Remarks at a UN Security Council Open Debate on Small Arms and Light Weapons

Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
Senior Advisor for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
November 22, 2021


Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you to our briefers. We appreciate Mexico’s efforts to call attention to the detrimental effects that the diversion of and illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons can have on international peace and security.

The United States remains deeply committed to this issue, and we believe that improving the management of small arms and light weapons and conventional ammunition stockpiles is a key tool in preventing diversion. The United States is the single largest provider of assistance to such efforts. For example, we have been working closely with Niger since 2015. This partnership has constructed or rehabilitated 30 storage facilities, trained personnel in physical security and stockpile management, and destroyed 15 metric tons of excess ordnance. In Ecuador, in 2020 alone, U.S. assistance provided ammunition management training to Ecuador’s armed forces and supported the destruction of over 220,000 obsolete small weapons ammunition.

Beyond our own efforts, the current framework of instruments at the global and regional levels offers a range of measures that, if fully and effectively implemented, would make significant contributions to international efforts to combat illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons. The challenge remains, however, improving this implementation.

To help reduce the armed violence facilitated by illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons, all states should comprehensively implement the UN Program of Action on small arms and light weapons, and its complementary International Tracing Instrument, as others today have mentioned. The United States remains committed to implementing these instruments and assisting others in doing so.

At the 7th Biennial Meeting of States on the Program of Action in July, numerous Member States and the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs underscored the uneven implementation of these measures. This is discouraging, given the amount of time that has transpired since the Program of Action was adopted in 2001 and the resources the international community has devoted to this issue. Accordingly, the Security Council should continue to encourage Member States to implement these important tools to combat the diversion of and illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons.

Security Council Resolution 2220 specifically addresses the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation, and misuse of small arms and light weapons, including with respect to Council-mandated arms embargoes. The cross-cutting nature of this work is illustrated in Resolution 2370, which addresses the need to prevent terrorist access to weapons. As is the case with the existing international instruments, the Council’s body of work is sufficient in our view – the shortfall is in states’ national efforts to implement the terms of the relevant resolutions.

Like many of these international instruments, arms embargoes are only effective when implemented by Member States. We encourage all Member States to ensure they are fully implementing their obligations pursuant to Security Council arms embargoes.

UN reporting on the implementation of Council arms embargoes is another important tool to help identify areas in which the diversion of and illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons fuels conflict. For that reason, the United States strongly supports the work of UN sanctions committee expert panels. Regular reporting by these panels is a critical component of the Security Council’s efforts to promote implementation of UN arms embargoes, and we encourage all members to cooperate with these panels as they conduct their work.

Thank you, Mr. President.