Identification and traceability company Traceability Solutions MD Kyle Parker participated in technical consultations on new technology related to marking, record-keeping and tracing of small arms and light weapons (SALW) at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York, in November.
These consultations were held with regard to a report, due to be released later this year by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to UN member States.
Traceability Solution’s input was sought by the UN for the 2014 report, which will address the implications of recent developments in SALW manufacturing, technology and design for effective marking, record-keeping and tracing. The report will also cover practical steps needed to ensure the continued and enhanced effec- tiveness of an international weapon marking project, as well as relevant practices in relation to international assistance and capacity building, which includes ways to support the transfer, uptake and effective use of relevant tools and technologies.
“This invitation was a tremendous honour for us. We have been working with the UN Mission in South Sudan on a project relating to the implementation of a weapons marking and identification system in the strife-torn region,” says Parker, adding that this exercise involves weapons being indelibly marked and recorded on a database in order to establish the number of weapons in circulation, where they are and who owns them.
Weapons Marking Process
Parker explains that the project has three phases. The first involves registration of firearms with a unique industrial fingerprint, which marks and registers weapons on a secure database.
Traceability Solutions’ use of a two-dimensional data matrix barcode encoded with a unique industrial fingerprint mark on each weapon is what attracted the UN to the company. “Trace- ability Solutions has a unique and advanced process of marking weapons, which, although not totally impervious to removal, is the most permanent way of marking weapons,” says Parker.
The second phase involves the registration of the individual who owns the weapon, and during this phase, the owner’s biometrics and personal details are captured on the database. The final phase involves linking the weapon to its owner.
Skills Transfer Challenges
Traceability Solutions acknowledges the challenges associated with the transfer of skills in less developed countries when it comes to implementing weapons marking and registration projects and specifically highlighted some of these common problem areas in their presentation to the UN.
These include poor levels of education and the number of people who are not computer literate; the availability of limited resources such as power and compressed air in outlying areas; the logistics of moving people or marking kits to these outlying areas; the lack of secure infrastructure, such as armouries and other secure facilities for the storage of the weapons; and, finally, the poor or nonexistent security clearances of personnel charged with guarding the weapons.
The UN Office for Disarma-ment Affairs Conventional Arms Branch chief Daniël Prins says: “The new ideas as well as rich discussions emanating from the technical consultations with Traceability Solutions were extremely helpful for our information-gathering process. More than that, the contribution of Traceability Solutions’ expertise and experience has been particularly valuable to us.”