At the UN Security Council briefing on ‘Small Arms and Light Weapons', India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti strongly underlined the need for the Council's focus on the transfer and trafficking of arms and weapons to terrorists and terrorist groups.
India has for several decades suffered immensely due to cross-border terrorism by terror groups using illicit weapons smuggled across the country’s borders, New Delhi’s envoy here has said, in a veiled reference to Pakistan, calling on the global community to “unequivocally” condemn state sponsorship to such militant outfits.
At the UN Security Council briefing on ‘Small Arms and Light Weapons’, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti strongly underlined the need for the Council’s focus on the transfer and trafficking of arms and weapons to terrorists and terrorist groups. “These weapons become more sinister and lethal in the hands of terrorists, who deliberately and indiscriminately use them to target innocent civilians, including women and children,” he said.
“For several decades, my country has suffered immensely due to cross-border terrorism and violence carried out by terrorist groups using these illicit weapons smuggled across our borders, including now through the use of drones,” he said, in a veiled reference to Pakistan.
He said an increase in volume and the quality of the arsenal acquired by these terrorist organisations “reminds us time and again that they cannot exist without the sponsorship or support of states. This aspect needs to be unequivocally condemned.” He also strongly urged the Council to have “zero tolerance” to terror actors, their possession and misuse of small arms and light weapons and their sponsors.
High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu told the Council that the misuse, illicit transfer and destabilising accumulation of small arms and light weapons, and their ammunition, remain a defining factor in undermining peace and security at the national, regional and global levels and have deeply aggravated situations for vulnerable populations already suffering from conflict.
“In contexts where United Nations peace operations have been mandated, illicit flows and easy availability of arms can exacerbate and sustain conflict dynamics; render arms embargoes ineffective; endanger peacekeepers, humanitarian workers and local populations; and complicate the implementation of peace agreements,” she said.
Nakamitsu added that small arms control measures, in particular, the development and implementation of border security and management strategies; efforts to detect and seize parts and components of weapons and ammunition; enhanced stockpile management; and the fight against the illicit manufacture of weapons are effective tools to disrupt the supply of illicit small arms and light weapons to terrorists.
Tirumurti stressed that the threat posed by the illicit transfer of small arms and light weapons is a matter of concern to the entire international community.Noting that an arms embargo is an important tool at the disposal of the Council to curb the flow of such weapons to situations of armed conflict, he voiced concern that embargoes continue to be blatantly violated, as repeatedly reported by the various Panel of Experts supporting the subsidiary bodies of the Council.
“It is important that all member states respect and strictly enforce existing arms embargoes and strengthen measures against the illicit transfer of arms,” he said, as he underlined that it is a well-known fact that the flow of illicit arms and weapons to non-state actors and terrorists drives and sustains conflicts.
Tirumurti told the Council that the illicit possession and misuse of small arms and light weapons by non-state groups and terrorists is a violation of state sovereignty.“In post-conflict situations, we often witness that non-state actors continue to possess these weapons illegally, which hinders disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration efforts.” India called on the Security Council to ensure effective and timely action against such non-State actors to ensure that post-conflict peacebuilding efforts are not jeopardised while advancing security sector reforms, capacity building of law enforcement agencies, promotion of rule of law and good governance.
“India attaches high importance to preventing, combating and eradicating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. We consider that the primary responsibility for addressing this problem lies with the Member States,” he said.
India supports the redoubling of efforts at the national and global level to strengthen the implementation of the UN Program of Action and the International Tracing Instrument, including through national legislative measures and enforcement, export controls, information sharing and capacity building, he added.
Further, India said the safety of UN peacekeepers is directly affected by the steady and illicit supply of small arms and light weapons to the warring parties in armed conflict situations.The Council is aware of numerous incidents in the past, where killings and attacks on peacekeepers have been perpetrated through the use of these weapons, Tirumurti said emphasising the need for the Council to address the danger posed by such illicit transfers to the safety and security of peacekeepers by giving due attention to this issue in the consideration of peacekeeping mandates.
“UN Peacekeeping Missions could support host countries in addressing the issue of illicit transfer of small arms and light weapons through strengthening the capacities of the law enforcement and security agencies in safe handling, upkeep and stockpile management of arms and weapons, including those recovered from non-state actors,” he said.
India welcomed Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s recommendation to establish a dedicated component or a unit within peacekeeping Missions to handle such assistance.Recalling that India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, in his address to the Security Council earlier this year, had presented an eight-point action plan to counter-terrorism, Tirumurti said two points are directly relevant to the discussion – the need to address the linkages between terrorism and transnational organised crime and combating terrorist financing.