Russian foreign policy
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Statement by Alexander Konuzin, Russia's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, at the Meeting of the Security Council on the Question of the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons,
January 19, 2004


We are grateful to the Secretary General for the report on small arms and light weapons. We have carefully studied this document, as well as the findings and recommendations contained in it. They confirm that the UN plays a leading role in carrying out a comprehensive approach to solving the problem of small arms and light weapons.

The Russian Federation has been consistently advocating the enhancement of the coordinating role of the Organization in this sector, and particularly in dealing with the problem of the illicit trade in SALW.

Over the past year a number of major actions were carried out in this field, which have demonstrated the international community's serious potential for combating the illicit trade in these weapons. Held in July 2003, the first meeting of states to review the implementation of the United Nations Program of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons is a vivid example of how it is possible to use the capacities of the UN and of regional and non-governmental organizations in tackling this immensely complex task.

Pursuant to UN General Assembly resolution 58/241 of December 23, 2003, "On the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects," the Open-ended Working Group will start its work in the current year to prepare an international document enabling states to promptly and reliably identify and securely track down illicit small arms and light weapons. We expect that the creation of such a comprehensive mechanism of control will put up a serious barrier to the illicit trade in SALW throughout the world. We are convinced that major work in this sector should be further conducted within those formats.

The Security Council has already repeatedly addressed the problem of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons with reference to conflict situations on its agenda. Very useful and timely was the Council's thorough examination of this theme in March 2003 in the context of solving the complex problems in maintaining and restoring international peace and security on the African continent, in particular in West Africa.

Considerable attention was paid to this question in the course of the Security Council missions to the countries of Central and West Africa.

The Russian Federation has consistently been advocating the imposition of tough measures where arms supplies are being made to illegal armed groups. The experience of the embargo on arms supplies to conflict zones and against the Taliban Movement bears out the effectiveness of such action by the Security Council. As before, control over the observance of the Council-imposed bans on arms supplies, and the raising of the effectiveness of the mechanisms for monitoring the investigation of such instances of violation of the embargo are of paramount importance.

Recently, and this found reflection in the Secretary General's report, in the context of carrying out peacekeeping operations under the aegis of the United Nations special weight has been given to the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants and to the inclusion in the mandate for such operations of the tasks of the collection and destruction of illegal small arms and light weapons in close coordination with the parties in conflict. Donor support of the DDR programs is an important prerequisite for their successful implementation.

The facts and the practical experience in resolving conflict situations have convincingly borne out the adverse impact and the direct link of the illicit SALW trafficking with the activities of illegal armed groups, the exploitation of natural resources, the involvement in conflict of child soldiers, massive violations of human rights and the rules of international humanitarian law, and transfrontier crime.

The dangerous link between the illicit spread of SALW and international terrorism is becoming ever more obvious.

We consider it important to continue to devote special attention to concrete, practicable measures of struggle against the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons at a preventive stage and in the post-conflict phase of settlement. In this regard, the experience amassed by regional organizations appears very relevant and useful.

The Russian Federation for its part will continue to make a contribution to solving the problem of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.

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