National frameworks

May 12 2011, 1:43 PM by Ray Acheson

Discussions on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning focused on the
frameworks individual states use to implement their commitments under
the International Tracing Instrument (ITI) and the UN Programme of
Action (UNPoA) on small arms and light weapons (SALW) more generally.
The Chair’s questions for this discussion included: What is required
in terms of relevant legislation to affect operations of marking,
record keeping, and a tracing system? What steps have states taken to
ensure interagency coordination? What role are national ITI focal
points playing in member states? Has appointment of these people
proved effective, or how could it be enhanced?

by Ray Acheson, Reaching Critical Will of the Women’s International
League for Peace and Freedom

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in South Africa led the
discussion by presenting, among other things, gaps and challenges that
they have found in national frameworks. Some of these include outdated
policy and legislation not in line with ITI; that marking and record
keeping is not prioritized by law enforcement in some states; that
SALW national action plans contain minimal details on marking and
tracing; inadequate marking and recordkeeping administration systems;
and insufficient sharing of information between law enforcement and
military on SALW issues. ISS also highlighted that its research shows
a dissonance between national frameworks and reporting/communication
on ITI implementation. The representative noted that when they look at
state reports on the ITI it does not appear as if much is being done,
but when they investigate specific countries they actually find
substantial action has been undertaken on these issues.

In this context, the Japanese delegation noted that it would be
helpful to find out why states do not report on their ITI
implementation and more importantly, to decipher what benefits
reporting actually has on implementation. Japan also mentioned that it
would appreciate the distribution of analysis of reporting but
emphasized that this is only a starting point and that states need to
consider how to make the best use of reports.

ISS included this is in the “good news” portion of the presentation,
along with indications that regional approaches and initiatives appear
to have strengthened national frameworks and improved communication,
even though it’s not reflected in ITI reporting at the moment. ISS
also noted that generally, states are increasingly adopting more
robust marking and recordkeeping technologies and systems and that
INTERPOL’s national and regional bureaus are complementing and
supporting national frameworks.

Most delegations gave brief overviews of their national frameworks,
citing specific pieces of legislation, cooperative arrangements
between agencies in their countries, and particular programmes they
have implemented to comply with their commitments under the ITI and
UNPoA.

Several delegations noted that they are undergoing a process to ensure
their national legislation is in line with such international
commitments. Peru’s delegation highlighted its efforts to make its
domestic legislation more effective by improving its requirements for
marking firearms. Namibia’s delegation reported that its police force
has prepared an amendment bill to its national arms and ammunition
act, which is ready to be tabled in Parliament, to make it on par with
the UNPoA. Jamaica’s representative noted that it is currently
overhauling its legislative and administrative structures to
facilitate its commitments. To this end, he explained, the government
has identified gaps and devised a course of action, which includes
developing a national small arms policy and a national small arms
commission and replacing its national firearms act with new
legislation.

Some delegations highlighted the importance of bring a variety of
constituents together to develop national frameworks. Peru’s
delegation noted the importance of “organizational culture,”
explaining that its public servants require training in order to
develop the skills necessary for national coordinator. Guatemala’s
delegation explained that its frameworks bring not just government
agencies together but also intergovernmental organizations,
non-governmental organizations, and civil society, which has made it
easier for the government to channel cooperation from other countries.
Sudan’s delegation also highlighted the need to involve citizens in
developing programmes and policies on arms control, such as through
awareness raising programmes, arguing, “effective disarmament involves
taking these weapons out of our hearts and minds as well as our
hands.”

The Sudanese delegate outlined his government’s comprehensive
framework for addressing the control of weapons, which also depends on
combined programmes for development, the provision of basic services,
peacebuilding, and reducing armed violence. Jamaica’s delegation also
noted that its national framework is aimed at reducing levels of armed
violence.

A few delegations specified areas where development of national
frameworks is challenged by international agreements and tools.
Canada’s delegation highlighted that it is not opposed to optional
provisions in international agreements but that such provisions should
be flagged in order to ensure that states understand that not all
governments are necessarily signed onto these provisions. Venezuela’s
delegation highlighted the importance of availability of information,
especially information that is translated into national languages.