U.N. Member States make progress on stopping illicit small arms trade

U.N. Member States made encouraging commitments to a program to stop illicit trade in small arms in the past year, according to a report recently issued by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The report was the result of requests made by the U.N. General Assembly in Resolution 67/41 and Resolution 67/58. Resolution 67/41 invited the the secretary-general and states in a position to do so to provide aid to states for curbing the illicit traffic of small arms and light weapons. Resolution 67/58 called upon Member States to contribute to the implementation of the Program of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.

Because of interconnected issues, the two resolutions were addressed together in the report.

The report found that between August 2012 and July, the U.N. saw the successful outcome of the second U.N. Conference to Review Progress Made in the Program of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. The conference was held in New York from August 27 to September 7. The conference saw the adoption of a 2012 declaration, two implementation plans and a follow-up document agreeing on a schedule of meetings between 2012 and 2018.

The reporting period also included the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty on April 2 by the U.N. General Assembly. The U.N. opened the treaty for signature on June 3.

The Security Council addressed illicit small arms trade during the reporting period in the midst of country situations and thematic areas such as children and armed conflict, drug trafficking, security, counterterrorism, women and peace and security. The council noted that states in some subregions of Africa have porous borders and growing illegal trafficking of arms. In one attempt to counter the issue, the council encouraged the Democratic Republic of the Congo to increase accountability, stockpile security and management of arms and ammunition, with the help of international partners.

While progress was made during the reporting period, the U.N. report said the international body will continue its efforts to address the issue of illicit weapon trade.

"Given the gravity of the consequences of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and their uncontrolled proliferation, the United Nations will continue to address this issue in a comprehensive and integrated manner," the report said.