Second Review Conference on the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons

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Meeting

It is the view of Trinidad and Tobago that the Second Review Conference on the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons presented an ideal opportunity to critically assess the progress made in the implementation of the Programme of Action.

Ambassador Eden Charles said Trinidad and Tobago further submits that while the task is intricate, it is by no means insurmountable.

Ambassador Eden Charles: We must be resolute in efforts to guide the discourse in a manner which produces a substantive outcome.  An outcome which would strengthen the international armory dedicated to the prevention, combating and eventual eradication of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. This trade has a direct link to the commission of armed violence, gender-based violence, terrorism and other serious crimes. If we fail to take decisive action, we would be adding another pillar of disappointment to that, which we witnessed last month, when as member States, we failed to agree on the text of a legally binding arms trade treaty.

According to Ambassador Charles, Trinidad and Tobago in its 2008 national report on the implementation of the Programme of Action advanced that the English-speaking Caribbean has not escaped from the scourge of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. He said at the time, it was described as the single most significant instrument of crime leading to public fear.

Ambassador Eden Charles:  As a result, we have put legislative and other measures in place to implement the Programme of Action and the International Tracing Instrument (ITI), to cover several aspects of our obligations, including the following: making illicit gun production a criminal offense; establishing a national coordination agency on small arms; identifying and destroying stocks of surplus weapons; keep track of officially-held guns; engage in more information exchange; ensuring better enforcement of arms embargoes; including civil society organizations in efforts to prevent small arms proliferation.

 Trinidad and Tobago has lead responsibility in the quasi-cabinet of CARICOM – the Caribbean Community- for matters relating to crime and security.

And Ambassador Charles noted that consequently, the twin-island republic has a special responsibility for promoting and facilitating the common interests and objectives of the region in addressing the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition.

Ambassador Eden Charles: Only last month, one of the roundtable discussions addressed the issue of the inclusion of border controls as part of a revised Programme of Action. In fact, at the international level, CARICOM Member States have stated that greater attention needs to be placed on the issue of border controls as a component of the broader crime prevention measures, and specifically, to prevent the flow of small arms and light weapons in the region. Member States of CARICOM, time and again, have underscored the fact that although the countries of the region are not manufacturers nor large importers of small arms and light weapons, due to our geographic location, have become places for the transit, transhipment and places of final destination for weapons diverted from the legal trade to fuel both national and transnational criminal activities.

Ambassador Charles stressed that border controls must therefore, become an integral part of a Revised Programme of Action. And he said Trinidad and Tobago recognizes the link between illegal trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons and the illicit trade in ammunition.

Duration: 4’19″

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