UNITED NATIONS - The UN Security Council Friday adopted a resolution urging stronger cooperation in stemming the “illicit transfer, destabilising accumulation and misuse” of small arms and light weapons, underlining the suffering they caused to civilians.

The Council approved the resolution by a vote of nine - the minimum required for adoption -  in favour to none against, with six abstentions -Russia, China, Angola, Chad, Nigeria and Venezuela. The abstaining countries were critical of a failure of the resolution to address the issue of non-state actors.

Lithuanian Ambassador Raimonda Murmokaite, who spearheaded the push for the resolution, rejected that criticism. She said it called upon states to identify ways to counter the illicit transfer of small arms while urging the United Nations to do more to protect and secure arms stockpiles while collected and destroying illicit caches. “Every minute as we speak, a life is lost because of the illicit trade or misuse of small arms and light weapons,” she said.

The resolution calls on states to prevent the transfer of weapons to “armed groups and criminal networks that target civilians and civilian objects” as well as to terrorists. French Ambassador Francois Delattre said small arms kill half a million people a year, making them “by far the most deadly weapons in the world.”Angola, Chad and Nigeria, the three African council members, sharply criticized Western countries, accusing them of ignoring African concerns. They were particularly incensed that the text did not include language on “non-state actors.”

It was a view that Russia echoed in the council meeting. Several Western diplomats said the Russians had lobbied hard over the past week to persuade fellow council members not to support or the draft resolution. The text recognizes the importance of preventing the illicit transfers and sales of weapons and ammunition, including small arms and light weapons, to armed groups and criminal networks that target civilians and civilian objects.

As such, it identifies a wide range of areas in which international cooperation could be bolstered, recognising the importance of well-targeted and monitored sanctions regimes, appropriate UN peacekeeping mandates, effective reintegration and demobilization programmes and security sector reform in that regard.

In the resolution, the members of the Council advocate the establishment or strengthening, as appropriate, of subregional and regional mechanisms for cooperation, coordination and information sharing, particularly cross-border customs cooperation and information exchange networks “in order to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit transfer, the destabilising accumulation and misuse of small arms and small arms.”The Security Council also considers it necessary that Member States put in place, if it does not exist, laws, rules and administrative procedures to allow them to effectively control the production of small arms and small arms within their jurisdiction and the export, import, transit or retransfer of such weapons.

It also urges Member States, relevant United Nations entities and intergovernmental organizations, regional and subregional organizations in a position to do so to cooperate and exchange information on persons suspected of trafficking.Council members also strongly urge Member States that have not yet done so to take measures to regulate small arms brokering of small arms. At a meeting of the Security Council on this issue last week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the widespread availability of small arms and light weapons, and their ammunition, is the common factor in over 250 conflicts witnessed across the globe in the last decade, and pointed to 50,000 deaths along with displacement levels unseen since the Second World War as direct consequences of such violence.

“The recent entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) laid the foundations for a global framework of arms transfer controls, including for small arms and light weapons and ammunition,” Ban Ki-moon said. “A universal ATT, adequately implemented, is critical to removing the tools for armed conflict.” In its resolution adopted Friday, the Security Council called on States to consider ratifying the Treaty or accede without delay.