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Synergies of Disarmament Instruments

By Hillary Jean-Bart and Nikki Ovaisi (August, 2021)




TABLE OF CONTENTS

Acknowledgments 1

Introduction / Preface 1

Key Definitions 1

Small Arms Light Weapons (SALW) 2

Illicit Weapons 2

Weapons of Mass Destruction 3

Conventional Arms 3

UNODA 4

International Protocols and Treaties 5

MOSAIC(formerly known as ISACS) 5

Program of Action (PoA) on the illicit trade of Small arms and Light Weapons 6

Arms Trade Treaty(2013) 7

UN Security Council Resolution 1540 7

The Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunition (Firearms Protocol) 8

Regional Protocols and Treaties 8

African Synergies 8

UNREC 8

ECOWAS Convention on SALW and the Arms Trade Treaty 9

The Protocol on the Control of Firearms, Ammunition and Other Related Material in the Southern African Development Community Region (SADC Protocol) 9

Central African Convention for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, their Ammunition, Parts and Components that can be used for their Manufacture, Repair or Assembly (Kinshasa Convention) 10

Nairobi Protocol for the Prevention, Control and Reduction of Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa 10

Inter-American Synergies 10

CIFTA 10

Andean Community Decision 11

MERCOSUR 11

European Synergies 12

Directive 91/477/ EEC (Firearms directive) 12

Stability Pact for Southeast Europe 12

Asian and Pacific Synergies 12

UNRCPD 12

Weapons Control Bill 13

Arab Synergies 13

Arab Coordination for Combating the Illicit Trade in Small Arms Light Weapons 13

Conclusion14

Appendix I: Chart of Synergies of Global and Regional Disarmament Instruments

Bibliography



Acknowledgments

We wish to acknowledge the indispensable technical assistance and research of Miranda Chiarello, Amanda Coppa, Kimberly Lindman, Kato Luykx, Lauren McGowan, Emma Marolda, Caroline Myers, Gwilym Roberts-Harry, Catherina Santos, Shantel Santana, Alexander Temple and Araya Wongwan.


Kato Luykx constructed the chart linked to in Appendix I.



Introduction / Preface

As the world has become progressively interconnected in the age of technology and industrialization, the value of goods and services and the exchange of such materials have increased exponentially. This also includes the manufacturing of weapons and the past few decades have shown that the proliferation of such items can contribute to deadly consequences if not addressed. This paper will examine the multiple synergies, protocols, and agreements made primarily by the United Nations and similar regional peacekeeping organizations to regulate the mass production and trade of dangerous tools, primarily the category of Small Arms Light Weapons. First synergies and assemblies on an international scale relating to weapons control will be addressed, and then regional instruments will be examined in more detail. Hopefully such instruments can be further developed and modified to address the challenges relating to increased disarmament within territorial contexts.



Key Definitions

Small Arms Light Weapons (SALW)

Small arms and light weapons, or SALW, refers to two main classes of portable weapons. Small arms are for individual service, or for carry and operation by individual infantrymen. They include:

  • Handguns

  • Muskets

  • Shotguns

  • Rifles

  • Personal defense weapons

  • Squad automatic weapons

  • Light machine guns

Light weapons are portable weapons that are either crew-serviced kinetic firearms, or shoot explosive munitions.

They include:

  • general-purpose machine guns

  • unmounted heavy machine guns

  • portable flamethrowers

  • grenades, and others.

Illicit Weapons

Illicit weapons are defined by the United Nations Protocol Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms as “the import, export, acquisition, sale, delivery, movement or transfer of firearms, their parts and components and ammunition from or across the territory of one State Party to that of another State Party if any one of the States Parties concerned does not authorize it… or if the firearms are not marked in accordance with… this protocol”.


Weapons of Mass Destruction

Weapons of mass destruction is defined as a chemical, biological, or radioactive weapon capable of causing widespread death and destruction.

The main types are:

  • nuclear weapons (atomic weapons, radiation weapons),

  • chemical weapons (such as poison gas),

  • biological weapons (natural toxins and pathogens).

Conventional Arms

Conventional weapons, on the other hand, refer to weapons whose ability to damage comes from kinetic or explosive energy, and exclude weapons of mass destruction. SALW is a subset of conventional weapons.

