Indonesia’s representative also highlighted the importance of regional mechanism in addressing the impact of small arms and light weapons. To that end, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime was tackling the complex, transborder nature of trafficking small arms and light weapons.
Qatar’s delegate, speaking for the Arab Group, said the illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons used by illegal armed groups and terrorist groups has exacerbated conflicts and has threatened peace and security in the Middle East region, as well as in other regions around the world. Therefore, it was crucial, she stressed, to strengthen cooperation in transferring expertise to developing countries to help them trace weapons and maintain border oversight.
The Permanent Observer for the International Committee of the Red Cross said that over the last decade in South Sudan, the Committee’s surgical teams have cared for a staggering 9,000 patients, with a quarter of those women or children being treated for gunshot wounds. Member States supporting warring parties must leverage their influence, she stressed, asserting: “Failing to manage the supply chain, without regard to how weapons will be used, is putting a dirt-cheap price on the lives of civilians.”
Also speaking today were representatives of the United Kingdom, Estonia, Tunisia, Norway, Ireland, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, China, Viet Nam, Morocco, Hungary, Iran, Japan, Guatemala, Malta, Switzerland, Ecuador, Greece, Belgium, Iraq, Bulgaria, Germany, Brazil, Syria, Slovakia, El Salvador, South Africa, Italy, Latvia, Colombia, Ukraine, Philippines, Liechtenstein, Turkey, Albania, Portugal, Chile and Argentina. A representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, also spoke.
The meeting began at 10:03 a.m., suspended at 1:09 p.m., resumed at 3:04 p.m. and ended at 4:29 p.m.
ROBIN GEISS, Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), described the diversion and trafficking in arms — including small arms and light weapons — and ammunition as “a defining factor” in undermining peace and security. The use of these weapons by non-State armed groups, criminals and terrorist actors destabilizes communities and exacerbates situations of insecurity, including by committing serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law, as well as violence against women and children in various contexts. The misuse of illicit arms and ammunition has negative, gendered and age-related impacts, ranging from deaths, injuries, displacement and psychological harm, to long-term socioeconomic effects on access to health and education, the delivery of humanitarian services, the protection of civilians, and sustainable development.
Noting that the illicit arms trade is dynamic, multifaceted and often context-specific, he warned that when loopholes and gaps are closed in one domain, vulnerabilities are exploited in another. States affected by patterns of recurring armed violence therefore face many challenges to prevent the diversion and misuse of arms. Research reveals the importance of putting in place systemic and practical national measures at key stages in the lifecycle. A UNIDIR review of 200 cases highlighted the importance of tackling each of those stages, including production, export and stockpiling. UNIDIR’s diversion analysis framework shows the importance for all Member States to remain vigilant in that regard.
National ownership is fundamental, but success will not be achieved without international cooperation and assistance, he said, adding that UNIDIR develops and provides tools to strengthen national ownership of weapons and ammunition management throughout their entire lifecycle. Between 2015 and 2020, the Institute supported 11 States to conduct weapons and ammunition management baseline assessments. Such assessments enable States to comprehensively and systematically evaluate their relevant institutions, policies and operational processes in order to determine where and how to address gaps and build capacity. “Today, weapons and ammunition management is increasingly recognized as a fundamental component of conflict prevention and actions to tackle armed violence,” he said, noting that the Secretary-General’s small arms reports to the Security Council now regularly feature a section on weapons and ammunition management.
Weapons and ammunition management also plays a role in United Nations arms embargo regimes, including for the development and tailoring of benchmarks for modifying arms embargoes, for the conduct of national assessments of arms and ammunition control capabilities and for the use of appropriate safeguards for incremental lifting of arms embargoes, he continued. Peace operations often gather and have access to critical information for supporting arms embargo implementation and enforcement, as well as conventional arms control efforts more broadly. However, he pointed out that peace missions do not systematically integrate conventional arms control measures into their conflict prevention and management toolbox. UNIDIR is developing arms-related risk analysis tools that can help peace operations to better integrate conventional arms control measures into their conflict prevention, management, and peacebuilding efforts.
An increasing number of stakeholders — both within and outside the United Nations system — are also starting to utilize more comprehensive, integrated approaches to weapons and ammunition management, he said, stressing the need for an inclusive, participatory, and gender-sensitive international dialogue. Advancing a United Nations strategic approach to weapons and ammunition management could further enhance multilateral efforts to deliver peace, security, stability, and development around the world.
MARÍA PÍA DEVOTO, Member of the Control Arms Governance Board, noting that the coalition encompasses 150 civil society member organizations, recalled that it was created to bring about the Arms Trade Treaty, the first global treaty to regulate the international arms trade, which plays a leading role in preventing the illicit trafficking in and diversion of conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons. She pointed out that the devastating impact of the illicit trade in small arms by State and non-State actors is felt most acutely among communities in conflict-affected regions, where such weapons perpetuate a vicious circle of violence and insecurity, feed into violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and worsen intra-community tensions, gender-based violence and forced displacement. Moreover, the illicit trafficking in and diversion of small arms and the retransfer of these weapons to unauthorized end-users generates high levels of armed violence and foment crime and terrorism. Therefore, it is in the interest of all States to do everything possible to address the problem of illicit trafficking in and diversion of small arms.
She went on to outline various instruments, agreements and mechanisms at Member States’ disposal to curb the diversion and trafficking of small arms, including the International Tracing Instrument and the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition, also known as the Firearms Protocol, as well as the Arms Trade Treaty, adding that the latter requires States parties to develop national control systems to address diversion. Regional initiatives such as the African Union’s Silencing the Guns by 2030 are also vital in strengthening Security Council resolution 2220 (2015). Recent work in the context of the Treaty includes attempts to tackle conventional weapons diversion, including stockpile management. Such work also specifically reinforces Security Council arms embargoes. She noted that, with China’s recent accession, three permanent Council members are now party to the Treaty. Nonetheless, the Council’s arms embargoes are undermined by violations by Members States and non-State actors, as underscored by Groups of Experts tasked with monitoring compliance with arms embargoes.
