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
United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) (2000)
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)
The Arms Trade Treaty (2013) See General Assembly resolution 67/234 B.
Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (2001).
International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons (2005).
Document on Small Arms and Light Weapons A/CONF.192/PC/20
Other International instruments
The Wassenaar Arrangement (1995)
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
Plan of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons . OSCE Document FSC. DEC/2/10
Handbook of Best Practices on Conventional Ammunition, Handbook of Best Practices on Conventional Ammunition (2008)
Principles on the Control of Brokering in Small Arms and Light Weapons, Forum for Security Cooperation, decision No. 8/04, (2004)
Standard Elements of End-User Certificates and Verification Procedures for SALW Exports, Forum for Security Cooperation, decision No. 5/04, (2004)
Handbook of Best Practices on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Handbook of Best Practices on Small Arms and Light Weapons (2003)
Principles Governing Conventional Arms Transfers Programme for Immediate Action Series No. 3 (DOC.FSC/3/96), (1993)
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Document on SALW (2000 reissued in 2012)
Decision no. 11/08 Introducing best practices to prevent destabilizing transfers of small arms and light weapons through air transport and on an associated questionnaire (2008)
Protocol on the Control of Firearms, Ammunition and Other Related Materials in The Southern African Development Community (SADC)(2001)
The Nairobi Protocol for the Prevention, Control, and Reduction of Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa (2004)
Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunition and Other Related Materials (2006)
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)
The Bamako Declaration on an African Common Position on the Illicit Proliferation, Circulation and Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons - Politically Binding (2000)
African Union Strategy on the Control of Illicit Proliferation, Circulation and Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons (2011)
Action Plan For The Implementation Of The African Union Strategy On The Control Of Illicit Proliferation, Circulation And Trafficking Of Small Arms And Light Weapons
Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and other Related Materials (CIFTA) (1997)
Andean Plan to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects - Politically Binding (2003)
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;
Code of Conduct of Central American States on the Transfer of Arms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Material (2006)
The Nadi Framework (Legal Framework for a Common Approach to Weapons Control)
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Plan of Action to Combat Transnational Crime (1999)
Stability Pact Regional Implementation Plan (2001)
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)
EU Council Common Position on Brokering 2003/468/CFSP
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.
EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports (1998)
EU Strategy to combat illicit accumulation and trafficking of SALW and their Ammunition (2005)