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Statements in International Organisations


United Nations - Security Council: Open debate on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) (New York)

Statement on behalf of the European Union by H.E. Ambassador Sanja Štiglic, Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the United Nations


Mr. President,

I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union.

The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.

First of all, let me thank you, Mr. President, for convening this debate.

The European Union sees the proliferation, widespread availability and illicit trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) and their ammunition as one of the most dangerous challenges and threats to global stability and security, as well as to economic and social development and prosperity. The easy availability of small arms and light weapons, their associated ammunition and explosives is a fuelling factor for the vast majority of conflicts.

In December 2005, the European Union developed its fully-fledged Strategy to combat illicit accumulation and trafficking of SALW and their ammunition. The EU SALW strategy places under a single heading all the instruments at the disposal of the Union, political and financial, to fight against the scourge that the illicit traffic of SALW represents. The EU remains a major contributor in the fight against the dissemination of illicit SALW and ammunition. In Africa for example, the EU is financially supporting many actions in the field of SALW, including stockpiles destruction.

The EU will continue to provide support, both financial and technical, to governments, NGOs, regional organisations and arrangements engaged in the fight against small arms and light weapons trafficking and misuse, and the elimination of dangerous small arms and ammunition stockpiles.

Mr. President,

We are committed to curbing the uncontrolled spread and misuse of SALW and their ammunition, which cause hundreds of thousands of human deaths every year. We have committed ourselves to addressing this problem through the 2001 United Nations Programme of Action (UN PoA), to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. We will need to assess together our achievements and shortcomings in implementing the UN PoA which plays a vital role in stemming SALW proliferation.

In July this year, states will convene for the third biennial meeting to consider the national, regional and global implementation of the UN Programme of Action. We strongly support the approach of focused and result-oriented considerations of a few issues with a view to enhancing the implementation of the UNPoA. We call upon all Member States to participate at this important event and stress the need for a continued SALW process at the global level.

In this regard, the EU also welcomes the latest report of the Secretary-General on small arms. We strongly believe that the General Assembly's mandate to the Secretary-General to submit the report on the UNPoA implementation will greatly facilitate further consideration of its implementation by all member states as well as preparations for biennial meetings of states.

The EU welcomes the continuing engagement by the Security Council on the issue of small arms. We share the view that in order to make real progress in preventing, combating and eradicating the illicit trade in SALW, states should focus on strengthening in particular of physical security and stockpile management, surplus destruction, marking and tracing, and strengthening export and border controls and control brokering activities. States need to curb space for diversion of licit weapons and ammunition to illicit markets.

Mr. President,

Every day, and everywhere, people are affected by irresponsible arms transfers. The negative impact on peace, reconstruction, security, stability, human rights and sustainable development is especially damaging to developing countries, in particular in Africa. In addition, it diverts scarce resources from vital poverty alleviation and other development work. The EU firmly supports the elaboration of a comprehensive, legally binding instrument establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms.  The European Union is convinced that the United Nations is the only appropriate forum to deliver a truly universal instrument.

The EU has noted that there is a strong call from States and civil society for the establishment of a treaty to better regulate the trade in arms. We reiterate our view that the establishment of binding standards, consistent with the existing responsibilities of states under relevant international law, would be a major contribution to tackling the undesirable and irresponsible proliferation of conventional weapons which undermines peace, security, development and full respect for human rights. The European Union is committed to playing an active role in this process. We urge other States to actively support the ATT process and the work of the group of governmental experts (GGE) that has now started, holding its first session last February in New York.

Allow me to use this opportunity also to reiterate that global standards on marking and tracing of SALW are essential in tracking the illicit trade of these weapons. The adoption of the International Instrument on Marking and Tracing was a first important step in the implementation of the UN Programme of Action in this regard. We support full implementation, and further strengthening in the future, of the International Instrument to Enable States to identify and Trace, in a timely and reliable manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons (The International Tracing Instrument) inter alia by making it legally binding. The EU adopted a Joint Action to sponsor regional seminars for the promotion of the International Tracing Instrument in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and in South East Asia. We look forward to the first meeting devoted to implementation of the ITI that will take place this July in the framework of the BMS, with a view to the continued process beyond BMS3.

Reporting and monitoring have played an important role in bolstering implementation of small arms agreements. The EU invites Member States to provide additional background information on transfers of small arms and light weapons the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms. The EU also encourages regions to develop measures to enhance transparency with a view to combating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects.

Brokering controls remain a high priority for the EU as illicit brokering is recognised as being among the main factors fuelling the illicit trade in SALW as well as their ammunition world-wide. We welcome the consensus report of the group of governmental experts (GGE) established by the Secretary-General pursuant to resolution 60/81 and we look forward to fruitful consideration of the illicit brokering at the BMS.  We all need to implement the recommendations contained in the report as well as continue consideration of further steps to prevent, combat and eradicate illicit brokering in SALW. In this respect, in 2003 the European Union adopted a Common Position requiring Member States to introduce national legislation to effectively control the activities of brokering.

The EU welcomes the particular emphasis by the Security Council on arms embargoes. Effective monitoring and enforcement of embargoes depends on international cooperation among law-enforcement agencies, strong border controls and tracing of illegal weapons.

The fight against the illicit trade in conventional ammunition continues to be another pressing task. Uncontrolled stocks of ammunition contribute to the risks of trafficking and proliferation and to the prolongation and intensification of armed conflicts. Furthermore, insufficiently managed and secured stockpiles constitute a threat to security and safety, to both human health and the environment. Currently there is a growing awareness of the importance of the ammunition problem. This is reflected in the resolutions adopted by the General Assembly. In this regard, the EU welcomes the start of the work of the group of governmental experts (GGE) on "Conventional Ammunition Stockpiles in Surplus" established pursuant to resolution 61/72, which has already held its first and second session of work and we look forward to substantive outcome of the Group's deliberations.

The EU continues to strongly encourage progress to strengthen arms transfer controls in general. The EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports has made an important contribution to this goal by setting up conditions for the responsible transfers of arms by EU Member States and Associated States. The European Union also continues to attach great importance to the efforts of the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies in further strengthening arms transfer controls.

The EU is also determined to address the issue of the illicit air transport of SALW and has begun working to that end, to complement initiatives promoted by Member States in other frameworks.

Mr. President,

We are confident that the Security Council will continue to pay particular attention to SALW and call on all states to do their utmost to contribute to the fight against this scourge, which kills thousands of people every day. The EU will continue to play its part in this common endeavour.

Thank You, Mr. President!


* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.


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Date: 05.05.2008