Nations Flooded with Illicit Small Arms ‘Cannot Keep Mopping Up the Damage’ without Decisive Action by Exporting States, First Committee Told – World – ReliefWeb
GENERAL ASSEMBLYFIRST COMMITTEE
16TH MEETING (AM)
Citizens of Non-Producing Countries Bear Brunt of Deadly Impact
“We cannot keep mopping up the damage while the pipeline keeps leaking”, without serious action by weapons-producing States to prevent unauthorized use, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) was told today in its debate on conventional weapons.
The pervasive presence of illicit small arms and ammunition was a daily threat to the health, safety, security and development of the Jamaican people, said that country’s representative. Efforts were made to disrupt gangs and other criminal enterprises heavily involved in illicit arms imports. Stockpile management was strengthened, security and justice sectors bolstered and legislation reformed, but only global commitments could thwart the proliferation of conventional arms and ammunition.
“We have witnessed cities and communities destroyed,” said the representative of Nigeria. Then, on behalf of the African Group, he said Africa was at the forefront of regions that suffered the most from the effects of the illicit small arms and light weapons trade. Those weapons were mainly produced outside the continent, yet they were acquired and used by unauthorized recipients and illegally armed groups within Africa.
Speaking for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the representative of Belize said that illegal firearms — the weapon of choice for criminal elements — were among the main drivers of criminality in the region and responsible for 70 per cent of homicides. But, the Caribbean region did not manufacture small arms and light weapons and ammunition nor import them on a large scale. Yet, its citizens bore the brunt of their deadly impact.
The representative of Pakistan said that 150 times more funds were spent on exacerbating conflicts than preventing them. Global military expenditure exceeded cold war levels, and arms sellers often encouraged both sides in a conflict to buy weapons. Developing countries were the favorite destination. The result, he said, was a series of regional arms races, including with non-State actors wreaking havoc on civilians’ lives.
Major arms‑producing countries should lead by example and not export weapons to conflict areas, China’s representative said, noting that his Government supported global conventional arms processes on the basis of balancing legitimate security needs. He noted profound changes to the international security landscape: geopolitical rivalries had intensified; the global arms trade had grown; the risk of the illegal transfer of conventional weapons had risen; and global security governance was under assault.
Also addressing the Committee today were Enrique Manolo, Chair of the eighth Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, and Muanpuii Saiawi, Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts on the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms.
Additional speakers were the representatives of Indonesia (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Iraq (on behalf of the Arab Group), Indonesia (national capacity), France, United States, Singapore, Australia, Netherlands, Italy, Philippines, Thailand, South Africa, Argentina, Austria, Russian Federation, Germany, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Côte d’Ivoire and Bangladesh, as well as the European Union, in its capacity as observer.
The representative of the Russian Federation exercised the right of reply.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 21 October, to continue its thematic discussion on conventional weapons.
ENRIQUE MANALO, Chair of the eight Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, highlighted achievements. States enhanced modalities and procedures for international cooperation and assistance, including through funding, multi-stakeholder cooperation with civil society, national action plans, regional frameworks and fellowship trainings. Gender perspectives and youth considerations were incorporated in the outcome document, which also highlighted the benefit of connecting it to other global frameworks, like the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the women, peace and security agenda. States reaffirmed that international humanitarian and human rights law should be considered in national decisions on small arms and light weapons transfers. States agreed on voluntary national and regional targets to advance the Programme of Action and International Tracing Instrument. The Programme of Action was a living framework, which must take emerging challenges into account. Despite divergence of views, the outcome text sets up a global framework to address existing gaps in ammunition management. Implementation of relevant instruments should be sustained in the face of overwhelming statistics showing that those weapons caused daily loss of limb and life and fueled conflicts, crime and street violence.
