From June 21-22, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), conducted a Firearm Marking Technical Meeting two activities in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

The marking of firearms and ammunition is a long-standing practice carried out by the manufacturers themselves, as a way to distinguish the quality of their products from other manufacturers. Marking firearms also provides basic information about the manufacturer and the different actors that participated in the legal trade in arms and ammunition, facilitates traceability of the weapon in time and geographic space, from its manufacture to its last legal representative, and, identifies a weapon, and establishes relations between it and a crime, facilitating criminal investigation processes. The marking of small arms is an obligation for states in several international instruments, including the: Firearms Protocol (2001), the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials (CIFTA) 1997, Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PoA) 2001 and the International Tracing Instrument (ITI) 2005.

UNLIREC convened the Firearm Marking Technical Meeting to highlight the marking of firearms and ammunition as a key small arms ammunition control measure to prevent diversion of licit weapons, improve accountability and enhance the traceability of illicit weapons. The Inter-institutional meeting also sought to strengthen the awareness and coordination of security sector authorities.

The Meeting and practical marking exercise include representatives of the Police Service, Prison Service, Forensic Science Centre, Customs and Excise Department and Ministry of National Security. UNLIREC demonstrated the practical use of its Laser Marking Machine to mark firearms according to national and international guidelines for the marking of firearms. Participants were able to observe the representative of the Forensic Science Centre utilising Fry’s reagent to recover the ‘serial number‘ from an obsolete weapon that was marked using the laser machine, then had the numbers obliterated using a metal grinder. The recovery of the ‘serial number’ demonstrated the recoverability of erased laser markings on weapons.

The Firearm Marking Technical Meeting is part of UNLIREC’s Combat of Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons and Ammunition in the Caribbean which is made possible thanks to the support of the government of Germany.

UNLIREC, as the regional organ of the UN Office for Disarmament, seeks to advance the cause of practical disarmament in Latin America and the Caribbean as part of its commitment to support Member States in their implementation of international disarmament and non-proliferation instruments, in particular, the 2001 UN Programme of Action on Small Arms.