They include but are not limited to:

  • armored combat vehicles

  • combat helicopters

  • combat aircraft

  • Warships

  • Landmines

  • cluster munitions

  • ammunition and artillery

UNODA

The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, or UNODA, was established in January of 1998 as the Department for Disarmament Affairs. UNODA works for the UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, as well as the UN Disarmament Commission. The Office for Disarmament Affairs supports multilateral efforts aimed at achieving the ultimate goal of general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control. It also provides objective, impartial, and up-to-date information on multilateral disarmament issues and activities to Member States, intergovernmental organizations and institutions, departments and agencies of the United Nations system, other institutions, the media, and the general public.

UNODA is structured in five branches:

  • CD Secretariat & Conference Support Branch (Geneva)

    • This branch provides organization and substantive servicing to the CD, the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community, and its Ad hoc Committees

  • Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Branch

    • This branch provides substantive support in the area of the disarmament of weapons of mass destruction.

  • Conventional Arms Branch (CAB)

    • This branch focuses their efforts on all weapons not considered WMD, including small arms and light weapons (SALW). CAB chairs the UN-internal coordination mechanism on small arms.

  • Regional Disarmament Branch (RDB)

    • This branch provides support, including advisory services, to Member States, regional and subregional organizations on disarmament measures and related security matters.

  • Information and Outreach Branch (IOB)

    • This branch organizes a wide variety of special events and programmes in the field of disarmament, produces UNODA publications, and maintains databases for specialized areas.


Organizational chart of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs
Organizational Structure of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs


International Protocols and Treaties


MOSAIC(formerly known as ISACS)

The Implementation of the Modular Small-Arms-Control Implementation Compendium, otherwise known as MOSAIC, brought to life one of the first set of guidelines relating to the regulation of Small-Arms Light Weapons (SALWs). Its primary use as a set of cohesive guidelines and UN-approved advice on combating the misuse of SALWs has proved to be essential in the fight towards disarmament on a global scale. The primary components of MOSAIC that take form in separate International Protocols include:

  • The Program of Action(PoA) on the Illicit Trade of Small arms and Light Weapons(2001)

  • The International Tracing Instrument(2005)

  • Firearms Protocol(2007)

  • Arms Trade Treaty(2015)


The framework of Mosaic itself provides robust modules that illustrate the best practices, codes of conduct, and standard operating procedures that have been developed at the sub-regional level. The 6 distinct modules are listed as:

  • Series 1: Introduction to MOSAIC

  • Series 2: SALW Control in Context

  • Series 3: Legislative and Regulatory

  • Series 4: Design and Management

  • Series 5: Operational Support

  • Series 6: Cross Cutting Issues


The countries that take part in the MOSAIC instrument
MOSAIC Government Partnerships

These guidelines are available to both government entities and organizations that have access to SALWs with the additional responsibility of practicing safe conduct relating to arms control. MOSAIC also is in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #16, the commitment to promote just, peaceful, and inclusive societies. Specifically, the modules and guidelines support SDG 16.4, the agreement to significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime. Due to its high-intensity involvement in its creation, the United Nations has proved to be deeply committed to helping support government entities in their journey to implementing MOSAIC components. Support systems of the compendium include multiple UN agencies such as the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), Office on Drugs and Crime (ODC), Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the World Health Organization (WHO), and several other regional and international UN sectors. In addition to this inter-organizational support, MOSAIC has also partnered with representatives in over 30 separate countries, members of civil society organizations, and private sector partners.


Program of Action (PoA) on the Illicit Trade of Small Arms and Light Weapons

During the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, the PoA adopted the resolution with the intention of

  • improving national small arms regulations

  • strengthening stockpile management

  • ensuring that weapons are properly and reliably marked

  • improving cooperation in weapons tracing

  • engaging in regional and international cooperation and assistance

The UN General Assembly developed the International Tracing Instrument (ITI) with the intention of increasing the level of cooperation and discourse surrounding the concept of weapons tracing among regions. This instrument requires States to properly mark and keep records of their weapons. This can be attributed to the commitment listed in the PoA for governments to sustain and develop weapons tracing agreements within their region. The implementation of this component preemptively aligned with the development goals identified in MOSAIC and directly targeted the conflicts stemming from the illicit trafficking of small arms. Member states are highly encouraged to submit bi-annual reports on their implementation of the PoA and ITI, which shows the efficacy of a country’s tracing strategies. The reevaluation of the PoA and its effects have occurred in 2006, 2012, and 2018. The ITI is also aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, where improving weapons tracing is on the 2030 Agenda.