MUANPUII SAIAWI, Chair of the 2022 Group of Governmental Experts on the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, said that the Group had been established in line with the General Assembly’s request. It was composed of 20 experts selected on the basis of equitable geographical representation, and met in Geneva and New York. After careful consideration of the recommendations of the 2019 Expert Group and a discussion of new ideas for enhancing the Register’s operation, the Group had adopted a consensus report on 17 June 2020, recommending an adjustment of the scope to include rotary‑wing unmanned combat aerial vehicles. The Group recommended the adoption of a description for small arms and light weapons to be reported and provided reference reporting forms for information on procurement through national production and military holdings, as well as an updated, simplified nil reporting form. This year’s Group introduced proposals for conducting targeted awareness‑raising, including through the organization of events and use of social media. It also proposed establishment of an informal group of friends of the Register consisting of interested members of the 2022 Group. She encouraged all Member States to participate in the Register.
MARIA BENEDICTA DIAH KRISTANTI (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that non-fulfillment of conventional‑weapon commitments threatened global peace and security. States had the sovereign right to conventional weapons for self-defence, but the security, humanitarian and socioeconomic consequences from their illicit transfer were concerning. The Movement welcomed the fellowship training programme for developing countries. It called for financial, technical and humanitarian assistance to clear unexploded cluster munition and assist victim rehabilitation. She deplored the use of anti-personnel mines in conflict situations, aimed at innocent civilians. The Movement’s States parties to the Mine Ban Convention reiterated their commitment to the Oslo Action Plan’s full implementation.
She noted that the Arms Trade Treaty called for balanced, transparent and objective implementation in strict accordance with the Charter. Moreover, she encouraged States to join the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its Protocols. Lethal autonomous weapon systems raised ethical, legal, moral, technical, as well as international peace and security-related questions. The Movement agreed there was a need to pursue a legally binding lethal autonomous weapons systems instrument. There also should be a significant reduction in the production and trade of conventional weapons by industrialized States. She noted the increased global military expenditure and urged States to instead devote resources to economic and social development, in particular, to combat poverty.
MUHAMMAD ZAYYANU BANDIYA (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group, remained deeply concerned over the illicit trade, transfer, manufacture, possession and circulation of small arms and light weapons, their excessive accumulation and uncontrolled spread, particularly in Africa, and especially in light of their humanitarian and socioeconomic consequences. He urged States parties to the Arms Trade Treaty to implement it in a balanced and objective manner that protected the interests of all States and not just the major international arms‑producing and -exporting States. He reaffirmed the sovereign right of States to acquire, manufacture, export, import and retain conventional arms, their parts and components for their security needs.
He said that Africa remained at the forefront of the regions that suffered the most from the effects of the illicit small arms and light weapons trade. Those weapons were mainly produced outside the continent, yet they were acquired and used by unauthorized recipients and illegally armed groups within Africa. The international community must renew efforts to stem that tide and create an enabling environment for peace, security and socioeconomic development. Also needed was the establishment of controls over private ownership of those weapons. He urged all States to ensure that the supply of small arms and light weapons were limited only to Governments or to entities duly authorized by Governments of recipient States, and to implement legal restrictions and prohibitions to prevent the illicit trade.
CARLOS FULLER (Belize), speaking on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that illegal firearms remained one of the main drivers of criminality in his region and were responsible for more than 70 per cent of homicides. “They are the weapon of choice for criminal elements due to the flexibility, concealability [and] price,” he added. Even more alarming was the fact that the Caribbean region did not manufacture or export small arms and light weapons and ammunition, nor did it import them on a large scale. Yet, its citizens bore the brunt of their deadly impact. New technology, such as 3D printing and modularity in weapon design, presented new challenges to traceability and to the region’s overall efforts to strengthen control systems.
Recently, he said, the CARICOM Ministerial Council for National Security and Law Enforcement identified firearms trafficking as one of the greatest threats to Caribbean countries. The council had highlighted the impact the illicit flows on fueling organized crime, gang crime and gender-based violence, as well as dismantling gains made in achieving sustainable development. CARICOM had developed a targeted approach to address the root causes of violence, and to dismantle factors that made it possible for guns to flow illegally into its territories and into the hands of criminals. Regional and subregional organizations had an important role in that regard. Commitment to political will was welcome, as the “spirit of common purpose” should guide future deliberations.
MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group and associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, underlined his commitment to combating the illicit small arms and light weapons trade, in light of their impact on humanitarian, security and economic matters. He drew attention to the unprecedent increase in the illicit trade in the Arab region. It seemed some Governments were providing such weapons to illicit armed groups and terrorist groups to achieve insidious political objectives and undermine international law. He called for enhanced confidence in and promotion of the Programme of Action, as long as it did not run counter to States’ legitimate right to self-defence. The illicit trade and the imposition of politicized restrictions and discriminatory measures should be distinguished. Those weapons should not be imported without proper authorization by the relevant authorities. At the same time, the Group rejected restrictions on States’ legitimate right to obtain these weapons.
He said that the Arab Group promoted the Programme’s international cooperation and technical support, particularly on stockpile security and border control, without interference in internal affairs. Assistance to countries should not reflect on official development assistance (ODA) or establish unnecessary links between combating illicit traffic and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Gaps that obstructed international efforts should be bridged before the issue of ammunition was addressed. He welcomed the fellowship programme aimed at the capacity-building of developing countries.
Mr. KARCZMARZ, representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, underlined the humanitarian imperative to tackle the issue of conventional weapons. The global community could not ignore the Russian Federation’s illegal war of aggression. The Union supported the International Criminal Court’s work to ensure accountability. “There can be no impunity.” He called on States to refrain from arms transfers to the Russian Federation and condemned that country’s use of anti-personnel mines, cluster munitions and other explosive devices against civilians. The Conventional on Certain Conventional Weapons, as integral part of international humanitarian law, was a unique forum for diplomatic, legal and military experts to respond to new developments in weapons technology. Human beings must be the ones making decisions about the use of lethal force to ensure accountability.
The Union, he said, remained deeply concerned about the continued severe global impact of Improvised Explosive Devices and their indiscriminate use and effects, in particular, by terrorists and non-State actors. Mines, given their humanitarian and socioeconomic impact, should remain on the Convention’s agenda. The Union supported the universal ban on anti-personnel mines. He noted the Russian Federation’s blatant breaches of the Geneva Conventions, and the arms transfers to that country, which would not be permitted under the Arms Trade Treaty. The small arms and light weapons illicit trade continued to impede peace, growth, development and security, and the Union supported a through-life ammunition management framework. Lastly, he expressed concern regarding cluster munitions’ indiscriminate use in Syria, Yemen, Libya, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Ukraine.
SUDJADNAN PARNOHADININGRAT (Indonesia), speaking in his national capacity and associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said that illicit arms falling into the wrong hands stoked acts of violence and terrorism around the world. The immense humanitarian and socioeconomic impacts from their illicit manufacture, transfer and circulation was of grave concern. Major producing States should ensure that supply of small arms and light weapons was restricted only to Government or to entities duly authorized by them. “We need to work together to strengthen regulations of small arms and light weapons,” he stressed. In the same vein, Indonesia reiterated the sovereign right of States to acquire, manufacture, export, import and retain small arms and light weapons and the relevant parts, components and ammunition for self-defence and security needs. Strong regional cooperation to curb the illicit transfer must remain at the forefront of all efforts. Strengthening border‑control measures would help achieve that goal. Conventional weapons capable of inflicting indiscriminate damage should never be used. Mines had killed innocent civilians and United Nations peacekeepers.
CAMILLE PETIT (France) said that, every day in Ukraine, the Russian Federation violated the Charter’s Article II and disregarded its obligations under international humanitarian law by carrying out attacks that deliberately targeted civilians, including with anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions. France, a party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Mine Ban Convention was concerned about the impact on civilian populations of the use of those weapons and continued to promote the implementation and universalization of those Conventions. The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and their ammunition posed a serious threat to international peace and security. Improvised explosive devices also were a major security challenge. Respect for the cardinal principles of international humanitarian law in situations of armed conflict was essential to protect civilians from the consequences of the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of conventional weapons. France had the honour of presiding over the review conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons last December and would carry the resolution related to the Convention this year.
