UN Small Arms Conference Reaches Agreement on Final Afternoon
IANSA is pleased that the Second Review Conference of the UN Programme of Action (UNPoA) managed to reaffirm States’ commitments to address the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons (SALW). The outcome document (CRP3 Rev.3, agreed by consensus on 7th September 2012) reflects some positive developments, which include:
- References to the negative effects of the illicit trade in SALW on people with disabilities;
- The involvement of peacekeeping missions in the effort to trace illicit SALW;
- The importance of keeping pace with developments in SALW manufacturing technology and design for marking, tracing, and record keeping purposes;
- References to the need to further integrate the role of women into efforts to combat and eradicate the illicit trade in SALW, and more fully involving women in policymaking.
Yet, the practical value of the document was reduced, and its adoption hampered, by the desire to achieve consensus. Critically, efforts to develop mechanisms and means to measure and assess the effectiveness of PoA implementation were stymied. Other improvements that progressive states promoted, but that were blocked by a minority, included making stronger references to, inter alia:
- The inclusion of SALW ammunition and parts and components within the scope of the PoA;
- Gender mainstreaming, as well as UN resolutions 1325, 1612, and 65/69;
- Developing mechanisms to assess the risk of SALW diversion;
- The links between SALW and armed violence, and the impact on development.
IANSA’s call for an effective assessment of the implementation process, rather than an editorial review of an outcome document was echoed by a number of States during the plenary process. We will work to ensure that comprehensive reviews of progress in implementing the PoA will be prioritized for future Open-Ended Meetings of Governmental Experts (MGE) and Review Conferences. As evidenced by statements made after the outcome document was adopted, thankfully, there is clear recognition from states of a general need to improve implementation and evaluation of the PoA, within the framework of the international architecture for the control of SALW.
Aside from the short-fallings of the outcome document, the wider Review Conference demonstrated that a considerable amount of valuable work is being done around the world by regional, national and non-governmental organizations. Examples include the numerous non-governmental organizations working to reduce the frequency and human cost of armed violence, as well as groups and individuals who have worked to develop new mechanisms such as the International Small Arms Control Standards (ISACS).
IANSA members will continue work towards full implementation of the PoA. We will also help to ensure that assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of the PoA are established, fulfilled, and taken seriously by member states, with the ultimate aim of helping those people affected by gun violence in their daily lives.
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