Press Releases

    DC/3005
    12 January 2006

    Speakers Call for Legally Binding Instrument on Marking, Tracing Weapons, as Preparatory Meeting for Small Arms Review Conference Continues

    Delegates Assess Effectiveness of 2001 Action Plan on Illicit Small Arms Trade

    NEW YORK, 11 January (UN Headquarters) -- Disappointed that global efforts to adopt a legally binding instrument on marking and tracing had been blocked, and seeking more robust and concrete action in treating the small arms and light weapons issues, Jamaica's speaker today repeated her call for the elaboration of a legally binding instrument to assist States in identifying and tracing the weapons that entered their territories. 

    One of 31 speakers today addressing the Preparatory Committee for the upcoming Review Conference on the 2001 Action Programme on the illicit small arms trade, Jamaica's representative called for increased attention to supply issues in today's era of heightened terrorism concerns, instability and uncertainty.  That included curtailing the sources of illicit small arms and light weapons, and controlling their transfers, civilian possession and illicit brokering.  Despite persistent efforts by law enforcement officials, large numbers of illicit arms were smuggled into Jamaica.  In 2005 alone, officials had recovered some 683 illegal weapons, an increase over the 620 weapons recovered in 2004.

    In sharp contrast to mainstream disarmament efforts, India's speaker noted, the international community had made welcome, even if modest, progress in addressing the illicit small arms trade when it reached consensus last year on an international instrument on marking and tracing.  Although his preference had been for a legally binding instrument, he had joined consensus since the instrument enjoined new commitments on States on marking and cooperating with other States in tracing.  That significant achievement reflected the common commitment to achieve the objectives enshrined in the Action Programme.  The review should now express its firm commitment to ban the supply of arms to non-State actors.

    However, the United States representative said there was little to gain in reopening the Action Programme or including measures outside its scope, such as constraining the legal trade and legal manufacture of those weapons, imposing domestic restrictions on civilian ownership and use of those weapons, or banning transfers to non-State actors.   He supported measures in the Action Programme calling for effective export and import controls, restraint in trade to conflict regions, enforcement of Security Council embargoes, strict regulation of brokers, and so forth.  Together, those were the core of a regime which, if implemented by all, would greatly mitigate the problems everyone was gathered here to address.

    Echoing the emphasis today on including illicit arms transfers to non-State actors, Sri Lanka's representative asserted that the illicit arms trade could not be addressed in all its aspects by making only States accountable under the various national, regional and international regimes.  New approaches were needed, therefore, to make non-State actors accountable for the human rights violations resulting from small arms use, and all possibilities should be explored, legal and moral, of making non-State actors accountable for the illegal transfers and use of small arms and light weapons.  Particularly disturbing were the conscription drives by non-State actors in which children were removed against their will from schools, welfare centres and makeshift camps and turned into combatants.

    Pakistan's representative stressed that the causes of war, however, were even more important than the instruments of war.  The demand for weapons would remain strong so long as the conflicts festered and solutions to their underlying causes were not addressed. The Action Programme consensually worked out a delicate balance between humanitarian concerns and legitimate security concerns, and it rightly focused on illicit trade.  That balance and focus should be sustained.  The international community must not allow its ambitions to subject the small arms agenda to the "deadlock being witnessed in the larger arms control framework", he said.

    In other business, the following were elected as Vice-Chairpersons of the Preparatory Committee:  Carlos Fernando Diaz Paniagua ( Costa Rica); Hassan Hamid Hassan ( Sudan); Dominic Hayuma (United Republic of Tanzania); and Richard Nabudere ( Uganda).

    Representatives of the following Governments also spoke today:  Switzerland; Kazakhstan; Republic of Korea; Israel; Japan; Iraq; Mali; Senegal; Mozambique; Russian Federation; Egypt; Jordan; Kenya; Namibia; Morocco (on behalf of the Arab Group); Algeria; Ghana; Iran; Papua New Guinea (on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum); Trinidad and Tobago; Georgia; Venezuela; Benin; Dominican Republic; United Republic of Tanzania; and Colombia (on behalf of Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Guatemala and El Salvador).

    The Preparatory Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Thursday, 12 January, to continue its general exchange of views.

    Background

    The Preparatory Committee for the 2006 Conference to review progress made in the implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects met today to continue its general exchange of views.

    The Review Conference will be held in New York from 26 June to 7 July 2006.  (For further background, see Press Release DC/3004 issued on 9 January.)

    Statements

    JÜRG STREULI ( Switzerland) said that the Review Conference was an important opportunity to make significant progress and add value to the Programme of Action in three areas.  First, it should establish tools and mechanisms to facilitate and improve the implementation of existing commitments in the Programme.  Second, it should initiate processes to develop international standards and instruments in areas where globally harmonized standards and regulations were needed to successfully combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  Third, it should complement the Programme with additional commitments in areas where it did not fully take into account the multidimensional character of the issue. 

    Regarding tools and mechanisms to improve the implementation of existing commitments, he said that the implementation of the Programme could be greatly facilitated through improved assistance and cooperation.  The establishment of a small, effective and efficient implementation support mechanism was crucial for managing the assistance and cooperation process.  Also, to maintain a structured dialogue on assistance needs and to build partnerships between States, he encouraged States to hold intersessional meetings between the biennial meetings.

    Turning to international standards, he said that States should establish appropriate mechanisms and procedures to implement the international instrument to identify and trace small arms and light weapons as a clear part of their commitment to implementation of the Programme.  Also, there was an urgent need to develop international standards in the field of export control.  Switzerland supported the United Kingdom Transfer Control Initiative, and hoped States would be ready to agree on a declaration of principles governing international transfers at the Review Conference.  The Conference should also confirm the will of States to begin negotiations on a brokering instrument at the earliest possible time.  States should also commit themselves to establish and use a similar harmonized system of end-user certification as soon as possible. 

    In addition, he said that the Review Conference should elaborate commitments on issues that were linked to the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, but were not comprehensively addressed in the Programme.  Those included: the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and their misuse by non-State armed groups; the appropriate use of such weapons by law enforcement officials; the link between security and development, including issues such as demand, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and the negative impact of such arms on development; and illicit trafficking in ammunition, as well as surplus ammunition. 

    YERZHAN KAZYKHANOV ( Kazakhstan) said that 2005 was a watershed in the global effort to better understand and address the problems created by the proliferation and use of small arms and light weapons.  The entry into force of the United Nations Firearms Protocol and the United Nations international instrument on marking and tracing should contribute to ensuring international peace and security.  The accumulation and proliferation of weapons was a key factor in destabilizing global security.  Illicit arms trafficking was actively used by criminal and terrorist groups and radical religious movements.  The spread of weapons was directly linked to the activities of drug cartels and criminal networks involved in the production and illicit trafficking of drugs.

