by H.E. Amb. Sun Joun-yung, Permanent Representative
at the Third Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference
Let me begin by expressing my sincere appreciation to you, Mr. Chairman, for the tireless efforts that you have made since the first meeting of this Preparatory Committee. We are also grateful to you for putting forward the revised Draft Programme of Action in a timely manner. In our view, the revised draft is more concise and focused, and can therefore serve as a good basis for our deliberation.
My delegation has long felt that the two-pronged effort dealing with the small arms issue one in New York and the other in Vienna could generate synergy and have a complementary effect on the curbing of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects.
In this regard, we welcome the fact that the Firearms Protocol was adopted by consensus about two weeks ago in Vienna, with reservations on the part of certain states. Although the Firearms Protocol did not enjoy the full support of every member state participating in the negotiation, it represents a hard-earned balance between divergent views. Therefore, my delegation believes that this Prepcom meeting should build on the outcome of the Firearms Protocol negotiation.
We hope that the United Nations Conference this July will serve as an occasion to renew the international community's political commitment to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, and that the Conference will adopt concrete measures to translate such political commitment into action.
My delegation believes that the two main goals of the Conference should be incorporated into one single, combined document as an outcome of the United Nations Conference in July. In this regard, we support the Chairman's format of the paper.
Furthermore, we believe that the Programme of Action should emphasize at the outset the multi-faceted nature of the challenge posed by the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. In fact, the small arms issue encompasses security, humanitarian and development dimensions.
We also recognize the importance of a comprehensive approach in dealing with the illicit trade in small arms at three different levels, namely, the national, regional and global levels.
Let me now turn to Section II and highlight some points, at each of these three levels, to which my government attaches great importance.
At the national level, states should ensure that the production, export, import and stockpiling of small arms and light weapons are carried out with strict adherence to their laws and regulations. We believe that effective state control over these weapons is key to determining an excessive accumulation of weapons.
My delegation also believes that the export criteria should be further elaborated, as it would prevent the misuse of small arms and light weapons.
As for marking, we believe that it should be unique, simple and user-friendly, so that all authorities concerned can easily identify and trace each weapon. Traceability can be enhanced if the engraved markings are readable and easily transmittable through a computer database and the internet. While it might currently be unfeasible to adopt a universal marking system, every country should make due efforts to harmonize its marking system with the universally prevailing system.
At the regional level, it is desirable to establish an information-sharing network among law enforcement and custom control agencies to ensure the effective implementation of the Programme of Action. Countries participating in this network would have to exchange information regarding their marking system, export-import authorization process, broker registration and so forth. Such an information exchange would enhance the degree of transparency at the regional level.
At the global level, we believe that even if the Programme of Action proposes to establish an international arrangement or legally binding instrument, a model instrument would be more desirable in that they define a common denominator, while allowing individual countries to implement these measures domestically.
With respect to follow-up measures, we support the proposal to convene a meeting of states on a biennial basis to discuss the implementation of the Programme of Action, and we are also in favor of convening a Review Conference no later than 2006.
We recognize that there are still divergent views regarding the participation of NGOs in this endeavor. In light of the current and potential role of NGOs in combating the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, we support their wide participation in the Conference, including its preparatory process.
As we mentioned in the second Prepcom, the ARF (ASEAN Regional Forum) Government Expert Meeting, held in October 2000 in Seoul, was the first instance in which the issue of small arms was taken up at the governmental level in the Asia-Pacific region. We would also like to see this meeting reflected in the Annex of the Programme.