Taking stock of action on the illicit small arms trade: UNODA training session on reporting on implementation of the PoA and ITI
Small Arms Survey Online Forum Inventory 9
By: Tak Mashiko, United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs
In the UN Programme of Action on small arms (PoA) and International Tracing Instrument (ITI) framework, States agreed to submit biennial national reports on their implementation efforts to the United Nations. National reporting is the single most effective mechanism to:
- measure progress and gaps in the PoA/ITI implementation;
- build confidence among States through information sharing;
- identify national priorities and assistance needs;
- support reporting on progress made on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Target 16.4; and
- reaffirm States’ commitment to the PoA process.
Since 2001, 174 States have submitted at least one national report on measures to implement the PoA and ITI. The 2018 reporting recorded the highest number of submissions in a single reporting period, with 120 States submitting a national report.
The key objective of this UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) training session was to introduce practical steps to submit PoA/ITI national reports, including an overview of:
- The relevance of national reporting;
- Data collection and online submission of reports; and
- Utilization of information — the matching of assistance needs with available resources.
The session highlighted the strategic importance of national reports and practical ways in which States and the broader international community and civil society actors could use the information provided:
- National reporting enables data collection for SDG Target 16.4, focusing not only on Indicator 16.4.2 but also on another proposed indicator 16.4.3, which covers reduction of illicit arms flows in both conflict and crime settings and supports destruction of collected weapons as a relevant measure.
- Incidents of diversion from national stockpiles and from international transfers are now reported, with a view to sharing lessons-learned and enhancing international cooperation.
- Reporting of national needs and requests for international assistance are increasingly required for assistance opportunities, (e.g. pre-requisite for the UN Trust Facility Supporting Cooperation on Arms Regulation — UNSCAR — funds) and will eventually ensure national ownership of relevant projects and activities.
- Harmonization of reporting among relevant global and regional instruments will enhance synergies in their implementations and reduce administrative burdens of respective member countries.
- Information newly included in national reports will facilitate discussions at the seventh Biennial Meeting of States on the PoA (BMS7), i.e. possible development of an ITI annexe and specific measures for gender-sensitive programming and implementation in small arms control activities.
The second half of the session provided an opportunity for practical training on PoA/ITI reporting, preceded by a presentation on the relevance of the PoA/ITI reporting mechanism, including the mandates, trends, challenges, and opportunities in reporting. A key point made in the session was how States can maximize the benefits of reporting and utilize national reports, while minimizing administrative burdens. There was also an update on the ongoing efforts to promote the submission of reports in advance of BMS7, including the new procedure for reporting on PoA implementation by relevant regional organizations (see presentation here).
The session featured a live demonstration of the PoA website/database and online reporting tool, showing participants how to obtain a password, log in the reporting website, create, save and submit a 2020 report.
In response to the presentation and demonstration, participants suggested insights for improving the rate of reporting and the use of material contained in reports, such as:
- Challenges for African States are not always related to their capacities for reporting or internet connection, but often due to lack of information and notice provided to relevant national authorities to ensure that national reports are submitted on time.
- It is important for States to provide contact details on current national points of contact (NPCs) to UNODA (to be updated through national reporting) and to also establish and ensure reliable communication channels with their own Permanent Missions in New York.
- States should establish a procedure to ensure internal coordination (e.g. inter-ministerial information exchange) and to keep institutional memory and capacity to deal with personnel turnovers of NPCs and relevant national authorities.
- States are encouraged to attach additional information to their reports, such as national action plans (NAPs), project proposals, national legislation, detailed explanations on answers, challenges and opportunities, and disaggregated data. These and other ‘Good practices from 2018 national reporting’ have been collated by UNODA for use by all States.
It might not be possible for some questions to be answered because the respondent States may not have the relevant data; there could be political sensitivities regarding the question; or the NPC is not familiar or adequately prepared to address new questions posed in an updated reporting template, for example, in such topics as tracing, collection, specific gender considerations and, most recently, incidents of diversion. UNODA should sensitize NPCs and Missions in New York on the importance of such questions and give a heads-up when new questions are included in the PoA/ITI reporting template.
At the end of the session, UNODA panelists called for a campaign to facilitate the submission national reports in 2020. In order to sustain States’ turnouts of their reports, support and cooperation with regional organizations and civil society is essential. UNODA would appreciate any working-level contact information of States that have not submitted a 2020 report, so that UNODA can contact national authorities directly and informally.
To learn more about reporting, see:
- PoA Online Reporting Tool Quick Guide 2020
- PoA Reporting database
- PoA Reporting Database Quick Guide 2018
- PoA National Reports Good Practices
- Submission of reports online
- ‘Saving Lives’ (UN information bulletin — June 2020)
- ‘National Reporting: Implementation of the Programme of Action and the International Tracing Instrument’ (presentation by Tak Mashiko, UNODA)
- Submit requests to UNODA for username and password for online reporting to: email@example.com
- Implementing the Programme of Action and International Tracing Instrument: An Assessment of National Reports 2012–2017 (Small Arms Survey Report)
- The Small Arms Trade Transparency Barometer (Small Arms Survey)