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2012 and Beyond: Advocacy and Action in the UN Small Arms Process

By Jim McLay, New Zealand ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations in New York.

More than a decade has passed since the adoption of the UN Programme of Action (PoA) to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects in 2001, laying the foundation for action at the national, regional and global levels. From 27 August until 7 September 2012, the Second Review Conference will be held in New York, offering the opportunity to review the progress made in the implementation of the PoA.

The Small Arms Survey has prepared a Briefing Paper to stimulate discussion at the Conference, examining future policy directions for the PoA. In it, Ambassador Jim McLay reflects on the PoA’s first ten years, and assesses its achievements and shortcomings.

He notes the difficulties encountered in effectively supporting, monitoring, and assessing implementation, and the changing context in which it now exists.

The Briefing Paper outlines specific challenges that the Programme of Action process needs to address over the coming decade to ensure its continued effectiveness and credibility.

These include:

  • providing better support for implementation at the national and regional levels, including through more regular expert meetings, greater utilization of existing and emerging implementation tools, and an enhanced capacity to monitor and evaluate implementation and assess its effectiveness;
  • more effectively coordinating Programme of Action implementation with related instruments and processes; and
  • carefully managing ‘unfinished [Programme of Action] business’ in terms of further normative development.

Noting the importance of a successful 2012 Review Conference for the process’s ongoing vigour and credibility, the Briefing Paper provides practical suggestions on how this might be achieved.        


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