Of the Tokyo Workshop on Small Arms and Light Weapons:
"SALW Issues from the Perspective of the Protection and Empowerment of the Peaceful Community"
March 13, 2007
The Tokyo Workshop on Small Arms and Light Weapons: "SALW Issues from the Perspective of the Protection and Empowerment of the Peaceful Community" was held March 12 and 13, 2007 at the invitation of the Government of Japan. Twenty-six representatives from 18 governments as well as 29 individuals representing various organizations and research institutes participated. (A list of participants [PDF] is attached.)
The objectives of the Workshop were to share the experiences and know-how of best practices participants have accumulated so far in addressing small arms and light weapons issues, to deepen understanding of demand factors, and to exchange views on transfer control from the perspective of protecting and empowering the peaceful community.
The Workshop turned out to be very timely and useful, achieving its objectives. Most participants reiterated the need to keep up the momentum in addressing illicit small arms and light weapons issues and to take active initiatives at all levels to implement the Programme of Action (PoA). All keynote presentations were valuable and enlightening, and the exchanges of views that followed were stimulating and productive. The following is a summary of the outline of the Workshop and some of the many salient points discussed or raised during the sessions. Mr. Yoshiki Mine, Ambassador in Charge of Afghanistan Assistance Coordination & NGOs, former Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, served as the chairperson of all sessions.
At the opening session, Ms. Midori Matsushima, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, Mr. Shintaro Ito, Member of the House of Representatives and former Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, Ph.D. Kuniko Inoguchi, Member of the House of Representatives and former Minister of State for Gender Equality and Social Affairs, the Hon. Ms. Fatima Nagdee-Hajaig, MP Chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Parliament of South Africa, Mr. Tsutomu Ishiguri, Director of the UN Regional Center for Peace & Disarmament in Asia and Pacific and Mr. Takeshi Nakane, Director-General of the Disarmament, Non-proliferation & Science Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, addressed the Meeting.
In Session II, with the theme "Analysis of demand factors and its use; from the viewpoint of community", Mr. Michael Hasenau, Deputy Head of the Division for Conventional Arms Control, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany, Mr. Robert Muggah, Senior Researcher of the Small Arms Survey, Dr. Owen Greene, Director of the Centre for International Cooperation and Security, Bradford University, UK, made key-note presentations.
In Session III, with the theme "Best practice; successful projects in the context of demand factor", the Hon. David Musila, Deputy Speaker of the Kenyan Parliament, Mr. Salim M. Salim, Deputy Head, International Organization and Conferences Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Kenya, Mr. Yasumitsu Kida, Project Manager of Japan Assistance Team for Small Arms Management in Cambodia, Mr. Kim Yideth, Assistant to the Director of the Central Department of Public Order, Kingdom of Cambodia, Mr. Marc-Antoine Morel, Small Arms Mine Action Unit, Bureau of Crisis Prevention and Recovery, UNDP, and Prof. Kenji Isezaki, Peace & Conflict Studies, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, made key-note presentations.
In Session IV, with the theme "Transfer control; from the viewpoint of community protection", Mr. Alastair Totty, Team Leader, International Security and Conventional Arms Control, FCO, UK, Mr. Jorge Enrique Valerio Hernandez, Minister-Counsellor and Consul-General, Embassy of Costa Rica in Japan, Ms. Midori Natsuki, Policy Officer, Oxfam Japan, and Mr. Patrick Anthony MC Carthy, Coordinator, Geneva Forum, made key-note presentations.
In Session V, with the theme "Progress and problems in the implementation of PoA for addressing SALW issues and future actions", Mr. Mitsuro Donowaki, President, The Japan Center for Conflict Prevention, Mr. Takashi Mashiko, Project Coordinator, UN Department for Disarmament Affairs, Mr. Bernardo Mariani, International Arms Transfer Controls Advisor, SAFERWORLD, Ms. Onny Kitty Hiltje Jalink, First Secretary, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and Mr. Iftikhar Hussain Shah, Minister, Embassy of Pakistan, made key-note presentations.
In each session after the opening session, the keynote presentations were followed by a general exchange of views.
Participants discussed diagnoses, the objectives and ways and means to accomplish the objectives of reducing demand for small arms and light weapons (SALW). Resolving conflicts is the utmost key to the community for its peaceful process including SALW issues. The importance of diagnoses can not be stressed enough, for complicated issues like demand factors are to be solved in careful manners based on the evidence of specific communities and countries with due consideration to their backgrounds. For example, buy-back projects may be effective in some countries but not in others. Results are affected by both community-specific situations and by political will. Such diagnosis will then lead to appropriate objectives and policies.
Some important community-specific elements for demand factors were raised at the Workshop. They include situations in border communities on both sides, urban/rural contexts, gender aspects and the existence and the history of gun-culture. The balance of supply and demand should be kept. If not, surplus weapons might turn into illicit weapons, or potential users might communicate with suppliers outside the community.
To reduce demand factors for SALW, a comprehensive approach is important, for the community involves many actors, and each actor has its own supply and demand elements. Demand factors should be analyzed for each sector, level, aspect and actor, and then policies and measures are to be decided in an integrated manner. Attention, however, should be paid to demand factors, for norm building efforts have so far been focused more on supply sides.
Some specific measures for reducing demand factors were also discussed. Education and workshops at provincial, district and commune levels are useful as confidence building measures (CBM) and the attendance of and communications between community members and security sector officials are beneficial for such confidence building, which in turn helps decrease demand for weapons. The destruction ceremony where community members can witness the disposal of weapons, and a gun-free declaration can greatly contribute to the confidence building of the community.
