asked Her Majesty's GovernmentWhat preparations they are making for the United Nations conference in July 2001 on trade in small arms and light weapons; and whether they will consult British non-governmental organisations, in particular Saferworld, BASIC and International Alert, before deciding their position. [HL344]
Her Majesty's Government are actively engaged in preparations for the July 2001 UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. We attach great importance to a successful outcome to the conference, which we view as a milestone in international attempts to combat the proliferation of small arms. It should provide an ideal opportunity for nations and regional groups to unite in giving political impetus, under the UN, to their efforts in this area. Our aim is to agree political commitment to global norms, standards and a forward-looking conference action plan aimed at reducing the levels of illicit trade in—and destabilising accumulations of—small arms.In pursuit of a successful outcome, the UK will hold a policy brainstorming seminar for around 30 countries at Lancaster House, London, on 13–14 February. This will look at possible conference outcomes and where participants assess the small arms debate ought to have progressed to in, say, five years. The Foreign Secretary plans to open the seminar.Further in line with our commitment to the success of the conference, we are working in partnership with governments, business and the NGO community, including BASIC, Saferworld and International Alert through support for their Biting the Bullet project. This aims to facilitate debate, provide research, briefings and seminars and work closely with IANSA, the International Action Network on Small Arms.