Swedish Ambassador Paul Beijer has been elected chairman of a Group of Governmental Experts appointed to review the UN Register of Conventional Arms (UNROCA). The register collects and disseminates national reports on international arms trade, in order to strengthen transparency in national armaments.

The review of the UN register convenes experts from twenty countries every three years. Sweden participates for the second time.

The UN Register of Conventional Arms (UNROCA) was established in 1992 as a confidence building and stability enhancing measure. The register covers seven categories of main weapons systems, namely battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large-calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers.

Reports on trade and stockpiles of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) are established through a separate process, the Program of Action (PoA). The PoA aims to prevent, combat and eradicate illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. The SALW-category includes an additional eleven types of arms and weapons.

Declining reporting

The UNROCA register has seen declining reporting rates over the past decade. In 2002 reports were submitted by 124 countries. That figure decreased to just 54 countries in 2015. The member states are encouraged but not obligated to submit transparency reports. However, the ten largest exporters continue to provide data to the register, meaning that the register covers up to 90 per cent of the total legal global trade in arms. EU Member States have overall had a high reporting rate.

This year’s Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) will focus on current technical and operative trends, whether additional categories ought to be added to the register, as well as look into how the negative reporting trends can be reversed. The group’s recommendations will be presented to the UN General Assembly during autumn.

Ambassador Paul Beijer

Ambassador Paul Beijer