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General Analysis on Small Arms

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UN Documents

Security Council | General Assembly | Expert Reports | Secretary General


Security Council

Presidential Statement on Small Arms (September 4, 2001)

During its presidency of the Security Council, Colombia has issued a Presidential Statement on the practical work that the Council can do to reduce the impact of small arms on security. (S/PRST/2001/21)

Security Council Open Debate on the SALW conference (UN Press Release August 2, 2001)

UN Document S/PV.4355 (2001) and SC/7114. The Council asserted the need to follow-up the Programme of Action from the conference. Speakers raised the issue of considering legally binding instruments for stemming illicit trade, among other things. However, states such as the US, China and Tunisia, made clear that state sovereignty must be respected and legal trade not be compromised. See also Colombia's background paper (S/2001/732) presented to the Council with nine points of consideration for the debate.

Final Report of the Monitoring Mechanism on Angola Sanctions (December 21, 2000)

"Fowler Report" on Angola (March 10, 2000)

Final Report of the UN Panel of Experts on Violations of Security Council Sanctions Against Unita.
UN Document S/2000/203 (2000)

Security Council Meeting on Small Arms (September 24, 1999)

UN Document S/PV.4048 (1999)

Security Council Resolution on Illicit Arms Flow to and from Africa (November 1998)

UN Document S/RES/1209 (1998). In this resolution, the Council recognizes the close relationship of the problem of illicit arms flows to and in Africa with international peace and security and the commercial and political motives in the illicit transfer and accumulation of small arms in Africa. The resolution also points out the "challenge of illicit arms flows to and in Africa" as affecting social and economic development.


General Assembly

General Assembly Committee on Disarmament and International Security Resolution (October 12, 2006)

At a meeting of the UN General Assembly Committee on Disarmament and International Security, 139 nations, including major arms producers with the exception of the US, agreed to begin work towards a binding instrument on arms trade. The Committee's resolution aims to improve the respect of arms embargoes and reduce conflicts by establishing a treaty which includes "common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms." The resolution requests a report from the UN Secretary General in a year time on the feasibility and scope of common international standards for conventional arms trade.

Revised Draft Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition and Other Related Materials (February 2, 2000)

UN Document A/AC.254/4/Add.2/Rev.4

Resolution 54/54V (December 15, 1999)

The UN General Assembly resolution which called for convening a conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in 2001.


Expert Reports

Rocard-Konare Report (December 5, 2000)

Report by the Eminent Persons Group on "The Role of Small Arms Control Regime in Stemming Small Arms and Light Weapons Proliferation".

Expert Report on Small Arms (August 19, 1999)

UN Document A/54/258


Secretary General

Report of the Secretary General on Small Arms (April 17, 2008)

Security Council members fail to reduce small arms flows, says Ban Ki-moon. Despite UN arms embargos, small arms remain widely available in countries like Somalia and Sudan. Ban urges member states to share data on the sale and flow of these weapons, and recommends that the Security Council incorporate embargo-monitoring units to peacekeeping missions and create an international mechanism to trace arms transactions.

Report of the Secretary General on Assistance to States for Combating Small Arms Trade (July 25, 2005)

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan praises regional and sub-regional action on curbing illegal trading of small arms and light weapons, noting special efforts by African countries to hold conferences on the matter and to ask for assistance from UN agencies. The report is a follow-up on previous General Assembly resolutions asking states to assist with small arms control and setting up an Open-ended Working Group on tracing illegal weapons sales. Annan expresses hope in the report that progress within regions will spur "further action at the global level."

Reports of the Secretary General on Small Arms (February 7, 2005)

This report reflects on the Security Council's involvement in tackling "illicit trade in small arms." UN Secretary General Kofi Annan acknowledges that some progress has been made in areas such as "the adoption of more vigorous measures against violations of arms embargos." Nevertheless, he notes that the Council needs to interact more with the General Assembly and work further towards "the reintegration of former combatants into their communities."

Reports of The Secretary General on Small Arms (September, 2000)

Report of the UN Secretary General on Illicit Traffic in Small Arms (August 25, 2000)

UN Document A/55/323

Report of the UN Secretary General on Small Arms (July 28, 2000)

With replies from Brazil, China, Colombia, Jordan and Ukraine. UN Document A/55/189

Report of the UN Secretary General on Illicit Traffic in Small Arms (October 22, 1999)

UN Document A/54/404

Report of the UN Secretary General on Small Arms (July 7, 1998)

UN Document A/53/169


Picture Credit: UNICEF


Key Documents and Analysis


Time for an Arms Trade Treaty (November 11, 2009)