Although the PoA covers only illicit SALWs, consideration on some elements of licit SALWs is also important, for the demand factors involve many elements, and each element should be examined thoroughly, including diversion of licit SALWs to illicit routes.
Political will of governments is the key-factor for national reconciliation and for addressing SALW issues from the demand side. They affect resolutions of conflicts and smooth process afterward, including DDR. National legislation by the government prohibiting illicit weapons provides a basis for the weapons collection for some countries. The role of politicians and their communication with members of communities including NGO members should not be overlooked so that political will has a strong basis on the ground.
Some countries need practical measures and resources for implementing SALW projects, while they surely have political will to address the issue. Some participants touched upon the need to support suffering countries in this regard. Drawing on the growing importance attached to human security, the participants recognized the need to integrate the SALW programme into national developing programming, including perhaps due attention to relevant OECD Guidelines and the Geneva Declaration on armed violence and development, initiated in June 2006.
People may retain SALWs to protect themselves and their families. If people do not feel their community is secure, then they may acquire weapons. Feelings of security are affected by day-to-day practices of security police in the local community and country. In those contexts, security sector reforms (SSR) may play an important role in reducing demand for weapons. They are also important in practical matters such as stockpile management and prevention of corruption by officials. SSR are also to be included in the DDR process, for the DDR process does not stand alone. Improved justice (or access to justice) supported by SSR may be a necessary prerequisite for demand reductions in certain contexts.
In some communities, people still own weapons for security reasons, however, it does not necessarily cause conflicts, if the culture for peace prevails in the community. Therefore, collecting weapons is not the only solution, but it depends on the background and such a specific condition as the atmosphere of a community. Consideration should also be given to comparative values of weapons.
This meeting is an example of continued action to implement the UNPoA at the global level. The forthcoming meeting in Geneva in August organized by Canada to advance understanding of transfer controls is also beneficial for further steps towards the next Biennial Meeting of States in 2008 which will be discussed at the UN first committee in 2007.
As for transfer control, transfers affecting insecure communities sometimes come from neighboring countries. Participants noted that most weapons of concern transferred to conflict and affected areas are second-hand weapons, often released from stockpiles or produced by poorly controlled manufacturers. Moreover, there are questions as to who transport weapons into these regions and what resources of payments for these weapons are.
Some statistics were introduced by participants, such as there are 98 manufacturing states existing all over the world, and most exporters are not manufacturers, and most exporters are importers at the same time.
Demand factors and transfer controls are closely related to each other. As mentioned in demand factor discussions, along the chain of SALW transfers, each actor has its own demand and supply until weapons finally reach end-users. No matter how well SALW transfers are regulated, if there is a demand, it will be filled even through illegal means. Therefore, from the supply-side perspective, comprehensive approaches are necessary as well. From the perspective of community protection, there is also an argument about the limit of arms production. Moreover, air-tight controls achieved through international cooperation are to be in place. Considering the right of all States to retain arms for self-defense and security needs, responsible transfers are to be achieved and international controls for them are necessary. Once SALWs enter communities, they make violence more lethal and conflict more protracted.
As for an ATT, it is important that the international community take concerted action for its progress. An opinion that the treaty does not end arms trade, but is about setting clear standards and reaching agreement on when transfers should not be approved was expressed at the Workshop. Another opinion was that an ATT has potentially far-reaching implications of the transfer control aspects of the PoA on SALW. Participants also said that for an ATT to be fully effective, it must codify the full extent of States' existing obligations under international law.
Workshop participants recognize a process mentioned in UN resolution A/RES/61/89, "Towards an arms trade treaty: establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms", that the Secretary-General seek the views of Member States and his report on the subject be submitted to the General Assembly at its sixty-second session. On this point, participants were reminded that States should submit their views on the feasibility, scope and parameters of an ATT to the UN Secretary-General by April 30, 2007. This is the deadline that was set by UN DDA in their Note Verbale of January, 2007. A group of governmental experts will examine the subject and transmit the report to the Assembly at its sixty-third session.
The importance of an ATT was stressed by participants and useful views were exchanged about parameters necessary to be included in a treaty. It is recommended that member States actively participate in the process. The Workshop recognizes that points to be included in an ATT are open to discussion of the GGE. The GGE, however, should take the facts mentioned above into account.
Progress and problems in the implementation of PoA
Despite failure of the Review Conference in 2006 to agree on further actions at the global level, the UNPoA remains the primary global framework for addressing the illicit trade of SALW as was stated by the Chair of the Review Conference.
There are sufficient regional arrangements including those for transfer controls except in Asia, where efforts for such arrangements have just started, and participants felt that there must be overall arrangements where these regional arrangements are coordinated. The United Nations can play an important role in this field.
Participants emphasized that the PoA remains in place and is the primary international agreement on SALW. Implementation of the PoA needs to be enhanced, at the national, regional and international levels. Workshop participants were also aware of numerous accomplishments member States have achieved after the adoption of the PoA, including the number of national reports submitted to the UN, the adoption of the international Tracing Instrument to identify and trace illicit small arms, the ongoing process of brokering the GGE and the adoption last year by the General Assembly of the resolution for an ATT as well as conventional ammunition.
Through discussions on demand factors and transfer controls, supply and demand sides are closely related to each other at both the global level, and at the regional, national and community level. Moreover, it is a matter of course that SALW issues are complicated and problems that States have to negotiate and reach common views on are various for solving the SALW issue. A merit of the PoA process is its continuation. Since the SALW issue requires a comprehensive approach, a standing forum such as the United Nations is suitable for the long and continuing process.
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