    He deemed it critically important to develop and implement agreed international measures to prevent and combat illicit trafficking and manufacturing of small arms and light weapons, and to reduce their excessive and destabilizing accumulations throughout the world.  The United Nations should play a leading role in that process.  He reaffirmed his country's determination to fully implement all provisions of the new international instrument.  He shared the concern of many countries that the instrument was not legally binding.  The international community did not pay due attention to the proliferation of ammunition and explosives.  Member States should exert every effort to put in place controls over the illicit proliferation and use of ammunition and explosives, and those controls could eventually be integrated into the 2001 small arms Programme of Action.

    Kazakhstan had submitted a detailed report on implementation of the action plan, which it continued to update, he said.  It also supported the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, as the most important component of the export control system.  For several years, Kazakhstan had shown a "zero" export of small arms and light weapons.  He also favoured the United Nations Standardized Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditures, and he had co-sponsored the relevant resolution in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security).  Seeking to strengthen its national export control system, his Government had adopted a law in 1996 on export control.  Globally, the emphasis should be on:  brokering and transfers; unlicensed production; broader subregional and international cooperation; problems of post-conflict settlement; and the relationship among the illicit small arms trafficking, drug trafficking, organized crime and terrorism.

    SHIN KAK-SOO (Republic of Korea) lamented that the excessive and destabilizing accumulation of small arms and light weapons and their unrestrained transfer continued to undermine the security, safety, health, education, development and the economic livelihoods of millions of innocent civilians.  He recognized the need to work on developing common international standards for small arms and light weapons transfer control.  One key challenge was the illicit brokering of such weapons, which continued to undermine compliance with Security Council arms embargoes and efforts to build peace in fragile regions.  For its part, his country had recently strengthened controls on arms brokering activities by introducing the registration and licensing system provided in the newly enacted Defence Industry Act. 

    With regard to national implementation, his country had put in place adequate laws, regulations and administration procedures to ensure effective control over the production and trade of small arms and light weapons, he said.  It had also developed strict, efficient measures for the control of military and non-military use of small arms and light weapons throughout all stages of manufacturing, storage, management, transfer and dismantlement.  Each Government must undertake appropriate measures to account for its stocks of such weapons.  His country had developed an electronic inventory of all its domestic military small arms and light weapons through a computer programme known as the Firearms Management System. 

    At the international level, he believed the Security Council should play a key role in supplementing national and regional efforts, including by strengthening the monitoring mechanism of its arms embargoes.  Also, while he recognized the immense value of national reports, he noted a need to improve the reporting mechanism.  Such reporting needed improvement in both substance and format.

    JANICE MILLER ( Jamaica) said that, in support of the Action Programme, her country had taken steps to actively implement its provisions.  Those had included the adoption of relevant national legislation governing imports and exports of arms and ammunition.  It had also signed the relevant international and regional conventions, including those covering transnational organized crime and the control of the illicit trade in firearms and ammunition in the region of the Americas.  Within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Jamaica was a member of the Task Force on Crime and Security, which was actively considering matters relevant to the movement and acquisition of illegal small arms and light weapons in the Caribbean region.  Efforts to implement the Action Programme had been strengthened through assistance received at the bilateral level, including for equipment and the provision of intelligence, in providing faster and more accurate traces on illegal weapons used to commit crimes in Jamaica. 

    Nevertheless, she said, in 2005 alone, Jamaican law enforcement officials had recovered some 683 illegal weapons, which represented an increase over the 620 weapons recovered the previous year.  As a country that did not manufacture or import small arms and light weapons on a large scale, those figures were significant.  When compared to the high rates of criminal activity and violent crime, she was gravely concerned about the devastating effect those illegal arms were having on Jamaica's economy and society.  The increased proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons in Jamaica was also linked to transnational organized crime and the trade in arms and drugs.  Those activities were intrusive and dangerous, and were detrimental to national security.  Despite persistent efforts by law enforcement officials, large numbers of illicit arms continued to be smuggled into the country.  Her country was dealing with a phenomenon that, in many respects, was beyond its capacity to control.  That had made implementation of the global Action Programme more difficult.

    Illicit small arms and light weapons, many of which were high-powered, severely challenged law enforcement efforts, national security and economic development, she said.  The health sector had also been severely taxed in treating victims of gun violence.  She called for increased attention to supply issues, including curtailing the sources of illicit small arms and light weapons and controlling their transfer, civilian possession and illicit brokering.  She was disappointed that global efforts to adopt a legally binding instrument on marking and tracing were blocked.  She repeated the call for the elaboration of a legally binding instrument to assist States in identifying and tracing the weapons that entered their territories.  Such an instrument would be in keeping with regional arrangements.  Hopefully, the world community had the necessary resolve to take such binding action.  In today's era of heightened terrorism concerns, instability and uncertainty, she called for more robust and concrete action in treating the small arms and light weapons issues. 

    MEIR ITZCHAKI ( Israel) noted that the relevance of the Programme of Action in the Middle East would be determined by its ability to limit and stop the supply of arms to terrorists.  Therefore, he stressed the need to find a way in which the Programme would include a clear call against the transfer of small arms and light weapons to terrorists or other unauthorized entities.  While preparing for the Review Conference, he believed deliberations should focus on the following issues.  First, reiterating the commitment set out in the Programme to promote formation of national legislation in States still lacking such laws, in order to regulate all aspects related to small arms and light weapons.  Such legislation should encompass production, possession, and export controls. 

    Second, deliberations should focus on addressing the need to deter and stop illegal activity, by disrupting the route of trafficking of small arms and light weapons and ammunition through enhancing law enforcement, as well as improving national capabilities in securing and managing stockpiles.  Third, there should be a clear call for national policies to ban unlicensed civilian possession of small arms and light weapons, as well as a clear call against the transfer of such weapons to unauthorized entities, especially terrorists.  Also needed was an extended debate on national controls to curb illicit transfers of small arms and light weapons components, addressing specific types of light weapons, such as man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS).

    With regard to MANPADS, he said the terrorist attack on an Israeli aircraft in Mombasa in November 2002 highlighted the problem of MANPADS falling into the possession of terrorists.  Hence, national safeguards must be instituted to ensure that those weapons were not transferred to non-State actors, directly or indirectly.  He welcomed the First Committee's resolution on MANPADS (60/77), but believed a comprehensive approach must be adopted to better address the issue.  Israel was considering ways to raise the political awareness to the threat of MANPADS, and intended to work together with others to find ways to enhance implementation of existing international instruments aimed at preventing terrorists from acquiring MANPADS.  

    YOSHIKI MINE ( Japan) noted that several important developments had taken place last year, namely the successful conclusion of the international instrument on marking and tracing and the General Assembly's adoption by consensus of the omnibus resolution on small arms and light weapons.  His delegation was pleased to have been able to contribute to the latter process, together with Colombia and South Africa.  It went without saying that the international community should tackle the small arms problem as a unified whole.  During the review process, each Member State should reconfirm the value of consensus and demonstrate the necessary flexibility, in order to reach agreement on a future agenda.  Great importance should be attached to the "two-pillar approach", which meant promoting the international rule-making efforts and the projects on the ground, in parallel.  The group of governmental experts on brokering, to be established after the Review Conference, should launch the discussion on rule-making efforts, and reach early agreement on a specific path for the international community to follow.

