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Inter-American Convention Against Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms (CIFTA)


January 1, 1997

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Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials (1997)

THE STATES PARTIES,

AWARE of the urgent need to prevent, combat, and eradicate the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials, due to the harmful effects of these activities on the security of each state and the region as a whole, endangering the well-being of peoples, their social and economic development, and their right to live in peace;

CONCERNED by the increase, at the international level, in the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials and by the serious problems resulting therefrom;

REAFFIRMING that States Parties give priority to preventing, combating, and eradicating the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials because of the links of such activities with drug trafficking, terrorism, transnational organized crime, and mercenary and other criminal activities;

CONCERNED about the illicit manufacture of explosives from substances and articles that in and of themselves are not explosives--and that are not addressed by this Convention due to their other lawful uses--for activities related to drug trafficking, terrorism, transnational organized crime and mercenary and other criminal activities;

CONSIDERING the urgent need for all states, and especially those states that produce, export, and import arms, to take the necessary measures to prevent, combat, and eradicate the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials;

CONVINCED that combating the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials calls for international cooperation, exchange of information, and other appropriate measures at the national, regional, and international levels, and desiring to set a precedent for the international community in this regard;

STRESSING the need, in peace processes and post-conflict situations, to achieve effective control of firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials in order to prevent their entry into the illicit market;

MINDFUL of the pertinent resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly on measures to eradicate the illicit transfer of conventional weapons and on the need for all states to guarantee their security, and of the efforts carried out in the framework of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD);

RECOGNIZING the importance of strengthening existing international law enforcement support mechanisms such as the International Weapons and Explosives Tracking System (IWETS) of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), to prevent, combat, and eradicate the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials;

RECOGNIZING that international trade in firearms is particularly vulnerable to abuses by criminal elements and that a "know-your-customer" policy for dealers in, and producers, exporters, and importers of, firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials is crucial for combating this scourge;

RECOGNIZING that states have developed different cultural and historical uses for firearms, and that the purpose of enhancing international cooperation to eradicate illicit transnational trafficking in firearms is not intended to discourage or diminish lawful leisure or recreational activities such as travel or tourism for sport shooting, hunting, and other forms of lawful ownership and use recognized by the States Parties;

RECALLING that States Parties have their respective domestic laws and regulations in the areas of firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials, and recognizing that this Convention does not commit States Parties to enact legislation or regulations pertaining to firearms ownership, possession, or trade of a wholly domestic character, and recognizing that States Parties will apply their respective laws and regulations in a manner consistent with this Convention;

REAFFIRMING the principles of sovereignty, nonintervention, and the juridical equality of states,
HAVE DECIDED TO ADOPT THIS INTER-AMERICAN CONVENTION AGAINST THE ILLICIT MANUFACTURING OF AND TRAFFICKING IN FIREARMS, AMMUNITION, EXPLOSIVES, AND OTHER RELATED MATERIALS:

ARTICLE I
Definitions


For the purposes of this Convention, the following definitions shall apply:

1. "Illicit manufacturing": the manufacture or assembly of firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials:

a. from components or parts illicitly trafficked; or

b. without a license from a competent governmental authority of the State Party where the manufacture or assembly takes place; or

c. without marking the firearms that require marking at the time of manufacturing.

2. "Illicit trafficking": the import, export, acquisition, sale, delivery, movement, or transfer of firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials from or across the territory of one State Party to that of another State Party, if any one of the States Parties concerned does not authorize it.

3. "Firearms":

a. any barreled weapon which will or is designed to or may be readily converted to expel a bullet or projectile by the action of an explosive, except antique firearms manufactured before the 20th Century or their replicas; or

b. any other weapon or destructive device such as any explosive, incendiary or gas bomb, grenade, rocket, rocket launcher, missile, missile system, or mine.

4. "Ammunition": the complete round or its components, including cartridge cases, primers, propellant powder, bullets, or projectiles that are used in any firearm.

5. "Explosives": any substance or article that is made, manufactured, or used to produce an explosion, detonation, or propulsive or pyrotechnic effect, except:

a. substances and articles that are not in and of themselves explosive; or

b. substances and articles listed in the Annex to this Convention.

6. "Other related materials": any component, part, or replacement part of a firearm, or an accessory which can be attached to a firearm.

7. "Controlled delivery": the technique of allowing illicit or suspect consignments of firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials to pass out of, through, or into the territory of one or more states, with the knowledge and under the supervision of their competent authorities, with a view to identifying persons involved in the commission of offenses referred to in Article IV of this Convention.

ARTICLE II
Purpose


The purpose of this Convention is:

to prevent, combat, and eradicate the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials;

to promote and facilitate cooperation and exchange of information and experience among States Parties to prevent, combat, and eradicate the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials.

