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’.
As part of the United Nations’ broader support to the African Union’s Silencing the Guns initiative, UNODA continued to assist States in Africa with carrying out the Africa Amnesty Month campaign. Following the support to seven States in 2020, jointly with the African Union Commission and the Regional Centre on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region, the Horn of Africa and Bordering States (RECSA), Madagascar, Niger and Uganda benefited from the 2021 edition of the Amnesty Month project funded by Germany.
In September 2021, the three countries launched their Amnesty Month campaign. They conducted nation-wide outreach to raise awareness among the general public on the negative effects of illicit gun ownership and illicit small-arms trafficking. As part of the awareness-raising campaign conducted over national and local television, radio, print media and seminars, Uganda held a slogan contest and selected three slogans for its national campaign: “Embrace Peace, give up illegal guns”, “Together, we can silence the guns” and “Let us have guns in the right hands”. The three countries also organized an official launching ceremony to promote the Amnesty Month and advocate for the voluntary surrender of illicit weapons and ammunition.
Additionally, national law enforcement authorities of the three beneficiary States benefited from capacity-building on community-based policing which aims at providing security at the local level and building trust between law enforcement officers and the communities in which they intervene. Training was also provided in the area of weapons and ammunition management, including record-keeping and destruction.
Despite some challenges these countries faced, all of them completed their project by the end of April 2022 with the organization of an official public event to destroy the weapons collected during their Amnesty Month campaigns. In total, 1,497 weapons were collected and destroyed. The three countries chose different methods to destroy the weapons: Madagascar crushed them with a large excavator; Niger opted to cut them into unusable pieces; and Uganda burned the weapons.
This year, the same support will be provided to Liberia, Tanzania and Togo. Preparation is underway and States are set to complete all their activities by the end of 2022.
In 2001, countries adopted the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (PoA). In it, governments agreed to improve national small arms regulations, to strengthen stockpile management, to ensure that weapons are properly and reliably marked, to improve cooperation in weapons tracing, and to engage in regional and international cooperation and assistance.
Pursuant to the resolution A/RES/76/232, the Eighth Biennial Meeting of States will be convened in New York from 27 June to 1 July 2022, to consider the national, regional and global implementation of the PoA and International Tracing Instrument (ITI).
Under the chairmanship of Ambassador Enrique Manalo of the Philippines, States have held a series of virtual informal consultations since the start of this year on both organizational and substantive matters.
BMS8 will focus on the implementation of the PoA and ITI, including means of enhancing modalities and procedures for international cooperation and assistance. Other themes for possible consideration are the establishment of an open-ended technical expert group that could develop action-oriented next steps agreed by consensus that address challenges and opportunities of such technologies to the marking, tracing and record-keeping of such weapons, as well as the establishment of a small arms and light weapons fellowship programme.
All information about BMS8 is available on the dedicated webpage, which is frequently updated: https://meetings.unoda.org/meeting/poa-bms8-2022/.
On a biennial basis, States submit their national reports on their implementation of the Programme of Action and the International Tracing Instrument, using the reporting template made available by the Office for Disarmament Affairs. In the preparation for BMS8, Note Verbale on 2022 national reports (covering implementation period 2020-2021) was sent to the Permanent Missions in New York in February 2022. Relevant passwords for online reporting were directly and separately sent to PoA National Points of Contact, as listed in the PoA reporting database.
As mentioned in the Note Verbale, views of all Member States on marking practices for modular and polymer weapons are critical to feed into the discussions during BMS8 and are therefore to be included in national reports (e.g., Question 7.3). Additional documents, pictures and illustrations can be attached through Section 10 of online reporting. Other key questions include:
- National coordination agency
- National action plan
- National targets
- Diversion (international transfers / national stockpiles)
- Unauthorized re-export
- Capacity for risk assessment
- SDG data collection (e.g., Indicator 16.4.2)
- Recent development in technologies (e.g., marking on modular and polymer weapons)
- Gender responsive programming and implementation (e.g., gender/age/disability-disaggregated data)
- International assistance: Matching needs with resources
In order for the reports to be processed and assessed in time for BMS8, the submission deadline of 2020 national reports was set for 31 May 2022. However, ODA will continue to receive and process national reports submitted beyond May. Country-specific passwords can be requested from email@example.com.