    He said his country, which never exported arms, in principle felt it was essential for each Member State to strengthen arms transfer control, with a view to curbing the unregulated small arms and light weapons trade.  Japan had requested again a deepened understanding of the small arms and light weapons problems and the elaboration of ways of tackling those with a "best-practice" approach.  The participation of non-governmental organizations in that regard was indispensable.  In examining projects on the ground, the demand factor, among others, should also be covered.  Mere consideration of the political aspects would not suffice in addressing the demand factor.  Also essential was analysis of socio-economic elements likely to give rise to the illicit small arms trade, and to formulate appropriate countermeasures.  He hoped agreement could be reached during the preparatory process on the participation of non-governmental organizations in the review.

    SAMIR SUMAIDA'IE ( Iraq) said the suffering of Iraqis due to small arms and light weapons had reached very serious levels.  Hardly a day passed in the lives of his people without the perpetration of terrorist attacks leading to the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians, including women and children.  His Government had endeavoured to take measures to control the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and to contain the impact of the violence that accompanied the transition period.  Tons of small arms and light weapons had been found and destroyed. 

    The Programme of Action had shown that the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons constituted one of the factors that fed terrorism.  Therefore, his Government had endeavoured to combat that phenomenon by taking a number of national measures commensurate with the commitments laid out in the Programme.  It had intensified its participation in regional and international efforts to combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, and supported regional and international initiatives in that regard.  It had also sought to translate its commitments into real cooperation. 

    The international community must seize the opportunity presented by the Review Conference to determine the shortcomings in implementation and the merits of the Programme.  It was also important to underline the role of international cooperation in implementation.  Manufacturing and exporting States should bear a large responsibility in combating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, and endeavour to further control it, as well as help impacted States curb the problem.  He commended the work done by the United Nations working group, which ended with the Assembly's adoption of the international instrument on marking and tracing. 

    JAYANT PRASAD ( India) said that the singular focus in the preparatory and review process would be to assess the progress made in implementing the Action Programme, and the Review Conference presented the international community with its very first opportunity to strengthen it.  It could do so by appraising its implementation and deriving lessons on more effective ways to address the serious challenges posed by small arms and light weapons through practical actions and mechanisms.  The 2001 Conference had been a landmark event, and the unanimous adoption of the action plan had been a significant step forward in committing States to developing and strengthening agreed norms and measures to address the illicit trade.  That reflected a shared commitment to a clearly enunciated goal.  The need now was to implement it fully and in a truly collaborative framework.  That, in turn, required greater cooperative efforts.

    He said it was worth reminding everyone of the devastating impact of the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons, which gravely endangered the security of States and communities.  Use of those weapons by non-State actors continued to threaten global peace, disrupt social harmony, destabilize political systems and hamper development.  The ready availability of illicit weapons fostered organized crime, drug trafficking, and the illegal exploitation of natural resources.  It also promoted violence, insurgency, and terrorism.  Efforts to combat and eradicate that illicit trade would contribute to global efforts to combat terrorism and other organized crime.  India's full and effective implementation of the Action Programme encompassed legal and administrative mechanisms for the effective control and regulation of those weapons.  Those mechanisms covered all aspects of their lawful possession, manufacture, sale, transport, stockpile management, transfer and export and import of arms and ammunitions.  India followed a strict policy regarding exports, which included a requirement for end-user certificates on a government-to-government basis and a ban on exports to countries under United Nations arms embargoes. 

    In sharp contrast to mainstream disarmament efforts, the international community had made welcome, even if modest, progress in addressing the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, he said.  It succeeded last year in reaching consensus on the international instrument on marking and tracing.  Although his preference had been for a legally binding instrument, he had joined consensus, as had all Member States, since the instrument enjoined new commitments by States on marking and cooperating with other States in tracing.  That significant achievement reflected the common commitment to achieve the objectives enshrined in the Action Programme.  What was required now was the instrument's early and full implementation.  On illicit brokers, the Assembly's two resolutions had contained the parameters for further action.  The group of governmental experts, to be established no later than 2007, would consider further steps to enhance international cooperation on illicit brokering.

    He said that the upcoming Review Conference should now be ready to express its firm commitment to prohibiting the supply of weapons to non-State actors.  Hopefully, the Conference would strengthen the Action Programme by including measures that could deny terrorist access to small arms and light weapons, such as a commitment by States that the trade in those weapons would be channelled only through government-authorized agents, and by bringing in greater transparency in its trade.  On the rationalization of the work of the review process, he proposed greater synchronicity of reporting and the scheduling of future biennial meetings and review conferences.  Together with the Netherlands and South Africa, his delegation had tabled a paper on that subject at the second biennial meeting of States last July.  The matter could be considered during the thematic debate.  Overall, he said, the small arms process and, through that, multilateral diplomacy, could take justifiable credit for identifying the issues and embracing a realistic and achievable framework to resolve them in the form of the action plan.  That collective, coherent, cooperative and committed approach should be nurtured.

    ISSOUF OUMAR MAIGA ( Mali) said he supported the African Common Position presented to the Committee on Monday.  He recalled that in July 2001, Member States had agreed to the Programme of Action, the implementation of which was intended to combat the scourge of small arms and light weapons.  Five years later, it must be acknowledged that a large number of such weapons continued to circulate, particularly in Africa, contributing to armed conflict.  The Review Conference should afford an opportunity to take stock of where improvements were needed.  The implementation of the Programme was an urgent necessity, if common efforts were to achieve the primary objective of alleviating the suffering of millions.  It was necessary to undertake binding commitments, which would succeed in saving human lives.

    As a pioneer in combating small arms and light weapons, he said his country was among the first to set up a national commission to combat the illegal circulation of such weapons.  The experiences of the commission had led to the elaboration of a national disarmament guide.  Also, the experiences of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) represented an example of subregional efforts to combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  The international instrument on marking and tracing should facilitate international cooperation.  The question of brokerage was important in neutralizing the effects of small arms and light weapons.  In that regard, he welcomed the establishment of the group of governmental experts on the issue. Despite encouraging results, many countries faced real difficulties implementing the Programme.  It was important to provide training and assistance, in order to build the necessary capacity within States. 

    STEVEN COSTNER, Deputy Director for the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, State Department of the United States, said that many hundreds of thousands, and possibly, millions, of excess, loosely secured, or otherwise at-risk small arms and light weapons had been destroyed since adoption of the Action Programme in 2001, and many more had been secured.  In addition, new legislation had been drafted in many capitals to facilitate implementation.  There was clearly room for improvement and wider implementation. However, some States that had not yet demonstrated the full political will to do so.  The United States could provide assistance to States in the following ways: destroying surplus, obsolete, and loosely secured stockpiles; providing assessments, technical advice, and orientation to United States best practices for the physical security and stockpiles management of those weapons; and convening courses related to firearms and ballistic identification and firearms tracing for international law enforcement professionals.  Transfer control was another important area of focus.

