Statement by Chinese Representative at UN Workshop on Small Arms and Light Weapons
Beijing, 19 April 2005
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very glad to have this chance to join you in exploring ways to further implement the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapon (PoA).
The Programme of Action is a landmark document that started a new process in the multilateral endeavor against the illicit trade in SALW adopted by the UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in SALW in 2001. Over the past four years, the international community has made unremitting efforts and achieved encouraging process in its implementation.
First of all, various countries have made earnest efforts to implement the PoA. They have established points of national contact and coordinating agencies, enacted and improved national legislation, strengthened mechanism and capacity building and submitted their national reports on the implementation of the PoA.
Second, follow-up activities recommended by the PoA concerning a review conference, marking and tracing, illicit brokering have been duly carried out. In 2003, the UN successfully convened the First Biennial Conference of States to review and assess the implementation of the PoA at the global, regional and national level. In 2004, the UN launched an Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) to negotiate an international instrument to enable states to identify and trace illicit small arms and light weapons, marking a new starting point in the multilateral cooperation in combating the illicit trade in SALW. The UN adopted a resolution at the 59th General Assembly and decided to set up a governmental expert group for dealing with illicit brokering no later than 2007, thus putting the issue of illicit brokering high on the agenda.
Third, at the global level, SALW problems have received increasing attention from the UN Security Council. The Security Council held a number of special review meetings and issued chairman's declarations and resolutions on SALW. In 2002, the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan put forward 12 suggestions on how the UN could better coordinate efforts in SALW and significant progress has been made in this regard. The UN Coordinating Action on Small Arms (CASA) mechanism has also played an active role in facilitating the implementation of the PoA by conducting research and hosting a series of workshops and training programs.
Fourth, regional and sub-regional organizations such as the ASEAN, the African Union, the European Union, the Organization of American States(OAS) have all mapped out different initiatives and taken substantive measures, including the fight against illicit trade in SALW into their regional cooperation framework. Regional documents like ASEAN's Action Plan and the Nairobi Protocol have laid a solid foundation for the implementation of the PoA at the regional level.
Nevertheless, we should be aware of an array of factors that hamper a full implementation of the PoA.
-The domestic laws and regulations of some countries have loopholes in marking, record-keeping, import and export, brokering, stockpile management and other areas and need to be improved. Law enforcement by customs, police and other relevant bodies should be intensified.
-Information sharing, experience exchange and cooperation in tracing among law enforcement authorities need to be further enhanced.
-A number of countries inflicted by illicit SALW are still short of resources and capacity in legislation, law enforcement and control, confiscation and destruction of illicit SALW.
-In some regions where there are frequent wars and conflicts coupled with raging terrorist activities and transnational crimes, rampant illicit trade in SALW is yet to be effectively checked.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The international community needs to work hand-in-hand and promote the comprehensive implementation of the PoA to cement the achievements of the UN Conference in 2001.
-States should take further measures in light of their own situations to implement the PoA. There is the need to draft and improve laws and regulations governing the SALW manufacturing, possessing, transfer and stockpile, to enhance and intensify law enforcement and to prevent the lawfully manufactured small arms from ending up in the hands of illegal processors and users.
-Regions need to size up their actual situation, identify priorities and strengthen intra-regional contact, coordination and cooperation, in particular, among law enforcement bodies of each country.
-The international community is expected to mobilize all necessary resources and provide financial and technical support to developing countries in their capacity and institutional building. At the same time, relevant countries should also be helped in developing their economy and achieving peace and stability, which will help to remove important factors like wars and conflicts that would fuel the illicit trade in SALW.
- To better address problems a comprehensive approach is required to put the fight against illicit trade in SALW under the framework of regional and global cooperation in cracking down on international terrorism and transnational organized crime.
-The United Nations should continue to play a leading role in promoting international efforts for new progress in the implementation of the PoA. To this end, priorities should be given to the following three aspects.
First, the 2005 Second Biennial Conference of States and the 2006 Review Conference to assess the implementation of the PoA must be successful. As another important gathering for the international community to assess the implementation of the PoA after the First Biennial Conference in 2003, this year's conference should have a realistic and attainable objective, and focus on the implementation of the PoA at the national, regional and global level, the identification of difficulties and challenges facing every state and formulation of well-targeted policies. Although this conference has no direct link to the 2006 Review Conference, it could still seek to reach a forward-looking consensus which will surely pave the way for the 2006 meeting.
Second, OEWG is expected to strive for more positive results in its work. The priority now is to encourage constructive efforts and flexibility of all parties and to advocate the spirit of seeking common grounds while shelving differences, so as to bridge the discrepancies in the nature and scope of the instrument and issues concerning tracing cooperation, and to work out an effective international instrument as scheduled, at the 3rd session in June this year.
Third, international cooperation need to be further strengthened to crack down on illicit brokering. Since there is still much difference among countries on how to further strengthen such cooperation, it is necessary to establish an UN governmental expert group to look into the question and search for effective solutions. Prior to the formation of such a group, countries could still effectively curb the activities of illicit SALW brokering through alternative channels and methods such as information exchange, better communication and cooperation between competent departments, and by making full use of the existing mechanisms like national points of contact provided for in the PoA, the World Customs Organization and the Interpol.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Chinese Government highly values and supports the efforts by the international community to crack down on the illicit trade in SALW and has taken a series of concrete measures to earnestly implement the PoA.
-On legislation, China has formulated and improved necessary laws and regulations. In 1996, China promulgated the Laws and Measures of the People's Republic of China on the Control of Firearms that provided a much needed legal framework for the administration of the production and usage of guns and other SALW. In 2002, China revised its Regulations on Control of Military Products Export and published the Military Products Export Control List, thus putting in place strict and clear-cut control measures for the export of military products including SALW consistent with international practice.
-On law enforcement, China carries out strict administration according to relevant laws and regulations on SALW production, stockpiling, transportation, trade, use and confiscation. According to the uniform military products export control regime provided for by the Regulations on Control of Military Products Export, only those companies with lawfully obtained license for the export of military products could run such export business. The state adopts a licensing system under which exports and export contracts of military products are subject to review and approval by competent authorities for military products export license. The Chinese Customs requires military products export license for customs declaration and carries out inspection according to relevant state regulations.
-On capacity building, China pushes the further implementation of the PoA by constantly stepping up its own capacity building efforts. The Chinese law enforcement authorities are trying out a "Firearms Management Information System" before its wider application and preparing to establish for a nation-wide information management system for the production and possession of SALW. Vigorous efforts are also made to improve the marking system for SALW, including modification of relevant standards and research on fake-proof technology.
-For international exchange and cooperation, China timely submits its national report to the UN with a summary of China's fight against illegal SALW trade and its implementation of the PoA. The Chinese police, Chinese Customs and other law enforcement bodies keep regular contacts with their foreign counterparts. China also renders help within its own capacity to relevant countries and regions in their effort to solve the problem of illicit SALW. We will donate US$21,800 this year to the OAS through the China-OAS Cooperation Fund, to sponsor a conference against trafficking of firearms in the American countries.
We are now at a fresh start. We believe that as the implementation of the PoA goes on, the illicit trade in SALW will be gradually subdued and checked effectively.