Arms Embargo Affirmed, But Major Issues of Transparency and Enforcement Remain

Charles Rivera, Al Jazeera English Reporter

Discussions have commenced in the Disarmament and International Security Committee  (DISEC) on the proliferation and management of illicit small arms trafficking in conflict regions. Multiple countries including France, Canada, and South Africa have come forward to affirm the importance of an arms embargo in successfully suppressing illicit arms trafficking worldwide. 

However, pertinent concerns have been raised about the efficacy of an arms embargo, in light of limited success of previous similar attempts arising from issues of transparency and enforcement. The delegate of Egypt notes that embargoes have historically been “ill enforced”. South Sudan further affirms the importance of strict enforcement and transparency as the precursor to any successful arms embargo effort. South Africa suggests stricter crackdowns on violations to facilitate the “smooth implementation and follow-up of the embargo”. 

The difficulty of enforcement lies also in the geographical conditions of many countries. The delegate of Ethiopia brought up its disadvantageous landlocked position which makes the regulation of smuggling activities across borders even more difficult. The delegate of Saudi Arabia also brought the issue of porous borders to the council’s particular attention. 

Though illicit trade in small arms and light weapons occurs in all parts of the globe, it is concentrated in areas torn by armed conflict, violence, and organized crime, where the demand for illicit weapons is often highest. Its consequences are severe: arms trafficking fuels civil wars and regional conflicts; stocks the arsenals of terrorists; and contributes to general social instability of a country. 

Almost all country delegates affirmed in their opening speeches that the resolution of illicit small arms is of foremost importance. Regardless of how the difficulties in enforcement and transparency are eventually ironed out in further debates, in the words of the delegate of Canada, “multilateralism and cooperation” will indeed lie at the heart of resolving the issue. 

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