Combating Illicit Trade of SALW

5/2/2008 // "Combating and eradicating illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects is fundamental to improving global, regional and national security as well as necessary social and economic development," said Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson of Iceland on behalf of the Nordic countries in the Security Council open debate on Small arms 30 April 2008.

Illicit small arms and light weapons represent a threat to human security, peacebuilding efforts and development. The Nordic countries wants a stronger global partnership to combat this menace, and underlined four actions that must be taken in aiming for a successful forthcoming Third Biennial Meeting of States under the PoA in New York in July:

  • we must take stock on where we stand on the implementation of the 2005 instrument on marking and tracing;
  • we must join efforts for more effective international cooperation in addressing the question of brokering of small arms and light weapons;
  • the meeting should also consider national implementation of the PoA;
  • and we should enhance participation of civil society, such as non-governmental organisations and academia.

Statement by Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson of Iceland on behalf of the Nordic countries

Mr. President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the five Nordic countries; Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland.

It is a well-known fact that small arms and light weapons maim and kill hundreds of thousands of people every year, create fear and insecurity, divert resources better needed elsewhere, and hinder post-conflict recovery.

Security is a precondition for development, and the interlinkages between security issues, humanitarian problems and development are increasingly recognised.

Combating and eradicating illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects is therefore fundamental to improving global, regional and national security as well as necessary social and economic development.

Let me reiterate that the Nordic countries fully support the efforts to deal with the challenges posed by man-portable air defence systems.

The United Nations Programme of Action from 2001 remains the global framework for cooperative efforts to combat illicit arms. The Nordic countries firmly support the full implementation of the commitments in the PoA.

In doing so, we call for enhanced partnerships with all relevant stakeholders. We call for enhanced cooperation among governments. All relevant parts of the UN family must contribute. In this respect let me reiterate the importance of the Security Council. It is vital for the Council to address the challenges posed by small arms and light weapons in relation to human security. In this respect we must fully recognise the gender implications of this threat. Likewise we believe that the Peacebuilding Commission must take fully into account the complexities in carrying out its task. We cannot achieve progress unless we engage regional institutions. We must further strengthen the partnership with civil society.

The Nordic countries intend to continue contributing in this joint undertaking. We are ready to provide financial resources, as we have done in recent years. Within the framework of the Nordic-African ministerial meeting, we have met with African colleagues both in Geneva and in New York to discuss specific issues relating to the illicit trade and the proliferation of SALW and its negative impact on development in Africa.

Mr. President,

We cannot allow the Third Biennial Meeting of States under the PoA to fail as was the case with the 2006 Review Conference. We must aim for a successful BMS3 that brings the member states together around the priority issues identified by the Chair-Designate and that makes recommendations on improved implementation of the UN PoA. This will be crucial in order to strengthen international efforts on small arms and light weapons. A successful BMS3 will pave the way for more ambitious and more effective global work to combat the illicit trade in SALW in the coming years.

Firstly, we must take stock on where we stand on the implementation of the 2005 instrument on marking and tracing. Most of us would have preferred a legally binding instrument. Yet, now the challenge is to ensure that all countries adhere to this politically binding instrument.

Secondly, the Nordic countries have for years called for more effective international cooperation in addressing the question of brokering of small arms and light weapons. We have advocated an international instrument against illicit brokering. Yet, we note that the recent UN Governmental Group of Experts (GGE) has drawn other conclusions. Our challenge is now to identify practical measures which will make a difference in our common efforts to fight illicit brokering. The recommendations made by the GGE should form the basis of this discussion during BMS3.

Thirdly, the upcoming meeting in New York should also consider national implementation of the PoA. It is therefore vital that all member states submit their national reports in a timely manner.

Fourthly, we consider civil society, such as non-governmental organisations and academia to be important partners, both in shaping policy and in implementation. We support enhanced NGO participation in meetings under PoA, and not least at the upcoming Third Biennial Meeting of States.

Mr. President,

While the PoA is valuable, we need a legally binding treaty to regulate arms trade. We look forward to the outcome of the Governmental Group of Experts which has been established to clarify the modalities for an Arms Trade Treaty.

Last year, all the Nordic countries articulated their views on such a treaty to the UN Secretariat. From our perspective, an ATT is feasible, doable and desirable. We are convinced that an ATT could facilitate the task for the Security Council. We are also of the view that an ATT should properly capture key dimensions such as human rights, development and contribute to a broader humanitarian agenda.

To conclude, Mr. President,

Illicit small arms and light weapons represent a threat to human security, peacebuilding efforts and development. We must forge an even stronger global partnership to combat this menace. The UN must be in the lead, but regional institutions play a vital role in our broader international efforts.

Thank you.

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