Security Council seeks proposals on how to respond to illicit small arms trade

Security Council seeks proposals on how to respond to illicit small arms trade

Underscoring the destabilizing and harmful effects of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, the Security Council today requested Secretary-General Kofi Annan to submit a set of recommendations on how the 15-member body can respond to the problem.

The request came through an official statement read by the Council President, Colombian Foreign Minister Fernandez de Soto, who noted that the illegal flow of small arms "increases the intensity and duration of armed conflicts, undermines the sustainability of peace agreements, impedes the success of peace-building, frustrates efforts aimed at the prevention of armed conflict, hinders considerably the provision of humanitarian assistance, and compromises the effectiveness of the Security Council."

Mr. Annan was asked to submit a report by September 2002 containing "specific recommendations on ways and means in which the Council may contribute to deal with the question of illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in situations under its consideration."

The statement also touched on the legal arms trade, reaffirming the inherent right of self-defence and the right of each State to import, produce and retain small arms and light weapons for its security needs. "Bearing in mind the considerable volume of licit trade in small arms and light weapons, the Council underlines the vital importance of effective national regulations and controls for this trade," said Foreign Minister de Soto. He added that arms-exporting countries should exercise the highest degree of responsibility in related transactions.

The Council also discussed the need for innovative strategies to address the illicit exploitation of natural and other resources for the purpose of buying illegal weapons. The Foreign Minister voiced the Council's intention to continue to consider ways of effectively combating that problem. "In this regard, information on financial or other transactions fuelling the illicit flow of arms to those conflicts should be made available to the Council," he said.

On the positive side, the statement welcomed a number of recent initiatives, such as the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, which was adopted at a United Nations conference in July. The Council called on all States to implement the Programme of Action, while recognizing its responsibility to assist in that process.