Combating the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons: Strengthening Domestic Regulations
KeywordSmall arms and light weapons trade; SALW
; Illicit trafficking
; Weapons proliferation reduction
; UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects
; Legal weapons trade
; Illegal arms trade
; Domestic regulation
; Civilian possession
Rights© 2001 The Authors, British American Security Information Council (BASIC), International Alert and Saferworld. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share-Alike License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/uk).
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AbstractSmall arms and light weapons have become the weapons of choice in conflicts around the world and figure prominently in crime. Recently, considerable attention has been focused on the proliferation of SALW at the national, regional and international level. The recognition that m o s t illicit SALW began as legal weapons is, however, fundamental to efforts to reduce the proliferation and misuse of SALW and the diversion of civilian weapons is one source of supply. Indeed, it is estimated that there are as many SALW in the hands of civilians worldwide as there are in the possession of states, and that in many parts of the world diversion from civilian stocks is the principal source of the illicit supply. Consequently, strengthening domestic regulation, which reduces the diversion of legal weapons to illegal markets, is a critical part of any strategy to address illicit trafficking. It is also consistent with resolutions from the United Nations Security Council and other Commissions as well as regional initiatives. This briefing reviews the ways in which SALW are diverted from legal to illegal markets and the measures which can be used to reduce this diversion. In addressing illicit trafficking in all its aspects, it is imperative that the UN Conference not does neglect this significant problem.
Versionpublished version paper
CitationCukier W with contributions from Bandeira A et al (2001) Combating the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons: Strengthening Domestic Regulations. London: British American Security Information Council (BASIC), International Alert and Saferworld. Biting the Bullet Briefing Papers. Briefing 7.
Link to publisher’s versionhttp://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/cics/publications/bullet/briefing/
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Combating the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons: Enhancing Controls on Legal Transfers.Saferworld (British American Security Information Council (BASIC), International Alert and Saferworld., 2001)A prerequisite for effective international action to prevent and combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons (SALW) is that states develop a common understanding of what constitutes the ¿legal¿ trade and therefore what is ¿illicit¿. At the same time, failure to exert e ffective control over the legal trade in SALW opens up possibilities for diversion to illicit markets and end-users and blurs the lines between the legal and illicit trade. All governments are potential suppliers of SALW, since even those with no manufacturing capacity will have the potential to export surplus weapons once owned by their police and/or armed forces. A major concern for the UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects should thus be to define clear parameters for and to agree on a comprehensive mechanism for controlling the legal trade in these weapons.
Regional initiatives and the UN 2001 Conference: Building Mutual Support and Complementarity.Clegg, E.; Greene, Owen J.; Meek, S.; O'Callaghan, G. (British American Security Information Council (BASIC), International Alert and Saferworld, 2001)As the agenda for the United Nations (UN) 2001 Conference on The Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects takes shape, governments should begin to identify a set of standards, mechanisms and specific agreements that will help consolidate, reinforce and co-ordinate regional and national measures to address the problem of the proliferation and misuse of small arms. An important element of this approach will be to build upon the wealth of regional and national experiences and perspectives that illustrate the different contexts in which efforts to combat the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons have occurred. At the same time, agreements reached at the UN 2001 Conference should be substantial, establishing an agreed comprehensive `international action programme¿ f o r sustained global effort on this complex problem. However there remain issues and concerns that are common to all regions: these should be identified and addressed internationally within the context of the UN 2001 Conference. This briefing, the second in the Biting the Bullet series, reviews some of the current regional e fforts on small arms and light weapons. It identifies common approaches that have been used in different regions to counter the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons, these include: law enforcement and crime control; supplier restraint and transparency; national legislation and regulation of arms; and arms reduction and control. The briefing analyses initiatives using these approaches that are moving forward in West Africa, Eastern and Southern Africa, the European Union (EU), and the development of cooperation between EU Member States and other countries and regional organizations, including Cambodia and the Southern African Development Community. The briefing identifies the impact and priorities of these initiatives, suggesting ways in which the UN 2001 Conference is both relevant to the region and what the region can contribute to the outcomes of the Conference. The briefing concludes with recommendations on the ways in which regional processes can be reinforced and further developed by the international community, focusing especially on the contribution of the UN 2001 Conference. Experience is showing that much of what happens nationally and regionally needs reinforcement and further development with assistance from the international community. The UN 2001 Conference comes at an important time for providing the framework ¿ through the international action programme ¿ to develop, reinforce and c o-ordinate these national and regional processes, through developing appropriate international norms, standards, programmes and mechanisms. Using the illustration of combating illicit arms trafficking, this briefing outlines some of the processes that could be taken forward through the UN 2001 Conference which would build upon and strengthen national and regional eff o r t s . The briefing contains an annex, which provides background information on many current regional and international initiatives, including those in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and inter-regionally, such as the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
The UN firearms protocol: considerations for the UN 2001 conference.O'Callaghan, G.; Meek, S. (British American Security Information Council (BASIC), International Alert and Saferworld., 2001)Since April 1998, the Vienna-based UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice has been negotiating the draft Protocol Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition (hereafter referred to as the Firearms Protocol). This Protocol will be the first global measure regulating international transfers of small arms and light weapons, and should have a tremendous impact on both the legal and the illicit manufacture and trade in firearms. The draft agreement seeks to combat and criminalise trafficking in firearms, through the development of harmonised international standards governing the manufacture, possession and transfer of commercial shipments of these weapons. While the final outcome of the Protocol relies on the outcome of negotiations in February 2001, the draft agreement contains provisions which commit states, among other things, to: l Adopt legislative measures to criminalise the illicit manufacture, trafficking, possession and use of firearms; l Maintain detailed records on the import, export and in-transit movements of firearms; l Adopt an international system for marking firearms at the time of manufacture and each time they are imported; l Establish a harmonised licensing system governing the import, export, in-transit movement and re-export of firearms; l Exchange information regarding authorised producers, dealers, importers and exporters, the routes used by illicit traffickers, best practice in combating trafficking in order to enhance states ability to prevent, detect and investigate illicit trafficking; l Co-operate at the bilateral, regional and international level to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms; and l Consider developing systems to require arms brokers, traders and forwarders to register and obtain licences for their transactions. The Protocol places a premium on international co-operation, information exchange and transparency. The provisions in the Firearms Protocol are an important complement to those being developed for the UN 2001 Conference. Issues such as improving the ability to trace small arms and light weapons through effective marking systems, regulating the activities of arms brokers and building international norms on the responsible disposal of surplus small arms are common to both initiatives.