First Committee of the 69th session of the General Assembly- 21 October 2014

Discussions on the topic of small arms and light weapons (SALW) and the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) began at the thematic debate on 21 October 2014 with statements made by Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Mali on behalf of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Guyana on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Suriname on behalf of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), and the European Union (EU).


CARICOM underscored the consequences that the unregulated trade in arms has on human suffering and noted that the unregulated trade in arms fuels conflicts and poses a threat to the security and stability of regions. Further, UNASUR noted that the uncontrolled spread of arms poses a challenge to sustainable development in societies, while the EU acknowledged that the poorly regulated transfer of SALW has a wide range of human and socio-economic consequences.

The EU stressed that the UNPoA is a key instrument in combating the illicit trade and circulation of arms while NAM and UNASUR expressed that full and effective implementation of the UNPoA was essential in combating this illegal trade. All delegations stressed the importance of international cooperation and assistance for the full and broad implementation of the instrument. ECOWAS also underlined the importance of multilateralism in dealing with the illicit trade in arms. NAM, ECOWAS, CARICOM and the EU noted with satisfaction the outcome document, reached by consensus, of the 5th Biennial Meeting of States (BMS5) on the UNPoA in June 2014 and reaffirmed their support for the instrument. CARICOM stated that the BMS5 reaffirmed the international community’s commitment to collectively combat the illegal trade of SALW and acknowledged the useful measures established during this meeting for effective and practical implementation of the UNPoA. ECOWAS emphasized that this meeting constituted an excellent opportunity to deepen discussions on marking, record-keeping and tracing in the framework of the International Tracing Instrument (ITI). The importance of the ITI and its full implementation was noted also by NAM and the EU. CARICOM and the EU specifically welcomed the provision on the role of women in the disarmament process included in the BMS5 outcome document. The EU also underscored the importance of the first Security Council Resolution 2117 dedicated to the issue of SALW.

On a regional scale, CARICOM acknowledged that the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) plays a lead role in regional efforts to trace firearms along with the Regional Integrated Ballistic Information Network (RIBIN).

NAM addressed concerns regarding the significant imbalance in production, possession and trade between industrialized and Non-Aligned Countries, and called for a significant reduction in the production, possession and trade of SALW by the industrialized States with a view to enhancing international and regional peace and security. Furthermore, NAM called on States to ensure that the transfer of arms was restricted to governments or authorized entities, and to refrain from transferring arms to unauthorized non-state or terrorist groups. UNASUR and the EU reiterated that the UNPoA must include ammunition as it is an integral part of SALW. UNASUR also stressed that the non-legally binding nature of the instrument is an obstacle for effective implementation.  

ECOWAS introduced the draft resolution “Assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them”, noting that it is closely linked to the UNPoA and aims to consolidate good governance and stability in the West Africa region. It also aims to improve regional security by reinforcing the current regional initiatives and efforts for the reduction of the proliferation and circulation of SALW. This draft resolution invites the international community to provide technical and financial support to strengthen the capacities of civil society in the fight against the illicit circulation and collection of SALW and to support the development of the ECOWAS Convention. ECOWAS underlined that this resolution reflects the willingness of many countries to find a solution for the circulation of SALW.


Each delegation welcomed the adoption of the ATT. CARICOM noted that the adoption of the treaty emphasized the international community’s commitment to combating the illicit trade in conventional arms. NAM called for the balanced, transparent and objective implementation of the treaty in strict adherence with UN principles. The EU emphasized that the treaty provides comprehensive international standards that allow for a more responsible and transparent trade in arms. Further, it noted that the adoption of the treaty showed the success of multilateralism and the effective implementation and universalism of the ATT is essential for its success. NAM and UNASUR made specific note of the importance of the sovereign right of States to acquire, manufacture, export, import, and retain conventional arms and their parts and components for their self-defense and security needs.

CARICOM endorsed Trinidad and Tobago to host the Secretariat.


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