Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at the UNSC Briefing on Small Arms and Light Weapons
Statement06 October 2021
Thank you, Mr President,
And I want to start by thanking Kenya for convening today’s Very important meeting, which we see as critical to addressing the very real threat posed by the proliferation of small arms and light weapons right across this Council’s agenda and beyond. And I want to also congratulate Kenya on the outcome of BMS7 in July.
I also want to thank High Representative Nakamitsu, Lieutenant General Abdelgadir and Mr. Lochhead for their insightful briefings. I want to say that your tireless advocacy and your comprehensive research and are what this Council needs to hear.
The facts revealed in the Secretary-General’s report are stark:
Small arms and light weapons cause the majority of violent deaths in conflict and non-conflict settings.
They facilitate more human rights abuses than any other weapon.
They perpetuate, enflame and prolong conflict.
Put simply, addressing the threat is vital to the Council’s work.
The Secretary-General’s report provides tangible and importantly, actionable, recommendations on how we, individually and collectively, can achieve that.
I want to make four points, Mr President which Ireland believes are crucial to achieving our goal of silencing these guns once and for all.
First, understanding the problem is essential to treating it.
This Council has a responsibility to consistently and systematically scrutinise the impact of illicit small arms and light weapons as a driver of conflict. In doing so, and in preventing these illicit transfers, we can hope to better protect civilians.
UN peace operations, mandated by this Council, have a crucial role to play. However, these mandates require clear objectives and, importantly, specialised resources to implement them. This is particularly relevant in the context of Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration processes.
Effective management, processing and treatment of weapons and ammunition stockpiles is needed. Equally important is the identification and elimination of illicit trafficking routes and points of diversion.
Building the capacity of host States in the both of these areas is our shared responsibility. We in Ireland are playing our part and will continue to offer training and support through our Defence Forces.
My second point relates to the importance of synergies across the UN system.
We have seen direct evidence of the instrumental role that regional organisations and programmes can play in addressing small arms and light weapons. The AU’s ‘Silencing the Guns’ project is an example of strong regional leadership and engagement. Regional roadmaps such as those implemented by ECOWAS, or in the Western Balkans are also making important strides.
We all share a collective responsibility to stem the flow of illicit small arms and light weapons. Enforcing UN arms embargoes is an important aspect of that, as others have said. Further, national reporting, international cooperation and information sharing are also critical, including to ensure effective weapons tracing.
Mr. President, my third point is in relation to gender.
While men and boys account for the vast majority of violent deaths, women often bear the brunt of the socio-economic fall out from small arms and light weapons-driven conflict.
As co-chair of the Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security, we have also heard how the proliferation of these weapons negatively affects the security of women and girls in countries such as Somalia and South Sudan.
As others have noted, such conflict entrenches gender-imbalanced power dynamics and facilitates violence against women and girls, including sexual and gender-based violence and human trafficking.
This is unconscionable. It simply cannot stand.
We know that gender-sensitive responses are sustainable and effective responses. Integrating the Women, Peace and Security Agenda into initiatives and actions to combat small arms and light weapons is therefore key.
Equally, the needs of children must also be taken into account when developing gender-sensitive and age-sensitive programmes.
Allow me to conclude by highlighting the explicit connection the Secretary-General draws between climate change and its potential effects on peace and security, an area where we believe this Council needs to take specific action. Westrongly support the Secretary General’s recommendation to further examine the specific impact of climate change on the use, effects, and availability of conventional weapons.
It’s crystal clear that small arms and light weapons constitute a threat to international peace and security.
It is our responsibility, around this table, to address that threat.
The Secretary-General’s Agenda for Disarmament provides the framework. His report provides the concrete recommendations.
Now is the time for bold action.
Ireland will continue to champion this issue and to work with all of our partners here at the Council and across the General Assembly to accomplish that.