At the 2018 UN small arms review conference, governments agreed to use national points of contact to strengthen the exchange of information and other forms of international cooperation. This bulletin fills that gap.
We aim to inform national authorities every six months on good practices in small arms control and the latest developments in the United Nations, so that they have access to the most authoritative and tested methods and policies.
If you, as a national official working on effective small arms control, are easily able to retrieve state-of-the-art tools and information, this will contribute to the goal of ‘disarmament saving lives’: the key objective on conventional arms regulation in the UN Secretary-General’s ‘Disarmament Agenda’.
Pursuant to General Assembly resolution 76/233, the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) on conventional ammunition convened its third substantive session from 13-17 February 2023 in New York. Following the first and second substantive sessions held in 2022 in New York and Geneva respectively, the third substantive session focused on the elaboration of a set of political commitments as a new global framework that will address existing gaps in through-life ammunition management, including international cooperation and assistance.
In advance of the third session, the Chair, Mr. Albrecht von Wittke (Germany), had circulated a draft substantive outcome document which was commended by many States as a good basis for negotiation. The draft Global Framework is made up of the following 5 sections: Preamble, Guiding Principles, Cooperative Framework (containing 15 objectives with implementation measures); International Cooperation and Assistance; Follow-up and Review; and an Annex containing rationales for the objectives.
While considerable progress was made by delegations during the third substantive session towards convergence on a robust and effective Global Framework on through-life conventional ammunition management, agreement has yet to be achieved on the draft substantive outcome document. In order to narrow gaps on various substantive matters, the Chair plans to make effective use of the inter-sessional period to work with delegations to achieve compromises and has announced circulating a next revised draft substantive outcome document by mid-May. This will form the basis of work for the fourth substantive session to be held 5 to 9 June 2023 in New York.
The Group is expected to submit its report, including recommendations on the establishment of a global framework on ammunition management to the General Assembly at its 78th session.
Further information on the OEWG can be found on the dedicated website: https://meetings.unoda.org/oewg-ammo/open-ended-working-group-on-ammunition-2022
From 16 December 2022 UNODA has been working on a new project that seeks to support full and effective implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (UNPoA). The project’s major activities are centered around three main pillars, namely i) to support forward-looking global policy developments in the context of the fourth UN Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the UNPoA in 2024 (RevCon4); ii) to strengthen effective national and regional implementation of the UNPoA and the International Tracing Instrument (ITI); iii) to support gender-responsive SALW control policies and programmes.
As part of substantive and inclusive preparations for RevCon4 which also form the bulk of activities under Pillar I, UNODA together with its Regional Centres in Africa (UNREC), Asia and Pacific (UNRCPD) and Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), will organize five (5) regional meetings to provide a forum for participating States and regional organizations to identify region-specific small arms and light weapons (SALW) related challenges and discuss regional priorities for the RevCon4. Regional meetings will be preceded by the virtual expert round tables organized together with UNIDIR, with the aim to develop action-oriented recommendations to SALW control in support of RevCon4.
Another major activity under the project (Pillar II) is the upgrade of the MOSAIC assessment tool to enable States to carry out self-assessments on the implementation of the UNPoA and ITI. The upgraded tool will help states review their implementation levels under the two instruments in the full lifecycle of SALW. For this activity UNODA will partner with UNIDIR and will closely work with its Regional Centres.
To ensure continuity from its previous project on Gender and SALW Control, which concluded in October 2022, and to serve the ongoing demand from States to strengthen and deepen their gender-mainstreamed small arms control policies and programmes, in line with the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda, UNODA plans a series of activities that aim to strengthen the small arms control component in this framework (Pillar III). Major activities across all regions include a series of training workshops and webinars on gender-mainstreaming and converging agendas implemented by UNODA Regional Centres.
UNODA will also ensure close engagement with the civil society across all pillars and will partner with the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) who will support the implementation of this project.
