UNITED NATIONS - Pakistan has called for urgent management of widespread availability of small arms and light weapons in conflict zones that take a huge human toll, through national action, implementation of treaties and strengthened international cooperation.

Speaking in the UN Security Council, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi urged the 15-member body to address the root causes and not just the instruments of conflict. “This means going beyond managing conflicts or its manifestations and investing more in preventing and resolving conflicts”, she said, while participating in an open debate on “The human cost of illicit transfer, destabilising accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons.”

“It remains a grim irony that weapons, which propel and sustain conflicts come from areas or regions that enjoy peace,” the Pakistani envoy added. “Only four countries account for two thirds of global arms exports, while major importers are developing countries, mainly in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. 

“We need to make the entire chain of development, production, trade, transfer and impact of these arms, part of the new global debate.”  In his report on the subject, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said two elements were vital to tackling the worldwide challenge. “First, we need to ensure that the use of weapons and ammunition by national security forces conforms with commitments under global treaties and instruments,” the Secretary-General said. “Second, we need further measures to combat the proliferation of illicit weapons.”

States had to enforce arms embargoes and strengthen UN missions tasked with policing small arms, Ban said, encouraging greater efforts to accelerate exchange of information on arms trafficking and calling for “far more attention” on the issue of ammunition. In her speech, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi hoped the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which was concluded in 2013,   is enabled by its States Parties to achieve its global benchmarks to regulate the transfer of these arms.  She said the nexus between organised crime, drug-trafficking and the illegal arms trade added a layer of complexity.

To address that issue, arms needed to be regulated through enhanced controls and improved standards for their transfer, she added.  Enforcement of arms embargoes imposed by the Council, and effective marking and increased cooperation in tracing weapons were necessary, she said. 

“There is urgent need to evolve mechanisms and mobilise the political will to address the ‘demand’ side,” she told the 15-member Council.

Addressing the issue of demand meant dealing with unresolved disputes, root causes of conflicts, breeding grounds for terrorism and factors behind the rise of organised crime, the Pakistani envoy said.

In addition, arms acquisition by States, motivated by security needs, could not be delinked from their production and sale, which was driven by profit and politics, she added. 

“The causes of war are even more important to address than the instruments of war,” Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said, adding, that a comprehensive and integrated approach is required  to deal with the human cost that these weapons inflict.

In this regard, she endorsed the Secretary General’s call in his report for “a multi-dimensional approach” that addresses arsenals and ammunition flows, legitimate grievances, past and current human rights violations, and the underlying drivers of conflict.

She said Pakistan had developed the necessary legislative, regulatory, enforcement and institutional mechanisms to regulate the sale, supply, import and transfer of these arms, adding, that an inter-Ministerial group addressed these issues.