ARTICLE III
Sovereignty


1. States Parties shall carry out the obligations under this Convention in a manner consistent with the principles of sovereign equality and territorial integrity of states and that of nonintervention in the domestic affairs of other states.

2. A State Party shall not undertake in the territory of another State Party the exercise of jurisdiction and performance of functions which are exclusively reserved to the authorities of that other State Party by its domestic law.

ARTICLE IV
Legislative Measures


1. States Parties that have not yet done so shall adopt the necessary legislative or other measures to establish as criminal offenses under their domestic law the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials.

2. Subject to the respective constitutional principles and basic concepts of the legal systems of the States Parties, the criminal offenses established pursuant to the foregoing paragraph shall include participation in, association or conspiracy to commit, attempts to commit, and aiding, abetting, facilitating, and counseling the commission of said offenses.


ARTICLE V
Jurisdiction

1. Each State Party shall adopt such measures as may be necessary to establish its jurisdiction over the offenses it has established in accordance with this Convention when the offense in question is committed in its territory.

2. Each State Party may adopt such measures as may be necessary to establish its jurisdiction over the offenses it has established in accordance with this Convention when the offense is committed by one of its nationals or by a person who habitually resides in its territory.

3. Each State Party shall adopt such measures as may be necessary to establish its jurisdiction over the offenses it has established in accordance with this Convention when the alleged criminal is present in its territory and it does not extradite such person to another country on the ground of the nationality of the alleged criminal.

4. This Convention does not preclude the application of any other rule of criminal jurisdiction established by a State Party under its domestic law.


ARTICLE VI
Marking of Firearms

1. For the purposes of identification and tracing of the firearms referred to in Article I.3.a, States Parties shall:

a. require, at the time of manufacture, appropriate markings of the name of manufacturer, place of manufacture, and serial number;

b. require appropriate markings on imported firearms permitting the identification of the importer's name and address; and

c. require appropriate markings on any firearms confiscated or forfeited pursuant to Article VII.1 that are retained for official use.

2. The firearms referred to in Article I.3.b should be marked appropriately at the time of manufacture, if possible.


ARTICLE VII
Confiscation or Forfeiture


1. States Parties undertake to confiscate or forfeit firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials that have been illicitly manufactured or trafficked.

2. States Parties shall adopt the necessary measures to ensure that all firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials seized, confiscated, or forfeited as the result of illicit manufacturing or trafficking do not fall into the hands of private individuals or businesses through auction, sale, or other disposal.


ARTICLE VIII
Security Measures


States Parties, in an effort to eliminate loss or diversion, undertake to adopt the necessary measures to ensure the security of firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials imported into, exported from, or in transit through their respective territories.


ARTICLE IX
Export, Import, and Transit Licenses or Authorizations

1. States Parties shall establish or maintain an effective system of export, import, and international transit licenses or authorizations for transfers of firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials.


2. States Parties shall not permit the transit of firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials until the receiving State Party issues the corresponding license or authorization.

3. States Parties, before releasing shipments of firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials for export, shall ensure that the importing and in-transit countries have issued the necessary licenses or authorizations.

4. The importing State Party shall inform the exporting State Party, upon request, of the receipt of dispatched shipments of firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials.


ARTICLE X
Strengthening of Controls at Export Points


Each State Party shall adopt such measures as may be necessary to detect and prevent illicit trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials between its territory and that of other States Parties, by strengthening controls at export points.


ARTICLE XI
Recordkeeping


States Parties shall assure the maintenance for a reasonable time of the information necessary to trace and identify illicitly manufactured and illicitly trafficked firearms to enable them to comply with their obligations under Articles XIII and XVII.


ARTICLE XII
Confidentiality


Subject to the obligations imposed by their Constitutions or any international agreements, the States Parties shall guarantee the confidentiality of any information they receive, if requested to do so by the State Party providing the information. If for legal reasons such confidentiality cannot be maintained, the State Party that provided the information shall be notified prior to its disclosure.

ARTICLE XIII
Exchange of Information


1. States Parties shall exchange among themselves, in conformity with their respective domestic laws and applicable treaties, relevant information on matters such as:

a. authorized producers, dealers, importers, exporters, and, whenever possible, carriers of firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials;

b. the means of concealment used in the illicit manufacturing of or trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials, and ways of detecting them;

c. routes customarily used by criminal organizations engaged in illicit trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials;

d. legislative experiences, practices, and measures to prevent, combat, and eradicate the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials; and

e. techniques, practices, and legislation to combat money laundering related to illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials.

2. States Parties shall provide to and share with each other, as appropriate, relevant scientific and technological information useful to law enforcement, so as to enhance one another's ability to prevent, detect, and investigate the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials and prosecute those involved therein.

