Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by First Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy at UNSC open debate "Addressing the threat posed by diversion, illicit trafficking and misuse of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition to peace and security"


We thank USG Nakamitsu, Deputy Director of UNIDIR, Ms. Cécile Aptel, and Executive Director of Women’s Institute for Alternative Development, Ms. Folade Mutota, for the briefings.  

The situation in the world clearly demonstrates the importance of controlling transfers of conventional arms and military products, including small arms and light weapons (SALW). Risks of proliferation, illicit trafficking, and falling of SALW into the hands of terrorists and criminals grow almost daily.

Small arms and light weapons remain one of the widest used weapons in regional and localized conflicts. They surpass any other category of weapons in terms of the number of human casualties resulting from their use in combat. Terrorist and criminal groups are constantly expanding and improving their illegal arsenals of SALW, and they are trying to fulfil their criminal plans primarily in regions and countries with an unstable military and political situation. At the end of the day, the main victim is the civilian population. That’s what we have to see in various regions of the world – Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Among the factors contributing to the uncontrolled "sprawl" of SALW are overly liberal national legislation in this area and persistent gaps and loopholes in national export control regimes. Often, SALW is transferred internationally to actors that have not received the necessary authority from their governments. In the pursuit of profit, or even political expediency, the supplier may not think about where and for what purposes a particular batch of SALW is going to be used and in whose hands it will end up. The numerous broker mechanisms that operate in the market lack responsibility too. States that have accumulated excessive stocks of SALW fail to be as scrupulous as they should be when exporting light weapons. For them, selling surplus stockpiles is a profitable alternative to disposal.

The manufacturing of SALW under expired licenses or without any licenses from the owner of technology remains a serious problem. As a rule, weapons manufactured in this way are exported to third countries, and the facts of such transfers are concealed carefully. This lack of transparency creates a threat that arms may be transferred to undesirable end-users, including terrorists, paramilitary formations, and organized criminal groups, as well as to countries that are subject to UNSC-imposed arms embargoes. We believe that all the above problems require our closest attention.

The Russian Federation has consistently devoted considerable attention to issues of control over the supply of military goods, including with regard to SALW. We keep strengthening national legislation in this area and are ready to share relevant expertise. We support specialized regional initiatives in Africa and Latin America.

As for the efforts at the United Nations platform, the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons remains the only specialized global document on combating illicit trafficking in SALW. We are surprised that the concept note for today's meeting, prepared by Ecuadorian Presidency, pays little attention to the PoA, especially in the context of the outcome of the quite successful meeting of states in 2022 to consider it, as well as the planned review conference of the PoA next year.

A similar situation unfolds with the Secretary-General's report on small arms and light weapons that was mentioned today, which includes the PoA alongside with non-core initiatives. A number of the report's recommendations, including the ones not linked to SALW, raise serious doubts. Among them – recognizing sexual violence as a self-sufficient criterion for targeted sanctions regimes.

We are convinced that States' efforts to strengthen control over SALW trafficking should be aimed precisely at enhancing cooperation within the framework of the Programme of Action under the auspices of the General Assembly. It is simply unnecessary to initiate discussions in the Security Council on this topic unless they are centered around specific facts of violations of the arms embargoes imposed by the Security Council on certain countries and regions. This issue is being dealt with effectively and quite efficiently within the specialized sanctions committees.

My country has consistently proposed a number of specific measures that could contribute to implementing joint efforts to curb the illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons, such as introducing a universal ban on transfers of all types of SALW to entities not authorized by the Governments of recipient states; ensuring strict regulation and direct control by states in territories under their jurisdiction over arms export brokerage and limiting the number of arms brokering activities in territories under their jurisdiction; introducing a strict ban on re-exports or subsequent transfers of imported SALW without the written consent of the original exporter, i.e. making arms export transactions conditional on having the end-user certificate; preventing the production of SALW under expired licenses or without a license from the country that owns the technology (that should include curbing the practice whereby weapons previously produced under a license are slightly modified without the consent of the developing country and then exported as an original technology).

In doing so, the Russian Federation proceeds primarily from the sovereign prerogatives of states to manage the trafficking and stockpiles of SALW, determine standards for ensuring their physical security, marking, record-keeping and inventory, and to choose methods and technologies to dispose of surplus stockpiles.

As for the calls to strengthen the role of the 2014 International Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), to be frank, this instrument has turned out rather weak. It simply does not allow us to fully address the tasks envisaged by it. For example, the ATT does not explicitly prohibit the license-free production of arms or the transfer of arms to non-state actors. It does not include provisions regulating the re-export of military products. Therefore, there remain risks of weapons falling into the hands of criminals and terrorists.

Practical application of the ATT also raises serious questions. There is a bitter irony in the fact that its individual parties continue, directly or indirectly, to supply military products to zones of armed conflict. On the one hand, calls are made to accede to the ATT, while on the other hand, it is implied that the standards contained therein may be subject to a very loose interpretation.


In this context, we cannot fail to draw the Council's attention to a topic that we regularly raise in the context of the events in Ukraine. Russia has repeatedly convened meetings of the Security Council on the dangerous consequences of the "pumping" of arms into the Kiev regime in violation of its commitments in the area of arms control. The risks stemming from this are not related specifically to the area of our special military operation, but matter for various regions of the globe. Western countries continue to supply arms to Ukraine despite the fact that its leadership is simply unable to control the incoming shipments and arsenals. Suffice it to recall that munitions marked as belonging to a UAF military unit stationed in the town of Mukachevo in the Transcarpathian region surfaced at Israel’s borders. This even sobered up the SBU a little bit so they carried out some searches and detentions. And this is by no means the only example of how weapons supplied to Ukraine, including SALW, make their way to the black market to sheer delight of terrorist and criminal groups around the world. President of Nigeria, Mohammadu Buhari, spoke about this more than a year ago, when he reported that Nigerian authorities had discovered extremists in possession of weapons that had been initially intended for the Ukrainian armed forces. However, there is little to be surprised about, given how lucrative this dangerous business is for the United States and its allies. Their desire to fight "to the last Ukrainian" is fueled by the financial gain they derive.

Against this background, we should like to recall that the signatories to the ATT and the EU countries are bound by their obligations to prevent the use of weapons as tools for creating threats to international peace, security and stability, violating international humanitarian law, committing acts of violence, escalating armed conflicts, carrying out repression and genocide, etc. However, contrary to those principles, Western countries continue to supply weapons to a regime that has been using them for many years against civilians and civilian infrastructure. We have already repeatedly presented evidence of these facts - including material evidence - to the Security Council. Whereas allegations that have been made in this Council against Russia and other states of supplying military products in violation of UNSC resolutions have never been supported by any convincing arguments.

We doubt that appeals to Western countries to abandon the vicious practice of insanely "pumping" Kiev with weapons will have any effect - the current situation is too favorable to them. In any case, Russia has every opportunity to give a worthy response to any supplied weapons being used against us. However, we trust that the overwhelming majority of member states realize who bears the main responsibility for violating international agreements in this area.

Thank you.

Video of the statement