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Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at the UNSC Open Debate on Small Arms and Light Weapons

Thank you very much indeed Mr President,


I want to begin by thanking Mexico for convening this important meeting today and thank you personally for being with us Minister, and also to welcome Minister Bhattacharyya from India, my neighbour here at the table.


I also want to thank Director Geiss, and Maria Pia Devoto for your insightful briefings, as well as your tireless advocacy, frankly, and valuable research on these important issues is really critical and deeply appreciated by us.


We all know the illicit transfer and misuse of small arms and light weapons poses a significant threat to international peace and security right across this Council’s agenda. And so is rightly the focus of our discussions here today. These arms:

fuel and prolong conflict;

cause the majority of violent deaths in conflict and non-conflict settings;

they facilitate more human rights abuses than any other weapon; and

and perpetuate insecurity, while impeding humanitarian and economic development.


It’s crystal clear that it is our responsibility around this table to address this complex threat.


It is for this reason that we support the ongoing work at the Council, led by the Mexican Presidency to prevent or reduce illicit flows of these weapons, including through more efficient implementation of UN embargoes. The truth is, we need to do more.


This will be a valuable contribution to the Council’s work in addressing this problem, and I want to commend you Minister, Mr President, and the Mexican team, for the important initiative you’ve taken here.


Mr President, I would like to make three key points on the issue of Small Arms and Light Weapons.


First, understanding any problem is essential to treating it. This holds true for SALW.


As the Secretary General states in his Agenda for Disarmament, addressing the availability, accumulation and management of arms should be at the core of conflict prevention and management, crisis response and peacebuilding services.  The Council must deal consistently with the impact of illicit small arms and light weapons as a driver of conflict. It’s important to identify and eliminate illicit trafficking routes and points of diversion. It’s by doing so, we can hope to prevent illicit transfers and better protect our civilians.


Equally, we should apply lessons learned from the various UN arms embargoes, as appropriate, to ensure they effectively reduce illicit flows and diversion of small arms. Implementing the recommendations from the Secretary-General’s report, as well as those of the expert panels supporting sanctions committees, is an important step to deliver on this.


My second point may seem obvious but it is critical, we simply have to work together.


We share a collective responsibility to stem illicit conventional arms and to enforce UN arms embargoes. International cooperation, capacity building and information-sharing are critical, including to ensure effective weapons tracing.


Coordination of efforts at the UN level, and in working with relevant international and regional partners, is essential.


We need to look at how to ensure our work on these issues at the UN, at Council, at the General Assembly, and under the Arms Trade Treaty, can be mutually supportive in pursuit of common goals, while, of course, respecting the different mandates.


UN peace operations, mandated by this Council, can play a crucial role. However, these mandates require clear objectives and, importantly, specialised resources to implement them.


Regional approaches also play an instrumental role, including the African Union’s ‘Silencing the Guns’, and regional roadmaps such as those implemented in the Caribbean, East Africa or Western Balkans.


Mr. President, my third and final point is in relation to gender.


We simply must ensure that women are fully involved in the design and implementation of efforts to stop the illicit transfer and misuse of small arms.


As you said yourself, Minister all evidnce points to the fact that gender-sensitive and youth-sensitive responses are the most sustainable and effective responses for all. It allows a better understanding of the factors driving the demand for and misuse of small arms and light weapons, as well as their impact on everyone’s human rights, everyone’s development and security interests.

We believe involving women upstream encourages responses that address welfare, security, education and economic opportunities of the communities that are impacted by small arms and light weapons. Importantly, it will strengthen the political legitimacy of peacebuilding processes to involve women at every stage of the process. In other words, it’s the smart thing to do.

Mr. President,


Now is the time for action. The Council must step up its efforts to address this threat and to prevent its terrible impact on civilians, including on women and children, on refugees and other vulnerable groups.


Ireland will work with you and 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.


Thank you.

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