17 July 2008

Conference Highlights
Ray Acheson, Reaching Critical Will and Michael Spies, Arms Control Reporter

Procedural matters
Adoption of the draft outcome paper on the implementation of the International Tracing Instrument

Egypt introduced changes to the draft outcome paper on the implementation of the ITI.

Iran announced it needed to await instructions from its capital on the changes and requested a decision on adopting the document be delayed until Friday.

The chair accepted minor technical amendments to the text suggest by South Africa and the United States.

The conference agreed to include an eighth paragraph noting that some states emphasized the importance of a legally-binding instrument (request by Colombia) and that other states considered the nature of the document to have been settled through negotiation (requested by the United States in response to Colombia’s request).

The chair was compelled to accept the outcome document ad referendum, over Iran’s objections, after Iran refused to back away from its position on the need to consult its capital, despite the approval of the text as it stood by all other delegations. This allowed delegations to submit views on the text prior to consideration of the BMS final report on Friday.

Highlights from the presentations by non-governmental organizations

Presentations by International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) and its partner organizations presentations on a variety of issues:

IANSA encouraged governments to visit stockpiles of arms and ammunition in order to understand the threats they pose to local populations. IANSA recommended that states:

  • Implement procedures for marking arms in government stockpiles;
  • Implement measures for accepting arms and ammunition;
  • Restrict access to stockpiles to trained and authorized personnel;
  • Control weapons from the point of departure, in transit sites, and at the point of arrival;
  • Ensure weapons and ammunition are transported in appropriate packaging under appropriate conditions;
  • Identify surplus SALW and destroy them in timely fashion;
  • Ensure surplus stockpiles are well managed, secured, and transported to point of destruction; and
  • Computerize their ITI registers and requests for tracing.

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights encouraged stricter regulations on licensing for gun ownership, pointing to gaps in related legislation throughout the Middle East, and recommended that:

Arab governments amend national laws pertaining gun ownership in line with human rights laws and draft and adopt legal document to prevent or control export of weapons;

Civil society must take part in drafting this instrument; heritage and culture pertaining to guns must be changed at the government level and changed to one of a culture of peace; and

Measures be proposed to activate role of police to better limit spread of weapons and to deal with cases where guns are used.

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom referred delegates to IANSA Women’s Group recommendations on gender and gun violence and argued that UNSC resolutions 1325 and 1820 cannot be implemented as long as there is no control over the illicit trade in SALW.

PIR Center (Russia) urged the BMS to recommend that all member states implement GGE recommendations on illegal brokering.

The Philippines Action Network emphasized the importance of cooperation between various civil society, government, and international organizations.

The IANSA Public Health Network urged increased involvement of Ministers of Health in SALW control issues.

IANSA Director Rebecca Peters urged states that are uneasy about working with civil society to talk to those states who are working with civil society.

Government responses to the NGO presentations

Egypt argued the presentation by the Egyptian Organization on Human Rights was misinformed.

Australia agreed that gender considerations and the measures included in UNSC resolutions 1325 and 1820 must be included in SALW considerations.

Highlights from the thematic discussion on marking and tracing 

Small Arms Survey provided an overview of key elements of the International Tracing Instrument (ITI), explained the three pillars of tracing are marking, record keeping, and cooperation in tracing, and discussed current priorities for implementation of the ITI

Switzerland highlighted fundamental principles of the ITI

The European Union emphasized the importance of cooperation between countries and international organizations in tracing SALW.

CARICOM argued the ITI should have been made legally-binding and should have included ammunition. CARICOM also said marking and tracing require a comprehensive international assistance framework to provide training in marking, tracing, and the confiscation of weapons and policy design and implementation.

Benin expressed concern with the reliability of marking and agreed international assistance is needed for relevant training and technology.

Benin also said systematic information about tracing needs to be given to national contact points regularly.

Algeria encouraged a clearly defined role for NGOs that maintain marking and tracing databases and humanitarian NGOs that can trace the flow of SALW through their communities. Algeria also requested the establishment of an open-ended working group or GGE to work on an ITI for ammunition.

Uruguay encouraged the BMS to recommend or highlight:

  • The need for states to adopt binding measures regarding illicit trade in SALW;
  • The importance of marking weapons at the time of their manufacture in compliance with the ITI;
  • The need for states to ensure this happens regardless of additional costs;
  • The need for technical assistance;
  • The need for training for officials in protocols for the entry, exit, and transit of SALW; and
  • The importance of increased cooperation through exchange of information

Italy said the Firearm Protocol supplements the ITI and PoA and recommended it be referenced in the outcome document

Ghana emphasized the need for the ITI’s provisions to apply to the security sector, not just the military. Ghana also requested assistance in forensics training for marking and tracing

Lithuania suggested that Interpol’s electronic tracing database be extended to cover arms traders that have been refused licenses by some states

Norway highlighted several priority areas where national action and international cooperation can help promote the implementation of the ITI:

  • Ensuring states possess the technology to put indelible marks on firearms;
  • Ensuring states effectively use adequate, computerized record-keeping systems and follow-up on tracing requests;
  • Thinking creatively to use international cooperation to implement ITI;
  • Merging reporting under the PoA and the ITI; and
  • Ammunition should also be marked.

The Dominican Republic suggested establishment of a common database would help states exchange information on tracing.

Peru said international assistance for implementing the ITI should not be conditioned on national reporting.

Germany said the control of SALW and ammunition needed to be approached in an integrated manner, emphasizing the importance of technical assistance.

RECSA encouraged the BMS to recommend the commencement of a process to make the ITI legally-binding.

The International Committee on the Red Cross (ICRC) urged all states to actively trace weapons recovered during or after an armed conflict. The ICRC also recommended that government experts directly involved in implementing the ITI meet on a regular basis to share their experience and consider implementation of the instrument.