Gravely concerned at the harmful impact of small arms and light weapons on civilians in armed conflict, the Security Council today called for measures to keep these arsenals from falling into illicit channels. “Bearing in mind the considerable volume of licit trade in small arms and light weapons, the Council encourages States to adopt legislative and other measures to ensure effective control over the export, import, transit, stocking and storage of small arms and light weapons,” said Ambassador Martin Belinga-Eboutou of Cameroon, the President of the 15-member body, in a formal statement, which also called for effective measures to verify the end-users of these armaments. “Arms-exporting countries are encouraged to exercise the highest degree of responsibility in small arms and light weapons transactions,” the President said, stressing the responsibility of all States to prevent the illegal diversion and re-export of small arms and light weapons. The Council welcomed the establishment of a UN group of governmental experts mandated to examine the feasibility of developing an international instrument to enable States to identify and trace illicit small arms and light weapons, according to the statement. The statement stressed the importance of further steps to enhance international cooperation in preventing, combating and eradicating illicit trading in small arms and light weapons, and called on States that have not already done so to establish a national register of arms brokers. “The Council urges States to impose appropriate penalties for all illicit brokering activities, as well as arms transfers that violate Security Council embargoes, and to take appropriate enforcement action,” Ambassador Belinga-Eboutou said. Welcoming the identification of arms traffickers who have violated international arms embargoes, the Council called on countries to impose appropriate penalties on all weapons dealers ignoring these bans. The statement also underlined the importance of pursuing “more vigorously and expeditiously” the application of arms embargoes in countries or regions threatened by, engaged in or emerging from armed conflict. At the same time, the statement noted that arms embargoes do not address weapons already existing in conflict areas, and reiterated the importance of carrying out disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes in post-conflict situations.