Pursuant to the RevCon3 outcome document, international and regional organizations are encouraged to share information on their focal points and implementation of PoA and ITI. Reports have been received only from INTERPOL, LAS, OAS and WCO. Other interested organizations are highly encouraged to submit their reports.
On 24 December 2021, the General Assembly adopted resolution 76/233 establishing an Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) to elaborate a set of political commitments as a new global framework that will address existing gaps in through-life ammunition management.
Following the organizational session held in February 2022, the OEWG convened for its first substantive session on 23-27 May 2022 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Many Member States expressed support for a new global framework on conventional ammunition, recognizing the need for coordinated international action and a comprehensive approach to address the safety and security of ammunition. During the first substantive session, Member States took stock of the current state of play related to ammunition management and addressed in particular the observations and recommendations of the 2020-2021 Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Problems Arising from the Accumulation of Conventional Ammunition Stockpiles in Surplus (A/76/324). This included issues related to safety and security of conventional ammunition, existing global, regional and sub-regional processes and existing international cooperation and assistance mechanisms. Experts from UNMAS, Conflict Armament Research, GICHD and UNODA offered briefings on these matters and the Chair of the 2020-2021 GGE provided a briefing on the outcome report of the GGE and the recommendation for a comprehensive multi-layered framework on conventional ammunition. In a dedicated informal meeting, the OEWG also heard statements from international and regional organizations, followed by non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations.
During the last day, the Chair shared with delegations his main takeaways from the first substantive session of the OEWG.
The OEWG will convene for its second substantive session on 15-19 August at Palais des Nations, United Nations Office at Geneva.
Further information on the OEWG can be found on the dedicated Meetings Place Website.
It is not enough to hope that, once a peace agreement is signed, combatants will simply lay down their arms and go home. That is where DDR comes in; it supports combatants to adapt from sometimes decades of conflict to a new reality of peace. DDR practitioners are not always arms control experts, yet they often deal with complex issues related to the management of weapons and ammunition collected in the process of disarming former combatants. To provide such practitioners support, ODA has been partnering with the Department of Peace Operations (DPO) since 2016 to provide policy and guidance, training and technical assistance on weapons and ammunition management (WAM) in DDR processes. This initiative aims to ensure weapons and ammunition in or from DDR processes are managed in accordance with international standards and guidelines. It also provides practicable guidance on transitional WAM – a series of interim arms control measures that address the immediate risks from the circulation of weapons, ammunition and explosives. Because transitional WAM is a DDR-related tool that can also be used when the conditions for a formal DDR programme are not yet in place, it has become increasingly crucial with the evolving complexities of modern-day conflict.
In recent months, the joint DPO-ODA initiative has advanced the guidance available to practitioners, both by making existing tools more accessible and by developing new ones. In the first quarter of 2022, the UN Handbook for DDR practitioners on Effective WAM in a Changing DDR Context, now in its second iteration, was translated into Spanish (English and French had already been made available, with an Arabic translation ongoing). Moreover, in partnership with the Department of Operational Support, a new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on WAM in DDR processes was finalized, providing peace operations with a guiding framework for the development of mission-specific SOPs and processes. In collaboration with UNITAR, DPO and ODA released the French version of the online course on ”Effective Weapons and Ammunition Management in a Changing DDR Context”. This course, first rolled out in English in 2020 and available on the UNITAR e-learning platform, is designed to familiarize participants with the basic content of the second edition of the Handbook, making key WAM and DDR expertise accessible to a wide array of practitioners.
Alongside these global-level efforts, the joint initiative partnered with the UN Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) and the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) in organizing a technical assistance mission to Haiti from 9 to 20 May 2022. The aims of this mission included providing technical support to a dedicated inter-ministerial task force in the finalization of a draft law on arms and ammunition, as well as to national authorities in the development of a national action plan for the implementation of the Caribbean Firearms Roadmap, and the elaboration of a baseline assessment to track and assess progress in the implementation of this national action plan.
Planned initiatives for coming months – spanning the Great Lakes Region, the Lake Chad Basin, Somalia, and beyond – are supported by Germany and Switzerland and will continue to benefit from expertise on WAM and DDR from across the UN system.
