EU Programme for Preventing and Combating
Illicit Trafficking in Conventional Arms


The Council of the European Union,

convinced that peace and security are inextricably interlinked with economic development and reconstruction,

recognizing that the availability and accumulation of massive quantities of conventional arms and especially their illicit trafficking, often associated with destabilizing activities, are disturbing and dangerous phenomena, particularly for the internal situation of affected states and for the respect of human rights,

stressing the need for effective national control measures on the transfer of conventional arms,

recognizing also the curbing of illicit trafficking of conventional arms as an important contribution to the relaxation of tension and to reconciliation processes,

desirous to take concrete measures to curb the illicit traffic and use of conventional arms, as called for in UNGA resolution 51/45 F, to take practical disarmament measures, as called for in UNGA resolution 51/45 N. and to provide assistance to states for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and collecting them, as called for in UNGA resolution 51/45 L, all of 10 December 1996,

recalling the EU Member States' common reply to UNGA resolution 50/70 B of 12 December 1995,

has adopted the following:


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EU PROGRAMME FOR PREVENTING AND COMBATING
ILLICIT TRAFFICKING IN CONVENTIONAL ARMS

1. EU Member States will strengthen their collective efforts to prevent and combat illicit trafficking of arms(*), particularly of small arms, on and through their territories. In particular, they will vigilantly discharge their national responsibility to ensure the effective implementation of obligations resulting from Conventions and Joint Actions adopted in this field. Furthermore, consideration could be given to, inter alia:

  • fostering enhanced cooperation and coordination, whilst respecting national legislation and policies, amongst intelligence, customs and other law enforcement agencies, both at the national and international level, in order to ensure adequate {customs} checks, as well as prompt investigation and effective prosecution in cases of illicit trafficking of arms;

  • improving the exchange of information and data on illicit trafficking of arms, e.g. through the use of international data bases and risk analyses.

2. The EC and its Member States, each within the limits of its respective competence, will take concerted action to assist other countries in preventing and combating illicit trafficking of arms, particularly of small arms. Specifically, this assistance could aim to:

  • set up or strengthen, as appropriate, an adequate body of laws and administrative measures for regulating and monitoring effectively transfers of arms;

  • adopt strict measures, and provide an adequate number of appropriately trained police and customs officials, for the enforcement of national arms export control legislation;

(*)For the purpose of this Programme and in conformity with the definition in paragraph 7 of the Guidelines for International Arms Transfers (UN Disarmament Commission, 7 May 1996), "illicit trafficking in arms" is understood to cover that international trade in conventional arms which is contrary to the laws or states and/or international law.


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  • set up (sub)regional points of contact to report illicit trafficking of arms;

  • set up national commissions against illicit trafficking of arms;

  • prevent corruption and bribery in connection with illicit trafficking of arms;

  • promote (sub)regional and national cooperation amongst police, customs authorities and intelligence services in this field;

  • promote the use of relevant existing international data bases.

3. The EC and its Member States, each within the limits of its respective competence, will take concerted action to assist affected countries, especially in past conflict situations and in situations where a minimal degree of security and stability exists, in suppressing the illicit circulation and trafficking of arms, particularly of small arms. Specifically, they could aim to:

  • ensure the incorporation of appropriate measures for suppressing the illicit circulation and trafficking of arms in peace keeping operations and cease-fire or peace agreements preceding such operations. To this end, they will cooperate closely, where appropriate, with the United Nations;

  • set up weapons collection, buy back and destruction programmes;

  • set up educational programmed to promote awareness among the focal population of the negative consequences of illicit trafficking of arms;

  • promote the integration of former combatants in civilian life.

4. EU Member States will ensure adequate cooperation amongst the competent branches of their national authorities in giving concrete form to the objectives of this Programme. The Presidency of the Council will ensure the necessary coordination in this field.

5. The EC, according to its own procedures, and its Member States are prepared, where appropriate, to make funds available in pursuit of the objectives of this Programme.

6. The Council will annually review the actions taken in the framework of this Programme


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