Just days after French President Jacques Chirac called for a a global tax on individual firearms purchases, the United Nations has announced it is gearing up to sponsor a global gun-control forum next month in New York City.

The July 7-11 meeting builds on a similar forum held in 2001, in which participating nations signed a “Program of Action” to “Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.”

The Program of Action, or PoA, “sets the first global norms of good behavior to reduce small-arms proliferation,” says a statement by the U.N. Small Arms Conference. “By agreeing to this document, all countries have formally committed themselves to take action” regarding the proliferation of “illicit” small arms and light weapons.

Among the provisions in the PoA agreed upon by member states:

  • A commitment to make “illicit gun production/possession a criminal offense”;

  • The establishment of a national coordination agency on small arms;
  • A pledge to identify and destroy stocks of surplus weapons;
  • Track “officially held guns”;
  • The notification of nations who were the original supplier of weapons when those weapons are re-exported;
  • The marking of guns and light weapons at the point of manufacture, so they can be tracked and traced globally; and
  • The maintenance of gun manufacture records.

“The purpose of the [meeting of states] in July 2003 is for governments to report their progress and lessons learned in the first two years of implementing the PoA,” said the conference statement. Groups “will make their own independent report on governments’ activities, as well as showcasing the important contributions that [non-governmental organizations] themselves are making to stop gun violence.”

U.N. officials did not return requests for comment before press time.

News of the gun-control event comes on the heels of statements made by some Group of 8 members who say they support a global tax on individuals for every gun purchase they make.

In a speech at the annual meeting of the G8, Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva pushed the arms-sales tax as a scheme whereby the world’s wealthiest nations could fund efforts to eliminate world hunger, Bloomberg News reported earlier this week.

The G8 countries are U.S., UK, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan and Russia.

Quoting the Brazilian paper Folha de S. Paulo, Bloomberg reported that Lula said such taxes would create “a global fund capable of giving food to those who are hungry and for creating the conditions to end the causes of hunger.”

The idea was championed by French President Jacques Chirac, who said Lula’s proposal was “forceful and convincing.”

“Lula’s idea is a simple one. People must be able to eat three times a day, and that is not the case today,” Chirac added, according to Agence France-Presse. “This unacceptable situation must be debated.”

According to CNSNews.com, Chirac also said a tax on weapons could be “quite justified.”

The United Nations has a history of pushing an anti-gun agenda. As early as Sept. 24, 1999, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan called on members of the Security Council to “tackle one of the key challenges in preventing conflict in the next century” – the proliferation and “easy availability” of small arms and light weapons. Annan identified them as the “primary tools of violence” in conflicts throughout the world.

Though the terms tend to be used interchangeably, the United Nations defines small arms as weapons designed for personal use, while light weapons are those designed for several persons operating as a crew. Together, however, such weapons account for virtually every kind of firearm from revolvers, pistols, rifles, carbines and light machine guns all the way to heavy machine guns, grenade launchers, portable anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns, mortars up to 100-mm caliber, and land mines.

“Even in societies not beset by civil war, the easy availability of small arms has in many cases contributed to violence and political instability,” said Annan “Controlling that easy availability is a prerequisite for a successful peace-building process.”

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