    He said that effective export and import controls were absolutely essential to any successful effort to mitigate the problems of illicit small arms and light weapons, and were a key element of the Action Programme.  His country went to great lengths to ensure that small arms and light weapons transferred under its jurisdiction were done so with the utmost responsibility.  The transfer of all military articles of United States origin was subjected to extremely rigorous procedures.  All United States exports of defence articles and services, including small arms and light weapons, must be approved by the Department of State.  Assurances must be given by the importing country that arms would be used in a manner consistent with the United States criteria for arms exports -- they must not contribute to regional instability, arms races, terrorism, proliferation or human rights violations.  To ensure that arms were delivered to legitimate end-users, his Government rigorously monitored arms transfers, investigating suspicious activity and acting quickly to curtail exports to those recipients that did not meet its strict criteria for responsible use. 

    The goals of the transfer control initiative circulated by the United Kingdom had his support, as did the inclusion of a discussion on transfer controls in the Review Conference agenda, as that was critical to implementation of the action plan.  He also supported the international marking and tracing instrument.  It provided a useful tool for implementing the action plan, and he encouraged all Member States to implement the guidelines and mechanisms provided by it.  He also looked forward to the convening of a group of governmental experts on brokering after the Conference, but since the group's mandate was already set, no recommendations should be made as part of the review process that could possibly prejudice the Group's work.  The United States clearly supported measures in the Action Programme calling for effective export and import controls, restraint in trade to regions of conflict, observance and enforcement of Security Council-established embargoes, strict regulation of arms brokers, transparency in exports, and improving security of arms stockpiles and destruction of excess. 

    He said that those measures, taken together, formed the core of a regime which, if implemented by all countries, would greatly mitigate the problems everyone was gathered here to address.  The scope of the Action Programme was the illicit international trafficking of small arms and light weapons.  Accordingly, the United States opposed measures that would: constrain the legal trade and legal manufacture of those weapons; impose domestic regulations or restrictions on the civilian ownership and use of those weapons; include recommendations concerning ammunition and explosives; or ban transfers to non-State actors.  Those issues were outside the scope of the Action Programme.  Consistent with his country's long standing position, he would strongly oppose their inclusion in any document forwarded to the Review Conference.  Much work remained, but there was little to gain in reopening the 2001 outcome document for negotiation, and he would oppose efforts to do so.  The focus should remain on fulfilling the obligations made in 2001, without diverting attention by revisiting old debates or addressing issues that were tangential to the main purpose -- to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.

    PAUL BADJI ( Senegal) said that through the 2001 adoption of the Programme of Action, Member States had recognized that the manufacturing, transfer and illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons, as well as their excessive accumulation and uncontrolled spread, had led to a series of humanitarian and socio-economic consequences that threatened peace and stability.  They committed themselves to easing the suffering caused by the illicit trade in such weapons, and to reinforcing respect for the life and dignity of the individual, by encouraging a culture of peace.  Since then, Member States had held two biennial meetings to review the implementation of the Programme.  At the last meeting in July 2005, 100 Member States, including his own, had submitted reports on the implementation of the Programme.  While welcoming the significant progress made, participants had recognized that further efforts were necessary to meet the Programme's commitments.

    He touched on a few areas of particular importance for his country that were crucial for the successful implementation of the Programme.  The Programme had called on States to undertake negotiations with a view to elaborating legally binding instruments to fight the trade in and proliferation of small arms and light weapons.  To support that request, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had undertaken significant measures to supplement the efforts made by individual States.  The process for transforming the 1998 ECOWAS Moratorium into a subregional convention would provide West Africa with a legally binding instrument.  That draft would be submitted to the ECOWAS later this year. 

    The ECOWAS, he continued, had established a unit on small arms and light weapons, and drafted the ECOWAS Small Arms Programme, which aimed to strengthen national commissions, and to strengthen the small arms and light weapons unit within the ECOWAS secretariat.  Other subregional organizations were following the example set by ECOWAS.  While significant progress had been made at the national and subregional levels, similar results had not yet been achieved on the regional or continental levels.  As more players entered the field, more divergent positions arose, hampering the achievement of a common position. 

    While there was no binding framework at the continental level, Africa had stated its interest in fighting the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, he said.  Therefore, in 2000, African States had met in Bamako to adopt a common position.  Similar steps were taken in the run-up to the current meeting.  African States met in Namibia in December 2005, under the auspices of the African Union, to elaborate the African common position, which focused on three points: African initiatives to promote peace and security; the progress achieved at national and regional levels to implement the Programme of Action; and international support to implement the Programme. 

    FILIPE CHIDUMO ( Mozambique) said that, as widely recognized, the illicit small arms trade constituted a serious threat to the peace, security, stability and development of many countries, particularly in Africa.  Such an illicit trade was not only a primary cause of loss of life for many innocent civilians, but also a scourge that endangered public safety and destroyed property, in Africa and elsewhere.  The Action Programme was an excellent framework for concerted global efforts aimed at building international cooperation to prevent, combat and eradicate that illicit trade.  Mozambique was fully committed to implementing it, and had submitted its report last July.

    To date, he said, his country had undertaken more than 10 operations aimed at identifying, recovering and destroying hidden firearms caches, which had resulted in the destruction of some 30,000 firearms.  The role played by civil society, particularly through a programme of the Christian Council of Mozambique, under which weapons were transformed into ploughshares, had contributed significantly to the development of a culture of peace and non-violence by encouraging people to participate actively in the collection and destruction of such illegal weapons.  In compliance with the Action Programme, Mozambique created a National Commission on Small Arms and Light weapons in 2005.  It was responsible for the coordination and integration of national efforts to prevent, combat and eradicate the problem.  His Government was also reviewing related legislation.  Success in implementing the action plan depended, to a large extent, on Mozambique's ability to strengthen regional and global cooperation. 

    In the context of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Mozambique signed in 2001 the Protocol on Firearms, Ammunition and Related Materials, which entered force in July 2004 and was showing encouraging results, he continued.  Globally, several initiatives had been implemented in Africa, culminating in the holding of the Second Continental Conference of African Government Experts on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, held in December 2005, in Namibia.  It produced the African Common Position for the Review Conference.  In the new peace and security architecture, the African Union Commission established a unit to deal with the small arms issue.  The involvement of all stakeholders, including parliamentarians and civil society at large, was fundamental to the successful implementation of the Action Programme. 

    Accordingly, he welcomed the participation in the Preparatory Committee of an international delegation of parliamentarians from 11 countries worldwide.  Greater international assistance was also crucial for effective implementation, and capacity-building, technical and financial assistance, including training, were key factors. 

