Illicit sale of small arms poses challenge to international peace, Security Council told
The illicit sale or stockpiling of small arms posed complex and multifaceted challenges to international peace and stability that need to be urgently addressed, a senior UN official told the Security Council today as it began a discussion of the problem posed by such weapons.
“While it is true that small arms do not provoke conflicts, it is also undeniable that the unrestrained supply of such weapons renders conflicts much more protracted and deadly, and promotes a culture of violence and impunity,” Jayantha Dhanapala, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, said at the outset of the Council’s debate, which involved representatives from nearly 40 countries.
Mr. Dhanapala said there was growing evidence of close links between illicit small arms and light weapons and both terrorism and drug trafficking. Meanwhile, 300,000 deaths each year were caused by armed conflicts in the developing world, and 200,0000 fatalities were linked to homicide and suicide in the industrialized world, due to the misuse of small arms.
The United Nations has played a critical role in placing the issue of small arms and light weapons on the international agenda, initiating the preparatory process for the Small Arms Conference in July 2001, Mr. Dhanapala said. The Council had contributed to that effort by addressing the small arms issue in situations under its consideration, and by promoting global efforts to combat illicit small arms and light weapons.
Meanwhile, a recent report by Secretary-General Kofi Annan contained 12 recommendations in dealing with the issue of small arms, covering such areas as implementation of the Conference’s Programme of Action, Council mandated sanctions and arms embargoes; conflict prevention, peace-building and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; and confidence building measures, Mr. Dhanapala noted.
As part of its efforts to help UN Member States with the implementation of the action plan, the UN Department for Disarmament Affairs intends to set up a Small Arms Advisory Service (SAAS) to bolster the effectiveness of the Coordinating Action on Small Arms (CASA) mechanism, Mr. Dhanapala said.
“The role of arms embargoes in controlling the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in conflict situations has been enhanced by the Council’s decision to establish specific monitoring mechanisms,” he said. “Further improvements would require the imposition of arms embargoes to countries and regions emerging from and threatened by armed conflict.”