Statement by Md. Rafiqul Alam Molla, Counsellor at the Fourth Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects on 18 June 2024 at UNHQs

Thank you, Madame President.

At the outset, I congratulate you, Ambassador Maritza Chan on your election as the President of the 4th Review Conference on the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat, and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. I assure you the fullest cooperation of my delegation, as you lead this important conference towards a successful outcome.

My delegation aligns itself with the statement delivered by Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

 Madame President,

The illicit flow of small arms and light weapons (SALW) continues to fuel conflicts and intensify armed violence, posing a significant challenge to international peace, security, and development. Bangladesh remains deeply concerned about the wide-ranging security, humanitarian, and socio-economic impacts arising from the illicit trade of SALW.

Bangladesh believes that the full and effective implementation of the Programme of Action (PoA) and International Tracing Instrument (ITI) would be the cornerstone in preventing the misuse and proliferation of small arms. It is incumbent upon us, the Member States, to strengthen our collective actions in full and effective implementation of the PoA and ITI. Bangladesh supports synergies among related instruments in conventional arms control. As a signatory to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), we recognize a strong linkage between the ATT and the PoA. We believe that the obligations under the ATT can complement and enhance the effective implementation of the PoA.

Madame President,

Bangladesh has firm conviction that, if fully implemented, the PoA could serve as a clear road map for the international community to successfully combat the proliferation and misuse of small arms. Indeed, we advocate for promoting a culture of peace through comprehensive education and inclusive awareness initiatives on the challenges of illicit small arms and light weapons trade. We call upon all States to ensure that the supply of SALW is limited only to governments or to entities duly authorized by them. It is also critical that the national legislations of the Member States commensurate with the provisions and aspirations of the PoA, especially in the context of increasing public concerns about the legality of possession of small arms by civilian individuals, and subsequent incidents of gun violence.

Madame President,

We firmly believe that, while national governments are primarily responsible for preventing, combating, and eradicating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, it is equally crucial to foster international and regional cooperation and collaboration among law enforcement authorities. Such cooperation is essential for tracing and controlling the illicit manufacturing, trade, and smuggling of SALW, addressing both supply and demand aspects.

Bangladesh has put in place adequate and stringent laws, administrative procedures, and regulations for the effective control over the production of small arms and light weapons; as well as over the exports, imports, transits, and re-transfer of such weapons, in order to prevent illegal manufacturing and illicit trafficking or their illegal diversion to unauthorized recipients. We have done all these in line with the PoA and the ATT.

Madame President,

At the same time, we reaffirm the right of each State to legally manufacture, acquire, stockpile, manage, and transfer small arms and light weapons, including for self-defense and security needs, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. However, all Member States must refrain from authorizing any international transfer of small arms and light weapons if there is a substantial risk that these weapons could be used to commit offenses under international conventions or protocols, including those related to terrorism.

Madame President,

We recognize that the lack of technical knowledge and expertise poses a significant obstacle for developing countries in implementing the PoA and ITI. This challenge has further been exacerbated by emerging technologies such as advanced manufacturing, transactions through cryptocurrencies, and arms trading on the dark web. Bangladesh calls for fostering international collaboration to enhance capacity for tracing and combating illicit SALW flows. We call for practical measures and advocate for unconditional and nondiscriminatory financial and technical cooperation, especially for LDCs and other countries in vulnerable situations due to ongoing conflicts, to strengthen their national capabilities. It is crucial for all States to mobilize resources, expertise, and assistance to ensure the full and effective implementation of the PoA.

To conclude, Madame President, we strongly believe this Conference would lay a foundation for developing further initiatives to tackle this multifaceted problem and expand cooperation. Bangladesh remains committed to ensuring the success of this conference.

I thank you.