    ABDUL AZEEZ ( Sri Lanka) said that the distinction must be made between the illicit trade and the legitimate purchase by governments of small arms and light weapons essential for national security.  The role of the State, in that regard, could be seen as part of a comprehensive global effort to find ways and means to address the issue through the formulation of new international norms and strict implementation of existing ones.  Such an effort should also recognize the right of the State to manufacture, import and retain small arms and light weapons for self-defence and legitimate security needs.  The international community should "spell out in a more coherent fashion" the responsibilities for arms transfers, in order to prevent legal transfers of small arms from ending up in the hands of non-State actors. 

    He said his country was fully committed to the Action Programme and, following its adoption, was the first country in the South Asian region to set up a national commission on small arms.  Assistance for national capacity-building was essential for effective implementation.  He commended the substantial financial and technical assistance provided so far by the United Nations and other international organizations and donor States.  The illicit arms trade could not be addressed in all its aspects, however, by making only States accountable under various national, regional and international regimes.  The illicit small arms use was connected to non-State actors.  New approaches were needed, therefore, to make them accountable for the human rights violations resulting from small arms use. Further efforts should also be undertaken to explore all possibilities, both legal and moral, of making non-State actors accountable for the illegal transfer and use of small arms and light weapons. 

    A direct consequence of the proliferation of those weapons had been the forced conscription of children as armed combatants, he said.  The weight and size of small arms made them easy for even a child as young as 8 years-old to use, and that encouraged their forced conscription.  The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and national and international human rights organizations had widely reported a sharp increase in the recruitment of children in recent months.  In such conscription drives by non-State actors, including in Sri Lanka, more often than not children were removed against their will from schools, welfare centres and makeshift camps.  Security Council resolution 1612 (2005) symbolized the growing consensus at the United Nations for taking punitive actions against the violators of the rights of children in armed conflicts.  Marking and tracing, non-State actors and brokering were among the important issues that must be addressed comprehensively and transparently.  Concrete measures were required to further strengthen implementation of the Action Programme for 2006 and beyond.  

    SERGEY PETLYAKOV ( Russian Federation) said that, since 2001, some success had been achieved in curbing the spread of small arms and light weapons.  An important practical step in implementing the Programme of Action had been the activities of the working group, which led to the adoption of the instrument on tracing small arms and light weapons.  However, in spite of the efforts made, the unchecked spread of such weapons continued and, in some regions, was getting worse.  Hence, the great significance of the Review Conference, which might have an impact on the activities of States.  A major task of the international community in combating the illicit trade was practical implementation of those provisions of the Programme that pertained to enhancing the effectiveness of national legislation and strengthening regional cooperation. 

    The Programme of Action in its current form was far from being carried out, but it still had positive potential.  He viewed the document as "a cow that could not be milked enough".  Some provisions were still timely.  He did not believe it appropriate to make changes in the text of the document itself.  To tackle the unchecked spread of small arms and light weapons, and to prevent their falling into the hands of terrorists, it was necessary to refrain from providing such weapons to non-State groups.  Also, regulations on brokering were needed.  A few years ago, there were several enterprises in his country dealing with the arms trade.  Now, such a right only belonged to one enterprise, which ensured effective State control and monitoring of the entire trade in arms.  In addition, it was necessary to stem the production of unlicensed weapons. Such production was one source for weapons falling into the wrong hands.  Also needed were measures to enhance the control of the production of MANPADS.  Work on that question should involve the broadest possible circle of exporters and those that received such devices. 

    AKBAR ZEB, Director General (Disarmament), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, cited the following significant steps that had been taken since 2001:  more than 100 national reports had been submitted; more than 130 contacts had been designated to coordinate related activities; a vast majority of States had reported progress in putting together legislative and administrative framework; large numbers of weapons had been collected and destroyed; the security of stockpile management had been enhanced and record-keeping had been improved; and controls over exports, including end-user certificates had been strengthened.  Above all, public and government awareness of the need to address the multi-faceted and complex small arms and light weapons issues had been achieved, he said.

    He said, however, that several challenges remained, including in areas where progress had been recorded.  For instance, there was a continuing lack of financial and technical assistance, particularly to developing countries.  In the absence of an effective international assistance and cooperation framework, a large majority of States had found it difficult to accelerate implementation, and progress in putting together legislation and administrative procedures was less than ideal.  Training of security, law enforcement and border control personnel had also lagged behind, and the larger issues of underdevelopment and poverty remained unaddressed.  Challenges also persisted among States in the approach and modus operandi of combating the illicit arms trade. 

    Still, he said, the debate and policy prescriptions continued to emanate mainly from a supply perspective and, hence, calls for effective transfer controls, end-user certificates and common minimum standards.  The causes of war, however, were even more important than the instruments of war.  The demand for weapons would remain strong so long as the conflicts festered and solutions to their underlying causes were not addressed.  It was essential, for instance, to end foreign occupation and the denial of the legitimate right of peoples to self-determination.  A more focused effort was required to increase the effectiveness of implementation of the Action Programme.  He proposed that the Review Conference discuss and agree on the following vital areas of implementation:  identify areas where States were facing implementation challenges and propose practical steps to address them; discuss possibilities of a survey by United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) to assess and quantify the scope and scale of the supply and demand problems; and draw up recommendations to address such issues as modalities of financing and the provision of financial and technical assistance.

    He said that idealism and ambition should be tempered with patience and prudence.  The issues were complex and required further deliberations to evolve common understanding and agreement.  The Action Programme consensually worked out a delicate balance between humanitarian concerns and the legitimate security concerns of all States, and it rightly focused on the illicit trade.  That balance and focus should be sustained.  The international community must not allow its ambitions to subject the small arms agenda to the "deadlock being witnessed in the larger arms control framework", he said.

    MAGED A. ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt) said the African continent represented by far the most pressing priority in the collective effort to eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  That required effective steps, foremost among them the strict compliance with arms embargoes established in conflict areas, along with the measures necessary to deal with other associated illicit activities, such as exploitation of natural resources.  Also, consolidated efforts had to be exerted in addressing the underlying causes of conflicts, including poverty.  Further, the international community must shoulder its responsibility in exerting all necessary efforts for the peaceful settlement of disputes.

    Cognizant of the fact that the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was but a symptom and not a cause, of the conflicts ravaging several parts of Africa and other regions, he called on the recently established Peacebuilding Commission to initiate and exercise its role and functions as soon as possible.  He looked forward to the Commission's role in providing the needed assistance in post-conflict situations, including enhancing the capacity of States to combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons through concrete measures, such as funding disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes. 

    He said that, while developing countries had assumed their national responsibilities through continuous efforts in implementation of the Programme of Action, the international community -- in particular developed countries and international financial institutions -- had to fulfil its respective responsibility.  That responsibility went beyond offering short-term assistance and required integrated assistance to developing countries toward achieving sustainable development.  The responsibilities of developed States and major producers went beyond the provision of technical and financial assistance, and included strengthening national legislation and measures regulating the manufacture, possession, trade and brokering in small arms and light weapons, thereby preventing their spread, through illicit trade, into conflict areas.

