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Thank you, Madame Chair.

While aligning myself with the statement of the EU, I would like to offer some remarks on a national basis.

At the outset I wish to express Italy’s sincere appreciation to Lithuania for convening this debate and making all the efforts to ensure an effective follow up to this process, and I would like to reiterate Italy’s enduring commitment to actively participate in multilateral efforts aimed at curbing the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons, with particular reference to multilateral fora.

This meeting on the human cost of the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of such weapons further underscores the vital importance of addressing the problem since supplies of small arms, light weapons, and related ammunition are fuelling the current regional conflicts.

UNSCR 2117, which we highly commend, is but the last of many resolutions, clearly highlighting the threat posed by the destabilizing flow of these weapons to peace and international security.

In that respect, it is worth recalling the regional dimension of the problem, recognized as crucial from the very beginning of the process. Italy believes that OSCE countries have progressively developed a core of common understandings and best practices that might be of great use to shape a consensus at the global level. Hence the pivotal role played, as stressed in the same resolution, by regional and sub-regional organizations.

Furthermore, Italy welcomes the adoption of UNSCR 2195 on the fight against transnational threats including terrorism, organized crime, and the trafficking of weapons.

Such threats were recently addressed by the G7+ Assistance Strategy Committee, which, under the auspices of the G7 Roma-Lyon Group on Counter Terrorism and Anti-Crime, adopted a West Africa Strategic Assistance Framework in November 2014. This strategic framework aims to better coordinate donor assistance against serious and organized crime. Italy is ready to contribute to this endeavour in the framework of a regional conference with States and regional organizations in the Sahel and other parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

Madame Chair,

Africa is particularly affected by armed violence fuelled by the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons. We have witnessed with great concern that the proliferation of conventional arms stemming from the Libyan arsenals has largely contributed to the destabilization of the wider region.

One of the biggest accumulation in recent times of small arms and light weapons, as well as Man-Portable Air-Defence Systems (MANPADS) stocks, is now occurring in Libya, which is estimated to be the largest for a non-producing country in the world. Arms originating from this country have been identified in the Region. The primary motive for such stockpiling is business rather than use. The illicit flow of weapons, drugs and migrants has indeed clustered around certain hubs in Libya, and is exerting socio-economic effects as well as security ones.

Given the cross-border nature of the accumulation of such weapons and ammunition, Italy believes that the only way forward is to secure arms, provide capacity-building to border guards and the police, and increase regional cooperation. We stand ready to assist Libya, as well as other African States, in implementing their border security and weapons control capacity.

Madame Chair,

Italy has been active within the European Union on elaborating ways of curbing the destabilizing accumulation and misuse of SALW and their ammunition. We indeed gave our strongest support to both the EU Council Decision 2013/320 on Physical Security and Stockpile Management in Libya and to the EU Council Decision 2013/698 in support of a global reporting mechanism – iTRACE – on illicit small arms and light weapons and other illicit conventional weapons and ammunition.

I can assure you that Italy, along with its EU partners, will continue to offer its cooperation to interested States, taking into consideration the role of up-to-date technology and best practices in physical security and stockpile management, as well as in marking and tracing weapons.

We indeed consider the tracing of illicit SALW in conflict zones as a fundamental prerequisite for finding ways to tackle the illicit flows of such weapons to areas affected by armed conflict or instability. The patterns of illicit trade and diversion that become visible through tracing can be used to enhance the effectiveness of law enforcement and arms control measures designed to fight illicit proliferation.

Moreover, greater clarity and uniformity are required, if we seek to effectively combat illicit trafficking while not harming legal commercial interests and legal trades consistent with national and international obligations.

The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is in this regard a balanced and broad based text, the result of comprehensive and inclusive negotiations, where all UN Member States’ views have been reflected.

I believe that this treaty has the potential to significantly contribute to international peace and security by regulating the international trade in conventional arms, making it more responsible and transparent, and eradicating illicit arms trafficking. Furthermore, the inclusion of prevention of gender-based violence in the ATT can make a dramatic difference for women who are among the most vulnerable victims of armed violence and conflicts.

Madame Chair,

Finally, I wish to underline the importance to keep the process – national coordination activities, regional seminars, UN conferences – open to the participation of all potentially concerned constituencies.

NGOs and private industries are precious partners in our endeavour. Their active presence in our meetings would provide us with comments, analysis and proposals that are extremely useful, as they lead us to consider relevant issues from perspectives which are complementary to the ones of national administrations. Ultimately, they remarkably help us develop a more focused and comprehensive understanding of the problems we are faced with and their possible solutions.

Thank you, Madam Chair.