20 years of UN Firearms Protocol and Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) shed light on way forward
20 years of UN Firearms Protocol and Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) shed light on way forward

Vienna (Austria), 9 August 2021 – As 2021 marks the 20th Anniversary of the UN Firearms Protocol and the Programme of Action (PoA) on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW), UNODC, jointly with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), recently held a high-level side event on the margins of the 7th Biennial Meeting of States on the PoA  (BMS7).

With a focus on the continued importance of the two instruments and their complementarity in today’s evolving scene of small arms and light weapons, the virtual event welcomed over 120 participants from around the world. A panel of experts took stock of previous successes and challenges in the area of small arms and provided key takeaways for the way forward in the framework of the Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly pinpointed the importance of the Firearms Protocol as “the only international instrument requiring States to criminalize the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, their parts and components, and ammunition.” She also stressed the importance of UNODC’s Global Firearms Programme (GFP) as the custodian of the Firearms Protocol and its role to support Member States in implementing this instrument, in addition to guidance in terms of legislation, criminal justice responses, and marking, among others. Indeed, in the last decade, the Programme has seen great success, training over 2,700 criminal justice practitioners from Africa and the Middle East, Europe, Central Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

The event’s co-host, ODA Director and Deputy to the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Thomas Markram, meanwhile referred to the complementarity of the two instruments, both in nature and character, and explained how they represent the “architecture of efforts” to address the nefarious consequences of the most commonly used weapons globally. Mr. Markram shared his perspective on the progress States have made to date, mentioning the vital role played by global, regional, sub-regional actors, including civil society organizations, academia experts, UN entities, and other international organizations, flagging that “arms control is not just an affair of the military and the security institutions.” While efforts have led to progress, there remains a necessity for continued commitment by States and stakeholders to implement small arms control measures overarchingly.

Experts’ discussions focused on three areas, featuring practitioners who shared their experiences with small arms control measures within the context of the two instruments: key achievements over the past 20 years in the fight against illicit small arms trafficking; key remaining challenges in countering their illicit trafficking; and linkages with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including the important role of women, youth, and civil society.

The Chair of the 8th Meeting of the Working Group on Firearms, Amb. Luis Javier Campuzano, spoke on upcoming challenges in countering the illicit trafficking of small arms, expressly the growing use of 3D printing for weapons manufacturing and how that brings about novel challenges for tracing and marking firearms. Mr. Campuzano also raised the alarm on the speedy upsurge of cryptocurrencies as a favored resource of organized criminal groups worldwide, and stressed the importance of recognizing firearms as the most significant enablers of crime. Finally, he recommended a gendered approach to all policies, analyses, and actions relating to the issue of firearms.

Munich condemned by Bavarian Admin Court for discriminating a member of Scientology
Munich condemned by Bavarian Admin Court for discriminating a member of Scientology
The City is now obliged to grant an eBike to a member of this Church.

The written judgment of the Bavarian State Administrative Court of Appeal (file no.  4 B 20.3008) in the case of a Munich Scientologist against the city of Munich is now available. The case dealt with the city E-Mobile Funding Directive, issued for the purpose of environmental protection, and the city´s refusal to provide a grant for the purchase of an E-Bike to the plaintiff, solely by reason of her adherence to Scientology.

The Bavarian State Admin Court condemned the city practice with unmistakable words as an unjustified interference in the religious freedom guarantee of Art. 4 of the German Constitution and as a violation of Art. 3 of the Constitution which prohibits unequal treatment before the law. The court stated:

The exclusion of applicants, who feel bound by the Scientology teachings, from the circle of recipients of grants [for an E-Bike] also constitutes a violation of fundamental rights in a multiple way. It is incompatible with the freedom of religion or philosophy and does not satisfy the equal rights requirements of the Constitution.“

Bavarian State Administrative Court, 2021

As the Federal Supreme Admin Court had judged already in 2005, also the Bavarian State Admin Court confirmed that the plaintiff and generally all members of the Church of Scientology can „in any case claim the fundamental right of Art. 4 sect. (1) of the Constitution.“ Art. 4 sect. (1) of the German Constitution guarantees the inviolability of the freedom of belief or the religious and philosophic denomination. By denial of the requested grant, the City of Munich had violated this in a multiple way.  

