Security Council Adopts First-ever Resolution Dedicated to Question of Small Arms, Light Weapons
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
7036th Meeting (PM)
Security Council Adopts First-ever Resolution Dedicated
to Question of Small Arms, Light Weapons
Governments Reminded to Respect Embargoes as Russian Federation Abstains
Expressing grave concern that the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons continued to cause significant loss of life around the world, senior ministers in the Security Council reminded Governments today of their obligation to comply fully and effectively with Council-mandated arms embargoes.
By a vote of 14 in favour to none against, with one abstention ( Russian Federation), the Council adopted resolution 2117 (2013), its first-ever text dedicated exclusively to the issue of small arms and light weapons. The ensuing debate marked the first time in five years that the 15-member body had taken up the issue, which had been deleted from its agenda.
The text reminded States to take measures against any activity that was in violation of such embargoes, including by cooperating with all relevant United Nations entities; making available to sanctions committees all pertinent information on alleged violations; and acting on credible information to prevent the supply, sale, transfer or export of small arms and light weapons in contravention of Council embargoes.
Further by the text, the Council called on States subject to enforce embargoes, including by avoiding the diversion of State-owned or controlled weapons; by enhancing stockpile security and management; and by implementing national weapons-marking programmes, in line with the International Tracing Instrument. It reiterated that United Nations peacekeepers in a country or region subject to a Council-mandated arms embargo could assist the host Government, sanctions committee and relevant experts group with the implementation and monitoring of compliance with the embargo.
Peacekeepers could also, by other terms of the text, assist in building the capacity of host Governments to implement commitments under existing global and regional instruments addressing the illicit trafficking of small arms, through weapons collection; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes; and by enhancing stockpile-management practices.
By further terms, the Council reaffirmed its own responsibility to monitor the implementation of Council-mandated arms embargoes, reaffirming its intention to strengthen monitoring mechanisms, including by assigning staff to relevant missions. It also stressed the need for all parties to take all measures to avoid civilian casualties.
“The world is over-armed and peace is under-funded,” declared Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in remarks at the outset of today’s meeting. The excessive accumulation of arms had fuelled insecurity and conflict from Mali to Afghanistan and beyond. Weapons trafficking affected far more than the immediate security situation; it was the main cause of people fleeing their homes, and had led to a vast range of human rights violations — killings, rapes, enforced disappearances and torture, among them.
Earlier this year, he recalled, States had taken a historic step by adopting the Arms Trade Treaty, which fully covered small arms and ammunition. He urged countries to sign and ratify it without delay. “Let us commit to advancing our work together and build a safer, more secure world for all.”
During the debate, several speakers cited the close link between conflict and illicit trafficking of small arms, calling for more sustained international, regional and national action. As some speakers highlighted how women and children bore the brunt of the violence caused by such weapons, others stressed the need to ensure that States faced no obstacles in importing them for their own security. Welcoming the Arms Trade Treaty adopted by the General Assembly earlier this year, several speakers emphasized the urgent need for its earliest entry into force in order to reinforce the Council’s resolution.
On that point, Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, expressed solidarity with the people of Kenya, recalling that they had recently experienced a heinous crime made possible by the very weapons under discussion today. Africa, especially the Great Lakes region, had been engulfed by conflict facilitated by such weapons, she said, urging the Council to support regional initiatives. There was a collective duty to avert and combat the illicit manufacture, trade, circulation and transfer of small arms and light weapons.
Julie Bishop, Council President for September and Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, said the world was all too frequently reminded that the misuse of small arms and light weapons threatened civilians and States alike, including in Mali, Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic. While States bore the primary responsibility for preventing the illicit transfer of small arms, many would need support to do so, she said, noting that peacekeeping and political missions could play a key role in that respect. “The Council has taken too long to adopt its first resolution on small arms,” she noted, adding that it should consider such issues more systematically, return to the subject more frequently and ensure that “our commitments today are not forgotten tomorrow”.
Explaining his country’s abstention, the representative of the Russian Federation said he could not support the text as it lacked an important provision on the unacceptability of transferring small arms and light weapons to non-State actors.
Pakistan’s representative, highlighting the links between crime and small arms, called for a comprehensive and integrated approach, noting that the demand side of the issue — in the form of unresolved disputes, terrorism and crime — required as much attention as the supply side.
