- United Nations
The 2013 Group of Governmental Experts on the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, established by the Secretary-General under General Assembly resolution 66/39, commenced its work in Geneva on Monday, 8 April, to review the Register’s continuing operation and further development.
The United Nations Register, in operation since 1992, is a primary global instrument, which promotes transparency in conventional arms transfers among United Nations Member States. The instrument, to which Member States report voluntarily annually, covers seven categories of conventional weapons: battle tanks; armoured combat vehicles; large-calibre artillery systems; combat aircraft; attack helicopters; warships (including submarines); and missiles and missile-launchers (including man-portable air defence systems). The Register is reviewed periodically by governmental experts at three-year intervals. This is the seventh such review.
In previous reviews, experts have recommended modifying definitions of the categories; they have introduced new forms and made a number of practical recommendations aimed at improving the operation of the Register and at enhancing its relevance as a global confidence-building measure. Since 2003, in addition to the seven categories mentioned above, Member States have an option to report on their international transfers of small arms and light weapons. Those are the weapons of choice for most recent conflicts and civil wars, and directly impact the security and lives of millions, including women and children, living in both conflict and non-conflict settings.
The review takes place on the heels of the successful adoption of the new Arms Trade Treaty by the overwhelming majority of United Nations Member States on 2 April. The review by the Group this year would, among other things, likely take into account this new legally binding instrument, which sets the highest possible common international standards for the regulation of the international arms trade, which had its scope of weapons derived from the United Nations Register.
At its first meeting today, the Group elected Rob Wensley of South Africa as its Chair. The experts will meet in three sessions: Geneva, 8 to 12 April, and New York, 6 to 10 May, and 24 to 28 June. Besides South Africa, the 15-member Group includes experts from Brazil, China, Cuba, Czech Republic, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, Russian Federation, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States. The report of the Group, along with its recommendations, will be submitted for consideration by the sixty-eighth session of the General Assembly.