2004 Statement


H.E. Mr. Koichi Haraguchi

Permanent Representative of Japan

At the Public Meeting of the Security Council on the Issue of Small Arms

19 January 2004


Mr. President,

Let me start with reviewing the progress made in the period from the last Security Council meeting on small arms held in October of 2002 up to now. I believe that there are two areas that warrant special mention. The first is the holding of the First Biennial Meeting on Small Arms; the second, the unanimous adoption of the United Nations General Assembly resolution entitled "The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects".

At the Biennial Meeting on Small Arms, which was chaired by Ambassador Kuniko Inoguchi, Japanese Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, it was keenly recognized that the illicit proliferation of small arms and the damage therefrom are problems of global dimensions, and multilateralism was set forth as a guiding principle in coping with the problem. In particular, thanks to the consensus-based proceedings, it was very meaningful that the countries in the meeting, including those suffering from the proliferation of small arms, shared the feeling that they were able to advance the process of disarmament in the area of small arms through their individual ownership. Moreover, it is crucial that since the Chair's summary agreed on the tasks which must be given priority, the meeting garnered a wide support for the need of international cooperation for the resolution of the problems and, with respect to the respective tasks to be addressed, the need for provision of domestic laws, advancement of international cooperation, training of those who are expected to engage in those activities, and financial assistance to developing countries in this area.

We are pleased at the success of the First Biennial Meeting and, as the country which chaired the meeting, wish to thank once again all of the participating states for their cooperation. At the same time, in anticipation of the Second Biennial Meeting in 2005 and the succeeding Second UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects scheduled to be held in 2006, we believe it essential to add to the momentum that is now being generated on this issue.

Mr. President,

Although we have witnessed the aforementioned successes in the area of small arms, as the Secretary-General's report accurately indicates, there remain a number of issues we have to address seriously. They must be addressed both from both the supply side as well as from the demand side. Let me elaborate on some of them.

As I mentioned earlier, the UN General Assembly resolution on this that Japan submitted as one of the co-sponsors, was unanimously adopted. It was particularly significant, because the resolution decided to establish an open-ended working group to negotiate an international instrument to enable states to identify and trace illicit small arms and light weapons. Tracing is an important method for the purpose of detecting and criminalizing the illicit transfer of small arms. In particular, the creation of an international instrument on tracing is an important task to tackle the issue of small arms from the supply side. Japan considers that tracing is an area which needs to be given high priority. From that point of view, we look forward to seeing concrete results produced by this working group, which will begin its activities this February.

Next, as a method of controlling the spread of small arms from the supply side, I would like to raise the issue of arms embargoes. In order to implement an arms embargo effectively, it is not enough simply to adopt a Security Council resolution. It is also necessary, after its adoption, that its implementation be monitored, and, if violations are found, enforcement measures must be taken. In the recently passed Security Council resolution authorizing the arms embargo in Somalia, a monitoring group was established, and the compilation of a violations list was requested. We welcome these elements as a sign that the Security Council is well aware of the importance of the monitoring of arms embargo implementation. The approach adopted in this instance will serve as a valuable model when arms embargo measures of the same kind are taken in other areas of conflict.

On the other hand, control of small arms on the demand side is equally important. That means that, in order to address the problem of conflict in various parts of the world, it is also necessary for the international community to pursue measures to eliminate the demand for small arms. In particular, for the sake of bringing a conflict to an end and creating a stable society, promotion of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former soldiers is absolutely critical. In order to encourage cooperation in weapons collection efforts, reasonable economic incentives must be provided, and, moreover, it is also essential that proper employment opportunities be provided to induce them to give up their weapons, so that they can start new lives.

Incidentally, as a member of the ECOSOC ad hoc group on Burundi, I had an opportunity to visit that country at the end of last year. I was very impressed to see that the disarmament of soldiers of rebel parties now that a peace agreement has been reached was being seriously pursued. The disarmament efforts in Burundi are taking place in cantonment, and so its success or failure will depend, above all, on whether the former soldiers can be persuaded to report to cantonment. To achieve that goal, it is necessary to provide assistance in the pre-cantonment phase as well, but I learned that it has been the policy of the World Bank that in principle no aid should be provided to the military. Assuming that pre-cantonment assistance for former soldiers becomes necessary for a successful DDR program, I am of the view that it might be necessary for the World Bank to find an acceptable alternative to its aid policy with regard to this point.

I have heard that nowadays 60-70% of Security Council deliberation time as far as official meetings are concerned is devoted to PKOs and other UN peace activities in Africa. The economic development in Africa depends heavily on the peace and stability, but the widespread proliferation of small arms among the people of regions in conflict makes conflicts in Africa all the more devastating and renders their resolution much harder. This means that the small arms issue is particularly grave in Africa. In that connection, I will commend the fact that the problems of Western and Central Africa were vigorously debated last year in the Security Council. It is particularly significant that the importance of efforts to address the issue of small arms by subregional groups such as ECOWAS was fully recognized by the Security Council members. Above all, the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-soldiers is essential not only for collecting weapons and reducing the danger in the resumption of conflicts, but also for reducing the demand for small arms as a component of peace building efforts following a ceasefire. As a concrete example of that approach, Japan would like to share with other members the experience and results of its DDR program that is currently being undertaken in Afghanistan on appropriate occasions in the UN. Japan has long been implementing "Weapons for Development" projects under which it provides development assistance as compensation for the surrender of small arms. We will continue to make such efforts and intend to share experience gained from the weapons collection programs in Cambodia to other small arms collection projects in the Africa, Latin America and Middle East regions.

Mr. President,

We hope that the Security Council will continue to pay attention to this important issue. With a view to pursuing mid- and long-term resolutions of regional conflicts, we would like to request that, the Secretary-General continue to provide us with progress reports as he deems necessary.

Thank you, Mr. President.