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PREPCOMS 2000

  Statement by Mr. Miroslav Tuma, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the Czech Republic, First Session of the Preparatory Committee of the International Conference on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in all its Aspects New York, 29 February 2000 Statement by Mr. Miroslav

  • Statement by Mr. Miroslav Tuma, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the Czech Republic, First Session of the Preparatory Committee of the International Conference on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in all its Aspects
    New York, 29 February 2000


Statement by Mr. Miroslav Tuma, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the Czech Republic, First Session of the Preparatory Committee of the International Conference on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in all its Aspects

Mr. Chairman,

Let me begin by congratulating you on your election on behalf of the delegation of the Czech Republic. With your wealth of experience in the field of disarmament, this session will certainly go smoothly and lay a solid groundwork for the preparatory process, and eventually for the upcoming conference in 2001. You, and all members of the Preparatory Committee bureau, can always count on our support.

Mr. Chairman,

It is a pleasure for me to address this session on behalf of a country which has recently joined the "Group of Friends of the Conference". Like the speakers before me, I take this opportunity to express our deep appreciation to all international organizations and fora, non-governmental organizations and the UN Panel of Governmental Experts dealing with small arms and light weapons.

Although the Czech Republic fully endorses the statement made by the European Union, let me now mention some of the most important aspects of our national policy in this field.

The Czech Republic fully shares the international community´s concern over the destabilizing accumulation, uncontrolled proliferation, illicit trafficking and use of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition. We support and contribute to the concerted actions within the United Nations and various regional organizations.

The crux of the matter, as perceived by the Czech Republic, is to have control over the production and transfers of military small arms and light weapons. We support the idea that such control should not extend to weapons intended for non-military markets, i.e. hunting and sporting weapons and weapons specifically designed for personal defence which obviously do not meet all requirements for combat operations. On the other hand, we are well aware that in certain exceptional cases the transfers of these weapons may run counter to the general intentions of the international community. Therefore such transfers are closely scrutinized on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all foreign policy concerns.

Mr. Chairman,

The national control system which oversees the transfers of small arms and light weapons is based on legislation which meets the requirements governing the transfers of military weapons and weapons intended for non-military markets. Within the national control system, the Czech Republic lays great emphasis on information flows and coordination between all authorities dealing with small arms and light weapons. I am pleased to tell you that the national Interministerial Working Group on Small Arms and Light Weapons has been created and has already started its work. As regards issues to be discussed at the upcoming conference, the primary responsibility of the Working Group is to develop an even more effective policy on small arms and light weapons, namely to formulate short and medium-term priorities and to coordinate the implementation of adopted measures by the responsible government authorities, producers, exporters and importers of small arms and light weapons in the Czech Republic.

Mr. Chairman,

There obviously exists a wide spectrum of views on the overall orientation of preparations for the conference, on the agenda and objectives. In our opinion, we should build on the achievements of all international and regional organizations. On this basis, the Preparatory Committee, and the conference itself, should draft recommendations to harmonize work and avoid duplication vis-a-vis organizations and member countries. These recommendations should focus particularly on the following areas:

(1) Harmonization of definitions and categories of small arms and light weapons. All control efforts should focus on the most problematic types of such weapons. To cite an example of this rational approach, I would mention the definitions in the annex to the Joint Action of the European Union contribution to combating the destabilizing accumulation and spread of small arms and light weapons. In our opinion, this is a very good basic list, covering all significant types of military small arms and light weapons;

(2) Increased transparency. We support the idea to create regional registers as a first step followed eventually by the creation of the new United Nations Register covering at least the most problematic light weapons and, with the overwhelming political will of UN members, also certain categories of small arms;

(3) Greater efficiency of national control systems. It would be appropriate to define fundamental principles of an efficient national control system, based on the best practices of the various national legislation governing transfers of military weapons, including sanctions and their consistent enforcement. We believe that in fighting illicit trafficking, the key to success is efficient legislation and other domestic measures to support a functioning control system, with proper coordination at the international level.

(4) Methodology of the marking small arms and light weapons. We think that marking is one of the fundamental measures for more efficient registration and identification of such weapons and for monitoring weapons flows. Eventually, it should increase the chances of national authorities in combating illicit trafficking of these weapons.

Mr. Chairman,

To conclude, I would like to express my sincere hope that the Preparatory Committee will rise to all the challenges lying ahead. And I believe that the conference itself will carry forward the quest for effective solutions, tools and programmes, to halt illicit trafficking and the related destabilizing accumulation and uncontrolled proliferation of small arms and light weapons which have inflicted suffering on the civilian population, caused instability and hampered political, economic and social development in many parts of the world.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman