Thursday 15 October

The President of the General Assembly’s opening address to First Committee on Thursday expressed concern about the ever-increasing strength and number of weapons in circulation around the world. The floor then opened to the General Debate where Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Honduras, Nicaragua, Niger, San Marino, Serbia, and Venezuela discussed small arms and light weapons (SALW) and the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

San Marino underscored that SALW are becoming the new weapons of mass destruction due to their continued flow into the hands of transnational criminal organizations, terrorists, and marginalized individuals.  In relation to the Programme of Action (PoA), Nicaragua shared that its implementation of the PoA, in addition to the International Tracing Instrument (ITI) had led to a reduction of organized crime and drug trafficking. Niger and Cote d’Ivoire mentioned the need for tracing and marking of military weapons. Niger spoke specifically of the issues surrounding stockpile management and the difficulties of tracing and marking weapons due to lack of resources, and the new types of materials being used in modern manufacturing.

The ATT was underlined by San Marino as the solution to rid the world of these new WMDs, and that States big and small must continue to defend international laws. In addition to San Marino, Cameroon, Niger, Bangladesh, Brazil, Honduras and Serbia all urged for the full implementation of the ATT as soon as possible. Brazil, a signatory of the ATT, spoke of its own rigorous import and export requirements on all weaponry. Serbia was joined by Niger in applauding the success of the 1st Conference of States Parties this year in Cancun, noting that it exceeded expectations. Despite the successes of the ATT, Serbia, noted that more needs to be done to combat the illicit arms trade. Several other States reiterated this point.

The reality that the implementation of the PoA and the ATT is not easy for some States was made clear by Afghanistan. The situation on the ground in a given State must be acknowledged, especially with modern weapons being harder to mark and trace. Concerning military spending, Nicaragua and Niger called on States to reduce their military budgets so that valuable resources can be spent elsewhere. Similarly, Cote d’Ivoire reminded the plenary that the main goal of all these meetings and negotiations is to create a culture of peace.

On the topic of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Serbia endorsed the inclusion of Goal 16, part of which calls on States and civil society to significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows by 2030.