Holistic approach needed to deal with illegal small arms trade: Iran UN envoy

Iran’s Envoy and Permanent Representative to the United Nation, Amir Saeid Iravani has called on the world body to take a comprehensive approach to deal with supply and demand chain of illegal trade in small arms and light weapons.

According to IRNA, Iravani issued the statement on Tuesday local time, at the fourth conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Program of Action to Prevent Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons.

The Iranian diplomat emphasized that Tehran is ready to give its support for achieving a consensus on the document and the full implementation of the UN Action Plan on the Illegal Trade of Small Arms and Light Weapons at the national, regional and international levels.

The full text of the statement by the Iranian representative at the UN is as follows:

Madam President,

First, let me congratulate you on your appointment as the President of the Fourth Review Conference of the UN Programme of Action. We commend you, your team, and UNODA for tireless efforts carried out over the past year. The Islamic Republic of Iran stands ready to support you in your endeavor for a consensus outcome document of this Review Conference.

My delegation aligns itself with the statement delivered by Indonesia on behalf of the NAM.

Madam President, Distinguished delegates,

I would like to reaffirm my country's commitment to fully implementing the United Nations Programme of Action on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons (UNPoA) at the national, regional, and international levels.

As a victim of foreign-backed terrorists and constantly faced with the threat of organized crime and drug trafficking linked to the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, the Islamic Republic of Iran attaches great importance to the Programme of Action.

Currently, Iran has established appropriate laws and necessary mechanisms to provide policy guidelines and facilitate coordination among relevant national bodies. We have made significant progress in combating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, as well as the associated issues, particularly drug trafficking. Our dedication to implementing the Programme of Action is evident in the sacrifice of nearly 5,000 law enforcement personnel who have lost their lives in this fight.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has also established bilateral and trilateral agreements with several countries in the region to effectively prevent, combat, and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, along with the associated problems. Notably, we consistently focus on addressing the root causes of this illicit trade and its related issues at the regional level. This is achieved, in particular, through investments in development programs and reconstruction plans in our neighboring countries.

Facilitating a non-discriminatory transfer of technology and equipment necessary to combat illicit trade and trafficking in SALWs to developing countries—such as x-ray machines, full-body scanners, advanced border control radars, etc., is urgent for strengthening Member States' capabilities for effectively implementing the POA.

Unfortunately, unlawful restrictions imposed on Iran, contrary to the commitments made in the UN Programme of Action, have limited our access to the technical and technological assistance necessary for combating the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons in the region.

Madam President,

It is clear that as long as the conditions fostering the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons persist, the demand for such weapons will continue to rise. Therefore, to find a viable long-term solution to this multifaceted challenge, it is essential to adopt a comprehensive approach.

As outlined in the Programme of Action, we must combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons from both supply and demand perspectives to succeed. For example, any efforts to address this issue will be ineffective without a significant reduction in arms production by major arms-producing countries, as the overproduction and oversupply of these weapons facilitate their diversion into illicit trade. Additionally, all States should ensure that the supply of small arms and light weapons is limited solely to governments or entities duly authorized by them.

we are of the view that the extensive transfer of SALW and irresponsible behavior by exporters constitute the primary issues contributing to the current state of international peace and security. Therefore, adherence to the provisions of the PoA and the ITI should be coupled with increased responsibility on the part of exporting countries and strict compliance with relevant international law.

Madam President,

My delegation welcomes the timely convening of the Fourth Review Conference of the UNPoA to take stock of the progress made since 2018. The Programme of Action represents the only international consensus framework to address the multifaceted challenges associated with the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects.

This unique tool must retain its validity and relevance, which can only be achieved through its balanced, effective, and comprehensive implementation. Therefore, our primary focus at this Conference should be to identify challenges in its implementation and formulate concrete, results-oriented recommendations to address them.

We find that "Draft 1" of the outcome document lays a foundation for substantive discussions. At this stage, I would like to highlight the following priorities of my delegation that we wish to see reflected in the outcome document of this Review Conference:

First, we place great importance on maintaining the consensus spirit that has guided international agreements on small arms issues thus far. We hope that our discussions in the upcoming days will be guided by this spirit, allowing us to concentrate on consolidating the progress achieved by states rather than intensifying disagreements.

Second, given that States have affirmed their commitment to implement the PoA on a voluntary basis, after nearly 25 years since the adoption of the PoA, it is imperative that the outcome document of the fourth review conference reiterates from the outset the explicit voluntary nature of all outlined measures.