The UN has agreed to host a major diplomatic conference in 2010 with the aim to finalize an Arms Trade Treaty. But the success of an Arms Trade Treaty will exceed the formulation of a written agreement - it will require civilian compliance. Miliband and Kouchner, the UK and French foreign ministers, argue that curbing the spread of weapons will require  awareness and moral understanding throughout all societies. For this reason, they argue that NGOs will have an increasingly vital role to play in challenging this destructive trade. (The Guardian)

How Human Rights Rules in an Arms Trade Treaty Can Help Deliver Real Security (October 2009)

Arms merchants and states violate international law by irresponsible arms sales. This Amnesty International Report proposes that an effective Arms Trade Treaty should use rigorous risk assessments to restrict this deadly trade and prevent arms transferring states from fuelling worldwide human rights abuses. (Amnesty International)

Dying for Action (October 7, 2009)

Oxfam and a coalition of NGOs are calling for the UN to move forward with an effective international treaty on the trade in conventional arms.  Since the General Assembly first voted to work "towards an Arms Trade Treaty" (ATT) in December 2006, almost 2.1 million people have died as a result of armed violence, but the ATT is still stuck in the slow lane of diplomacy. In this briefing note, Oxfam makes the case for international cooperation in the realm of arms trade and maps out what an effective and enforceable treaty would look like. (Oxfam)

Small Arms Survey 2009: Shadows of War

The 2009 Small Arms Survey confirms the continued rise in the global trade of small arms and light weapons. The value of global trade in small arms reached $2.9 billion in 2006, a rise of 28% since 2000. The United States, as a top exporter and the biggest importer of small arms, is the major driver of this increase. Between 2001 and 2006, light weapons resulted in the deaths of 450,000 people. The abundance of such arms has fuelled many conflicts, including in Afghanistan, Southern Lebanon and Indonesia's Aceh province. (Small Arms Survey)

Blood at the Crossroads – Making the Case for A Global Arms Trade Treaty (September 17, 2008)

This Amnesty International report outlines examples of human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law in different countries resulting from the illicit arms trade. The General Assembly adopted resolution 61/89 in 2006, which calls for common international standards on importing, exporting and transferring conventional arms. China, Russia, India, the US and many other weapon exporters and recipients, try to undermine the creation of such a treaty.

Africa's Missing Billions: International Arms Flows and the Cost of Conflict (October 2007)

This report shows how the illegal arms trade can disable development in African countries. The report estimates around US$300 billions have been spent since 1990, during African civil wars, money that could have been used to solve problems of HIV, education, water and diseases. The authors believe that Africa needs an effective Arms Trade Treaty a step to resolve this crisis. (IANSA, Oxfam and Safeworld)

United Nations Arms Embargoes: Their Impact on Arms Flows and Target Behavior (September 2007)

This report states that the P5 (US, France, Russia, China, UK) were responsible for violating several UN arms embargoes between 1990 and 2006. The report argues that the P5 undermined efforts to impose arms embargoes around the world by allowing their own arms industries to smuggle weapons into countries like Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Liberia. The authors recommend that the Security Council hold the P5 accountable for undermining the Council's mandates and establish review panels that will regularly asses the success of UN embargoes. (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute)

Arms without Borders (September 2006)

This report released by Amnesty International, Oxfam and International Action Network on Small Arms urges governments from countries producing arms to adopt new international standards and regulations for an effective control of global arms trade. With weapons commonly assembled from components originated from across the world, no single company is responsible for the production of each weapon. This necessitates international cooperation to effectively ensure that global trade of small arms does not supply embargoed destinations including Sudan and Uganda.

Shooting Down the MDGs (October 8, 2008)

This report states that irresponsible arms trade hinders developing countries from achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Arms trade drains the governments' national budget by utilizing the money for weapons instead of for public services, such as health, education and infrastructure. Furthermore, unregulated arms trade often leads to huge national debts and fuels armed violence. This report calls for all governments to agree on an international Arms Trade Treaty to ensure that the arms trade does not undermine Millennium Development Goals.(Oxfam)

Banking on Bloodshed: UK High Street Banks' Complicity in the Arms Trade (October 2008)

In 2006, global expenditure on weapons amounted to US$1,158 billion, whereas countries only gave US$104 billion in development aid. The US accounts for 46 percent of global military spending, with US$528,7 billion in 2006, and the P5 – the US, China, France, the UK and Russia – account for 90 percent of the world's arms exports. War on Want gives an overview of how UK banks invest in arms companies, and thereby contribute to civilian suffering in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Arms Transfers to Sudan, 2004-2006 (September 25, 2008)

This report by Human Rights First gives an overview of the arms transfers to Sudan from 2004-2006. China, Russia, Spain, Turkey and other countries violated the 2004 Security Council arms embargo that requires all governments to prevent the sale or supply of weapons to Sudan. The US, the UK, France and Sweden also possibly violate the embargo because they did not take all possible measures to prevent the transfer of arms by third countries to Sudan.

