Director General/Executive Director
Ladies and gentlemen,
Preventing weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists by clamping down on illicit arms trafficking represents a critical link in counter-terrorism responses.
The UN Security Council has repeatedly recognized the need to prevent terrorists from acquiring conventional arms as well as weapons of mass destruction. Security Council resolution 2370 calls on Member States to act cooperatively to stop terrorists from obtaining weapons.
The resolution also urges Member States to implement relevant international and regional instruments, improve security and management of stockpiles, and strengthen judicial, law enforcement and border-control capabilities.
These steps are key, as poorly secured stockpiles, weak border management and diversion contribute to the problem.
Illicit weapons trafficking is often associated with other forms of organized crime. The international community has also recognized the need to address the growing nexus of organized crime and terrorism, with terrorist groups benefitting from crime as well as from links with organized criminal networks.
As we have seen in the past, the problems of terrorism and illicit trafficking in firearms, along with other forms of serious and organized crime, have too often been addressed in isolation.
For example, law enforcement and prosecutors may seize firearms used by criminals, and the offenders are usually charged with illicit possession of weapons.
While such responses help to take the particular firearms out of circulation, they stop short of detecting and disrupting illicit firearms trafficking, dismantling the responsible criminal groups and networks, and bringing the perpetrators to justice.
That is why the UN Office on Drugs and Crime seeks to promote a holistic approach, one that confronts the links between organized crime and terrorism.
This is fully in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, which recognize under SDG 16.4 the connections between combatting illicit financial and arms flows, fighting organized crime and recovering stolen assets.
This holistic approach has become even more important as globalization and advanced technologies have further complicated the fight against illicit flows and organized crime.
A clear example of this is the growing use of online dark markets for many forms of organized crime, from human trafficking to the trade in illicit drugs and illicit firearms.
UNODC is entrusted with promoting implementation of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, including its Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunition.
While not specifically designed to prevent terrorists from acquiring firearms, the Convention and Firearms Protocol contain a number of provisions that are critical in addressing such threats, and at the same time safeguard the licit market.
These include legislative requirements and the criminalization of offences relating to manufacturing, trafficking and marking of firearms, and preventive, security and regulatory control measures.
The Protocol further supports coherent law enforcement and criminal justice responses to cases of illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, as well as international cooperation and information exchange.
UNODC also promotes implementation of the conventions on corruption and drugs, and the UN standards and norms on crime prevention and criminal justice, as well as the nineteen international instruments against terrorism.
Seven of these instruments address criminalization of conducts by non-State actors regarding chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, as well as nuclear and other radioactive material.
To prevent acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by non-State actors, UNODC works closely with UN Office of Counter-Terrorism and the 1540 Committee and its Group of Experts, as well as with regional and international partners, including INTERPOL.
We are also helping to address related threats to the global supply chain at sea and air ports and to enhance security of international air transport systems through the Container Control Programme and AIRCOP.
In order to advance these efforts, the international community needs to focus on further shoring up regulatory environments and improving data collection, as well as providing tailored capacity building to address skills and equipment gaps, and strengthening coordination within and across borders.
This conference offers an important opportunity for a broad-based discussion on how we can reinforce multilateral cooperation to stop illicit arms trafficking and related crimes, and keep deadly weapons out of the hands of terrorists.
I look forward to our discussion. Thank you.