Third, it is now crucial to prioritize refining the implementation of the UNPoA on SALW and its ITI, rather than introducing new elements, concepts, and terminologies that could expand its scope. Our objective is to collaboratively address existing gaps rather than widen them or create new ones. we must temper our ambitions with prudence. Therefore, we strongly advocate for the utilization of agreed-upon language to the greatest extent possible within the outcome document of this review conference to enhance the possibility of achieving a consensus document.

Fourth, we firmly believe that one of the primary implementation challenges of the UNPoA on SALW and its International Tracing Instrument (ITI) is inadequate international cooperation and assistance, specifically insufficient financial support, technical assistance, and technology transfer. Despite nearly 25 years of implementation practice, it still seems difficult to match the needs of affected states with the resources of donor countries.

International assistance and cooperation should be promoted constantly and proportionately to meet the growing needs of developing countries. This is essential, mainly due to the rising magnitude of illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and the ongoing threats they pose. In this context, providing financial and technical assistance, as well as technology transfer, to states at the forefront of combating the illicit trade in small arms, light weapons, and drug trafficking is of particular importance.

Developing countries should have access to new technologies for manufacturing and marking SALWs through every available means. The Islamic Republic of Iran firmly opposes any measures that are inconsistent with the right of self-defense as outlined in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, or that disregard legal trade in small and light weapons necessary to meet the national security needs of states.

It would be illusive and unrealistic to assume that by developing new and ambitious measures, which would only add to the undertakings of member states, without effectively helping them to address the main issues, the challenge of illicit trade in small arms and light weapons can be countered. Therefore, we urge this Review Conference to adopt concrete recommendations that ensure sustained, sufficient, non-discriminatory, and unconditional financial and technical assistance, as well as technology transfer, to developing countries.

The Non-Aligned Movement has presented a detailed working paper on Enhancing International Cooperation and Assistance. We fully endorse the paper and its valuable recommendations.

In this regard, the Islamic Republic of Iran expresses its support for expediting the implementation of the United Nations Fellowship Programme on Small Arms and Light Weapons, established in BMS 8. Given that the lack of required technical knowledge and expertise is one of the main implementation challenges for developing countries, we expect the Fellowship Programme to address and meet their needs and requirements effectively.

Fifth, we are not convinced that the implementation of the PoA could be supported by linking with other non-consensual documents such as the Arms Trade Treaty, the Firearms Protocol, and the Ammunition Management Framework. it is the sovereign right of each state to decide which international instruments, institutions, or bodies they wish to join.

Additionally, it would be advisable not to reference ongoing and non-intergovernmental documents and processes, such as the post-2030 agenda, the Summit of the Future, and A New Agenda for Peace, in the outcome document of the Fourth Review Conference.

Sixth, at this Conference, instead of deliberating on unnecessary theoretical issues and secondary elements, we need to focus on the practical ways and means of improving the effective implementation of the Programme of Action and the International Tracing Instrument. This involves identifying the primary challenges to implementation and making pragmatic recommendations to address them.

Seventh, on the issue of the Open-ended Technical Expert Group, it should be noted that its establishment has been and is contingent on meeting certain preconditions outlined in paragraph 75 of the BMS 8 outcome document. Unfortunately, none of these prerequisites have been met. Given the significant obstacles related to international cooperation and assistance and technology transfer, we believe it is premature and too early to talk about the creation of such a group. Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that the Fellowship Programme cannot be considered equivalent to the level of international cooperation and assistance expected to accompany the establishment of the proposed Technical Expert Group.

Madam President,

In addition to these seven key objectives, the Islamic Republic of Iran will propose additional objectives during the debate on the outcome document. We trust that the Review Conference will consider these recommendations with the importance they merit.

Madam President,

The Islamic Republic of Iran categorically rejects the unfounded allegations made by the representative of Yemen.

Iran has never taken any activities in violation of international law, including any engagement in the sale or transfer of arms that would contravene its international obligations and commitments.

I wish to emphasize that the caretaker government in Sanaa maintains independent sovereignty, making decisions and taking actions in its own interest. Any attempt to attribute their actions to the Islamic Republic of Iran is a mere diversion from the reality on the ground in Yemen.

Furthermore, Iran has always advocated for resolving the Yemen crisis through political means.

Madam President,

In Conclusion, my delegation stands ready to cooperate constructively with you, Madam President, and with all delegations towards the successful outcome of the Review Conference.

I thank you, Madam President.

News ID 197840

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