3. States Parties shall cooperate in the tracing of firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials which may have been illicitly manufactured or trafficked. Such cooperation shall include accurate and prompt responses to trace requests.


ARTICLE XIV
Cooperation


1. States Parties shall cooperate at the bilateral, regional, and international levels to prevent, combat, and eradicate the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials.


2. States Parties shall identify a national body or a single point of contact to act as liaison among States Parties, as well as between them and the Consultative Committee established in Article XX, for purposes of cooperation and information exchange.


ARTICLE XV
Exchange of Experience and Training


1. States Parties shall cooperate in formulating programs for the exchange of experience and training among competent officials, and shall provide each other assistance that would facilitate their respective access to equipment or technology proven to be effective for the implementation of this Convention.


2. States Parties shall cooperate with each other and with competent international organizations, as appropriate, to ensure that there is adequate training of personnel in their territories to prevent, combat, and eradicate the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials. The subject matters of such training shall include, inter alia:

a. identification and tracing of firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials;

b. intelligence gathering, especially that which relates to identification of illicit manufacturers and traffickers, methods of shipment, and means of concealment of firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials; and

c. improvement of the efficiency of personnel responsible for searching for and detecting, at conventional and nonconventional points of entry and exit, illicitly trafficked firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials.

ARTICLE XVI
Technical Assistance


States Parties shall cooperate with each other and with relevant international organizations, as appropriate, so that States Parties that so request receive the technical assistance necessary to enhance their ability to prevent, combat, and eradicate the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials, including technical assistance in those matters identified in Article XV.2.

ARTICLE XVII
Mutual Legal Assistance


1. States Parties shall afford one another the widest measure of mutual legal assistance, in conformity with their domestic law and applicable treaties, by promptly and accurately processing and responding to requests from authorities which, in accordance with their domestic law, have the power to investigate or prosecute the illicit activities described in this Convention, in order to obtain evidence and take other necessary action to facilitate procedures and steps involved in such investigations or prosecutions.

2. For purposes of mutual legal assistance under this article, each Party may designate a central authority or may rely upon such central authorities as are provided for in any relevant treaties or other agreements. The central authorities shall be responsible for making and receiving requests for mutual legal assistance under this article, and shall communicate directly with each other for the purposes of this article.


ARTICLE XVIII
Controlled Delivery


1. Should their domestic legal systems so permit, States Parties shall take the necessary measures, within their possibilities, to allow for the appropriate use of controlled delivery at the international level, on the basis of agreements or arrangements mutually consented to, with a view to identifying persons involved in the offenses referred to in Article IV and to taking legal action against them.

2. Decisions by States Parties to use controlled delivery shall be made on a case-by-case basis and may, when necessary, take into consideration financial arrangements and understandings with respect to the exercise of jurisdiction by the States Parties concerned.

3. With the consent of the States Parties concerned, illicit consignments under controlled delivery may be intercepted and allowed to continue with the firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials intact or removed or replaced in whole or in part.


ARTICLE XIX
Extradition

1. This article shall apply to the offenses referred to in Article IV of this Convention.


2. Each of the offenses to which this article applies shall be deemed to be included as an extraditable offense in any extradition treaty in force between or among the States Parties. The States Parties undertake to include such offenses as extraditable offenses in every extradition treaty to be concluded between or among them.

3. If a State Party that makes extradition conditional on the existence of a treaty receives a request for extradition from another State Party with which it does not have an extradition treaty, it may consider this Convention as the legal basis for extradition with respect to any offense to which this article applies.

4. States Parties that do not make extradition conditional on the existence of a treaty shall recognize offenses to which this article applies as extraditable offenses between themselves.
5. Extradition shall be subject to the conditions provided for by the law of the Requested State or by applicable extradition treaties, including the grounds on which the Requested State may refuse extradition.

6. If extradition for an offense to which this article applies is refused solely on the basis of the nationality of the person sought, the Requested State Party shall submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution under the criteria, laws, and procedures applied by the Requested State to those offenses when they are committed in its own territory. The Requested and Requesting States Parties may, in accordance with their domestic laws, agree otherwise in relation to any prosecution referred to in this paragraph.


ARTICLE XX
Establishment and Functions of the Consultative Committee


1. In order to attain the objectives of this Convention, the States Parties shall establish a Consultative Committee responsible for:

a. promoting the exchange of information contemplated under this Convention;

b. facilitating the exchange of information on domestic legislation and administrative procedures of the States Parties;

c. encouraging cooperation between national liaison authorities to detect suspected illicit exports and imports of firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials;

d. promoting training and exchange of knowledge and experience among States Parties and technical assistance between States Parties and relevant international organizations, as well as academic studies;

e. requesting from nonparty states, when appropriate, information on the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials; and

f. promoting measures to facilitate the application of this Convention.