MOSAIC is a set of voluntary practical guidance notes on the full range of small arms control measures, organized into 24 modules (21 completed and 3 under review). We have highlighted sixteen of these modules in the six previous issues of the Bulletin:
- Setting up national coordinating mechanisms;
- Stockpile management;
- Conducting small arms survey;
- Improving national manufacturing controls;
- Designing and implementing a national action plan;
- Tracing illicit small arms and light weapons;
- Improving national controls over international transfers;
- Designing and implementing community safety programming;
- Marking and record-keeping;
- Women, men and the gendered nature of SALW;
- Children, adolescents, youth and SALW;
- Collection of illicit and unwanted SALW;
- Destruction: Weapons;
- Border controls and law enforcement cooperation;
- National controls over the end-user and end-use of internationally transferred SALW;
- National regulation of civilian access to SALW;
- Awareness-raising; and
- Monitoring, evaluation and reporting.
In this issue, we will focus on the remaining modules in the Design and Management Series (Series 4): Awareness-raising and Monitoring, evaluation and reporting.
Security Sector Reform (SSR) is a broad process with the objective of improving the ability of a State to meet a range of human security needs that is consistent with principles of good governance and the rule of law. Building effective and accountable security structures has multilayered positive effects for societies, including through its intersection with improved small arms and light weapons (SALW) control processes, given that the illegal proliferation and unlawful use of SALW poses one of the most pressing security problems globally. A poorly operating security sector also fuels the demand for legal small arms among both individuals and private security firms. Accordingly, the linkage between SSR and small arms control must be identified and strengthened.
This MOSAIC module, which was finalized in 2021, seeks to provide small arms control project managers and/or project implementers with background information and guidance on the connections and overlap between small arms control and SSR. More specifically, it provides practical guidance on how to operationalize these connections, once identified. The module also aims to provide insights that will support synergies and, just as importantly, prevent contradictions, in the design, implementation and sequencing of different elements of small arms control and SSR programmes. The module is available in English, French and Spanish.
For guidance on SALW in the context of SSR, go to MOSAIC on www.un.org/disarmament/mosaic
Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programmes have constituted an integral part of peacebuilding since the late 1980s. In this regard, DDR efforts have also served as a primary tool to prevent the illicit proliferation and misuse of SALW in countries emerging from conflict. Since the inception of the concept, DDR processes have also been increasingly used in the context of ongoing armed conflict, as opposed to exclusively post-conflict scenarios. In this context, armed groups – as well as communities and individuals – often feel little choice but to institute their own security measures, which often includes increased weapons ownership.
To capture good practice, reflect current challenges and provide guidance on DDR processes, programmes and tools, the Integrated DDR standards (IDDRS) were updated in 2019/2020, and this MOSAIC module – finalized in 2021 – was in turn developed by drawing upon the two IDDRS (sub)modules that focus specifically on arms control components. It thereby ensures synergy between the IDDRS and MOSAIC guidance in this regard. Accordingly, this module provides guidance on designing and implementing SALW control activities in the context of DDR and as part of DDR processes that include DDR programmes, tools and reintegration support. It aims to equip practitioners with the basic legal programmatic and technical knowledge to design and implement safe and effective activities and to support greater coherence and coordination among SALW control practitioners in DDR environments. This module is also available in English, French and Spanish.
For guidance on SALW in the context of DDR, go to MOSAIC on www.un.org/disarmament/mosaic
Following the release of a briefing paper in 2020, UNODA published a report on mainstreaming gender throughout the life-cycle management of ammunition, developed in close cooperation with the research institute, Small Arms Survey.
While gender analysis has been introduced to address a variety of aspects of small arms control, it has received less attention in the ammunition-specific domain, especially outside of stockpile management concerns. To address the issues of unplanned explosions and diversion of conventional ammunition, there is not only a need to strengthen ammunition management policies and practices throughout its life cycle but also to ensure they are gender sensitive.
The report highlights practical suggestions for applying gender analysis to ammunition management, consistent with the Final Report of the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on problems arising from the accumulation of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus. The GGE noted the “value of considering ammunition management throughout its life cycle, using a gender analysis, in order to identify relevant entry points for gender mainstreaming” (A/76/324, para. 81).
