Let me first welcome you to these consultations and thank you all for your participation. Let me especially thank Mr. Duarte and the Office of Disarmament Affairs and for joining OSAA in co-organizing this very important meeting.
The mandate of my Office is to ensure a coherent and integrated approach for United Nations support for Africa and to bring at the forefront of the United Nations agenda critical issues affecting
Very few other issues are more relevant and would have a greater impact in keeping the peace of the continent and in fostering its development than addressing the scourge of illicit arms and light weapons. For decades, the uncontrolled trade in and presence of these weapons has threatened the livelihoods of millions of Africans, killed and maimed an unacceptable number of people, forced young people to fight in the wars of adults, protected those abusing women and committing human rights violations and served as deterrent to many encouraging development initiatives.
The UN Programme of Action to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects constitutes the cornerstone of the international community’s fight against this deadly trade. Its implementation has already yielded many positive results. It has encouraged people to surrender illegal weapons in exchange for development initiatives; it has fostered the state’s capacity to deal with and manage stocks and has promoted the international community’s agreement on a method to trace weapons. But most important, it has taken weapons off the streets and contributed to save lives.
African nations must however redouble its efforts to implement the programme of action. The stability of many African communities remains fragile. Small arms will take advantage of and ignite conflict because of a spur of violence, a drought, a religious misunderstanding or an unmanageable electoral process. We must not allow violence and small arms to jeopardize the social, economic and political progress that
Continuing the effective implementation of the Programme of Action is therefore critical. National policies must build on regional approaches. Only by fighting this scourge together, at the regional and global levels, will we be able to succeed. The forthcoming Biennial Meeting of States will provide us all with an important platform to better understand the mechanisms of the Programme, learn lessons from countries that have successfully implemented its provisions, and share concerns and information on how better serve the peoples of our nations by enforcing an agreement aimed at creating the conditions for human development.
Small arms constitute and old and a present threat. Its impact on development, human rights, education, gender and many other areas is undeniable. Addressing this menace requires, therefore, a concerted action by all stakeholders. It is also critical to look forward and identify the future challenges and opportunities posed by this phenomenon. In 2012 the international community will review the Programme of Action and assess its impact and relevance after one decade of implementation.
In 1998 the Secretary-General issued his report on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in
A decade after the report was issued, the General Assembly has requested the Secretary-General to review those recommendations and provide a snapshot of future threats and challenges. The consultative process recently launched by OSAA will require the active participation and consultation of all African stakeholders; member states, regional organizations, civil society and the private sector. OSAA will soon call on your missions to engage in this important exercise and to hear your views on the kind of relation and cooperation that the United Nations should build with
Despite much progress in the last few years, the illicit circulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons continues to threaten the wellbeing of peoples and the development of nations.
I am encouraged by the presence of so many Ambassadors in this meeting. Your personal engagement is proof of the commitment of African nations to addressing this deadly trade, to effectively implement the programme of action and to provide innovative formulas to advance the peace and development agenda in the continent. The Office of the Special Adviser on