The orphan protocol PDF Print E-mail
The shaping of policy at UNODC (2002-2010)

Posted: 6 March 2008

My Office is not an adoption agency. But I urgently need to find parents for the "forgotten protocol" of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, namely the Protocol which deals with the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms. 

The global availability of illegal firearms is a huge problem and has a profound effect on global security and sustainable development. Close to one billion guns are in circulation around the world, three quarters of which are in the hands of civilians. 8 million new guns are manufactured each year, along with billions of units of ammunition, enough to kill everyone in the world twice over.

Gun violence disproportionately affects the world's most poor and vulnerable, particularly in Latin America, the Caribbean and in Africa. 1000 people die every day from firearms, the majority of which are criminal homicides. Firearms are a multiplier of violence and crime and also profoundly affect economic sustainability. Something needs to be done, urgently. 

The vast majority of firearms used to commit acts of violence start out in the legal trade and move to the illegal trade through theft, corruption, poor stockpile management and weak transfer control mechanisms. The Firearms Protocol, of which UNODC is the custodian, is designed to prevent, combat and eradicate illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, their parts, components and ammunition. 

To promote the Protocol my Office has launched UN.ARM. It is designed to increase ratification (which is desperately needed since there are only 67 Parties), raise awareness, and offer technical and legal assistance to the most vulnerable countries suffering from the devastating consequences of firearms violence. The devil is in the details - like building and strengthening the institutions and systems needed to implement record-keeping, marking and tracing, import, export and transit controls for firearms and ammunition. 

UN.ARM needs competent, resourceful and committed parenting to make it flourish into a forceful instrument to combat gun violence. A possible adoption strategy was one of several topics discussed during my recent visit to Oslo, where I met with the ministers for justice, health and foreign affairs. Also on the agenda was Afghanistan (see NRK Evening News coverage) human trafficking, Norwegian drug policies, corruption, illegal capital flows, money laundering, rule-of-law and UN-reform. I also visited an injection room: Norway has a significant heroin problem. 

I participated in a panel discussion on transnational organized crime hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The debate between Misha Glenny (author and former BBC journalist), Ingelin Killengreen (National Police Commissioner) and Ellen Beate Langehaug (CARE Norway) was webcast. 

I hope to find parents, in Norway or elsewhere, for the orphan protocol. Many lives depend on it.


Last Updated on Thursday, 20 January 2011 11:07