UNODA and Small Arms Survey launched the report at a side event on 18 October 2021, on the margins of the First Committee of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
SDG Target 16.4: On significantly reducing arms flows (including prevention of diversion) and data collection
The Office for Disarmament Affairs along with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) are the co-custodian agencies for indicator 16.4.2 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which aims at significantly reducing illicit arms flows. As such, both offices are responsible for collecting and analysing the data provided by Member States through the illicit arms flows questionnaire (IAFQ) in support of the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition (Firearms Protocol), supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime; and the national reports on the implementation of the Programme of Action and the International Tracing Instrument.
In April 2022, UNODA and UNODC jointly submitted the annual storyline on Indicator 16.4.2, including graphs on traced and/or destroyed weapons, to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). In this vein, the two co-custodian agencies continued to strengthen their cooperation, through enhanced data validation with a view to measuring the progress in reducing illicit arms flows. One of the relevant key steps resides in determining the illicit nature of weapons collected, that is identifying the origin of the weapons and the point of diversion to the illicit market. The illicit origin of a weapon is established by national authorities primarily through tracing.
The data analyzed since 2016 shows that tracing remains a global challenge due to the lack of national resources and capacity, and of effective international cooperation; and thereby further efforts to strengthen States’ capacities to collect and trace illicit weapons are needed.
Alternatively, the data also showed that the destruction of weapons should be considered a key measure towards reducing arms flows by terminating the life cycle of illicit weapons and thereby enabling States to tackle the illicit proliferation and diversion of small arms.
Furthermore, the two agencies (together with UNLIREC and UNODC Center of Excellence in Mexico) organized a briefing session on SDG data collection for Colombia in October 2021, which was the second event in a series of joint efforts.
The project, “Addressing the terrorism-arms-crime nexus: Preventing and combatting the illicit trafficking of small-arms and light weapons and their illicit supply to terrorists”, was launched in January 2020 and will continue until June 2023. The United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in close collaboration with the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) and the Office for Disarmament Affairs (ODA), have been implementing the project in Central Asia, with a view to preventing illicit supply of small arms and light weapons to terrorist groups through supporting criminal justice responses, particularly building capacities of border control, customs and criminal justice officials, as well as legislators. INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization are also aligned as close partners of the project.
The following activities are envisaged in Central Asian states:
- National capacity consultations, including briefings and discussions with relevant national authorities, to broadly understand the current situation on the nexus and national capacities;
- Legislative assistance, including workshops to assess national legislation, in line with relevant international instruments;
- Inter-institutional workshops, to enhance the level of national cooperation among relevant internal agencies, through inviting experts from other countries and exchanging best practices;
- National trainings for the Central Asian states;
- Regional workshop to foster regional and international cooperation; and
- Sub-regional study on illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons.
So far, the project has implemented more than half of these activities and trained some 300 experts. Most recently, a capacity consultations workshop for Uzbekistan was held from 10-13 May 2022. In phase two of the project, 5 more training courses, 2 regional seminars, 2 inter-institutional workshops and 2 legislative assistance workshops will be organized; and the subregional study will be completed.
In 2020, Caribbean States formally adopted the ‘Roadmap for Implementing the Caribbean Priority Actions on the Illicit Proliferation of Firearms and Ammunition across the Caribbean in a Sustainable Manner by 2030’ (Caribbean Firearms Roadmap).
The Roadmap supports Caribbean States in preventing and combating illicit proliferation of firearms and ammunition in the region for a safer Caribbean. It serves as a guiding document for commonly agreed actions at the strategic, policy and operational levels.
The Roadmap includes four main goals:
- (1) reinforcing regulatory frameworks;
- (2) reducing the illicit flow of firearms and ammunition;
- (3) bolstering law enforcement capacity to combat illicit firearms and ammunition trafficking and their illicit possession and misuse; and
- (4) decreasing the risk of diversion of firearms and ammunition from government and non-government owned arsenals.
Each goal incorporates pre-defined actions and targets which States have committed themselves to implement between 2020 to 2030, to coincide with the culmination of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In addition to the four Goals, States have agreed on complementary actions in support of the implementation of Goal 16 of the 2030 Sustainable Agenda for Development under which all UN Member States have agreed to significantly reduce illicit arms flows and to combat all forms of organized crime by 2030. The fulfilment of those commitments will be significantly reinforced through concerted actions by Caribbean States to ensure accessible, timely and reliable data collection and analysis methodology on firearms and ammunition at the community, national and regional levels.
