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Comment: Reflections on Small Arms and Light Weapons in the run-up to the PoA Review

Small arms and light weapons in Afghanistan

Maintaining political will to address Small Arms and Light Weapons proliferation is essential [Photo: Sean Sutton / MAG]






MAG has delivered arms management projects in collaboration with state authorities for the past six years.


In a critical year for disarmament and weapons management issues, MAG calls for continued commitment to the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in all its Aspects (PoA), including support to stockpile management and destruction initiatives.

Last week, the Diplomatic Conference aiming to negotiate an Arms Trade Treaty came to a close at the United Nations headquarters in New York. MAG applauds the sustained efforts of civil society colleagues and like-minded states who have worked tirelessly towards a robust treaty driven by the principles of human rights and international humanitarian law, and encompassing Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) and ammunition.

Whilst the outcome of these negotiations is disappointing, we remain hopeful that the momentum built during the Diplomatic Conference will guide the international community to eventual consensus. Maintaining political will to address SALW proliferation is essential and the PoA – in particular the upcoming Second Review Conference – is critical, and even more so in the absence of an ATT.

MAG certainly welcomes the concept of a 2012 Declaration, but we feel that the Review Conference must look beyond reaffirming political commitments to an honest analysis of the PoA’s strengths and of its weaknesses.

We encourage states to build upon successes, and to learn from those aspects in which progress has been slow. From MAG’s perspective, this includes a greater focus on and commitment to practical assistance and implementation, particularly a political and financial commitment to technical support in stockpile management and destruction initiatives.

Ensuring that weapons and ammunition are not diverted to the illicit market, and building the technical capacity of states to prevent such diversion, should be one of the central components of the arms control and disarmament agenda.

We see daily the negative effects that illicit SALW and their ammunition have on the safety and security of communities, and how their proliferation presents a significant barrier to conflict recovery, human security and the development of more transparent and accountable state security institutions.

MAG’s engagement with the PoA takes place largely at the national and regional level in developing countries, where we provide expert technical assistance relating to the storage, management and destruction of weapons under state control.

MAG strongly supports the proposal by Japan to focus on stockpile management and destruction in the next six-year cycle, not least as we have seen the tangible impact that these initiatives can have.

We encourage states to support this as a focus area for the proposed Meeting of Governmental Experts structure, complemented by the proposed meetings of the Group of Governmental Experts.

To be truly sustainable, stockpile management and destruction programming must have a foundation in needs assessments and incremental assistance plans, which many donors are not willing to fund.

We urge states to increase financial support to technical assistance initiatives relating to stockpile management and destruction, and to press for the inclusion of financial assistance commitments in the Declaration.

We would also highlight the incremental programming successes that NGOs such as MAG have achieved in some of the most complex contexts. We look forward to what we hope is a constructive Review Conference and, further, a successful step towards a safer world.

1 August 2012


  Weapons stored for destruction in Burundi
Weapons stored for destruction at the Central Weapons Destruction Workshop in Bujumbura, Burundi.
Ensuring that weapons and ammunition are not diverted to the illicit market  should be one of the central components of the arms control and disarmament agenda.
[Photo: Clare O'Reilly / MAG]





SALW in DR Congo

 

We urge states to increase financial support to technical assistance initiatives relating to stockpile management and destruction, and to press for the inclusion of financial assistance commitments in the Declaration.








See also: 

BURUNDI: Massive dynamite explosion risk removed

D.R. CONGO: 'Reducing armed violence' – VIDEO

Other resources:

UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in all its Aspects

UN PoA Review Conference 2012

UN Office for Disarmament Affairs: Arms Trade Treaty

UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty







Donors...

Thanks to the following donors to MAG's PSSM and SALW projects. Without their funding, we could not carry out this vital work around the world:

• Act for Peace
• AECID (Spanish Government)
• AusAID (Australian Government)
• Canadian International Development Agency
• European Union
• Foundry 47
• German Ministry of Foreign Affairs

• Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
• Stichting Vluchteling

• UK Department for International Development (UKaid)
UK Government, Africa Conflict Pool Programme
• UK Government, Ministry of Defence
• UNDP CHF
• UNMAS
• UNOPS
• US State Department's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatemen
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MAG (Mines Advisory Group) saves and improves lives by reducing the devastating effects armed violence and remnants of conflict have on people around the world.
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