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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at Security Council Open Debate on Small Arms and Light Weapons

2021-11-23 15:50

Mr. President,

I wish to thank Mr. Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon, Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, for chairing today’s meeting. I listened carefully to the presentations made by Mr. Robert Geiss and Ms. Maria Pia Devoto.

As Secretary-General Guterres stated in his Disarmament Agenda, conventional arms control is part of “disarmament that saves lives”, and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes reducing the illegal flow of small arms and light weapons as an important target. This shows that the issue of small arms and light weapons bears on peace and development. Combating illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons is of great importance to safeguarding the common development and social progress of all countries. It is a matter of urgency to strengthen conventional arms control under the multilateral framework. 

Over the years, the Security Council has made great efforts to tackle the issue of small arms and light weapons. It adopted Resolutions 2117 and 2220, and has taken into overall consideration the impact of small arms and light weapons when deliberating on regional hotspot issues. Meanwhile, the illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons remains a serious phenomenon, which has intertwined with armed conflict, terrorism, transnational organized crime and other problems, aggravating the sufferings of people in conflict areas and posing a great challenge to international peace and security. To address this problem, the international community should focus on the following areas.

 Firstly, strengthening the capacity building of the countries concerned and achieving the full-cycle management of small arms and light weapons. Countries concerned should bear the primary responsibility for cracking down on those weapons by establishing and improving laws and regulations and by stepping up control. The Security Council should provide political support for the peace and reconciliation efforts and post-war reconstruction of the countries concerned, and help them effectively deal with the proliferation risks of small arms and light weapons in the process of advancing the DDR programs and security sector reform. Peace operations deployed in various missions should, on the basis of performing their duties in strict accordance with the mandates and respect the sovereignty of the countries concerned, actively provide the capacity-building support and assistance to those countries. 

Secondly, helping regional countries achieve pose-COVID recovery and eliminate the root causes of conflict and violence. The root causes of the problem of small arms and light weapons lie largely in poverty and under-development. Special attention should be given to the economic development and people's livelihoods in war-torn areas and post-conflict countries under the impact of the pandemic, focusing on supporting and then assisting the countries concerned in eliminating long-standing poverty and backwardness. It is imperative to help developing countries bolster infrastructure development, accelerate industrialization and modernization, achieve sustainable economic and social development and maintain lasting regional peace. The Global Development Initiative proposed by China is aimed at forging global synergy for development and meeting the development needs of all countries, particularly those of developing countries. China invites all parties to join this Initiative to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and achieve shared development for all countries. 

Thirdly, strictly implementing Security Council’s arms embargoes and cutting off the chain of the illicit flow of small arms and light weapons. All countries must strictly implement the Council's resolutions on arms embargoes and the relevant provisions of the Sanctions Committees on arms embargoes by refraining from the transfer or sale of arms to countries subject to the Council-mandated arms embargoes. In addition, the relevant resolutions should be correctly interpreted and accurately implemented. The enforcement of the arms embargoes should not be used as an excuse to interfere in the internal affairs of the countries concerned or infringe on their sovereignty. China has always maintained that sanctions are only a means and not an end. The original intent of the Council-mandated  arms embargoes is to help the hosting countries restore national stability and the order of society. It should not hinder those countries’ efforts to strengthen their own security capabilities. The Security Council should adjust the arms embargo measures in a targeted manner in light of the development of the situation and the actual needs of the countries concerned, so as to help the governments effectively enhance their own security capabilities.

Fourthly, strengthening multilateral and bilateral cooperation and fully leveraging the role of the UN as the main channel. Regional and sub-regional countries should actively exchange information and share experience, tighten the export control and improve supervision and law enforcement, which will support the UN in continuing its leading role in combating illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons, promote the full and effective implementation of the Program of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, the International Tracing Instrument, the Firearms Protocol and the Arms Trade Treaty, among others. We should support the development of international cooperation and assistance in-depth and on a solid basis. The conventional arms control mechanisms under the framework of the UN should step up interaction and coordination, and complement and promote one another for greater synergy.

Mr. President, 

The Chinese Government has always opposed the illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons and has adopted a cautious and responsible approach towards the export of such weapons. Since China joined the Arms Trade Treaty in July 2020, it has actively participated in global arms trade governance. In addition, under the frameworks of the UN, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the China-UN Peace and Development Fund, China has carried out international cooperation with other developing countries in combating illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons. China has also set up the China-Africa Peace and Security Cooperation Fund to support the “silencing the guns” , as well as China-Africa cooperation in peace and security and for peacekeeping, and stability. 

The fight against the illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons can by no means be accomplished overnight. Building a world free from gun violence is a long-standing uphill task. China stands ready to work with the international community in making unremitting efforts to jointly combat illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons, and maintain the international and regional peace and stability.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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