The international framework on firearms is composed of three main instruments: the Firearms Protocol, the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (Programme of Action) and the International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons (International Tracing Instrument), where only the Fireamrs Protocol is legally binding.. Several regions have adopted both regional legally binding Conventions or Protocols, or non-binding instruments, in related fields.
The existence of multiple legally and non-legally binding instruments on firearms is on the one hand is a recognition of the central importance that the issue of firearms proliferation and misuse continues to have for Member States, and a clear indicator of the complementary nature of these instruments, all contributing to the development and further refinement of an international legal framework on firearms. Hence, their complementary and mutually reinforcing nature should be taken into account when developing possible synergies and partnerships.
On the other hand, the existence of multiple instruments and related processes require States and organizations to be fully informed about the nature and scope of such processes and of their distinct mandates, in order to facilitate the understanding of the legal or political instruments that underpin them and build on their complementary and mutually supportive nature. This, in turn, would facilitate informed decision-making, in line with the national, regional and international commitments and obligations taken by States in this field.