No Borders for the Illegal Arms Trade

SEESAC’s experts Slobodan Boskovic and Juliana Buzi presented SEESAC’s work and its relevance to the global fight against the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons (SALW) at expert symposiums organized by the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) in New York.

23 – 26 October, New York

The illicit trade in firearms does not discriminate. It affects all countries and it harms people’s security, no matter where they live. Recognizing this, the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (PoA) and its accompanying International Tracing Instrument (ITI) were established in 2005. The PoA provides a global framework for illicit arms trade policies, so that different governments’ actions can be coordinated, and made more effective.

In June 2018, national governments will review the PoA and ITI at the third Review Conference. Held only every six years, Review Conferences set the stage on how to better respond to the illegal trade of firearms at the global level. Two of SEESAC’s experts, Slobodan Boskovic and Juliana Buzi, were invited to contribute to an expert symposium held by UNODA, that will lay the groundwork in this area for the third Review Conference.

Juliana focused on Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals and gender aspects of SALW control. SEESAC’s groundbreaking study on gender and SALW in South East Europe was presented as a best practice in “finding significant differences in how women and men are affected by guns”. Her presentation aimed to demonstrate why this must be considered when SALW policies are designed in order to make them more effective.

Slobodan extolled the virtues of a 360-degree approach to SALW control. He highlighted that because “numerous sources of weapons emerge in conflict and post-conflict environments”, different aspects of SALW control must be addressed simultaneously in order to effectively combat arms trafficking. As exemplified by SEESAC’s work, seemingly disparate topics from public awareness-raising campaigns to implementing standards for the destruction of surplus weapons and their ammunition, must be included within policies and strategies to combat illicit trafficking.

The very existence of the PoA and ITI demonstrates that no country or region can afford to be complacent about arms trafficking. SEESAC is one of the pioneers of cross-border action against the illicit trade of firearms through its regional approach to SALW control, typified by practices like the organization of regular regional meetings of national SALW commissions and the South East Europe Firearms Expert Network (SEEFEN).