Harmonizing Reporting for Global & Regional Conventional Arms Instrument
By Araya Wongwan
On June 9, 2016 the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) came together to present an informational event on ‘Streamlining Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) Reporting Tools’. The speakers included the Chair of UNODA as well as Robin Mossinkoff from the OSCE Conflict prevention centre. The goal of the panel was to inform and to encourage countries to use the reporting template, created as a joint project by OSCE-UN and funded by the German government, in order to increase efficiency and to maximize resources. The reports were created in support of the Program of Action (POA) to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects.
Every two years each participating member state in the Program of Action (POA) needs to submit a national report. More than 162 countries have submitted national reports. However, some submit more than others. Depending on the countries, the reports could be submitted to up to six different organizations as some countries report to both regional and global organizations. Transparency and accuracy for these national reports are highly valued as they help illustrate progress made thus far. The reports also provide information necessary to generate further measures for capacity building and implementing the goals of POA. Ninety percent of the participating countries have used the United Nations (UN) online reporting format. However, producing many reports could be a challenge for countries with limited resources. Additionally, the template could be difficult to interpret both for the country, to understand and fill in accurate information respectively, as well as for the analyzer, to understand reports that uses specific terms and languages that differs from what they are familiar with. For countries that uses a reporting format that differs from the UN online report, there is a difficulty in analyzing the data inside the document since they exist on a different Information Technology platforms. UNODA and OSCE have particular interests to streamline reports from different platforms, submitted to different organizations. The novel reporting tool, thus, aims to reduce the burden of transcribe as well as to produce synergies, or cooperations between organizations to produce a greater sum than the sum of separate efforts. In other words, the tool would universalize and harmonize the reporting efforts and produce the most efficient results. The new template, presented in this panel, would allow the countries to easily edit and fill out their national reports. The same report could now be submitted to different organizations rather than re-creating new reports to submit to different organizations. Information in the report is saved from previous years so the user does not have to refill the blank charts if the information in the specific column stays the same. In addition, the reporting template is password protected to secure the information and to prevent unauthorized users to manipulate the content. Before submission, there is also a preview page for the user to prove read the information that they want to submit. Corrections can also be made on this page by clicking into each column and editing the information inside of it. Direct submission of the report can also be made on the particular preview page, making it easier for the user to utilize the template.The presented template, thus, would be a convenient tool for countries to adopt when reporting to organizations. This specific instrument would greatly help to foster further cooperations between global and regional individuals and organizations.