European Union External Action


EU Statement – United Nations Preparatory Committee on Small Arms: Cooperation and Assistance

New York, 20/03/2018 - 23:08, UNIQUE ID: 180320_21
Statements on behalf of the EU

20 March 2018, New York – European Union Statement by Frank Meeussen, European External Action Service, at the Preparatory Committee for the UN Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects: Cooperation and assistance


- As delivered -

Mr. President,


Since the inception of the PoA and even before the European Union has been investing considerably in SALW-control cooperation and assistance to third countries.


In 2005 the European Council adopted the "EU Strategy to Combat the Illicit Accumulation and Trafficking of SALW and their Ammunition". The Strategy engages the EU in supporting the implementation of the PoA, within the EU as well as in its neighbourhood and the rest of the world.


This Strategy is currently being revised, taking into account the positive as well as negative developments since 2005 that have an impact on the control of SALW. Our intention is to share the revised Strategy with the UN Member States at the Review Conference in June.


An important part of the EU Strategy – the current as well as the future one – is cooperation and assistance to third countries, regional organisations and the UN in support of the implementation of the PoA. EU actions in this field are reported by means of an annual progress report that can be found on the EU-website.


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. The projects’ activities are led by an integrated approach where physical measures (like fences and locks for stockpiles) are combined with support for legislation, awareness raising and promotion of international standards such as the ISACS and IATG.  The projects also support information exchange between competent authorities, regional cooperation and involvement of civil society. 


Most of these projects have a regional scope and are implemented with the help of regional organizations. In Africa, the EU works together with the African Union, ECOWAS, UNREC, and RECSA.  In Europe, the EU works via the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearing House for the Control on SALW (SEESAC) that is part of UNDP. In Latin America, the EU has worked with the Central American Program for the Control of SALW (CASAC) and UNLIREC.


Other projects enable capacity building for arms export control, which is crucial in preventing SALW from falling into the wrong hands. The EU support states, at their request, to strengthen their arms transfer control systems with a view to implement the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The projects’ activities take place across the globe and include assistance for drafting of legislation, training and sharing of best practices among export control professionals. Implementers are the Federal Authority for Export Control of Germany (BAFA) and the organisation Expertise France, thereby assisted by export control officers from other EU Member States.


Then there are projects that specifically aim at support for tracing illicit SALW. Since 2011 the EU has been supporting INTERPOL’s Illicit Arms Records and Tracing Management System. iArms is an electronic platform that facilitates information exchange and investigative cooperation between law enforcement agencies. iArms' objective is to support criminal investigation of firearms trafficking.


Since 2013 the EU has been supporting iTrace, a global reporting mechanism on illicit SALW and other illicit conventional weapons and ammunition in conflict affected areas implemented by Conflict Armament Research. This project aims to track and trace illicit SALW and ammunition by means of in-field research in conflict-affected regions, where local law enforcement agencies often lack the capacity to trace. CAR works closely together with and provides technical assistance to governments, UN sanction monitoring groups and Peace Support Operations. The patterns of trafficking and diversion that are exposed by iTrace serve to increase the effectiveness of arms control measures such as export control and stockpile management.


The EU also supports the implementation of the UN Firearms Protocol in cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The project's activities are focussed on supporting the drafting of legislation and capacity building for law enforcement, including training for investigation and prosecution of firearms trafficking. In the context of this project, UNODC published its Firearms Study that describes trafficking and diversion cases across the globe. The EU is also facilitating cooperation between Member States' law enforcement agencies and the neighbourhood, specifically aiming at firearms trafficking.


At the Review Conference the EU will submit a working paper with an overview of EU funded SALW control projects.


Thank you Mr President.