Meeting of Governmental Experts 2 (MGE2), June 1-5, 2015

New York/ United Nations- Day 3, june 3, 2015

By: Joseph Hartley Cavallaro- Vision GRAM-International

On the third day of the MGE2, a representa11304343_10152820903666227_473859068_ntive 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.


Vision GRAM-International intern team and IANSA intern @MGE2

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.


Further ratifications show wide global support for Arms Trade Treaty

ImageUrgent call from campaigners for extra push from states – especially African countries – to ratify and help treaty enter into force and save lives

New York, June 3 2014: Campaigners say the Arms Trade Treaty which will control the poorly-regulated trade in weapons and ammunition is more urgent now than ever before as the death toll in conflicts across the globe mounts inexorably.

It is now exactly one year since the pioneering Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) opened for signature. Today, around 10 states including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Samoa and St Vincent and the Grenadines are due to ratify at a special ceremony at the United Nations headquarters, in New York. They join a growing group of states who have already ratified including major arms exporters France, Germany and the UK.

This will bring the total number of states that have ratified the treaty to date to around 42 – with just eight more to go for the 50 needed for the ATT to enter into force.

Dr Robert Mtonga, from the Control Arms Coalition, said: “The geographic spread of states ratifying today – from Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific – shows clearly that this is a treaty with global support. We now need all these states, as well as all others who have signed the ATT, to live up to its aims and implement tough controls on the $85bn arms trade.

“Today’s ceremony marks another significant milestone on the road towards the Arms Trade Treaty – but we are not there yet. At least eight more states are needed to ratify for the ATT to enter into force and become international law. We are particularly urging African states who played a key role in the negotiations to secure the ATT to now ratify the treaty as soon as possible.”

Under the ATT, states must assess the risks of weapons and ammunition being misused to commit human rights abuses or violations of humanitarian law, before they can authorize transfer.

The ATT is the first internationally-binding agreement to regulate the global trade in arms and ammunition. More than 500,000 people are killed every year by armed violence and millions more live in fear of rape, assault and displacement caused by weapons getting into the wrong hands.

People living in conflict zones across the world are paying a high price for the poorly-regulated trade each day. For example in the world’s newest country, South Sudan, the complex situation is being aggravated by a huge number of small arms and light weapons in the country which fuel conflict from the village to the national level.

Thousands of lives have already been lost this year in South Sudan and over 1.3 million have fled their homes, yet more and more weapons continue to flood into the country each day, fuelling the violence. Many are anxious to return home in spite of the growing humanitarian crisis, but fear for their safety as gross human rights violations – ethnic killings, rape, revenge attacks and the deliberate targeting of children – are taking place daily.

Anna Macdonald, from the Control Arms Coalition said: “South Sudan is just one current example of why there is an urgent need for the ATT. Men, women and children around the world are living in fear of the risk of rape, assault, displacement and death as a result of the unregulated arms trade.

There is clear political will for the ATT to enter into force and this is underlined by the rapid rate at which it is being ratified. But the ATT must be more than words on paper, states must now deliver on their commitments and ensure it is implemented robustly, setting high standards to bring the arms trade under control.”