BRUCE TURNER (United States) said his country’s new landmine policy reflected its commitment to protecting civilians and showed its long-standing leadership in the clearance of landmines and explosive remnants of war. The United States had led the world in conventional weapons destruction, investing billions in more than 100 countries. It had endorsed the Political Declaration on Protecting Civilian from Explosive Weapons. Such efforts stood in stark contrast to the Russian Federation’s actions in Ukraine. There was strong evidence that it was causing harm to civilians and civilian objects, and the extensive landmines and explosive remnants of war would make rebuilding Ukraine difficult. His country’s joint proposal on lethal autonomous weapons systems presented the best path forward for the Group of Governmental Experts, with a detailed understanding of how international humanitarian law applied to emerging technology. Human control was not a legal requirement, but just one way to ensure compliance with humanitarian law. Lastly, the integration of a gender perspectives in the disarmament machinery should be further strengthened.
KHALIL HASHMI (Pakistan) said that, although conventional armaments were the first category of lethal weapons, efforts to regulate them had been only partially successful. The situation was further exacerbated by the increasing sophistication in and growing integration of artificial intelligence into conventional weaponry. Global military expenditures exceeded cold war levels, and for the first time, crossed $2 trillion. Some 150 times more funds were spent on exacerbating conflicts than preventing them. The trade volume in those weapons also continued to grow. Arms sellers often encouraged both sides in a conflict to buy more. The urge for profits remained irresistible, and new markets continue to be explored, created and pursued. The result was a series of regional arms races, mostly in volatile parts of the world. Those included non-State actors wreaking havoc on civilian populations. Pakistan neither wanted nor was engaged in an arms race in the region. For over three decades, the First Committee had adopted Pakistan’s resolution on promotion of conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels. The text was anchored in the principle of undiminished, security for all States.
KENNETH WONG (Singapore), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, called on Member States to urgently address the widespread availability, misuse, diversion and illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons and ammunition. Singapore maintained a robust export control regime aligned with relevant Security Council resolutions. As a global shipping hub, Singapore also adopted a rigorous approach to curb illicit arms flow by regulating the export and transit of strategic goods. Moreover, it supported international initiatives against the indiscriminate use of anti-personnel mines, cluster munitions and conventional weapons overall, and recognized the adverse humanitarian impact such weapons had on innocent civilians. In that regard, Singapore had imposed an indefinite moratorium on the export of anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions. It was vital that States fulfilled their international obligations with regard to the arms transfers. “A balance must also be struck with the legitimate security concerns and the right to self-defence of any State,” he added, reaffirming the States’ sovereign right to acquire arms for legitimate defence and responsible law enforcement purposes.
Mr. UNDERWOOD (Australia) commended this year’s consensus outcome of the Eighth Biennial Meeting of States on the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons. Positive elements included strengthened language on gender considerations and the decision to establish a United Nations fellowship training programme. The Arms Trade Treaty was an important tool for combating illicit trade. He called for international cooperation and assistance in ensuring effective implementation of both the Programme of Action and the Arms Trade Treaty. The use of explosive weapons in populated areas had a devastating impact on civilians and civilian infrastructure. That was made “harrowingly clear” with the Russian Federation’s indiscriminate bombardment of populated areas in Ukraine. Australia was committed to countering the risks posed by anti-personnel mines, cluster munitions, improvised explosive devices and explosive remnants of war. He noted with concern a growing tendency by a minority of States to seek to exclude civil society from discussions on conventional arms control, and disarmament more broadly. Australia would continue to welcome their constructive role and contributions and called on all States to follow suit.
ROBERT IN DEN BOSCH (Netherlands), associating with the European Union, called on all States to join the Arms Trade Treaty as it was the only legally binding treaty to regulate the conventional arms trade, in particular, major arms exporters. States should refrain from supplying weapons to the Russian Federation, given the risk they might be used in the illegal war against Ukraine. Arms exports to Ukraine to help in its self-defence was fully in line with the Arms Trade Treaty. Autonomous weapons should explicitly be prohibited if they were not in line with international humanitarian law. More discussions, clearer definitions and concrete results were needed on that topic. Since the Mine Ban Convention, great progress had been made, but more was needed to accomplish a world free of landmines. Expressing concern regarding cluster-munition-use and indiscriminate attacks in the territory of Ukraine, he called for adherence to the Cluster Munition Convention and welcomed the Political Declaration on Protecting Civilians. That text had been a clear result of investing in multilateral processes, even at a time of increasing geopolitical tensions. Lastly, as gender-based violence was a weapon of war, more gender perspectives were needed in disarmament diplomacy.
TANCREDI FRANCESE (Italy), associating with the European Union, said his country firmly upheld international instruments restricting or prohibiting the use of conventional weapons banned if not in compliance with international humanitarian law. He called for the universalization and the effective implementation of the Mine Ban Convention and the Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions. “We deeply regret the repeated use of these heinous weapons in certain areas of conflict, and especially in the context of Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked aggression against Ukraine,” he added. Italy was deeply concerned at the growing use of improvised explosive devices, including by non-State actors. He emphasized the need to adapt the structure and scope of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons to normative developments in military weapons technology. “It is the human being who must take decisions concerning the use of force and remain accountable for those decisions.” Italy called for the universalization of the Arms Trade Treaty and the full implementation of all its provisions. It also regarded with particular concern the increase in illicit transfers of small arms and light weapons, including via the so-called “deep web”.
Mr. BANDIYA (Nigeria), speaking in his national capacity and associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said his country had experienced the consequences of the illicit trade and transfer of small arms and light weapons in the hands of criminal gangs, terrorists, armed bandits and militants. “We have witnessed cities and communities destroyed,” he added. Nigeria remained committed to the Programme of Action. It continued to strive to redouble efforts to strengthen its borders while also boosting cooperation across the West African subregion and beyond. Its commitment was further demonstrated by the signing or ratification of relevant international, regional and subregional instruments, such as the Arms Trade Treaty. Nigeria has organized capacity-building programmes for its national security agencies and established a framework for collaboration with civil society organizations. The country continues to advance the causes of regional and subregional initiatives, such as the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and other relevant enterprises aimed at addressing the threat of the illicit small arms and light weapons flows.
ARIEL RODELAS PEÑARANDA (Philippines) said that, this year, the Philippines completed the ratification of Protocol V of the Convention on Conventional Weapons and of the Arms Trade Treaty, which made the country one of the very few that was party to all humanitarian disarmament conventions. History had shown that, in the absence of proper demilitarization or disposal of weapons, potentially harmful weapons or parts found their way into the hands of unauthorized recipients, particularly criminal elements and terrorists. She believed that a comprehensive through-life ammunition management was the most logical and practical step forward to address problems arising from the accumulation of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus. The development of advanced technologies was rapidly transforming human life and experience. That required an update of global governance structures, particularly in the context of artificial intelligence, whose technology could solve many problems by bringing new solutions, while, at the same time, presenting new humanitarian, moral and ethical dilemma.
KURT DAVIS (Jamaica), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and CARICOM, said the pervasive presence of illicit small arms and ammunition was a daily threat to the health, safety, security, and development of the Jamaican people. Domestically, Jamaica pursued a multi-pronged approach that involved stronger stockpile management, infrastructure improvements in the security and justice sectors, prevention, social intervention, and legislative reforms. Moreover, efforts were made to disrupt gang and other criminal enterprises heavily involved in illicit arms importation. However, Jamaica’s individual efforts must be bolstered by serious actions by arms-producing countries to prevent weapons from unauthorized use. “We cannot keep mopping up the damage, while the pipeline keeps leaking.” Global commitments and cooperation were essential to addressing the proliferation of conventional weapons and ammunition. The open-ended working group on ammunition should place great emphasis on ensuring clear commitments on international cooperation. It was vital that developing countries, like Jamaica, were able to increase capacity in forensic science, stockpile management, and the regulatory framework.
