Unveiling the New Global Framework for Through-life Conventional Ammunition Management

November 14th, 2023

The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations organized a side event to introduce The Global Framework for Through-life Conventional Ammunition Management.Composed of 15 Objectives, this new political arms control instrument fills a regulatory gap at the international level and seeks to promote the safety, security and sustainability of conventional ammunition management. Panelists delved into the multi-decade journey that led to the establishment of this framework and discussed the relevance of regional approaches in addressing the safety and security risks related to conventional ammunition both in the context of Africa and the Americas.  

Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the United Nations, Ambassador Maritza Chan, moderated the side event and reflected on the successful elaboration of the Global Framework by the recently concluded Open-Ended Working Group on Conventional Ammunition. She noted that operationalizing the global framework would reduce the dual risk of unplanned explosions at ammunition site and the risk of diversion, thereby directly contributing to reducing the human costs of weapons and ammunition, as called for by the Secretary-General’s A New Agenda for Peace. She also welcomed the dedicated commitment to strengthen gender mainstreaming and the full, equal, meaningful and effective participation of women in through-life conventional ammunition management. The Ambassador called for these global commitments to be translated into action through dedicated regional and subregional mechanisms to ensure their full and effective implementation.

Mr. Ivor Fung, Chief of the Conventional Arms Branch at the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs recalled how the issue of conventional ammunition had been addressed under UN auspices over the past decades leading up to the work of the OEWG on conventional ammunition and the elaboration of the Global Framework.

He underscored key developments, including the UN’s first consideration of the issue of ammunition in the context of small arms and light weapons; its dedicated consideration of the agenda item entitled “Problems arising from the accumulation of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus” in the General Assembly, which would lead to the establishment of a Group of Governmental Experts in 2008 introducing the whole life ammunition management approach; and the development of the International Ammunition Technical Guidelines in 2011. A second governmental expert group convened in 2020-2021 paved the way for the work of the 2022-2023 Open-Ended Working Group on Conventional Ammunition and the elaboration of a set of political commitments, which would serve as a new Global Framework for Through-life Conventional Ammunition Management.

Mr. Peter Otim from the African Union Commission and Mr. Steven Griner from the Organization of American States then reflected on the implementation of regional approaches and how regional mechanisms would effectively support the operationalization of the Global Framework.

Mr. Otim underscored that the issue of diversion was a key challenge to peace and security on the continent and required complementary regional and sub-regional actions. He noted that any approach aimed at addressing the issue of weapons diversion should also address the issue of ammunition concomitantly, and further emphasized that weapon production is driven by the ready availability of ammunition.  Mr. Otim also discussed ongoing efforts by the African Union aimed at providing capacity-building in the area of small arms and light weapons (SALW) control, including identification and record-keeping, as well as promoting multi-stakeholders’ engagement. He also  underlined the importance of the work of the African Union, in cooperation with UNODA and the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR),  in delivering technical support in legislative reviews and in building local capacities to effectively address the threat of illicit small arms and ammunition.

Panelists introduce the newly elaborated Global Framework for Through-life Conventional Ammunition Management and reflect on regional approaches to address conventional ammunition.

Mr. Griner highlighted the relevant normative framework and related assistance mechanism available in the Americas by providing an overview of the Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials (CIFTA) which addresses both SALW and their ammunition. He also introduced the organization’s assistance mechanism on Weapons and Ammunition Management (WAM) which ranges from support through legislation, capacity-building, marking, physical security to stockpile management and destruction.  Mr. Grinder further underscored specific actions to be implemented at the regional level that would contribute to the operationalization of the Global Framework, such as awareness-raising and promotion of the political commitments, target setting as well as data collection and reporting.

As the final speaker, Mr. Albrecht von Wittke, Chair of the Open-Ended Working Group on Conventional Ammunition, presented the work of the Group in elaborating the Global Framework for Through-life Conventional Ammunition Management. Mr. von Wittke provided an overview of the Global Framework and its 15 objectives which seek to address the safety, security and sustainability of through-life ammunition management. In particular, he underscored the importance of international cooperation and assistance for the effective implementation of the commitments, which will be supported by a global mechanism for requesting, offering and receiving assistance and the development of a fellowship training programme on conventional ammunition. In closing, Mr. von Wittke called on all delegations to support the adoption of the Global Framework by the General Assembly through the First Committee resolution entitled “Through-life Conventional Ammunition Management.”