European Union External Action

EU Statement – 7th Biennial Meeting on the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons

New York, 26/07/2021 - 22:17, UNIQUE ID: 210729_16
Statements on behalf of the EU

26 July 2021, New York - EU Statement on the consideration on international cooperation and assistance for the full and effective implementation of the UN PoA and ITI 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 (26-30 July 2021)

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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.

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

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 are combined with support for legislation, awareness raising and promotion of international standards such as the International Small Arms Control Standards (ISACS) and the International Ammunition Technical Guidelines (IATG).

Most of these projects have a regional scope and are implemented with the help of regional organizations. In Africa, the EU has worked 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, including support to the implementation of the Roadmap for a sustainable solution to arms control in the Western Balkans by 2024. The roadmap model as good practice for regional coordinated approaches was presented during a side-event on Tuesday 27 July. In Latin America, the EU works with the Organization of American States, Central American Program for the Control of SALW (CASAC) and UNLIREC. The EU also supports support combating the illicit trade in and proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the Member States of the League of Arab States.

Other projects enable capacity building for arms export control, which is crucial in preventing SALW from falling into the wrong hands. The EU supports States, at their request, to strengthen their arms transfer control systems with a view to implementing the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The activities under the project take place across the globe and include assistance for drafting legislation, training and sharing of best practices among export control professionals. Implementers are the German Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA) and the organisation Expertise France, assisted by export control officers from other EU Member States. In addition, the EU through the ATT implementation support program has provided technical assistance to a good number of beneficiary countries in Latin America, in Africa, in Central and South East Asia, in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, aiming at strengthening their national systems, in line with the requirements of the Treaty.

Since 2011 the EU has been supporting INTERPOL’s Illicit Arms Records and Tracing Management System. As you know iARMS is an electronic platform that facilitates information exchange and investigative cooperation between law enforcement agencies.

Since 2013 the EU has also 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. 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. CAR's work was presented at a side event on Wednesday 28 July.

For the EU supporting and advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women are at the core of our policies, whether at home or abroad. In line with its EU SALW adopted in 2018, the EU systematically mainstreams gender considerations in the design of new projects relating to the fight against gun violence and SALW control in general. A side event on this subject was organised on 27 July.

From its inception, the UN PoA recognised stockpile management as one of the key responsibilities of the state in their efforts to prevent the diversion of SALW. The EU has been a leading supporter of international efforts to develop an internationally recognised system for the validation of arms and ammunition management according to open international standards. A side event on this issue was organised on 27 July.

The EU supports Africa-China-Europe dialogue and cooperation and contributes to preventing and combating the diversion of arms and ammunition in Africa. The direct beneficiaries of the projects are policy community actors in Africa, China and in Europe, including non-governmental organisations, think tanks, industry representatives, government officials in charge of conventional arms control, and parliamentarians. The indirect beneficiaries are the population, communities, groups and individuals in Africa who are adversely affected by the proliferation of illicit arms and ammunition in the continent.

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.

EU SALW-control assistance also supports peer-to-peer exchange. The EU is facilitating cooperation between Member States' law enforcement agencies and their counterparts in the neighbourhood. The EU has set up a network of law enforcement personnel from Member States that focus on the fight against firearms trafficking by organised crime. This network, called EMPACT Firearms, meets regularly to exchange information and experiences and develops activities in order to achieve pre-set goals. EMPACT-firearms is engaging in peer-to-peer activities and capacity building in the context EU-outreach to countries in the neighbourhood.

In order to increase efficiency and sustainability of assistance efforts the BMS7 outcome document should call for improved coordination in cooperation 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.

Finally, in order to increase transparency on cooperation and assistance in the field of SALW control the EU would welcome a global repository, agreed among donors, where information about SALW control assistance is shared and registered.

Thank you Mr. Chair.

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