Small Arms and Light Weapons: Light and Lethal

The United Nations is about to convene its first conference on the global trade in small arms and light weapons. It offers member states the opportunity for decisive action on an urgent humanitarian crisis: the catastrophic toll that the unchecked proliferation of small arms takes on civilians. But governments are endangering the outcome by dodging their responsibilities.

The World Today Published 1 July 2001 Updated 26 October 2020 5 minute READ

Charli Wyatt

Attended Meetings of the Preparatory Committee for the UN Conference on the 'Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects'

Small arms and light weapons are the primary tools in most of today’s wars, producing a devastating impact when used by abusive forces in Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan, and elsewhere. The attention the international community is focusing on this issue in anticipation of this month’s conference is desperately needed and long overdue.

But key governments are treating it as an opportunity to avoid embarrassment at the hands of a landmines-style international negotiating process, by appearing to do something while in fact hoping for a toothless document based on the lowest common denominator.

Subscribe to read all issues

Articles from the current issue are free to read by all, the archive is exclusive to magazine subscribers and our members. Subscribe or become a member to view articles from the archive.