Thank you Mr. President.
I thank Mexico for convening this meeting and today’s briefers for their informative and insightful contributions.
The illicit flow, widespread availability and trafficking of small arms and light weapons, and their ammunition remain a highly worrisome problem and a major challenge for the international community. The fact that since 2007, with the adoption of its first presidential statement on this matter, the Security Council has repeatedly expressed concern over the impact of illicit transfer and misuse of small arms to peace and security, demonstrate well the complexity and the size of this challenge.
It is a challenge that requires concerted efforts and strong political will at the national, regional and global levels.
Governments that control or transfer weapons have a key role to play in ensuring that the trade, use, and storing of the arms take place in a responsible and accountable manner. In order to detect and disrupt illicit flows of small arms, national legislations need to include adequate arms control frameworks, including relevant stockpile management procedures, law enforcement and criminal justice responses. We support the Security Council mandated peace operations’ role in assisting governments’ actions on small arms management and their capacities to track and trace the origins of illicit small arms and ammunition in conflict situations.
Regional efforts remain critical. In 2018, the EU adopted its strategy against illicit SALW and their ammunition “Securing arms, protecting citizens”. We support and commend other regional initiatives in this area: the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States and the Caribbean Community have all adopted roadmaps and frameworks tailored to specific regional needs and circumstances.
While national and regional controls are important, the increasing globalization of arms transfers calls for international measures. We emphasize the value of arms embargoes imposed by the Council and their full implementation.
Estonia continues to champion the universalization and implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty. We believe that when the Treaty is effectively and widely implemented, it has great potential to contribute to more responsible and more transparent international arms transfers.
We also call on all states to implement the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. The Seventh Biennial Meeting of States this year brought positive developments under the leadership of Kenya. We strongly support the International Tracing Instrument. Marking, tracing and systematic and appropriate record-keeping is essential in order to effectively combat diversion and illicit trafficking of small arms.
Small arms – within and beyond conflict – impact children, women and men differently. As the Secretary General has brought out in its last report, conflicts fuelled by the availability of small arms have grave implications for children and oftentimes deny them their basic rights. Armed violence, including sexual- and gender-based violence is often abetted by armed intimidation. Therefore, it remains essential to fully integrate gender considerations into all efforts of preventing and combating the risk of the misuse, diversion and illicit circulation of small arms so that the gendered aspects of armed violence are adequately addressed. Full, equal and meaningful participation of women in decision-making processes in this realm is essential.
Estonia is committed to preventing and curbing the diversion and trafficking of small arms and light weapons, and their ammunition. We urge all countries to join in strengthening the implementation of the existing commitments and obligations in the field.
I thank you.