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In 2001, UN member
States acceded to a politically binding agreement to tackle small arms, amidst
a growing awareness that the illicit manufacture, transfer and circulation of
SALWs (and their excessive accumulation and spread) were undermining human
security and development. Governments agreed to improve national small arms laws,
import/export controls and stockpile management, all while engaging in
cooperation and assistance.

 

As a supplement to
this, the International Tracing Instrument (ITI) was also adopted, which
requires States to ensure that weapons are properly marked and records are
kept. Further, it provides a framework for cooperation in weapons tracing
fulfilling.

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It is tricky to
measure the effectiveness of PoA because of the lack of any formal monitoring
process and the open-ended nature of its commitments, with a lack of concrete
steps provided. Generally, however, reporting on implementation of the PoA has
generally been favourable- for example, between 2002 and 2010, 158 member
States reported at least once on the implementation of PoA, and over 600
national reports have been submitted since 2002, indicating a promising level
of participation by State parties. In 2016, during the Sixth Biennial Meeting
of States to Consider the Implementation of the PoA, States made progress in
discussions on key areas such as technological developments in SALW manufacture
and the contribution of the PoA to the attainment of the 2030 Agenda for
Sustainable Development. The 2030 Agenda, adopted in September 2015,
represented a recognition by Member States that sustainable development cannot
be realised without peace and security and that peace and security would be at
risk without sustainable development.

 

Further, in its
2017 substantive session, the Disarmament Commission adopted by consensus
recommendations on practical confidence-building measures in the field of
conventional weapons. This marked the first time in nearly two decades that the
Commission managed to adopt measures to enhance cooperation and build
confidence with a view to promoting progress in arms control. 

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