On Wednesday, 24 October 2018, the Permanent Mission of Germany organized a high-level event on the Secretary General’s Disarmament Agenda with particular focus on its section entitled “Disarmament that Saves Lives”.
Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations and moderator of the event, told the audience that conventional weapons are a root cause of violence while ammunition keeps conflicts alive. He added that small arms enable rampant crime and, in this regard, he highlighted the cooperation of Germany with the UN Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) to combat illicit small arms in the Caribbean region.
Izumi Nakamitsu, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, briefly summarized the eight priority areas of “Disarmament that Saves Lives”—namely, the use of explosive weapons in populated areas; casualty recording; improvised explosive devices (IEDs); armed unmanned aerial vehicles; illicit small arms and light weapons (SALW); risk assessments; physical security and stockpile management; and confidence-building measures. She underlined that the Agenda lays out concrete, achievable and practical actions to make real progress in arms control.
Subsequently, the High Representative elaborated on the “Saving Lives Entity” (SALIENT), the new mechanism within the Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund dedicated to financing action to tackle illicit small arms and light weapons. She stressed the need for a coherent, sustained and cross-sectional approach in international assistance in order to deal with the cross-cutting nature of small arms issues. Accordingly, SALIENT will follow a programmatic approach to holistically address SALW issues through cooperative implementation by the UN agencies at the country level. She noted that SALIENT represents a paradigm shift by situating arms control issues in a development framework and by integrating its support into the respective development agendas of target countries. The High Representative hoped that SALIENT could raise $12 million per year and noted that the first pledging conference for SALIENT would be held in mid-2019.
Ambassador Mohammed Hussein Bahr Al-Uloom, Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations, explained the urgency of arms control by reflecting on the situation in Iraq. He pointed out that 1.9 million Iraqis are still internally displaced after the conflict with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and he said explosive hazards still contaminate an area one third the size of Germany. The threat posed by the remaining IEDs obstructs the use of crucial civilian infrastructure such as water, electricity, schools and adequate health care. Ambassador Al-Uloom underlined that the international community needs to increase its efforts to combat the use of explosive hazards. It is crucial, he said, to prevent the spread of illicit manufacturing techniques, to control the materials used and to raise awareness on the threat these weapons pose.
Ambassador Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, Permanent Representative of Ghana to the United Nations, welcomed the Secretary-General’s Disarmament Agenda and the establishment of SALIENT, emphasizing that small arms proliferation is a cross-sectional issue that needs to be addressed in all its dimensions. Ambassador Pobee provided insights into the work of Ghana’s National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons, and she highlighted the critical role that civil society plays in actions against illicit small arms.
Ambassador Courtenay Rattray, Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations, stated that the Caribbean region suffers greatly from SALW-enabled armed violence and provided several grim statistics in this regard. He noted that SALW fuel not only armed violence but also other illegal activities, such as human and drug trafficking. Further, he stressed that Caribbean States need technical and financial assistance to fully tackle arms trafficking.
> Statement by HR/USG Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu (as delivered).
Drafted by Ruben Nicolin