Project Ploughshares Urges Canadian Government to Address SALW at World Summit

Tasneem Jamal

Letter about the World Summit and small arms and light weapons.

The Hon. Pierre Pettigrew,
House of Commons,
Wellington St., Ottawa,
ON, K1A 0A6

August 16, 2005

Re. World Summit, New York, 14-16 September, 2005 – Small Arms and Light Weapons

Dear Minister Pettigrew,

I am writing to urge the Canadian government to ensure that every opportunity is taken to advance global commitment to measures to counter the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons (SALW) before and during the World Summit to be held in New York, 14-16 September, 2005. A strong statement from the World Summit is needed to provide political momentum for the Review Conference of the UN Programme of Action on SALW to be held in July 2006.

Canada’s “people-centred” approach to the proliferation and misuse of SALW acknowledges the profound impact of these weapons on people and communities worldwide. In recent letters in response to Project Ploughshares correspondence (March 16, 2005), Minister for International Trade James Peterson, and Deputy Foreign Minister Peter Harder, both stated that stemming “the illicit flows of arms into conflict-prone and unstable regions …continues to be a priority for Canada.” Canada has committed itself, via its “Montreux” process to addressing three critical components of the small arms agenda – civilian possession of military weapons, misuse of small arms by government forces, and improved, common transfer controls.

The World Summit is a critical opportunity for Canada to continue its constructive role in formulating priorities for the next five years. We recommend that Canada’s statements and other submissions during the Summit make explicit reference to the impact of SALW proliferation and misuse, the need for a broader agenda for the UN Programme of Action Review Conference, and increased commitment to ensure SALW transfers are based on states existing responsibilities under international human rights and humanitarian law. We welcome the statement in the latest draft (August 5) of the Summit’s Outcome Document, paragraph 91, “…grave concern at the negative effects on development, peace and security and human rights posed by transnational crime, including smuggling and trafficking of…small arms and light weapons…” Canada should press for including the same reference to the negative effects on development, peace, security, and human rights posed by the proliferation and misuse of SALW in the Disarmament and Non-Proliferation section.

We would also urge Canada to advocate for retaining the current Paragraph 61, which commits states to “…adopt and implement an international instrument to regulate the marking and tracing, illicit brokering, trade and transfer of small arms and light weapons.”

We applaud the Canadian government for the leadership it has demonstrated with regard to SALW, and we look forward to its continuing to exercise leadership during the World Summit on this issue.

Yours sincerely,

John Siebert
Executive Director

cc.
The Right Hon. Paul Martin, Prime Minister
H.E Allan Rock, Ambassador & Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations
Earl Turcotte, Director, Small Arms Unit, Foreign Affairs Canada

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