A pivotal gathering of Asia-Pacific countries to tackle the specter of illicit small arms has begun in Kathmandu.
The Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Fourth Review Conference on the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) in All Its Aspects (UN PoA) and its International Tracing Instrument (ITI) kicked off today will take place until the 25 January 2024.
As a mark of the importance of this gathering, the President Designate of the Fourth Review Conference, Maritza Chan Valverde of Costa Rica, as well as Izumi Nakamitsu, UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs are in attendance, along with delegations from over 25 countries in the region.
The UN PoA, established in 2001 at the UN General Assembly, is a critical, politically binding framework. It encompasses commitments by Member States to enhance control measures over small arms, including through improved national regulations, stockpile management, import/export controls, and international cooperation. The introduction of the ITI in 2005 further strengthened this framework, by emphasizing the need for effective marking and record-keeping of weapons, thus aiding in their traceability. These measures are integral to the global effort in addressing the challenges posed by the illicit arms trade and align with the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
UN Member States periodically review progress on these commitments, with the Fourth Review Conference (RevCon4) scheduled from 17 – 28 June 2024 in New York. A Preparatory Committee meeting (PrepCom) to lay the groundwork for that meeting will take place from 12 to 16 February.
In anticipation of RevCon4, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (UNRCPD), in collaboration with the Government of Nepal, is organizing the preparatory regional meeting in Kathmandu. The regional meeting will provide a forum for participating States and other stakeholders, including civil society organizations, to identify region-specific SALW-related challenges and discuss priorities for RevCon4. The three-day meeting will feature thematic presentations and group discussions on various themes, such as developing effective national policies, enhancing tracing of small arms and light weapons through the ITI framework, and identifying and developing strategies to curb the supply and demand of SALW. It also offers a unique opportunity for participating States and regional organizations of Asia-Pacific to engage in constructive discussions on combating terrorism, illicit trafficking, and transnational crimes within the framework of the PoA, and contribute to countries’ mandatory national reports.
The regional meeting takes place in the context of the Office for Disarmament Affairs’ global project that seeks to support full and effective implementation of the PoA and its ITI, supported by the European Union. The Australian Government provided additional support that allows for the participation of States’ delegates in the event.