She went on to highlight the most egregious recent example, that of the Libyan embargo, which was described as “totally ineffective” by the Panel of Experts in March. She called on the Council to take action against those known to be actively undermining Security Council embargoes, including through the more regular use of secondary sanctions. Further, she urged the Council to prioritize the effective implementation of the established global framework of mechanisms governing the international trade in conventional arms and encourage others to do likewise. She also called on the Council to seek synergies between international and regional efforts to detect, combat and prevent illicit trafficking in and diversion of arms, and to revise, revitalize and develop its commitment to resolution 2220 (2015). The Security Council has the tools, knowledge and experience to combat the illicit trade in small arms. However, tackling the issue requires political will, she stressed.
MARCELO EBRARD CASAUBON, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mexico and Council President for November, spoke in his national capacity, underscoring that Governments and the private sector must work together to slow the trafficking in small arms and light weapons. Further, the latter must self-regulate its distribution chains to ensure that such weapons do not end up in the wrong hands. “The red thread running through the Mexican Presidency of the Security Council has been prevention,” he stressed, highlighting the need to address the catalysts of violence. But for an almost unlimited availability of weapons, most of the armed conflicts on the Council’s agenda would be more likely to reach a peaceful resolution. However, actors — particularly non-State groups — that can maintain military power will opt to use force over politics or diplomacy. Turning to negligent practices in the manufacture and trade of weapons, he recalled that his Government raised this issue with the United States and emphasized that addressing this concern is not about questioning the rights of countries and legal entities therein to trade arms. Rather, it is about denouncing negligent actions that lead to serious harm around the world. The Council must do more than strengthen weapons-management systems, he added, calling on the organ to tackle the entire life cycle of arms; consolidate effective border controls; promote coordination between the authorities of countries through which arms flow; and encourage the generation of statistical data on dynamics and trends in this area.
SANJAY BHATTACHARYYA, Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs of India, said that the primary responsibility for addressing illicit transfer of small arms lies with Member States. However, some countries are using advanced technologies like drones for cross-border supply of illicit weapons to terrorist groups in violation of other countries’ sovereignty, he said, adding that this needs to be unequivocally condemned. He called for greater focus on the terror-crime nexus and the thriving illicit network for procurement and transfer of small arms and financing. All Member States must respect and strictly enforce existing arms embargoes and strengthen measures against illicit transfer of arms. Further, the Council needs to address the danger to the safety and security of peacekeepers posed by such illicit transfers by giving due attention to this issue during the consideration of peacekeeping mandates. The role of peacekeeping missions in addressing this issue must also be clearly laid out in their respective mandates. Full implementation of the International Tracing Instrument is necessary for tackling the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. At a national level, India has a robust legislative and administrative mechanism to combat and eradicate the menace of illicit small arms. His country also maintains strict export controls over all munitions and related items, including small arms, he said.
ABDOU ABARRY (Niger) said that numerous atrocities in post-conflict situations were attributed to uses of illicit arms diverted to non-State actors. The proliferation of such weapons undermines development efforts, among other negative impacts. In countries hosting United Nations peacekeeping missions, use of such arms fuel intercommunal tensions. These weapons have become the main cause of human sufferings, particularly for women and children who are targeted by non-State actors and criminal groups. Noting that the Secretary-General’s agenda supports regional weapons and ammunition management, he said that the African Union’s Silencing the Guns as well as other initiatives, such as by States in Central and West Africa, deserve support. In 1994, Niger established the National Commission to better control illicit weapons, he noted, thanking all bilateral and multilateral partners, including the United Nations. All solutions require more robust commitment by States, he stressed, inviting the Council to strengthen measures against the diversion of weapons and to support efforts to manage stockpiles and trace flows. It is time to break the vicious cycle, he said, adding that the situations in the Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of the Congo eloquently speak the importance of attention to this issue.
JAMES PAUL ROSCOE (United Kingdom) underlined how small arms and light weapons undermine security and sustainable development and fuel crime and terrorism. Security Council arms embargoes must be properly implemented and enforced. Such embargoes can also strengthen State security institutions more widely, he said, adding that the Council should think carefully before lifting them and only do so when States are fully ready to take responsibility for preventing the diversion and misuse of small arms. He touched on work done by UNIDIR, which the United Kingdom supports, to integrate conventional arms control into conflict prevention work, adding that all States can support conflict-affected regions by implementing their own robust export control and customs systems. He encouraged all States to ratify and accede to the Arms Trade Treaty. For its part, the United Kingdom will continue to support other policy initiatives in this area, such as the Group of Governmental Experts on problems arising from the accumulation of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus. Peacekeepers from the United Kingdom deployed to Mali have seen first-hand the havoc and terror wreaked by a small number of small arms and light weapons. While they have taken steps to tackle the issue, he stressed that it would be much more effective to prevent such weapons from falling into the wrong hands in the first place.
SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia) said Governments that control or transfer weapons have a key role to play in ensuring that the trade, use and storage of arms are conducted in a responsible and accountable manner. In order to detect and disrupt illicit flows of small arms, national legislation need to include adequate arms control frameworks, including relevant stockpile management procedures, law enforcement and criminal justice responses. The increasing globalization of arms transfers calls for international measures, he said, stressing the value of arms embargoes imposed by the Council. Noting that conflicts fuelled by the availability of small arms have grave implications for children and often deny them their basic rights, he added that armed violence, including sexual- and gender-based violence, is often abetted by armed intimidation. It remains essential to fully integrate gender considerations into all efforts to prevent and combating the risk of the misuse, diversion and illicit circulation of small arms, so that the gendered aspects of armed violence are adequately addressed.
