The informal Small Arms Consultative Group Process on Developing Understandings on Guidelines for National Controls and Transfers to Non-State Actors was established in January 2003, convened by the Biting the Bullet Project. The Consultative Group consists of representatives of some 30 governments from most regions, the UN and regional organisations, and selected civil society experts. It has so far met four times, in London (January 2003), Prague (June 2003), New York (July 2003) and Lake Naivasha, Kenya (September 2003), and has now completed the first phase of its work.
The objectives of this informal Small Arms Consultative Group have been to develop shared understandings of two linked issue areas that are of key importance to the implementation and further development of the UN Programme of Action (PoA) on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW):
- Transfers of SALW to non-state actors (NSAs)
- Guidelines for national decisions on whether to authorise transfers of SALW
Considerable progress has been made in exploring and developing shared understandings on these issues, and in developing a framework for addressing them at a global level.
The aim of the Chair’s Interim Report is to provide an overview of the discussions held and the progress made in the first phase of the work of the Consultative Group. It also identifies some of the key findings from the discussions to-date: those issues where clearer understandings have developed and others that require further consideration. This report will then provide the basis for moving discussions forward during the second phase of its work in advance of the 2006 UN PoA Review Conference. This report reflects the views expressed by participants and proposes several suggestions for ways in which a continuation of the process can contribute to the agreement of more effective controls on transfers to NSAs and guidelines for national transfer controls in 2006.
Part two of the report explains the rationale for discussing the two issues and the relationship between them. Part three describes the key issues emerging from the discussions on controls on transfers to NSAs. It does so by exploring why transfers to NSAs are problematic, examining the range of NSAs, and highlighting the main arguments for and against authorising transfers to NSAs in certain circumstances.
Part four of the report reviews the main issues that arose from the Group’s discussions on guidelines for national SALW transfer controls. The report sets out the context to the discussions, in regard to commitments under the UN PoA and current international debates, and identifies the main approaches to developing international consensus in this areas. It then concludes in part five with an outline of the next steps for the Process towards the 2006 Review Conference, as discussed and supported by the participants, particularly at the last meeting in Lake Niavaska, Kenya.