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Statement on behalf of the EU to the Security Council of the United Nations on small arms

Date of Speech : 17-02-2005

Place : New York

Speaker : Jean-Marc Hoscheit, Permanent Representative of Luxembourg to the United Nations

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Mr. President,

I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and Croatia , the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia and Montenegro and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this statement.

Mr. President,

Three and a half years after the adoption of the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects (UNPoA), the European Union welcomes today’s opportunity to address the subject of the illicit flow of Small Arms and Light Weapons. Both the number of illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons in circulation as well as the number of their victims remain unacceptably high.

The European Union also welcomes the opportunity to discuss the most recent report of the Secretary General on the initiatives undertaken to implement his recommendations concerning the Security Council’s contribution to the reduction of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.

Mr. President,

The European Union supports the Secretary General’s appeal for the development of long-term strategies to halt the scourge of the illicit proliferation of small arms. The UN Program of Action adopted in 2001 is one such strategy and the European Union is actively working towards the implementation of its recommendations on a national, regional and global level. The European Union underlines the importance of establishing a group of governmental experts soon after the 2006 Program of Action Review Conference to consider further steps to enhance international cooperation in preventing, combating and eradicating illicit brokering in small arms and light weapons.

The European Union welcomes the recommendations of the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change that recognizes the explicit need for States to accelerate and conclude the negotiations of legally binding agreements on the marking, tracing, brokering and transfer of small arms, as well as ensuring transparency in delivering, on a yearly basis, complete declarations of all the elements of the Conventional Arms Registry.

Mr. President,

The European Union has been a strong supporter of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) to negotiate an international instrument to enable States to identify and trace, in a timely and reliable manner, illicit small arms and light weapons. A lot of progress has been made since the recommendation made by the Secretary-General in 2002, and the General Assembly’s resolution 58/241.

The second session of the OEWG took place just two weeks ago in New York. The European Union as well as the other states expressed and confirmed their priorities on the different issues, especially on the nature of the instrument, its scope and definitions, marking and tracing of small arms and ammunition, record-keeping and international cooperation. The European Union notes the progress made during these negotiations, although it deplores that the participating states remain divided on the two major issues that are the nature of the instrument and the inclusion of ammunition. Additional efforts are still needed in this context.

The European Union reiterates that it is working towards the adoption of a legally binding instrument on the identification and tracing of Small Arms and Light Weapons, designed to complement the UN Firearms Protocol. The European Union also insists on the inclusion of provisions relating to ammunition in this instrument. Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons depend on a steady supply of ammunition to continue wreaking havoc. If we manage to stem the flow of ammunition, we will reduce those weapons to silence.

The European Union is convinced that the Security Council has an important role to play in the tracing of illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons and related ammunition. Peace-keeping Missions and Sanctions Committees mandated by the Security Council should, as a matter of principle, be empowered to initiate tracing requests in relation to illicit weapons and ammunition found in the course of their operations or collected in the framework of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes.

In addition, the European Union believes that Interpol has an important part to play in the implementation of the future instrument on the identification and tracing of Small Arms and Light Weapons. The European Union calls for the conclusion of a cooperative agreement between the UN and Interpol, addressing relevant legal and technical issues, to enable Interpol to fulfil this mandate.

Mr. President,

Violations of Security Council arms embargoes contribute greatly to the spread of destruction and suffering in conflict-afflicted areas and must be strongly condemned. The European Union therefore supports the Secretary General’s recommendations concerning the beneficial effects of improved enforcement of Security Council resolutions on sanctions, especially those imposing arms embargoes. In this context, it welcomes the Secretary General’s recommendation to pursue more vigorously and expeditiously the use of arms embargoes to countries or regions threatened by, engaged in or emerging from armed conflict, and to promote their effective implementation. Furthermore, the European Union supports the Secretary General’s recommendation to encourage the Council to establish monitoring mechanisms, allowing detection of deliberate violations of UN arms embargoes by Member States.

Mr. President,

All EU Member States are bound by the EU Code of Conduct on arms exports, which has established itself as a most comprehensive international arms export regime. It aims to improve the sharing of information between Member States and to increase mutual understanding of their export control policies, including provisions on the requirement for a thoroughly checked end-user certificate or appropriate documentation or some form of official authorization issued by the country of final destination. The EU fully supports the Secretary General’s recommendation in this context. The Code of Conduct has allowed Member States to set high common standards for the management of conventional arms transfers, and is currently being renewed with the aim of transforming it into an even stronger instrument.

The EU welcomes current efforts to build regional support for better controls on the transfers of small arms internationally. The EU also notes with appreciation that important work is taking place at various fora, in order to discuss and improve common standards for improved control of arms transfers, at national, regional and global levels. Such common standards must be based on existing responsibilities under relevant international law.

The European Union supports all the efforts that have been undertaken by the UN Secretariat to encourage Member States to participate in the UN Register of Conventional Arms. Once more, the European Union reiterates its call on all States to submit timely returns of their imports and exports to the Register, including information on military holdings and procurement through national production.

Mr. President,

The European Union welcomes the emphasis on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes in post-conflict situations in the Secretary-General’s report on small arms and notes the increased focus by the Council on this issue. The EU also agrees with the importance of including specific measures for the collection and disposal of illicit and / or surplus SALW in the mandate of peacekeeping operations. The European Union’s Action Plan on Africa outlines the support that the European Security and Defence Policy may offer to African peacekeeping capabilities, including the provision of relevant African organizations with “on call�? teams able to provide the planning and conduct of DDR and SSR actions. The European Union is also willing to train military and civilian participants in DDR actions, including aspects specific to the subject of child soldiers.

Mr. President,

The European Union is determined to help other partners in its common goal to bring matters forward. Through its Joint Action on combating the destabilizing accumulation and spread of small arms, the EU provides financial and technical assistance to countries, groups of countries, international organizations and NGOs which request support. Since 1999, through the Joint Action, we have adopted 14 such actions in Eastern Europe, in Latin America and the Caribbean, in Asia and in Africa. The total amount committed so far is nearly 13 million €. Among geographic priorities decided by the Council, specific attention was given to the destruction of existing stockpiles of SALW in eastern and south-eastern Europe, and to actions in support of regional moratoriums on small arms in Africa. In particular, the European Council took the decision on December 2 of 2004 to give strong support to the plan of ECOWAS to strengthen its moratorium and to replace it with a mandatory convention. In addition, 48.7 million € were committed in 2003 alone to support Small Arms and Light Weapons projects in Africa from the European Development Fund. Under this fund, the EU finances several actions for the demobilization and reintegration of former soldiers into society and for the collection and destruction of weapons.

In addition, the Member States of the European Union contribute individually to many projects and assistance programmes aiming to control the illicit trade and combat the use of small arms and light weapons, particularly in African countries.

Mr. President,

While noting recent positive developments, let me conclude by calling for continued and relentless efforts by the entire international community to make the best use of existing and future instruments in order to halt the scourge of the uncontrolled accumulation of illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons, with a view to contributing to prevent future unnecessary violence. The European Union for its part will continue striving to achieve this goal through international cooperation, through financial and technical assistance programs and through effective arms control.

This page was last modified on : 14-03-2005

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