The potential for the ATT to reduce violence from Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) featured strongly during a debate at the UN Security Council on Wednesday. The Debate, which was convened by the Mission of Lithuania, in its capacity as Council President, drew wide and high level participation from Member States.

The debate opened with a statement from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in which he launched a new report on SALW and stressed that the widespread availability SALW and their ammunition is the common factor in over 250 conflicts witnessed across the globe in the last decade. He noted that the recent entry into force of the ATT lays the foundations for a global framework of arms transfer controls, including for small arms and light weapons and ammunition.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, referred to the ATT as a “real source of hope” and called on the Security Council to continue to continue its strong support for the ATT by mandating UN operations to build ATT implementation capacity into regional and national assistance alongside capacity-building for human rights and rule of law institutions.

Civil society was represented by Karamoko Diakite, President of the Cote d’Ivoire chapter of the West Africa Action Network on Small Arms (WAANSA). His personal testimony described the horrific impact of small arms on his family and community and highlighted how those arms had been stolen from insecure stockpiles and illegally trafficked.

“We were all victims of those armed men…and we ask the question: Where do these weapons and their ammunition come from, these weapons that enable all this violence, all this suffering?”

Over 60 Member States, including both Council and non-Council members, delivered statements during the Debate. Nearly all statements welcomed the recent entry-into-force of the ATT and noted the role that it will play in reducing the illicit transfer and diversion of arms, particularly when implemented in tandem with the 2001 UN Programme of Action on SALW, and in reinforcing arms embargoes and increasing transparency. Many reiterated the importance of securing stockpiles and utilizing new technologies for marking and tracing. There was a heavy emphasis on the negative impact of arms on children. The meaningful participation of women in all aspects of disarmament and conflict resolution was stressed by many States.

Lithuania has also been leading negotiations on a new resolution about small arms control that would build on Resolution S/RES/2117, which was adopted in September 2013. Negotiations have stalled, and the resolution has not been presented yet. That adoption signalled a major step forward in international cooperation on arms control and was the first time that the Security Council has ever adopted a resolution on this subject. Lithuania’s work on the subject is an important step toward advancing that work, and Control Arms hopes to see a resolution adopted soon.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider

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