The international community must restore a vision of disarmament and arms control
Madame President, Excellencies,
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is grateful for the opportunity to address the Security Council and welcomes the attention given to the impact of diversion, illicit trafficking and misuse of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition on peace and security.
Every day, the ICRC witnesses the immense human suffering caused by armed violence and conflict, fueled by the widespread availability and misuse of arms and ammunition.
Poorly regulated or inadequately controlled arms flow can lead to grim humanitarian consequences – people killed, suffering live-altering injury and trauma – and to violations of international humanitarian law and human rights.
It may jeopardize access to or completely halt the delivery of medical and humanitarian assistance. It also prolongs conflicts, drives displacement, and negatively affects the achievement of sustainable development goals. Moreover, the use of small arms and light weapons has differential humanitarian impacts, with women, men, and girls and boys affected in particular ways.
Small arms are also used to commit or facilitate sexual and gender-based violence. In line with its mandate, the ICRC deploys all possible efforts to protect and assist the people affected by war and violence, and to promote international humanitarian law and universal humanitarian principles.
In times of armed conflict, the ICRC can only succeed in its mission if the parties strictly abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law.
States that supply arms to these parties have obligations as well: they must do everything reasonably in their power to ensure respect for IHL by recipients.
They must exert greater diligence in assessing the risks posed by arms they transfer and they must implement timely, robust and practical measures that can realistically offset risks. Where there is a clear risk that arms would be used to commit IHL violations, States must refrain from transferring them.
The ICRC encourages States that have not yet done so, to adhere to instruments regulating small arms and light weapons as well as other conventional arms, including the Arms Trade Treaty.
The faithful implementation of these instruments is a humanitarian imperative and will go a long way in preventing serious violations of IHL and human rights.
The findings of the latest report of the Secretary General on small arms and light weapons are worrying: small arms and light weapons, as well as heavy explosive weapons, are one of the leading causes of civilian casualties in armed conflicts.
There is a gap between the obligations assumed by States under international law and prevailing practices in the use and transfer of small arms, light weapons and other conventional arms.
We urge States to take an honest look at how their actions and inactions perpetuate violence, insecurity and suffering.
The New Agenda for Peace underscores the necessity to confront challenges associated with the diversion, proliferation, and misuse of small arms, light weapons, and ammunition.
Now, more than ever, the international community must restore a vision of disarmament and arms control as a crucial path toward sustainable peace and security.