Increasing the Cost-effectiveness of Weapons Collection
By Involving Local Communities in Decision Making
(Co-sponsored by UNIDIR and the Government of Japan)

Statement by Ambassador MINE
14 September 2004


It is a great honour for me to make an opening address at this meeting to be convened over the next two days. In particular, I would like to express my gratitude to UNIDIR, as co-sponsors, as well as to all those who have made tireless efforts in preparing this meeting to ensure its success.

The lessons learned and recommendations which will be presented over the next two days are based on research conducted by UNIDIR over the past two years on Weapons for Development Projects (WfD) in Albania, Cambodia and Mali. Japan recognizes the utmost importance and significance of these projects, and has been a key provider of funds. As a result, the government of Japan gives its wholehearted support to this meeting and looks forward to hearing the forthcoming analysis of the project.

Addressing the demand for SALW

The illicit trade in SALW and their excessive accumulation is a particularly destabilizing factor in post-conflict situations as it disrupts humanitarian aid operations and hinders rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts. The problems of SALW are multi-dimensional and interlinked and, in order to combat these complex and difficult problems, a comprehensive approach is needed.

Having said this, the international community has responded to the challenge, and many initiatives have been taken at an international, regional and national level to address the issue of the excessive and destabilizing transfer of SALW. The Open-ended Working Group on Tracing SALW, as well as the Broad-based Consultations on Illicit Brokering which took place this year, are examples of these efforts. We must continue to play an active role in this area.

Nevertheless, in order to tackle the problem of SALW in a comprehensive manner, as mentioned earlier, we must focus not only on the supply of SALW, but also on reducing the demand for small arms in the long-term. Finding a response to questions such as why small arms are in demand is not an easy task. To begin with, supply and demand are interlinked. Furthermore, the need for small arms is largely related to a feeling of mistrust existing between cultures, societies, territories, races and communities.

The current UNIDIR project is extremely useful in this regard, providing us with a follow-up evaluation of SALW projects which can be used to develop a framework for future donor projects. It serves as an invaluable guide for project formation, useful for donors and others dealing with SALW problems.

Project Evaluation

The two most important factors are the community-based approach and the voluntary surrender of weapons. To prevent the recurrence of conflict and in order to create a link with future development in affected regions, the handing over of weapons must be the result of a choice made by ex-combatants/civilians exercising their own free will.

The need for initial support from international organizations and donor countries cannot be denied. However, in the medium to long term, the compulsory involuntary surrender of weapons can lead to problems such as:

1. loss of incentive once the outside force or compulsion is removed;

2. concealment of weapons;

3. resorting to more attractive options, such as selling weapons on the black market.

These problems cannot be solved without removing the incentive for weapons ownership. Weapons collection programmes which lack the support of the local community do not address the root cause of weapon ownership, and therefore cannot be deemed effective. Therefore community participation is a necessary part of any weapons collection project. As donor countries, we must seriously consider weapons collection projects, not only from the point of view of returns ? the number of weapons collected and destroyed, but also from a medium to long term perspective, as I mentioned earlier. I am sure the results of UNIDIR's research will provide a rich contribution to such considerations.

Thank you.

Related Information (Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation)
Delegation of Japan to the Conference on Disarmament Official Web Siteother site

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