Despite Consensus Adoption,
Concern Expressed over Absence of Ammunition from Outcome Text
Concluding its week-long session today, the Fifth Biennial Meeting of States on small arms and light weapons adopted by consensus an outcome document that highlighted the international community’s renewed commitment to preventing, combating and eradicating the illicit trade.
The text, adopted as orally revised, covered several main areas, including implementation of the 2001 Programme of Action and international tracing instrument; global cooperation and assistance; and follow-up to the Second Review Conference in 2012, recommending steps for the way forward.
To further implementation of the Action Programme, States were encouraged to continue strengthening stockpile management, including physical security measures, particularly in conflict and post-conflict situations, to prevent the diversion to the illicit trade, illegal armed groups, terrorists, and other unauthorized recipients.
On tracing, States noted with concern in the text that recent developments in manufacturing, technology and design of small arms and light weapons, including those presented in the Secretary-General’s report (A/CONF.192/BMS/2014/1), posed new challenges for effective marking, record-keeping and tracing. They acknowledged, however, that those developments could be opportunities to enhance the process, and they sought further information from the Secretary-General on the topic.
Along those lines, States recommended that the open-ended Meeting of Governmental Experts in 2015 consider the implications of those developments, as well as practical steps to enhance the effectiveness of those processes nationally and consider the implications for international assistance and capacity-building.
On that point, all States and international organizations in a position to do so were encouraged to provide developing countries with the requisite training and capacity-building, upon their request.
Also by the text, States highlighted their grave concern about the devastating consequences of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons on civilians, particularly on women and children, while acknowledging the important role of civil society organizations in supporting implementation of the Action Programme and Tracing Instrument.
Speaking before adoption, Egypt’s delegate said he would have liked the “Other Issues” section to reflect the fact that States had discussed but not reached consensus on the issues of ammunition and border control.
Following action, the representative of Qatar, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said the recommendations must be implemented in the framework of States’ rights to self-defence and to obtain small arms and light weapons, as well as in the framework of their sovereignty and national priorities for border controls.
He said States’ legal commitments derived from the fact that they were party to international conventions, and any mention of those should not impose obligations on non-parties. He welcomed the State of Palestine at the Meeting, expressing hope it would participate in future meetings.
The representative of the European Union delegation said a number of issues high on the bloc’s agenda had been included in the outcome document, such as the links between stockpile management and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. The Union felt that discussions on new technology developments should lead to the adoption of a supplementary document to the International Tracing Instrument.
She noted with regret the absence of some issues in the text, namely, ammunition and references to the International Small Arms Control Standards (ISACS) and to technical guidelines. There was also no mention of Security Council resolution 2117 (2013), the first stand-alone text on small arms and light weapons, or to the role of stockpile management in supporting the implementation of Council-imposed arms embargos, as well as to the integration of stockpile management in security-sector reform schemes.
Japan’s delegate sought clarification on whether paragraphs 69 and 70 had any budgetary implications. Paragraph 48, on international cooperation and assistance, should have given more consideration to the situation of donors.
Following his intervention, a Secretariat representative confirmed the paragraphs mentioned did not create extra budgetary implications.
The representative of Jamaica, on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said international cooperation and assistance in the area of capacity-building and the transfer of technology and equipment were a priority. A comprehensive approach to stockpile management should include ammunitions, she said, citing broad agreement on that point and regretting that a more “ambitious” outcome on that matter had not been achieved. She welcomed the recognition given to the complementary role of information exchange on ballistic matters in criminal investigations.
Speaking for the Economic Community of West African States, the representative of Ghana expressed disappointment that the outcome did not explicitly refer to ammunitions, without which a weapon was a harmless piece of metal. The Meeting missed an important opportunity to share the best means to safely manage stockpiles. In practice, Ghana would continue to apply the Action Programme to small arms, light weapons and to ammunitions. “That is the only logical position to take,” he said.
Egypt’s representative, associating with the Arab and African Groups, said the outcome text referred to processes that extended beyond the Programme of Action. He stressed the need to respect the instrument’s scope and mandate and avoid interference in other mandates and processes. All measures identified would be reviewed in the context of national legislation, policies and priorities, with due regard to States’ capacity and development level. Implementation of the outcome document should not set targets incompatible with developing countries’ capacities.
The representatives of Canada, Israel and the United States disassociated themselves from the reference in paragraph 3 to preambular paragraph 11 of the Programme of Action, concerning the inalienable right to self-determination.
Also today, the Meeting adopted the draft report of the session (A/CONF.192/BMS/2014/L.3), as orally amended.
Interventions were also made by representatives of Nigeria (on behalf of the African Group), Indonesia (on behalf of Non-Aligned Movement), China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Morocco, Algeria, Cuba, Venezuela, Republic of Korea, Iran, Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina, Guatemala, Mexico, Iraq, Australia, Uruguay and Bolivia, as well as an observer for the State of Palestine.
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