Adam Parsons and Kenneth Epps
This paper was prepared for the Small Arms Working Group of Peacebuild. The paper is part of a series that explores key policy areas for Canadian government attention at the July 2008 United Nations Third Biennial Meeting of States to Consider Implementation of the PoA (programme of action on small arms and light weapons). The papers were first presented at a meeting between SAWG and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada in April 2008. The support of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is gratefully acknowledged.
The 2001 United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (UN PoA) is arguably the most significant multilateral agreement to date on small arms and light weapons (SALW).
Although it is not a treaty, the UN PoA compiles a broad range of important political commitments by UN member states in response to common threats from the proliferation and misuse of SALW.
Adherence to these commitments by governments would do much to reverse the deleterious impact of small arms on human, national, regional, and global security.
Canada was an early proponent of multilateral action on SALW and an active architect of the UN PoA. Because Canada is a leading state on the small arms file, its progress in implementing PoA commitments reflects more than success in meeting the agreed provisions. It also demonstrates active endorsement for a global instrument that Canada helped to construct and continues to promote. The extent of Canadian PoA implementation is thus doubly significant. The details of Canada’s reports to the PoA are pertinent not only for what they say about the state of Canadian activity on small arms, but also for what they say about Canada’s global leadership on small arms issues.
The purpose of this review is to examine and evaluate the nature and extent of Canadian implementation of the UN PoA.