From 5 to 6 February 2019, UNODC, through its Global Firearms Programme and its Research and Trend Analysis Branch, organized the fifth regional meeting on firearms data collection and analysis in Vienna, Austria, in the framework of the EU funded project on " Supporting Global Data Collection and Analysis on Firearms Trafficking and Fostering Cooperation and Information Sharing, in particular Among Countries Along Major Trafficking Routes to/from the EU". After previous meetings for African, Latin American, European and Western Balkan countries, this fifth meeting targeted countries of the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA).
The meeting aimed at facilitating and promoting participation in the global firearms data initiative through the Illicit Arms Flows Questionnaire (IAFQ), identifying firearms data collection practices and challenges of target countries, and fostering the exchange of information on firearms trafficking among participating countries.
It brought together 17 representatives, experts and National Focal Points for the Illicit Arms Flows Questionnaire from 9 countries of the MENA region, including Algeria, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria and Tunisia and was also attended by a representative of the League of Arab States. The meeting was further supported by experts from Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, UNODC, the European Union, as well as Conflict Armament Research and the Small Arms Survey.
Opening the regional meeting, Ms. Loide Aryee, Chief of the UNODC Organized Crime and Illicit Trafficking Branch, stressed the importance of firearms data collection for evidence-based decision making at policy and operational levels and encouraged all countries to participate in UNODC's global exercise to identify illicit firearms trafficking trends and patterns. Quoting Lord William Thompson with the idea that " If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it; if you cannot improve it, it deteriorates", Mr. Fabio Marini, Senior Expert in Firearms of the European Union Directorate General Migration and Home Affairs, also spoke at the opening session and emphasized that more efforts are required to enhance understanding of the phenomenon of firearms trafficking.
During the meeting, participants enhanced their understanding on the IAFQ - UNODC's data collection methodology to identify firearms trafficking trends and patterns and to report on indicator 16.4.2 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, through expert presentations and practical exercises. The national representatives and experts also shared their experiences in the collection and analysis of firearms related data and exchanged on related good practices as well as challenges.
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