PROTOCOL AGAINST THE ILLICIT MANUFACTURING OF AND TRAFFICKING IN FIREARMS, THEIR PARTS AND COMPONENTS AND AMMUNITION, SUPPLEMENTING THE UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION AGAINST TRANSNATIONAL ORGANIZED CRIME


The Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunition (Firearms Protocol) is the only legally binding instrument on small arms at the global level. It was adopted by resolution 55/255 of 31 May 2001 at the fifty-fifth session of the General Assembly of the United Nations and it entered into force on 3 July 2005. The Firearms Protocol supplements the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Organized Crime Convention) and together with the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children and the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, represents the commitment of the international community to counter transnational organized crime.

The Firearms Protocol provides for a framework for States to control and regulate licit arms and arms flows, prevent their diversion into the illegal circuit, facilitate the investigation and prosecution of related offences without hampering legitimate transfers.

The Firearms Protocol aims at promoting and strengthening international cooperation and developing cohesive mechanisms to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, their parts and components and ammunition (firearms). By ratifying or acceding to the Firearms Protocol, States make a commitment to adopt and implement a series of crime-control measures that aim at:

(a) establishing as criminal offence the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms in line with the Protocol's requirements and definitions; (b) adopting effective control and security measures, including the disposal of firearms, in order to prevent their theft and diversion into the illicit circuit (c) establishing a system of government authorizations or licensing intending to ensure legitimate manufacturing of, and trafficking in, firearms; (d) ensuring adequate marking, recording and tracing of firearms and effective international cooperation for this purpose.

 

Key Provisions

While the Organized Crime Convention provides for basic measures to prevent and combat transnational organized crime, its Protocols provide for specific measures to deal with specific crimes. As such, the Protocols should be interpreted together with the Organized Crime Convention. Parties to the Firearms Protocol undertake to adopt, and implement the strongest possible legislation consistent with their national legal system, to prevent, investigate and prosecute the offences stemming from the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms. Specific measures include the confiscation, seizure and destruction of firearms illicitly manufactured or trafficked; the maintenance of records for at least 10 years in order to identify and trace firearms; the issuance of licences for the import and export of firearms and transit authorization prior to their actual transfers; and the marking of firearms permitting identification of the manufacturer of the firearm, and the country of and year of import.

Parties undertake to cooperate extensively at the bilateral, regional and international levels in order to achieve the Firearms Protocol's objectives including providing training and technical assistance to other Parties. Finally, Parties undertake to exchange relevant case-specific information on matters such as authorized producers, dealers, importers, exporters and carriers of firearms as well as information on organized criminal groups known to take part in the illicit manufacture and trafficking of such items.

 

Governmental Process

Pursuant to article 32 of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, a Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (COP) was established to improve the capacity of States Parties to combat transnational organized crime and to promote and review the implementation of this Convention and its Protocols. The COP meets every two years.

 

Relevant Background reports and papers submitted to the COP at is sessions:

3 rd Session of the COP

Implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and 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: figures reflecting responses received from States for the first and second reporting cycles - Note by the Secretariat

Implementation of the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime - Analytical report of the Secretariat

 

4thSession of the COP

Note by the Secretariat on the marking of firearms, the keeping of records on firearms, trafficking in firearms, their parts and components and ammunition and the identification of competent authorities 

Working paper prepared by the Secretariat on proposals for technical assistance activities designed to meet the needs identified in the priority areas determined by the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime

 

5th Session of the COP

Activities of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to promote and support the implementation of the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime 

Technical assistance requested for the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto  

Resolution 5/4 contained in the Report of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime on its fifth session, held in Vienna from 18 to 22 October 2010

 

6th Session of the COP

Activities of the Working Group on Firearms: report submitted by the Chair of the Working Group

Note by the Secretariat on the work of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime on conducting a study of the transnational nature and routes used in trafficking in firearms

Resolution 6/2 contained in the Report of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime on its sixth session, held in Vienna from 15 to 19 October 2012

 

Working Group

An open-ended intergovernmental Working Group on Firearms was established pursuant to resolution 5/4 of the COP at its fifth session, to advise and assist the COP in the implementation of its mandate with regard to the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition (Firearms Protocol). In particular, the Working Group should facilitate the implementation of the Firearms Protocol through the exchange of experience and practices among experts and practitioners, including identifying  successful practices, weaknesses, gaps and challenges, as well as priorities and  relevant topics, in the fight against trafficking in firearms. The Working Group was also tasked to make recommendations to the Conference on how States parties can better implement the provisions of the Firearms Protocol, on the activities that the Secretariat should perform, and on the development of technical assistance tools relating to the implementation of the Firearms Protocol.

 

Status Of Ratification

In accordance with article 18 (1) and (2) which reads as follows: "1. This Protocol shall enter into force on the ninetieth day after the date of deposit of the fortieth instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession, except that it shall not enter into force before the entry into force of the Convention. For the purpose of this paragraph, any instrument deposited by a regional economic integration organization shall not be counted as additional to those deposited by member States of such organization. 2. For each State or regional economic integration organization ratifying, accepting, approving or acceding to this Protocol after the deposit of the fortieth instrument of such action, this Protocol shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after the date of deposit by such State or organization of the relevant instrument or on the date this Protocol enters into force pursuant to paragraph 1 of this article, whichever is the later."

Status

Signatories: 52

Parties: 109



 

 

Ratification per Region

Latest Accessions

Country Date
Ghana 14 January 2014
   
   

  

General Assembly resolutions

In its resolution 55/255 of 31 May 2001, the General Assembly adopted the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime

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