Individual States will elaborate National Action Plans (NAPs), which will become vehicles for the implementation of the Roadmap. These NAPs will map out respective national priorities for combating the illicit trafficking in firearms and ammunition and specify timelines and resource requirements for implementing the Caribbean Firearms Roadmap.
The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), as one of the two co-custodians of the Roadmap alongside the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (CARICOM IMPACSv), continuously provides technical assistance and capacity building support to Caribbean States within the framework of the Roadmap. To date, together with CARICOM IMPACS, the Centre has provided support for the drafting of NAPs to thirteen States, with six States (Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia) having finalized and adopted their NAPs. These Plans will help the States to track their implementation progress by serving as a monitoring and evaluation tool.
Recently, UNLIREC provided both virtual and in-country support to Haiti via executive seminars to sensitize stakeholders on the roadmap Goals and to support national authorities with the identification of their respective priorities under the Caribbean Firearms Roadmap for its subsequent implementation. Work under the roadmap in Haiti also supports the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2476 (2019), which mandates the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) to assist national authorities in the management of arms and ammunition.
The roadmap initiative is supported by members of the international donor community, including Canada, the Federal Republic of Germany, The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America.
Work has continued on the Saving Lives Entity (SALIENT), a dedicated facility within the Peacebuilding Fund designed to ensure sustained financing for coordinated, integrated small-arms control measures in most-affected countries. A joint undertaking of UNODA and UNDP, SALIENT has been supporting activities in Cameroon, Jamaica and South Sudan since mid-2021. Following the 2021 scoping missions, proposals for use of funds were approved by the SALIENT Project Coordination Board.
In Cameroon, a project on “Promotion of women and youth security through arms control” is focusing on efforts to fight illicit trafficking of SALW through, for example, assistance to procure, deploy and train requisite equipment/infrastructure and personnel for detection at border/check points, as well as support to the 800+ network of Cameroonian civil society organisations operating at grassroots level, particularly women and youth organizations embedded amongst local communities.
Meanwhile, in Jamaica, the work on “reducing small arms and light weapons in Jamaica” is focused on improved legislative and institutional framework to regulate access to small arms/ammunition informed by a gender analysis; national training for authorities on indicting small arms parts and components, as well as on maritime security; data collection and disaggregation, such as through “violence audits” in affected communities.
Finally, in South Sudan, the work on “Catalysing South Sudan’s Voluntary Disarmament Campaign” will see efforts to improve public debate and legislation to regulate access to small arms and ammunition, including awareness of impact on the vulnerable, as well as the gender dimension of armed violence. This will include a baseline assessment in ten states and three administrative areas related to police personnel’s understanding of the legislative framework and related capacities.
SALIENT is supported by contributions from France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland.
Since its inception in 2013, the United Nations Trust Facility for Supporting Cooperation on Arms Regulation (UNSCAR) has funded 104 projects in all regions of the world in a total amount of USD 13.5 million for the benefit of 145 Member States.
UNSCAR funded projects are quick-impact, short-term, small-scale and theme-specific, and are implemented by civil society organizations, regional organizations and UN entities.
During the 2021 Call for Proposals in October and November 2021, a total of 36 applications were submitted, of which 10 proposals were selected, to be implemented in 2022.
The selected proposals broadly pertain to such activities as: harmonizing global and regional reporting (Kinshasa Convention); ensuring stockpile management and marking in Bosnia and Herzegovina; monitoring illicit weapons flows in Afghanistan; developing weapons tracking platform in Africa and the Pacific; developing a regional mechanism in Asia; supporting parliamentarians and civils society’s activities for BMS8; developing ammunition identification tool; supporting the Women, Peace and Security framework; and promoting UN Register of Conventional Arms.
The current funding cycle was supported by Australia, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany and Slovak Republic.
UNSCAR upholds the guiding principle of national ownership and complementarities with SALIENT programmes and works closely with the ATT Voluntary Trust Fund to avoid duplication in funding.
• 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)