Violence in Karamoja: Armed Violence and the Failure of Disarmament in Uganda's Most Deprived Region (June 2008)

This Small Arms Survey report warns of the high levels of small arms violence in eastern Uganda, which has impaired communities' socio-economic development. The report claims the Ugandan government provides inadequate security, forcing communities to use small arms as the main means of protection. The author argues that violence will only end when the government changes its strategy from forced disarmament to effective policing and economic development.

Security Council Report Update: Small Arms (April 18, 2008)

The US blocks proposed UN Security Council action on small arms and light weapons control, according to Security Council Report. The US remains one of the largest exporters of these weapons, and the small arms industry is worth an estimated US$5 billion globally per year. The report shows that small arms and light weapons account for over half a million deaths a year, primarily in Africa.

Development and Security in Exchange for Small Arms (November 28, 2007)

Keith Krause, director of the Small Arms Survey, said that international cooperation and security strategies to diminish small arms circulation have been improving. However the greatest difficulty results from civilians, fearful of violence, who hold the majority of small weapons around the world. Krause criticizes government initiatives, and affirms that only development programs to increase security and stability will lead people to hand over their weapons. (Inter Press Service)

Global Military Spending Set to Top Cold War High as Conflict Causes Record Hunger (September 22, 2006)

Global military spending will break Cold War records by the end of 2006, reaching US$1,059 billion, warns Oxfam. While the world spends more on weapons, military conflict has become a leading cause of hunger, triggering a growing number of food crises. Ongoing conflicts in Africa, Afghanistan and Gaza hamper relief efforts, leaving people without enough food. Aid money would better serve peaceful development rather than "dealing with the humanitarian fall-out of wars," says Oxfam's campaign director.

Global Military Spending Set to Top Cold War High as Conflict Causes Record Hunger (September 22, 2006)

Global military spending will break Cold War records by the end of 2006, reaching US$1,059 billion, warns Oxfam. While the world spends more on weapons, military conflict has become a leading cause of hunger, triggering a growing number of food crises. Ongoing conflicts in Africa, Afghanistan and Gaza hamper relief efforts, leaving people without enough food. Aid money would better serve peaceful development rather than "dealing with the humanitarian fall-out of wars," says Oxfam's campaign director.

Arms without Borders (September 2006)

SIPRI Yearbook Summary 2008: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security (August 2008)
This Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report discusses various issues such as world military expenditure, international arms production and transfers, arms production, nuclear forces, major armed conflicts and multilateral peace operations. The report shows, among other things, that the US remains the largest supplier of major conventional weapons with a 31 percent share in global arms transfers from 2003-2007.

Small Arms: The Real Weapons of Mass Destruction (May 2006)

This Integrated Regional Information Networks report argues that, because small arms are easily available and simple to use, they have a disproportionate impact, killing "far more than any other conventional weapons." Yet the global trade of small arms and light weapons is largely unregulated, allowing widespread access to these weapons and large profit for arms producers. This piece condemns arms exporting countries, mainly wealthy nations, for their lack of controls and regulations, which allows guns to easily be diverted into the black market and circumvent embargoes.

Fuelling Africa's Turmoil (May 27, 2006)

This Toronto Star article explains how the trade in small arms has resulted in young gunmen being willing to cross borders to fight in Africa's many conflicts as "hired guns." As guns become "part of the culture" in Africa, demand for small arms is fast catching up with supply. The article stresses that without investment to create jobs, many young men will take advantage of the booming trade in small arms to become career fighters, leaving countries recovering from war more susceptible to slipping back into conflict.

Dead on Time - Arms Transportation, Brokering and the Threat to Human Rights (May 10, 2006)

This Amnesty International report reveals how arms brokers and transporters from China, Israel, Italy, Switzerland, the UK, and the US – among others - have helped major arms suppliers to deliver hundreds of thousands of tons of weapons to developing countries. These weapons have fed some of the most brutal conflicts and have contributed to the ongoing killing, rape and displacement of civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan. According to Amnesty, only 35 countries have bothered to enact arms brokerage laws, "making further human rights catastrophes all but inevitable."

UN Arms Embargoes: An Overview of the Last Ten Years (March 16, 2006)

This report by Oxfam International, Amnesty International and International Action Network on Small Arms describes how UN arms embargoes aimed at preventing companies and individuals from trafficking weapons to countries engaged in conflict are violated on a regular basis. The report calls on the Security Council to overhaul the embargo system, including strengthening the UN teams responsible for policing violations.

The Call for Tough Arms Controls - Voices from Haiti (January 2006)

Irresponsible arms exports still fuel atrocities in Haiti. Armed groups in poor areas – some loyal to former President Aristide, some loyal to rival political factions, and some criminal gangs – battle against the Haitian National Police (HNP) and UN peacekeepers, and against each other. This Control Arms Campaign report records the voices of some of the Haitian people who bear the cost of the world's continuing failure to control the arms trade and asks responsible arms exporters and arms-affected states to begin negotiations on an Arms Trade Treaty.

The Call for Tough Arms Controls: Voices from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (January 2006)

This report from the Control Arms Campaign highlights the devastating human cost of the arms trade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The report also condemns the world's continuing failure to control the arms trade in the DRC. The countries that supply guns to the DRC must agree on clear principles on the exportation of small arms to prevent weapons from getting into the wrong hands. As a humanitarian officer puts it, "there are so many weapons here that each person makes his own law."

UN "Deal" on Arms Controls Means Business as Usual for the World's Worst Arms Dealers (July 14, 2005)

A UN agreement on tracking small arms will do little to stop sales to human rights abusers because of loopholes and the absence of a legally binding system, warn Amnesty, Oxfam and the International Action Network on Small Arms. Due in part to resistance from the United States, Iran and Egypt, the agreement does not track ammunition, shells and explosives, and it allows states to keep information classified on the grounds of "national security." Such loopholes render the agreement almost "voluntary."

Democratic Republic of Congo: Arming the East (July 5, 2005)

This Amnesty International report discusses arms sales to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from several countries and from arms dealers such as Victor Bout, emphasizing the destruction these weapons cause within the country. Noting special concern with Rwandan, Ugandan and Congolese government military aid to militias, the report offers concrete recommendations to the UN Security Council, all states, and especially neighboring governments to make the arms embargo more effective.

G8 Countries Defying Arms Embargoes, Says Report (June 22, 2005)

Countries in the Group of Eight (G8) are providing arms to regimes that violate human rights, despite embargoes. A report published by Amnesty, Oxfam and the International Action Network on Small Arms states that the global arms trade threatens and undermines the G8's efforts at humanitarian aid, including their commitment to debt relief. Although providing arms to abusive regimes poses a clear threat to human rights and stability, rich countries have not "made it a genuine priority" to stop the arms trade.

Small Arms: The Weapons of Mass Destruction in Today's Conflicts (June 8, 2005)

Ambassador Pasi Patokallio of Finland, Chair of the 2005 UN Biennial Meeting of States, highlights the devastating death toll caused by small arms and light weapons in civil wars in the developing world. The "widespread misuse and proliferation of small arms" perpetuates conflicts and threatens "the realization of human rights" – yet illegal arms trade continues to grow. Patokallio urges the UN to increase "public and governmental awareness of the small arms problem" and notes the need for an international treaty governing the "marking and tracing of illicit arms." (





2011 | 2010 |2009 |2008 | 2007 | 2006 | Archived Articles



Weapons Sales to the Arab World Under Scrutiny (April 1, 2011)

The recent uprising in the Middle East have cast a strong light on Western arms sales to the region.  Weapon exporters have traded with Middle Eastern governments for decades with little regard for the human rights records of these countries.  Western governments, like the US, UK, France and Germany, were more focused on securing deals for their arms industry, often in exchange for access to oil. (Spiegel Online)


Central Africa: New Arms Deal Elicits Optimism (November 22, 2010)

A group of Central African countries signed a new agreement, the Kinshasa Convention, to combat the trade of illegal Small Arms and Light Weapons in their countries. The illegal weapons are fueling conflict and contributing to regional instability. In order to reduce the availability of illicit arms, the convention targets legal parts that are used for manufacturing, assembling and repairing weapons. The hope is that monitoring licit arms and parts more closely will prevent the transition from legal to illegal, but it will take time to determine if the efforts are actually successful in reducing the movement of arms. (IRIN)

Multi-Billion-Dollar Arms Deals Could Haunt US (November 9, 2010)

The recent $60 billion US arms deal with Saudi Arabia could come back to haunt the US if the government falls and adversaries inherit billions of dollars of state-of-the-art weapons, as happened in Iran. The US is also selling arms to Israel, in particular, the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that has not even been deployed to US forces. These deals, while a welcome boon for US arms exporters, are fuelling the upward spiral of military spending as well as the Middle East regional arms race. (IPS)

Fights UN Report on Darfur (October 16, 2010)

China is trying to block the publication of a UN report that claims Chinese ammunition was shipped into Darfur in the past year - a clear violation of UN sanctions. The findings in the report provide some of the strongest evidence to date exposing the importation of arms and ammunition from China into Darfur, where the Sudanese government is engaged in a military campaign against rebels that has left 300 000 dead and driven more than 2.7 million from their homes. The UN sanctions panel has consistently claimed that large amounts of foreign ammunition and weapons, principally from China and Chad, have fueled the conflict in Darfur. But is China the only great power supplying arms and ammunition that fuel the conflict? (Washington Post)

