UN conference agrees on measures to combat global gun trafficking

After all-night negotiations that lasted into the morning of 21 July, the UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects last Saturday afternoon adopted a Programme of Action to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade by undertaking a number of measures at the national, regional and global levels.Among the measures agreed to, countries said they would ensure that licensed manufacturers apply an appropriate and reliable marking on each small arm and light weapon as an integral part of the production process. They would also ensure that comprehensive and accurate records were kept for as long as possible on the manufacture, holding and transfer of small arms and light weapons under their jurisdiction.In addition, the participating delegations decided to guarantee that all confiscated, seized or collected small arms and light weapons were destroyed, unless another form of disposal or use had been officially authorized, and provided that such weapons had been duly marked and registered.Countries also agreed to strengthen their ability to cooperate in identifying and tracing illicit small arms and light weapons. A follow-up Conference would be held no later than 2006 to review progress made in the implementation of the Programme of Action.Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a statement through his spokesman in New York warmly welcoming the accord, calling it the first of many important steps to alleviate the “grave threat” to international peace and human security. The Secretary-General praised these steps as “essential in building norms and in implementing collective measures against this global scourge.”In his concluding remarks, the Conference’s President, Ambassador Camilo Reyes of Colombia, expressed disappointment that delegates could not reach agreement on two of the most important issues – maintaining and controlling private ownership of small arms and the transfer of such weapons to non-State actors – even though there was overwhelming support for their inclusion in the outcome document. read more