Panafrican News Agency

UN Security Council urges nations to tackle small arms scourge

New York, US (PANA) – The UN Security Council on Thursday voiced its grave concern at the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons, which perpetuate conflict and instability worldwide and cause significant loss of life.

The PANA Correspondent in New York, reports that the Council, in a resolution adopted by a vote of 14 in favour, with Russia abstaining, welcomed efforts that have been made to tackle this scourge.

It also called for the strengthening of cooperation and information sharing among countries to combat the problem.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who spoke at the meeting said that small arms had brought instability to the Sahel region of Africa, as well as fueled lawlessness in Guinea-Bissau, Central African Republic, Iraq and the high seas.

Ban also said that small arms had wreaked havoc on lives and nations as well as undermined development efforts, adding that small arms were a source of crises, conflict and criminality.

"The uncontrolled availability of guns and bullets threatens peace processes and fragile reconciliation efforts. It leads to a vast range of human rights violations, including killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, enforced disappearances, torture and forced recruitment of children by armed groups.

"It exacerbates inter-community violence and organized crime and it undermines our work for social justice, the rule of law and the Millennium Development Goals," he noted.

The UN chief also said the world was over-armed and peace was underfunded.

Ban called on States to commit to building a safer, more secure world for all, and in particular to sign and ratify the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

The ATT was adopted by the UN General Assembly in April to regulate the international trade in conventional arms, from small arms to battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships.

The secretary-general noted that the landmark treaty obligated States to regulate international arms transfers, including prohibiting shipments to governments that failed to use them in conformity with the UN Charter.

The treaty will also help address weapons diversion from government stockpiles, a growing and disturbing source of arms for pirates, rebels and warlords.

He announced that the treaty, which needs 50 ratifications to enter into force, has so far been signed by 110 States and ratified by 7.

Ban added that innovations such as weapon-tracking technologies and the personalization of firearms can help.

He said arms embargoes were also vital, yet unscrupulous brokers were adept at evading such strictures.

In this context, he said, the various monitoring groups of UN Security Council sanctions committees needed more and better information, in order to effectively check the proliferation of small arms and other weapons.

"Small arms remain a big concern, the challenge lies at the intersection of human rights, security, development, crime, international trade, public health and counter-terrorism.

"Member States, the UN system, regional organizations and civil society have made progress, but much remains to be done," he stated.

The meeting, which was held at the ministerial level on the margins of the UN General Assembly, was attended by ministers from UN member states and representatives of the Council’s 15 members.

The meeting also heard from Ms. Christine Beerli, Vice-President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, who described small arms as the "weapons of choice" in conflicts.

She said: "They deliberately target civilians and property and prolong conflicts and violate international humanitarian and human rights law."
-0- PANA AA/MA 26Sept2013