There are a number of good practices that can be derived from the 2018 report. There are a number of countries that have consistently submitted reports. A positive trend can be seen in the national reporting between 2001 and 2018, with a small decline in 2016 but already showing recovery. Since implementing the online reporting tool, it has been well utilised by different countries. As mentioned, marking and record keeping of all State owned SALW’s is a priority of the ITI. Data gathered from the 2020 national reports that focuses on the 2018-2019 time frame show that 42% of the Member States have marked their SALW’s and 40% have records of their marked SALW’s.


Arms Trade Treaty(2013)

The Arms Trade Treaty(ATT) builds a set of common guidelines and procedures relating to the international trade of conventional weapons including prolific weapons systems ranging from:

  • battle tanks,

  • armed personnel carriers,

  • artillery, fighter jets,

  • attack helicopters,

  • warships,

  • missiles,

  • small arms and light weapons.


Countries that take part in the Arms Trade Treaty
Arms Trade Treaty Countries

The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted this set of guidelines in March of 2013 to assist governments in authorizing arms transfers of such devices and ammunition. The ATT is the first of its kind to list and provide guidelines for international arms control, especially when regulating access to such weapons for criminal use, war crimes, and human rights abuses. All involved states must adopt regulations and protocols for the exchange of weapons across international borders, act in agreement with international standards for the approval of arms exports, and annual reports to the Arms Trade Treaty Secretariat. In areas of increased conflict where implementing arms control has proven to be quite difficult, UNODA and UN regional centers collaborate to provide assistance and guidance to regulate irregular trade in accordance with the provisions of the ATT.


International Ammunition Technical Guidelines (2011)

Ammunition, and especially inadequately managed ammunition, contributes to the illicit markets and armed conflict. They are often a major player in humanitarian disasters. To address these concerns the International Ammunition Technical Guidelines (IATG) were developed in 2011 with the UN SafeGuard Programme as its management platform. Both are overseen by the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs. The IATG is a global framework for the development of national standards and Standing Operating Procedures (SOPs). They strive to enhance the level of safety regarding ammunition stockpiles with detailed guidelines on the control and management of ammunition. The UN SafeGuard Programme has published three practical guides for applying the IATG:

  • Critical path guide to the international ammunition technical guidelines

  • A guide to developing national standards for munition management

  • Utilizing the IATG in conflict-affected and low-capacity environments


The IATG are in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goal #16 to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.


UN Security Council Resolution 1540

A set of guidelines developed in 2004 meant to prevent all participating states from aiding non-state actors in acquiring, manufacturing, possessing, or trading nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons or their components. This agreement centers around states implementing domestic policy and legislation to curb the possible effects of such weapons in close possession of terrorists. Along with focusing on implementation activities, the Resolution highlights the need for cooperation of organizations on all levels, international to regional, as well as civil society and the private sector.


The Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunition (Firearms Protocol)

The 55th General Assembly of the United Nations created what is commonly known as the firearms protocol to prevent the illicit manufacturing and trading of firearms on an international scale. This protocol acts in conjunction with the UN Transnational Conjunction on Organized Crime to prevent the additional smuggling of persons by land, sea, and air. Notable provisions of the agreement include the marking and tracking of all firearms within a state (and that they are properly identified as legal instruments), criminalizing the interference of categorizing firearms and illicit manufacturing, and stricter guidelines on transnational transfers of firearms.




Regional Protocols and Treaties


African Synergies

UNREC

The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC) was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1986. UNREC is a regional centre of UNODA, mandated to provide, upon request, substantive support for initiatives and other practical efforts of Member States of Africa toward the realization of measures of peace, arms limitations, and disarmament. UNREC assists African Member States in their efforts to effectively implement their obligations found in various disarmament, arms regulation and confidence-building instruments and to reform their defence and security forces. As the sole UN regional entity mandated to address disarmament issues in Africa, UNREC cooperates with national entities, regional and subregional organizations, the United Nations system and civil society organizations. UNREC’s projects are funded through voluntary contributions from Member States and other donors.


