- Check against delivery -
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States. The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
I want to thank Mexico for giving the EU the opportunity to share its views on this important topic.
The diversion, illicit trade and unauthorised use of small arms and light weapons (SALW) and their ammunition still constitute a serious impediment for peace, growth, development, and security in the world. Illicit small arms are fuelling armed violence and organised crime, global terrorism and conflicts, thwarting sustainable development and crisis management efforts. They destabilise entire regions, states and their societies, and increase the impact of terrorist attacks.
The EU considers that, in line with the 2030 Agenda, including SDG Targets 16.1 and 16.4, a sustainable development cannot be realised without peace and security, and that peace and security will be at risk without sustainable development.
The EU remains committed to preventing and curbing the illicit trade in SALW and their ammunition and is promoting accountability and responsibility with regard to their legal trade. Three years ago, the EU adopted its strategy against illicit SALW and their ammunition "Securing arms, protecting citizens". The strategy takes into account the evolved security context and the developments in SALW design and technology affecting the capacity of governments to address the threat.
To this end, this Strategy is guided by the following principles:
The majority of assistance projects supported by the EU can be considered as classic SALW-control projects, with a focus on voluntary civilian disarmament campaigns, collection and destruction of surplus SALW and ammunition, physical security and stockpile management for SALW and ammunition, and capacity building for marking, record keeping and tracing. In order to increase efficiency and sustainability of assistance efforts, the EU calls for improved coordination with relevant regional organisations, donors and implementing agencies, in full ownership of the governments of recipient States, and steered by national action plans and strategies.
In line with its 2018 EU SALW strategy, the EU systematically mainstreams gender considerations in the design of new projects relating to the fight against gun violence and SALW control in general. When gender dimensions are not adequately dealt with in legislative and policy frameworks, the success and effectiveness of interventions are limited. The EU provides funding to the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) for the implementation of a global, multi-year project, which seeks to translate gender-related global commitments on small arms control into regional, national and local practices.
The EU also strengthened its dialogue and cooperation with regional organisations, such as the Organisation of American States, by aligning our activities with regional strategies and action plans. In 2018, a Council Decision was adopted supporting the OAS efforts to counter the illicit proliferation and trafficking of SALW and ammunition and their impact in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The EU considers that the UN Programme of Action to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects (UN PoA) continues to provide an effective framework for states to consider, commit to, and implement activities. The EU is a convinced supporter of the International Tracing Instrument (ITI) as one of the most important achievements of the UN PoA and an essential tool in the fight against diversion, un-authorised re-export and the illicit trade in SALW.
The EU and its Member States reaffirm their strong support for the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), as a key international instrument aimed at establishing the highest possible common international standards for regulating the international trade in conventional arms and to eradicate the illicit trade in conventional arms and to prevent their diversion. Universalisation and the full implementation of the ATT ranks high among priorities of the EU. In this light, we call on all UN Member States, especially the major arms importers, exporters and transit States, to ratify or accede to the ATT without further delay.
In order to reinforce international cooperation and effective implementation of UN arms embargoes, and to promote the necessary synergies across the UN system, we need to build on the momentum generated by the successful outcome of the 7th Biennial Meeting of States of the UN PoA and the 7th Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty.
We are convinced that military weapons have an indispensable role in the preservation of security, freedom and peace, provided they are used in accordance with International Law, including Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law. At the same time, weapons of war are by definition capable of inflicting death and destruction. This ambivalence means that governments that control such weapons must ensure that they are traded in a responsible and accountable way, and should prevent their diversion to terrorists, criminals and other unauthorised users.
Thank you Mr. President.
* The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.