Tuesday’s meeting focused primarily on the subject of international cooperation and assistance (agenda item 6b) as it relates to the implementation of the UN Programme of Action (UNPoA) on small arms and light weapons (SALW). Sarah deZoeten of the Australian delegation prepared a working paper on the subject, which formed the basis for much of the discussion. The meeting also addressed agenda item 6d, other issues, which among other things looked at a discussion paper prepared by Lawrence Olufemi Obisakin of Nigeria on a culture of peace.
International cooperation and assistance
Ms. deZoeten’s paper, WP.2, emphasizes the difference between the two topics while highlighting their importance for the full and effective implementation of the UNPoA. It provides definitions of the two concepts, explaining:
The term “international assistance” is often used to denote the transfer of resources and expertise, including financial and technical resources, from one country to another with a view to building national capacity for effective implementation of the Programme of Action.
“International cooperation” is a broader term, covering all forms of joint or coordinated action between two or more States, including the sharing of information and experience, in support of Programme of Action implementation.
The paper suggests some priority issues for BMS4 and explores some of the ways in which the meeting could move forward in improving the system of international cooperation and assistance, in particular in the international community’s approach to matching needs and resources. It recommends possible language for the outcome document, including:
recognizing the need for an increased understanding of how needs can be identified, prioritized and communicated, and how resources can be requested from donors;
encouraging states to use national reports to identify assistance needs;
considering ways in which the international community could follow-up on assistance requests in order to match donors and recipients;
endorsing the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs to assist states (upon request) to complete a project outline for outlining their assistance needs and to present all of these requests to regular informal meetings of interested states, international organizations, and civil society in order to identify possible matches;
supporting consideration of further measures to facilitate strategic dialogue and follow-up on the question of assistance, such as by highlighting the need to address challenges and effectiveness of assistance from recipient and donor perspectives;
highlighting the need to build linkages across existing projects that achieve multiple objectives—such as measures that help implement the UNPoA but also help combat transnational organized crime and terrorism;
identifying the different forms of cooperation which exist (South-South, North-South and North-North frameworks);
highlighting the need for enhanced inter-agency coordination, on the national and international levels, by utilizing existing organizations and structures, such as the World Customs Organization and INTERPOL; and
highlighting particular areas where information exchange could be enhanced, such as on confiscated or destroyed small arms, illicit trade routes and techniques of acquisition and national marking systems.
The paper also suggests areas for further discussion during BMS4, including taking stock of challenges and opportunities in international cooperation and identifying additional areas in which inter-agency cooperation and information sharing is possible and desirable.
Finally, the paper notes that in order to promote dialogue and a culture of peace, international cooperation could include “exchanging national experiences in the implementation of effective education and public awareness programmes, strengthening partnerships with civil society in building peace at the local level, training police in the appropriate use of force and firearms, and exchanging views on the practical implications of the links between peace and security, and development, human rights and the rule of law.”
After Ms. deZoeten introduced her paper, Ms. Kerry Maze of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) briefly outlined some of its research on this topic. Ms. Maze explained that UNIDIR has found that while there has been a modest increase of assistance over the past decade, the breadth of assistance is still limited, with most resources going to demobilization, disarmament, and reintegration (DDR) projects and arms collection and destruction programmes. On the other hand, she noted, most states have requested assistance in record management, border controls, marking and tracing, destruction, and stockpile management. Arguing that Ms. deZoten’s paper is “well grounded,” Ms. Maze urged states to adopt the recommendations of the paper.
After these interventions, delegations highlighted their efforts or requests in international cooperation and assistance and addressed specific elements of the working paper. The following covers direct responses to the paper and suggestions of forward-looking actions rather than explanations of current or past initiatives.
Matching needs and resources
The European Union emphasized the need to improve the capacity of recipient countries and the coordination of donor countries to identify specific assistance needs and offers.
Germany said the PoA-ISS is not actively promoting match making of needs and resources and is not documenting the follow-up on these proposals and therefore, states need need UNODA and its regional branches to help manage the information flow.
Australia pointed out that web-based tools are not useful for states with limited internet access.
Japan said UNIDIR’s checklist for matching needs and resources should be an integral part of the web-based PoA-ISS Matching Needs and Resources mechanism.
Netherlands welcomed the checklist.
The European Union and Philippines supported the use of national reports as a tool to identify assistance and cooperation opportunities among states.
Venezuela argued that while national reports are useful in identifying needs, they should not be considered the only means of submitting requests for assistance.
Algeria argued that proposed assistance should meet the real needs of the beneficiaries and should be part of the national programmes that have been set up in advance; it also argued that a complete assessment of a country’s needs should precede any assistance programme and should have measurable outputs.
MERCOSUR and Associated States, Venezuela, China, and Morocco said donors need to respond to priorities established by individual states.
CARICOM welcomed WP.2’s suggestion that BMS4 could endorse UNODA assistance for states by matching needs and resources.
Switzerland said BMS4 should include in its outcome a call for states to establish mechanisms and instruments to prioritize needs and coordinate requests put to donor countries on the basis of national reports.
Facilitating assistance and cooperation
China emphasized that governments have the primary responsibility for international cooperation and assistance.
China argued that the UNPoA and ITI should remain the foundation for international cooperation and assistance, that the UN should play leading role, and that Interpol and the World Customs Organization should be better utilized.
Pakistan argued that there is currently no clear channel for assistance, whether it is bilateral or through the UN. Pakistan urged for the process to remain apolitical.
Morocco noted that BMS3 agreed that assistance to states would be multilateral and bilateral.
Mali noted that states need to collaborate in bilateral context with their neighbours and in a multilateral context with regional groups and the international community.
Algeria called for enhanced cooperation and technical assistance between police, justice systems, and border and customs control systems to combat illicit trade of SALW across borders.
Iran called for acknowledgement of “common but differentiated responsibility” that takes into account the different contributions of states to the problem of illicit trade in SALW and the different capacities they command to tackle the problem. Iran noted that major producers have a special responsibility and can offer both negative assistance through reducing their production and positive assistance by extending resources to countries in need.
Venezuela said the principle of shared responsibility should be examined to determine its scope and its political and legal ramifications.
South-South, North-South, and Triangular cooperation
CARICOM suggested SALW issues need to be addressed especially among states where weapons originate, transit, and serve as destination countries.
India argued that south-south and triangular cooperation helps skirt political sensitivities.
Linkages between projects with multiple objectives
Austria and Japan supported the BMS highlighting the need to build these linkages as suggested in WP.2.
Distinction between cooperation and assistance
MERCOSUR and Associated States supported this distinction in WP.2.
Algeria highlighted the importance of assistance in capacity-building to investigate illicit networks.
Bangladesh said it needs technical assistance for capacity-building to enhance border controls, specifically, for checkpoints and immigration.
Gabon said the international community should contribute to help states manage stocks and facilitate the use of electronic records.
Morocco highlighted the importance of capacity-building for institutions such as customs and the police and argued that any support for national capacity-building needs to be accompanied by legislative and operational support to set up effective national controls of borders and to regulate and restrict bearing of arms among people.
Exchange of information
The European Union and Colombia called for further international cooperation in the exchange of information.
Armenia suggested that subregional exchange of information on SALW issues may work in parallel with conflict resolution efforts by preventing further arms races and serving as a confidence-building measure.
Armenia called for consolidation of national and collective efforts and for mechanisms to monitor progress and share lessons learned and best practices.
Colombia called for the BMS to consider how existing mechanisms or inter-agency exchange of information can be adapted to international cooperation on SALW.
Pakistan called for more transparency and exchange of information from bilateral arrangements.
Morocco noted that establishing focal points can only produce the desired results if there is coordination and called for the establishment of a computerized information system between the focal points in regions and subregions to exchange information.
Guatemala said that technical experience in marking, tracing, tracking, and registering SALW is needed in cooperation between states.
Bangladesh said it needs technical assistance for marking, tracing, and record keeping, especially in the areas of modern technology and equipment and training.
Bangladesh suggested the international community make it mandatory to imprint the manufacturers’ information on SALW and ammunition and for the media to publish the manufacturers’ information of the gun when reporting on the death of an individual killed by that gun.
Iran reiterated the need for the BMS to facilitate the transfer of technologies required for marking and tracing.
Togo said it welcomes international assistance in monitoring local arms manufacturers.
Algeria highlighted the importance of promoting bilateral and multilateral cooperation in area of justice and establishing conventions with regard to legal assistance and extradition.
Algeria also suggested the outcome document should contain a recommendation that states do not pay ransoms to terrorist groups, citing a decision by the African Union to prohibit and criminalize the payment of ransoms.
Switzerland suggested the outcome for BMS4 could call for an improved legal framework for technical assistance, particularly in areas of physical security and stockpile management in projects that do not come under UN auspices.
Philippines and Kenya highlighted law enforcement as an area that needs international assistance and cooperation.
Arms trade treaty
Montenegro argued that common standards for the export of weapons and ammunition set by a legally-binding ATT would “significantly contribute to the reduction of illicit trafficking of SALW and reduction of arms violence.” Montenegro suggested that the BMS is important in that it “represents impetus for other activities concerning conventional weapons and trade of arms.”
Bangladesh argued that the trade in arms should be brought under an international regulatory framework and that it therefore supports negotiations of an ATT under UN auspices.
Algeria argued that cooperation in implementation of UNPoA must be accompanied by measures that can improve social and economic conditions of people in regions affected by the illicit arms trade and that trainings must include an aspect on development and economic and social reintegration of people.
Japan argued that security and development “are two mutually interacting elements and security sector reform (SSR) is a part of development.” Japan advocated for SALW programmes to be integrated into national development programming.
Switzerland argued that the BMS needs to pay more attention to the broader framework of development such as the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development and the links between security, armed violence, development, and human rights.
Netherlands also highlighted the importance of the Geneva Declaration.
Pakistan argued that to reach consensus, the BMS needs to avoid going into uncharted territory or including non-consensus documents, such as the Geneva Declaration.
Norway argued that the multifaceted nature of the illicit trade in SALW must be recognized by affected countries, donors, international organizations, and other development actors and must influence the way programmes are decided and poverty reduction strategies are developed.
Peru noted that armed violence and development are linked with SALW issues and other problems, like drugs, terrorism, and organized crime.
Morocco highlighted the need to bring together security and economic and social development issues in countries that face armed violence.
Causes and consequences of illicit trade in SALW
Gabon said the international community needs to define a global approach to deal with the causes and consequences of SALW, including by providing assistance to developing countries and conducting political dialogue with those countries.
Iran argued that addressing root causes is an important issue and that overproduction and supply of SALW plays a decisive role in their illicit trade and continuity of conflicts. Iran argued that without taking into account supply and demand of SALW, efforts to end their illicit trade will lead nowhere.
Culture of peace
United States argued that WP.2 encompasses elements beyond the scope of a culture of peace, such as training of personnel. The US also argued that the paper’s references to peace and security, human rights, and rule of law may “derail progress” at the BMS.
India argued this is an important issue but that the BMS should be careful not to duplicate efforts elsewhere and should refrain from “seasoning madness”—adding too many ingredients to the dish.
Lebanon endorsed WP.2’s connection of the culture of peace to combating the illicit trade in SALW.
Kenya argued that cultural aspects of guns need to be addressed and that states need to have penalties for those hoarding guns and engaging in organized crime in order to affect the culture.
Austria said it is obvious that challenges posed by SALW require a firm, internationally coordinated response from states, international organizations, and civil society.
MERCOSUR and Associated States highlighted the need to strengthen relations between states, organizations, and civil society.
Bangladesh said it welcomes the participation of civil society and parliamentarians in the implementation of UNPoA, especially through raising public awareness.
Armenia acknowledged “the important contributions made by the civil society towards the implementation of the PoA” and encouraged “cooperation with and broader participation” of civil society in this process.
Japan argued that “community-level and grass roots” participation in SALW and development programming is essential.
Norway highlighted the need for partnerships between governments, civil society, and field organizations.
Peru noted the importance of assistance and cooperation for subregional and regional entities and civil society offering support in implementing the UNPoA.
Mexico noted that civil society plays an important role in combating the illicit trade of SALW and its impact.
MERCOSUR and Associated States called for the inclusion of a gender perspective in work on SALW.
Culture of peace
After the discussion on international cooperation and assistance, Mr. Obisakin of Nigeria introduced his discussion paper on the culture of peace. The paper provides a brief overview of the idea of a culture of peace, its benefits, and ways to foster such a culture. Following his introduction, several states addressed the paper. The following is a non-comprehensive overview of relevant comments on this and “other issues” as handled under agenda item 6(d).
Culture of peace
Peru suggested the discussion paper on a culture of peace could add conflict management, peaceful settlement of differences, and respect for international law.
India agreed the issue is important to address but cautioned that there are established UN processes on this subject at the UNGA and UNESCO and therefore the BMS should focus on its core substantive issues and avoid overlap.
Australia expressed support for the culture of peace and noted that assistance for the victims of illicit trade in SALW is of crucial importance.
Guatemala emphasized that a culture of peace is necessary to reduce demand for SALW.
Cuba noted that the UNPoA does expressly refer to a culture of peace and Cuba supports the need to promote this at international level, but argued that it is a broad ranging subject that can be interpreted many ways and should therefore be handled cautiously.
Pakistan argued that all UN member states are already committed to the pacific settlement of disputes and peaceful resolution of problems by the UN Charter.
India expressed regret that the UN conference in July 2001 couldn’t agree on prevention of sale and transfer of arms to non-state actors.
Pakistan asked whether there is any country that has legislation that allows and encourages supply of weapons to non-state actors or terrorists, arguing that the BMS should avoid implying that there is some mechanism in the world that allows such assistance.
India called for the BMS to A) emphasize that the primary responsibility of implementing the UNPoA rests with states; and B) to promote international cooperation.
Guatemala noted that it is necessary to tackle the SALW problem from the perspective of supply and demand of arms and ammunition by strengthening regulatory frameworks and by providing control and tracing capacity to relevant institutions.
Cuba argued against making explosives subject to the same limitations as other weapons as they have peaceful uses such as mining.