Open Debate on Small Arms
(New York, March 20, 2006)
Statement by Ambassador María Angela Holguín, Permanent Representative of Colombia
My delegation would like to start by congratulating you for presiding over the Security Council for the month of March and for convening this open debate on such an important issue for the international community. We would also like to thank you for introducing the resolution on this issue. We think it is very positive and timely to hold this debate just a few months before the Conference to Review Progress Made in the implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in all its Aspects. My delegation associates itself with the statement delivered by the delegation of Guyana on behalf of the Rio Group.
I would like to start this statement with a reflection: One of the worst tragedies that are currently happening in the world nowadays stems from the illicit use and trade in small arms and light weapons. It's a fact that conflicts are fuelled, extended and worsened due to the difficulties posed by efficiently combating the illicit trade of those arms. Negotiation possibilities to find a way out for those conflicts seem to diminish with the ever-growing influx of those artefacts that sow death and desolation everywhere they are used.
After this initial reflection, I would like to refer now to Secretary-General's report S/2006/109 for whose introduction we thank him. Following a similar pattern of previous reports on the matter, the 12 recommendations contained therein can be divided into those to be applied by the Security Council such as the ones regarding peacebuilding, conflict prevention, and those to be applied by Member States with the encouragement by the Security Council. It is meaningful that the Secretary-General finds "important progress" in the majority of the recommendations applicable to Member States whereas results are not as positive in those recommendations that are the responsibility of the Security Council.
Last November the UN Member States adopted in the GA the International Instrument to enable States to identify and trace the illicit small arms and light weapons referred to in Recommendation 1. As is widely known, my country expressed its disappointment for the non-legally binding nature of the instrument as well as for the fact that ammunitions were not included in the text. Even though Colombia joined the consensus in a spirit of compromise it is worth recalling that we remain convinced of the necessity of having in the future a legally binding instrument on tracing and marking of the illicit small arms and light weapons where minimum standards can be achieved such as the ones already in progress thanks to the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and other related Material (CIFTA), of which my country is a Member State.
My delegation is seriously concerned over the lack of important progress on legislation on transit, import and export controls of illicit SALW and over the absence of progress in the use of end-user certificates (Recommendation 9). We could see that during the Second Biennial Meeting of States on the application of the 2001 Programme of Action last July 2005. Only 100 countries submitted reports, Colombia among them. A limited number of them has legislation on import and export controls and an even smaller number complies with the relevant prescriptions on the use of end-user certificates. Moreover, we are particularly worried on the status of the issue of brokering since less than 20 countries had at the time of the BMS2 existing legislation on this activity, which is an essential part of the illicit trade in SALW chain.
Regarding Recommendation 3, Mr. Chairman, my delegation thinks that it is urgent to establish efficient end-user certificate national systems as well as consolidating the existing mechanism for information exchange and verification, commonly referred to as the United Nations Co-ordination Measures Mechanism. Only through a frequent, timely exchange of information among members can regional strategies be agreed on in the fight against this problem so that future additional measures can be achieved, including the after-boarding verification of exports and the double-checking of the authenticity of end-user certificates. We also think that the exchange of information is important as well as the planning of clear policies to co-ordinate minimum standards on the civilian possession of arms. We should strive towards reaching an international agreement on arms transfer.
What regards to those recommendations depending directly from the Security Council there seem to be even less progress than in those applicable to Member States. The SC did not enhance its interaction with the GA on matters pertaining to conflict prevention and peacebuilding (Recommendation 4). It did not show major progress on the existing links between the illicit trade of SALW and the illicit exploitation of natural resources, and no progress at all when it comes to the links with the illicit trade of narcotics (Recommendation 6).
Every year SALW claim millions of deaths around the world. They are indeed the real weapons of mass destruction. It is then a paradox that most conflicts fuelled by SALW take place in the developing world whereas most of those weapons are produced in the developed world. It is a terrible paradox that leads us to apply a principle already accepted in the realm of the fight against the illicit trade in narcotics, and that is shared responsibility. This has been stated by my delegation in several occasions in the past. The SC has already acknowledged that arms exporting countries have the obligation to ensure the highest degree of responsibility in these transactions and it is the duty of every country to hinder the diversion and reexport of SALW towards illicit channels.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.