15 November 2019
SUBMITTED TO: Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC)
FROM: Russian Federation
SUBJECT: Preventing the Illicit Arms Trade
DELEGATE: Sophia Papp, Royal Oak High School
A lack of regulations and enforcement in the trade of small arms and light weapons (SALW) has caused tragedy and disruption across the globe. The illicit arms trade fuels violence in conflict areas, resulting in civilian death and political instability. At a national level, the illicit arms trade enables organized crime, promoting drug trade, human trafficking, and terrorism. It is of the utmost priority that Russia and the members of the Disarmament and International Security Committee target sources of this trade and proactively prevent further engagement.
Currently, the Arms Trade Treaty is the leading, legally binding document in advocating for the safe and efficient trade of conventional weapons, including SALW. The Arms Trade Treaty, while positive in its general purpose, breaches the sovereign right of nations to conduct formal trade with desired partners based on biased judgements, leading to a wide lack of support, undermining its means of attempted enforcement. Despite these efforts, non-state actors continue to acquire weapons for the purpose of inciting terror, bringing attention to failures in limitation specifications, trade security, and international compliance. Non-state actors may acquire weapons by looting or scavenging conflict zones, a result of insecure transportation, under trained personnel, and a lack of close monitoring. All efforts should be held to a high standard, and funded by the nations involved in the trade of SALW. While international cooperation and standards are essential to keeping SALW out of the hands of those who mean harm, there is an absolute extent to which a nation must reserve the right to protect its national security and engage in lawful arms trade, therefore, the guidelines considered by the committee must be with the purpose to protect those harmed by non-state actors acquiring such weapons.
The United Nations Register of Conventional Arms is a leading example of promoting transparency within the international community, fostering trust that enables preventive diplomacy in combating the illicit arms trade. As shown by the statistics published by the UNROCA, Russia activity reports their arms exports, which works to hold nations accountable for traded goods and prevent miscommunications.1 It is encouraged that all nations are dedicated to participating in such methods of transparency in an effort to prioritize global security and civilian protection.
A statement by Russian representative Mr. Petr Illiichev, at the Security Council meeting on small arms expresses the urgency of the issue, and outlines several actions that should be enforced by the international community. Bans on “the transfer of any type of small arms or light weapons to entities that are not authorized by the States to which they are sent” and “re-exporting imported small arms and light weapons without the written consent of the initial exporting State” are essential to holding exporting nations accountable for the transfer of weaponry. Furthermore, “States should be required to enact strict regulations and exercise direct control over arms-export brokering activities in areas under their jurisdiction and limit the numbers of brokers themselves to the absolute minimum,” efforts to do which are outlined in the next paragraph of this paper. Lastly, the banning of the “manufacture of small arms and light weapons on expired licenses or without licenses from the countries that own the rights to the manufacturing” further enables the state to monitor the production and circulation of SALW and ensures that traced weapons in conflict areas accurately represent their sources.2 The “Report of the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects”3 reflects these goals and further outlines the complexities of the illicit arms trade. A goal of our committee must be to not only emphasize these priorities, but to take concrete action on their implementation and the monitoring of their success.
As the technological capacities of the Internet expand, so do the methods through which the illicit arms trade can occur. For example, the Telegram messenger facilitated the dark web sale of SALW through systems of dead drops and mailing weapon components.4 In an effort to prioritize the safety of Russian civilians and proactively combat international SALW black markets, Russian authorities requested access to information on such sales and their participants, but upon refusal, blocked the operations of the messenger. Such actions emphasize the dedication of Russian authorities to combating the illicit arms trade. The international community must recognize the dangers posed by the dark web and media in facilitating the illicit arms trade and take proactive measures to limit online access to arms deals, prioritizing the ultimate safety of civilians over short-term communication disruptions. Efforts to further promote security are expressed by strict domestic firearm laws, “The acquisition of guns is based on licenses provided for a five-year period by local police departments at one’s place of residence after a thorough background check, including a review of the petitioner’s ability to store guns safely and an evaluation of his/her medical records. Mentally ill people and those who have been treated for substance abuse are not allowed to possess firearms.”5 Laws on the obtainment of small arms, in addition to limitations on the permitted uses and models, should be enforced by every nation to secure their domestic arms circulation and avoid civilian deaths, such as the school shootings occurring in the United States.
The Russian Federation looks forward to collaborating with the members of DISEC on developing sufficient means to prevent the illicit arms trade, thereby promoting civilian safety and global security.
- Sophia Papp