2 August 2001, New York
At the outset, I wish to extend our warm welcome to you for coming to New York and presiding over this open debate. Last month, Ambassador Camilo Reyes Rodriguez, representative of Columbia to United Nations Office in Geneva, successfully chaired the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (hereinafter referred to as "the Conference"), and facilitated the adoption by the Conference of the Programme of Action. And arranged by your country, now in its capacity as the president of the Security Council for this month, we are able to have this open debate today on the same issue. Here, I would like to express our appreciation to Columbia for its efforts and contributions in this regard. I also want to take this opportunity to thank the Secretary-General for his statement just now.
In recent years, the excessive accumulation of and illicit trafficking in small arms has drawn wide attention from the international community, as it exacerbates warfare and disturbance in relevant countries and regions, undermines post-conflict peace-building efforts in some countries and gives rise to serious humanitarian problems. The Programme of Action adopted at the Conference last month identifies in explicit terms concrete measures to be taken to deal with this issue at the global, regional and national levels, which marks a good beginning for the international effort towards the solution of the issue of the illicit trade and trafficking in small arms.
As the organ that bears the primary responsibility in the maintenance of international peace and security, the Security Council has to face the issue of small arms very often in its work, especially when reviewing regional hot-spot issues. In recent years, in its discussions on issues such as the DDR programmes, the protection of civilians, women and children in armed conflict and the prevention of armed conflict, the Council has always paid special attention to the issue of small arms. In 1999, the Security Council adopted a presidential statement on this issue. All this can be considered as an important component of the international effort towards the early solution of the issue of small arms.
The Chinese Delegation supports the Security Council to continue to, within its mandate, pay necessary attention to the issue of small arms. In our view, such attention should be demonstrated more in the review of specific issues. Although the Security Council is not a special organ to deal with the issue of small arms, the work it does in this regard represents a crucial part in the global effort for this purpose. The Security Council should strengthen its cooperation and coordination with other relevant UN bodies on this issue, so that each can play its due part and achieve synergy result.
The excessive accumulation of and illicit trafficking in small arms is most serious and salient on the African continent, with a few countries there bearing the brunt of the impact. Therefore, we believe that special attention must be paid to the issue of small arms in that region. In reviewing conflicts in the African region, the Security Council should listen carefully to views of parties concerned on the issue of small arms and step up its cooperation in this regard with relevant regional organizations. And in its efforts to promote peace processes, carry out DDR programmes, dispatch peacekeeping missions, adopt arms embargo and launch peace-building processes, the issue of small arms as an important factor should always be given full consideration.
Firmly against the illegal production of small arms and supportive to efforts by the international community against the illicit trade in small arms, China has already made a great contribution to the solution of this issue. Among other things, the Chinese Delegation to the Conference last month made a 5-point proposition to this end, which I would like to reiterate as follows:
First, based on their respective realities, countries should formulate and improve their legislations and regulations on the production, possession, holding, and the stockpiling of small arms and take practical measures to ensure strict enforcement.
Second, countries and regions should step up their cooperation and coordination in combating the illicit trade in small arms.
Third, the international community should further support to countries and regions in their efforts to deal with the issue of small arms. And the United Nations and other relevant international organizations have an important role to play in this aspect.
Fourth, while seeking to end tensions and conflicts in relevant countries and regions, the international community should also make vigorous efforts to help them to develop their economy, eradicate poverty and realize sustainable development and endurable peace and stability, so as to uproot the illicit trade in small arms from its breeding ground.
Fifth, sovereignty of states should be respected and their right to the legal production, possession and transfer of small arms should not be compromised.
The above-listed 5 points put forward by the Chinese Delegation have been an outgrowth of our full consideration and study of all aspects of the illicit trade in small arms as well as its underlying causes and background. We are confident that so long as the international community works together, continuous progress will be achieved in dealing with the issue of small arms.
Thank you, Mr. President.