ECOWAS Convention on SALW and the Arms Trade Treaty


The countries that are a member of the ECOWAS
ECOWAS Member States

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)’s objective is to promote cooperation and integration, including economic and monetary union, in order to stimulate growth and development in West Africa. It has also been mandated to promote peace and security in the region. Current members include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo. The ECOWAS Convention on SALW and the Arms Trade Treaty was preceded by a non-binding prohibition on the Importation, Exportation, and Manufacture of Light Weapons. The prohibition was the result of a UN advisory mission in the West African region, which noted that the proliferation of small arms was a hindrance to security. In 1999, ECOWAS member states adopted a Code of Conduct for implementing the suspension and expanding the provisions of the Moratorium to include “components and ammunition.” In 2003, ECOWAS Heads of State decided to transform the Moratorium into a legally-binding instrument in order to ensure more effective implementation.


The Protocol on the Control of Firearms, Ammunition and Other Related Material in the Southern African Development Community Region (SADC Protocol)

Adopted in August of 2001, implemented in November of 2004, this broad scope multinational agreement was established to fight the illicit trafficking of firearms, ammunition, and other weapons in the SADC region. Major factors of this protocol include the strict regulation of the import and export of such weapons along with establishing avenues for governments within the region to establish national policies that align with one another. Members of the SADC felt that this agreement was necessary due to the rise in unaccounted for, unregistered, firearms in the hands of civilians and militarized groups. Many of the regulations within this protocol mirror the provisions outlined in the 2001 Firearms Protocol and target issues of illegal civilian possession, the maintenance and tracking of state-owned firearms, and curbing the transit of small arms within the region.


Central African Convention for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, their Ammunition, Parts and Components that can be used for their Manufacture, Repair or Assembly (Kinshasa Convention)

Entered into force in 2017, the Kinshasa Convention is the primary tool for countries within the central African region to regulate the manufacturing, possession, stockpiling and destruction of Small Arms Light Weapons. Primarily, member states of this convention are focused on marking and organizing weapons into a national database that can be evaluated for future regulations, prohibits the civilian possession of SALWs, and requires a license for light weapons to be in the possession of individual entities or organizations.


Nairobi Protocol for the Prevention, Control and Reduction of Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa

State parties acting in conjunction to control the transfer of SALWs across entities within the region. Closely resembling the 2001 SADC Protocol, this agreement focuses on cultivating legislative measures and commitments in the region and creating the appropriate channels for exchanging information on the subregional level. Not only does this protocol restrict the civilian usage of firearms, namely through prohibiting manufacturing and possession among this population, but also establishes restrictions for state entities themselves. Unlike the SADC protocol, the Nairobi Protocol’s legally binding nature ensures that all cooperating states must agree to its provisions, and more importantly coordinate national laws that prevent trafficking.



Inter-American Synergies

CIFTA

The Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials (CIFTA) was approved as a program in 1997 by the OAS (Organization of American States). The purpose of CIFTA was to establish a regional standard for the control of the illicit manufacturing and trafficking in firearms: the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials. The CIFTA emphasizes the need for authorizations or licenses of export, imports and transit; the reinforcement of the checkpoints for exports, amongst other things. They seek to promote and facilitate the cooperation and exchange of information between OAS Member States. As of 2013, the treaty has been ratified by 31 of the 34 states in the OAS. The states that have not ratified the treaty are Canada, Jamaica, and the United States. However, each of the three non-ratifying states are signatories to it. The CIFTA includes a series of provisions that must be incorporated into domestic law and regulations once a country has ratified the treaty.

Specifically, it addresses the need for:

  • states to mark firearms to allow them to be traced and their origin, import, and custody to be identified,

  • criminalize the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms,

  • correctly manage confiscated and seized firearms,

  • strengthen controls at points of export,

  • ensure other security measures including the management and security of stockpiles.

Andean Community Decision

Andean community members recognized that the illicit trade in weapons, small arms and light weapons constitutes serious problems to national and international security and stability. As a result, the current members of the Andean Community have ratified against the Illicit Manufacturing of and trafficking in Firearms including: Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. In 2001, the member states agreed to implement the United Nations Program of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons. The objective is to:

  • establish a minimum standard to regulate the illicit manufacture, import, export, transfer, sale, brokerage, transport, possession, concealment, carrying and use of small arms and light weapons,

  • develop national databases and communication systems.

They hope to strengthen the capacity of competent national institutions to control and report the quantity of arms and weapons in the hands of the State, by verifying and updating their registries and/or inventories of small arms and light weapons.


