First Committee of the 69th Session of the General Assembly- 13 October 2014
The First Committee meeting on the 13 October 2014 saw representatives from the following countries speaking in relation to small arms and light weapons (SALW) and the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT): Austria, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Congo, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Montenegro, Papua New Guinea, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam.
Kenya, Tunisia, Jamaica, Vietnam and Congo reaffirmed their commitment and support to the UNPoA and the positive outcome document, reached by consensus, at the BMS5 on the UNPoA. Tunisia underscored the devastating effects the unregulated proliferation of weapons has on international peace and security and the negative consequences SALW has on civilians, in particular women and children and underlined how important it is for the international community to maintain their commitment toward the implementation of the UNPoA. Jamaica stated that this instrument is integral to international efforts to scourge the illicit proliferation of SALW, while Kenya expressed the need for a full, balanced and effective implementation of the UNPoA. Kenya, Papua New Guinea and Congo stressed the importance of international cooperation and assistance in order to combat the illicit trade. Jamaica, Kenya and Tunisia also made note of the importance of the full implementation of the ITI in curbing the illicit trade in conventional arms. Tunisia embraced the recommendation to give a new impetus to the implementation of the ITI but expressed its worry with the increasing number of SALW in the world. Kenya and Sudan urged member states, particularly the major arms producers, to ensure that the sale of SALW is limited to governments or to entities duly authorized by them in order to protect against the illicit transfer of arms to non-state actors.
States acknowledged national efforts to implement the UNPoA and combat the illicit transfer of SALW. For example, Kenya established clear legislative and administrative procedures for arms management and control, in addition to developing a policy framework in accordance with the provisions of the UNPoA on guidelines on legislative, institutional and regulatory measures governing the control and management of SALW. A centralized stockpile management system for purposes of accountability was also put in place by Kenya. Sudan established a national contact office and strengthened border controls. Papua New Guinea, while discussing the challenges of combating the trafficking of SALW in its vast unprotected coastal borders due to lack of resources and capacity limitations, stated that it has increased cooperation with regional police forces to exchange information and monitor movement and activities of people linked to terrorist groups in attempts to curb the illicit trade in its country.
Further, Tunisia noted that the issue of trafficking of SALW has a bigger place in the mandates of peacekeeping missions and that these missions can assist in reinforcing the rule of law and fight against the trafficking of such weapons. Jamaica stated that it is critical to future efforts that a legally binding instrument on marking and tracing for small arms and light weapons be developed, and that the incorporation of ammunition in the UNPoA be addressed. Other issues such as brokering, border controls and consideration of the complementarities between the PoA and the ATT are also important aspects to be addressed. In addition, Kenya expressed concerns regarding the socio-economic consequences that arise from the illicit manufacture, transfer and circulation of arms.
Hungary, Burkina Faso, United Arab Emirates, Jamaica, Vietnam, Austria, Estonia, Lebanon, Montenegro, Cabo Verde, Papua New Guinea, Congo and Italy each welcomed the adoption and pending entry into force of the landmark ATT by the end of this year. Congo underlined that the treaty is a testament of the shared will from the international community to curb the illicit transfer and circulation of SALW.
Austria and Estonia stated the importance of universalization to the success of the ATT, with Austria adding that effective implementation will be crucial to translate the obligations of this robust and strong instrument into concrete measures on the ground. Italy stated that the ATT will be a binding multilateral instrument that fosters respect for human rights, and for the first time, the treaty has included a gender perspective and the concept of human security in the broader context of global security. Lebanon noted that the ATT will help control violations of humanitarian law, international crime and terrorism, while Cabo Verde stated that the ATT will have the impact of reducing the proliferation of SALW to non-state actors and terrorist groups in conflict zones, in addition to combating urban crime.
Vietnam underlined its hopes that the ATT be carried out in a balanced and non-discriminatory manner and shared its view that it is the sovereign right of states to retain, import, and manufacture conventional weapons for legitimate self-defense.
Jamaica endorsed Trinidad and Tobago as the site of the ATT Secretariat, while Austria offered to host the ATT Secretariat in Vienna; a place it believes would offer a great spectrum of expertise and valuable conditions for a Secretariat to carry out its duties in a transparent, effective and efficient way.
The topic of women and disarmament was raised by the UAE which stressed the importance of involving women in international disarmament efforts, in addition to viewing women as a principal partner and effective agent in preventing wars and resolving conflicts and allowing women the opportunity to have a central role in combating violence and promoting peace and security in the world.