Arms Control System

There is now an opportunity to further reduce illicit arms flows in this region, to monitor and prevent diversion of legal firearms and to help prevent future outbreaks of armed violence.  

A national control systems refers to a set of procedures, laws and common definitions, along with specifically identified organisations or individuals to serve as national points of contact. 

The main elements of the national control systems therefore require governments to: 

The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and the Pacific

Five Pacific countries have become full States Parties to the Treaty: Samoa, Tuvalu, Palau, Australia and New Zealand. Three others are signatories with the intention to ratify: Kiribati, Nauru and Vanuatu.

The ATT presents a unique opportunity for Pacific Island countries to share their experience with meaningful disarmament and effective arms control regimes. Given the relatively low level of arms transfers in the region, meeting the requirements of the Treaty does not pose a significant institutional, financial or legal barrier. In fact, ratification and accession can be achieved relatively quickly and easily. 

Identifying gaps

and opportunities 

The main gaps and opportunities for improvement are:

Filling the gaps

Amendments

For a consultation draft law for Cook Islands which meets ATT requirements, please contact:

agee@armedviolencereduction.org. 

In most countries, existing legislation does not adequately address the evolving nature of the global arms trade. For example, arms brokering has become a central component of international arms transactions, creating a host of extra-judicial and trans-boundary issues. Effectively managing the activities of arms brokers is key to ensuring the protection of national security. The majority of existing arms regulations date from the 1960s or earlier and cannot effectively control the weapon trade of the 21st century. Another need is to prevent the diversion of arms to stem the flow of illegal weapons into this region. 

Draft amendments which include standards of the UN small arms Programme of Action will be uploaded in the coming months.  

National Control List

Download a draft of the Pacific Model Control List. Feedback on this proposed list is welcome to info@armedviolencereduction.org.

It is important for governments to identify and have clarity about the types arms and ammunition that its security and defence forces use.  Much work has been done to develop expansive definitions of weapons, systems, ammunition, and parts and components. For example, the [Wassenaar Arrangement] maintains a comprehensive “military list” of definitions of conventional weapons, and these definitions are periodically updated to stay in line with technological advancements.  For Pacific countries however, the definitions are far more expansive than necessary, as the vast majority of items covered have never been (and are not intended to be) a part of government inventories.  To address this, the government of New Zealand has supported the development of the Pacific Model Control List – which is a streamlined set of descriptions that are more suited to the realities of Pacific governments and their security and defence forces. 

The National Arms Transfers Database

Many Pacific Island States are installing the National Arms Transfer Database (NATD), which is a system designed in the Pacific, for the Pacific. Prior to the NATD, Pacific agencies have not had arms inventories or databases which meet international standards. As CAVR explored solutions to this problem over the past five years, we found that bespoke systems can cost upwards of US$1m, and have implications for long-term support costs, human and technological resources. The NATD information system is a solution to this. It provides a low-cost, technologically undemanding database offering governments fit-for-purpose record-keeping software to track international and national transfers (import, export, transit, transhipment, gift, loan, lease or private sales where permissible) of any conventional arms or munitions. It is fully customisable and modular in design, enabling state agencies to specify their own needs during the design phase. The NATD delivers a bespoke system that meets the day-to-day requirements of each arm of government.

For information about the NATD, see here. 

Setting up an interagency coordination team 

The ATT works best with a national coordinating mechanism, a key part of which is an interagency group to coordinate progress in meeting Treaty standards for each stakeholder. This platform enables relevant ministries, departments and agencies (for example defence, police, foreign affairs, customs, immigration, justice, corrections, attorney general’s office, civil society), to meet to discuss and implement arms control issues. Some States already have interagency security or International Humanitarian Law committees which are well suited to ATT coordination.  

Cook Island

All below figures are for the most recent year recorded in GunPolicy.org. If any of these are outdated or incorrect, please email feedback@gunpolicy.org 

Guns

Firearm Imports

Firearm Regulation

Restricted Firearms and Ammunition

International Controls