The 2022 Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms (UNROCA) concluded its work in Geneva on 17 June, providing a series of recommendations to ensure the relevance of this important transparency and confidence-building instrument. Of particular note, the GGE:
- recommended that Member States report on international transfers of rotary-wing unmanned combat aerial vehicles;
- provided a description of small arms and light weapons for reporting on exports and imports of such weapons and recommended this to be listed below the descriptions of the seven categories to make it more visible;
- recommended the establishment of an “informal group of friends” in order to carry forward the recommendations of the GGE and increase participation in UNROCA.
Under a mandate of the General Assembly, a GGE is convened every three years to review the operation and relevance of UNROCA and provide recommendations for its further development. Pursuant to General Assembly resolution 74/53, the 2022 GGE held its three sessions from March to June 2022 in Geneva and New York. The Group consisted of governmental experts from 20 Member States: Belgium, Brazil, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, France, Germany, India, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Poland, the Russian Federation, Senegal, Singapore, Togo, Tunisia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Almost half of the experts were women, including the Chair, Mrs. Muanpuii Saiawi of India. Mrs. Saiawi was the second woman to Chair a GGE on UNROCA, after Ms. Mariela Fogante of Argentina chaired the 2019 GGE.
UNROCA is a unique and inclusive United Nations instrument to support transparency, confidence-building, and dialogue in military matters. It provides an opportunity for Member States to share official information on their exports and imports of conventional arms, as well as on procurement of such weapons through national production, military holdings, and relevant national policies, legislation and doctrine.
This year marked the 30th anniversary of UNROCA, which became operational in 1992. The GGE commemorated this at an event organized by the Office for Disarmament Affairs with support from the UN Institute for Disarmament Research during its second session in New York, on 17 May. The event examined the history and successes of UNROCA and explored its prospects for the next 30 years with a view to raising awareness amongst Member States on how UNROCA can help to build confidence among States and strengthen international peace and security.
The 2022 GGE is the 10th such Group to review the operation and relevance of UNROCA. Building on the work of the previous GGEs, the 2022 GGE adopted a consensus report that contains recommendations to ensure UNROCA remains relevant for international peace and security. Notable recommendations include the expansion of category V to cover rotary-wing unmanned combat aerial vehicles, a description of small arms and light weapons based on the definition in the International Tracing Instrument, new optional reference reporting forms for providing information on procurement through national production and on military holdings, and the operationalization of the rolling “nil” returns forms. The Group also recommended the establishment of an “informal group of friends” to support the Secretariat in implementing the recommendations.
The report of the GGE will be submitted to the General Assembly for consideration at this year’s session.