MOEZZ LAOUANI (Tunisia) reiterated that the illicit transfer, diversion and use of small arms and light weapons should be addressed by the Council in a more holistic manner. The organ should ensure the implementation of the arms embargoes it imposes, he underlined, expressing concern over the continued violation of arms embargoes that can play an important in countering the illicit transfer of small arms and light weapons. He further underscored that United Nations peace operations should be well resourced and trained to properly control their own weapons and reinforce host Governments’ capacities in the treatment of recovered illicit weapons and ammunition, as well as in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration activities. The Council should further incorporate the gender dimension when addressing issues related to small arms and light weapons, he asserted.
MONA JUUL (Norway), noting that every year more than 200,000 lives are lost to small arms and light weapons and their ammunition, highlighted the gendered impact of the illicit flows of such weapons. Her country contributes to better regulation of the global arms trade, she said, noting that Norway is a State party to the Arms Trade Treaty and works with partners to bring more States on board. Further, the country is also a major supporter of efforts to increase capacity in States with weak national export controls systems, she noted, adding that focusing on weapons and ammunition management, physical security and stockpile management can help prevent the flow of arms from the licit to the illicit realm. Also applauding such initiatives as the African Union’s Silencing the Guns plan, the Regional Centre on Small Arms and various regional roadmaps in Latin America, the Caribbean and the Western Balkans, she stressed the need to be vigilant about the diversion of small arms and light weapons outside of conflict settings.
GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) underscored that the illicit transfer and misuse of small arms and light weapons not only fuels and prolongs conflict, it also facilitates more human rights abuses than any other kind of weapons use. Voicing support for a resolution that seeks to prevent or reduce illicit flows of these weapons, including through more efficient implementation of embargoes, she said that addressing the availability, accumulation and management of arms should be at the core of conflict prevention and management, crisis response and peacebuilding services. International cooperation, capacity-building and information-sharing are critical, she said, adding that efforts made within the Council and the General Assembly as well as under the Arms Trade Treaty should be mutually supportive. Also drawing attention to regional approaches including the African Union’s Silencing the Guns, she stressed the need for gender-sensitive and youth-sensitive responses.
SHERAZ GASRI (France) described four avenues of action that the Security Council should take to better combat arms trafficking. First, the Security Council must enforce arms embargoes; violations of embargoes, as in the Central African Republic, pose a threat to civilian populations. Second, the Council must ensure that peacekeeping and special political operations, when mandated, have the means to effectively combat the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and implement useful disarmament and reintegration measures. Third, the Security Council should call on all States to adhere to relevant multilateral instruments, such as the Arms Trade Treaty and the Firearms Protocol. Fourth and last, she called on the Council to encourage States to do more in marking and tracing weapons and their ammunition, detect violations of embargoes and ensure the security of stockpiles. In addition, she stressed the essential role of regional organizations such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), African Union, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in customs cooperation, strengthening export control systems and border security.
JEFFREY DELAURENTIS (United States) emphasized that improving the management of weapons and ammunition is key to preventing diversion of those arms. His country is the single largest provider of support in that field, helping Niger construct or rebuild storage facilities, train personnel and destroy excess ordinance. It also provided training to Ecuador’s armed forces, helping destroy obsolete small weapons and ammunition. The current international and regional frameworks offer a range of measures that, if fully implemented, would make a significant contribution to global efforts to combat illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons, he said, urging all States to implement the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects and the International Tracing Instrument. Citing resolutions 2220 (2015) and 2370 (2017), he said the Council’s body of work is sufficient. “The shortfall is in States’ national efforts to implement the terms of the relevant resolutions,” he stressed, also urging countries to implement Council-mandated arms embargoes and cooperate with the Panels of Experts.
HALIMAH AMIRAH FARIDAH DESHONG (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) said her country and the Caribbean Community support the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons and are mostly parties to the Arms Trade Treaty. While Member States have a sovereign right to pursue their internal defence, that right is not absolute, and its exercise can pose threats to regional security when it is based on permissive gun laws. She stressed that the Caribbean Community continues to be severely affected by the consequences of the irresponsible flow of illicit arms, even though its members do not manufacture weapons. For that reason, she considered that an effective fight against the destructive and pervasive influence of small arms and light weapons around the world requires responsible behaviour on the part of the major arms manufacturing countries. Calling for more international coordination, she also welcomed initiatives linking the protection of populations and sustainable development, such as Silencing the Guns and the various regional road maps to counter the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition in a sustainable manner by 2030.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) recalled the Council’s adoption of resolution 2220 (2015), which details the organ’s views on combating the trafficking of small arms and light weapons. He stressed that the Council should not duplicate the functions of the General Assembly, especially on such a universal issue. He also spotlighted the Council’s main role of facilitating conflict resolution in specific countries and regions using tools designed to meet specific objectives. The main reasons behind the uncontrolled flow of small arms and light weapons are well known: this illicit trafficking results from excessively permissive national legislation and persistent loopholes in national export-control regimes. In the pursuit of profit or politics, suppliers often fail to consider into whose hands exported small arms and light weapons fall or for what ends they will be used. He went on to emphasize that combating the illegal flows of small arms and light weapons, ensuring the secure storage of stockpiles thereof and disposing of surplus falls on States; it is an integral part of their sovereignty.
MARTIN KIMANI (Kenya) recalled that the Council, during Kenya’s Presidency in October, convened a meeting to address the threat posed by illicit flows of small arms and light weapons, especially in the context of peace operations. Given the role of illicit small arms and light weapons in escalating and prolonging destructive conflicts, it is puzzling that the Council remains reluctant to undertake every effort to address the problem. Noting that there are actions available now, he stressed the need for stronger collaboration and coordination among the relevant United Nations organs and agencies, as well as regional and subregional organizations. Since the Council’s efforts focus largely on Africa, mechanisms such as the Regional Centre for Small Arms in Nairobi should be strengthened. From the Sahel to the Horn of Africa, criminal economies are worsening and prolonging the impact of insurgents and terrorist groups. Noting that Kenya’s push for listing certain terrorist groups under the appropriate sanctions regimes was met with opposition by some Council members — who believe such action might undermine humanitarian efforts — he went on to argue that terrorist and insurgent groups’ operations only escalate humanitarian needs.
ZHANG JUN (China) said that small arms and light weapons were a serious phenomenon intertwined with armed conflict and transnational crime, aggravating suffering and posing a challenge to international peace and security. Countries bear the primary responsibility for cracking down on their diversion. In post-war reconstruction, the Council should help States effectively deal with proliferation risks by advancing disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes and security sector reform. Further, it is important to eliminate the root causes of conflict — particularly long-standing poverty and backwardness — by accelerating modernization and sustainable social development. In this context, he welcomed all parties to join the Global Initiative on Sustainable Development and called for the implementation of the relevant provisions of sanctions committees. However, the implementation and enforcement of arms embargoes must not be used as an excuse to infringe on countries’ sovereignty or hinder their security capabilities. Recalling that China joined the Arms Trade Treaty in July 2020, he said his country takes a cautious approach to the export of such weapons. The fight against illicit flows of such weapons is an uphill battle, he stressed, adding that it cannot be completed overnight.
DANG DINH QUY (Viet Nam) cited the Secretary-General’s report, which details that small arms and light weapons are responsible for 27 per cent of civilian deaths in armed conflicts. He underlined the need to uphold international law and the Charter of the United Nations, as well as relevant international treaties and Security Council resolutions, which can help prevent conflicts and the use of force through the peaceful settlement of disputes. Further, the Security Council should continue to consider the application of necessary measures to address the threats posed by illicit weapons in conflict and post-conflict situations and review them according to developments on the ground, without negatively affecting the ability of the State to ensure security and order. He called for adequate emphasis to be placed on State capacity-building, including in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and security sector reform. Tackling the issue calls for a holistic approach, he said, which combines efforts on the national level with bilateral, multilateral, regional and global international cooperation, and assistance frameworks. Moreover, regional initiatives such as the African Union’s Silencing the Guns by 2030 can prove to be effective, as they can address regional particularities, he added.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco), pointing out that small arms and light weapons are easy to access, conceal and use, said that their blind, indiscriminate targeting make conflict more deadly, particularly in Africa where they foment, escalate and sustain conflict. The diversion and trafficking of these weapons generates devastating cross-cutting consequences — tearing the social fabric and undermining efforts to build peace and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals — and results in displacement, food insecurity and violations of international humanitarian law. Against that backdrop, he emphasized that the Security Council has an important role to play in the contexts of prevention; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration efforts; security sector reform; and the protection of civilians. Full national ownership and leadership must continue to be the guiding principle in matters relating to small arms and light weapons, he added.
SZILVIA BALÁZS (Hungary) pointed out the nexus between the spread of small arms and light weapons and terrorist attacks around the world, including in Europe. Preventing the acquisition of such weapons by terrorists is one of Hungary’s priorities, she said, adding that their illegal possession and smuggling is also facilitated by illegal migration. Spotlighting the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Programme of Action, she emphasized the need to consider bringing ammunition under its scope. She went on to underscore the importance of ensuring effective export control procedures that meet all existing international requirements, citing Hungary’s creation of an action group on illicit firearms trafficking in the Western Balkans, which enhanced stockpile security in the region and provided €250,000 to projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro to support the mitigation of related challenges.
MAJID TAKHT RAVANCHI (Iran) said that the Programme of Action has greatly contributed to mobilizing international efforts against the illicit trade in small arms. To ensure the Programme’s full implementation, capacities and priorities of States and regions must be considered. Further, priority must be accorded to providing developing countries with sufficient financial resources, technological means and technical knowledge. However, in all efforts to combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, the right of each State to manufacture, export, import and retain such weapons must be fully respected, he said. The Security Council may deem it appropriate to consider and address the impact of illicit trade in small arms and light weapons or their diversion to unauthorized recipients in conflict situations. This must be conducted without undermining the licit trade in such arms. The adoption of a comprehensive approach is essential for finding a viable and long-term solution to this multifaceted challenge, he said.
ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan) urged the Council to hold in-depth discussion on the new developments, such as new dual-use technologies that pose additional complexities in addressing the illicit flows of small arms and light weapons. Swift sweeps of remaining arms and weapons after conflicts are also vital to ensuring human security in war-torn communities and helping to prevent recurrence of conflict. In that regard, the Council plays a critical role in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants, he said, urging all Member States to strictly observe the Council-imposed arms embargos. Noting his country’s candidacy for the Council’s non-permanent seat for 2023-2024, he said that Japan initiated the establishment of the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts in the mid-1990s, which in turn paved the way for the adoption of the Programme of Action in 2001.
LUIS ANTONIO LAM PADILLA (Guatemala) recalled the security and humanitarian consequences of small arms and light weapons for civilian populations, especially women and children. This is one of the reasons why, in accordance with resolution 1325 (2000), women should be involved in the processes aimed at combating the illicit flows of small arms and light weapons, he said. In order to understand and combat these phenomena, and overcome their consequences, it is important to adopt a holistic approach to international cooperation. The issue of small arms and light weapons cannot be separated from that of ammunition, he added, calling for comprehensive measures to be taken in this regard.
FRANCESCA MARIA GATT (Malta) stressed the destabilizing effect of the illicit flows and diversion of small arms and light weapons, which also has a direct impact on the fight against terrorism, the protection of human rights and humanitarian access. Highlighting States’ responsibility to combat the phenomenon and to respect legal instruments that establish a rules-based international framework for small arms control, she also pointed out that new technologies relating to production, distribution, marking and tracing need to be taken into account. Welcoming the Secretary-General’s recommendation to enhance the role of peacekeeping missions when dealing with illicit weapons and ammunition, she emphasized the importance of mainstreaming issues related to weapons and ammunition in the Council’s work on sanctions regimes and arms embargoes and welcomed the organ’s role in investigating and combating transnational criminal networks and armed groups.
