Home Fifth Biennial Meeting of States 2014

PoA Implementation Kit

Brokering Control

Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on the Model Law on Firearms (Vienna)
The EGM will propose relevant recommendations and suggestions on the legislation of a Model Law, which aims to act as a voluntary legal tool to facilitate the provisions of Technical Assistance addressed by UNODC to Member States. It also aims to act as a guiding instrument for Member States whilst drafting and reviewing domestic legislation. For further information on the workshop, please contact Ms. Simonetta Grassi (e-mail: Simonetta.Grassi@unodc.org) or me, Alexander Schulte (e-mail: Alexander.Schulte@unodc.org, Tel: (+43 1) 260 60 4693 )sessioni of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its Protocols (Vienna)
Information on the COP (agenda, discussion note on the Protocol, analytical report of replies from Member States, reports on technical assistance, etc.)

The General Assembly (GA), through its resolution 53/111 of 9 December 1998, established an open-ended intergovernmental ad hoc committee for the purpose of creating a comprehensive international convention against transnational organized crime and for developing international instruments addressing the multiple dimensions of organized crime (A/55/383/Add.2).

The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime was adopted with the GA resolution 55/25 of 15 November 2000 and entered into force on 29 September 2003. The Convention is further supplemented by three Protocols, which target specific areas and manifestations of organized crime: the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children; the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air; and the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunition.

The UN Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition (Firearms Protocol), was adopted in 2001 by the GA with resolution 55/255 and entered into force on 3 June 2005. The Firearms Protocol constitutes, to date, the only global legally-binding instrument addressing the issue of small arms.

Shortly after the adoption of the Firearms Protocol, the principal UN policy framework to address the small arms and light weapons issue was established by the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (PoA). This important document is the result of an extensive study, conducted by a UN Panel of Governmental Experts, which began in the late 1990s following the publication of the document Supplement to an agenda for peace and culminated in the 2001 UN Conference on the Illicit Trade of Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. The implementation of the policy framework provided by the PoA has led to the negotiation of other agreements both at the regional and global level. A significant example is the International Tracing Instrument (ITI), a political instrument adopted by GA on 8 December 2005 to enable states to identify and trace, in a timely and reliable manner, illicit small arms and light weapons.

The Firearms Protocol

As clearly stated in Article 2 of the Firearms Protocol, "The purpose of this Protocol is to promote, facilitate and strengthen cooperation among States Parties in order to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, their parts and components and ammunition". The Protocol provides for a series of control measures and normative provisions covering multiple aspects of the small arms issue.


The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols


First, the Protocol requires States to establish as criminal offences the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms as well as tampering with markings on firearms. Second, the Protocol requires that States implement a series of control measures on firearms and ammunition such as maintaining records on firearms markings and transactions, marking firearms for the purposes of identification and tracing and establishing effective export, import and transit licensing systems. Importantly, the Protocol requires mandatory marking not only at the time of manufacture, but also at the time of import to facilitate the identification and tracing of each firearm. Third, the Protocol calls for cooperation at the bilateral, regional and international levels in the exchange of information, tracing of firearms, training, technical, financial and material assistance among states to mitigate the illicit trade in and manufacture of firearms. Further, it encourages states to seek support and cooperation amongst manufacturers, dealers, importers, exporters, brokers and commercial carriers of firearms. Finally, the Protocol calls for the regulation of arms brokering and the inclusion of information on brokers and brokering activities in exchanges of information between states.

The Protocol is not designed to apply to all possible transfers in firearms. Particularly, Article 4 states that it shall not apply to state-to-state transactions or to state transfers where the application of the Protocol would prejudice a state's right to maintain national security as specified within the United Nations Charter.

All measures and provisions within the Protocol can be grouped within the following four categories, or the four pillars upon which the Protocol is built: definitions, control measures, substantive criminal law and information exchange. A Legislative Guide focusing on these four pillars was released in 2004 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to assist states in the implementation of the Firearms Protocol.

UNODC is currently involved in the development of two other useful instruments aimed at facilitating the implementation of the Firearms Protocol. The first, Guidelines for the Implementation of the Firearms Protocol, is intended to help Member States establish and strengthen the institutions and mechanisms needed to effectively implement the Protocol. The guidelines will provide technical assistance to states on implementing the operational measures in the Protocol and will address such issues as marking of firearms, implementation of security measures and how to establish effective export, import and transit licensing systems. The second instrument is Model Legislation, key features of which will include provisions on the criminalization of illicit manufacturing and trafficking in firearms, record-keeping, marking, controlling exports, and the import and transit of firearms, their parts, components and ammunition.

Both the guidelines and model legislation will complement the already existing Legislative Guide with practical and hands-on recommendations and best practices in the area of firearms control. These documents will enable states to implement the Protocol and, if desired, go beyond the mandatory Protocol provisions.

The Firearms Protocol in a Broader Context
As recognized in the PoA, the Firearms Protocol, when effectively implemented, complements and reinforces global efforts to combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. The Firearms Protocol and the PoA require the implementation by states of many of the same measures on small arms including sharing information to facilitate the identification of groups involved in illegal manufacturing and trafficking in arms, ensuring that arms are marked adequately marked, maintaining records on the manufacture and trade in arms and establishing effective import and export licensing mechanisms. States that implement the Firearms Protocol are therefore also fulfilling many of their obligations under the PoA.

In order to ensure a cohesive and effective response to the problem of the illicit trade and manufacture of small arms, UNODC seeks to ensure that its efforts in assisting states with ratification and implementation of the Protocol are complementary to the efforts of other UN offices in assisting with implementation of the PoA as well as the International Tracing Instrument. Under the auspices of the UN Coordinating Action on Small Arms (CASA), UNODC and UNODA in particular have been strengthening the level of cooperation in information sharing and organization of seminars and workshops, as well as the implementation of a capacity building project.

Looking forward, the next challenge for CASA will be the development of the International Small Arms Control Standards (ISACS), which will identify internationally accepted and validated principles for the control of SALW proliferation. This exercise is expected to further establish a coherent and integrated approach in the implementation of all of the relevant instruments both at the policy and practice levels.