8140th Security Council Meeting: Report of Secretary-General on Small Arms

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18-Dec-2017 01:59:57
Human cost of arms trafficking ‘runs deep’, disarmament chief stresses as Security Council debates halting illicit trade on ‘Dark Web’ at 8140th meeting.

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At a time of deepening regional tensions, expanding terrorist and criminal networks, and traditional and non‑traditional conflicts wreaking havoc on communities, the pressing issue of the spread of small arms, light weapons and their ammunition were key determinants of crises, demanding swift action to curb their illicit trade, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs told the Security Council this afternoon.

Introducing the Secretary‑General’s report on the matter (document S/2017/1025), Izumi Nakamitsu said the multidimensional and cross‑cutting nature of small arms was indisputable — from arms embargoes, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, child soldiers, counter‑terrorism and the protection of civilians in armed conflict to transnational crime.

“The human cost of the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms runs deep,” she said, adding that the increased links among transnational organized crime, illicit small arms trafficking and terrorism, as well as the mounting use of the Internet, including the “dark web”, were of growing concern. Nearly all violent deaths were caused by firearms, and the rate of firearms‑related homicides in post‑conflict societies frequently outnumbered battlefield deaths. Small arms were also key determinants in the lethality and longevity of conflicts, and their rampant spread contributed to violations of international humanitarian and human rights, often playing a role in the deaths of United Nations peacekeepers and humanitarian workers.

“To invest in effective management of small arms and light weapons, including their ammunition, is to invest in conflict prevention,” she said, noting that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development had acknowledged the inextricable link between peace and development.

In the ensuing debate, delegates agreed that the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons constituted a serious threat to peace and security around the world, contributing to instability, violence and insecurity while undermining development efforts. Their spread also contributed to terrorism and international organized crime.

Representatives also suggested ways to disrupt the network of transnational organized crime syndicates, including by controlling arms trafficking online, in particular through the “dark web”. They urged for mainstreaming the issue into all relevant Council discussions and called for coordinated action to tackle the problem at the national, regional and international levels.

The representative of Italy, recalling that arms trafficking usually began with legally produced weapons, emphasized the importance of implementing the International Tracing Instrument. In addition, the Arms Trade Treaty was a crucial instrument carrying the potential to mitigate risks.

Several delegates said Africa and the Middle East were regions deeply affected by the illegal arms trade. Egypt’s representative noted that the core of the current challenge was due to the deliberate contributions of some countries that provided illicit weapons to terrorists and armed movements.

Bolivia’s representative said the seriousness of the problem had its roots in the breadth of the illicit trade, which reached $6 billion in 2014 alone. At the same time, trafficking produced parallel profits in the financial system and tax havens, he said, adding that the global arms trade required international controls.

The representatives of Kazakhstan, China, Ethiopia, United States, Sweden, United Kingdom, Senegal, Russian Federation, Uruguay, France, Ukraine and Japan also spoke.

Taking the floor a second time were the representatives of Ukraine and the Russian Federation.

The meeting started at 3:06 p.m. and ended at 5:06 p.m.
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