    SAJA SATTAM HABES MAJALI (Jordan) said that, as the world community continued to grapple with the illicit small arms trade, the follow-up meeting should not allow for a reopening of negotiations.  Instead, the progress made should be maintained.  Reviewing implementation of the Action Programme would undoubtedly consider the difficulties encountered, as well as the remaining challenges.  She welcomed the discussion of all new proposals and initiatives to address the problem.  At the same time, she emphasized the need for new negotiations not to go beyond the action plan.  Adopting additional recommendations or measures should not run counter to the contents of the action plan.  The international community had made numerous gains since the plan's adoption, including the adoption by the General Assembly last year of a global declaration enabling States to mark and trace those weapons.

    She said that a clear and appropriate mechanism should be found to reflect all matters presently under discussion.  Combating the illicit small arms trade required intensive work at all levels.  Jordan's previous reports and declarations had stressed the action taken by national authorities in that regard.  For example, national legislation and regulations had been put in place to limit the use, production, import and export, and stockpiling of such weapons.  Nations and communities should be encouraged to combat the unjustified use of firearms.  Countering the illicit weapons trade and implementing the action plan required deepened international cooperation, and States should be assisted in building capacities to curb the smuggling of weapons into their territories and to enact the relevant legislation.  The review process should focus on that vital aspect.

    Given Jordan's geopolitical position, it suffered from the numerous attempts made to smuggle small arms and light weapons across its borders, she said.  The many troops it had stationed at its borders, however, had managed to stem and limit the spread of those weapons.  There was also a need for bilateral and regional cooperation, particularly to observe the flow of such weapons and ammunition and control their movements through effective customs arrangements and transparency.  Her country was committed to combating the illicit small arms trade and would spare no effort to eliminate that problem, once and for all. 

    JUDITH MBULA BAHEMUKA ( Kenya) said that, over the last five years, her Government had taken a number of steps to ensure comprehensive and sustained efforts towards preventing, combating and eradicating the trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects.  Those included a national policy and national action plan, the establishment of provincial and district task forces, and the destruction of arms.  The efforts to reduce small arms and light weapons could not succeed without stable and peaceful States.  For that reason, Kenya had been actively engaged in seeking the peaceful resolution of conflicts in the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa.  Also, Kenya and Uganda were pursuing an integrated approach focusing on disarming pastoral communities living along the common border. 

    She said the Review Conference must come up with clear international guidelines on arms transfers.  At the regional level, it was encouraging that 12 countries had adopted transfer guidelines under the umbrella of a legally binding instrument, the Nairobi Protocol for the Prevention, Control and Reduction of Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa.  Nevertheless, there was an urgent need to embark on a process that would eventually lead to a legally-binding global instrument on arms transfers.  Also, she emphasized that the Conference should develop a programme of assistance to developing countries, especially in Africa, to enable them to integrate small arms programmes in other priority development issues, such as poverty eradication, economic and social development and security sector reform.  The success of the Programme could only be measured by its impact on human security.  That was the challenge for the Review Conference.

    TUWEEFENI J. M'LUKENI ( Namibia) said his country had taken steps immediately after independence to collect and recover all illegal small arms and war materials in the possession of ex-combatants and civilians.  Additionally, all citizens were encouraged to surrender all illegal weapons in their possession without being charged or prosecuted.  Since 2000, and following the adoption of the Programme of Action, Namibia had become a party to most agreements and protocols related to small arms and light weapons.  It had also actively participated in promoting the implementation of the Programme by hosting a subregional meeting on 23 and 24 May 2005 and the Second Continental Conference of African Governmental Experts on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons from 14 to 16 December 2005, whose outcome was the adoption of the African common position for the review process. 

    Despite its achievements in implementing the Programme of Action through the confiscation, collection and destruction of all such weapons and ammunition, Namibia still faced some financial and logistical constraints.  Challenges such as brokering activities, control of firearm collectors, as well as amnesty for those handing over firearms voluntarily, had not yet been dealt with.  Those challenges could only be solved with dedicated international help that would include capacity-building, as well as technical and financial assistance.  

    On behalf of the Arab Group, ABDESSELEM ARIFI ( Morocco) said that, despite some progress, the international community was still very far from completing the work programme set forth in 2001.  What had been accomplished was very important, but it was not enough.  Capacities differed among States and regions and the progress required, therefore, additional international support.  The Arab States reaffirmed the importance of implementation of the Action Programme as the framework in that disarmament concern.  Lengthy and arduous negotiations had led to its adoption, and reopening those talks must be avoided.  The Arab region had witnessed important developments, enabling it to achieve major successes, with a view to implementing the action plan. Much had been done, for example, in enhancing regional coordination, and those efforts had culminated in the establishment of 14 contact points within the Arab League. 

    He said that recent meetings of Arab States had reaffirmed the need to strengthen coordination among States of the region to eradicate the illicit small arms trade.  Towards that goal, regional databases had been established and workshops had been held, and the contact points had held annual meetings.  The Group also recently reaffirmed the common Arab position in the area of disarmament, namely that the elimination of nuclear weapons was paramount.  Those countries also reaffirmed the right of peoples to self-determination, especially those still living under foreign occupation, as well as the right to self-defence.  There was a need to find remedies for the underlying causes of armed conflict, whether socio-economic or political.  The Arab States also reaffirmed the importance of increased assistance for implementation of the Action Programme, especially for those States beset from conflict or in post-conflict situations. 

    MOURAD BENMEHIDI ( Algeria) said the preparatory process for the Review Conference was an opportunity for Member States, international organizations and civil society to focus on evaluating the progress made in implementing the Programme of Action and to consider better measures to combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  There was a clear need for critical analysis of the circulation of such weapons.  Such an analysis should take stock of actions taken at various levels to elaborate a suitable response.  The Programme of Action had helped pave the way forward for further international cooperation.  While substantive progress had been made at the national and regional levels under the Programme, further sustained efforts were necessary to stem the devastating effects of such weapons. 

    Recalling the lack of commitment and resolve during the negotiations on the Programme of Action, he said the conciliatory language of consensus had meant that the actions agreed on were short of expectations.  The fight against small arms and light weapons was a major source of concern for the entire international community, and required the determination and unequivocal commitment of all Member States.  Providing technical assistance and establishing a United Nations funding mechanism would clearly contribute to implementing national action plans to fight the illicit trade.  Alongside States, civil society actors also played an important role, particularly in regard to peacebuilding and raising awareness. The tireless initiatives to end the illicit trade, particularly in Africa, would only be successful if supplemented by concerted international action.

    NKRABEAH EFFAH-DARTEY ( Ghana) said the existence of humanity was being severely challenged by the menace of small arms and light weapons.  The upcoming Review Conference should identify loopholes in the Programme of Action, iron out the creases and hammer out a much tighter realistic, practical and forceful Programme, in order to make the world a safer and more peaceful place.  Since 2001, a lot of resources had been committed to combating the proliferation and illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  He wanted to see further steps taken, in the form of a stronger and tighter international protocol that would bind members not only to combat the illicit trade, but also to restrict the production and marketing of small arms and light weapons. 

