Biting the Bullet Briefing 5 - Enhancing Traceability of Small Arms and Light Weapons Flows

Developing an International Marking and Tracing Regime

This report from the series recommends that the UN 2001 Conference should establish a set of international principles and standards on marking, record-keeping and tracing of SALW. It should further launch negotiations for a detailed (and preferably legally binding) tracing agreement, which sets out necessary rules and obligations and establishes appropriate programmes and mechanisms for international co-operation and assistance to promote implementation. On co-operation in tracing, the UN 2001 Conference should establish the norm that every state should ensure that it co-operates in efforts to trace arms that contribute to excessive and destabilising accumulations and flows of SALW. They should thus respond promptly and accurately to requests from other appropriate authorities to assist them in their efforts to trace sources and lines of supply of SALW of concern. Follow-on negotiations will need to clarify in detail how these norms should be implemented. On marking and record-keeping, the UN 2001 Conference should establish the norms recommended in the UN Group of Experts on Small Arms report, perhaps developed to take into account language agreed by regional organisations, such as the OSCE. Follow-on negotiations could develop detailed standards and best practice guidelines relating to issues such as: rules and techniques for marking each type of SALW; marking rules of existing stockpiles; promoting use of techniques that ensure that identifying marks are hard to remove; and agreed minimum standards for record-keeping. An international tracing agreement for SALW should establish mechanisms and programmes to promote its implementation and further development. These should include measures to promote: information exchange; best practice; international assistance; and involvement of industry, experts and other civil society groups.

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    International Alert
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  • Date:
    January 2001
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