60 Second Expert: America and the Arms Trade (October 1, 2010)

World arms sales totaled $57.5 billion in 2008 with US sales constituting 68 percent of the trade. Trafficking arms is often an instrument of US foreign policy, used to check the influence of regional rivals or support allies caught up in civil wars. The arms trade is an extremely profitable enterprise wrapped around corporate and foreign policy interests. Yet despite what US arms industry lobbyists argue, boosting the arms trade does not create US jobs. Spending on weapons projects will actually decrease GDP over time and lead to a loss of jobs. (Foreign Policy in Focus)

US Pushes $60bn Saudi Arms Deal (September 13, 2010)

The US government is planning to sell $60bn worth of aircraft and other sophisticated weapons systems to Saudi Arabia in what might be the largest US arms deal ever. The Obama administration views the arms deal as part of a broader strategy of supporting "Arab allies against Iran." However, the deal will be framed to the public as a major job creator, creating at least 75 000 jobs. The US remains the largest arms exporter in the world. (Al Jazeera)

The Convention on Cluster Munitions - a Milestone, but a Long Way to Go (August 1, 2010)

The entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions represents a momentous occasion for the movement to ban and eradicate these weapons. The Convention is a much-needed legally-binding ban. Cluster munitions are similar to land mines in that they remain in conflict zones, ready to kill indiscriminately, years after wars have ended. However, much work needs to be done to strengthen norms against the use of these weapons, so that more states will ratify this treaty and so that some of the treaty's more open clauses may be made more powerful. (Reuters Blogs)
Amnesty International has accused the Permanent Five members of the UN Security Council of allowing the transfer of arms to regions where human rights violations are rampant. Experts fear that these arms, which include such devices as powerful as anti-aircraft guns, will be used to commit serious crimes. They therefore emphasize that the Arms Trade Treaty currently under negotiation at the United Nations must regulate intermediaries in supply chains. Observers and activists are concerned that the Permanent Five are reneging on their commitments regulate the arms trade, especially since civil society has been excluded from ongoing negotiations. (Inter Press Service)
Burundi's 15-year civil war ended in 2008 but the conflict left a dangerous legacy. Al Jazeera's Malcom Webb recounts the story of a young boy who was gravely injured in a grenade attack that killed his father. Stories like these are a reminder that small arms and light weapons like guns and grenades are still readily available in Burundi despite a disarmament campaign. Experts say that there is a correlation between availability of weapons and violence, because easy access to weapons may allow long-standing community disputes to escalate quickly. (Al Jazeera)

EU Boosts Arms Manufacturers (April 6, 2010)

Arms-traders will have a central role in formulating a new European Union blueprint to stimulate weapons production, the European Commission has confirmed. Dagmar Metzger, the EU weapons official, stated that the inclusion of private companies was necessary for good industrial business; however, she declined to comment on the ethical and human rights issues of potentially expanding the arms trade. The most worrying proposal is to create an internet service, "through which small-scale arms companies could become aware of new calls for tender to supply armed forces." (IPS)

The British government has called for a review into its arms sales, after admitting that British equipment was "almost certainly" used in the Israeli-assault on Gaza last year. Following Operation Cast Lead, British arms exports to Israel significantly dropped, but some weapons and technology continued to be traded. The British government has also begun a review into its arms dealing in Sri Lanka.

Gabon: UN Concept Paper on Tackling Illicit Arms Trading in Central Africa (March 21, 2010)

In a March 19th open-meeting of the Security Council, members of the United Nations debated the destabilizing effects illicit arms have on the Central African region. Gabon argues that illicit arms undermine the region in five areas: the flow of arms encourages mercenaries, upsets peace processes, promotes child soldier recruitment, increases the number of refugees and impedes socio-economic development. This Security Council meeting sought to strengthen regional and international frameworks to control/stem the flow of arms, but an international treaty to regulate the small arms trade is yet to exist. (United Nations Security Council)



The World is Winning the Landmine War (December 6, 2009)

The past year has been the best ever for landmine destruction, say organizations gathered in Colombia for the Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty. Following a worldwide campaign against mines, the number of states using landmines has reduced to just two, while only three countries may still be producing them. Large areas were cleared in the Sudan, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, and Cambodia, allowing the local population to use the land for farming and to travel safely. In spite of these efforts, there were still over 5,000 casualties last year. (The Independent)

Cluster Bombs Trade Funded by World's Biggest Banks (October 29, 2009)

A report issued by two campaign groups reveals that the world's biggest banks - among them HSBC, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Barclays - have loaned $20 billion to firms producing cluster bombs, and earned hundreds of millions in the process. In December 2008, 90 countries committed themselves to banning cluster bombs within a year, but some American, South Korean and Turkish companies - among others - still produce them. The deadly weapons can explode years after they were used in combat, killing and maiming civilians while they carry on their daily lives. (The Guardian

UN Big Powers World's Top Military Spenders (June 11, 2009)

A report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute released June 8 shows that the world's top military spenders of 2008 were either permanent members of the Security Council or those aspiring to this rank. In spite of the continuing world financial crisis, last year's global military spending reached a record of $1.46 trillion. The "war on terror" has been used to justify increased military spending and as one country increases its arms budget it sets off insecurity and spending increases among its neighbors. (InterPress Service)

Fuelling Conflict: Foreign Arms Supplies to Israel/Gaza (February 2009)

This Amnesty International report looks at use of conventional weapons in Israel's December 2008/January 2009 Gaza assault, which killed 1,300 Palestinians. Amnesty International reports that it found traces of white phosphorus in densely populated areas. The use of white phosphorus in civilian areas is illegal under international humanitarian law. Moreover, this report shows that an overwhelming majority of the weapons used in the Gaza assault were US made. The US has exported a staggering US$ 8,273,577,000 worth of weapons to Israel from 2004 to 2007.

A Recipe for Survival (February 16, 2009)

Nuclear weapons are one of the biggest threats to humankind. Even after the devastating effects of their use in 1945, all P5 members not only acquired nuclear weapons but control a majority of the world's nuclear arsenal. Permanent members refuse to reduce their own nuclear weapons and have failed to prevent Israel, India and Pakistan from acquiring them. This article by the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohamed ElBaradei gives better insights and recommendations on how to reduce nuclear proliferation and the risks these weapons impose on the world. (International Herald Tribune)



United States Re-emerges as Leading Arms Supplier to the Developing World (December 30, 2008)

A report by the Congressional Research Service shows that in 2007 the US was the world's leading arms supplier with US $24.8 billion (41.5 percent) of all global arms agreements. With Russia and the UK ranking as the second and third largest suppliers these members of the P5 make up for 75.2 percent of the global arms flow to developing countries. (Truthout)

Cluster Bomb Treaty and the World's Unfinished Business (December 13, 2008)

The US, Russia, China, Pakistan, Israel and India do not want to sign a treaty that bans the production and use of cluster bombs because these countries are actively trading and using the weapon. Without these countries signing the cluster bomb treaty, the effort to diminish victims of exploding munitions – of whom 98 percent are civilians – will remain largely symbolic. (Common Dreams)

Laos Reaps Deadly Harvest (December 10, 2008)

During the "secret war" between 1964 and 1973, the US attacked Laos, leaving 80 million unexploded cluster bombs in the country. Every day, the weapons kill poor citizens who try to make a living by collecting metal parts and selling them. Laos has only cleaned up 400,000 cluster munitions and is unlikely to meet the goals of the cluster bomb treaty, which demands that member states remove all cluster bomb remnants before 2010. (Mail & Guardian)

Momentum for Signing of Ban Treaty Grows (November 14, 2008)

The US, Russia, China, Israel, and other major weapon traders are pushing for a new protocol to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), which would allow for the use of all cluster munitions for up to 20 years. Countries like Belgium, Ireland and New Zealand oppose the CCW, and instead support the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which seeks to ban these weapons. The Convention opens for signature in Oslo on December 3, 2008 and will enter into force 6 months after 30 countries have signed it. (Human Rights Watch)

UN Charter 26 and Disarmament (November 17, 2008)

Article 26 of the UN Charter gives the Security Council the task of formulating plans to establish a system that regulates armaments. Political Affairs Magazine argues that the Council has failed to create legally binding armament regulations and instead pushed off this task to the General Assembly. Moreover, since the permanent members of the Council are the world's main weapon exporters, the lack of binding arms agreements benefits them.

An Arms Trade Treaty: In Our Sights Or In Our Dreams? (November 2008)

On October 31, 2008, countries voted to create an Arms Trade Treaty, establishing common legally binding standards that govern states' decisions to sell arms. However, the practical realization of such a treaty will encounter difficulties since China, Egypt, the US, Russia and other countries oppose an agreement that hampers their arms trade. In addition, it will be difficult to establish a body that independently assesses country's treaty infringements and punishes violators, because not all states will accept this. (International Relations and Security Network)

UN Register Captures Expanded Small Arms Trade (October 2008)

In 2006, the UN opened a register for data on countries' trade in small arms and light weapons. Although the number of countries filing voluntary reports increased, the US - recipient of 75 percent of exported small arms- did not submit any information to the register. Other large importers of weapons are Mexico, Russia and South Africa, which all imported more than 10, 00 weapons.(Arms Control Association)

International Arms Trade Treaty: Gun Control (October 2008)

The number of civilian casualties during wars has grown from five percent at the start of the century to approximately ninety percent during the 1990's. Several countries including Argentina, Japan and Mexico, introduced a General Assembly Resolution in 2006, to establish a treaty with common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms. This Chatham House article argues that such a treaty will be difficult to enforce since it is not clear who will impose sanctions on treaty violators and what these sanctions will consist of.

