Opening Remarks by H.E. Mr. Ertuğrul Apakan, Permanent Representative, at the Seminar “Opportunities to Prevent the Proliferation of Conventional Weapons”, organized by the Permanent Missions of Japan, Poland and Turkey

Ertuğrul Apakan 21.05.2012
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentleman,

I am pleased to be addressing this distinguished audience, as one of the co-organizers of today’s seminar, together with Japan and Poland. We are glad to see that there has been such a great interest for the seminar.

As discussed so eloquently by the previous speakers, this seminar, without doubt, addresses a very important issue for the international community. It concerns an issue that affects the lives of women and men around the world. All of us in this room today, having access to the UN disarmament machinery in New York, bear responsibility in this matter. In the coming months, we will have very important opportunities to exercise this responsibility. We therefore regard today’s discussions as being very timely and relevant.

The first of these opportunities will be the Arms Trade Treaty negotiations in July. The successful conclusion of a legal instrument like the Arms Trade Treaty would be a momentous achievement. The trade of arms is not well regulated. We believe that regulating the conventional arms trade is important for preventing illicit trade. The absence of a comprehensive, legally binding instrument establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms, fuels conflict, instability, terrorism and crime.

I hereby have to stress that the Arms Trade treaty should not prejudge the legal trade of arms and weapons, to meet the legitimate defense needs of states. Preventing the diversion of conventional arms from the legal to the illicit market, where they can be used for terrorist acts, organized crime and other criminal activities, should be one of the fundamental objectives of an Arms Trade Treaty.

Turkey has long suffered the consequences of illicit arms trade through terrorism, crime and instability in its region and beyond. We therefore attach particular importance to this issue. We all have much to gain from preventing the proliferation of conventional weapons. Armed violence is both a domestic and international concern, and can have regional and transnational dimensions. In this respect, I would like to also underline the importance of taking action against the trafficking and unauthorized use small arms and light weapons.

Uncontrolled flow of small arms and light weapons is a persistent problem of all continents.

Among all types of arms and weapons, small arms and light weapons are certainly the most suitable for individual and non-professional use. It is also the least regulated of all weapons. We need to think of the issue as a multidimensional and multifaceted one. The issue of small arms and light weapons could be taken up from two broad and separate, nevertheless closely interrelated dimensions:

- First, the international, regional and national security perspective, making it a disarmament issue, and
- Second, the human life, safety and socio-economic perspective, making it a humanitarian and development issue.

Therefore we should pay particular importance to the issue of small arms and light weapons in the coming months: In July in the Arms Trade Treaty; in September during the Review Conference of the Program of Action; and in November during the review of the UN Register of Conventional Arms, which should officially include small arms and light weapons as an additional category. During these key processes, I am sure that all of us will think beyond national considerations.

Without further due, I would like to end my words here, to allow the exchange of views to begin.

Thank you.