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STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
The Conference has taken a significant step forward today in addressing one of the most urgent problems of international peace and security, the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. The national delegations were, at the end, able to put aside their many differences and reach a consensus on all parts of a Programme of Action to combat this collective ,threat. All parts, that is, except for two of the most important, and for which there was overwhelming support.
While congratulating all participants for their diligence in reaching this new consensus, I must as President also express my disappointment over the Conference's inability to agree -- due to the concerns of one state -- on language recognizing the need to establish and maintain controls over private ownership of these deadly weapons, and the need for preventing sales of such arms to non-state groups.
The states of the region most afflicted by this global crisis, Africa, had agreed only with the greatest of reluctance to the deletion of proposed language addressing these vital issues relating to the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. They did so strictly in the interests of reaching a compromise that would permit the world community as a whole to proceed together with some first steps at the global level to alleviate this common threat. They did so, moreover, without in any way compromising their commitments to continue their efforts to address this problem, a problem that must be addressed -- as the title of the conference demands -- in all, and I repeat, all its aspects. This position is supported by many states outside the region and it is also the view shared by the President of this Conference.
AS requested by several delegations, I shall include my statement today in the Conference Report that will be sent to the General Assembly. I hope that this statement will help future efforts both within civil society and among all states to address the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects, until the conscience of humanity is at long last satisfied that all that can be done, has in fact been done, to alleviate this global tragedy.
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