The width of the United Nations agenda spans across many global issues, ranging from food security and global health, to peace and disarmament. In 1998, the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs facilitated meetings between member states for the establishment of the Programme of Action (PoA), to promote disarmament, non-proliferation, and enhance disarmament regimes associated with weapons of mass destruction, chemical and biological weapons, and small arms and light weapons (SALW). UNODA periodically holds review conferences to examine its progress in reaching its goals. In 2006, UNODA held its first review conference on the PoA, where member states and related civil society organizations met to discuss arms trafficking. Member states reaffirmed their commitment to “prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects”  at the Second Review Conference in 2012. SALW pose unique and pervasive challenges in regions around the world due to their portability and difficulties associated with marking and tracing. From June 18th to June 29th, UNODA held its Third Review Conference (RevCon3) to review its PoA and International Tracing Instrument (ITI). French Ambassador Jean-Claude Brunet, who previously worked in other positions related to arms control, presided over this conference . During the conference, states delivered speeches addressing their concerns about the illicit trafficking of SALW and issues associated with the PoA. RevCon3 provided UN member states, regional organizations, and civil society with an opportunity to meet and address the prevalent concerns regarding SALW proliferation. Supplementing the conference’s daily sessions, member states and NGOs held side events to highlight specific projects and cases related to the PoA and other disarmament related instruments.
RevCon President, Ambassador Jean-Claude Brunet opens RevCon3 proceedings on June 18, 2018
The PoA acts as the only binding and universal mechanism to combat the illicit flow of SALW around the world. Although all states are a party to the PoA, they disagree on its implementation and whether it should be expanded. RevCon3’s agenda included topics like:
The illicit illicit trade in ammunition,
Small arms reduction,
The Sustainable Development Goals,
Gender-based action to curb arms proliferation,
Measures to address pervasive armed violence in crime in unstable settings, and
Synergies in implementing the PoA and the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
RevCon3 looked forward to promote cooperation at regional and national levels to enhance laws and regulations combating illicit SALW trafficking. Although all member states agreed to the PoA in its current form, many disagreed on whether or not it should expand to include ammunition, threats posed by new and emerging weapons technology, and the gendered dimensions of illicit SALW trafficking. While these issues are undeniably relevant to the illicit trafficking of SALW, as weapons require ammunition to fire, other issues on the agenda posed more nuanced issues. For example, modular and 3D printed weapons pose unique marking and tracing problems, because their parts may be substituted and repurposed for other weapons. Moreover, states disagree on how gender and gun violence intersect, so their approaches to curbing gender-based gun violence varies. Some states, particularly from Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean call for equal representation of women in disarmament programs, while the United States and others call for “meaningful representation” in those programs.
Significantly, the United States opposed expanding the PoA and emphasized implementing it in its current form. In a working paper submitted to the conference, the United States assumed the position of putting “the words of the PoA and the ITI into action rather than adding new commitments to a list of those that remain unimplemented” . Moreover, some states that are not a party to the ATT, like China, Russia, and Iran, opposed the promotion of synergies between the PoA and ATT. While the United States and the Arab League oppose the expansion of the PoA, the European Union and MERCOSUR advocate for the inclusion of ammunition and specifically addressing the gendered aspects of gun violence .
Civil society played an active role in advocating for the expansion of the PoA, and made the case for the inclusion of gender and ammunition. Spearheaded by the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), NGOs worked together to lobby states to adopt proactive and inclusive arms control measures. IANSA’s efforts to push for an enhanced outcome document had some success, as language on gender will be mainstreamed into national policies regarding gun violence, however, due to the opposition of the United States and other ammunition manufacturers, forceful language on ammunition was not included in the outcome document.
Despite the clear and often conflicting positions of many states, RevCon3 served as a crucial forum for governments and civil society to advance gun control measures aimed to alleviate human suffering by preventing criminals and terrorists from accessing weapons, and reducing the illicit flow of arms around the world.
For more information on RevCon3’s outcome document, click here.
For more information on IANSA, visit www.iansa.org/
 Consulate General of France in New Orleans. “Jean Claude Brunet.” Https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0ahUKEwjGl_imjODbAhWGzVMKHWdHDb8QFgguMAE&url=http://nouvelleorleans.consulfrance.org/spip.php?action=api_docrestreint&arg=0/0/pdf/Biography_Jean-Claude_BRUNET-2.pdf&usg=AOvVaw1gQPfyV0Js1NaGhHkxYzom. July 2011. Accessed June 19, 2018.
 UNODA. “Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.” Programme of Action — Implementation Support System. June 2012. Accessed June 19, 2018. http://www.poa-iss.org/PoA/poahtml.aspx.
 United States of America. United States of America Mission to the United Nations. By United States of America. March 19, 2018. Accessed June 12, 2018.
 Paraguay. MERCOSUR. Paraguay Mission to the United Nations. Elements of the Position of the Member and Associate States of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) on the Third United Nations Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. By Paraguay. 8 June, 2018. Accessed June 12, 2018.