Human Rights Watch Observations on the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) Draft Protocol on Cluster Munitions (September 2008)

Human Rights Watch argues that the draft protocol to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) only seeks to regulate the use of cluster munitions instead of banning them. The protocol also does not apply to all cluster weapons, which allows countries to use of certain types of munitions without limit. Moreover, because the protocol does not prohibit the use of cluster munitions on agricultural lands and farms, unexploded weapons threaten civilians.

Binding Treaty Eludes Small Arms Trade (August 8, 2008)

UN member states have made little progress in drafting international laws to control the proliferation of illicit small arms. There are over 600 million small arms in open and underground markets around the world, causing an alarming 1,000 deaths each day. This Inter Press Service article recommends that member states should increase international cooperation and act to halt the illegal trade in small arms.

US Position Complicates Global Efforts to Curb Illicit Arms (July 19, 2008)

Since 2001, UN member states have implemented various programs to halt the illegal trade of small arms around the world. These programs encourage governments to tighten controls on manufacturing, marking, tracing and exporting small arms, and to restrict illicit flows into regionsin conflict. The US, though, resists these programs and continues to abstain from any formal commitment. This complicates effective global disarmament since the US arms industry is currently the largest in the world. (New York Times)

‘Craft Guns' Fuel West Africa Crime Epidemic (July 8, 2008)

Despite the UN restriction on international arms trade in West Africa, the number of illegal weapons circulating in the region has soared. Locally made "craft guns" are replacing the unattainable industrial weapons, fueling the trade of small arms and increasing crime rates in Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone. This Independent article urges the region's governments to implement programs to change the gun culture in the region, and provide incentives for gun manufacturers to seek alternative work.

Banning Cluster Bombs: Light in the Darkness of Conflicts (June 5, 2008)

According to this Newropeans Magazine article, 111 countries attended a Cluster Munitions conference in Dublin on May 30, 2008. Unexploded cluster bombs continue to kill many civilian victims, long after the conflict has ended. Australia and Iceland as well as other participating countries, plan to officially meet and sign a treaty in December 2008 to end the use of these munitions. Unfortunately, the US, Russia, China, Israel, India and Pakistan, all major producers and users of cluster munitions, deliberately did not attend the Dublin conference and are ambivalent towards banning the trade and use of these deadly weapons.

UN Fully Exempts Congo Government from Arms Ban (March 31, 2008)

France has drafted a resolution at the Security Council exempting the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo from a UN arms embargo. Previously, the embargo prevented the government from purchasing arms for military units that had not been through a national integration program. Amnesty International criticized the exemption as premature, noting that the army and police use arms and munitions "to commit daily abuses against civilians, including widespread killings and rapes." (Reuters)

Cluster Munitions at a Glance (February 2008)

This Arms Control Association article outlines international initiatives to ban cluster bombs. The 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons does not restrict the use of cluster munitions, but requires member states to clean up cluster munitions after a conflict. Participating members of the Oslo declaration intend to prohibit the use of cluster munitions at a convention in December 2008. International attention for these weapons grew after Israel left an estimated one million unexploded cluster munitions in Lebanon in 2006.



UN Arms Embargoes Can Be Potent Symbol – Study (November 26, 2007)

UN Security Council arms embargos have been related to different international peace and security goals. This study shows that those embargoes with strong support, such as from a peacekeeping operation in the field, or collaboration from neighboring countries, had greater chances of success. Also, imposing arms embargos on countries without "powerful endorsement," from the P-5 Council members, have proved to be easier. (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute)

Arms Continue to Flow into Darfur, Security Council Expert Panel Finds (October 10, 2007)

The UN Security Council sent experts to analyze the arm embargo in Darfur. The mission ended in August 2007. The Expert Panel report indicates that the Sudanese government and rebel groups do not respect the UN arms embargo, and continue to traffic weapons through Chad and Eritrea's borders. Constant hostilities among the parties, the Sudanese government and rebel groups, lessen the possibility of peace. Because these groups violated international humanitarian and human rights law, the experts recommend a stronger UN presence in the whole of Sudan. (UN News)

UN Security Council Will Not Impose Strict Restrictions on Arms Deals (October 6, 2007)

Amnesty International urged the UN Security Council to impose an arms embargo on Myanmar. Ironically "all the permanent nation members within the UN Security Council are profiting lucratively from the sales and transfer of weapons to other countries." If the Council takes any action on this issue of arms, which seems unlikely, it will act against its own arm trading. International organizations like the International Peace Research Institute, consider the US and Russia as the ‘biggest global arms dealers.' (Readings From A Political Duo-ble)



