Statement of UNODC Executive Director, Yury Fedotov
Vienna, 3 July 2015 - The illicit manufacture and trafficking of firearms has a devastating impact on people's lives. Firearms are used in the commission of numerous crimes, including homicide, and they are a powerful tool in the hands of organized criminals, violent extremists, and terrorists.
Many criminal and terrorist organizations around the world are engaged in the trafficking of firearms and ammunition, especially in vulnerable countries and regions. Profits from this trade are used to commit more violent crimes and terrorism.
Ten years ago, the Firearms Protocol supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) entered into force to strengthen international cooperation to eradicate the illicit manufacture and trafficking in firearms. In 2005, the Protocol was the only binding global instrument on firearms. Since then, the recent entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty has served to further complement the Protocol.
Today, 113 countries are party to the Protocol, which enables State Parties to regulate and control firearms throughout their lifetime, and to prevent their illicit manufacture, trafficking, theft and diversion. The Protocol is unique because it empowers State Parties to investigate and prosecute these crimes, nationally and internationally, and to engage in effective cooperation for this purpose.
Research on the global distribution of firearms shows that there were already approximately 875 million firearms in the world in 2007. UNODC's Study on Firearms 2015, developed in close collaboration with Member States, is the first attempt to collect and analyse in a standardized manner data on firearms and ammunition seizures. More geographical coverage is needed to make this extremely important exercise a truly global one, and to demonstrate shared responsibility in this fight.
As the research suggests, however, the key to stopping the illicit activities under the protocol is greater cooperation and coordination at the regional and international levels. This translates into the need for ratification and full implementation of UNTOC and its Firearms Protocol. It is imperative that countries commit themselves to the standards set out in the Protocol and to engage in broader information sharing, cooperation, exchanges of good practices, and awareness raising to prevent and combat firearms-related crimes.
On the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the Protocol, UNODC urges all countries to take decisive steps to prevent and combat the illicit manufacturing and trafficking in firearms and ammunition, and their links to organized crime and terrorism. This can be achieved by severing the trafficking routes, seizing the firearms, preventing money laundering, confiscating the criminal proceeds, eliminating corruption, and prosecuting the criminals engaged in these crimes.
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