First, I would like to thank the Secretary-General for his substantial report. We support his 12 concrete recommendations on how the Council could contribute to the fight against the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, and welcome the useful update on Council action to implement them.
Norway is pleased that the UN Security Council will for the first time pass a resolution on small arms and light weapons. This underlines the serious security dimension of the problem, and heralds more decisive and consistent action on the part of the Council. It is a welcome signal ahead of the Review Conference on the UN Programme of Action against the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.
We are constantly reminded that illicit small arms and light weapons pose a global threat to human security, human rights and development. The spread of illicit small arms undermines peace-building efforts and conflict prevention. These weapons exacerbate and prolong conflicts, and cause humanitarian problems. The great majority of the victims are innocent and vulnerable civilians.
Unaccounted arms transfers to conflict regions continue at a disturbing rate. As pointed out in the report, such transfers are very often linked to the illicit exploitation of natural resources and trade in illegal drugs. This undermines political stability as well as economic and social development. We cannot achieve the Millennium Development Goals in such an environment.
Norway believes that the Security Council has a key role to play in eliminating the spread of illegal small arms and light weapons. This must be a core element in the Council’s peace efforts. Effective arms embargoes now constitute an integral part of the Security Council resolutions on most conflict areas, and special monitoring mechanisms are increasingly being put in place to assist the peace missions in this regard. This is a welcome development. We are also pleased to note that an increasing number of arms embargoes explicitly include ammunition. Norway is of the view that ammunition should be subject to the same regulations as the weapons for which they are intended.
It is also essential for us to bear in mind that conventional weapons, first and foremost small arms, are the weapons of choice of terrorist groups. If we can control the spread of small arms and light weapons, this will strengthen international efforts to combat terrorism.
The UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects remains the key global instrument for dealing with this issue. It provides the international community and the Security Council with important tools to stem the flow of illicit small arms and light weapons. We welcome the significant progress in its implementation over the past year, with the adoption by the General Assembly of an international instrument on tracing and marking of small arms and light weapons. We also welcome the General Assembly’s request to the Secretary-General to establish a group of Governmental Experts to consider further steps to enhance international cooperation to combat illicit brokering in small arms and light weapons. Norway is convinced that in order to deal effectively with the destabilising effect of illicit small arms and light weapons, we must curb illicit brokering. We hope that the expert group will recommend the negotiation of an international instrument against illicit brokering.
Norway is in favour of the negotiation under UN auspices of an Arms Trade Treaty that would regulate all transfers of conventional weapons. We believe an ATT would greatly enhance control of the export and transit of small arms and light weapons.
We still have a way to go in developing effective international cooperation to deal with these challenges. Norway believes that it is necessary to focus more on the factors that create demand for illicit small arms, and on ways to minimise the detrimental effects of illicit small arms on development efforts.
Together with Norwegian non-governmental organisations we will arrange an expert seminar on small arms and development in Oslo on 22 and 23 March. The seminar will gather more than 50 experts from around the world and will, we hope, give useful input on how to integrate development into the UN Programme of Action process.
Our cooperation in the years ahead to address the flow of illicit small arms will be more successful if we manage to give these issues the attention they deserve. This will be one of Norway’s main objectives at this summer’s Review Conference on the UN Programme of Action.
Disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration efforts are relevant to the fight against illicit small arms. DDR is also a vital element in any peace operation, which is amply reflected in the Secretary General’s report. We welcome the more consistent inclusion of clear provisions regarding DDR in the mandates of peacekeeping operations. Nevertheless, the role of peacekeeping missions on DDR should be more clearly defined in the mandates. We endorse the Secretary-General’s recommendation to that effect.
Adequate resources must be provided for the early phases of rehabilitation. We welcome the continued inclusion of DDR in the budgets of peacekeeping operations, and underline the importance of transitional assistance to ensure the successful reinsertion of former combatants.
Norway concurs with the Secretary-General that closer interaction between the Security Council and the General Assembly would contribute to a coherent and comprehensive UN policy on small arms and light weapons. We also share his view of the particular importance of this interaction in the light of the forthcoming Review Conference on the Programme of Action. We believe it would be useful to look more closely at the issues raised in the Secretary-General’s report in connection with the Review Conference. The Council could also consider whether any of these issues would benefit from a more focussed debate in the Council at a later stage.
Thank you for your attention.