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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations

Philippine Statement
H.E. Lauro L. Baja, Jr.
Ambassador and Permanent Representative
of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations

during the

Open Debate on
Small Arms

Security Council Chamber, 17February 2005

Mr. President,

I wish to thank you for organizing this important debate on small arms. Indeed, the prevention of the proliferation of these weapons is a key task of the Security Council in the fulfillment of its mandate of maintaining international peace and security. We are also grateful to Undersecretary-General Nobuyasu Abe for his comprehensive briefing and introduction of the Secretary General’s report on the topic and to Japanese former foreign minister Yoriko Kawaguchi for his important presence and statement on this debate.

A leading University estimated that in 2003, 639 million firearms were in circulation the world over, 80 percent of which were purchased by civilians. Out of this number of civilian firearms, manufactured mainly from the developed countries, 41 percent or over 200 million firearms are illicit. In other words, there was a ratio of one illicit or loose, unlicensed, illegal, unauthorized (in the absence of an internationally agreed definition of the term “illicit”) for every 25 persons in the world.

It should be interesting to know the statistics last year.

In large parts of the world, small arms and light weapons are weapons of mass destructions. The availability of small arms and light weapons stokes conflicts, causes a high number of casualties, complicates peacekeeping and hampers pacific settlement of disputes. In 1994, the General Assembly adopted for the first time, a resolution recognizing the threat posed by small arms to national and regional security and its contribution to the destabilization of States. Since then, no regulatory regime to control the proliferation of illicit small arm has yet emerged.

The problem of illicit trade of small arms and light weapons is a global one, requiring a comprehensive and coordinated response at national, sub-regional and international levels. The problem goes beyond the military and disarmament domains; it has humanitarian as well as socio-economic consequences.

There is therefore need for international cooperation, and for capacity-building and financial assistance to developing countries in addressing the problem. Weapons-exporting countries need to assume a greater degree of responsibility in their operations relative to small arms and light weapons.

My delegations endorses the negotiations on two important international instruments proposed under the UN Program of Action dealing with marking and tracing and the illicit brokering of small arms and light weapons. Their successful and early conclusion is urgently needed for cohesion in preventing, combating and eradicating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. It will ensure that national legislations as well as bilateral, sub-regional and regional arrangements will be aligned or re-aligned accordingly. Unless they are in force, disparate approaches at the national, sub-regional and regional levels will give the highly organized illegal traffickers and brokers ample room to carry out their trade with impunity.

All efforts in the negotiations on the draft international instrument on marking and tracing should therefore be exerted to conclude by June 2005. Whether or not the instrument should be legally binding should not be a wedge issue anymore taking into account the fact that the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons is already criminalized in many jurisdictions. In this context, the Philippines will endorse recommendation no. 15 of the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Threats which states that “Member States should expedite and conclude negotiations on legally binding agreements on the marking and tracing, as well as the brokering and transfer, of small arms and light weapons.”

It is a cause for regret that negotiation on a draft international instrument on brokering has been pushed back to the second half of 2006.

The Philippines pointed out last year that the Council and the General Assembly are both seized with the issue of small arms. In this regard, my delegation reiterates its proposal for interaction between the Council and the General Assembly, to facilitate complementary actions on the problem of the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons.

Our leaders in their 2000 summit, resolved “to encourage regular consultations and coordination among the principal organs of the United Nations in pursuit of their functions” in order to strengthen the United Nations. The General Assembly, in its resolution 58/126, likewise made the same call. My delegation, therefore, strongly supports the convening this year of the first consultation and coordination between the Council and the General Assembly, to set into motion the much needed interaction of the two most concerned UN organs on the subject of illicit trade in small arms

In conclusion, Mr. President, and echoing what former foreign minister Kawaguchi said that proliferation of small arms and light weapons is a multi-disciplinary issue, we should continue to engage the assistance and cooperation of civil society who look at this issue from the prism of humanitarian consideration. They can provide impetus for governments to move forward and avoid unnecessary delay. My delegation’s strong support for a role given to civil society upholds the provision of the UN Program of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, which “encourage non-governmental organizations and civil society to engage, as appropriate, in all aspects of international, subregional and national efforts to implement the present Programme of Action.”

We are grateful to the Japanese Mission for initiating and negotiating the PRST which we will adopt at the end of this meeting.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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