MERCOSUR

The Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR for its Spanish Initials) is a regional integration process, established by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and later joined by Venezuela and Bolivia. The main objective of MERCOSUR has been to promote a common space that generates business and investment opportunities through the competitive integration of national economies into the international market. As a result, it has established multiple agreements with countries or groups of countries, granting them, in some cases, the status of Associated States. MERCOSUR passed a council decision in 2004, called the Memorandum of Understanding for Information Exchange on the Manufacture and the Illicit Traffic of Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials.

The objective of this was to:

  • promote cooperation against organized crime done through illicit trade of firearms, ammunition and explosives,

  • to establish a permanent exchange of information for the production and circulation of firearms, ammunition, explosives and other related materials.


European Synergies

Directive 91/477/ EEC (Firearms directive)

Established as a standard of common rules for the acquisition and possession of firearms in the European Union. First implemented in 208 and last revised in 2017, these means were agreed upon by the Union to strengthen the security regarding weapons and firearms. Provisions in the updated revision

  • made it more difficult to legally acquire high-capacity weapons,

  • strengthened the cooperation of states within the EU and the interconnectedness,

  • restricted the overall circulation of firearms within the area.

Stability Pact for Southeast Europe

Adopted in April of 2000, the Stability Pact for Eastern European countries was developed by the United States in conjunction with over 40 individual governments and organizations that have an interest in the area. Unlike similar European treaties that are centered around disarmament, the Stability Pact focuses on the overall economic development of the region and the reintegration of local economies into Western Europe. Included in these goals is the commitment to reducing the circulation of small arms light weapons in the region.



Asian and Pacific Synergies

UNRCPD

The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (UNRCPD) has strengthened partnerships with regional organizations to:

  • assist Member States of those organizations address the threats posed by illicit SALW,

  • work towards the reduction of armed violence,

  • improve disarmament outreach and advocacy.

The focus of UNRCPD’s efforts to date has centered on implementation of the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PoA) and the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). UNRCPD includes 43 member states in the Asia-Pacific, including Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, and many others.


Weapons Control Bill

In 2003, a guideline for the Weapons Control Bill was created by the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). The objectives of this bill were to:

  • indicate separate punishments for the selling and distribution of a controlled or prohibited weapon to children, as well as for the purchase of a controlled or prohibited weapon by a child,

  • to permit violation notices to be served for specific offences under that act,

  • to make further provisions to exemptions and application of search procedures.

Current members of the PIF include Australia, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.



Arab Synergies

Arab Coordination for Combating the Illicit Trade in Small Arms Light Weapons

In December of 2005, the Council for the League of Arab States convened to develop this resolution with the purpose of strengthening the relationship among member states relating to small arms control. Additionally, this resolution hopes to establish the necessary channels to exchange information in regard to SALWs and use this information to make legislative changes. Acting in conjunction with previous Arab resolutions in this area, this Coordination expands on previous efforts to prevent, curb, and eradicate the illegal trade of small arms light weapons.



Conclusion

Inter-Regional Synergies


The goals of regional disarmament instruments are mainly in working toward the reduction of armed violence and improving disarmament outreach and advocacy. An ideal disarmament instrument would include: criminalizing the illicit manufacturing and trafficking in firearms, correctly managing confiscated and seized firearms, strengthening controls at points of export as well as mark firearms to allow them to be traced and their origin, import, and custody to be identified, indicating separate punishments for the selling and distribution of a controlled or prohibited weapon to children, as well as for the purchase of a controlled or prohibited weapon by a child, ensuring other security measures including the management and security of stockpiles, making it more difficult to legally acquire high-capacity weapons, and establishing a permanent exchange of information for the production and circulation of firearms, ammunition, explosives and other related materials. However, current regulations and protocols within each region vary; the most common instrument seems to be the development of a national database and communications system regarding small arms and light weapons. This may be the most common instrument as it is the least threatening to the sovereignty of states, and most easily implemented without controversy. The instruments most absent include establishing a minimum standard to regulate the illicit manufacture, import, export, transfer, sale, brokerage, transport, possession, concealment, carrying and use of small arms and light weapons, and restricting overall circulation of firearms. Similarly, these may be the most absent as they have the potential to severely limit the power of states and their sovereignty. As the need for more regulations and guidelines in disarmament are acknowledged, there have been consistent modifications in these regional treaties and protocols; as a result, there is hope that one day all regions of the world will implement the ideal disarmament instruments, allowing for maximum efficacy in disarmament efforts.



Appendix I: Chart of Synergies of Global and Regional Disarmament Instruments


Chart is constructed by Kato Luykx (December, 2021)




Bibliography








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