2. Decisions of the Consultative Committee shall be recommendatory in nature.

3. The Consultative Committee shall maintain the confidentiality of any information it receives in the exercise of its functions, if requested to do so.


ARTICLE XXI
Structure and Meetings of the Consultative Committee


1. The Consultative Committee shall consist of one representative of each State Party.

2. The Consultative Committee shall hold one regular meeting each year and shall hold special meetings as necessary.

3. The first regular meeting of the Consultative Committee shall be held within 90 days following deposit of the 10th instrument of ratification of this Convention. This meeting shall be held at the headquarters of the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States, unless a State Party has offered to host it.

4. The meetings of the Consultative Committee shall be held at a place decided upon by the States Parties at the previous regular meeting. If no offer of a site has been made, the Consultative Committee shall meet at the headquarters of the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States.

5. The host State Party for each regular meeting shall serve as Secretariat pro tempore of the Consultative Committee until the next regular meeting. When a regular meeting is held at the headquarters of the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States, a State Party that will serve as Secretariat pro tempore shall be elected at that meeting.

6. In consultation with the States Parties, the Secretariat pro tempore shall be responsible for:

a. convening regular and special meetings of the Consultative Committee;

b. preparing a draft agenda for the meetings; and

c. preparing the draft reports and minutes of the meetings.

7. The Consultative Committee shall prepare its own internal rules of procedure and shall adopt them by absolute majority.


ARTICLE XXII
Signature


This Convention is open for signature by member states of the Organization of American States.


ARTICLE XXIII
Ratification


This Convention is subject to ratification. The instruments of ratification shall be deposited with the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States.


ARTICLE XXIV
Reservations

States Parties may, at the time of adoption, signature, or ratification, make reservations to this Convention, provided that said reservations are not incompatible with the object and purposes of the Convention and that they concern one or more specific provisions thereof.


ARTICLE XXV
Entry into Force


This Convention shall enter into force on the 30th day following the date of deposit of the second instrument of ratification. For each state ratifying the Convention after the deposit of the second instrument of ratification, the Convention shall enter into force on the 30th day following deposit by such state of its instrument of ratification.


ARTICLE XXVI
Denunciation


1. This Convention shall remain in force indefinitely, but any State Party may denounce it. The instrument of denunciation shall be deposited with the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States. After six months from the date of deposit of the instrument of denunciation, the Convention shall no longer be in force for the denouncing State, but shall remain in force for the other States Parties.

2. The denunciation shall not affect any requests for information or assistance made during the time the Convention is in force for the denouncing State.


ARTICLE XXVII
Other Agreements and Practices


1. No provision in this Convention shall be construed as preventing the States Parties from engaging in mutual cooperation within the framework of other existing or future international, bilateral, or multilateral agreements, or of any other applicable arrangements or practices.


2. States Parties may adopt stricter measures than those provided for by this Convention if, in their opinion, such measures are desirable to prevent, combat, and eradicate the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials.


ARTICLE XXVIII
Conference of States Parties


Five years after the entry into force of this Convention, the depository shall convene a conference of the States Parties to examine the functioning and application of this Convention. Each conference shall determine the date on which the next conference should be held.


ARTICLE XXIX
Dispute Settlement


Any dispute that may arise as to the application or interpretation of this Convention shall be resolved through diplomatic channels or, failing which, by any other means of peaceful settlement decided upon by the States Parties involved.


ARTICLE XXX
Deposit


The original instrument of this Convention, the English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish texts of which are equally authentic, shall be deposited with the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States, which shall forward an authenticated copy of its text to the Secretariat of the United Nations for registration and publication, in accordance with Article 102 of the United Nations Charter. The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States shall notify the member states of the Organization of the signatures, of the deposits of instruments of ratification and denunciation, and of any reservations.


ANNEX


The term "explosives" does not include: compressed gases; flammable liquids; explosive actuated devices, such as air bags and fire extinguishers; propellant actuated devices, such as nail gun cartridges; consumer fireworks suitable for use by the public and designed primarily to produce visible or audible effects by combustion, that contain pyrotechnic compositions and that do not project or disperse dangerous fragments such as metal, glass, or brittle plastic; toy plastic or paper caps for toy pistols; toy propellant devices consisting of small paper or composition tubes or containers containing a small charge or slow burning propellant powder designed so that they will neither burst nor produce external flame except through the nozzle on functioning; and smoke candles, smokepots, smoke grenades, smoke signals, signal flares, hand signal devices, and Very signal cartridges designed to produce visible effects for signal purposes containing smoke compositions and no bursting charges.



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