ADRIAN DOMINIK HAURI (Switzerland), calling for the prevention of illicit weapons flows and the reduction of demand for arms and ammunition, encouraged the Council to pay more attention to the analytical capacity of United Nations missions. Noting that the quantity and diversity of arms and ammunition in circulation are good indicators of threats to international peace and security, he urged missions to take those indicators into account in their risk analysis. In that vein, Switzerland supports UNIDIR in the development of an arms-specific risk analysis tool. Urging the Council to consider the needs of women and children more systematically in devising mission mandates, he also asked the United Nations and its Member States to help host countries strengthen their technical expertise, as well as their organizational structures, processes and capacities. Regarding the safe and secure management of ammunition, he recalled that the United Nations International Ammunition Technical Guidelines provide a robust approach, recognized by resolution 2220 (2015), and called on the Council to pay particular attention to building sustainable national capacities.
CRISTIAN ESPINOSA CAÑIZARES (Ecuador) said that to meet indicator 16.4 of the Agenda for Sustainable Development, the international community must be effective in combating arms trafficking. He expressed support for the United Nations in Haiti to continue to include the integrated management of arms and ammunition as a central support for violence reduction, disarmament, and peace. The Security Council should revitalize its efforts to implement resolution 2020 (2015) and consider all the multisectoral axes, as well as the need for synergies within and outside the United Nations system. Simultaneous efforts are required at the local, regional, and global levels, including strengthening and support for border, port and airport control, due to the emerging challenges resulting from rapid technological changes. The Council must encourage States to expand international cooperation according to different situations and capabilities to combat diversion and support countries that require it. As well, the Security Council should implement the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General’s report and the United Nations should strengthen partnerships to integrate efforts not only with normative and policy frameworks, but also through more concrete actions on the ground.
MARIA THEOFILI (Greece) said that while the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons is a global problem, it can best be addressed through national or regional efforts. On the national level, Greece applies cohesive European Union regulations on the legal trade of defence-related items and adheres to obligations emanating from international treaties. Initiatives, including the Regional Road Map for a sustainable solution to the illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition in the Western Balkans by 2024, adopted during the Western Balkans Summit in London in 2018, emblematize the need for collective and coordinated regional cooperation to mitigate the illegal trafficking of such weapons. Turning to the role of the Security Council, she said peacekeeping operations should address cross-cutting issues, including ways to mitigate the illicit trade of small arms, particularly when considering reviewing mandates. She pointed to a number of tools that peacekeepers can draw guidance from, including the Programme of Action, the Arms Trade Treaty and the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
ANNA KARIN ENESTRÖM (Sweden), speaking also for Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway, stressed that States must intensify efforts to combat all irresponsible and illegal trade in or use of small arms and light weapons, particularly paying attention to the serious effects of uncontrolled arms flows on children and youths. Noting the importance of the Programme of Action, she noted that her country and those for which she speaks are also firm supporters of the Arms Trade Treaty. Innovative approaches and promotion of synergies between relevant instruments, as well as regional initiatives, will be vital in advancing joint efforts on small arms and light weapons control.
She went on to point out that advancing the integration of gender perspectives is a key priority. The serious effects of weapons on sexual and gender-based violence cannot be stressed enough, she noted, calling for full and equal participation of women in disarmament dialogues. Stressing that illicit flows of small arms and light weapons also hamper economic and social development, she reiterated her support in that regard, including for the United Nations Office of Disarmament programs and the Arms Trade Treaty Voluntary Trust Fund, among other projects.
ROBERT KEITH RAE (Canada) cited data that linked 27 per cent of civilian deaths in armed conflicts in 2020 to small arms and light weapons. The illicit trade and diversion of these weapons constitutes an expanding, persistent phenomenon that fuels deadly violence, organized crime, corruption and security problems across the globe. Small arms and light weapons are the primary armaments used in the majority of conflicts around the world. More so, the international community must recognize the gender dimensions inherent in this issue. On that, he called for full implementation of resolution 2122 (2013), including by ensuring full and meaningful participation for women in eradicating the transfer of these weapons and in related decision-making processes.
KARL LAGATIE (Belgium) said that to effectively prevent illicit arms flows, the international community must have a clear picture of detour routes and control weaknesses throughout the arms life cycle. Peacekeeping missions could step in to conduct investigations if they had the mandate and technical capacity to record and support efforts to trace all weapons recovered or seized during their operations. The creation of arms embargo cells within missions would be an effective tool to collect information on these flows through a combined civilian-military effort. In addition, peacekeeping operations are uniquely positioned to aid host countries on safe and secure stockpile management, as well as on the collection and destruction of surplus weapons and ammunition. He also called for close cooperation between expert groups and peacekeeping operations in their efforts to map arms flows and trace the origin of small arms and light weapons. The Security Council’s efforts should be complemented by measures taken in other frameworks, such as the recently established Arms Trade Treaty Diversion Information Exchange Forum, he said.
MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq), aligning himself with the statement to be delivered by the Arab Group, said that all States must shoulder their responsibility to tackle the issue of illicit small arms and light weapons collectively and demonstrate the political will to do so. Iraq supports all instruments and resolutions aimed at controlling the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons, specifically under the United Nations umbrella, he said. Further, his country has taken measures on the national level, including through the confiscation of unlicensed weapons and maintaining a database of inventory. Two decades have elapsed since the Programme of Action, yet these arms continue to flow unfettered, be amassed in a destabilizing manner and are used nefariously in many parts of the world, including the Middle East. He called for the strengthening of capacity-building to developing countries, including by the provision of resources, as well as for the implementation of the outcome document of the Seventh Biennial Meeting of States for the Programme of Action.
