UN Conference On Illicit Arms Trade
Officially invited by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, Dr. Widad Akreyi attended the third UN conference to review progress made in the implementation of the Programme of Action on illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. In her statement she said:
"The proliferation of arms and their diversion into the hands of dangerous groups is not the result of one war or the failings of one country. It results from decades of instability in many countries across our region... We need to devote resources to building a culture of non-violence and peace. This includes education and public awareness programs on the illicit arms trade and on the rule of law. It also includes disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programs, community violence reduction programmes and security sector reform."
The Third United Nations Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of
The Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects
Conference room 4, UN Headquarters, New York
June 20, 2018
Statement by Dr. Widad Akreyi
Recipient of 2017 Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award
"Thank you Mr. President.
At the outset, allow me to thank you for the kind invitation and the valuable opportunity to raise some of the issues regarding Middle East and North Africa region, which is - as you know- a troubled region whose populations have been severely affected by armed violence and conflict. I don't want to oversimplify the causes of such conflict and violence, but one factor has been the easy availability of small arms, light weapons and their ammunition.
The proliferation of such arms and their diversion into the hands of dangerous groups is not the result of one war or the failings of one country. It results from decades of instability in many countries across our region.
Some still believe that acquiring more guns will bring more security. But this has proven time and again to be a false hope. Instead, real security comes from establishing the rule of law, institutions to ensure social justice and respect for human rights.
In one of our countries, a government investigation concluded that the stockpile management system did not have accurate information on the contents of individual warehouses at locations throughout the country. The system relied on a manual, paper-based, unsearchable inventory system for tracking equipment. As a result, finding items in the warehouse complex depended on the knowledge and memory of individual warehouse workers.
There was also poor physical storage: Equipment and ammunition that had never been inventoried were stored in shipping containers that were easy to break into.
The diversion of small arms and ammunition was caused not only by lack of capacity, but also by corruption. Consequently, armed groups accumulated large quantities of small arms and ammunition. They set up illegal markets and terrorized the civilian population. It became a spiralling cycle of violence.
In the Programme of Action, all Member States committed themselves to ensure that confiscated, seized or collected small arms and light weapons are destroyed and made permanently inoperable. We cannot allow those stocks to be diverted into illicit markets. We need better systems of management, and to use new technologies for permanent weapons deactivation.
The misuse of arms, particularly in contexts of armed conflict, can lead to the damage, destruction and closure of civilian infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, places of work, markets, residential areas and places of religious and cultural significance, as well as to a breakdown in basic services.
The proliferation of small arms tends to impact negatively on equality and women's participation, and their access to resources and opportunities.
We must establish mechanisms to ensure the full participation of women in small arms control programs.
We also need to devote resources to building a culture of non-violence and peace. This includes education and public awareness programs on the illicit arms trade and on the rule of law. It also includes disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programs, community violence reduction programmes and security sector reform.
Mr President, there are many civil society organizations working daily to bring peace and human security. These organizations can play an important role in principled partnership with governments to strengthen the implementation of the Programme of Action and the International Tracing Instrument. We encourage cooperation by governments with non-governmental organizations, research organizations, consumer associations and industry.
Mr President, if there is partnership between Member States with all stakeholders in civil society, we can together reduce the demand for weapons, improve controls and thus curb the armed violence and criminality that have such a damaging effect on our societies.
UN headquarters, Manhattan, NYC, 20 June 2018
Review Conference Schedule
Widad participated in all plenary sessions, as well as in the following side events that took place in the margins of the third review conference:
- Global numbers on arms holdings, organised by Mission of Australia and Small Arms Survey;
- Building national capacity in weapons and ammunition management to sustain peace and prevent conflict, organised by Permanent Mission of France and UNMAS;
- International Tracing Instrument (ITI) and the way forward: Examining possible options to support the operationalisation of ITI, organised by Missions of Australia and France and UNIDIR;
- Regional approaches to addressing the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons - innovative practices from the Western Balkans, organised by Missions of France and Germany, and UNDP/SEESAC;
- Fighting illicit trafficking of firearms and monitoring SDG 16.4: From Data collection to effective action, organised by the Permanent Mission of Italy and UNODC;
- Connecting the dots: supporting the 2030 agenda, the Arms Trade Treaty and the United Nations Program of Action on Small Arms implementation through increased parliamentary engagement and action in international processes, organised by Mission of Sweden, IPPNW, and Parliamentary Forum on SALW;
- A call to action on gender and small arms control; and
- Promoting cooperation in weapons and ammunition management in Somalia, organised by the Federal Government of Somalia, the Government of Finland and UNIDIR.