The Fourth UN Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the UN Programme of Action will take place from 17-28 June 2024 preceded by the Preparatory Committee meeting on 12-16 February 2024. This project is funded by the European Union through Council Decision (CFSP) 2022/1965.
Transparency in armaments remains a prerequisite for arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation and thus the maintenance of international peace and security. That holds particularly true during these times of uncertainty and volatility. Transparency acts as a confidence-building measure, thereby contributing to the prevention and reduction of ambiguities, misperceptions and tensions among Member States and, in turn, paving the way for international cooperation.
The UN Register of Conventional Arms (UNROCA) remains a key tool in this regard. The instrument was created in 1992 by the General Assembly, which encouraged Member States to provide reports on international arms transfers on an annual basis. The Register spans seven categories of major conventional arms – battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft and fixed-wing unmanned combat aerial vehicles, helicopters and rotary-wing unmanned combat aerial vehicles, warships, and missiles and missile launchers – as well as small arms and light weapons.
During the most recent reporting cycle, 57 Member States or 30% of UN membership reported to the Register, which marks the highest participation rate in almost a decade. This was made possible, in large part, to the voluntary option of ATT States Parties to post their reports simultaneously on the UNROCA database. UNODA is grateful of the cooperation it has maintained with the Secretariat of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) In this area. UNODA is also working to promote and revitalize the Register, for example by revising its practical guide on UNROCA, updating the list of national focal points and collaborating with the UNROCA Informal Group of Friends, an informal advisory mechanism created through the 2022 Group of Governmental Experts on UNROCA.
Training workshops on preparing national submissions to the UN Report on Military Expenditures (UNMilEx)
In March 2023, the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) co-organized training workshops for Permanent Missions and national focal points on preparing submissions to the UN Report on Military Expenditures (UNMilEx). Member States are called upon annually to submit information on their military expenditures to this transparency instrument, which was inaugurated in the early 1980s. Whereas almost two-thirds of UN Member States have reported to UNMilEx at least once since its establishment, participation rates have declined in recent years, thereby limiting the effectiveness of the instrument as a confidence-building measure.
Against this backdrop, the training workshops were quite timely, serving to build reporting capacity among Member States and promoting the transparency instrument as such. The workshops encompassed remarks on the importance of transparency in military matters, a presentation on the UNMilEx instrument and the key components of its reporting forms, practical demonstrations of how to prepare submissions, and a walk-through of the web-based UNMilEx reporting tool. In total, 70 participants attended the workshops, representing 42 percent of UN Member States. Of these, 4 Member States had never submitted information to the UNMilEx instrument, while 15 Member States did not do so during the past two reporting cycles. The aim is that, by organizing such training workshops, the UN Secretariat can contribute to the promotion of the UNMilEx instrument and capacity-building among Member States.
Military confidence-building measures (CBMs) are procedures which aim to correct faulty perceptions of motive, to reduce misunderstanding about military activity, and to build security cooperation, trust, and even interdependency. As the measures take effect over time, they can stabilize bilateral and regional relationships, and help to clarify shared security interests, further opening the space for trust and cooperation. Ultimately this can lead to agreements on arms control and disarmament.
Although military confidence-building measures have been applied by neighbouring countries around the globe for centuries, their potential as building blocks for durable and strengthened relations between States remains vastly untapped. As such, UNODA is engaging with Member States and regional organizations to develop and advance military confidence-building measures. Regional organizations have a unique role to play in raising awareness about the value of developing and implementing military CBMs as they offer specific fora for interaction, exchange of information and dialogue. Furthermore, most CBMs are agreed to in regional and bilateral contexts to address specific security concerns. Therefore, regional organizations are best equipped to provide the relevant fora to develop and strengthen these measures, as well as to promote and foster these further within their Member States.
In that context, UNODA organized a two-day capacity-building workshop for the ASEAN region in January 2023 in Bangkok. The aim of this workshop was to familiarize the participants with the concept of military CBMs, dwelling into the purpose and benefits of implementing such measures, as well as the process of negotiating military CBMs, highlighting the specificities and challenges of each negotiation approach, and on implementation considerations, limitations, and challenges. Furthermore, given that military CBMs are highly sensitive, each measure should be tailored to the specific security setting it is designed to address. As such, the workshop also focused on the specific regional context and institutional frameworks of the ASEAN region to identify potential opportunities to strengthen what has worked in military CBMs in the region. In 2023, UNODA will engage with the AU Commission to explore the best ways and means of fostering military CBMs in that region.
Overall, military CBMs can be divided into five main categories: communication and coordination, observation and verification, military constraint measures, training and education and cooperation and integration measures. The UNODA repository of military CBMs provides a list of the most tested and trusted measures which may assist any State or group of States in developing their own military CBMs. Pursuant to Resolution 77/72 on “Information on confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms”, Member States are invited to submit to UNODA, information on confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms. All submissions should be sent electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org and as in previous years, information provided by Member States will be included in the Secretariat database.
The UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), under the UN SaferGuard Programme, published the Arabic and French translations of Version 3 of the International Ammunition Technical Guidelines (IATG), originally released in 2021 following a comprehensive review by the UN SaferGuard Technical Review Board. The IATG are voluntary, practical and technical guidelines on safe and secure ammunition stockpile management, designed to address the growing concerns over unplanned explosions at munition sites and diversion of ammunition from stockpiles. Their translation further facilitates the use and application of the Guidelines by States and other stakeholders. This was made possible thanks to the financial support from Germany, France, Ireland, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates. UNODA will continue to strive to make Version 3 of the IATG available in additional languages.
Looking back at the 2022 edition of the Africa Amnesty Month
A total of 10 717 weapons were destroyed between October and November 2022 within the framework of the joint United Nations-African Union project which supports the September Africa Amnesty Month. Under this project, citizens are encouraged to voluntarily hand over illegally held small arms under the condition of anonymity and immunity from legal prosecution in accordance with Declaration of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union. National authorities are then responsible for destroying the weapons collected as part of their efforts to reduce the flow of illicit small arms and prevent the misuse of this category of weapons.
In 2022, UNODA supported Liberia, Tanzania and Togo. The three beneficiary States organized sensitization campaigns to raise awareness on the dangers and risks of illegal gun ownership and illicit flows of small arms and light weapons; enhanced their capacities in stockpile management and community-based policing and collected and publicly destroyed the weapons voluntarily surrendered by civilians. The year 2022 also coincided with a special commemoration of the September Africa Amnesty Month, whereby members of the African Union Peace and Security Council travelled to Togo to celebrate the initiative. This event, which was organized outside of the AU’s headquarters in Addis Ababa for the first time, was an opportunity to bring renewed attention to the ongoing challenges pertaining to illegal gun ownership. Indeed, small arms and light weapons are the weapons of choice and enablers of armed conflicts, crime and terrorism in Africa. The effects of the illicit flows and misuse of this category of weapons significantly impede the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Among the 40 million civilian-held firearms in Africa, at least 40% of these weapons are illegally owned. Therefore, the Africa Amnesty Month creates an opportunity for civilians to surrender their illegally owned firearms and directly contribute to reducing illicit flows of small arms and light weapons in Africa.
The 2022 edition of the Amnesty Month also marked the third year of implementation of this project, under which UNODA supported a total of 13 countries and resulted in the voluntary surrender of more than 22,000 weapons and the destruction of more than 16,000 weapons. Overall, the beneficiary States highlighted the political relevance and operational importance of this project and expressed a willingness to consolidate the gains of the Amnesty campaign. States also noted the crucial importance of weapons destruction in arms control measures and intent to run collection and destruction campaigns on a regular basis. Kenya which participated in the project in 2020, for instance, already ran a three-day amnesty campaign in February 2023. UNODA is grateful to the Federal Government of Germany for funding this project and to RECSA (Regional Centre on Small Arms in East and Horn of Africa and neighboring States) in helping in its implementation.
New MOSAIC module on “Criminal justice responses to the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons”
MOSAIC is a set of voluntary practical guidance notes on the full range of small arms control measures, organized into 24 modules (2 under review). In this issue, we will focus on the new module in the Legislative and Regulatory Series (Series 3): Criminal justice responses to illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons (3.50).
The criminalization of unlawful conducts is an important component in enforcing preventive and security measures related to the control of small arms and light weapons. This MOSAIC module, which was finalized in March 2023, seeks to provide guidance to States on how to deal with the transnational dimension of trafficking in small arms and light weapons (SALW), as well as with related offences. The module also aims to assist States in establishing adequate criminal offences that serve to enforce preventive regulatory firearms control measures and in developing effective legal frameworks and procedures for international cooperation in criminal matters related to preventing and countering illicit arms and ammunition trafficking and related criminal offences. It explores the different forms of international cooperation both at law enforcement and judicial level, in order to facilitate the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of such offences.
This module complements existing MOSAIC modules that provide guidance on legal and operational aspects of SALW control and law enforcement cooperation. In sum, its purpose is to provide guidance to States on how to criminalize unlawful conduct related to small arms and light weapons, how to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate such offences and how to work together to bring illicit arms traffickers to justice.
On 8 March 2023, to commemorate the International Women’s Day, UNODA launched its new course on “Gender-mainstreaming Small Arms Control” developed under a now concluded EU-funded multi-year global project in support of gender mainstreamed policies, programmes and actions in the fight against small arms trafficking and misuse, in line with the Women, Peace and Security agenda. The free course is available on the UNODA Disarmament Education Dashboard and is open to the public.
The course is specifically tailored for professionals working in small arms and light weapons (SALW) control and experts on gender and women, peace and security issues. These groups often do not interact with each other even as their work increasingly overlaps. This course demonstrates how SALW and gender communities can better work together to enhance collective efforts on various issues, such as sex-disaggregated data collection, data and gender analysis, and gender-responsive policy approaches for the prevention of arms-related gender-based violence, among others. It is based on the recent UNODA training manual, Gender Mainstreaming Small Arms Control.
Developed in collaboration with UNITAR and funded by the European Union (Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/2011), the course is currently available in English only but will soon be available in Arabic, French, Portuguese and Spanish. More information about the course is available here.
Since the adoption of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security, the international community has been prioritizing women’s involvement in decisions related to peace and security. An increasing number of States, UN entities and civil society organizations are calling for the equal, full and effective participation of women at all levels in arms control processes.
However, women continue to be underrepresented in ammunition management as well as in arms control and the security sector more broadly. Technical ammunition management, in particular, is a male-dominated field, not only in terms of gender composition but also in terms of perception, as technical expertise is largely associated with notions of masculinity. Women face various challenges in their profession, such as gender stereotyping, discriminatory attitudes and policies, lack of adequate infrastructure, unequal access to training opportunities and conscious and unconscious bias due to prevailing gender norms that often privilege men in the context of ammunition management.
In response, the Women Managing Ammunition Network (WoMA-Network) was established under the UN SaferGuard programme to promote gender equality and diversity in ammunition management, raise the visibility of women in technical roles, and increase their meaningful participation in international meetings and discussions. The network also created a pool of women experts to connect and share experiences, opportunities, resources, advice and guidance related to ammunition management. It is a space for exchange, empowerment and mentoring.
The professional network currently consists of 13 women from nine countries across all regions. They participated in a workshop in Geneva in November 2022, during which they discussed substantive matters related to through-life conventional ammunition management as well as gender equality, while strengthening their skills in communication, training delivery and advocacy. Most recent virtual discussion on meaningful participation in ammunition management took place on 23 February 2023.
To further expand and consolidate the network, UNODA is planning to organize an all-women training for ammunition technical experts on the International Ammunition Technical Guidelines (IATG) in the fall of 2023 in partnership with Austria and the Ammunition Management Advisory Team (AMAT).
