Thank you, Mr. Chair,
Firstly we would like to thank the facilitator for the discussion paper, and Mr. Brian Wood for the useful introduction a moment ago. The issue of illicit brokering in small arms and light weapons was identified in the Programme of Action itself as an issue for further follow up. Last year a Group of Governmental Experts submitted an extensive report containing recommendations on this issue. Even though Norway, who participated in this group, would have preferred stronger recommendations, especially at the international level, we welcome the work of the group, and particularly the fact that we now have a clear description of brokering. Time has now come for this meeting to endorse the report of the GGE, and encourage states to implement its recommendations. In addition, the outcome document of this meeting could encourage full implementation of existing brokering agreements and obligations, be they on the national or regional levels.
As the facilitator has referred to in the discussion paper, the majority of States still lack a national legal framework to regulate and criminalise illicit brokering and associated activities.
We should recall that in 2001 we all agreed in the Programme of Action to “develop adequate national legislation or administrative procedures regulating the activities of those who engage in small arms and light weapons brokering.” This pledge has been echoed in many regional and multilateral agreements, including the Firearms Protocol of the UN United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime.
Regional organizations have produced detailed best practice guides on exactly how States can develop and implement regulations to control arms brokering. These, along with the GGE report and reports produced by research institutes, provide States with a detailed description of how to develop and implement the tools necessary to control the activities of arms brokers.
Violations of UN arms embargoes are often possible because of the role that illicit arms brokers play. At the very least, States should ensure that they have the necessary laws to bring to justice any of their citizens involved in the violation of UN arms embargoes.
The development of brokering regulations is one area in which the provision of technical and other assistance can quickly bear fruit. Norway and other states have directly supported the development of common understandings on how to control arms brokering. We should all be mindful of our commitment in the Programme of Action “to enhance international cooperation in preventing, combating and eradicating illicit brokering” in SALW.
It is important to recognise the linkages between illicit brokering and other transnational organised criminal activities, such as drugs trafficking and the illicit exploitation of natural resources such as ‘conflict diamonds’. International cooperation and sharing of information, including through regional and international organisations such as the World Customs Organisation and INTERPOL and several others, is essential to identify and break up international criminal networks.
But the nature of brokering activities is such that national regulation will not be enough. Differences in legislation between states and between regions, and especially the lack of any legal framework in many countries, create loopholes that illicit brokers, who move easily between countries and regions, know to take advantage of, as Mr. Brian Wood mentioned in his introduction this afternoon. Better control over arms transfers in general through for instance an Arms Trade Treaty would also contribute to minimising the loopholes that illicit brokers take advantage of. Norway supports a strong international treaty, and looks forward to the report of the GGE considering the feasibility of an Arms Trade Treaty that will have its final session in a couple of weeks.