The National Arms Transfer Database (NATD) was launched this year at the Third Review Conference (RevCon) of the UN small arms Programme of Action (UNPoA) in New York and the Fourth Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty in Tokyo.
The NATD is an affordable, easy to use software package designed for low-capacity states. Its aim is to prevent the diversion of arms, to control arms transfers and to maintain accurate records of conventional weapons.
The global debate on arms control instruments provided the opportunity for delegations and representatives to make interventions on the challenges and priorities that must be acknowledged in order to effectively implement the provisions highlighted in the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons (UNPoA) and the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). Delegates from The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Pacific Island States stressed during their intervention the need to strengthen national and international cooperation — to help governments develop their technical and institutional capacity in efforts to curb the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. “We call for focused strategies that support the full and effective implementation of the POA and the ITI. Our vulnerability as Small Island Developing States (SIDS) require consideration given the porosity of our borders” the representative of CARICOM stated.
This claim was also supported by countries such as Costa Rica, geographically located in the transit route for small arms and light weapons and ammunition; and it presents a high risk of diversion provoking diverse types of conflict in the region. For this, the representative of Costa Rica stated in New York: Within the range of control measures, the physical marking of small arms and ammunition at the time of its manufacture and / or import strengthens the capacity of States to control and track weapons more effectively; as well as the minimum information for the maintenance of records and the improvement of stockpile management systems. It is important to emphasise that ensuring good administration in the management of the arsenals of both public and private forces is one of the most effective measures to prevent arms that have been legally acquired by the State or the private sector from being diverted to illicit traffic.
Since its foundation, CAVR has been key in supporting the capacity of Pacific Island governments. Among the different methods of cooperation in the Pacific, CAVR provides technical assistance and works to identify solutions to arms control and treaty implementation issues. Likewise, it has also worked with partners and government officials to build technical capacity in South East and South Asia, and the Caribbean.
During activities in the Pacific, the Centre has seen that most countries do not have a significant profile in the conventional arms trade, nor do they have an arms transfer database fit for purpose. This is in part due to the lack of financial, institutional, and regulatory capacity – or the need – to manage complex record-keeping systems. Bespoke data management systems can cost upwards of US$ 1 million, and have implications for long term support costs, human and technological resources.
To address this gap, CAVR in partnership with the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission has developed the NATD, a low-cost, modular and technologically light database solution. The initial work was funded through two existing grants – a recently agreed Arms Trade Treaty Voluntary Trust Fund (ATTVTF) Grant for Samoa, and a UN trust fund (UNSCAR) grant to support treaty adherence among the Melanesian countries of Vanuatu, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea (PNG). This system helps small and medium-sized countries establish databases to track and manage licences and arms transfers. The system works well for states that allow civilian possession, as well as those states where only the government is permitted to stock small arms. In addition, the NATD can generate the raw data necessary for states to fill out their Arms Trade Treaty and UN small arms Programme of Action (UNPoA) Annual Reports.
This week the 73rd United Nations General Assembly will begin its First Committee debate on Disarmament including conventional weapons issues. The Arms Trade Treaty and the progress made by states parties during implementation will be part of the conversation. Civil Society organisations will join this important debate to support states to observe their commitments to conventional arms treaties. The Pacific Small Arms Action Group (PSAAG) and the Centre for Armed Violence Reduction are committed supporters of civil society efforts to include the priorities of the different regions as part of the debates carried out at UN First Committee in New York.
To explore opportunities for development assistance and to know more about the NATD and how to view a prototype, please contact the Centre for Armed Violence Reduction at firstname.lastname@example.org
A pamphlet with information on the NATD can be downloaded here