The first Constructive Dialogues on UNTOC review focuses on Firearms

© UNODC Civil Society Unit
Vienna (Austria), 17 May 2022 – Resolution 9/1 of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) calls for Constructive Dialogues to promote fruitful engagement among governmental and non-governmental stakeholders in the UNTOC review process. On May 6, following the conclusion of the ninth session of the Working Group on Firearms, UNODC organized the first ever Constructive Dialogue on the Review Mechanism of UNTOC in a hybrid format among State parties and relevant non-governmental stakeholders. The meeting gathered over 100 participants from 43 non-governmental organizations, academia and the private sector whose work is relevant in the field of firearms. Participants shared their knowledge on essential aspects to improve the implementation of the Convention and, more specifically, the Protocol on Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunition. 
At the beginning of the meeting, Chair Alejandro Celorio Alcántara, Legal Advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Mexico) delivered introductory remarks, expressing his strong confidence that the UNTOC review mechanism will greatly benefit from the contributions of relevant stakeholders.
Also at the opening, the Director of the Division of Treaty Affairs, John Brandolino welcomed the participants. He noted that the global challenge posed by organized crime in all its forms and manifestations, including new and emerging ones, required the involvement of all stakeholders and reaffirmed the commitment of UNODC to promote and support partnerships and exchange of views in this regard. 

Fruitful and constructive discussions

Voices from grassroot organizations were heard, underlining issues such as the importance of the availability of data both qualitative and quantitative at a local level, to ensure that public policies are evidence-based and more relevant to local needs and challenges. There was a consensus that collaboration between CSOs and governments is crucial in the field of research. Indeed, “states Parties do not always have access to trends in manufacture and trafficking in firearms, whereas CSOs have spent years developing, refining, and analyzing datasets built on non-official sources or combining official and non-official ones”,  emphasized by Emilie LeBrun, Executive Director from the Dutch NGO Kennis Group.

Leonel Fernández Norelo from ObservatorioNacional Ciudadano in Mexico highlighted that NGOs have the experience and expertise needed on the topic, but there is still work to be done to create reliable trust between them and governments. Based on lessons learned from the recently launched first Pilot Initiative in Mexico, Fernández Norelo recalled the importance for NGOs to create strong networks, in some sense "inspired'' by those of transnational criminal organizations, that would allow the speeding and the replication of good practices, as well as the exchange of ideas. 

Firearms in the hands of non-state actors, such as militants, terrorist groups and bandits – are sources of insecurity in many African States. Consequently, as stressed by Fyneface Dumnamene, Executive Director of Youth on Environmental Advocacy Centre, even more people are prone to possessing arms, as these are seen as a guarantee for self-security. But real ''disarmament cannot happen if the issue is not addressed by all the States of the region", stressed Darlington Lorika, Executive Director of Action of Development of the Local Communities (ADOL) in Uganda, suggesting that States should cooperate with each other more, for example by setting common patrols and sharing intelligence efforts. To address the challenges posed by organized crime and illicit firearm trafficking, “we need to communicate better, reach wider audiences, to make these constructive dialogues stronger over time” - noted Romain Le Cour Grandmaison, Program Director on Security and Violence Reduction at México Evalúa.

To conclude, Alejandro Celorio Alcántara, stated that “building bridges between States, civil society and multilateral actors is the path forward to keep supporting and strengthening this kind of dialogue”.  

A written summary will be prepared by the Chair of the Working Group. It will be made available to the Working Group units next session and will be posted on the UNODC website

This was the first Constructive Dialogue for the Review Mechanism of the UNTOC and the Protocols thereto. In preparation, a civil society briefing was held the day before and co-chaired by the Chair of the civil society unit and the chair of the Alliance. UNODC will continue to foster multi-stakeholder engagement in its mission to support Member States in the implementation of UNTOC and its Review.

The next Constructive Dialogues on International Cooperation & Technical Assistance and Smuggling of Migrants & Trafficking in Persons will take place on May 27and 1 July 2022 respectively.