European Union External Action

Arms Trade Treaty - Key EU messages: Presidency paper on Strengthening efforts to eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and ensure efficient stockpile management

Geneva, 26/04/2021 - 16:55, UNIQUE ID: 210426_14
Statements on behalf of the EU

Mr. President,

On behalf of the European Union and the following aligning countries: Turkey, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, we would like to thank you for the draft working paper on Strengthening efforts to eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and ensure efficient stockpile management.

The topic you have chosen as the core thematic focus of your ATT Presidency and for the 7th Conference of States Parties is intrinsically linked to key objectives of the Arms Trade Treaty. It is also a timely topic, as demonstrated by the explosions at a military barracks in Bata, the largest city and commercial capital of Equatorial Guinea, which had dramatic consequences. The diversion, illicit trade and unauthorised use of conventional arms, and especially small arms and light weapons (SALW) and their related ammunition, continue to constitute a serious impediment for global peace, security and sustainable development. The prevention of the diversion of conventional arms is one of the primary objectives of the ATT since its inception. We therefore welcome the choice of this topic for a thematic discussion at CSP7 and its further inclusion for the work of the Working Group on Effective Treaty Implementation.

Your proposal to strengthen efficient stockpile management in order to prevent diversion in the post-delivery phase, including stockpile security and management, is an important aspect that has not yet been addressed in the context of the Arms Trade Treaty. We agree with you, Mr. President, that we should explore further synergies between various instruments and initiatives, such as United Nations’ Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (PoA), the International Tracing Instrument, the Firearms Protocol, African Union Silencing the Gun Initiative or ongoing discussion on technical guidelines.

The ATT is the first arms-regulation treaty to recognise the link between conventional arms transfers and gender-based violence and its effective implementation can contribute to eliminating violence against women and girls. The EU Strategy against illicit firearms, small arms and light weapons and their ammunition, adopted by the Council of the EU in November 2018, underlines that the EU will systematically mainstream gender considerations in the fight against gun violence and SALW control. In this regard, an EU Council Decision was adopted in support of gender mainstreamed policies, programmes and actions in the fight against small arms trafficking and misuse. The EU is actively working towards increasing understanding of gender-specific impacts of the illicit arms trade in small arms and light weapons (SALW), with a view to improving national policies and programmes. As such, and in line with the decision taken at CSP5, the EU strongly recommends the integration of a gender perspective into your working paper and, more generally, into the work of CSP7.

Many SALW-control activities funded by the EU, such as the Physical Security and Stockpile Management (PSSM) projects in Africa, have also contributed to preventing diversion of conventional arms and ammunition throughout their lifecycle. The EU has allocated over 83 million EUR from its foreign policy funds to SALW projects over the past years. To name a few examples, the EU supports the South-Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC) for the implementation of the Regional Roadmap on combating illicit arms trafficking in the Western Balkans. The EU also supports the OAS in Countering Illicit Proliferation and Trafficking of Small Arms, Light Weapons (SALW) and Ammunition and their Impact in Latin America and the Caribbean in the framework of the EU Strategy against illicit Firearms, Small Arms & Light Weapons and their Ammunition "Securing Arms, Protecting Citizens". A third example is the support of Ukraine’s efforts to combat illicit trafficking in weapons, ammunition and explosives, in cooperation with the OSCE. A fourth example aims at enhancing security and safety of  SALW and ammunition stockpiles through the development of an internationally recognised system that would allow independent validation/certification of compliance by States with open international standards, on a  voluntary  basis, displaying their ability to address and prevent diversion and accidental explosions.  

We are ready to further exchange views and provide you with a list of all EU’s activities/project in this regard.

Thank you, Mr. President