I thank the briefers for their informative and insightful contributions.
The illicit flow of small arms and light weapons, and their ammunition exacerbate ongoing conflicts, intensify inter-communal violence, and abet and sustain violent extremists, terrorists and organised crime groups. Controlling and curbing small arms and light weapons transfers should, therefore, be an integral part of post-conflict and armed violence reduction efforts, including in the mandates of the United Nations peace operations.
Positive examples already exist and various UN peace operations – in Haiti, Sudan, Mali – are mandated to support weapons management in the contexts of community violence reduction, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and security sector reform programmes. We welcome that the UN Mine Action Service, which Estonia is proud to support, is also often an integrated component of such missions and can provide them with direct support and technical assistance in small weapons control-related activities.
Whilst the UN peace operations have continued to deepen their support to national authorities, there is still room for reinforcement of the role of UN peace operations in dealing with the flows of illicit small arms.
First, the Security Council could include in a more systematic way in peace operations’ mandates the tasks of record-keeping and tracing of weapons in line with international instruments and standards. Also, the secure and safe management of peace operation’s own weapons and ammunition deserves to be addressed in the mandates.
Second, in order to improve compliance with arms embargoes, cooperation and information sharing between peace operations and panel of experts could be strenghtened. The systematic collection and analysis of data on seized, found and surrended weapons can provide important information about sources and supply chains of armed actors. Consistent information-sharing could thereby help both endeavors better implement their Security Council mandates.
Third, in order to maximise the mission’s ability to respond to small arms management and carry out arms embargo-related tasks we support the Secretary-General’s recommendation to consider the establishment or designation of a unit or cell within a peace mission with respective expertise and skills.
Finally, for Estonia adherence to and ratification of key international instruments in this area is of crucial importance. We 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, and the International Tracing Instrument. Estonia also 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.
I thank you.