Threat posed by illicit flows of small arms and light weapons

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Mr. Speaker, thank you for convening this briefing today and for giving me the opportunity to discuss this important matter. Thank you to the rapporteurs not only for their valuable contributions, but also for all the work they do in their respective fields. It was good to hear this practical and common sense advice from them. We are also grateful for the Secretary-General’s latest report on small arms and light weapons.

It is very important that we consider peacekeeping in this context. As we have heard over and over again today, peacekeeping does not happen in a vacuum, so we must carefully consider this issue in the cycle.

Although small arms and light weapons have important and legitimate uses, they are also subject to diversion and abuse, which claim hundreds of thousands of lives every year. Illicit small arms compromise security and in so doing undermine sustainable development, fueling conflict, crime and terrorism.

There are many United Nations processes contributing to the fight against the illicit trade in small arms, and in this context, we warmly thank the Mission of Kenya and in particular Ambassador Kimani for your able leadership of the recent Seventh Biennial Meeting of States on the United Nations Program of Action, as others have said. today.

As our speakers have underlined, the effective control of small arms and light weapons must be seen as an important part of our broader approach to conflicts. The UK is pleased to support the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research in a project to integrate conventional arms control into conflict prevention work. Together, we have developed a risk analysis toolkit for conflict practitioners that will strengthen their understanding of the risks and impact of weapons, and how conventional arms control can contribute to prevention, the management and resolution of conflicts by the UN.

We welcome the emphasis in the Secretary-General’s latest report on children affected by armed conflict and the gender dimensions of the illicit trade in small arms. We support his recommendations, in particular on the coherence of programs related to children on the role that states should play in addressing sexual violence in conflict by tackling illicit arms flows in accordance with the Treaty on the Trade in weapons and other national obligations.

The Arms Trade Treaty is a key multilateral tool for ensuring a legal and well-regulated trade in conventional arms and combating illicit transfers. We continue to encourage all states to ratify and adhere to the treaty.

Illicitly traded small arms affect different countries and regions in different ways. It came out clearly today. We welcome regional approaches in this area, including the African Union’s Silence the Guns by 2020 initiative and the Western Balkans Roadmap. The UK itself is leading a review of the OSCE Best Practice Guide on SALW Stockpile Management.

We also continue to support work to address the risks associated with ammunition stockpiles, including through the recently concluded Group of Governmental Experts on Problems Relating to the Accumulation of Surplus Stocks of Conventional Ammunition.

The UK will continue to prioritize supporting work on small arms, to strengthen national frameworks. We are helping countries strengthen arms control frameworks through national legislation, implement better stockpile management procedures, and address serious challenges recognized in the SG report.

Mr President, you have put this issue on the agenda today because it is clearly at the very heart of the Council’s work. We have heard time and again that uncontrolled proliferation causes outright conflict, that conflict causes insecurity and therefore uncontrolled proliferation is further exacerbated by it. And this proliferation causes human misery wherever it occurs, and this cost is felt, as we have said, mainly by women and children, but also as we understand it today by the peacekeepers that we deploy.

It is therefore clear that this Council must concentrate on the objectives recalled today by our speakers. And it is also clear that we need to think very carefully when the members of this Council call on ours to modify or reconsider the arms embargoes, which we have implemented. We are implementing them for a reason and we need to look very carefully at the implications of changing them.

So let’s redouble our efforts. Let’s see if we can sign the Arms Trade Treaty if we haven’t. Let us properly implement all the resolutions of the Council in this area and let us think about it very carefully as we mandate our peacekeeping missions.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


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