Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC open debate "The impact of the diversion and trafficking of arms on peace and security"
We are happy to welcome you as President of the Security Council. We thank Mr.Robert Geiss and Ms.Maria Pia Devoto for the briefings.
Illegal trafficking of small arms and light weapons (SALW) produces a multitude of threats and challenges, which become particularly urgent for developing countries that sometimes turn out flooded with such types of armaments. Due to uncontrolled usage of SALW, these weapons land in the hands of organized crime, illegal armed formations, extremists and terrorists. It is civilians who suffer most from it.
Combating the illicit transfer of SALW must remain in focus of all states. Therefore, corresponding work must be done at the UN General Assembly in the first place, where every state has a voice and an opportunity to take part in the decision-making. We welcome the Seventh Biennial Meeting of States (BMS7) on the implementation of the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons that convened recently. We appreciate the efforts that the Kenyan Presidency made during the Meeting.
Meaningful discussion at the UNGA platform resulted in elaboration of an extensive list of recommendations, which once implemented will let us make progress in combating the illicit trafficking of SALW. We call on all member states to implement the BMS7 final document at national, regional, and global levels.
The Security Council also addresses the topic of illicit SALW trafficking. In 2015, it adopted thematic resolution 2220 which provides a holistic account of UNSC views as to how to counter this phenomenon. We also note the Statement of President of the Security Council addressing concrete aspects of combating the illegal transfer of SALW.
Yet obviously, the Security Council should not duplicate the functions of the General Assembly, especially when it comes to such a universal topic as countering illicit transfer of SALW. The main role of the Security Council here is to facilitate settlement of crises in concrete states and regions with the help various situation-specific measures, where each one should be aimed at solving a concrete task.
In this context, we should be mindful that illegal trafficking of SALW is a global problem that i.a. negatively impacts the implementation of corresponding UNSC measures. This problem cannot be solved through imposing restrictions against a specific state or enhancing one peacekeeping mission or another. We can only solve this problem via collective efforts. The UNSC does not evade its responsibility in this matter, however it would not be right to purposefully “pull up” to it issues that are under consideration of the General Assembly.
The main reasons why SALW spread uncontrollably in the world are well known. The illegal trafficking of such weapons is a direct consequence of excessively liberal national legislation or remaining gaps in national export control regimes, which particularly affect the neighboring states. Numerous brokers that are active at the arms market do not turn out as responsible as they should be. States that have accumulated excessive stockpiles of SALW do not always act appropriately and try to sell the excesses instead of disposing of them. Also, they may pay too little attention to the problem of illicit transfer of SALW across their borders. Production of SALW under expired licenses or in the absence of a license from the country owning the technology constitutes another serious threat. Obviously, deliveries of weapons that are produced in such manner are concealed in every possible way, and therefore in most cases its final recipients will be criminals. The main problem, however, is as follows. In pursuit of profit or political gains, the vendor does not think of who will be the end user of the exported SALW, where and for what purposes these weapons will be used.
The Russian Federation has got rather advanced national legislation in the area of countering the illicit trafficking of SALW. We stand ready to share our expertise and best practices with interested states. As part of implementation of the UN Program of Action and taking into account the recommendations of General Assembly’s BMS7, we suggest that member states pay special attention to implementation of the following measures at the national levels.
- Introducing a universal ban on transfer of any types of SALW to any actors that are not authorized by the governments of recipient-countries.
- Strict regulation and direct state-executed control of brokerage activity related to arms export on all territory under this state’s jurisdiction, and maximum limitation of the number of brokers.
- Introducing ban on re-export or subsequent transfers of the imported SALW without written consent of the state-initial exporter.
- Prevention of manufacturing of SALW under an expired license or without a license issued by the country that owns the production technology, i.a. preclusion of practices, when weapons produced under a license may be slightly modified without developer’s consent and then go for export as a new design.
In conclusion let me once again underscore that combating the illicit transfer of SALW, ensuring safe storage of its stockpiles and eradication of excesses are a prerogative of member states and an integral aspect of their sovereignty. That is why collective action of all states at UNGA platform and subsequent implementation of PoA-based measures (first of all at national levels) are of paramount importance. This is the only way we may be able to achieve our common goal and be successful in countering illegal SALW trafficking in the world.