A UN Conference on Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects will meet from today (9th-20th July) in New York. The focus will be on rifles, machine guns, ammunition and mortars.
In the lead-up to the conference, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan recently said:
In an era where the world will no longer stand by in silence when gross and systematic violations of human rights are being committed, the United Nations is dedicated to addressing both the supply and demand aspects of the trade in small arms.
The Conference is needed because small arms
escalate violence, disturb the peace process, and complicate rebuilding after conflicts says Swiss Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss.
According to the US Congressional Research Service, the UK supplies 20-25% of all legally traded arms and military equipment, making it the second largest supplier after the United States.
Moreover, a conservative estimate by the International Committee of the Red Cross suggests that more than half the casualties of war are civilians. UNICEF say that 40% of these victims are children. Most of these injuries, deaths, displacements and traumas, are caused by the availability of small arms and light weaponry.
CAAT are calling for the following steps:
Preventing and combating illicit transfers: including marking of small arms at manufacture.
Controlling transfers: monitoring the
end-use of small arms, including measures to prevent the diversion of these weapons from their specified destination. Controlling the exports of
licensed production abroad.
Controls on the availability of small arms within states: by encouraging and financially supporting the implementation of national initiatives to regulate civilian access to small arms and light weapons, as outlined in the 1997 Resolution of the UN Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Commission.
Collection and destruction of weapons from former regions of conflict: by agreeing on a norm of destruction of surplus small arms and take steps to regularly dispose of surplus arms. Measures to monitor weapons disposal are needed. The UN, or member states, should establish an international fund to provide resources to assist countries in the collection and destruction of surplus weapons.
Implementation and follow-up: by reviewing regularly the implementation of the outcomes of the 2001 Conference on Small Arms. This could include annual reports by states on their implementation and the holding of a review conference in 3-4 years on progress made.
Additional information about the UN’s concerns regarding the misuse of small arms and the Conference can be found at: www.un.org/Depts/dda/CAB/smallarms/about.htm.
For further information regarding Small Arms and Light Weapons please contact Richard Bingley on 020 7281 0297 or 07947 230426.