THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
U.S. - EU Statement of Common Principles and Action Plan on Small
Arms and Light Weapons
December 17, 1999
Statement of Common Principles
The United States and the European Union agree that the problem of the destabilizing accumulation and spread of small arms and light weapons demands the urgent attention of the international community.
They agree that a comprehensive approach is needed, addressing human security, development, law enforcement, disarmament and arms control, and legitimate national and collective defense requirements.
Both are committed to seeking urgent, concrete, and practical responses through global, regional and national measures. Their approaches include stemming the flow of illicit trafficking, confronting those aspects of the legal trade that contribute to the destabilizing accumulation and spread of small arms and light weapons, and dealing with the root causes of conflict that fuel the spread of small arms.
To better address these issues, the U.S. and the EU will expand their cooperation, coordinate their activities, and reaffirm the common principles governing their conduct.
The EU pledges cooperation with the U.S. Comprehensive Initiative on Small Arms and Illicit Trafficking. The U.S. pledges cooperation with the EU on small arms, including support for the objectives and principles of the EU Joint Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons adopted in December 1998, consistent with U.S. policy and domestic legislation.
They agree that the UN conference on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects should undertake concrete and tangible steps to combat the destabilizing accumulation and spread of small arms and light weapons.
They agree on the goal of concluding the Protocol to Combat the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components, and Ammunition by 2000, which will serve as a key element in international efforts to combat illicit firearms trafficking.
Recognizing the special responsibilities that arms exporting states have, the U.S. and the EU affirm their commitment to observe the highest standards of restraint in the transfer of small arms and light weapons. They reaffirm support for the OSCE Principles Governing Conventional Arms Transfers. With respect to policies on small arms and light weapons the U.S. welcomes the EU's adoption of the EU Code of Conduct on arms exports and the principles contained in its criteria, which the U.S. endorses.
The U.S. and the EU agree on the importance of effective national controls for arms brokering.
The U.S. and the EU underline the importance of preventing the unauthorized retransfer of small arms and light weapons.
They will explore appropriate and effective measures of transparency in the transfers of small arms and light weapons.
The U.S. and the EU will work to improve their cooperation and coordination with third countries, and to that end, they will focus urgent attention on practical disarmament measures in potential conflict and post-conflict situations where the problems are most severe, in particular in Africa. They will also pursue measures to address the problem of the destabilizing accumulation and spread of small arms and light weapons in the Balkans.
The U.S. and the EU resolve to encourage and support states to ensure the security of stockpiles of small arms and light weapons and to coordinate respective activities designed to assist countries to collect and destroy surplus weapons. They will contribute to reducing and ending the excessive and destabilizing accumulation and uncontrolled spread of small arms, taking into account requirements for legitimate national and collective defense, and participation in peacekeeping operations under the UN Charter and internal security.
The U.S. and the EU welcome the interest of the NGO community in this field, and encourage them to continue their important efforts, which complement the work of governments.
In furtherance of the above-mentioned principles, the U.S. and the EU agree to identify areas for coordinated action.
In support of the principles agreed by the United States and the European Union and to advance their common objectives, the U.S. and the EU will take the following steps:
Establish a working group on small arms and light weapons for regular exchanges at the expert level. The working group will promote increased cooperation and information sharing and evaluate progress achieved by the U.S. and the EU on small arms issues. The group will meet at least once during each EU Presidency.
Work together to address the problem of illicit trafficking in firearms, including the completion by 2000 of the Protocol to Combat Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition now being negotiated in Vienna as part of the Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, complementing other efforts to prevent the destabilizing accumulation and spread of small arms and light weapons.
Coordinate efforts to provide assistance, in particular, where the problem of the destabilizing accumulation and spread of small arms and light weapons is most severe.
Promote support for the observance and the enforcement of the Economic Community of West African States' (ECOWAS) moratorium on the import, export and manufacturing of small arms in West Africa.
Promote the observance of UN sanctions governing arms transfers to areas of conflict in Africa. Work together in the UN and in other fora to strengthen enforcement of arms embargoes established under the UN Security Council, including working together to tighten controls on sources of financing that help sustain arms flows and violent conflict in Africa.
Cooperate in considering measures to combat illicit arms brokering and measures to prevent the unauthorized retransfer of small arms and light weapons.
Promote the inclusion in UN peacekeeping mandates and other relevant missions of effective measures to deal with the collection and destruction of small arms and light weapons, and to coordinate assistance provided for this purpose.
Cooperate with appropriate bodies of the UN for more effective coordination of assistance in areas severely affected by small arms problems.
Work together in regional fora, such as the OSCE and EAPC, in efforts to contribute to combating and preventing the destabilizing accumulation and spread of small arms and light weapons, including stockpile management and security.
Coordinate their planning for a successful outcome to the UN international conference on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects with a view to achieving tangible results at the conference, including an action plan for the international community to deal with the small arms problem.
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