UN urged to curb illegal trade of small weapons

UN urged to curb illegal trade of small weapons

The United Nations was called Wednesday to fight the illegal trade in small arms and light weapons, which are linked to the deaths of thousands of people each year in violence tied to internal conflicts and drugs trafficking, the dpa reported.

Speaking on behalf of the European Union, Slovenian Ambassador Sanja Stiglic said the EU considers the proliferation of those types of weapons around the world as among the "most dangerous challenges and threats to global stability and security, as well as to economic and social development and prosperity."

Stiglic said the EU is committed to curbing the uncontrolled spread and availability of the weapons and ammunition.

The EU was joined by dozens of countries during an open debate in the UN Security Council to discuss measures to end the illegal trade of small arms and light weapons.

In a biannual report to the 15-nation council, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said there were no accurate figures for the number of such weapons circulating around the world. But the report said authoritative sources estimated the weapons at 875 million, including a large number sold illegally around the world.

The debate focused on the illegal trade, which escapes government control while the weapons inflict deaths around the world in violence from domestic conflicts to small-scale wars. Small and light weapons can enter the illicit market through distribution, theft, leakage or divergence and resale, the report said.

The report said more than 1,000 companies from 100 countries are involved in small arms production, which is worth billions of dollars each year.

Current measures to fight the illegal arms trade include marking and tracing, and UN arms embargoes. But the measures have not diminished the illegal trade.

The UN adopted in 2001 a programme of action against the illicit trade of small and light weapons, but not all provisions have been implemented.

South African Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo said such weapons have become the weapons of choice for warlords who have been able to recruit children in some of the intractable conflicts in Africa.

"The UN Security Council has the responsibility to review how small arms contribute negatively to the maintenance of international peace and security," Kumalo said.

Mexico's Ambassador Claude Heller said his government favours strengthening the marking and tracing regulations and making them binding on government. The measures allow authorities to track the weapons back to their original owners.

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