by Steven Costner,
Deputy Director for
the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement,
Preparatory Committee Meeting for the First Review Conference of
the United Nations Program of Action for Small Arms and Light
January 11, 2005
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
2001, UN Member States came together to address the problems caused
by the international illicit trade in SA/LW. The United States
unequivocally behind the positions we expressed in our official
statement at that meeting and have consistently applied since
then. We have
worked hard since 2001 in multilateral fora and bilaterally with
many of the states present here today to meet the provisions of the
UN Program of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit
Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects (POA). All
of us now have the opportunity in June to consider our achievements
in implementing this instrument, and ways to improve our efforts.
already have reviewed at the Biennial Meetings of States in
2005 what has been done to implement the POA. Many hundreds of
thousands and possibly millions of excess, loosely secured, or
otherwise at-risk small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) have been
destroyed, and many more have been secured. New legislation has
been drafted in many capitals to facilitate implementation of POA
provisions. But there is clearly room for improvement and wider
implementation in some states that have not yet demonstrated the
full political will to do so.
would like to highlight three areas in particular where the United
States can provide assistance to states to better implement the
Department of State’s SA/LW destruction program continues to assist
States in destroying their surplus, obsolete, and loosely
secured stockpiles. The program supports such destruction
both bilaterally and in conjunction with other donors through
Department of Defense, through the
Defense Threat Reduction Agency
(DTRA), counters global and regional proliferation of SA/LW by
providing foreign governments with assessments, technical advice,
and orientation to U.S. best practices for the Physical Security and
Stockpile Management of SA/LW. In certain cases, DTRA’s
recommendations can provide a basis for the Department of State’s
SA/LW financial assistance.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in the
Department of Justice offers a variety of courses related to
firearms and ballistic identification and firearms tracing for
international law enforcement professionals. In addition to these
courses, and as we noted many times during the marking and tracing
negotiations, the U.S. government stands ready to provide advice and
share our expertise to trace U.S.-origin firearms.
Another important area that we should focus on is that of transfer
controls. Effective export and import controls are absolutely
essential to any successful effort to mitigate the problems of
illicit SA/LW trade and are a key element of the Program of Action. The
United States goes to great lengths to ensure that small arms and
light weapons transferred under our jurisdiction are done so with
the utmost responsibility. The transfer of all military articles of
U.S. origin is subject to extremely rigorous procedures under the
U.S. Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms
Regulations. All U.S. exports of defense articles and services,
including small arms and light weapons, must be approved by the
Department of State. Assurances must be given by the importing
country that arms will be used in a manner consistent with our
criteria for arms exports: they must not contribute to regional
instability, arms races, terrorism, proliferation, or violations of
human rights. Arms of U.S. origin cannot be retransferred without
approval by the United States. To ensure that arms are delivered to
legitimate end-users, our government rigorously monitors arms
transfers, investigating suspicious activity and acting quickly to
curtail exports to those recipients who do not meet our strict
criteria for responsible use.
We therefore support the
goals of the Transfer Control Initiative that has been circulated by
the United Kingdom, and we support the inclusion of a discussion on
transfer controls in the Review Conference agenda, as it is critical
to the implementation of the POA.
United States supports the international instrument to aid in the
marking and tracing of SA/LW that was adopted at the 60th UN General
Assembly this past fall. We believe that the negotiated instrument
provides a useful tool for the implementation of the POA, and we
encourage all Member States to implement the guidelines and
mechanisms that it provides.
also look forward to convening the Group of Governmental Experts on
brokering after the Review Conference. We anticipate that its work
will help identify effective ways to deal with the problem of
illicit brokering. However, since the mandate already is set for
the GGE and its deliberations, we should not make any
recommendations, as part of the RevCon process, that could possibly
prejudice the work of the GGE, and any findings it may present,
before that body even begins to meet.
as there is much agreement on ways to implement the POA, it can be
expected that there will be differing views on what should be
accomplished at the Review Conference and
what should be included for discussion. During the negotiations for
the Program of Action, the United States clearly articulated its
positions and redlines, which remain unchanged.
support measures in the Program of Action calling for effective
export and import controls, restraint in trade to regions of
conflict, observance and enforcement of UNSC embargoes, strict
regulation of arms brokers, transparency in exports, and improving
security of arms stockpiles and destruction of excess. These
measures, taken together, form the core of a regime that, if
implemented by all countries, would greatly mitigate the problems we
all have gathered here to address.
scope of the POA is the illicit international trafficking of small
arms and light weapons. Accordingly, the United States continues to
oppose measures that would constrain legal trade and legal
manufacturing of small arms and light weapons; impose domestic
regulations or restrictions on the civilian ownership and use of
SA/LW; include recommendations concerning ammunition and explosives;
or a ban on transfers to non-state actors. These issues are outside
the scope of the POA, and consistent with our longstanding position,
we would strongly oppose their inclusion in any document resulting
from PrepCom deliberations that would be forwarded for consideration
at the RevCon.
Although the United States acknowledges the progress made since
2001, there is still much work to be done to implement the POA. We
see little to be gained in reopening the document for negotiation,
and will therefore oppose efforts to do so. It is imperative that
we remain focused on fulfilling the obligations made in 2001 without
our attention being diverted by revisiting old debates or addressing
issues that are tangential to our main purpose: to prevent, combat
and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.
delegation looks forward to working with our fellow delegations to
reach consensus on a realistic and workable agenda for the Review
Conference during this session. As long as we remain focused on our
main objective, this is an achievable goal. We sincerely believe
that if we all commit to working hard during the next two weeks we
can conclude our efforts by the end of the afternoon on January 20.
Mr. Chairman, you have the U.S. delegation’s full support and
cooperation toward this goal.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.