Nairobi to Host Regional Conference towards Global Review of Progress on Illicit Small Arms Action Programme, 4-5 March

NAIROBI, 1 March (Office for Disarmament Affairs) — Nairobi is set to host a pivotal gathering of Eastern and Southern African countries to review progress made and set priorities for preventing, combating and eradicating the scourge of illicit small arms and light weapons.  The Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Fourth Review Conference on the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (UN PoA) and its International Tracing Instrument is set to take place from 4 to 5 March 2024.

The preparatory meeting will see high-level attendance by the President Designate of the Fourth Review Conference, Ambassador Maritza Chan Valverde of Costa Rica, as well as Izumi Nakamitsu, UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.  They are joined by delegations from over 26 countries from the Eastern and Southern Africa region and regional and subregional organizations such as the African Union, the Economic Community of East African Community (ECA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The preparatory meeting will be dedicated to fostering exchange of views on the state of implementation of the UN PoA and the International Tracing Instrument and discuss a set of priorities in preparation for the UN PoA’s Fourth Review Conference, scheduled to take place in New York from 17 to 28 June 2024.

The widespread availability and illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons serve as key drivers and enablers of armed conflicts, violent extremism, and the expansion of terrorism, among other sources of violence and insecurity.  Small arms control measures have proven to be effective tools to disrupt the supply of illicit small arms and light weapons to terrorist and criminal groups. “Adequate small arms control is a crucial means of reducing armed violence, preventing conflict and building peaceful and inclusive societies — without which sustainable development cannot happen,” says Ms. Nakamitsu.

One such tool is the UN PoA, adopted in 2001.  This politically binding framework contains commitments by Member States to enhance control measures over small arms, including through improved national regulations, stockpile management, import/export controls and international cooperation.  The introduction of the International Tracing Instrument in 2005 further strengthened this framework, by emphasizing the need for effective marking and record-keeping of weapons, thus aiding in their traceability. These measures are integral to the global effort to address the challenges posed by the illicit arms trade and align with the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Member States periodically review progress on these commitments, with biennial meetings of States and review conferences every six years. A Preparatory Committee meeting from 12 to 16 February 2024 helped to lay the groundwork.

In anticipation of the Fourth Review Conference, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC) is organizing the preparatory regional meeting for Eastern and Southern African States in Nairobi.  A similar meeting for West and Central African States took place in Lomé, Togo, from 29 February to 1 March.  The two-day Nairobi meeting — a forum for participating States and other stakeholders, including regional organizations to identify region-specific challenges and discuss priorities for the Review Conference — will feature thematic presentations and group discussions on various themes, such as developing effective national policies, enhancing the tracing of small arms and light weapons through the International Tracing Instrument framework, and identifying and developing strategies to curb the supply and demand of such weapons.  It also offers a unique opportunity for participating States and regional organizations of Eastern and Southern Africa to engage in constructive discussions on combating terrorism, illicit trafficking and transnational crimes within the framework of the UN PoA and contribute to countries’ voluntary national reports. 

The preparatory meeting will also explore the synergies between the UN PoA and regional instruments such as the Nairobi Protocol on small arms and the SADC Protocol on control of firearms, along with Weapons and Ammunition Management and commitments made in the area of preventing violent extremism and with regards to integrating small arms and light weapons control into the 2030 Agenda and its linkages to the African Union 2063 Agenda for inclusive and sustainable development.  Moreover, it is a fundamental platform to discuss the enhancement of international cooperation and assistance.

The regional meeting takes place in the context of the Office for Disarmament Affairs’ global project that seeks to support the full and effective implementation of the UN PoA and its International Tracing Instrument, supported by the European Union.

For additional details on the Preparatory Regional Meeting, please reach out to Mariame Camara, Political Affairs Officer at email:  mariame.camara@un.org.

For information media. Not an official record.