Russia, Saudi-funded UN project to combat illicit arms’ trade launched

The UN on Friday launched a project funded by Saudi Arabia and Russia aimed at tackling terrorism. (SPA)
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Updated 23 February 2020

Russia, Saudi-funded UN project to combat illicit arms’ trade launched

  • The project supports the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy

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.


Saudi Arabia pledges $500m of aid to Yemen

Updated 35 min 31 sec ago

Saudi Arabia pledges $500m of aid to Yemen

  • $300 million will go to UN agencies and $200 million to KSrelief.

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia pledged $500 million of support to Yemen on Tuesday as the Kingdom hosted a major international donor conference.

The money will go toward the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan 2020 and COVID-19 Response plan, Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, the supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief), said.

He said of the Saudi pledge, $300 million would go to UN agencies working in Yemen and $200 million would be allocated to KSRelief.

“We are meeting today amid the conditions the world is facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and all the economic, health and political challenges that it has caused,” Al-Rabeeah told the virtual conference. “Yemen is facing many difficult humanitarian and health challenges, and the Yemeni people are suffering from multiple crises caused by Iran-backed Houthi militias.”

He said the Houthis, who seized the capital Sanaa in 201, sparking the conflict, “do not consider epidemics.”

The Houthis had deprived the Yemeni people of their most basic human rights “by looting and stealing humanitarian aid and using it for miliary purposes.,” Al-Rabeeah added.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan said the Kingdom supported all the efforts by the UN to reach a political solution in Yemen “and to lift the suffering of the Yemeni people.”

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia positively believe in mobilizing global efforts to address the situation in Yemen and alleviating the suffering of the Yemeni people and fulfil the country’s aspirations for a better future,” he said.