23 April 2008 Member States need to increase their collection, maintenance and sharing of data on small arms as part of measures to encourage disarmament, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in a new report made public today.
These weapons are “cheap, light and easy to handle, transport and conceal,” Mr. Ban wrote in his first-ever report on the topic.
“While a build-up of small arms alone may not create the conflicts in which they are used, their excessive accumulation and universal availability tends to aggravate conflicts by increasing the lethality and duration of violence and by increasing the sense of insecurity which leads to a greater demand for weapons.”
The Secretary-General pointed out that currently most conflicts are fought using mainly small arms and light weapons, being widely used in inter-State conflicts as well as in civil wars, terrorism, organized crime and gang warfare.
“Small arms facilitate a vast spectrum of human rights violations,” such as rape and other forms of sexual violence, torture and forced recruitment of children by armed groups or forces, he said. “More human rights abuses are committed with them than with any other weapons.
The lack of progress in curbing small arms is partially a result of limited data, coordination and capacity, Mr. Ban noted.
“Without more transparency on the part of Governments, in particular in the field of trade in small arms and ammunition, it is difficult to assess where gaps exist in the national, regional and global implementation of international instruments,” he said, calling for stepped up research on the issue by States which are in a position to do so.
The Secretary-General observed that coordination on the topic of small arms could also be improved within the UN, adding that reviving the Coordination Action on Small Arms (CASA) – established in 198 as a consultative mechanism – is one of this year’s top disarmament priorities.
CASA will also begin creating international standards for controlling small arms, similar to the ones created for mine action and for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.
The report recommended that the Security Council promote strengthened cooperation among its sanctions monitoring groups, peacekeeping missions, Member States and others. It also encouraged the Peacebuilding Commission, the Office for Disarmament Affairs and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict to boost their cooperation on the issue of children and small arms.
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