Small weapons claim the highest number of victims [fr]
Small arms - Intervention by M. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council – 18 December 2017
"The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons today poses a grave threat to international peace and security. As has been noted, these weapons claim the highest number of victims in the world by far, as the headlines never fail to remind us. They are responsible for almost 90 per cent of the victims of armed conflict and for more than 500,000 deaths a year.", François Delattre, 18 December 2017
I thank the Japanese presidency for convening this important meeting and the Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Ms. Nakamitsu, for her very enlightening briefing.The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons today poses a grave threat to international peace and security. As has been noted, these weapons claim the highest number of victims in the world by far, as the headlines never fail to remind us. They are responsible for almost 90 per cent of the victims of armed conflict and for more than 500,000 deaths a year. The stakes and challenges involved are enormous and lie at the heart of all topics, as the Secretary-General emphasizes in his report (S/2017/1025).
The illicit trade in these weapons continues to fuel conflict, exacerbate armed violence and incite organized crime and terrorism. France, like many other countries, has experienced this first hand during the terrorist attacks that have struck its terroritory in recent years. Beyond that, the stability and development of entire regions —the Sahel and the Levant, for example — are threatened. I recall that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development seeks a world free from corruption, illegal trafficking and the illegal circulation of weapons, all of which threaten the political stability and development of humankind.
In the face of these extreme threats, we must be able to mobilize in unison. Given that we can respond effectively to these challenges only if we do so together, in 2016 France took the initiative to issue a political declaration on this subject, supported by a cross-regional group of 63 countries. The effort for the political mobilization of all countries of all regions must continue. It is also important to turn this commitment into reality by seeking to achieve the robust implementation of existing instruments through concrete measures. We can do so first through the provisions of the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects, which remains the cornerstone of our work. France will have the honour of chairing the third Review Conference, to be held in New York in June 2018. France is also mobilized in the context of the Arms Trade Treaty and the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
Various kinds of action — upstream of weapons trafficking to prevent their spread, and downstream to interrupt trafficking flows — must be pursued. Among these, I would highlight the development of adequate national legislation, the reduction of illicit stocks in circulation thanks to collection and destruction campaigns, improved security and physical management of weapons and ammunition stocks, and the strengthening of police and customs control, which are all areas in which we could work. Significant progress has already been achieved. Many States have improved their legislation and the issue of small arms is now better reflected in regional organizations.
However — and this is my third point — we cannot stop there.Increased international cooperation in the marking, registering and tracing of small arms and light weapons is also essential. The exchange of information remains a key element if we wish to progress together. France welcomes the introduction of various tracking systems and databases such as iTrace and iArms. These initiatives allow the registration of seized weapons and, through access to the registers thereby created, improve the sharing of information. Private actors, especially industrial producers and civil society, also play a central role and must therefore be involved. France is also convinced of the central importance of international assistance, which must be based on two major principles. First, we must adopt a cooperative and assistance-based approach that is tailored to the needs of the beneficiaries. Along with capacity development, that is one of the keys for the success of international assistance. Secondly, it is important to seek coordination among various assistance initiatives in order to avoid duplication and guarantee the maximum efficiency of all actions undertaken. My country, for its part, resolutely contributes to the fight against the supply of arms to armed terrorist groups in the Sahelo-Saharan region, in particular with Chad, the Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania,which constitute the Group of Five for the Sahel. France also conducts numerous training activities for the benefit of States such as Benin, the Niger and Mali.
Despite our many accomplishments, many challenges remain.We can and must do better and go further in our efforts to strengthen the effectiveness and coherence of our actions. At the international level, adherence to and ratification of key international instruments in this area is of crucial importance. That is why France encourages all countries to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty as soon as possible.
In conclusion, the third Review Conference of the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects and its International Tracing Instrument, to be held in June 2018, will be a unique occasion for us to move forward. It will be a key opportunity for making concrete progress, including by increasing mobilization of all actors in the security, arms control and development sectors and by taking advantage of all possible synergies among existing instruments. I wish to assure members of the Council of France’s full commitment and mobilization in this sense, at both the national level and as President, to ensure the success of that important Conference, which for France is a true priority.