Drug Trafficking and Small Arms
The Council in 2009 and 2010 put considerable focus on the thematic issue of drug trafficking and associated security risks. An open debate on drug trafficking as a threat to international security was held on 8 December 2009. The Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2009/32) recognising that drug trafficking and related transnational organised-crime activities are a serious threat to international peace and security. The head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime briefed the Council on 24 February 2010. The Council adopted a presidential statement during the meeting (S/PRST/2010/4) that noted the increasing link between drug trafficking, the financing of terrorism and illegal arms trafficking. The statement also noted that drug trafficking and transnational crime were growing concerns that might threaten the security of countries on its agenda.
In both presidential statements, the Council stressed the importance of strengthening regional and international cooperation to counter the problem. But the links between drug trafficking and the trafficking of small arms has not until now been a prominent feature.
The Council was briefed on 25 April on the Secretary-General’s 2011 report on small arms. A debate devoted to the subject of small arms was held on 19 March 2010, also at the initiative of Gabon. The debate considered the impact of illicit small arms and light weapons on peace and security in the Central African region. It was well attended, with 27 member states making statements during the debate. At that time, the Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2010/6) reiterating that small arms pose a threat to peace and fuel armed conflict and that states should effectively implement existing arms embargoes.
In April 2008, South Africa presided over a debate on the Secretary-General’s 2008 biennial report on small arms.
The Secretary-General’s most recent report on small arms, delayed from 2010, was completed on 5 April. The report recommended that the Council encourage states to strengthen their tracing capacity, enhance international cooperation regarding tracing and apply, on a voluntary basis, international ammunition technical guidelines once they are finalised. It also suggested that the Council promote increased compliance by non-state armed groups with international norms relating to the use and stockpiling of weapons and ammunition in times of conflict.
But the previous Council decisions on small arms have not focused on the linkage with drug trafficking.
A key issue raised by the initiative from Gabon is how to bring together these two threads of the Council’s work.
- adopting a decision that the connections between the illicit small arms and drug trades have the effect of intensifying the threat to international peace and security which the Council has already recognised in both cases;
- requesting the Secretary-General to report on this connection in all relevant thematic and country-specific reports;
- requesting the Secretary-General to prepare a study of connections in different regions and to report to the Council by late in the year; or
- using the open debate as an opportunity to express national positions on the issue of drugs and small arms without taking action at this time.
Council and Broader Dynamics
Council members appear to be generally supportive of discussing the issue of the drug trade and small arms. Most members seem to agree in principle that the shared characteristics between the two issues (the facts that there is extensive illegal trafficking in both drugs and arms and that the use of small arms in drug related violence has become endemic in some regions) deserve discussion. Many are waiting for the completion of the concept paper to develop particular positions for the open debate in June. As has been the case over the last year, some Council members remain sensitive to the fact that the General Assembly is currently discussing an arms-trade treaty. It is unclear at present how willing members will be to take major substantive action on these two interlinked issues at this time but an analytical report from the Secretary-General would be welcomed in terms of providing a framework for substantive decisions later in the year.
Security Council Presidential Statements
Latest Report of the Secretary-General