First Committee of the 69th Session of the General Assembly- 10 October 2014
The topics of small arms and light weapons (SALW) and the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) were addressed by the following countries at the First Committee of the 69th session of the General Assembly on the 10 October 2014: Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Cambodia, Guatemala, Japan, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Netherlands, Philippines, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Zambia.
Most of the speakers noted that access to Small Arms Light Weapons (SALW) by a non-state actors and terrorist groups through the illicit trade of SALW has destabilized the world. Philippines stated that the soon to be peace in Southern Philippines would require that both the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front engaged in programs that included the decommissioning of weapons. Maldives mentioned the destabilizing threat of SALW in the wrong hands. It further stated that it had put into place stringent domestic laws and means of control which had ensured that the illicit trade of SALW does not occur locally or with other countries. Cambodia highlighted the human toll and sufferings that the SALW had caused. Botswana noted that in many conflicts SALW are the weapons of choice. For Benin conventional weapons and ammunitions continued to be a scourge and wreak havoc and their proliferation remained a major problem. The Netherlands and Guatemala both mentioned that SALW are significant contributors to violence and death. Guatemala further mentioned that they have exacerbated gender based violence and internal bloody armed conflict. For the Syrian Arab Republic the major instability triggered by SALW in the hands of non-State actors needs to be addressed.
Netherlands, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Uruguay, Botswana, Guatemala, Cambodia, Maldives, Philippines, and Japan discussed the United Nations Programme of Action (UNPoA) as a key instrument in curbing the illicit trade in arms and reaffirmed their support and commitment to the instrument. Thailand described the instrument as the principal multilateral framework to combating the illicit trade of SALW and Uruguay noted it as an international benchmark for further developments on the illicit trade in arms.
Netherlands, Uruguay, Guatemala, and Japan made reference to the recent 5th Biennial Meeting of States (BMS5) in June 2014 and the success of the outcome document adopted by consensus during this meeting. Japan noted that BMS5 showed the collective will of the international community to resolve issues of stockpile management, in addition to matching needs and resources for international assistance on the field. Netherlands, Uruguay and Guatemala, on their part, expressed concerns regarding the outcome of BMS5 and the lack of progress made during this meeting. Netherlands stated that further work needs to be done to strengthen the implementation of the UNPoA with regards to tracing and tracking as well as with regard to a strong connection to the ATT, while Uruguay and Guatemala emphasized that the exclusion of ammunition from the instrument makes it incomplete. Uruguay stated that they would continue to advocate for the inclusion of ammunition and border control. Botswana also mentioned that marking, tracing and record keeping are indispensable in fighting against the illicit trade of weapons. In this regard, it has acquired marking machines and has marked all arms in State possession except for those held by the military. It plans to commence on arms in civilian possession soon.
The early entry into force of the ATT was applauded by Netherlands, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Benin, Ukraine, Guatemala, Zambia, Cambodia, Maldives, Bangladesh, Uruguay and Japan. Netherlands, Brazil and Guatemala announced that they are in the process of ratifying the treaty, while the Maldives are in the process of signing and acceding to this treaty in the near future. Thailand announced that it hopes to become a State Party to the treaty and it will participate at the Conference of State Parties as an observer next year in Mexico. Cambodia together with the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs will host a workshop on 18-19 November to provide assistance to States of the Asia-Pacific region who have signed or signaled interest in signing the ATT.
The Syrian Arab Republic, on its part, expressed its concern that the ATT did not include clear wording on the prohibition of the transfer of conventional arms to non-State actors.
Furthermore, Guatemala expressed support for Trinidad and Tobago to host the Secretariat.
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