"Small arms"
Statement by Ambassador Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg
Permanent Representative of Brazil to the UN
 Security Council, New York, 19 January 2004


            Mr. President,

The delegation of Brazil is particularly pleased to congratulate you for the important initiative of debating this item during the month of January. We are thankful, as well, to the Secretary General, for his report on ways and means in which the Security Council could contribute to dealing with the question of illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in situations under its consideration.

The issue of uncontrolled traffic of this kind of weapons became a great concern for the international community, due to the tragic consequences of arms availability in terms of making local conflicts more lethal and generating a sense of insecurity in civil societies.

        The issue of small arms, whether in the context of disarmament, national security, public security or from a humanitarian perspective, must be permanently discussed in all relevant fora, sub-regional, regional or multilateral. The Security Council has been dealing with this problem, when associated to conflict prevention, implementation of arms embargos, post-conflict arms collection and the tasks of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.

        In 1999, when the subject of small arms was discussed in the Council for the first time, Brazil also had the opportunity to occupy a non-permanent seat. Since then, the Council has reached common ground on this issue, permitting a broader understanding of its diversified aspects. The implementation of the Programme of Action of the United Nations Conference on Illicit Traffic of Small Arms and Light Weapons, enacted in 2001 and recently evaluated in July 2003, is especially important for our effort to find an acceptable solution to this serious problem.

        Mr. President,

         Unfortunately, there are still loopholes in the legal transference of arms that allow a diversion of arms to the illegal market, despite national efforts. Brazil stands as an example of such efforts, having changed its legislation to the necessities of present times.  Recently, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva sanctioned the innovative Disarmament Statute, which restricts the bearing, possession and commerce of arms, in addition to criminalizing international arms trafficking.  Brazil has also adopted a National Arms System, as a measure of preventive control.  Aside from such strengthening of legislative measures, we also regularly exchange information with our neighbors and have established border procedures.

        With our MERCOSUR partners, we have endeavored to establish a Joint Mechanism of Registry of Buyers and Vendors of Firearms, Ammunition and Explosives.  In our region, which has pioneered in the treatment of small arms, as well as of other matters related to disarmament, the Inter-American Convention against the Fabrication and Illicit Traffic of Firearms is in effect.  Notwithstanding all these national, sub-regional and regional initiatives, we still have not solved the problem.

For this reason, the step taken by the General Assembly towards constituting a working group responsible for devising an international instrument of identification and tracing of small arms is crucial.  We expect that the document to be produced by the coming sessions will be legally binding and responsive to the urgent necessity of interrupting the illegal flow of weapons.

        Mr. President,

        The Head of the Delegation of the Philippines made interesting comments this morning on the recommendations contained in the Secretary General's report, drawing our attention to the complementariness between the work of the Security Council and that of the General Assembly on this issue, and on the need for consultations on this point between the Presidents of those Organs.

The solution to the problem of small arms requires the commitment of all States and the assistance of civil society, besides the necessary input of international, regional and sub-regional organisms.  Alone, the Council is not able to meet the challenge.  It is positive, however, that it is discussing the matter and listening to the opinion of member States regarding expectations for its actions.  This open debate assures all of the members of the Council’s renewed commitment to work together and contribute to collective efforts towards eradicating the illegal flow of small arms