A variety of international and regional instruments form part of the international legal regime on firearms. While this plurality of instruments demonstrate the complex and multi-dimensional nature of the firearms problems, they also illustrate the need for diversified and multi-disciplinary approaches, and the central role that firearms continue to play in the international agenda.
These instruments provide on the one hand a solid legal and operational framework for States to reinforce their domestic legal regime, but can on the other hand, become a source of confusion and contradiction, when their relationship and the different context in which these instruments operate is not clear to national decision makers. By way of example, the Firearms Protocol addresses the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms from the criminal justice angle, with a view to provide measures to address the transnational nature of the phenomenon and its links to organized crime. Other instruments, although covering similar topics, address the issue from a disarmament, trade or development perspective, and focus more on measures to reduce the accumulation, proliferation, diversion and misuse of firearms, than to bring offenders to justice. These differences, beyond linguistic nuances, reflect substantively different although complementary approaches to the same problematic.
In order to benefit the most from the application of such instruments it is important for states to familiarize themselves with them, understand their purposes and ensure its proper implementation at national and regional levels contributing in this way to harmonized legislations.
List of relevant instruments and documents
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 Treaty Series (2001)
Other International instruments
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
The Central African Convention for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, their Ammunition, Parts and Components that can be used for their Manufacture, Repair and Assembly (Kinshasa Convention) (2010)
CICAD Model Regulations - Model Regulations for the Control of the International Movement of Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition; Model Regulations for the Control of Brokers of Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition;
The Nadi Framework (Legal Framework for a Common Approach to Weapons Control)
Council Joint Action of 12 July 2002 on the European Union's Contribution to Combating the Destabilizing Accumulation and Spread of Small Arms and Light Weapons (replaced Joint Action of 17 December 1998 on the basis of Article J.3 of the Treaty on European Union on the European Union's contribution to combating the destabilizing accumulation and spread of small arms and light weapons)
European Parliament and Council of the European Union regulation 258/2012 implementing article 10 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, and establishing export authorization, and import and transit measures for firearms, their parts and components and ammunition. Official Journal of the European Union, L 94, 2012.