On 2 and 3 May 2023, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) partnered with the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) to organize virtual workshops for Permanent Missions and national focal points on preparing reports to the UN Register of Conventional Arms (UNROCA/Register).
The Register is the only global instrument on the arms trade. It was established in 1991 through a resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and encourages Member States to report on international transfers of seven categories of major conventional arms, as well as small arms and light weapons. The deadline to report is 31 May of each year.
Transparency in military matters remains a prerequisite for disarmament, arms control, and non-proliferation and thus the maintenance of international peace and security. It acts as a confidence-building measure, contributing to the prevention and reduction of ambiguities, misperceptions and tensions among Member States and, in turn, paving the way for international cooperation. Such measures can encourage restraint in the arms trade and decelerate military build-up. Transparency in armaments plays an even more crucial role during these times of uncertainty and volatility. By making information on arms transfers available, Member States can contribute to identifying destabilizing and excessive accumulations of arms and preventing their diversion.
Whereas almost all UN Member States have reported to UNROCA at least once since its establishment, participation rates have been on the decline in recent years. This limits the effectiveness of the instrument as a confidence and security-building measure.
Against this backdrop, the workshops served to revitalize momentum around transparency in armaments and build countries’ reporting capacity. Participants heard about the importance of transparency in military matters, the origin and development of the UNROCA instrument, and options for reporting. Experts provided insights on the practical steps involved in preparing submissions to the Register. Participants were also shown how use the online UNROCA reporting tool. Finally, participants engaged actively in a Q&A session with the experts.
In total, 65 participants attended the workshops, representing 40 Member States. Of these, three Member States have never submitted information to the UNROCA instrument, while 18 Member States did not do so during the past two reporting cycles.
The Office for Disarmament Affairs will continue to organize these informative and hands-on training workshops, thereby raising awareness of the UNROCA instrument and supporting States in building their reporting capacity on arms transfers.
The recording of the virtual training workshop is available here.