Also speaking today was the Vice-President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The President of Guatemala also delivered a statement, as did the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg and the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Other speakers included the Foreign Ministers of France, Republic of Korea, Morocco and Azerbaijan, as well as representatives of the United States, China, Togo and Argentina.
The meeting began at 3:10 p.m. and ended at 5:00 p.m.
The full text of Security Council resolution 2117 (2013) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Recalling its primary responsibility under the Charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security, and noting the significance of small arms and light weapons as the most frequently used weapons in the majority of recent armed conflicts,
“Recalling the statements of its President of 19 March 2010 (S/PRST/2010/6), of 14 January 2009 (S/PRST/2009/1), of 29 June 2007 (S/PRST/2007/24), of
17 February 2005 (S/PRST/2005/7), of 19 January 2004 (S/PRST/2004/1), of
31 October 2002 (S/PRST/2002/30), of 31 August 2001 (S/PRST/2001/21) and of 24 September 1999 (S/PRST/1999/28), as well as other relevant resolutions of the Council, including that of 16 September 1998 (S/RES/1196 (1998)) and statements of its President related to small arms and light weapons,
“Emphasizing that the right of individual and collective self-defence recognized in Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations and the legitimate security demands of all countries should be fully taken into account, and recognizing that small arms and light weapons are traded, manufactured and retained by States for legitimate security, sporting and commercial considerations,
“Gravely concerned that the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons in many regions of the world continue to pose threats to international peace and security, cause significant loss of life, contribute to instability and insecurity and continue to undermine the effectiveness of the Security Council in discharging its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security,
“Recognizing that threats arising from the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons may vary according to national, regional and subregional circumstances and encouraging responses that address prevailing needs and challenges,
“Recognizing the importance of capacity building to address threats arising from the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons, especially in Africa, welcoming efforts that have been made by States, international, regional and subregional organizations to tackle this scourge, and strongly encouraging support for such efforts,
“Emphasizing the importance of assisting Member States as well as, intergovernmental, regional and subregional organizations in capacity-building to prevent and address the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons,
“Recalling with concern the close connection between international terrorism, transnational organized crime, drugs trafficking, money-laundering, other illicit financial transactions, illicit brokering in small arms and light weapons and arms trafficking, and the link between the illegal exploitation of natural resources, illicit trade in such resources and the proliferation and trafficking of arms as a major factor fuelling and exacerbating many conflicts,
“Expressing concern at the continuing threats posed by the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons to the safety and security of United Nations peacekeepers and their effectiveness in implementing peacekeeping mandates, and to the safety and security of humanitarian workers and their effective provision of humanitarian assistance,
“Recalling with grave concern that the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons fuel armed conflicts and have a wide range of negative human rights, humanitarian, development and socioeconomic consequences, in particular on the security of civilians in armed conflict, including the disproportionate impact on violence perpetrated against women and girls, and exacerbating sexual and gender-based violence and the recruitment and use of children by parties to armed conflict in violation of applicable international law,
“Noting that this resolution focuses on the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons, including in respect of Council-mandated arms embargoes,
“Acknowledging the important contribution of Council-mandated arms embargoes in countering the illicit transfer of small arms and light weapons, mitigating the intensity of conflict and creating conditions conducive to the peaceful resolution of situations that threaten or breach international peace and security, and acknowledging also the contribution Council-mandated arms embargoes make in supporting conflict prevention, post-conflict peacebuilding, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and security sector reform,
“Recognizing the value of effective physical security and management of stockpiles of small arms, light weapons and ammunition as an important means to prevent the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons, in accordance with global and regional standards, including through the application of voluntary guidelines, such as the International Ammunition Technical Guidelines (IATG) developed under the UN SaferGuard programme, and the International Small Arms Control Standards (ISACS) in arms and ammunition stockpile management practices,
“Emphasizing the importance of addressing the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons in conflict prevention and post-conflict peacebuilding, and in this context, stressing the importance of comprehensive international, regional and national approaches to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration that integrates political, social, economic, development and security aspects, and provides for the special needs of children and women, and women’s full and effective participation in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security, in line with UNSCR 1325 (S/RES/1325 (2000)),
“Underlining the responsibility of States to prevent threats posed by the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons to international peace and security, and the devastating impact on civilians in armed conflict,
