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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - NEW YORK: The UN on Friday launched a project funded by the Kingdom and Russia aimed at tackling terrorism, organized crime and the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons (SALW) in the Central Asian region, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The project seeks to strengthen criminal justice responses to prevent and combat the illicit trade in SALW and to disrupt the illicit supply of these weapons to terrorist groups.
The undersecretary-general of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), Vladimir Voronkov, said that SALW had increasingly become the preferred weapon of many terrorist groups worldwide for their cheapness, accessibility, transfer, concealment and use.
He said that the relationship between terrorism and organized crime, including the illicit trade in SALW, was a serious threat to international peace and security. It also represented an obstacle to sustainable development and a threat to the rule of law.
“According to statistics, there were 100 million uncontrolled small arms and light weapons on the African continent alone, concentrated in crisis areas and environments facing security challenges," Voronkov said.
Ghada Wali, the executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said the relationship between terrorism and crime was a global challenge. “Any regional gaps in the face of these threats have far-reaching consequences for all. The new project looks forward to addressing a whole range of obstacles to progress, through which we seek to establish legal frameworks, strengthen law enforcement capacity and criminal justice, improve data and address gaps in cooperation.”
A member of Saudi Arabia’s permanent mission to the UN, Abdul Majeed Al-Babtain, said the problem of the illicit trade in SALW and transferring them to terrorist groups was a global concern.
He said that the complexity in dealing with the relationship between weapons, organized crime and terrorism was reflected in the multidimensional nature of the threat, pointing out that the Kingdom called for taking many measures in order to establish preventive mechanisms and a successful response.
“While this project is focused on the Central Asian region, it can offer lessons to and be implemented in other parts of the world, and this could serve as a good model for future phases,” Al-Babtain said, expressing Saudi Arabia's pride in funding the project.
The project supports the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, UN Security Council Resolution 2370, the Madrid Guidelines and the Firearms Protocol to the UN Convention against Transnational Crime, among other international legal instruments.
It will be implemented in 2020-2021 by the UNOCT and the UNODC, through the Global Firearms Programme, in close cooperation with the executive directorate of the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee and the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, as well as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
The project will contribute to the enhancement of national legislative, strategic and operational capacities of countries in Central Asia countries, including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, whose permanent UN representatives attended the event.
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