    Undoubtedly, he said, the forthcoming thematic discussions would highlight the commitment of Member States to the Programme of Action and the different levels of implementation from country to country and region to region.  To attain a comprehensive and successful implementation of the Programme, it was pertinent for the current meeting to focus on the issue of international cooperation and assistance, since capacity-building of countries without the requisite resources was imperative in order to overcome the scourge.

    REZA NAJAFI ( Iran) noted that, in some regions, the excessive accumulation and uncontrolled spread of illicit small arms and light weapons had had devastating consequences on human life.  Others had suffered from the illegal use of such weapons in international organized crime, such as terrorism and drug trafficking, which had grave effects on the socio-economic development of regions.  Iran was located in a region where drug trafficking, tied to the circulation of illicit small arms and light weapons, continued unabated.  Iran had spared no effort to implement the Programme of Action, and to combat the interlinked problems of drug trafficking and trafficking in small arms and light weapons.  Providing assistance to States at the forefront of the fight against the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons would contribute to the better implementation of the Programme of Action.  

    He said the Programme of Action, though not ideal, was a comprehensive instrument, not subject to renegotiation or reopening either in the Preparatory Committee or in the Review Conference.  The Conference would be an opportunity for Member States to exchange their experiences regarding the implementation of the Programme.  The main goal at the current stage should be advancement toward the full, comprehensive and non-discriminatory implementation of the Programme.  Focusing on issues beyond the scope of the Programme would not be helpful and would only complicate the work of the Conference.  He added that developed countries had made clear commitments in 2001 to provide assistance to interested States, including technical and financial assistance.  The upcoming Review Conference would be a proper forum to assess the level of assistance provided to interested States.

    On behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum, ROBERT G. AISI ( Papua New Guinea) said that the countries of his region continued to struggle with the uncontrolled flow and misuse of small arms and light weapons, which could devastate individuals and communities.  The Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands was an excellent example of regional cooperation to combat the destabilizing impact of small arms proliferation.  Deployed at the request of the Solomon Islands in July 2003, the participating countries -- Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Tonga -- had helped restore law and order, largely through the collection and destruction of some 3,600 weapons and more than 300,000 rounds of ammunition.  The focus of the Mission had now moved from conflict resolution to longer-term social and economic stability activities. 

    He said that, following a 16 year-long civil war, Bougainville was recently declared weapon-free.  That had been accomplished by a weapons collection and disposal programme, monitored by a United Nations Observer Mission, which had included Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and Vanuatu.  The first elections in autonomous Bougainville were held successfully in June 2005.  Stockpile management and security was also a strong priority for the region, with the "leakage" of weapons from official stocks a major source of illicit guns and subsequent criminal activity.  The Forum had made real improvements in that area.  New armories had been built, and further capacity-building would remain a focus of work in the next review period.  The Forum had also developed a common regional approach to weapons control.  The Nadi Framework had focused on the illicit manufacture of, and trafficking in, firearms, ammunition, explosives and related materials.  That was also an area for continued work.  The Forum States continued to pursue efforts at the national level to complement the work regionally. 

    PHILIP SEALY ( Trinidad and Tobago) said the illicit trade in firearms was a constant threat to the security and safety of society, and had deleterious effects on the health and well-being of its citizens.  The threat was particularly severe in small, open and vulnerable countries and societies, which were required to divert resources from other priority areas in order to mount effective anti-criminal campaigns.  To curb the scourge of gun-related violence, his country was actively involved in a number of initiatives, including reinforcing domestic criminal legislation relating to firearms.  It had also established a national committee comprising all key law enforcement and related agencies, as well as representatives of civil society, to oversee the further implementation of the Programme of Action at the national level. 

    However, he pointed out that the Programme of Action did not adequately address the problem of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons from the demand side, an element that was of direct relevance to his delegation.  It also did not take into account the gender implications of the problem, given the negative effect which gun violence had on women's personal security and well-being and the fact that men, particularly young men, constituted the vast majority of perpetrators and victims of armed violence.  He urged that those aspects be taken up at the Review Conference. 

    He added that the fight against the proliferation of small arms would only be successful if there was continued cooperation and support from the international community.  One way the international community could positively contribute was by taking the initial steps to agree to a set of global principles on international arms transfer, and to subsequently develop those global principles into a binding legal instrument.  That issue should accordingly be taken up at the Review Conference. 

    SHALVA TSISKARASHVILI ( Georgia) said that, in discussing the issue of the proliferation of illicit arms, he wanted to draw delegations' attention to so-called "white spots" as a major threat to international peace and security.  The existence of criminal regimes in secessionist regions of Georgia, namely, Abkhazia and the former Autonomous Region of South Ossetia, provided a fruitful ground for illegal arms trades.  What was most dangerous was the opportunity such areas provided to terrorist groups for acquiring arms and ammunition.  He, once again, underlined that the process of the uncontrolled spread of armaments in the lawless territories was a major threat to stability.  Regretfully, those "white spots" were beyond the national and international control mechanisms. 

    He reaffirmed his country's full readiness to elaborate special mechanisms aimed at dealing with territories and regimes that were beyond State control.  At the same time, his country was committed to supporting the United Kingdom Transfer Control Initiative.  The Review Conference should agree on further developing the common international standards for small arms and light weapons transfer control, and it should promptly and comprehensively addressed threats to international security caused by the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons on the territories of unlawful, separatist regions. 

    IMERIA NUNEZ DE ODREMAN ( Venezuela) said her country had submitted reports on progress achieved in the implementation of the Programme of Action, particularly regarding the marking, registration and control of small arms and light weapons.  Venezuela had also complied with the standards provided for in the Inter-American Convention regarding firearms. Since 2001, progress had been made in preventing and combating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons at various levels.  However, much still remained to be done and many States still faced difficulties due to the lack of resources and expertise.  It was necessary to focus efforts on resolving the problems that impeded the effective implementation of the Programme of Action. 

    The Review Conference should focus on studying progress achieved, and considering measures to improve international cooperation and provide assistance to those States that requested it.  She proposed the creation of a forum for the exchange of information, which would allow for taking stock of the needs of countries and to consider necessary measures to assist States in implementing the Programme.  She emphasized the need for all States to apply the international instrument for tracing small arms and light weapons, which would facilitate the identification of the source of production of such weapons.  It was also necessary to carry out controls on the marking of such weapons and to establish computerized registry systems. 

    The primary responsibility for combating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons lay with weapon-producing States, she said.  Controls similar to those used by narcotics-producing countries should also be used by weapon-producing States.  She rejected the excuses being used to prevent control over the transfer of small arms and light weapons, and supported improving controls on arms transfers to combat the illicit trade in such weapons. 

