Monday 26 October

During the Thematic Debate segment of the First Committee, delegations made statements on the topic of small arms and lights weapons (SALW) over a two-day period.

Morning session

The Monday morning session saw a large number of delegations (Egypt on behalf of the Arab Group, Guyana on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Uruguay on behalf of the Union of South American Nations [UNASUR], Algeria, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Egypt, European Union [EU], France, Italy, India, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Republic of Moldova, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, and United States [US]) take the floor to speak on the Programme of Action (PoA), the International Tracing Instrument (ITI), the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and other related topics of SALW.

Many delegations reiterated the importance of the PoA in curbing the illicit trafficking of arms and reaffirmed their commitment to the instrument. CARICOM stressed that the implementation of the PoA can be uneven across regions but ensured that the Caribbean Community has secured implementation tools in the form of an implementation agency. Arab States, EU, Ireland, Israel, Senegal, Singapore and US noted the importance of the ITI. Ireland stated that it supports proposals which seek to integrate and address gaps in the control of weapons flows, including through the development of international tracing procedures. In regards to ammunition, Ireland stressed the need to have it included in control systems.

CARICOM and the Republic of Moldova mentioned the success of the Meeting of Governmental Experts (MGE2) in June 2015 and welcomed the upcoming 6th Biennial Meeting of States (BMS6) being held in June 2016. Moldova noted that the MG2 had a positive impact in preparation for the upcoming 2016 meeting. It underlined that regional and sub-regional cooperation should be used as a tool in member states efforts. Further, CARICOM highlighted that MG2 reaffirmed the international community’s commitment at all levels and called for the sharing of information. It also called for an acknowledgement to the widening technology gap between countries for tracing and suggested that assistance is needed to close this gap.

The vast majority of delegations welcomed the ATT as a landmark treaty for curbing the illicit trade of arms. Ireland regards transparency as an essential tool for the effective implementation of the Treaty, while the EU, South Africa and US stressed the importance of universalization for the success of the Treaty, with the US noting that the Treaty is not an end to armed conflict but a tool to address its causes. The Arab States stressed that the implementation of the ATT must be compatible with the UN charter, specifically the states’ right of self-defense and territorial integrity. It further highlighted states’ sovereign rights to manufacture and trade conventional weapons to defend themselves. Cuba, however, noted that the ATT favors States that export weapons, allows transfers to non-state actors, and further, the parameters established to approve and refuse transfers can be easily abused.

Japan urged all delegations to support the upcoming annual resolution “The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects.”

Afternoon session


The thematic debate on SALW continued on Monday afternoon with the following delegation making statements: Nigeria on behalf of the African Group, Indonesia on behalf of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Austria, Bangladesh, Ecuador, Eritrea, Finland, Ghana, Iran, Jamaica, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Liberia, Libya, Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom (UK) and Zambia.

NAM expressed concern over a wide range of security, humanitarian and socio-economic consequences arising from the illicit manufacture, transfer, and circulation of small arms and light weapons (SALW) and called on all states, in particular the major producing States, to ensure that the supply of SALW is limited only to governments or to entities duly authorized by them. NAM also recognized the significant imbalance in the production, possession, and trade in conventional weapons between the industrialized and Non-Aligned Countries, and calls for a significant reduction in the production, possession and trade of conventional weapons by the industrialized states with a view to enhancing international and regional peace and security.

The majority of States, again, reinforced the importance of the Programme of Action (PoA), with some underlining the need for a balanced, full and effective implementation of not only the PoA but the ITI. The African Group, Iran, Kuwait, Morocco and Spain noted the importance of the ITI in the marking and tracing of SALW. The need for enhanced international cooperation and assistance was also discussed. The African Group and Mexico noted the success of the Meeting of Governmental Experts (MGE2) in June 2015.

Thailand is of the view that the PoA and the ATT should complement and strengthen each other, without duplicating one another. The universalization of the ATT was addressed by a large proportion of delegations. Thailand noted that transparency is key for the full implementation. NAM underscored that its implementation should, in no way, affect 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. Iran, on the other hand, expressed their view that the ATT is a legally flawed instrument.

Thailand noted the striking gender and age element in the conventional weapons agenda, where the number of women and children who fall victim are overwhelmingly disproportionate. It urged all victim assistance efforts to take this into account, and include victims’ voices and perspectives into decision-making processes where relevant. Thailand hoped to further explore holistic and integrated approaches to this important subject matter. Similarly, Austria stressed that the prevention of human suffering and assistance to victims of armed conflict and armed violence must remain at the heart of our efforts. UNSC Res. 1325 (2000) was the first to address the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women, and since then, the international awareness and response to the gender implications of weapons, armed violence and armed conflict has developed further, but much remains to be done. Austria stressed that a gender perspective should be incorporated in all disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation efforts and that the full and equal participation of women and men at all stages and levels of decision-making should be ensured.

The African Group discussed this year’s draft resolution ‘UN Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa’ which seeks to re-double efforts on disarmament education and support for African States to address the challenges of arms proliferation.