September 16, 2019
 In Articles

Topic: Illicit Arms Trade

Country: Japan

Committee: Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC)


For many decades, the illicit arms trade has plagued nearly every corner of the globe to at least some extent. With the recent rise in the production and use of small arms and light weapons, bad actors such as terrorists or untrustworthy nations have been able to  easily transport or trade these arms. Conservative estimates place the value of the illicit small arms trade at 850 million to 1.7 billion dollars every year. Although international law warrants many uses of small arms, this has been a challenging issue to combat in an international forum. Moreover, many nations still have misconceptions as to how lethal these arms can be; for example, a shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile, available for only a few thousand dollars on the black market, is capable of bringing down a commercial airliner in one hit. However, solving this issue is of paramount importance to the security of civilians around the world. The delegation of Japan is optimistic that we can diplomatically work together as a committee to create an encompassing solution that will be favorable to many nations. 

Japan firmly believes that small arms and light weapons are the de-facto weapons of mass destruction- they lead to conflict and destabilization. In the UN, we have long been an active and influential advocate in the sphere of SALW. Since 1995, Japan has introduced a resolution on the illicit arms trade nearly every year- all of which have been adopted by the vast majority of UN members. In 2006, Japan co-authored resolution 61/89, which laid the foundations for the Arms Trade Treaty.

In recent decades, the UN has also taken numerous steps to solve this issue. Among these steps was the UN Programme of Action on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, adopted in 2001 as a framework for addressing the issue. Additionally, the  Goal Target 16.4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development aims to significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows by 2030. Even more recently, this same committee met in october of 2017 to counter the flow of weapons into vulnerable regions. In that meeting, Japan highlighted that only half of UN member states had joined the Arms Trade Treaty. As we head into our next meeting, the delegation of Japan will continue to lobby nations to sign that treaty.

Recognizing the severe consequences of this issue, as the Disarmament and International Security Committee, there are many steps we can take to eliminate the illicit arms flow. Looking at the source of these weapons, major weapon-producing nations must monitor their arms exports more thoroughly. These states should take into account the track record of their customers and their current participation in conflicts when evaluating a proposed sale. In addition, once a transaction has occurred, both parties should work together to track how and who uses the weapons. On a separate note, we ought to endorse post-conflict initiatives that aim to destroy or dispose of arms used in the conflict- doing such will eradicate unnecessary stockpiles and decrease the likeliness of future conflict. In the past, the strategic approach to this task has been twofold. First, demobilization; various UN missions in recent decades mandated the destruction of some weapons, this is to ensure combatants do not have a means of continuing the conflict. Second, combatants in a post-conflict society need to be reintegrated into the community as to avoid further divisions or strife. The UN successfully employed this strategy in Albania in 1998 as well as in Mali. The UN should also assist peace negotiators in creating settlements to disarm combatants and provide various forms of assistance to implement these settlements, this may include training, leadership, or monetary aid. We must also encourage trust and cooperation amongst international border/customs agencies to counter the illicit flow of arms. Japan would look favorably upon establishing an extensive international database or network for information sharing to better track the flow of weapons around the world. The delegation recommends the creation of a council to oversee the implementation and security of the database. Taking note that hundreds of thousands of small arms are prone to theft or loss in the storage facilities of untrustworthy nations, Japan deplores nations to consider destroying surplus or otherwise unnecessary arms. We also call upon Interpol, UNODC, and UNODA to validate the destruction of such surpluses. Lastly, Japan expresses hope that countries will continue to share recommendations and detailed reports on a regular basis. Thus, the delegation suggests that a committee of nations meets annually to assess and advise on the ongoing struggle to control the illicit arms trade.


  • Francis Allen