Spread of 1 Billion Small Arms, Light Weapons Remains Major Threat Worldwide, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Tells Security Council

Disarmament – Light Weapons

Spread of 1 Billion Small Arms, Light Weapons Remains Major Threat Worldwide, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Tells Security Council
5 February 2020 SC/14098
The widespread proliferation of approximately 1 billion small arms in circulation around the world — to terrorists, parties to intra-State conflict, organized criminals and warring gangs — continues to pose a major threat around the globe, the senior United Nations disarmament official told the Security Council today.

Izumi Nakamitsu, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said that small arms — such as rifles, pistols and light machine guns — contributed to some 200,000 deaths in every year from 2010 to 2015, and continue to represent a challenge that cuts across peace and security, human rights, gender, sustainable development and beyond.

Presenting the Secretary-General’s biennial report on small arms and light weapons (document S/2019/1011), she said that their use, whether in conflict or non-conflict settings, is prevalent from the Americas to Africa to Southern Europe. Indeed, no State is immune to the challenges posed by illicit weapons flows, she stressed, pointing that small arms continue to facilitate a vast spectrum of actions constituting violations human rights, including the killing and maiming of children, rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence. Noting that the Secretary-General has recognized the relationship between high levels of armed violence and challenges to the realization of sustainable development, she nevertheless emphasized that the gender dimension has not been sufficiently integrated into policies regulating small arms and light weapons.

Damien Spleeters, Deputy Director of Operations for the investigative organization Conflict Armament Research, also briefed the Council, providing a snapshot of the technical challenges on the ground. A widespread lack of detailed reporting has hampered international efforts to control the illicit flow of small arms, he noted, likening the situation to attempting to control the spread of an infectious disease without understanding its origins or transmission vectors. Some of the most common challenges identified by his organization include governmental failure to secure weapons against theft and looting, the falsifying of export-control documents and the deliberate supply, by States, of weapons to rebel, insurgent and terrorist forces…