UN Initiates Arms Trade Agreement (October 27, 2006)

With overwhelming support and one negative vote - from the US - the UN General Assembly Committee on Disarmament adopted a resolution to start work on an arms trade treaty. The treaty will aim to close the loopholes that allow arms to fuel conflicts and to violate UN arms embargoes. While NGOs and experts perceive this first step as a positive engagement of the UN towards the strengthening of arms embargoes and the prevention of human rights abuses, observers warn that many hurdles remain to ensure the global control of arms. (BBC)

Bullets in the Congo: New Research (October 16, 2006)

Oxfam International, Amnesty International and the International Action Network on Small Arms published a common report on small arms. The organizations' findings reveal that arms originated from Greece, China, Russia and the USA made their way to rebel groups in the region of Ituri in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), despite the UN arms embargo. The campaigners believe that the violation of the embargo results not from direct sale to rebels but through neighboring countries. As the UN opens a discussion on arms trade this October 2006, the three NGOs urge the UN negotiators to establish global standards for arms sales.

The Role of Small Arms in African Civil Wars (September 21, 2006)

Of the 640 million small arms circulating in the world, estimates state that 100 million circulate in Africa. Despite the efforts by some African governments to deal with the menace caused by small arms, arms brokers and governments undermine these efforts by providing small arms to "non-state actors" often to gain control over an area with valuable mineral resources. The author of this Pambazuka article calls on the United Nations to challenge and to pressure weapons manufacturers to slow production in the hope of protecting children from small arms.

WMDs in Slow Motion (July 11, 2006)

Mary Robinson contrasts the world reaction to the North Korean missile test with the little attention given to the spread of small arms and light weapons. Described by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as "weapons of mass destruction in slow motion," small arms kill more people each year than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki put together. However, the UN's attempt to reach a global agreement on slowing the arms trade has been frustrated by a small number of countries, most notably the US, blocking key provisions of the UN small arms and light weapons conference agreement. (Guardian)

A Shot in the Dark (June 27, 2006)

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has reacted angrily to the efforts of the United Nations to curb the flow of light weapons. As government officials and NGOs prepare to meet in New York to discuss plans for an international arms trade treaty that would introduce a set of global rules to crack down on illicit brokers and traffickers, the NRAs opposition could undermine the efforts at persuading the US to join the effort. (Guardian)

Can UN Stem Flow of Small Arms? (June 15, 2006)

At the UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects in 2001, member states pledged to take steps to curb the proliferation of small arms, but five years later, little has been done. NGOs have repeatedly called on the UN to adopt an international treaty imposing legally binding standards for the small-arms trade. As UN member states gather to review progress and endorse global standards, this Christian Science Monitor article urges the US "to join this effort" and not to stall the process as it did in 2005.

Arms Dealer Bust Embargoes With Impunity (June 11, 2006)

A Dutch court has sentenced arms trafficker Guus Kouwenhoven to eight years in prison for breaking a UN weapons embargo in Liberia. With successful prosecutions very rare, the trial "underscored the difficulty of jailing the money men who enable the wars that have killed hundreds of thousands in Africa and trouble spots around the world." As prosecutors plan to focus on the bankers and lawyers that support arms traders, the Kouwenhoven conviction may have the adverse affect of driving the arms trade further underground. (Forbes)

Global Arms Trade: Africa and the Curse of the AK-47 (April 6, 2006)

While UN diplomats discuss the possibility of adopting a global arms-trade treaty, Mandari warriors, a tribe of nomadic cattle herders in southern Sudan, share with the Independent how AK-47 guns – the remains of a 23-year civil war - have affected their lives and culture. From child abduction by gun-toting rivals to a new and unfamiliar lack of respect for human life, guns are perceived as a necessary but corrosive evil. As a Mandari leader puts it, "All the rules that once applied have been rewritten."

One Death Every Minute (January 25, 2006)

The US$ 20 billion arms trade business is barely regulated. Poor and crisis-shaken countries suffer from its bloody consequences. With a UN meeting on small arms trade in June 2006, this article asks governments and NGOs to push for an international arms trade treaty. Governments must recognize that arms proliferation is one of the main drivers of human rights abuse and poverty. (Guardian)

International Gun Trade Targeted at UN (January 11, 2006)

In the wake of the June 2006 UN Summit on small arms control, human rights groups demand that governments agree on a treaty that would ban the illegal trade of guns. Oxfam International believes that in the absence of a legally binding treaty, the existing arms controls are powerless to protect innocent civilians from violence. The G8 countries, who account for more than 80 percent of the global supply of arms, sell guns to regimes with a history of human rights violations or to countries where weapons will go to war criminals, such as in Haiti, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sierra Leone. (OneWorld)




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