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National statements

United Nations Security Council Resolution on Small Arms

Thematic issues

  • Human Rights
  • Humanitarian
  • Peacebuilding
  • Peacekeeping
  • Piracy
  • Protection of Civilians
  • Small arms
  • Terrorism
  • Timor-Leste
  • Women

Fact Sheet

Permanent Mission of Australia to the United Nations

As part of its UN Security Council Presidency, Australia has championed a resolution which seeks to address the threats posed by the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and the misuse of such weapons.

The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons is a key driver of conflict and instability around the world, including in the vast majority of the conflict situations on the Council's agenda.

It has been five years since the Council last considered this threat in a dedicated way and this resolution is long overdue. This is the first ever Security Council resolution on small arms and light weapons.

Small arms and light weapons are intrinsically linked to terrorism, piracy and transnational crime. They impede peacebuilding efforts and pose threats to civilians, peacekeepers, humanitarian workers and civil society organisations.

The illicit trade and misuse of small arms and light weapons lead to serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. In many cases, these activities are in violation of existing Council resolutions and arms embargoes.

The recent Secretary-General's report (S/2013/503) makes clear the persistent and evolving nature of this threat and the need for integrated responses by the Council.

Within Australia's own region, we have seen the devastating effects of illicit arms and weapons. Australia has worked with our regional neighbours and the UN to take forward practical measures to address this problem in Timor-Leste, Solomon Islands and Bougainville, PNG. These experiences underline the importance of global and regional cooperation in tackling these challenges.

The resolution:

  • Reinforces the UN Security Council's efforts to comprehensively tackle
    these threats, and elaborates practical steps to achieve this.
  • Strengthens the implementation of Council arms embargoes. It will also
    strengthen information sharing and cooperation to help prevent illicit transfers
    to terrorists and to inhibit illicit brokering, illicit financial activities
    and suspected traffickers and trafficking routes.
  • For the first time directly links the misuse of these weapons to risks
    to civilian populations, particularly women and children, and calls on all
    parties to conflicts to ensure the protection of civilians from misuse of
    these weapons. The resolution calls for the provision of rapid, safe and unimpeded
    access to humanitarian supplies.
  • Supports UN peacekeeping efforts to limit the impact of these weapons on
    post-conflict societies including by helping countries to address flows over
    borders and to manage their stockpiles; strengthens capacity building efforts
    to prevent and address threats, especially in Africa; and calls on Member
    States, the UN system, regional and international organisations to support
    such efforts.
  • Complements and builds on the Arms Trade Treaty, which was adopted by the
    UN General Assembly in April 2013. Significantly, the resolution urges states
    to consider signing and ratifying the Arms Trade Treaty as soon as possible.

Last Updated: 18 June 2015
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