NICHABOON ANGKERDCHOK (Thailand) stated that the legitimate right to self-defence remained relevant and necessary for all States, large and small. The development, acquisition and maintenance of appropriate conventional weapons and arms was an extension of that right. It was equally important that States worked together to create a peaceful and secure environment to prevent the need for those weapons to be used. Data indicated that the number of people affected by such weapons each year remained high, with civilians constituting a large portion of that number. He believed that there was a strong linkage between preserving peace and promoting sustainable development. The illicit trade in conventional weapons and the existence of explosive remnants of war were not only associated with the loss of life and human dignity, but also hindered economic development and the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. Although technologies brought challenges, they could equip the world with innovative and effective ways to control illicit trade in and diversion of weapons. However, sizable gaps existed between countries in utilizing technologies and implementing their obligations. He encouraged Member States with the capacity to do so to provide further assistance to those in need.
MATHU JOYINI (South Africa), associating with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the flow of arms into armed conflicts only exacerbated the challenges. Conventional weapons destabilized communities, fueled conflict, and crimes, and had catastrophic effects on civilians. In that vein, the African Union pursued its master road map for “Silencing the Guns in Africa by 2020”. South Africa worked actively to address existing gaps in through-life ammunition management. A cooperative global framework on ammunition safety and security should address international cooperation, assistance, and implementation mechanisms. It was imperative to achieve the Arms Trade Treaty’s purpose of setting the highest possible standards for regulating the conventional arms trade and eradicating its illicit trade. South Africa remained fully committed to humanitarian disarmament Conventions. He welcomed the small arms and light weapons Progamme of Action’s focus on capacity-building, including the fellowship training programme. South Africa had co-authored the draft resolution on the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons (document A/C.1/77/L.50) and hoped for its full support. Without translating the commitments in conventional weapons conventions into sustained assistance for States in need, particularity developing countries, their full universalization would remain elusive.
HUGO EMMANUEL GUERRA (Argentina) said that the illicit arms trade encouraged political destabilization, violence, delinquency, organized crime, terrorism, and narco-trafficking. Argentina played an active role in the Arms Trade Treaty and continued to work towards its universalization. He stressed the need to consider the different impacts of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons on women, girls, and boys. It was crucial to consider the needs and situations in each country and region with a view to developing a framework for political commitments that were both efficient and efficacious. Argentina continued its sustained commitment in the area of civilian disarmament, destruction of materials, raising awareness and preventing violence. It had surpassed a target in Goal 16 of the 2030 Agenda by destroying almost 60,000 firearms before 2023. “The aim is to prevent and reduce acts of violence, accidents and crimes committed with firearms,” he stressed.
ALEXANDER KMENTT (Austria) stated that conventional arms accounted for the vast majority of casualties caused by weapons around the globe and were a driver of armed conflict around the world. In 2022, nowhere was their destructive force seen in its terrible diversity than in the illegal war waged by the Russian Federation against Ukraine with blatant violations of International Humanitarian Law. The representative highlighted and condemned the use of cluster munitions and the indiscriminate use of explosive weapons in populated areas. He was appalled by the fact that Anti-Personnel Mines were newly deployed on the territory of a State Party of the Ottawa Convention and condemned any use of cluster munitions by any actor. Civilians should not bear the brunt of armed conflict. Much had been achieved already to reduce civilian casualties, clear land, destroy stockpiles and assist affected individuals and families. Yet numbers of civilian casualties were still high, clearing obligations were partly behind schedule, and universalization efforts had to continue. The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and ammunition management remained important challenges, due to their profound impact on international peace and security.
KONSTANTIN VORONTSOV (Russian Federation) called for the adherence and implementation of conventional weapons regimes. The Governmental Group of Experts’ report on lethal autonomous weapons laid the foundation for future discussions. Regarding the application on the Russian Federation’s armed forces, he said that norms from international and international humanitarian law were sufficient and fully applicable. With the problem of improvised explosive devices becoming more acute, expert discussions were needed on protocol II of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. The international community should condemn the Kyiv regime’s criminal actions against the people in Donbass. Their use of human shields and civilian infrastructure for military purposes showed that Ukraine had deliberately used inhumane warfare. The small arms Programme of Action should be coordinated around the United Nations’ central position. The Registry of Conventional Arms was a transparent tool for international security, with its global tracing of destabilizing arms accumulations. Some States tried to extend the scope of the mechanism for other purposes, including arms embargo criteria. Regarding the Arms Trade Treaty, for the Russian Federation, it was inappropriate to adhere to it in its current form or participate in its events, even as observer. Its standard was much lower, in fact, than those of the Russian Federation. Lastly, it was inadmissible to supply weapons to parties engaged in armed conflict.
THOMAS GÖBEL (Germany), aligning with the European Union, raised concern about illicit small arms and light weapons transfer. In 2021 and 2022, Germany had annually funded €24 million to related projects. Regional road maps were effective tools in limiting the uncontrolled flows of those weapons, and inclusion of civil society, women and youth was vital in those efforts. Germany’s goal for the Open-Ended Working Group on conventional ammunition was a new global framework for addressing through-life ammunition management’s gaps. He welcomed the interest in Germany’s core topics of post-shipment cooperation, universalization and stocktaking during the eighth Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty. Efforts in the field of lethal autonomous weapons should be intensified, and he noted the traction gained for the two-tier proposal on outlawing those weapons outside human control and regulating their autonomous functions. As a supporter of the Mine Ban and the Cluster Munitions Conventions, Germany had provided €55 million for clearance of cluster munition, mines and other explosive remnants of war, as well as victim assistance. He welcomed support for Germany’s presidency of the Mine Ban Convention’s next meeting of States parties in 2023. He condemned the Russian Federation’s use of such weapons and underlined that international humanitarian should be fully respected by all parties during armed conflict.
MARITZA CHAN VALVERDE (Costa Rica) stressed the need to bolster women’s participation women in the management of conventional weapons and consider how women, men, girls, boys and gender minorities were affected in different ways by small arms and light weapons. The use of explosive weapons was now considered from a gender perspective. Costa Rica called on all States to support the incorporation of gender perspectives and commit to strengthening the protection of civilians. Considerations of gender also extended to the use of new technology in weapons systems, such as lethal autonomous weapon systems. One problem with such weapons and with any other intelligent weapon system that reduced decision-making by humans to a minimum was that there was no guarantee that their deployment would lead to a less biased impact, she said. Programming machines meant programming and automatizing such prejudices rather than eliminating them, she added.
SHAMSURI BIN NOORDIN (Malaysia), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, expressed deep concern for the illicit transfer, manufacturing and circulation of small arms and light weapons. He called for the full, balanced and effective implementation of the Programme of Action. It was essential to solidify existing national policies on conventional weapons and also to recognize the legal rights of States to use arms sparingly for security, self-defence, research and trade. At the national level, Malaysia has adopted laws to effectively manage the suppression of conventional weapons and to prevent the their diversion to the illicit market. The development and use of improvised explosive devices, particularly by non-State actors, presented deeply concerning challenges. “We must exert greater effort in combating this threat,” he added.
LAI HAIYANG (China) said the Chinese Government had always supported international conventional arms processes on the basis of balancing legitimate security needs and had started domestic legal procedures to implement the United Nations Firearms Protocol. It had acceded to the Arms Trade Treaty in 2020. It called on all countries to refrain from selling weapons to non-State actors and to contribute to the Treaty’s universalization. China had provided RMB100 million in de-mining, capacity-building and humanitarian assistance to the Lao Democratic People’s Republic and Cambodia.
