It is widely acknowledged that the connection between terrorism and organized crime, including illicit small arms and light weapons trafficking is a serious threat to international peace and security, an obstacle to sustainable development and a menace to the rule of law.
Cheap and easily accessible small
arms are increasingly becoming the weapon of choice for many terrorist groups,
the UN counter-terrorism chief Vladimir Voronkov has said as nations unveiled a project to
raise awareness of the nexus between terrorism, organized crime and illicit
small arms trafficking.
It is widely acknowledged that
the connection between terrorism and organized crime, including illicit small
arms and light weapons trafficking is a serious threat to international peace
and security, an obstacle to sustainable development and a menace to the rule
To illustrate the challenges,
Voronkov, who is also Executive Director of the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre
(UNCCT), revealed estimates indicating that the African continent alone has one
hundred million uncontrolled small arms and light weapons concentrated in
crises zones and security-challenged environments.
“With an estimated population of
1.2 billion in Africa, this is an unfortunate and significant ratio of one to
12”, he lamented, and added that without a strong international response,
terrorists and criminals would easily be able to move illicit weapons from one
country or region to another.
“Insufficient international response in
countering the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons, the
challenges that the Member States face to detect and seize them, as well as porous
borders, allow terrorists and criminals to move illicit weapons from one country
or region to another,” Voronkov said.
The UNOCT chief illustrated this
through the example that illicit weapons originating from Libya were finding
their way into the Lake Chad Basin and the Sahel.
He said that the new project funded by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Russian Federation will address the
terrorism-arms crime nexus, by enhancing criminal justice responses to
prevent and combat the illicit trafficking of Small Arms and Light
Weapons and to disrupt the illicit supply of such arms to terrorist
It will be co-implemented in 2020/2021 by the United
Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre of the United Nations Office of Counter
Terrorism, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
, through its Global Firearms Programme and in collaboration with the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate
, and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs
In her video statement, UNODC
Executive Director Ghada Fathi Waly affirmed her Office’s unique approach to
addressing the complex interlinked challenges of terrorism, crime and
corruption. She singled out adequate
legal frameworks, strengthening law enforcement and criminal justice capacity,
improving data and addressing cooperation gaps, saying that it is essential to
deal effectively with threats that no country can face alone.
Meanwhile, Weixiong Chen, the Deputy
Executive Director of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate pointed
out that the new initiative is one of the important requirements of several
relevant Security Council resolutions.
Citing five resolutions, he noted
that the Council has repeatedly stressed the importance to prevent terrorist
access to weapons”.
The launch also introduced the
new project’s activities, including missions to assess regional situations,
relevant legislation and response capacities to the threat posed by firearms
trafficking, terrorism and related crimes.