The UN Firearms Protocol: Biting the Bullet – Briefing 4

The UN Firearms Protocol: Biting the Bullet - Briefing 4

This briefing in the Biting the Bullet series looks at considerations for the UN 2001 Conference. It focuses on the need for the Conference develop its own programme of action, while also seeking to build on the international norms and standards which have been developed during the course of the Protocol negotiations.

Since April 1998, the Vienna-based UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice has been negotiating the draft Protocol Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition (the Firearms Protocol).

This Protocol will be the first global measure regulating international transfers of small arms and light weapons, and should have a tremendous impact on both the legal and the illicit manufacture and trade in firearms.

The draft agreement seeks to combat and criminalise trafficking in firearms, through the development of harmonised international standards governing the manufacture, possession and transfer of commercial shipments of these weapons. 

The Protocol places a premium on international co-operation, information exchange and transparency. The provisions in the Firearms Protocol are an important complement to those being developed for the UN 2001 Conference. Issues such as improving the ability to trace small arms and light weapons through effective marking systems, regulating the activities of arms brokers and building international norms on the responsible disposal of surplus small arms are common to both initiatives.

The briefing holds that the Conference will be an important opportunity to add another element to the comprehensive framework necessary for effective global action to combat the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons.