Although small arms and light weapons (SALW) are not typically associated with the islands of the South Pacific, the mere presence of a few SALW, or even rumours of their presence, is enough to displace families and communities and fuel the demand for SALW. The countries studied in this report—Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu, have distinct experiences with SALW and assign different levels of priority to implementation of the UN Programme of Action to Combat, Eradicate and Prevent the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (PoA).

The PoA is the main framework for channelling SALW assistance. However, the carefully agreed content of the PoA focuses the instrument on dealing with the illicit trade. This means that discussions taking place and the coordination of SALW assistance are also con?ned to aspects of the illicit trade that may not be manifest in a given country's experience with SALW, whether illicit or not. What does the specific scope of the PoA mean for countries where the illicit trade in SALW is not the primary problem, but where the destabilizing effects of SALW are still felt on social and political development?

A case study in the South Pacific, a subregion heavily dependent on assistance, and with limited human and financial resources, provides a means for addressing this question. This report outlines what activities have already taken place and what remains to be achieved under the PoA. It further highlights the gap created between the scope of the PoA and the assistance needs of the case study countries, denotes the challenges associated with international assistance in addressing SALW in the subregion, and makes recommendations on how actors in the subregion could advance on issues relevant to SALW, whether illicit or not.

This case study was conducted as part of UNIDIR's work on "International Assistance for Implementing the Programme of Action on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons", which aims to improve how donors, implementing agencies and states requiring assistance approach, allocate and coordinate SALW assistance.

Citation: Kerry Maze and Yvette Issar (2009). "International Assistance for Implementing the UN PoA on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects: Case Study of the South Pacific", UNIDIR, Geneva.