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

Day 2 June 2, 2015

By: Joseph Hartley Cavallaro, Vision GRAM-International

IMG_0287On the second day of the MGE2 on small arms and light weapons, country delegates and weapons experts continued to exchange their questions and ideas concerning the international regulation of light weapons. The majority of the debate today was dominated by the reality that 3D weapons are going to become more widely available in coming years. One expert claimed that 3D printers would be available at the consumer level within the next twenty years. Many of the concerns over 3D weapons stem from their lack of detectability in metal detectors and their availability to criminals who may be able to print weapons at home.

Delegates also discussed the importance of finding an effective way to mark weapons so that they can be tracked when the need arises, because modern weapons are being manufactured with new materials, some of which are hard to mark. There were also brief mentions towards the end of the day about the need to secure shipments and stockpiles of firearms and ammunition in order to reduce the risk of diversion. It was emphasized by one NGO that regulating ammunition globally is impossible and that it would be like trying to track grains of rice. Another NGO stressed that weapons should be only marked on the receiver of a weapon because it is the hardest part of the weapon to illegally reproduce, yet the easiest to mark.

The Canadian Arms Association briefly expressed their concerns about governmental confiscation of weapons. In Addition, IANSA representatives spoke about gun violence in Philadelphia. One of these representatives, a woman from Nigeria, also spoke about the plight of gun violence on her country and the cost of treating victims of gun violence. Another woman from Kenya spoke about the Westgate shopping mall attack, during which she lost an uncle in the mall. Her cousin was also shot in the head last week in the same town. In total, about 147 people had been killed in Garissa, Kenya. These representatives expressed their strong support for the implementation of the PoA.

WP_20150602_068Victor AMISI, executive director of Vision GRAM- International, discussed how he fled his country due to gun violence, as weapon companies flooded Africa with weapons after the Cold War. He stresses that all member states should regulate new weapons, mark and trace all weapons. States should meet all commitments to the PoA as well as to the ITI in order to combat arms trafficking and the diversion of small arms to non-state actors. “States should apply new technologies to improve information exchange et the national, regional and international levels to combat arms trafficking and prevent diversion to unauthorized recipients”, he added11327860_10152816546056227_2086986436_o.

June 2nd was also the first National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Many UN staff wore orange in support. The event commemorated the death of Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot dead in 2013. The Hashtag #WearingOrange was used in order to publicize the event. Many celebrities also showed their support.

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Fifth Biennial Meeting of States on Illicit Trade in Small Arms

vg bm5By Jennifer Fierberg

In a Press Release by the General Assembly of the UN dated 16 June 2014, they stated:

“Since 2003, Member States have gathered to consider implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, adopted in 2001.  The Programme of Action prescribes measures for controlling the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, including legislation, destruction of confiscated weapons and the strengthening of State capacity to identify and trace small arms.  The current Meeting will run until 20 June, and earlier ones were held in 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2010, with review conferences held in 2006 and 2012.”

Vision GRAM International headed by CEO and Founder, Victor Amissi, attended this meeting for the full duration as a key stakeholder and NGO supporter since the inception of the Arms Trade Treaty in 2001. Mr. Amissi stated, “Our organization is here to be an active member during the conference and vigorously participate in the lobbying of countries to include certain language in the draft. We have contacted delegations in the US as well as DRC and have attended the side events. We have been present at all sessions. We have supported the development of a strong Arms Trade Treaty and  believe that the adoption of one by all states is needed in order to protect the citizens who live in high risk areas for violence and illegal arms trade that leads to the death and suffering of millions of men, women and children.”

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Programme of Action Highlights:

“More than a decade has passed since the adoption of the UN Programme of Action (PoA) in 2001. The PoA laid the foundation for action countering the illicit trade and uncontrolled circulation of small arms and light weapons at the national, regional and global levels.”

“Gravely concerned about the illicit manufacture, transfer and circulation of small arms and light weapons and their excessive accumulation and uncontrolled spread in many regions of the world, which have a wide range of humanitarian and socio-economic consequences and pose a serious threat to peace, reconciliation, safety, security, stability and sustainable development at the individual, local, national, regional and international levels,”

“Gravely concerned about its devastating consequences on children, many of whom are victims of armed conflict or are forced to become child soldiers, as well as the negative impact on women and the elderly, and in this context, taking into account the special session of the United Nations General Assembly on children,”

“Reaffirming also the right of each State to manufacture, import and retain small arms and light weapons for its self-defence and security needs, as well as for its capacity to participate in peacekeeping operations in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations,”

Full Programme of Action found here.

Also participating today were representatives of Japan, China, South Africa, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Venezuela, Cabo Verde, Colombia, Guatemala, Republic of Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, Spain, India, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Brazil, France, Egypt, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Australia, Malaysia, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Belarus, Benin, Nicaragua and Austria.

Representatives of Israel, Canada and the United States expressed regret over the State of Palestine’s participation in the Meeting, saying they did not recognize it as a State.