Consensus action plan sought as UN forum on illicit small arms draws to a close

20 July 2001

As the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons drew to a close, negotiators intensified their efforts to reach consensus on an action plan to curb the threat posed by those armaments.

A UN spokesman told reporters on Friday afternoon that outstanding provisions still under negotiation in the draft plan included measures relating to export controls and conference review meetings.

Another key area under discussion, according to diplomats attending the two-week forum, is the provision of small arms and light weapons to non-State actors. One major country was seeking to ensure that no restrictions were placed on such transactions, while a number of African States viewed the provision of small arms and light weapons to non-State actors as a highly destabilizing factor which must be addressed, the diplomats said.

The draft plan does not aim to outlaw the legal manufacture or trade of small arms and light weapons, nor their legal, private ownership. Instead, it is designed to stem the illicit trade in these armaments, which the UN says were the weapon of choice in the overwhelming majority of recent conflicts that collectively killed some 4 million people, 80 per cent of them women and children.

The draft is comprised of four parts, including a preamble and sections on preventing, combating and eradicating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons; implementation, international cooperation and assistance; and follow-up.


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