New York/ United Nations- Day 3, june 3, 2015
By: Joseph Hartley Cavallaro- Vision GRAM-International
On the third day of the MGE2, a representative and former member of the German Armed Forces opened the discussions with a presentation about the ways in which the German military tracks is weapons. The speaker described how in the past, each branch of the military used different means of tracking is weapons, with a combination of paper and electronic being utilized.
In order to streamline and simplify the stockpile management system, the military was ordered to place all their weapons information onto on electronic database for the entire military.
This transition to electronic record keeping began in 2013 has a deadline of 2016. To convince the plenary of the usefulness of such a system, the representative gave an example of a German military weapon that went missing during a training exercise, and then was found twenty years later in Belgium once it was entered into the electronic registry.
After the presentation by the representative from the United States of America, expressed his concern that while we can put weapons on a registry, tracing missing weapons is another challenge. Iraq spoke after the USA and criticized the fact that only eleven countries have submitted relevant reports to the UN Register of Conventional Arms. The representative stressed that in order for UN mechanisms to function properly, countries must fulfill their reporting obligations. He also expressed continued support for the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), and pushed for continued and effective implementation.
Argentina took the floor next and gave an extensive report on crime within their country. It was noted that only one in four deaths in Argentina in which SALW are involved, is from a violent crime such as robbery or gang related shooting. The reality that three out of four guns related deaths are from domestic disputes and suicides in the home serves as proof that more guns in the home equals more deaths. SALW must be taken out of circulation completely, and that countries should allow gun holders to voluntarily surrender weapons. Sweden also spoke about how they recognize that guns inside the home contribute to more domestic violence and suicides. In order to mitigate this issue, Sweden’s gun owners must comply with strict gun storage laws and all gun safes must have burglar alarms.
Delegates from the countries of Germany, Botswana, Sierra Leone, Australia and several others spoke of their concerns, and offered ideas on SALW control. Germany emphasized the need for the modernization of stockpile management, and that available technologies must be assessed. Sierra Leone took a very strong position on the ownership of SALW amongst the civilian population. After experiencing an eleven yearlong war, they have very strict requirements on the ownership of firearms. Botswana also agreed that the average citizen, especially in those cities, does not need a to own a firearm. African countries were reminded of the African Unions calls for all its members to create national firearms registries.
The conversations throughout the final two hours of the meeting switched from regulating gun ownership, and the compliance with the PoA, ITI and the ATT, to stockpile management and the transfer of technology and information between states. An expert from CARICOM spoke of how the region has the highest firearm murder rate in the world due to illegal SALW. CARICOM lacks the resources it needs to combat smuggling and manage its stockpiles, therefore is asks for assistance from other states. Switzerland was one of the final speakers in the meeting in which they shared their experience in providing Bosnia and Herzegovina with stockpile management assistance.
They emphasized that it took about three years for the country’s armed forces to be able to manage their stockpiles effectively. This provided informative timetable that helped the attending countries and civil society members in their understanding of how long the transfer of technology and information could take. The final speakers all stressed the importance of the transfer of technology and information between countries, as well as the need for donors and recipients to coordinate effectively.
More updates on the MGE2 will be posted soon.