This background paper investigates the scope for a more ambitious role of the European Union in advocating high common standards at the United Nations on combating the illicit trade in illicit small arms and light weapons. The first part of the paper reviews the main policy initiatives on SALW control at the UN and provides an update on relevant developments at the 59th UN First Committee meeting in October-November 2004. The second part looks at specific control issues that the EU should advocate at the UN. They relate to high common standards on arms transfers, the tracing of illicit arms and ammunition, the advance of international norms on arms brokering controls, the promotion of transfers and stockpile security, and the strengthening of common understandings on controls on end-use and re-transfers of SALW. The paper concludes by arguing that these measures are mutually reinforcing and are essential to effective controls on SALW. The paper’s final section spells out specific recommendations to the EU and its member states in this context. The annex to the paper contains a summary of the UN Programme of Action on SALW, which provides the main framework for global SALW controls.