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

2023-12-15 21:00

Madam President,

I welcome Ecuador convening today's meeting. And I welcome Your Excellency Foreign Minister of Ecuador in presiding over today's meeting. I thank Under-Secretary-General Izumi Nakamitsu, Ms. Cécile Aptel, and Ms. Folade Mutota for their briefings. The issue of small arms and light weapons bears on peace and development. Over the years, the international community has made relentless efforts to address this issue. Putting this issue high on its agenda, the Council has adopted Resolutions 2117, 2220, and 2616, and has taken into account the impact of small arms and light weapons in its consideration of hotspot issues.

At the same time, the problem of illicit trafficking, misuse, and irresponsible transfer of small arms and light weapons and ammunition remain severe and are intertwined with armed conflict, terrorism, and transnational organized crime, posing serious threats to international peace and security. To better address the issue of small arms and light weapons, China holds the following positions. 

First, eliminating the root causes of arms proliferation. Development is the cornerstone of peace and security. Regions such as the Horn of Africa and the Sahel are economically underdeveloped. Local populations live in poverty and suffer tremendously from the scourge caused by the spread of weapons, conflict, and violence. The international community should help the countries concerned enhance their capacity for sustainable development, so as to allow more people to enjoy the dividends of development, thereby stemming the problem at its root. By embracing the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable  security, all countries should stay committed to the peaceful settlement of disputes, and use dialogue and consultation to collectively tackle global and regional security threats, including war and conflict, terrorism, and organized crime. 

Second, the countries concerned should take on greater responsibility. States should assume the primary responsibility for the management, R&D, use, and transfer of small arms and light weapons, improve relevant laws and regulations, and enhance law enforcement and control. In particular, major arms exporting countries should set a good example by strictly managing their military exports, and should stop interfering in the internal affairs of other countries through arms trade, stop pouring oil on the flames in conflict-affected areas, and stop transferring arms to non state actors. The lax gun control and severe gun violence problems of a certain developed country have not only jeopardized its own social stability and the safety and security of its own people, but has also caused growing spillover effects. This also spells major trouble for other countries. This certain country needs to seriously reflect on this issue and change its course of action.

Third, the Council's arms embargo measures should be accurately viewed and implemented. The rampant Haitian gang activities are inextricably linked to the illicit inflows of foreign weapons. All countries, especially those in the region, should effectively implement the Council's arms embargo, so as to cut off the source of crimes committed by Haitian gangs. At the same time, the Council's arms embargo is meant to help the countries concerned restore national stability and normal social order, and should not impede the countries capacity building. efforts. The Council should make targeted adjustments to its arms embargo measures in light of the developments on the ground, so as to help the government of the countries concerned bolster their security capacity.  

Fourth, the UN should play its role as the main channel. The UN should continue to promote the implementation of international legal instruments including the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, the ATT and the Arms Protocol, and should enhance the authority, universality, and effectiveness of relevant mechanisms. The Council should continue to monitor the impact of small arms and light weapons on regional hotspot issues and provide political support for the peaceful settlement of disputes between the countries concerned. Relevant UN agencies and regional organizations can, on the basis of respect for the wishes of the countries concerned, carry out information exchanges, experience sharing, and technical assistance to help them strengthen capacity building. 

Madam President,  

As a state party to the CCW and ATT, China has always actively participated in the governance of the global arms trade and has taken a prudent and responsible approach towards arms exports. China has defined cooperation in small arms and light weapons control and implementation of the Silencing the Guns in Africa Initiative as key areas of cooperation under the Global Security Initiative. We have been working hand in hand with other countries under the frameworks of the UN, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the China-UN Peace and Development Fund. China has completed its legal procedures of ratifying the Firearms Protocol, and will submit its instrument of ratification shortly. All this reflects China's determination and sincerity in upholding the international arms control system and supporting multilateralism. 

In his New Agenda for Peace. Secretary-General Guterres called for reducing the human cost of weapons. Addressing the issue of small arms and light weapons is a long-term task and an important mission for the international community. Following the concept of building a community with a shared future for humankind and acting on the Global Security Initiative and the Global Development Initiative, China has been working to combat the illicit trafficking, misuse, and irresponsible transfer of small arms and light weapons, thus contributing to the maintenance of international peace and stability and the realization of common security for all. 

Thank you, Madam President.

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