Excerpt from UNDP’s report on “Strengthening the Rule of Law in Crisis-Affected and Fragile Situations”
INTERNATIONAL SMALL ARMS CONTROL STANDARDS
KIM WON-SOO, UN HIGH REPRESENTATIVE FOR DISARMAMENT AFFAIRS
In 2015, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon observed that “countries suffering from sustained levels of armed conflict or violence are also those furthest from reaching their Millennium Development Goal targets. The complex linkages among arms, violence, conflict and development continue to play out in states around the world.” We must apply this insight to the pursuit of the successor to the Millennium Development Goals-the Sustainable Development Goals. Only by working togeth- er to prevent conflict and the illicit trade in the tools of violence, can we hope to create the conditions necessary for peace, security, and sustainable human development.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development sets the direction for the UN system over the coming 15 years. It underlines our determination to “foster peaceful, just, and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence” and reaffirms that “there can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.”
Addressing the needs of conflict- and crime- affected countries requires strengthened horizontal cooperation between the humanitarian, peace and security and development pillars of the UN in order to prioritize conflict prevention and strengthen the rule of law and human rights.
The illicit trade in arms–especially small arms and light weapons–continues to fuel violence in crisis- affected and fragile situations and is a key enabler of conflict and endemic crime. Whether in the context of gang violence in urban settings, conflicts over access to grazing or water in societies grappling with climate change, or transnational organized crime and terrorism, easy access to arms poses a serious obstacle to sustainable peace and development.
UN Member States recognize this problem and have taken action to address it by negotiating four global agreements designed to significantly reduce illicit arms flows: the UN Programme of Action against the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, the UN Firearms Protocol, the International Tracing Instrument and, most recently, the Arms Trade Treaty. Taken together, these agreements enshrine a corpus of international norms and commitments, which – if fully implemented – would in itself contribute to promoting the rule of law in disarmament and arms regulation and help to create the conditions in which human rights and justice can take root and flourish.
Building on these agreements, UNODA works with governments to create practical tools to help states enhance their capacities in the area of arms control. Examples include the UN Register of Conventional Arms, the International Ammunition Technical Guidelines and the International Small Arms Control Standards (ISACS).
UNODA and UNDP have jointly led the UN system in developing ISACS, whose purpose is to help build national capacity to prevent illicit flows of small arms and light weapons and prevent them from fueling conflict and exacerbating violence.48 The standards are based on norms agreed by states and were developed through a collaborative effort by 23 UN entities and hundreds of experts from governments, international and regional organizations, civil society and the private sector. Since their launch in 2012, the UN and our partners have used ISACS in at least 90 countries.
The ISACS initiative is a good example of how the humanitarian, peace and security and development pillars of the UN can work together in partnership to help states prevent conflict and achieve the SDGs. Working in such a collaborative way, the UN can better help states to clear a path towards the achievement of these important goals.