LACHEZARA STOEVA (Bulgaria) stressed the importance of increasing capacities in monitoring and enforcement of arms embargoes, which have proven an effective tool against the illicit circulation of small arms and light weapons in conflict and post-conflict areas. Not all Member States possess sophisticated systems for controlling arms transfers and their law enforcement is poorly equipped to pursue arms embargo violations. It is therefore crucial to strengthen these capacities, and to gear the United Nations peacekeeping missions with the necessary mandates to monitor arms embargo implementation and to assist in national and regional capacity-building. Effective fighting against the diversion and the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons is unthinkable without addressing their ammunition. In this regard, he welcomed the adoption by the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) of the resolution on ammunition, adding that he looks forward to the next steps towards a new global framework which would address the existing gaps in the lifecycle ammunition management.
MOHAMMAD KURNIADI KOBA (Indonesia) underscored the importance of international cooperation based on universally accepted instruments, such as the Programme of Action, to mobilize political will to address the negative impact of small arms and light weapons. While noting that there have been differences among Member States with regards to the instrument’s scope, among other issues, he said points of convergence should be focused on. However, such regulations must not hinder the development of national capabilities, especially for developing countries. On sanctions, including sanctions related to small arms and light weapons, he said they must be viewed as a last resort and as part of a broader political and peacebuilding strategy to address the situation. Given the complex, transborder nature of the issue, and of many ongoing conflicts, he underscored the importance of regional mechanisms, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime, to address the issue.
MARITZA CHAN VALVERDE (Costa Rica) expressed regret that the Council has not yet fully integrated the consideration of small arms and light weapons, and their ammunition, into its work. “If small arms and light weapons are the fire we fight today in all regions”, she said, “ammunition is the oxygen that fuels it”. Turning to arms export assessments, she pointed out that — while such assessments are supposed to consider the risk of gender-based violence — it is not clear how, or even whether, this happens. Exporting States must take stronger measures to ensure that the transfer of these weapons does not exacerbate gender violence. She also encouraged the Council to better enforce Member State compliance with arms embargoes, while also stressing that reckless global military expenditure represents clear evidence that Article 26 of the United Nations Charter “has been, for the past 76 years, a dead letter in the cemetery of intentions of a Charter text which still upholds the values of this building”.
ANTJE LEENDERTSE (Germany), stressing that small arms and light weapons control must be mainstreamed into all Security Council efforts, reiterated the ideas put forward by her country during its term in the Council to update resolution 2220 (2015). Those included promoting a gender perspective in the control of small arms and light weapons; considering recent developments in small arms manufacturing, technology and design; increasing support to and understanding of weapons and ammunition management in peace operations; and acknowledging the importance of regional cooperation in the combat against illicit cross-border proliferation. Those ideas, she noted, had been met with resistance. Pointing to international instruments and regional models for arms control in which Germany has been involved, she said that in 2020 alone, Germany has contributed €19 million to strengthen the control of small arms and light weapons around the world. Meanwhile, the Group of Governmental Experts on Ammunition, chaired by Germany, paved the way for an open-ended working group now mandated by the First Committee to establish a comprehensive framework on conventional ammunition to support ammunition management at all levels.
RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) said Member States have every right to acquire and use small arms and light weapons to ensure their public security, self-defence and national sovereignty. However, with this right comes the inseparable duty to control flows and stockpiles. The uncontrolled flow of such weapons has profoundly destabilizing effects on societies across the globe and can constitute a threat to international peace and security, he stressed, adding that their diversion to illicit markets and unauthorized non-State actors fuels transnational organized crime, fosters terrorism and exacerbates conflicts, with devastating impact on the lives of civilians, including women, children and refugees. He reiterated Brazil’s commitment to the comprehensive implementation of both the Programme of Action and the International Tracing Instrument.
BASSAM SABBAGH (Syria) said the General Assembly and its First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) are the most appropriate forums to discuss the issue of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, as any Member State can put forward proposals in those organs. Cautioning that over the past 10 years, some Governments supplied various types of weapons to terrorist groups operating in Syria — including small weapons and light weapons — he said they also funded the procurement of such arms by smugglers in violations of international instruments, including the Council’s counter-terrorism resolutions. Urging Member States to adopt measures to prevent illicit arms transfers, he said bilateral and multilateral cooperation is critical. He called on all weapons-producing States to verify the final destination of weapons. States, however, have the right to produce weapons for their defence and to protect their citizens.
RÓBERT CHATRNÚCH (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union, said illicit small arms fuel armed violence and organized crime, global terrorism and conflicts. They destabilize entire regions, States and societies and increase the impact of terrorist attacks. Slovakia welcomes the successful outcome of the seventh Biennial Meeting of States of the United Nations Programme of Action and the Seventh Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty. Calling for stronger international cooperation to ensure the effective implementation of United Nations arms embargoes — as well as the prevention of the illicit international transfer of small arms and light weapons to unauthorized recipients — he said the collection of such weaponry is also an important step towards promoting peaceful and inclusive societies. Slovakia also welcomes the Council’s role in mandating some peacekeeping missions to deal with such weapons as part of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes.
EGRISELDA ARACELY GONZÁLEZ LÓPEZ (El Salvador) said her country supports a preventive approach to the diversion of small and light weapons and advocates for the strengthening of systems for the control and registration of arms and ammunition in circulation across the region. It is important to strengthen the intelligence and investigation systems for cases involving trafficking in arms and ammunition. She encouraged greater cooperation between the United Nations system and developing countries, including those with middle-income status, for the design and implementation of policies aimed at adequately addressing the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. Such cooperation should include increased funding, technology transfer and appropriate training and support. In that context, she also called for greater coordination among the various United Nations bodies, including within the framework of the Peacebuilding Commission.
XOLISA MFUNDISO MABHONGO (South Africa) welcomed the recent adoption by the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) of its annual resolution on “The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects”, of which his country is traditionally a main sponsor. He called on the Council to encourage support for initiatives at the national and regional level, consistent with the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, through international cooperation and assistance. That should include not only material support, but also information exchange, technology transfer and capacity-building, to ensure national ownership. South Africa supports efforts to bring the Council’s work in line with all other initiatives to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, he said, adding that a punitive approach — such as the use of arms embargos — has proven to be ineffective and reactive. He also underscored the importance of women’s participation, including in leadership roles, to address the impact of small arms and light weapons due to their disproportionate impact on women and children.
STEFANO STEFANILE (Italy) said the risk posed by illicit arms flows is not only associated with transnational organized crime but also with terrorist entities. He pointed out that the use of online markets, including the dark web, to sell and acquire weapons and their components poses further challenges to law enforcement agencies and Governments because of their anonymity. In recent years, non-State actors have honed their ability to design and produce improvised explosive devices with commercially available dual-use components. Noting the threat such devices pose to civilians, humanitarian workers and peacekeepers in conflict and post-conflict areas, he noted that missions such as the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) are particularly affected and that a high number of peacekeepers have fallen victim. The Council has addressed the issue by mandating peacekeeping operations to aid national authorities in controlling the flow of illicit small arms, developing appropriate legal frameworks and improving law enforcement capabilities and practices. Meanwhile, the Arms Trade Treaty remains a crucial instrument with the potential to reduce risk by regulating the international trade in conventional arms and facilitating accountability and transparency, he said.
ANDREJS PILDEGOVIČS (Latvia), aligning himself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union, welcomed steps taken by the Security Council to address the challenge of illicit firearms, including by integrating elements related to small arms and light weapons in country-specific resolutions. Further, Council-mandated missions play an important role in monitoring and disrupting illicit flows of arms and ammunition. The Council should address new technological developments, as the use of polymer frames and the manufacturing of modular and 3D-printed weapons are just a few examples that affect marking, record-keeping and tracing of small arms and light weapons. Detailing Latvian efforts to tackle the illicit flows of these armaments, he said that cooperation in this regard provides collective benefits that go beyond the security dimension, also contributing to economic development and prosperity.
NOHRA MARIA QUINTERO CORREA (Colombia), noting the negative impacts of illicit trade in small arms and light weapons on the humanitarian situation, overall security and border control, stressed the need to enhance international cooperation, including knowledge transfers and capacity-building. Further, it was vital to update the existing instruments to fight illicit arms flows as criminal organizations adopt new technologies. Underlining the importance of creating synergies among the instruments and parallel efforts, she drew attention to the Secretary-General’s report linking disarmament and development. Trafficking and diversion of weapons takes lives, she warned, pointing out that the Programme of Action adopted in 2001 should guide action. No country is immune, she said, urging deployment of all possible measures to combat illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.
YURIY VITRENKO (Ukraine) said that countering the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons is a top priority for his country, given the existential security challenges it is facing today in the defence of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. There are regular reports on clandestine night-time convoys entering and exiting Ukraine through the uncontrolled points away from border crossings, he said, noting that weapons and military equipment, including small arms and light weapons and conventional ammunition, find their way across the border under the false pretext of humanitarian assistance. These convoys and cargoes enter and exit Ukraine’s territory in blatant violation of its territorial integrity and sovereignty, he said, stressing that such actions contradict the letter and the spirit of the Programme of Action and the International Tracing Instrument. They also erode the internationally established export control and licensing procedures that secure effective customs and border controls. The only viable way to end these violations is to restore full control by the Government of his country over the entire stretch of its internationally recognized borders.
ARIEL RODELAS PENARANDA (Philippines) stated that arms smuggling is part of the operations of terrorists. For example, civilians on the Filipino island of Mindanao paid a high price with dozens killed and widespread destruction of homes and property amid the “battle of Marawi”, which pitted the Government against militants allied to Islamic State. Noting the need for the Council to deepen its support for long-term, standardized, systematic and disaggregated data collection and analysis — including small arms surveys — he added that building the capacity of Member States will also be crucial. Calling for improvements in the control of small arms and light weapons, he said the industry is the first line of defence in the battle against weapons proliferation. Urging the Council to tackle the life cycle of small arms, light weapons and ammunitions, he highlighted the importance of allowing the increased involvement of the broader United Nations in making decisions on this subject.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein), highlighting the Security Council’s power to prevent the flow of small arms and other weaponry into conflict zones, cited reports indicating continued, blatant violations of the arms embargoes that the organ had imposed on Libya and Yemen. Expressing regret that the Council has been unable to guarantee observation of such measures, he stressed that arms embargoes — if effectively implemented — would be a step in the right direction for other matters on the Council’s agenda. The military in Myanmar systematically attacks civilians with small arms, which has led to an alarming escalation in violence involving certain ethnic groups. He called on the Council to act on the situation in Myanmar, suggesting that it draw on action taken earlier in 2021 by the General Assembly calling on all Member States to prevent the flow of small arms into that country. He also expressed hope for further progress in the Council’s consideration of the links between gender and security.
SILVIO GONZATO, representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, recalled that three years ago, the bloc adopted its strategy against illicit small arms and light weapons and their ammunition. The strategy is guided by several principles, including a joined-up and coordinated approach, promotion of cooperation and partnership at all levels, and a focus on priority regions, especially those likely to pose a threat to the European Union’s security.
Most assistance projects supported by the Union can be considered as classic ones, he said, with a focus on voluntary civilian disarmament campaigns; collection and destruction of surplus weapons and ammunition; physical security and stockpile management; and capacity-building for marking, record keeping and tracing. To increase efficiency and sustainability of assistance efforts, he called for improved coordination with relevant regional organizations, donors and implementing agencies. In line with its strategy, the Union systematically mainstreams gender considerations in the design of new projects relating to the fight against gun violence and weapons control.