“Recognizing that the misuse of small arms and light weapons has resulted in grave crimes and reaffirming therefore the relevant provisions of the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document regarding the protection of civilians in armed conflict, including paragraphs 138 and 139 thereof regarding the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity,
“Noting with appreciation the efforts made by Member States, intergovernmental, regional and subregional organizations in addressing threats to international peace and security posed by the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons, and noting the significant role of civil society in supporting such efforts,
“Underlining in this regard the importance of cooperation, coordination and information-sharing among actors in addressing threats to international peace and security posed by the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons,
“Recognizing the significance and central role of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols, including the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition; 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 Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons, as crucial instruments in countering the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons,
“Acknowledging the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, taking note of the signature and ratification of the Treaty by some States, and looking forward to the important contribution it can make to international and regional peace, security and stability, reducing human suffering and promoting cooperation,
“Welcoming the increased cooperation between the United Nations and INTERPOL, including the 2009 Supplementary Agreement between INTERPOL and the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, as well as individual agreements between INTERPOL and Council Sanctions Committees, which provide better optional tools including, those for weapons identification and information sharing, for the United Nations and Member States to implement Council-mandated arms embargoes more effectively,
“Welcoming the Secretary-General’s report to the Council of 22 August 2013 entitled “Small Arms” (S/2013/503),
“Being determined to continue to take practical steps to prevent the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons, including in support of other ongoing efforts and processes,
“1. Welcomes efforts made by Member States, regional and subregional organizations in addressing the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons, and encourages the establishment or strengthening, where appropriate, of subregional and regional cooperation, coordination and information sharing mechanisms, in particular, transborder customs cooperation and networks for information-sharing, with a view to preventing, combating, and eradicating illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons;
“2. Reminds Member States of their obligation to fully and effectively comply with Council-mandated arms embargoes and to take appropriate measures, including all legal and administrative means against any activity that violates such arms embargoes, and including, in accordance with relevant Council resolutions, through cooperating with all relevant United Nations entities; by making available to relevant sanctions committees all pertinent information on any alleged violations of arms embargoes; by acting on credible information to prevent the supply, sale, transfer or export of small arms and light weapons in contravention of Council-mandated arms embargoes; by facilitating unhindered access by relevant Council-mandated personnel in accordance with Council mandates; and by applying relevant international standards such as the International Tracing Instrument;
“3. Calls on Member States subject to Council-mandated arms embargoes to implement and enforce the embargo, including by, as mandated, avoiding diversion of state owned or controlled weapons by enhancing small arms and light weapon stockpile security, accountability and management; improving the monitoring of small arms and light weapons that are supplied in accordance with exemptions to arms embargoes; and ensuring that seized, confiscated or surrendered small arms, light weapons and ammunition are recorded and disposed of in an appropriate manner, and by implementing national weapons marking programmes in accordance with the International Tracing Instrument;
“4. Reiterates that United Nations peacekeeping operations and other relevant Council-mandated entities, located in a Member State or region with a Council-mandated arms embargo, may, if deemed necessary by the Council, assist with appropriate expertise the host government, relevant sanctions committee and relevant experts group, with the implementation and compliance monitoring of that arms embargo;
“5. Reiterates that such peacekeeping operations and relevant Council-mandated entities may, if deemed necessary by the Council, assist in capacity-building for host governments, as requested, to implement commitments under existing global and regional instruments and to address the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons, including inter alia through weapons collection, disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration programmes, enhancing physical security and stockpile management practices, record keeping and tracing capacities, development of national export and import control systems, enhancement of border security, and strengthening judicial institutions and law enforcement capacity;
“6. Reaffirms its responsibility to monitor the implementation of Council-mandated arms embargoes and reaffirms its intention to take appropriate measures, when needed, to strengthen arms embargo monitoring mechanisms including inter alia through assigning dedicated staff or monitoring units to relevant United Nations Missions to effectively monitor arms embargoes;
“7. Encourages information-sharing between groups of experts, peacekeeping missions within their mandates and other relevant United Nations entities on possible arms embargo violations, including on illicit arms transfers, illicit brokering in small arms and light weapons, illicit financial activities, suspected traffickers and trafficking routes;
“8. Requests the Secretary-General to direct that any relevant United Nations agencies operating in a State or region in relation to which the Council maintains an arms embargo provide the utmost assistance to the work of relevant sanctions committees, experts groups, peacekeeping operations and other relevant United Nations entities in the implementation and compliance monitoring of that arms embargo;
