by Eirini Lemos-Maniati, Deputy Director of NATO HQ’s Arms Control, Disarmament and WMD Non-Proliferation Centre, NATO Political Affairs and Security Policy Division
at the Third United Nations Conference to Review Progress Made in 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
At the outset, allow me to congratulate you on your election as chairperson of the Third United Nations Review Conference of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. Under your continued leadership, NATO is looking forward to a positive and sustainable outcome. I join others in wishing you the very best for your work.
The illicit manufacture, transfer and circulation of small arms and light weapons and their excessive accumulation and uncontrolled spread in many regions has had, and continues to have, a wide range of negative security, humanitarian and socio-economic consequences. To prevent, combat and eradicate such negative consequences, the UN Programme of Action and associated processes play an irreplaceable role at the international, regional and national levels. Respect for and commitment to the full implementation of the Programme of Action is therefore a key prerequisite for sustainable peace, stability and development. Much progress has been achieved since its adoption. However, the challenges surrounding the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects have not decreased.
Against the background of an increasingly unstable global security environment, NATO seeks to contribute more to the efforts of the international community to projecting stability, respecting the rules based order and strengthening security. NATO’s efforts are guided by enduring principles and commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law and, focus on their complementary role to international processes and support local ownership, inclusiveness, tailored cooperation, long-term commitment and sustainability. In this context, I would like to commend the UN Secretary-General’s initiative for his agenda for disarmament.
For NATO, the UN PoA plays a key role in its efforts to tackle SALW related challenges. I am proud to say that NATO has become a strong partner in the full and comprehensive implementation of the programme. As encouraged by the PoA processes and its various outcome documents, NATO established and strengthened regional and cross-regional cooperation with 41 partners and developed coordination and information-sharing mechanisms using its comparative advantage in assisting States in developing capacities to combating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. Over the last decades, the Alliance has developed structured partnerships including the Partnership for Peace, the Mediterranean Dialogue, the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, as well as partners across the globe, with countries interested in pursuing political dialogue and practical cooperation. Furthermore, NATO is engaging actively with other international actors and organizations on a wide range of political and security issues including those related to small arms and light weapons challenges. This network represents more than 1/3 of the UN members.
Through these platforms, and the implementation and support of regional projects, NATO has been in a position to reduce the number of excess weapons and improve ammunition lifecycle management. As of January 2018, over 626,000 small arms and light weapons and 164,400,000 rounds of ammunition were destroyed. We integrated cross-cutting SALW aspects into defence-related security sector reform projects and mainstreamed gender perspectives, and addressed wider national security priorities, such as counter-terrorism through our Action Plan endorsed at the May 2017 Summit, or corruption at all levels, through our Building Integrity programme. NATO has provided technical and military expertise in physical security and stockpile management and developed best practices to contribute to the development of regional capacity for SALW and ammunition management. NATO’s technical standards served as a basis for many international standards and best practices for small arms, light weapons, and stockpiles of conventional ammunition control. These efforts will continue to minimize the risk of diversion, including through theft, loss and unauthorized re-export. NATO’s Partnership for Peace Trust Fund related to Small Arms and Light Weapons activities covers currently seven projects with an overall budget of 40.7Mio Euros.
In order to be effective in the long run, SALW related activities must be holistic and address not only legal and technical matters but also cultural, societal and functional issues. To this end, NATO has acknowledged the importance of mainstreaming a gender perspective in its full spectrum of activities. It is for these reasons that NATO developed guidelines for gender mainstreaming in SALW projects to underline the importance of providing clear and comprehensive advice and guidance to policymakers, practitioners and other stakeholders on the ground on the integration of a gender perspective when dealing with SALW projects. These guidelines, unique in their overall approach, are a clear commitment of NATO to mainstreaming a gender perspective and reaffirm the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in post-conflict reconstruction. I am pleased to inform you that NATO’s Special Representative on Women, Peace and Security will present these guidelines at a side-event on 25 June. We stand ready to cooperate and coordinate with the UN, its Member States, International and Regional Organizations and Civil Society in the practical implementation of these guidelines.
Let me conclude by underlining again the importance of a comprehensive, inclusive and overarching implementation of the UN PoA. NATO has been and will continue to be a reliable partner in global, regional and national implementation efforts. And NATO renews its commitment to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons thus contributing to achieving our common goal of peace, security and development. Let me wish you and your team, but also everyone else involved, again the very best for this Review Conference.
I thank you.