What's In Blue

Posted Fri 15 Dec 2017

Small Arms: Briefing

On Monday (18 December), the Security Council will be briefed on small arms by High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu. It will consider the Secretary-General’s fifth biennial report on small arms (S/2017/1025). No outcome is expected.

The Secretary-General’s report underscores that the misuse and illicit circulation of small arms is of “considerable concern”. It notes that their poor regulation is an enabler “of armed conflict and a means of sustaining it”. The report further observes that weapons and ammunition management has become a “critical component of UN peacekeeping operations and in the activities of the Security Council to address conflict-affected situations more generally”.

Members expect to hear about the progress made in the implementation of resolution 2220 (2015)—the second resolution devoted to the issue of small arms—as well as remaining challenges in implementation. Nakamitsu may observe that while some progress has been made, significant concerns remain. For example, according to the Secretary-General’s report, the Security Council has mandated the development of a national commission for small arms and light weapons to address civilian disarmament and illicit proliferation in the Central African Republic (S/RES/2301); supported a weapons registry and revision of current laws on the importation and possession of arms in Haiti (S/RES/2313); and assisted with the removal and destruction of mines and other explosive devices and with weapons and ammunition management in Mali (S/RES/2295). However, the report notes there are growing concerns over the “increased links between transnational organised crime, illicit small arms trafficking and terrorism, as well as the increasing use of the Internet, including the ‘dark web’, and emerging technologies for illicit trafficking and production”. Members may be interested in hearing how well Security Council mandated initiatives have worked, and what additional steps can be taken to combat the proliferation of small arms.

Members may discuss the increased link between small arms and terrorism, as it relates to resolution 2370 adopted on 2 August. The resolution, which focuses on preventing terrorists from acquiring weapons, calls on states to “refrain from providing any form of support, active or passive, to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts, including by eliminating the supply of weapons to terrorists”; and to become party to the related international and regional instruments, such as the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (PoA) and the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The resolution also calls for the strengthening of the monitoring mechanisms of relevant arms embargoes and enhancing cooperation and coordination among the relevant Council sanctions committees and subsidiary bodies. There may be some discussion on how well this resolution has been implemented and how member states can strengthen their compliance with it.

Another topic members might discuss is the role of arms embargo monitoring in UN peacekeeping operations. Resolution 2220 requested the Secretary-General to include in his next report “best practices and arrangements that could be used by UN peacekeeping operations and other relevant Council-mandated entities to guide the implementation of their mandated tasks on the implementation and compliance monitoring of arms embargoes and the provision of assistance and expertise to host States, sanctions committees and experts groups”. According to the report, eight UN peace operations are currently mandated by the Security Council to support UN arms embargoes. It recommends that the appropriate structural arrangements and capabilities of a UN peace operation to carry out any arms embargo-related tasks should be factored into mission planning at the time of establishment of the mandate and whenever the mandate is reviewed. The report further calls on the Security Council and its sanctions committees to continue to request briefings from the field on arms embargo monitoring and compliance; to reinforce regional briefings, as well as periodic visits by committee Chairs, to concerned States; to engage directly with UN peace operations on the ground; and to establish a focal point within UN peace operations to promote awareness of the mandate of the expert panel across the mission.

The briefing is seen by some members as a precursor to the Third Review Conference on the Programme of Action, which will take place from 18 to 29 June 2018 and will review progress made in the implementation of the PoA, as well as its International Tracing Instrument. The briefing comes at a time when Japan, the president of the Council for December, is also president of the fourth session of the Conference of States Parties to the ATT, a position it will hold until September 2018. Of the current Council members, France, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Senegal, Sweden, the UK and Uruguay are State Parties to the ATT.