“9. Reaffirms its decision that States shall eliminate the supply of weapons, including small arms and light weapons, to terrorists, as well as its calls for States to find ways of intensifying and accelerating the exchange of operational information regarding traffic in arms, and to enhance coordination of efforts on national, subregional, regional and international levels;
“10. Urges Member States, relevant United Nations entities, intergovernmental, regional and subregional organizations, in a position to do so and where appropriate, to cooperate and share information on suspected traffickers and trafficking routes, suspect financial transactions and brokering activities for, or diversions of, small arms or light weapons, and other information relevant to the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation or misuse of small arms and light weapons, with potentially affected States and with relevant United Nations entities, including experts groups assisting sanctions committees and peacekeeping operations;
“11. Calls for Member States to support weapons collection, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants, as well as physical security and stockpile management programmes by United Nations peacekeeping operations where so mandated;
“12. Urges Member States, United Nations entities, intergovernmental, regional and subregional organizations, to take further measures to facilitate women’s full and meaningful participation in all policymaking, planning and implementation processes to combat and eradicate the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons in all its aspects and calls upon, in this regard, all those involved in the planning for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and justice and security sector reform efforts to take into account the particular needs of women and children associated with armed forces and armed groups, with the participation of women, and to provide for their full access to these programmes inter alia, through consultation with civil society, including women’s organizations, as appropriate;
“13. Bearing in mind that the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons fuel conflict and impact on the protection of civilians, reiterates its demand that all parties to armed conflict comply strictly with the obligations applicable to them under international humanitarian, human rights law and refugee law, and stresses the need for parties to take all required measures to avoid civilian casualties, respect and protect the civilian population;
“14. Calls on parties to armed conflict, in this regard, to comply with obligations under international humanitarian law to respect and protect humanitarian personnel, facilities and relief consignments, and to take measures to eradicate the negative impact of the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons on humanitarian actors, and take all required steps to facilitate the safe, rapid and unimpeded passage of relief consignments, equipment and personnel;
“15. Encourages Member States and intergovernmental, regional and subregional organizations in a position to do so to render assistance upon request in securing government stockpiles of small arms and light weapons, particularly through training in physical security and stockpile management and disposition of illicit or poorly secured small arms and light weapons in an appropriate manner in light of the important role that international assistance can play in supporting and facilitating efforts at the local, national, regional and global levels to prevent and address the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation or misuse of small arms and light weapons;
“16. Encourages the Secretary-General and Heads of intergovernmental, regional and subregional organizations to continue their efforts to strengthen their cooperation in addressing small arms and light weapons-related threats to international peace and security;
“17. Encourages all Member States that have not yet done so to accede to and implement the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols, including the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunitions;
“18. Stresses the need for full and effective implementation by States at the national, regional and international levels, of the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects and the International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely Manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons, in particular, paying special attention to applying measures contained therein on the prevention of the diversion of small arms and light weapons, in order to make real progress in preventing, combating and eradicating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons;
“19. Urges States to consider signing and ratifying the Arms Trade Treaty as soon as possible and encourages States, intergovernmental, regional and subregional organizations that are in a position to do so to render assistance in capacity-building to enable States Parties to fulfil and implement the Treaty’s obligations;
“20. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to submit to the Council on a biennial basis a report on small arms and light weapons, including on the implementation of this resolution, and affirms its intention to consider the report in a timely manner;
“21. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”
The Security Council met this afternoon to consider the impact of the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons on international peace and security. Before members were the report of the Secretary-General on small arms (document S/2013/503), and a letter dated 6 September 2013 from the Permanent Representative of Australia to the Secretary-General (document S/2013/536).
JULIE BISHOP, Council President and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, launched the meeting by stating that the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons threatened peace and drove conflict in many of the countries under the Council’s consideration. It was an issue that crossed much of that body’s work, from sanctions, peacekeeping and peacebuilding, to the women, peace and security agenda, yet the Council had not considered it for more than five years, she noted. “It is therefore entirely appropriate that we do so today.”
BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said the excessive accumulation of arms had fuelled insecurity and conflict from Mali to Afghanistan and beyond. Weapons trafficking had affected far more than the immediate security situation; the uncontrolled availability of guns and bullets threatened peace processes and fragile reconciliation efforts. It had led to a vast range of human rights violations, including killings, rapes and other forms of sexual violence, enforced disappearances, torture and forced recruitment of children by armed groups. It also undermined the effort of the United Nations for social justice, the rule of law and the Millennium Development Goals. “The world is over-armed and peace is under-funded,” he declared.
Earlier this year, he recalled, States had taken a historic step by adopting the Arms trade Treaty, which fully included small arms and ammunition in its scope. That landmark measure obliged States to regulate international arms transfers, including by prohibiting shipments to Governments that failed to use them in line with the United Nations Charter. Urging all countries to sign and ratify it without delay, he noted that more than half of all United Nations Member States had already done so.
Without regulation, access to weapons and the strong profitability of the illicit arms trade were an explosive cocktail, he continued, citing the lawlessness prevailing in Guinea-Bissau, Central African Republic, Iraq and on the high seas. He said he was pleased that the Council had recognized that States required support in weapons management, noting that innovations such as weapon-tracking technologies and the personalization of firearms could help. Arms embargoes were also vital, he added.
Yet, unscrupulous brokers were adept at evading such strictures, he said, urging Member States to consider that in the last year alone, more than a dozen peacekeepers in Darfur, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been killed in action by such weapons. “Small arms remain a big concern,” he emphasized, noting that the challenge lay at the intersection of human rights, security, development, crime, international trade, public health and counter-terrorism. “Let us commit to advancing our work together and build a safer, more secure world for all.”
CHRISTINE BEERLI, Vice President, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said her organization was a first-hand witness to the devastating cost of easy access to and misuse and of small arms and light weapons. They were the “weapons of choice” in conflict and were used deliberately to target civilians and property. They prolonged conflicts and enabled violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.
Their effects lasted long after the end of conflict, she said, adding that the consequences of their use included increased disease and starvation because they helped restrict humanitarian access. The culture of violence they engendered threatened reconciliation, he added. Saying there was an evident gap between the commitments of international instruments on these weapons and what was practiced, she said the Security Council should ensure that small arms did not end up among those who may use them against international humanitarian and human rights workers. Describing the Arms Trade Treaty as an historic global norm, she urged all Member States to sign it.
ALEXANDER A. PANKIN (Russian Federation) said his Government could not support today’s draft as it lacked an important provision on the unacceptability of transferring small arms and light weapons to non-State actors. The Government advocated the adoption of measures to prevent illicit weapons trafficking, and weapons in the hands of illegal militias contravened fundamental human rights and was a source of suffering for many. In that context, he cited recent events in Mali, where weapons originally transferred to Libyan groups for humanitarian purposes had been used.
He said documents devoted to the topic under consideration must address the prevention of illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons. The negotiating process to draft the Arms Trade Treaty had shown that the Russian Federation’s approach vis-à-vis non-State actors had the support of a considerable number of States. Depending on the region or relations with the Government of a country in which militias were operating, some people were seen as “bad” terrorists and others as “good”, he noted.
Abandoning deliveries to non-State structures could control the dissemination of small arms and light weapons, he said, adding that his country banned the unauthorized re-export of weapons. Such measures were not costly and did not require additional financial support. The resolution could have called attention to the Convention on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects, the only global instrument that fought illegal arms trafficking. Council support for the implementation of its Programme of Action would be extremely useful for enhancing its own credibility, he said, adding that for such reasons, the Russian Federation would abstain from the vote.
By a vote of 14 in favour to none against, with 1 abstention ( Russian Federation), the Council then adopted resolution 2117 (2013).
Ms. BISHOP, Council President and Foreign Minister of Australia, said that her country’s neighbourhood had witnessed the devastating effects of small arms and light weapons. Citing the case of the Solomon Islands a decade ago, she recalled that Australia had led a peace mission to pull the country back from the brink of State failure. Australia’s focus had been on removing illegal arms from the hands of the belligerents, an effort that had eventually helped to restore peace and stability.
