United Nations International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons, 8 December 2005

Sectors : Small and Light Weapons
Organisation : UN
Date made: 
2005

Commitments in: Peace and security - Small and Light Weapons

“…III. Marking

7. The choice of methods for marking small arms and light weapons is a national prerogative. States will ensure that, whatever method is used, all marks required under this instrument are on an exposed surface, conspicuous without technical aids or tools, easily recognizable, readable, durable and, as far as technically possible, recoverable.

8. For the purpose of identifying and tracing illicit small arms and light weapons, States will:
(a) At the time of manufacture of each small arm or light weapon under their jurisdiction or control, either require unique marking providing the name of the manufacturer, the country of manufacture and the serial number, or maintain any alternative unique user-friendly marking with simple symbols in combination with a numeric and/or alphanumeric code, permitting ready identification by all States of the country of manufacture; and encourage the marking of such additional information as the year of manufacture, weapon type/model and calibre;
(b) Taking into account that import marking is a requirement for the States parties to the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, require to the extent possible appropriate simple marking on each imported small arm or light weapon, permitting identification of the country of import and, where possible, the year of import and enabling the competent authorities of that country to trace the small arm or light weapon; and require a unique marking, if the small arm or light weapon does not already bear such a marking. The requirements of this subparagraph need not be applied to temporary imports of small arms and light weapons for verifiable, lawful purposes, nor for the permanent import of museum artefacts;
(c) Ensure, at the time of transfer from government stocks to permanent civilian use of a small arm or light weapon that is not marked in a manner that allows tracing, the appropriate marking permitting identification of the country from whose stocks the transfer of the small arm or light weapon is made;
(d) Take all necessary measures to ensure that all small arms and light weapons in the possession of government armed and security forces for their own use at the time of adoption of this instrument are duly marked. Markings on these small arms and light weapons do not necessarily have to meet the requirements of subparagraph 8 (a) above;
(e) Encourage manufacturers of small arms and light weapons to develop measures against the removal or alteration of markings.

9. States will ensure that all illicit small arms and light weapons that are found on their territory are uniquely marked and recorded, or destroyed, as soon as possible. Pending such marking, and recording in accordance with section IV of this instrument, or destruction, these small arms and light weapons will be securely stored.

10. States will ensure that every small arm or light weapon always receives the unique markings prescribed in subparagraph 8 (a) above. A unique marking should be applied to an essential or structural component of the weapon where the component’s destruction would render the weapon permanently inoperable and incapable of reactivation, such as the frame and/or receiver, in compliance with paragraph 7 above. States are encouraged, where appropriate to the type of weapon, also to apply the marking prescribed in subparagraph 8 (a) above or other markings to other parts of the weapon such as the barrel and/or slide or cylinder of the weapon, in order to aid in the accurate identification of these parts or of a given weapon.

IV. Record-keeping

11. The choice of methods for record-keeping is a national prerogative. States will ensure that accurate and comprehensive records are established for all marked small arms and light weapons within their territory and maintained in accordance with paragraph 12 below in order to enable their competent national authorities to trace illicit small arms and light weapons in a timely and reliable manner.

12. From the time of the adoption of this instrument, records pertaining to marked small arms and light weapons will, to the extent possible, be kept indefinitely, but in any case a State will ensure the maintenance of:
(a) Manufacturing records for at least 30 years; and
(b) All other records, including records of import and export, for at least 20 years.

13. States will require that records pertaining to small arms and light weapons held by companies that go out of business be forwarded to the State in accordance with its national legislation.

V. Cooperation in tracing

General

14.While the choice of tracing systems will remain a national prerogative, States will ensure that they are capable of undertaking traces and responding to tracing requests in accordance with the requirements of this instrument.

15. States receiving information related to tracing illicit small arms and light weapons in accordance with the provisions of this instrument and in the context of a tracing request will respect all restrictions placed on its use. Furthermore, States will guarantee the confidentiality of such information. Restrictions on use may include, inter alia:
(a) The information exchanged will be released only to competent authorities designated by the requesting State and/or authorized personnel, to the extent necessary for the effective implementation of this instrument;
(b) The information exchanged will be used only for purposes consistent with this instrument;
or
(c) The information exchanged may not be released to anyone else without the prior consent of the State providing that information.

