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1. I would like to thank you for organising another round of informal consultations and involving the Geneva disarmament community in the preparations of the 2018 Review Conference of the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons (UN PoA SALW).
2. We commend France for the inclusive and transparent preparatory process carried out over the course of the past year. We welcome the latest preparatory documents which you have submitted for our consideration well ahead of the March Preparatory Committee meeting. We consider that the updated outline of elements provides a good basis for our discussions at the Third Review Conference in June 2018.
3. The EU will contribute actively and constructively to your efforts to achieve a meaningful and concrete consensus outcome at the Review Conference. It is important that the international community remains vigilant and actively contributes to the matter, given the devastating impact of illicit SALW and their ammunition on many societies in volatile regions, thus hampering security, stability and sustainable development.
4. Subject to the adoption of a formal EU position closer to the date, we would like to highlight a few important points which would merit reflection in the Review Conference outcome document:
- the importance of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;
- recognising that armed violence has a different impact on women, men, girls and boys, and promoting gender awareness in SALW control actions to ensure their effectiveness;
- striving towards appropriate synergies when implementing other international instruments with similar objectives, such as the Arms Trade Treaty and the UN Firearms Protocol;
- including ammunition in the scope of the UN PoA;
- underlining the importance of transparency and of reporting to the UN PoA and the International Tracing Instrument (ITI) as well as potential synergies on that matter with other related international instruments;
- taking into account the implications of developments in SALW technology, design, manufacture and trade in order to preserve the effectiveness of the UN PoA and the International Tracing Instrument (ITI);
- promoting the systematic tracing of seized illicit SALW, the exchange of information between competent agencies on a national, regional and global level and the use of this information to identify and stop diversion;
- underlining the role of responsible arms export control practices in combatting the illicit SALW trade, which entails a proper risk assessment, including on the risk of diversion, prior to granting export licences and the use of end-use certificates;
- mandating UN peacekeeping operations to support SALW control activities in conflict affected areas;
- assessing the impact of SALW control assistance that has been provided by donors for the implementation of the UN PoA and presenting the outcome of this assessment to one of the next Biennial Meetings of States;
- highlighting the role of the PoA in the fight against terrorism; and
- supporting the involvement of researchers, civil society and industry in UN PoA related activities.
5. In order to contribute to a successful and relevant outcome of the Review Conference, the EU Council last year decided to support a set of dedicated actions in the run up to this year’s meetings. These project activities, worth of EUR 2.8 million, are being implemented by the UN Office on Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), with the help of Small Arms Survey, and in close coordination with you, Mr. President-designate.
6. Last October and November, the EU funded four thematic symposia in Brussels, Geneva and New York to allow expert discussions on four topics, notably SALW tracing and stockpile management in conflict and post-conflict situations; the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including Sustainable Development Goal 16 and gender aspects of SALW control; recent developments in SALW manufacturing technology and design and resulting challenges and opportunities for the implementation of the UN PoA and the International Tracing Instrument (ITI); and synergies between UN PoA, the Arms Trade Treaty and other relevant instruments.
7. I should emphasise that these topics reflect important common priorities identified in the outcome documents of the Fifth and the Sixth Biennial Meetings of States (BMS5 and BMS6), which the EU shares. They remain relevant for achieving consensus at the Review Conference.
8. I would like to thank you, Mr President-designate, for attending and participating actively in all four EU-sponsored symposia. This was greatly appreciated. Let me also thank the UNODA and the Small Arms Survey for their excellent work in preparing and running the meetings. Reports on the symposia will be published soon and we hope they will benefit UN Member States and other stakeholders in their preparations for the Review Conference.
9. In the upcoming months, the EU will also support the organisation of five regional conferences in preparation of the Review Conference. The ambition is to put more emphasis on the regional approach which is essential in order to successfully curb the illicit trade in SALW and their ammunition.
10. Allow me to share the planning of the regional conferences with you:
- Latin American States 13-14 February Lima, Peru
- Caribbean States 19-20 February Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
- ASEAN and South Asian States 7-8 March Bangkok, Thailand
- West and Central African States 10-11 April Lomé, Togo
- East and Southern African States 12-13 April Lomé, Togo
11. In conclusion, Mr. President-designate, we are grateful for this opportunity to share views and we are looking forward to continued close cooperation with you and all UN Member States to make the Third Review Conference a success.