posted on THU 21 APR 2011 11:26 AM
Insights on Small Arms

The Secretary-General’s report on small arms and light weapons was circulated yesterday (Wednesday, 20 April). The Council is expecting a briefing on Monday, 25 April, possibly by the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Sergio Duarte.

The Secretary-General’s report recommends that the Council encourage States to strengthen their tracing capacity and to enhance international cooperation regarding tracing as well as to apply, on a voluntary basis, the international ammunition technical guidelines once they are finalised. He also suggests that the Council promote increased compliance by non-State armed groups with international norms relating to the use and stockpiling of weapons and ammunition in times of conflict.

The Council adopted a presidential statement on small arms in 2007 asking the Secretary-General to submit a report on small arms and light weapons to it on a biennial basis, starting in 2008. The first report was submitted to the Council on 17 April 2008. The biennial cycle was disrupted in 2010 as no report was released. The report the Council will consider on Monday is therefore the delayed report for 2010.

Council members had been waiting for the report before deciding the best approach for the Council to take on the issue of small arms. With the report having just been released it is still unclear whether Council members will be ready to take any decisions following the briefing. Many members are conscious of the sensitivity of the over-lap with the General Assembly on this issue. (The General Assembly has been negotiating a possible arms-trade treaty and a UN conference is expected to be held in 2012 on the issue.) The US has in the past been reluctant to agree to new limitations on small arms in the Council but in recent years seems to have moderated its position. The Council may have another opportunity to discuss this issue at a later stage as South Africa has indicated some interest in taking it up.