UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, UNDP Administrator call for widespread use of ISACS

FROM THE JOINT FOREWORD TO THE 2013-14 ISACS RESULTS REPORT by UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark (l), and UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane (r):

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 4.49.45 PM

The illicit trade, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons continue to fuel armed violence in conflict-affected, post-conflict and other fragile settings around the world. About half of all homicides worldwide are committed with a small arm, which translates into almost 230,000 deaths per year. In many low- and middle-income countries suffering from chronically high homicide rates, firearms are used in up to three-quarters of homicides. Many of these weapons find their way into the hands of perpetrators through illicit channels, helped by inadequate (or inadequately enforced) laws and weak control mechanisms at national and local levels.

But small arms deaths constitute only a fraction of the burden — a thin wedge atop a pyramid of physical, psychological and material devastation. For every person killed with a small arm, many more are injured, traumatised or displaced. Armed violence destroys lives and livelihoods. It breeds insecurity, fear and terror. It dissolves social cohesion and hinders development progress. Whether in situations of conflict or crime, armed violence fuelled by illicit weapons imposes enormous burdens on countries, communities and families.

UN Member States recognise this problem and have taken action to address it. They have negotiated four global agreements designed to stop illicit weapons: the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects; the Firearms Protocol supplementing the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime; the International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons; and the Arms Trade Treaty. Taken together, these agreements enshrine a corpus of international norms and commitments, which — if fully implemented — would make a significant impact on reducing the incidence and destructiveness of armed violence worldwide.

The UN system is doing its utmost to support implementation of these global commitments at national and local levels. With leadership from UNDP and UNODA, 32 entities within the UN’s internal mechanism to Co-ordinate Action on Small Arms, Ammunition and the Arms Trade (CASA) are working with leading experts worldwide to develop International Small Arms Control Standards (ISACS) that provide practical guidance on translating global norms and commitments into concrete action at national and local levels. The voluntary standards propose effective and achievable controls over the full lifecycle of small arms and light weapons — from manufacture and marking, through transfer and storage, to collection and destruction — in order to reduce the risk of their falling into the hands of criminals, terrorists and those who would misuse them.

Since their launch in 2012, the number of actors using ISACS and the number of countries in which the standards are being used has continued to grow.

Since their launch in 2012, the number of actors using ISACS and the number of countries in which the standards are being used has continued to grow. This report sets out how, between September 2013 and August 2014, the United Nations, international and regional organizations, and training institutes have used ISACS to assist the governments of 48 countries in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and South-East Europe to improve their own national controls over small arms and light weapons, or to assist other governments to do so.

Because ISACS were used as the basis of this assistance, beneficiary governments received consistent, high quality advice and guidance that reflects internationally recognized effective practices for controlling small arms and light weapons in order to prevent their diversion and misuse. This support contributes directly to efforts by these governments to reduce armed violence and build community security in order to create the conditions necessary for sustainable human development.

Examples of this work are set out in this report and include joint UN efforts to build the capacity of the Federal Government of Somalia to manage arms imported under the partially lifted arms embargo; UNDP demonstrating in Bosnia and Herzegovina how adherence to ISACS can contribute to a successful small arms collection and destruction campaign; UNODA/UNLIREC showing how ISACS can be used to derive standard operating procedures and training materials on stockpile management and destruction that are tailored to the Latin American and Caribbean region; and UNIDIR training UN partners and regional organizations to use the ISACS Assessment Tool to support governments in the design, monitoring, and evaluation of effective small arms control programmes.

The results presented in this report demonstrate that ISACS are achieving one of the key goals set for them at their launch: to become widely recognized as a practical tool for strengthening national controls over the full lifecycle of small arms and light weapons. This was further demonstrated in June 2014, when 67 States called for the wider application of the standards during the 5th Biennial Meeting of States to consider implementation of the UN Programme of Action on small arms.

we call on policymakers and practitioners […] to make full use of ISACS when designing small arms control programmes, monitoring their progress and evaluating their impact

Moving forward, the United Nations, working as one, will continue to co-operate with our partners to develop international small arms control standards based on norms and commitments agreed by Member States. Through our ISACS Inter-Agency Support Unit, we will encourage and assist UN partners, international and regional organisations, and training institutes to integrate these standards into the support they provide to countries. And we will forge new partnerships with global, regional and national civil society organisations, which play such an important role in encouraging and assisting governments to live up to the commitments they have made to control these instruments of violence.

Member States recognize the importance of promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development and have proposed to include this as one of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (Goal 16). To achieve this goal, we must significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere and also significantly reduce illicit arms flows. The International Small Arms Control Standards can help States put in place effective national controls over the full life-cycle of small arms and light weapons and, by so doing, close off the illicit channels that allow them to be misused with such devastating effect. Together with our UN CASA partners, we call on policymakers and practitioners in governments, international and regional organisations, civil society and the private sector to make full use of ISACS when designing small arms control programmes, monitoring their progress and evaluating their impact.