Today we are to take a decision on draft resolution A/C.1/53/L.13/Rev.1. I would like to take this opportunity to give France’s position regarding this text and light weapons and small arms in general.
As others before me have said, this question transcends the field of disarmament. It also concerns the reinforcement of peace and security, in which, along with development, the fight against illicit trafficking is a major aspect.
France notes with satisfaction that, as the words heard during the debate on this item in the First Committee bear witness, the international community as a whole has decided to tackle the dangers caused by the excessive accumulation of light weapons and small arms and their dissemination. The international community’s commitment is of course reflected in many initiatives, which have already enabled us to make progress in dealing with this plague.
At the regional level, I will confine myself to referring to the West African moratorium on the import, export and production of small arms, recently adopted by the Economic Community of West African States on the initiative of Mali. This is a promising step. Similarly, the entry into force of the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials is a broader response on the scale of a vast region. France fully supports these regional initiatives, which make it possible to better analyse the difficulties encountered, to adopt pragmatic measures within a specific context and to achieve concrete results.
;At the global level, the work done under the aegis of the United Nations should lead to a better analysis of the various aspects of the problem and to the adoption of a proportional, integral approach, such as has been outlined by the Panel of Governmental Experts on Small Arms. In the context of this global approach, France is vigorously supporting the work on drawing up a convention to combat transnational organized crime, a protocol of which will deal with firearms. My country is already playing an active role in the international community’s activities in this area.
Within the United Nations France is taking part in the Group of Experts established in accordance with resolution 52/38 J. In addition, at the Birmingham G-8 summit, it and the other G-8 members adopted a set of principles and a plan of action to coordinate their approaches to dealing with the problems posed by the manufacture of and illicit trafficking in firearms. Along with its European Union partners, on 26 July 1997 France adopted a programme of action for preventing and combating illicit trafficking in conventional arms. The methods for the implementation of this programme also pertain to light weapons and small arms.
Given such a commitment, France of course supports the draft resolutions presented on this item in the First Committee. It has co-sponsored A/C.1/53/L.41/Rev.1, on the illicit traffic in light weapons and small arms", and it joined in the consensus on A/C.1/53/L.7, regarding assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and collecting them. It has also co-sponsored the German draft resolution (A/C.1/L.31/Rev.1) regarding the consolidation of peace through specific disarmament measures.
This commitment naturally called for France to co-sponsor draft resolution A/C.1/53/L.13/Rev.1, submitted by Japan. France supports the convening of an international conference on the illicit trade in light weapons and small arms in all its aspects not later than 2001. It welcomes in this regard the offer of the Swiss Government to host this conference in Geneva. Unfortunately, the inclusion of elements that have nothing to do with the draft resolution’s objective prevent France from co-sponsoring it, which we most earnestly regret.
France is, of course, in favour of the right to self-determination of peoples. Having said that, we believe that the paragraph on this subject has no place in this draft resolution, which should be focused on the very important issue of dealing with the problems raised by light weapons and small arms. Furthermore, we believe that, in the context of this draft resolution, the paragraph could be used to justify reprehensible activities. I am thinking in particular of illicit trafficking and terrorist activities that interfere with the peaceful resolution of crises or situations of tension.
For these reasons, France will abstain on this paragraph, while voting in favour of the draft resolution as a whole. We hope that in the future the authors will be able to delete what we believe is perhaps the final obstacle to the draft resolution’s adoption by consensus.