She reminded Council members of the threat that small arms and light weapons posed to civilians, to peace and security, and to peace and humanitarian workers. They also undermined the rule of law and human rights. While States had the primary responsibility to act, many needed additional support, she said, adding that peacekeeping missions could make a real impact in curbing illicit arms flows. The Arms Trade Treaty was a milestone in efforts to stop conflicts, she said, urging all countries to sign and ratify it as soon as possible.
The resolution just adopted demonstrated the fundamental importance that the Council placed on protecting civilians, and for fully respecting international humanitarian law and human rights. Emphasizing the importance of maintaining the international momentum, she said the Council had taken too long to adopt its first resolution on small arms. Members should return to the subject with greater frequency and ensure that “our commitments made today are not forgotten tomorrow”.
OTTO FERNANDO PÉREZ MOLINA, President of Guatemala, said that the General Assembly’s leadership on small arms and light weapons did not prevent the Council from playing a complementary role on the matter. Voicing support for the resolution, he declared it “an historic event” as the Council had never adopted a text specifically addressing small arms and light weapons.
The unregulated circulation of small arms had proliferated at an alarming rate due to its lucrative nature, as well as poor regulation and oversight, including the management of unsecured Government stockpiles. Women and children often suffered most. He agreed that it was important to take an integrated policy approach, highlighting the role of international, regional and subregional organizations in that regard, and welcomed the partnerships that the United Nations had forged in that area.
Turning to the arms industry, he encouraged producing States to promote accountability and full implementation of existing laws. The common goal should be to stop the over-production of weapons and to support the existing regulatory framework. While States were obliged to establish firearms controls, they faced considerable challenges, especially when emerging from conflict, and were vulnerable to arms trafficking.
He went on to say that his country had suffered violence, insecurity and crime, associated in part with illicit weapons that were often bought legally before being diverted. Guatemala had combated such actions by creating a centre of arms and ammunition control within the judicial branch. The Government had also signed several cooperation agreements with civil society. At the international level, it had acceded to the Arms Trade Treaty on 24 June, he said.
JEAN ASSELBORN, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg, stressed his support for the resolution, saying that each year, small arms claimed the lives of an estimated 500,000 people, 300,000 of whom died in situations of armed conflict. The proliferation of small arms and light weapons undermined peace and security, especially in Africa, with women and children often bearing the brunt.
In 2012, several countries in the Sahel had become more vulnerable as a result of proliferation of weapons from within and outside the region, a lack of governmental control over army and police stockpiles, terrorist activities and related organized crime. To counter that threat, the Council had created the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), mandating it on 25 April to help the Malian authorities with weapons and ammunition management.
Luxembourg would work alongside its African partners by supporting the African Francophone Network on Small Arms in sharing knowledge on proliferation, he said. Pointing out that the illicit transfer and misuse of small arms and light weapons was often carried out in violation of embargos, he said the Council was obliged, through its relevant subsidiary bodies, to ensure implementation of its sanctions, and urged all Member States to lend their support. “Our credibility is at stake,” he stressed, adding that Luxemburg had signed the Arms Trade Treaty and would work towards its rapid entry into force.
NICK CLEGG, Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, said international efforts to regulate small arms and light weapons were not aimed at constraining the ability of States to use them for legitimate purposes. Noting that the Arms Trade Treaty formally set forth legally binding rules, he said the United Kingdom was committed to ratifying it before the end of the year, which would “give it teeth”.
Half of the United Nations Member States had signed the instrument, he noted, urging the rest to do so in order to bring it into force. Turning to the resolution adopted today, he said words were not enough when it came to arms embargos, and countries needed help to enforce them. The world should not hesitate to bring those breaking export controls to prosecution, as the illicit circulation of small arms regularly harmed innocent civilians, particularly women and children.
LAURENT FABIUS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, said the United Nations must continue to fight the scourge of small arms and light weapons. France had committed itself to that fight early on, having favoured the establishment of an international instrument and the 2001 adoption of the Plan of Action. Its efforts in 2005 had contributed to the adoption of an international instrument on the marking and tracing of small arms and light weapons. Having signed the Arms Trade Treaty on 3 June, France planned to ratify it in the coming weeks, he said.
