HC Deb 13 December 1999 vol 341 cc48-9W
Dr. Tonge

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what representations she has made to her European counterparts concerning the development of a regional action programme on small arms in Southern Africa. [101929]

Clare Short

DFID funded a seminar last year organised by Saferworld and the South African Institute for Security Studies to consider how to tackle the proliferation of small arms in Southern Africa. The conference was attended by representatives from a number of EU countries and Governments from the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region, plus other Governments and organisations interested in small arms proliferation.

Participants identified a number of practical ways in which countries in Southern Africa could co-operate and how the EU might help. Participants agreed an EU/SADC regional action programme which set out four main elements for action, namely measures to combat illicit trafficking including strengthening laws and operational capacity, strengthening regulations on accumulation and transfer of arms, promoting collection and destruction of surplus arms, and enhancing transparency and information exchange on arms issues. The Programme was subsequently endorsed by EU/SADC Ministers in Vienna in November 1998.

I discussed the issue of small arms proliferation with other Development Ministers in the European Council in May this year. The Council subsequently adopted a Resolution on small arms.