    JEAN FRANCIS ZINSOU ( Benin) said that small arms and light weapons had prolonged the destabilization of several countries and had increased the duration of internal armed conflicts in Africa.  Those weapons had also contributed to the recruitment of child soldiers, the exploitation of women, and mass internal displacements, as well as the resurgence of transnational crime, terrorism and drug trafficking.  Today, as in 2001, the human cost of the proliferation of those weapons remained particularly high. The review process should confine itself strictly to the contents of the Action Programme, and it should analyse the current global situation in terms of the efforts made to implement it.  Successes should be identified and promoted under "good practice" guidelines, as that would help States increase manifold the gains made so far.

    He said that the limits and constraints underlying adequate performance should be evaluated and ways should be sought to improve those, while remaining committed to the major objective -- to completely eliminate the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and their use for purposes contrary to the United Nations Charter.  Special attention should be given to the three levels of responsibility set forth in the Action Programme -- national, regional and international.  An assessment should be conducted, bearing in mind the basic principle of the action plan, namely the collective responsibility of all Member States in contributing to the eradication of the illicit small arms trade. To fulfil the commitments at the national level, resources and international assistance were needed, as well as constant support.  He supported the proposal to hold intersessional meetings biannually to evaluate the situation.

    Particularly welcome had been the progress achieved in Africa, especially in West Africa, he said, adding his hope that the moratorium of ECOWAS would be replaced with a legally binding instrument.  The illegal arms trade required particular attention in Africa, however, owing to the porous borders and the fact that law enforcement agencies were not properly equipped to monitor free trade zones.  Attention should also be drawn to the diversion of legal stocks, for which he sought better management and efforts at transparency, as part of the peace and stability plans created by the African Union.  He also sought more coordinated implementation of disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and rehabilitation programmes, as those were crucial to controlling the illicit small arms trafficking.  The need to manage those programmes regionally was now a welcome subject of consensus, as that would allow for economic and social development. 

    Globally, he favoured broad adherence to the new instrument on marking and tracing.  He hoped a legally binding instrument in that regard could be adopted.  Special attention should also be given to Security Council arms embargoes.  The international community should also consider ways to further mobilize resources, in order to combat the spread of small arms and light weapons.  He especially favoured funding for specific projects aimed at effective implementation of the Action Programme in those countries affected by proliferation.

    ERASMO LARA-PEÑA ( Dominican Republic) said the scourge of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons had political, social and humanitarian repercussions, causing the deaths of citizens and destabilizing Governments.  The rise in crime and insecurity had created precarious situations, which might hamper the full development of countries.  He urged all countries to join in the struggle to put an end to that serious threat.  While some positive achievements had been attained, he cautioned against complacency.  International cooperation and assistance was essential to make further progress.

    At the national level, he said his country had enacted legislation that was currently under discussion.  It also had supplementary regulations in force regarding the armed forces and police, and the national congress was considering a draft law.  The fight against the scourge in his country was waged by the State intelligence services.  There were also specialized units, such as those for airport security, port safety and border safety.

    At the regional level, the members of the Central American Integration System had adopted a code of conduct on the transfer of arms and related materiel, which helped to preserve harmony in the region and sent a clear signal of commitment to arms control.  The Dominican Republic was a neighbour of Haiti and was aware of the problems faced by that country, which was aggravated by the flow of small arms and light weapons.  He called on the international community to maintain support for initiatives undertaken by the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), whose presence had become the keystone for the establishment of a democratic State.

    TUVAKO N. MANONGI (United Republic of Tanzania) said that one thing the current session should do, was to emphasize the existence of a correlation between the problem of small arms and light weapons and related problems of security, conflict resolution, human rights violations, and insufficient economic development. For Africa, in particular, the small arms problem was a critical hindrance to poverty eradication.  Indeed, the problem impaired the achievement of other Millennium Development Goals.  It was discouraging to note that the second biennial meeting of States, held in New York last year, had been of relatively small impact, to say the least.

    He said that, despite the efforts made so far, small arms proliferation and trafficking continued unabated in many developing countries.  The problem fuelled conflicts, civil wars and drug-related crimes, and was often exacerbated by a combination of other factors, including economic weakness and persistent inequality.  The easy availability of those weapons had generated a high level of violence and insecurity, and, in many cases, those arms had fallen into the hands of non-state actors with criminal intentions.  His country had striven to put into practice the Action Programme.  Its national action plan had become operational even before the adoption of the United Nations plan in 2001, and it had won the confidence of both foreign and national organizations. His country had also established a national focal point commitment, which acted as a command post to oversee Tanzanian efforts to fight the small arms scourge.

    His country's strategic plan had been aimed at tackling the problem from its root causes and progressively building on the system towards an efficient legal regime for weapons possession and transfer.  That work went hand-in-hand with enhancing operational capacity to combat the illicit arms flows, their confiscation and surplus destruction.  Measures had also been taken to develop educational programmes, foster regional cooperation and enhance the capacity of the relevant institutions.  Encouraging achievements were clearly evident in the regional context and beyond, including the Nairobi Declaration of 2000 and now the Nairobi Secretariat, the Bamako Declaration and, most recently, the African Common Approach.  Obviously, his country had not exhausted all meaningful ways and means in the fight, nor was it content with the achievements made thus far, but it was ready to use the present opportunity to evolve a more supportive and easily implementable international instrument.

    PEDRO AGUSTIN ROA (Colombia), also on behalf of Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Guatemala and El Salvador, said he wanted to focus on the elements for the Review Conference.  The first biennial meeting had recognized the qualitative difference the adoption of the Programme of Action had made for Member States.  However, it had also recognized the fact that the 2001 Conference should serve as a point of departure for the establishment of a global, comprehensive solution to be put into place and improved upon.  It was necessary to continue to build on that common framework and evaluate it.  Much work remained to achieve the full implementation of the Programme of Action.  That deficiency was due to the fact that a number of the recommendations could not be easily implemented, and a number of aspects had either been omitted from the Programme, or dealt with in a superficial manner.

    For that reason, he continued, the Review Conference needed to go beyond the agenda established for the biennial meetings.  It should be more than a simple review of what had been agreed upon, but it should not result in completely opening up the document.  He suggested that progress in implementing the Programme be reviewed using national reports submitted to the two biennial meetings.  Also, progressive measures should be adopted with regard to those areas identified as causing the most difficulty.  He proposed the creation of a mechanism to channel assistance to Member States and identification of a new document on best practices that could be included in the Programme.  He also proposed identifying those items left out of the Programme and launching a negotiation process to discuss their inclusion.

    To achieve those aims, he said it was necessary to resolve procedural matters to facilitate interaction among States.  Regarding the election of the President of the Review Conference, he supported the representative of Sri Lanka to the chairmanship of the Conference.  It was indispensable for the President-designate to begin work to define the agenda.  He felt a conference declaration could be adopted renewing the commitment to the objectives of the Programme of Action and reaffirming the commitment to the outcomes of the two biennial meetings.

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