Written statement to Parliament

Draft Council Decision to conclude the UN Firearms Protocol on behalf of the EU

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Written ministerial statement: draft Council Decision to conclude the UN Firearms Protocol on behalf of the EU.

The Minister of State for Policing and Criminal Justice (Damian Green): The UK has opted into the draft Council Decision to approve, on behalf of the EU, the UN Firearms Protocol against the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, their parts and components and ammunition. The Protocol supplements the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime.

The Protocol creates a legal regime for the transnational movement of firearms and contains practical measures designed to assist law enforcement by enhancing international cooperation and promoting greater transparency in the legal transfer of firearms. The Commission was mandated by the EU to negotiate six of the Articles in relation to: record keeping; marking of firearms; deactivation of firearms; general requirements for export, import and transit licensing or authorisation systems; effective security of imports and exports; and brokering activities.

The Commission signed the Protocol on behalf of the Community in 2001 with the intention of concluding it once the Articles they negotiated had been enshrined in European law. This has been primarily achieved through amendments to the existing Weapons Directive 91/477 on the acquisition and possession of weapons and the adoption of Regulation 258/2012 to combat illicit arms trafficking through improved tracing and control of exports of civilian arms from the EU. These changes have already been transposed into UK legislation.

The government consider that it is in the UK’s interest to opt into the proposal to conclude the Protocol on behalf of the EU. The aims of the Protocol are broadly welcome and are consistent with current EU policies on measures to counter transnational crimes, to strengthen the fight against the illicit trafficking of firearms and to reduce the spread and proliferation of small arms around the world.