LAETITIA MARIE ISABELLE COURTOIS, Permanent Observer for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said the widespread availability, poor regulation and misuse of arms and ammunition causes great suffering and hinders or halts medical and humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian impacts are often gendered — including when weapons are used to commit sexual and gender-based violence. Too often children are victims of violence. In South Sudan, the Committee’s surgical teams have cared for a staggering 9,000 patients wounded by weapons over the last decade, she stressed, adding that a quarter of those treated for gunshot wounds have been women or children. More than 40,000 wounded Afghans have been treated at ICRC-supported medical facilities over the past months. “It is heart-breaking to see our wards filled with people who have lost limbs, particularly children,” she said. Pointing to a gap between the obligations of States under international law and the arms transfer practices of too many countries, she encouraged Member States to adhere to the instruments existing related to small arms and light weapons, as well as other conventional arms, and to faithfully implement them. Further, Member States that support warring parties must leverage their influence and mitigate adverse humanitarian consequence. “Failing to manage the supply chain, without regard to how weapons will be used, is putting a dirt-cheap price on the lives of civilians,” she asserted.
FERIDUN HADI SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey) said the diversion of weapons and ammunition to unauthorized recipients — especially terrorist groups — poses a grave threat, which his region has experienced first-hand. All measures must be taken at the national, regional and global levels in order to prevent and eradicate the accumulation and illicit transfer of small arms and light weapons. Turkey is committed to the effective implementation of the Programme of Action to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and the International Tracing Instrument, he said, adding that challenges resulting from recent developments in marketing, manufacturing, technology and design of small arms and light weapons must be urgently addressed. He called for strengthened capacity-building assistance, as well as effective border and export controls, risk assessments, sharing best practices, transparency and reporting. Moreover, the Security Council can integrate small arms issues into peace operations mandates, country-specific resolutions, and sanctions regimes in post-conflict settings, he said.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania), calling for the universalization of the Arms Trade Treaty, highlighted his country’s commitment to full and effective implementation of the Programme of Action. In that regard, his Government approved its national strategy and an action plan on small and light weapons and established a national commission on the matter. Stressing the need for concerted efforts at the national, regional and international levels, he noted that his country has set a national target to substantially reduce the estimated number of firearms in illicit possession by 2024, and improve its legislation regarding legalization, voluntary surrender and destruction of seized small arms, light weapons and ammunition, while adhering to environmental standards. Recalling the importance of the arms embargoes and their implementation by all Member States, he highlighted the fact that women and children are particularly affected by the presence of guns and other small and light weapons. During the conflicts in the Former Yugoslavia, for example, more than 20,000 women were raped as a deliberate policy of warfare, he said.
JORGE EDUARDO FERREIRA SILVA ARANDA (Portugal), aligning himself with the European Union, highlighted the problem of non-regulation and called for more attention to cases where arms are illegally owned as a result of historic legacies, such as recent armed conflicts or change in national legislation. Noting the importance of regular exchanges of good practices, he stressed the importance of data collection, standardization of data and well-functioning databases that are accessible for authorized users. Instruments such as the Arms Trade Treaty and the Programme of Action play an essential role, he said, reaffirming Portugal’s commitment towards the universalization of these instruments.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar), speaking for the Arab Group, said the illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons used by illegal armed groups and terrorist groups has exacerbated conflicts in the Middle East region and has threatened peace and security, as well as in other regions around the world. Expressing support for the active role played by the Programme of Action and the International Tracing Instrument, she stressed the importance of maintaining consensus between Member States on the framework; controversial issues should not be raised to politicize that context, given its nature as a political declaration and not a binding agreement.
Spotlighting various active conflicts, she commended completion of the recent seventh meeting on the Programme of Action, welcomed its outcome document and its conclusions and said she looked forward to the eighth meeting in 2022. She also welcomed the completion of the work of the Group of Governmental Experts on the risk of accumulation of weapons, noting it recommended establishing an ad hoc working group, which the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) then adopted. She also stressed that it was crucial to strengthen cooperation in transferring expertise to developing countries to help them trace weapons and maintain border oversight.
JORGE VIDAL (Chile) voiced his country’s support for disarmament efforts, noting that it is a signatory to the Firearms Protocol of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons contributes to homicides and heightens the threat of armed conflict and terrorist attacks, he said, pointing out that a better understanding is needed of the link between the excessive accumulation of such weapons and criminal violence, including illegal narcotics trafficking. He underscored the need for multilateral efforts to tackle the issue while adhering to the principles of sovereignty and non-interference. Strengthening the implementation of such measures as the Programme of Action will help achieve Sustainable Development Goal 16 and particularly Indicator 16.4.2 on the proportion of seized, found or surrendered arms whose illicit origin or context has been traced or established. Among other things, he also called for more discussion around new technologies involved in the manufacture, storage and trade of small arms and light weapons.
MARÍA DEL CARMEN SQUEFF (Argentina) said that, while the Council has addressed small arms and light weapons on its agenda regarding specific countries, its decision to address those weapons in an inclusive, comprehensive way is essential. Small arms are relevant to many issues, including those related to arms embargoes; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration efforts; the recruitment of child soldiers; the fight against terrorism; the protection of civilians in armed conflicts; and transnational organized crime. In that context, she detailed various regional and international efforts to combat the trafficking of small arms and light weapons of which Argentina is a part, including establishing a mechanism for regional cross-border communication on the illicit transfer of material. Strengthening similar mechanisms is crucial, she said, adding that such an approach is part of Argentina’s efforts to strengthen confidence-building measures.
Ms. DEVOTO, addressing the Security Council again, urged the 15-member organ to take action and to eradicate the illicit trade and diversion of small arms and light weapons.