Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

EU Statement – United Nations 7th Biennial Meeting on the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons: International Tracing Instrument

New York, 26/07/2021 - 22:47, UNIQUE ID: 210726_13
Statements on behalf of the EU

26 July 2021, New York – Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States on the consideration of the implementation of the International Tracing Instrument at the Seventh Biennial Meeting of States on the UN Programme of Action to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects


-  Final  -

Mr. Chair,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

The Candidate Countries Turkey, 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 Ukraine, and the Republic of Moldova, align themselves with this statement.

The EU welcomes today's opportunity to assess the state of play in the implementation of the International Tracing Instrument (ITI). The EU is a convinced supporter of the ITI. We consider it as one of the most important achievements of the UN Programme of Action and an essential tool in the fight against diversion, un-authorised re-export and the illicit trade in SALW.

The ITI provides the only global standard on how and where to mark SALW. Through the ITI all States have committed to make mandatory the marking and record-keeping of SALW and to cooperate internationally with the tracing of seized and collected illicit guns. The ITI is therefore a unique and essential component of the capacity of states to identify and fight arms trafficking. It is the responsibility of this Conference to make sure that the ITI can continue to deliver this essential contribution, also in the light of developments in manufacture, technology and design of SALW.

In relation to this, the EU is concerned that the ITI does not properly address the developments in manufacture, technology and design of SALW like modular and polymer frame weapons. The EU therefore expects the BMS7 to agree on a process aiming in reaching an agreement on marking of modular and polymer frame SALW and subsequent transformation of such agreement into a document supplementary to the ITI, like an annex. Such a document would ensure that developments in technology and design do not render the ITI less effective. . The absence of a global standard on how and where to mark modular weapons risks gradually undermining the capacity to trace these weapons if there is no agreement on what constitutes the essential component which should bear the marking. This document should also reflect other implications of developments in SALW technology and design, including increased use of polymers, 3-D Printed Weapons, and developments in marking, recordkeeping and tracing.

Given the limited space that is fit for durable marking on SALW with polymer frames, the increased use of polymer frames complicates the application of the markings that are required or recommended by the ITI, including import markings. The EU is therefore of the view that the outcome document should promote import marking, if possible, at time of manufacture.

Developments in SALW technology and design do not only pose challenges for the implementation of the ITI. They also offer opportunities for more effective marking, recordkeeping and tracing, and more secure SALW in general.

Finally, the EU promotes the tracing of SALW in conflict affected areas. Conflict tracing can contribute to the identification and containment of illicit arms flows and trafficking channels into conflict zones and to the reduction of violence. UN and regional peace support operations may take up a role in the collection, recording, tracing and destruction of illicit SALW and their ammunition, in accordance with their mandates and resources, where possible, in cooperation with UN expert groups in charge of monitoring UN arms embargoes. Conflict tracing can also be supported through capacity development for local security and law enforcement agencies for tracing and investigation, in combination with promotion of the iARMS database of Interpol and other relevant databases; and by supporting initiatives such as iTrace by Conflict Armament Research.

States should call for increasing capacities to monitor and enforce arms embargoes, inter alia by supporting the work of UN panels that monitor arms embargoes.

Thank you Mr. Chair.


* The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

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