Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ambassador Tanin Chairs Meeting of States on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons

 

Diplomats gathered at the United Nations Headquarters today for the Fifth Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, also known as BMS5.  The meeting will run from 16 until 20 June 2014, in accordance with a two-year cycle of meetings on the Programme of Action, adopted in 2001, which provides a framework for activities to counter the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.

 

Ms. Virginia Gamba, Deputy High Representative of the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs acting in the absence of Ms. Angela Kane, High Representative of the same office, opened the meeting.  She presided over the election of H.E. Ambassador Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, as the meeting’s Chair.  The election followed Ambassador Tanin’s initial endorsement by Member States in 2013 as Chair-designate.

 

In his opening remarks, Ambassador Tanin described the impact of small arms and light weapons on the lives of men, women and children in his own country, Afghanistan. “After close to three decades of armed conflict, Afghanistan has been one of the main victims of the illicit small arms and light weapons trade,” he said. “During the long conflict in my country, millions of illegal arms and light weapons were imported or trafficked into our territory and have been used to kill and injure hundreds of thousands of Afghans.”

 

Then, Ambassador Tanin thanked Member States for the trust they bestowed upon him by electing him as Chair of the BMS5, and promised to “work to the best of my abilities to ensure that BMS5 is a success and that the outcome of the meeting would help address the issue of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in a practical and comprehensive manner.”

 

During the meeting, diplomats will discuss three main issues relating the Programme of Action’s implementation, including stockpile management, the International Tracing Instrument, and international cooperation and assistance with the goal of agreeing on a final outcome document by the end of the week.  The meeting comes after eight months of preparations, during which Ambassador Tanin presided over several open, informal consultations with Member States.  Over the course of his preparations, Ambassador Tanin oversaw an early agreement on the meeting’s provisional agenda and circulated several iterations of draft outcome documents for consideration ahead of the meeting’s close.

 

The Chair hopes that Member States come to an agreement on a final outcome document at the end of the week.

 

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin at the Fifth Biennial Meeting of States to Consider meeting the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects

 1st meeting
 Monday, 16 June 2014
 10 a.m.
(New York, 16-20 June 2014)
 CR.3 (CB)     

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to thank you for the trust you have bestowed upon me by electing me today as Chair for BMS5. It is a great honour for Afghanistan. After close to three decades of armed conflict, Afghanistan has been one of the main victims of the illicit small arms and light weapons trade. During the long conflict in my country, millions of illegal arms and light weapons were imported or trafficked into our territory and have been used to kill and injure hundreds of thousands of Afghans. Terrorists’ access to illicit arms has fueled the cycle of violence in my country, prolonging conflict and affecting the lives of all citizens.  As a result of this experience, my Government is highly sensitive to the negative impact of illicit weapons around the world.

 

I will work to the best of my abilities to ensure that BMS5 is a success and that the outcome of the meeting will help address the issue of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in a practical and comprehensive manner. Your support and continued active engagement are critical for the attainment of that goal.

 

The Programme of Action and the International Tracing Instrument remain the cornerstone of our efforts to tackle the complex issue of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, which continues to wreak havoc in many regions and delay efforts aimed at promoting socio-economic development.

 

The Biennial Meetings of States provide us with the opportunity to take stock of our efforts, and identify innovative measures aimed at improving our collective approach in the fight against the illicit trade in, and uncontrolled proliferation of, these weapons.

 

We have five days to consider the three important topics of stockpile management, the International Tracing Instrument and international cooperation and assistance and to agree on a consensual outcome document.

 

Addressing illicit small arms and light weapons has never been more timely.  The success of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda is contingent on the prevention and reduction of armed violence. Effective action against the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, simultaneously at the national, regional and global levels, is central to achieving any of those goals.  Indeed, people and societies can only fully realize their development goals if their communities are safe and secure.

I am confident that you will keep the larger significance of our work in mind when we work towards a consensually agreed outcome of this week’s meeting.