The Arms-Related Risk Analysis Toolkit: Practical Guidance for Integrating Conventional Arms-Related Risks into Conflict Analysis and Prevention developed by UNIDIR can contribute to saving lives. This Toolkit puts forth a framework for integrating arms-related data into conflict analyses, thereby contributing to Action 21 of the Secretary-General’s 2018 Agenda for Disarmament, to “build understanding on the impact of arms on conflict management”. The Toolkit guides analysts in gathering and interpreting information on the risks and impacts of conventional weapons to support the formulation of conflict prevention strategies.
In recent months, UNIDIR undertook several initiatives to support UN system partners in leveraging the Toolkit. In November 2022, UNIDIR held a focus group at UNHQ-New York with UN practitioners. This action-oriented workshop provided an opportunity for analytical discussion and knowledge sharing on entry points for enhancing the strategic role of arms control in conflict prevention. The workshop fostered debates on the usefulness of the Toolkit for the day-to-day work of UNHQ staff and promoted a common understanding of the importance of incorporating arms-related risks into the UN’s conflict prevention work. In January 2023, UNIDIR in cooperation with the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) and Sudan UN Country Team (UNCT), held an in-country workshop, entitled, “Advancing Efforts to Integrate Conventional Arms Control into Conflict Prevention”. The workshop brought together over 20 practitioners from UNITAMS and the UNCT in Sudan to identify how they can jointly contribute to addressing the risks and impacts of arms and ammunition in the Sudanese context in a comprehensive manner.
Participants of both activities expressed the value of the Toolkit to support analytical capacities and strengthen knowledge of UN practitioners in this domain. They considered the Toolkit as a good starting point for developing better situational awareness related to weapons and ammunition with a view to inform programmatic activities. Through further engagement with stakeholders, UNIDIR is providing practical recommendations and refining and updating the Toolkit to incorporate feedback received.
UNIDIR welcomes engagement on how the Toolkit can support your work, as well as how it might be improved in the future. Please contact email@example.com for additional support.
UNSCAR implemented the annual Call for Proposals, from November 2022 to January 2023. The thematic and geographic priorities of the Call was consistent with the previous 2021 Call, including implementation of relevant global and regional conventional arms instruments and facilitation of SDG data collection, arms transparency instruments and women, peace and security. The priority of proposals to support civil societies’ activities was raised and highlighted. All the applications were required to ensure UNSCAR’s guiding principle of national ownership; to support integration of small arms control into national development frameworks; to comply with MOSAIC and IATG; and to enhance youth and gender considerations in programming and implementation of UNSCAR projects. Complementarities with SALIENT-funded activities were also obligated where applicable. In December 2022, an online briefing session was organized for potential applicants, which was well attended by more than 65 participants.
A total of 50 applications were received during the Call for Proposals, which indicated a significant increase from 36 applications during the previous Call. This indicates the need for sustainable funding resources for civil society organizations in the thematic area of conventional arms regulation, i.e. small arms control. UNODA has completed initial screening of the applications in March. The UNSCAR Strategic Planning Group will then discuss and recommend proposals to be funded in 2023, which will be followed by the approval by the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. The current funding cycle is supported by Australia, Finland, Germany and the Slovak Republic. The selection process will be concluded in April 2023.
Visit UNSCAR page for updates: https://disarmament.unoda.org/unscar
Most recent updates of the “The Saving-Lives Entity” (SALIENT) fund are included in this joint UNDP-UNODA newsletter covering the implementation period from November 2022 to March 2023. Major activities were carried out in Honduras, Jamaica and South Sudan. An in-person mission for the closure of the implementation activities of SALIENT in Cameroon is planned in May 2023.
• National Points of Contact / National Coordination Agencies for the Programme of Action
• United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA)
• Regional Centres for disarmament
• United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR)
• UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
• UNODC regional centres / offices
• SEESAC (South-Eastern & Eastern Europe)