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Statement of H.E. Ambassador Bassam Sabbagh at the Security Council on the "Small arms"

Monday, 22 November 2021
Ambassador Bassam Sabbagh
Security Council

My delegation believes in the critical role that the United Nations system plays in the matter of disarmament to fulfil the objectives of its Charter, foremost of which is to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. We join previous speakers in stressing the importance of countering the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.

At the same time, we stress that the General Assembly and its First Committee are the most appropriate forums for dealing with issues related to small arms and light weapons, as they enable all Member States to submit proposals and address relevant concerns. The General Assembly and the First Committee provide the necessary framework to engage in a common endeavour to achieve the shared objectives of Member States. My delegation would like to take this opportunity of this open debate to make the following points.

First, over the past 10 years in my country, Syria, certain Governments have been supplying terrorist groups, namely, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Sham and the Al-Nusra Front, also known as Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, and individuals and entities associated with them, with various types of weapons, including small arms and light weapons. That aggressive approach has had serious repercussions; it has perpetuated the crisis and claimed the lives of thousands of Syrians.

Secondly, some Governments, known to all, have funded the procurement of those weapons and facilitated their smuggling to other countries to destabilize them. My delegation considers such acts to be in flagrant violation of the Charter of the United Nations, the principles of international law and friendly relations among States, and the relevant Security Council resolutions on countering terrorism. Those acts must be explicitly and clearly condemned and deterrent measures must be taken in response to them. 

Thirdly, my delegation stresses that facilitating the acquisition by terrorist entities of small arms and light weapons and other types of weapons constitutes a threat to the security and stability of our countries and exposes civilians, including women and children, to significant risks. Consequently, it is imperative that Member States take joint efforts to adopt regulatory frameworks and measures to prevent the transfer of such weapons and end the illicit trade in them.

Fourthly, my delegation emphasizes the need to strengthen national efforts and intensify bilateral and multilateral cooperation to combat this grave phenomenon.

Fifthly, my delegation calls on all States that produce those types of weapons to ensure that legal restrictions are applied to prevent the illicit trade in them, and to verify their final destination. We note with concern that some States have not been fulfilling their obligations with regard to final destination or end user agreements and are permitting or condoning the transfer of large quantities of their weapons stockpiles to terrorist groups in a number of countries, including in my own.

The Syrian Arab Republic calls for the full implementation of the relevant international treaties and for the end of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. We reiterate that Member States have the right to acquire, manufacture, transfer and retain such weapons for their defence and security needs and to protect their citizens.