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"We will combat illegal firearms trafficking, by considering a new international instrument. We will seek to adopt standard systems for firearms identification and a stronger international regime for import and export licensing of firearms".
France: Score: 0
At the European Union level, the French Government has been engaged in measures to combat illegal firearms trafficking. A clause in the EU's June 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam alluded to the need to expand the EU's mandate to address illicit arms. In June 1997, the EU passed the EU Program for Preventing and Combating Illicit Trafficking in Conventional Arms (EU Resolution EU/9057/97DGE/CPSP IV). This program calls on the member states to enhance cooperation and coordination on customs, intelligence and the adoption of strict measures for the enforcement of arms export control legislation. Moreover, the program calls for wider exchanges of information and data on illegal firearms trafficking through the establishment of regional commissions, the use of promotion of existing databases, funding of such programs, and a coordinated system of review and evaluation. Although France has signed the program, the implementation of concrete measures in this regard is still forthcoming.
United States: Score: +1
On November 19, 1997 President Clinton signed the "Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing and Trafficking of Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials". By signing the convention, Clinton not only reaffirmed the U.S.'s commitment to combating illegal firearms trafficking, but also participated in establishing the world's first international system for tracing light weapons. Also under the auspices of the Organization of American States, a group of experts developed a set of "Model Regulations to Control the Movement of Firearms, Ammunition, and Firearms Parts and Components" in November 1997. The regulations, agreed upon by all OAS members, encourage the regulation and licensing of firearm transfers between OAS members. In addition, President Clinton issued an executive order on April 6, 1998 banning the import of more than 50 types of modified assault weapons, thus complying with the G7's commitment to a "stronger international regime for import and export licensing of firearms."
Britain: Score: 0
On December 10, 1997, Britain attended a Justice Ministerial chaired by US Justice Minister Janet Reno. At the meeting, Britain consented to the points outlined in the official summary following the conclusion of the ministerial. Britain agreed on the adoption of tougher legislation on the sale and possession of firearms, particularly handguns. Although Britain acknowledged its support for international efforts aimed at adopting standard systems for firearms identification and the adoption of an international regime in this regard, Britain has not implemented policies that tackle the main issue of firearms trafficking and the need to identify both the firearms and the flows of illegal weapons.
Germany: Score: -1
Germany attended the December 10, 1997 Justice Ministerial hosted by US Justice Minister Janet Reno. At the ministerial, Germany acknowledged its commitment in working towards its goals outlined in the Denver communiqué on transnational organized crime. However, on the issue of combating firearms trafficking, Germany has been notably silent. Moreover, Germany has failed to move forward on the issue of adopting standard systems for firearms identification and the creation of a stronger international regime for import and export licensing of firearms.
Japan: Score: 0
Japan's National Police Agency has given "top priority" to uncovering international firearms trafficking into Japan. To this end, Japan was one of the countries responsible for initiating the UN ECOSOC Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice's effort to harmonize worldwide gun control laws. The Commission held four Regional Workshops on Firearm Regulation for the Purpose of Crime Prevention and Public Safety. The Japanese Government paid the expenses for 23 of the 28 government representatives attending the second regional workshop held in Africa. Although workshop discussion was intended to focus on "Civilian firearms and civilian firearm regulation, with an international perspective", discussion was actually dominated by the topic of domestic gun control laws as delegates recognized that: "To control light weapons internationally, it will be necessary to control them nationally". Japan is one of the only nations worldwide that has banned all private ownership of firearms and strictly regulates the importation of firearms.
Italy: Score: -1
In June, 1997 the EU (including Italy) passed the EU Program for Preventing and Combating Illicit Firearms Trafficking, which calls on EU members to enhance cooperation and coordination on customs and intelligence, and to adopt stricter measures for the enforcement of arms export control legislation. It also calls for the establishment of regional commissions and a coordinated system of review and evaluation. Although this initiative appears to be evidence of compliance on the part of the EU member countries, no direct action has been taken by the Italian Government toward the domestic implementation of this EU-endorsed legislation.
Canada: Score: +1
The Canadian Government has recently proposed tighter regulations dealing with the importation and exportation of firearms across the border that is scheduled to come into effect on January 1, 2001.
As a member of the Organization of American States (OAS), the Canadian Government is involved in two specific efforts relating to illicit arms trafficking in the Western Hemisphere. In November 1997, under the auspices of the OAS Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), a group of experts developed a set of Model Regulations to Control the Movement of Firearms, Ammunition, and Firearms Parts and Components. These stipulations encourage the regulation and licensing of firearm transfers by all OAS member states. In November 1997, the Canadian Government also signed the Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials. The purpose of the convention is to "prevent, fight and eradicate the problem of the illicit manufacturing and trafficking of firearms, ammunition, explosives and the related materials because of their connection with terrorism, drug trafficking, organized crime, and related felonies". The document commits the member states to the creation of state-level advisory committees, with responsibilities for promoting data-exchange (on the production, export and import of firearms, ammunition, explosives and other related materials), further standardization of laws on import/export, encouraging coordinated investigations and developing communications systems.
Russia: Score: 0
The Russian Interior Ministry cracked down late last year on illegal weapons. A police operation yielded over 10,000 weapons as well as ammunition. Russia, however, has sought to re-start firearms exports to the US and this was an item on the agenda for Chernomyrdin during his discussions with US Vice President Al Gore. In light of recent legislation proposed by the Clinton administration to control firearms imports, success for Russian firearm sales seems highly doubtful. Russia made some effort toward meeting its communique commitment by agreeing to sign on to a United Nations resolution on firearms regulation. But because no concrete action has been taken regarding this initiative in the post- Denver period, the Russian Government is awarded a grade of 0.
Reports produced by Cindy Blazevic, Aaron Chai, Litza Smirnakis and Lorna
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