By Zhong Sheng
On September 24, China solemnly announced at the general debate of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) that China has decided to start the domestic ratification process of the UN's Firearms Protocol. The protocol serves as one of the important protocols adopted by the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and an important legal instrument in international small arms and light weapons (SALW) control. Relevant actions by China, a major country, fully demonstrate the firm determination of the Chinese government to energetically implement the Global Security Initiative (GSI) and maintain international and regional peace and stability. Moreover, it expresses to the world that China advocates real multilateralism and is dedicated to improve global security and governance.
The proliferation of guns has been a serious threat to world peace and security. Illicit manufacturing and trafficking of firearms have not only caused a large number of civilian casualties, but also fostered armed conflicts, terrorism, and transnational organized crimes, which are directly related to social stability and people's lives in all countries across the world. African and Latin American countries have been deeply affected by the proliferation of guns and called on the international community to strengthen gun control. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called conventional arms control "disarmament that saves lives " in his agenda for disarmament, and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has made a significant reduction in the trafficking of illicit arms an important target to achieve.
China has always adhered to strict control on guns and explosives, worked on cracking down on crimes related to guns and explosives, and always maintained "zero tolerance" for illicit activities in the aspect. The Chinese people have energetically cooperated with the government to eliminate the potential threats of proliferation of guns and explosives. After long-term unremitting efforts, China has become one of the safest countries in the world with the fewest gun-related violent crimes.
China has faithfully fulfilled its obligations under the UN Programme of Action (PoA) on SALW and the International Instrument on the Identification and Tracing of Illicit SALW , proactively participating in the anti-gun smuggling campaigns launched by the World Customs Organization (WCO) and International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), and contributing to the early realization of the "Silencing the Guns" initiative for African countries in its power. In July 2020, China officially joined the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
At present, the world is still afflicted by serious proliferation of guns. Governments of all countries should strengthen domestic gun control and enhance international coordination and cooperation. For a long time, the US has the largest number of private guns in the world, the most rampant gun violence and the biggest output of smuggled guns. The US also refused to accede to any international legal instrument on gun control like Firearms Protocol, and withdrew from the signing of the ATT, seriously undermining the multilateral efforts made by the international community to regulate the trade in conventional arms. Due to the US’ poor gun control, thousands of American-made guns have been exported abroad through illegal channels, causing serious social problems in its neighboring countries. The international community thus desperately hopes that the US will take responsible measures to enhance gun control.
Building a peaceful and safe world free from gun violence is the common dream of all people. China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a responsible member of the international community, hopes to take the opportunity of initiating the domestic ratification of the UN Firearms Protocol to join hands with other countries to promote the international gun control process and achieve positive results. Some other major countries that have huge impacts on global security should also demonstrate political will, take concrete actions, and make positive efforts to eradicate the proliferation of guns.