The Treaty would impact the spread of weapons and enhance security, he continued, encouraging all States to sign and ratify it as soon as possible. “There is no single solution,” he emphasized. Alongside continued State mobilization, there was a need to leverage all available instruments to tackle the issue of small arms proliferation. Such steps would complement action in the field, which would be coordinated according to local conditions. The United Nations had sometimes had difficulty, but “when we take a stand on a matter so great in magnitude, we see that the Organization is absolutely indispensable to world peace”, he asserted.
YUN BYUNG-SE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, said today’s resolution reflected an unswerving commitment to addressing the misuse of small arms and light weapons. The adverse and cross-cutting impacts of that misuse had been well documented in several resolutions, and no single country could solve the problem on its own. Continued commitment was required from all sides, including the Council. Each State was responsible for preventing the proliferation and diversion of small arms and light weapons, and each should work to prevent their flowing into the wrong hands, he emphasized.
Calling the Arms Trade Treaty an “important milestone” towards that goal, he said his country would play its part in ensuring its entry into force at the earliest date. The Republic of Korea would also continue to lead efforts to advance the biennial General Assembly resolution on the illicit brokering of small arms and fight the “merchants of death” who destroyed the fragile peace in recovering States.
For its part, the Council must play a greater role in such efforts, he said, noting that its arms embargoes had been an effective line of defence against illicit arms transfers. He suggested mandating peacekeeping operations to help monitor arms embargoes, saying the Council should provide States with the necessary support. To protect civilians, the Council’s post-conflict efforts — including disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and security-sector reform — must be improved. Peacekeeping operations and peacebuilding missions should be given the mandates and resources to support host Governments in that regard.
SAAD-EDDINE EL OTHMANI, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco, highlighted the close nexus between terrorism and organized crime on the one hand, and human and drug trafficking on the other, saying Africa bore the brunt, as witnessed in the Sahel and Sahara regions. Welcoming the opening for signature of the Arms Trade Treaty, he expressed hope that it would help to strengthen efforts to control the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons. Citing Morocco’s own initiative in that direction, he said the resolution just adopted would bolster international cooperation to solve the problem. Care must be taken to ensure, however, that States remained unimpeded in importing small weapons for their own safety and security.
LOUISE MUSHIKIWABO, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Rwanda, expressed sympathy and solidarity with the people of Kenya, saying they had recently experienced a heinous crime, made possible by the availability of the very weapons under discussion today. Africa, especially the Great Lakes region, had been engulfed by conflict facilitated by small arms and light weapons, which had neither a small nor a light impact on its communities.
Underlining the importance of regional and subregional cooperation, she said her country had ratified the Nairobi Protocol on the reduction of small arms and light weapons in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa. Thus far, Rwanda had destroyed 42,266 weapons and 52 tonnes of unexploded ordinance in recent years, making it the regional leader in managing arms and ammunition stockpiles, she said, adding that her country had also been among the many that had first signed the Arms Trade Treaty.
In that context, she recognized the role of the Nairobi-based Regional Centre for Small Arms in combating the illicit use and transfer of small arms and light weapons. Such regional efforts would ensure cooperation in addressing their illicit transfer and misuse. She called on the Council to support regional initiatives in a true spirit of partnership, saying there was a collective duty to avert and combat the illicit manufacture, trade, circulation and transfer of small arms and light weapons.
SARTAJ AZIZ, Adviser to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on National Security and Foreign Affairs, spoke of the links between crime and small arms, saying that such weapons had huge social and economic costs. New trafficking “hotspots” were emerging constantly, he said, calling for the deployment of new technology to locate and monitor traders and brokers. Calling for a comprehensive and integrated approach, he said the demand side — in the form of unresolved disputes, terrorism and crime — required as much attention as the supply side. Highlighting Pakistan’s role in curbing the sale, supply and import of small arms and light weapons, he also called for a halt in drone strikes, saying they harmed civilians.
ELMAR MAHARRAM OGLU MAMMADYAROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, said the impacts of the illicit transfer and misuse of small arms and light weapons were immeasurable, and their negative effects evident around the world. Their accumulation and wide availability had exacerbated armed violence and fed terrorism. Domestically, their impact had had similar social, political and economic aspects, and they also impeded national and regional economic development.