Where for legal, constitutional or administrative reasons, the confidentiality of the information cannot be guaranteed or the restrictions placed on its use in accordance with the present paragraph cannot be maintained by the requesting State, the requested State will be so informed at the time the tracing request is made.

Tracing requests

16. A State may initiate a tracing request in relation to small arms and light weapons found within its territorial jurisdiction that it considers to be illicit under the provisions of paragraph 6 above.

17. To ensure smooth and effective cooperation in tracing, requests for assistance in tracing illicit small arms or light weapons will contain sufficient information, including, inter alia:
(a) Information describing the illicit nature of the small arm or light weapon, including the legal justification therefor[e] and, to the extent possible, the circumstances under which the small arm or light weapon was found;
(b) Markings, type, calibre and other relevant information to the extent possible;
(c) Intended use of the information being sought.

Responses to tracing requests

18. States will provide prompt, timely and reliable responses to tracing requests made by other States.

19. States receiving a tracing request will acknowledge receipt within a reasonable time.

20. In responding to a tracing request, the requested State will provide, subject to paragraph 22 below, all available information sought by the requesting State that is relevant for the purpose of tracing illicit small arms and light weapons.

21. The requested State may seek additional information from the requesting State where a tracing request does not contain the information required in paragraph 17 above.

22. States may delay or restrict the content of their response to a tracing request, or refuse to provide the information sought, where releasing the information would compromise ongoing criminal investigations or violate legislation providing for the protection of confidential information, where the requesting State cannot guarantee the confidentiality of the information, or for reasons of national security consistent with the Charter of the United Nations.

23. If a State delays or provides a restricted response to a tracing request, or refuses to provide the information sought, on the grounds identified in paragraph 22 above, it will inform the requesting State of the reasons for this. The requesting State may subsequently seek clarification of this explanation.

VI. Implementation

General

24. In accordance with their constitutional processes, States will put in place, where they do not exist, the laws, regulations and administrative procedures needed to ensure the effective implementation of this instrument.

25. States will designate one or more national points of contact to exchange information and act as a liaison on all matters relating to the implementation of this instrument.

26. States will cooperate on a bilateral and, where appropriate, on a regional and international basis to support the effective implementation of this instrument.

International cooperation and assistance

27. States in a position to do so will, upon request, seriously consider rendering technical, financial and other assistance, both bilaterally and multilaterally, in building national capacity in the areas of marking, record-keeping and tracing, in order to support the effective implementation of this instrument by States.

28. States in a position to do so are also encouraged to seriously consider international cooperation and assistance to examine technologies that would improve the tracing and detection of illicit small arms and light weapons, as well as measures to facilitate the transfer of such technologies.

29. States will encourage initiatives, within the framework of the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, that mobilize the resources and expertise of, and where appropriate cooperation with, relevant regional and international organizations to promote the implementation of this instrument by States.

United Nations

30. States will cooperate, as appropriate, with the United Nations to support the effective implementation of this instrument

31. States will, as soon as possible after the adoption of this instrument, provide the Secretary- General, through the Department for Disarmament Affairs of the Secretariat, with the following information, updating it when necessary:
(a) Name and contact information for the national point(s) of contact;
(b) National marking practices related to markings used to indicate country of manufacture and/or country of import as applicable...

...International Criminal Police Organization

33. States, where appropriate, will cooperate with the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) to support the effective implementation of this instrument.

34. States that are members of Interpol will promote the implementation of this instrument when participating in Interpol’s organs...

...VII. Follow-up

36. States will report on a biennial basis to the Secretary-General on their implementation of this instrument including, where appropriate, national experiences in tracing illicit small arms and light weapons as well as measures taken in the field of international cooperation and assistance. This report may form part of a State’s national report on its implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.

37. States will meet on a biennial basis to consider the reports mentioned in paragraph 36 above...”

Scope: 
International