The city was not allowed to generally require the revelation of the religious or philosophical conviction and blanketly exclude Scientologists from its funding program for E-Bikes. The court found Measures from public authorities that are aimfully directed against the practice of a freedom right protected by Art. 4 sect. (1) of the Constitution, at any rate constitute indirect interferences with a fundamental right. These prerequisites are fulfilled in the case of the exclusion of Scientology adherents from the funding program of the defendant when connected to their personal belief.“

On the prohibition of unequal treatment practices, the court found that the city´s exclusion practice violates the fundamental equal rights principles of the Constitution. The court stated:Also for reasons of equal treatment, the exclusion of Scientology-members and -adherents from the funding program of the defendant must be considered as illegal. It violates Art. 3 sect. (1) and (3) of the Constitution“, that is to say, it violates the fundamental principle that all people are equal before the law and that they must not be subjected to disadvantages by reason of their belief or religious or philosophical conviction.

The spokesperson of the Church of Scientology of Germany was happy to comment on the judgment:

With the above a German Court for the first time called a spade a spade. We are happy that this discriminatory city practice towards Scientologists was finally „red-carded“ which it had deserved since long. This is a victory for religious freedom for all people who are subject to disadvantages in Germany by reason of their religious belief.“

Last september 2020, Scientology had requested the UN to launch an investigation on Germany for violating religious freedom, and in fact the Special Rapporteur on FORB Ahmed Shaheed, had previously written a letter to the German government inquiring them for such discriminatory practices. While the Scientologists still have some work to do to get their rights respected by German officials, it seems that international exposure and above all, proper abidance to the law and justice system, is paying off.

Photo: Steffen Flor, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Why did Sergei Magnitsky have to die?
Why did Sergei Magnitsky have to die?

Sanctions against Bozhkov, Peevski, and Zhelyazkov in Bulgaria were imposed under the so-called Magnitsky’s law. It is named after Sergei Magnitsky, who died in 2009 in Russian pre-trial detention. Who was Magnitsky and why did he have to die?

In the West, the name of Sergei Magnitsky is often pronounced alongside that of Anna Politkovskaya or Boris Nemtsov, well-known Kremlin critics who have been assassinated. But Moscow lawyer Magnitsky was not an opposition figure – and became known only after his death in pre-trial detention in 2009. Abroad, his case has become a byword for corruption and judicial arbitrariness in today’s Russia.

Second High-level Inter-parliamentary Conference on Migration and Asylum
Second High-level Inter-parliamentary Conference on Migration and Asylum

News | European Parliament

The second edition of the High-level lnterparliamentary Conference on Migration and Asylum in Europe will take place on Monday, 14 June 2021 in the European Parliament (remote meeting via video conference).

The Conference will take place under the joint auspices of the European Parliament and of the Portuguese Parliament and is organised in cooperation with the German and Slovenian Parliaments.


The aim of the Conference is to promote a broad dialogue on the management of migration in Europe, deepening the inter-parliamentary process launched in November 2020, when the first edition of the event took place. The meeting can help define comprehensive and sustainable approaches to migration challenges, which have been further heightened by the pandemic.

The conference will bring together political leaders, policymakers and also practitioners. A particular focus will be the external dimension of asylum and migration policies: how to build comprehensive partnerships with countries of origin and transit, tackling root causes of migration, and promoting a stable socio-economic environment in third countries.

Civil Liberties Committee endorses EU Digital Covid Certificate
Civil Liberties Committee endorses EU Digital Covid Certificate

News | European Parliament

The certificate will facilitate free movement without discrimination and contribute to the EU’s economic recovery.

The Civil Liberties Committee has endorsed the EU digital Covid Certificate package with 52 votes in favour, 13 votes against and 3 abstentions (EU citizens) and with 53 votes in favour, 10 votes against and 5 abstentions (third country nationals).

The EU Digital Covid Certificate will be issued by national authorities and be available in either digital or paper format. A common EU framework will allow member states to issue certificates that will be interoperable, compatible, secure and verifiable across the EU.

More information here


Chair of the Civil Liberties Committee and rapporteur Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES) said: “The EP started negotiations with very ambitious objectives in mind and has managed to achieve a good compromise through painstaking negotiations. The text voted today will ensure that freedom of movement will be safely restored across the EU as we continue to fight this pandemic, with due respect for the right of our citizens to non-discrimination and data protection.”

Next steps

The text will be tabled for vote at the June I plenary session (7-10 June 2021). It then has to be approved by the Council and be published in the Official Journal. The Regulation is expected to apply from 1 July 2021.

MEPs lay out plans for a fairer tax system fit for the digital age
MEPs lay out plans for a fairer tax system fit for the digital age

Report on “Digital Taxation: OECD negotiations, tax residency of digital companies and a possible European Digital Tax” © Image used under the license from Adobe Stock

News | European Parliament

  • International tax rules set in early 20th century are not fit for the digital economy
  • A minimum corporate tax rate urgently needed at international level
  • Taxes should be paid where value is really created
  • If progress at international level stalls, the EU should go it alone

Outdated international tax rules need to be overhauled, including a minimum effective corporate tax rate; the EU should go it alone if global negotiations fail.

Adopting their resolution a few months ahead of decisions expected from the OECD, MEPs are seeking to keep the momentum going at European level while pushing for changes on their primary concerns.

Global minimum tax rate, new taxing rights and EU at the forefront

To reduce tax avoidance and make taxes fairer, MEPs make a number of suggestions to amend outdated rules established well before the digital economy existed.

They call for a minimum effective tax rate to be set at a fair and sufficient level to discourage profit shifting and prevent damaging tax competition. In this regard, the resolution also welcomes the US administration’s recent proposal of a 21 % global corporate tax rate.

Taxing rights should reflect that, as a result of digitalisation, the interaction between businesses and consumers significantly contributes to value creation in highly digitalised business models. This would allow more taxes to be paid where value is being created, as has always been the concept behind taxation, rather than where the rates are lowest.

Finally, MEPs insist that the EU should develop its own fall-back position, which would kick in if global negotiations do not yield results by the end of the year. By mid-2021, there should be a proposal on a digital services tax and a Commission road map with different scenarios, with or without agreement at OECD level.

The resolution was adopted 549 votes in favour, 70 against and 75 abstentions.


During the debate on Wednesday, Andreas Schwab (EPP, DE), one of the co-rapporteurs said, “We have had a big problem in the last few years with digital services because they have been taxed more lightly than traditional ones. This problem grew further during the COVID-19 pandemic. Equal treatment in taxation is not only fair but it is also necessary for fair competition. This resolution provides clear and simple guidelines for how to break away from taxing digital and traditional businesses differently.”

Martin Hlaváček (Renew, CZ), the second co-rapporteur said, “Large digital players cannot have an unfair advantage over SMEs. We have a moral responsibility to ensure that digital multinationals will contribute their fair share, just like all other companies and citizens. Although this problem is best resolved at international level, this must be the last try – either there is agreement by the summer at the OECD or else the EU must adopt its own strategy. We cannot sit back forever and rely on the international level.”


Talks are currently ongoing at OECD level to rethink international tax rules comprehensively so that they better reflect the significant changes that economies have undergone due to globalisation and digitalisation. The aim is to have agreement at this level by the third quarter of 2021.

Parliament has focussed on taxation challenges since 2015 when its first temporary committee on the matter was established. This committee continued until 2019 when a permanent subcommittee was set up. The subcommittee on tax matters began its work in June 2020.

New rules adopted for quick and smooth removal of terrorist content online
New rules adopted for quick and smooth removal of terrorist content online

News | European Parliament

  • Platforms will have maximum one hour to remove flagged content
  • Educational, research, artistic and journalistic work will be protected
  • No general obligation to monitor or filter content

A new law to address the dissemination of terrorist content online was approved by Parliament on Wednesday.

The new regulation will target content such as texts, images, sound recordings or videos, including live transmissions, that incite, solicit or contribute to terrorist offences, provide instructions for such offences or solicit people to participate in a terrorist group. In line with the definitions of offences included in the Directive on combating terrorism, it will also cover material that provides guidance on how to make and use explosives, firearms and other weapons for terrorist purposes.

Terrorist content must be removed within one hour

Hosting service providers will have to remove or disable access to flagged terrorist content in all member states within one hour of receiving a removal order from the competent authority. Member states will adopt rules on penalties, the degree of which will take into account the nature of the breach and the size of company responsible.

Protection of educational, artistic, research and journalistic material

Content uploaded for educational, journalistic, artistic or research purposes, or used for awareness-raising purposes, will not be considered terrorist content under these new rules.

No general obligation to monitor or filter content

Internet platforms will not have a general obligation to monitor or filter content. However, when competent national authorities have established a hosting service provider is exposed to terrorist content, the company will have to take specific measures to prevent its propagation. It will then be up to the service provider to decide what specific measures to take to prevent this from happening, and there will be no obligation to use automated tools. Companies should publish annual transparency reports on what action they have taken to stop the dissemination of terrorist content.


The rapporteur Patryk JAKI (ECR, PL) said: “Terrorists recruit, share propaganda and coordinate attacks on the internet. Today we have established effective mechanisms allowing member states to remove terrorist content within a maximum of one hour all around the European Union. I strongly believe that what we achieved is a good outcome, which balances security and freedom of speech and expression on the internet, protects legal content and access to information for every citizen in the EU, while fighting terrorism through cooperation and trust between states.”

Next steps

The Regulation will enter into force on the twentieth day following publication in the Official Journal. It will start applying 12 months after its entry into force.