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EU Development Council Resolution on Small Arms

Council Resolution of 21 May 1999

  1. The excessive and uncontrolled accumulation and spread of small arms and light weapons (hereafter referred to as "small arms") has become a problem of global proportions. Particularly in crisis zones and countries where the security situation is unstable, the excessive supply of small arms and a lack of controls has fuelled internal or interstate conflict and has been an obstacle to peaceful economic and social development. Moreover, the ready availability of cheap small arms facilitates the exploitation of children as soldiers.
  1. Illicit trafficking in small arms has also been identified as a serious problem, contributing to the increase in banditry, smuggling and similar criminal activities.
  1. Recalling the Joint Action of 17 December 1998 on the European Union’s contribution to combating the destabilising accumulation and spread of small arms and light weapons, the Council confirms its sustained interest in fulfilling the commitments contained therein in order to ensure coherence of EU activities in the field of small arms. At the same time, the Council draws attention to the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports of 8 June 1998 and the EU Programme for Preventing and Combating Illicit Trafficking in Conventional Arms of 26 June 1997. Finally, the Council recalls the Conclusions on the Role of Development Cooperation in Strengthening Peace-building, Conflict Prevention and Resolution of 30 November 1998, as well as the Resolution on Coherence of 5 June 1997
  1. The Council recalls the "Brussels Call for Action", proposing amongst others an International Program of Action for Practical Disarmament and Peacebuilding; and the "Oslo Platform" addressing the humanitarian, developmental and security concerns provoked by small arms.
  1. The Council equally recalls initiatives within the UN, in particular UN General Assembly Resolution 53/L 31 on consolidation of peace through practical disarmament measures, the problems caused by the destabilising accumulation and spread of arms as well as UN General Assembly Resolution 53/E 77 on small arms and light weapons.
  1. The European Union aims at combating the excessive and uncontrolled accumulation and spread of small arms. An integrated and comprehensive approach is required by the international community which adequately addresses the complexity of the small arms problem and its political, economic and social causes and takes account of the aspect of security as a prerequisite for development. In particular, a contribution must be made to ensuring that existing stockpiles are reduced to a level consistent with the country’s legitimate security needs.
  1. The Council recommends that in the field of development cooperation, the Community and the Member States devote particular attention to the following measure

The first interventions could be focused on Southern Africa (SADC) and on West Africa (ECOWAS), where significant progress has been made and frameworks for combating small arms proliferation have been developed and agreed. EU, Community and bilateral Member State interventions should build upon the ideas and programmes existing in these regions and be extended to other regions, where similar initiatives have been taken.

  1. In providing assistance to measures recommended in paragraph 5, the EU shall take into particular account the recipient's commitments to comply with the principles mentioned in article 3 of the Joint Action of 17 December 1998; their respect of human rights; their compliance with international humanitarian law and the protection of the rule of law.The Council believes that it is an important prerequisite that recipient countries are also committed to establishing social and political stability and, in time, making their own contribution to relevant initiatives.
  1. In order to ensure a coordinated and complementary approach, the Council recalls the following guidelines mentioned in the Joint Action of 17 December 1998:
  1. In order to assist the full implementation of this Resolution and to improve proper coordination, the Council, with reference to the Conclusions on Peace Building and Conflict Prevention, invites the Commission, together with the relevant experts of the Member States, to define the conditions and guidelines for specific development cooperation activities relevant to the matter.

The Council will review the progress made in implementing this Resolution on the basis of the Commission's reporting on the issue of peace building and conflict prevention, as requested by the November 1998 Council Conclusions, which should also include the aspect of small arms, starting in the year 2000.


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