He noted profound changes to the international security landscape: geopolitical rivalry had intensified, the global arms trade had grown in scale, the risk of the illegal transfer of conventional weapons had risen and global security governance was under assault. One bloc of countries, in particular, was clinging to its cold war mentality, stepping up military expansion, using arms transfers to interfere in countries’ internal affairs to advance its own strategies. It was exacerbating conflicts and antagonism between countries and regions and heightening the risk of conventional arms proliferation. President Xi Jinping’s Global Security Initiative provided solutions, including for global arms‑control challenges. The root causes of war should be addressed, and major arms‑producing countries should lead by example by not exporting weapons to conflict areas, multilateralism should be upheld and coordination among United Nations mechanisms should be enhanced to achieve synergy.
KACOU HOUADJA LÉON ADOM (Côte d’Ivoire) stated that the illicit circulation of conventional weapons, their excessive accumulation and uncontrolled proliferation, aggravated by their use for terrorist activities or transnational organized crime, had serious consequences for the States and peoples of West Africa and the Sahel. He advocated strengthened control of conventional arms transfers through the promotion and implementation of transparency requirements in the international arms trade, in line with the Register of Conventional Arms and the Arms Trade Treaty. He called for international cooperation and assistance to address the challenges and, in particular, an increased commitment to combat the phenomenon of improvised explosive devices, which were used as a preferred weapon by terrorist groups and impeded the stability and development of societies in the region. Customs cooperation on border security and the prevention of the acquisition of those improvised explosive devices by terrorists must be tightened. Another urgent priority was the elimination of anti-personnel mines. There should be universal and more effective implementation of such instruments as the relevant protocols to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and the Mine Ban Convention, with the goal of achieving a mine-free world by 2025.
MD MONWAR HOSSAIN (Bangladesh) shared his concerns about the increasing loss of innocent lives through the unauthorized use of a variety of conventional weapons across the globe. The illicit flows of small arms and light weapons were a key challenge to international peace, security and development. He was deeply concerned at the wide range of security, humanitarian and socioeconomic consequences arising from their illicit trade. Their supply should be limited only to duly authorized entities. He remained concerned over casualties suffered by peacekeepers due to indiscriminate use of improvised explosives by non-State actors. The Central African resolution notes that three Bangladeshi peacekeepers were killed and four were critically injured by the explosion of an improvised explosive device.
He recognized States’ sovereign right to acquire, manufacture, export, import and retain conventional arms and their components for self-defense. He supported international initiatives against the indiscriminate use of anti‑personnel landmines, cluster munitions and conventional weapons overall. He was deeply concerned over the consequences of the continued use of anti-personnel mines, including by neighbouring Myanmar, which was a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. He urged Myanmar to immediately stop its use of landmines and join the Mine Ban Convention as a State party.
Right of Reply
The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, rejected the unfounded accusations regarding the use of conventional weapons during the special military operation in Ukraine. Such insinuations had only one goal — to divert attention from the criminal actions of the Ukrainian armed forces. The Ukrainian armed forces were “absolutely consciously” using inhumane battle tactics: placing heavy weapons and equipping firing positions and ammunition depots in schools, hospitals, residential buildings and dangerous chemical‑production facilities, striking nuclear power plants, prisoner-of-war facilities, using civilians as human shields and using civilian infrastructure for military purposes. Dozens of eyewitnesses who had spoken of blatant violations of international humanitarian law pointed to deliberate attacks by the Ukrainian armed forces on civilian sites and the shooting of civilians, which were then presented as actions by Russian forces. The representative called on the United Nations Member States, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other relevant international organizations to influence Kyiv and take effective measures to prevent the grave humanitarian consequences of the criminal actions of armed formations against the civilian population in Ukraine.
For information media. Not an official record.