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20.4.2021 : 8:49 : +0200

National reporting on small arms trade and control measures

The Programme of Action on Small Arms (PoA) and the International Tracing Instrument (ITI) are politically binding instruments through which UN member states undertake to implement a range of small arms control measures to address the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, now supplemented by the Arms Trade Treaty.  

The PoA urges UN member states to provide, on a voluntary basis, national reports on their implementation of the PoA. The ITI requires states to submit reports on its implementation, which may form part of their PoA reports. Such reports are important tools for sharing information on challenges affecting implementation and for communicating cooperation and assistance needs. The Second Open-ended Meeting of Governmental Experts, in the first week of June this year, brought together states parties to discuss the implementation of these instruments.

Fourteen years after the adoption of the PoA (in 2001) and ten years after the adoption of the ITI (2005), a large number of national reports are available, providing a valuable source of information on the implementation of these instruments.

A new Small Arms Survey Issue Brief, What the National Reports Reveal: Trends in UN PoA and ITI Reporting,  presents an overview of reporting practices under the PoA and ITI by reviewing two complementary sets of information. It considers global statistics on the frequency of UN member states’ reporting between 2002 and 2014,  and provides a thematic analysis of PoA and ITI implementation by assessing states’ responses to the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) reporting template which covers five key themes: manufacture, international transfers, marking, record-keeping, and tracing.

The Issue Brief’s main findings include the following:

  • Overall participation in the reporting process since the PoA’s adoption has been substantial: 163 of 193 UN member states (84 per cent) have submitted at least one national report and 137 (71 per cent) have submitted at least two reports since 2002. However, 30 states (16 per cent) have never reported on their PoA or ITI implementation and 26 (13 per cent) have only reported once.
  • The rate of reporting has decreased since 2008, despite the move to biennial—as opposed to annual—reporting and the introduction of a new reporting template in 2011.
  • The region with the highest reporting rate is Europe, with 98 per cent of European states having issued at least one national report between 2002 and 2014. The region with the lowest reporting rate is Oceania, with only 43 per cent of states having reported at least once since 2002.
  • At least 169 states have indicated they have established a national point of contact (NPC) for the PoA; of these states, 120 have also provided an NPC for the ITI.
  • While 73 countries (representing 45 per cent of the 163 countries that reported at least once) state that manufacturing takes place on their territories, 93 countries (57 per cent) confirm they have laws or regulations covering the manufacture of small arms. At the same time, 157 (96 per cent) report having laws or regulations on the international transfers of small arms.
  • Demand is high for technical and financial support, including training and cooperation, in the development of laws and regulations on transfers of small arms (50 states, or 31 per cent of reporting states), on building capacity for record-keeping (62 states, or 38 per cent), and on developing procedures for tracing (59 states, or 36 per cent).
  • The new reporting template made available to states in 2011 makes it easier for them to submit reports, but it has led them to provide less information and fewer details, while the opportunity to use national reports to share best practices and experiences on small arms control measures has been restricted.

The findings of this Issue Brief were presented at the Final Preparatory Meeting towards the First Conference of States Parties of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), held in Geneva from 6 to 8 July 2015. The First Conference of States Parties of the ATT will be held in Cancun, Mexico, from 24 to 27 August 2015. The lessons learned from reporting experiences with the PoA and ITI will be valuable in establishing meaningful implementation of the ATT.


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