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Mechanism in place to implement decisions by forum on small arms: UN official

Mechanism in place to implement decisions by forum on small arms: UN official

The top United Nations disarmament official today told a UN forum on the illegal trade in small arms and light weapons that the Organization stood ready to implement a plan of action set for adoption at the conclusion of the two-week gathering.

As the UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects entered its third day, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Jayantha Dhanapala said the UN was well-placed to give effect to recommendations to be adopted by the gathering.

Mr. Dhanapala specifically emphasized the potential role played by the UN "Coordinating Action on Small Arms mechanism," or CASA, which has been working to stem the illegal circulation of these armaments since its establishment in 1998. "Like in the past, we at CASA stand ready to provide assistance to Member States, NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and other partners in a truly global effort to rid the world of the scourge of illicit small arms and light weapons," he said.

The Under-Secretary-General was one of some 30 speakers scheduled to take part in today's plenary session, where ministers from around the world are exchanging ideas on how to stem the illegal flow of these armaments.

Meanwhile, two States - Mali and Brazil - took the concrete step of signing on to a legally binding international pact to control the proliferation of small arms. Those countries became the first and second, respectively, to sign the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition, which supplements the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. That Protocol, which was negotiated earlier this year, will enter into force after 40 countries have ratified it.

In a related development, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) today called for immediate action to protect children from access or exposure to small arms and light weapons.

"We recognize the realities of the arms trade and the nature of war," said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Kul Gautam. "However, the world can no longer ignore the disastrous impact of light weapons on the lives of children and young people. We must do more to protect them."

UNICEF called on the Conference to include in its programme of action provisions aimed at shielding young people from the dangers of small arms and light weapons, including measures to prevent and halt the recruitment of child soldiers.