The Secretary-General’s recommendations relating to the Council’s engagement should receive due consideration, he said. More broadly, he urged the full implementation of the 2001 Programme of Action as the framework to combat the illicit trade in small arms, as well as the 2005 International Tracing Instrument, which were pivotal in enabling States to fulfil their obligations.
Azerbaijan had taken all appropriate steps to implement its commitments, but its efforts were hampered by the occupation of its territories, he said. Armenia continued its military build-up in those occupied territories, and was channelling small arms into them beyond international control. The Government of Azerbaijan had called attention to that problem, and urged all States to condemn such illegal actions, which violated sovereignty and territorial integrity, in addition to preventing peace in the region.
SAMANTHA POWER ( United States) said the resolution’s urgency and timeliness was reflected in the weekend terror attacks against Kenya, the conflicts in the Central African Republic and Mali, and in the suffering inflicted by criminal groups. Small arms posed special risks to refugees, women, children and humanitarian aid workers. They were also the cause and result of violence as rival groups armed themselves.
While breaking the cycle of destruction, however, it was important to recognize the right of countries to defend themselves and to use small arms and light weapons for legitimate purposes, she said, emphasizing her opposition to any effort that might be aimed at constraining the constitutional right of United States citizens to bear arms. She underscored the role of partnerships among nations on border controls, peace operations and information sharing, saying that such a multidimensional approach informed her country’s international engagement on the issue.
LIU JIEYI ( China) said globalization had complicated the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, posing a particular challenge to developing countries in Africa and Latin America. The Council should urge redoubled efforts against the illicit trade, he said, calling for a holistic approach to combat the symptoms as well as the root causes of the problem. States should resolve disputes through diplomatic means, and the Council should enhance its post-conflict reconstruction efforts, thereby paving the way for a solution to the issue.
Further, the United Nations should be brought into full play by implementing the outcomes reached under its auspices, and by intensifying the fight against the illicit trade. The Organization should better promote international assistance in that regard, and States should enhance international cooperation with a view to increasing the exchange of information through bilateral and multilateral channels. Developed countries should increase assistance in the areas of institution-building, capital and technology, and Governments must enhance capacity-building, as they bore the primary duty to combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.
For its part, China had improved its domestic management of the small arms trade, having enhanced legislation, law enforcement and capacity-building, he said. It had put strict controls in place over small arms and light weapons, and promulgated laws on their marking. At the global level, China had engaged in bilateral and multilateral cooperation by providing assistance in the form of capital and personnel. In addition, it had helped 40 countries to address humanitarian crises, and taken a responsible approach to the export of small arms and light weapons, refraining from exporting arms to countries or regions that were subject to Council arms embargoes, he said.
KODJO MENAN ( Togo) said “these arms are light in name only”, as they caused constant turmoil for countries around the world. There was a direct link between the illicit trade in small arms and terrorist activities, he said, noting also that Africa was the most lucrative market for arms traffickers. Effective measures must be urgently taken to fight their illegal use, in order to prevent conflict and ensure the success of peacebuilding processes.
He said the United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition complemented the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, as well as the opening for signature of the Arms Trade Treaty. Despite such gains, however, the unregulated arms trade was a multidimensional problem tied into broader questions of security, he stressed.
The main problem was coordinating various national and regional initiatives, he continued. The Council must focus more on compliance with weapons embargoes, and on participation in disarmament, demobilization and rehabilitation efforts. The management of post-conflict situations was pivotal, he said, emphasizing also the importance of collecting weapons from former combatants. Such actions must go hand-in-hand with the demobilization of ex-combatants and their reintegration into daily life.
MARÍA CRISTINA PERCEVAL (Argentina) said it was the international community’s responsibility to eradicate the challenge posed by the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons. The essence of real multilateralism
was working together in shared responsibility, she added, emphasizing that armed violence unravelled the social fabric, impacted State systems and fostered a climate of impunity.
Noting that the uncontrolled proliferation of small arms and light weapons had a devastating impact on civilians, particularly women and children, she called for a comprehensive policy that would apply on the national, regional and international levels. If the possession of weapons at home in peace time increased risks to the family, the threat was infinitely greater in times of armed conflict, she said. With resolute and sustained action, “the merchants of death will be replaced by architects of peace”, she said.
* *** *For information media • not an official record