Small arms thwart stability and development, Security Council told

Hannelore Hoppe

30 April 2008 – The threat to international peace and security posed by the uncontrolled trade in small arms and their excessive accumulation and proliferation cannot be overemphasized, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council today.

“We have all witnessed how these weapons have been used to maim and kill; plunder and rape; instil fear and insecurity; block humanitarian aid; hold communities at ransom; destroy the social fabric of entire countries; and how their excessive accumulation and misuse has hindered stability and development in every way possible,” said Hannelore Hoppe, Deputy to the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.

Opening today’s debate, which heard from dozens of speakers, Ms. Hoppe presented Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s first-ever report on small arms to the Council.

In that document, Mr. Ban observed 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.

The report stressed the need for collaboration between the Council and the General Assembly to curb the illicit flows of arms and ammunition to crisis and conflict areas.

Additionally, it presents several recommendations directly involving the Council, including strengthening ties between its arms embargoes and its disarmament, demobilization and reintegration efforts, as well as to further apply its practice of tying arms embargo exceptions to security sector reform.

Ms. Hoppe told the debate that the “Secretary-General is committed to further improving coordination within the UN system with a view to strengthening its action regarding small arms issues.”

As a result, one of his disarmament priorities for this year will be reviving the Coordinating Action on Small Arms (CASA), which was established in 1998 as a consultative mechanism, she pointed out.

Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo of South Africa, which holds the Council’s rotating presidency for April, later pointed out to reporters that “more people die in Africa, in the developing world, from small arms and not from weapons of mass destruction.”

He added that even though there is no formal outcome expected to result from today’s debate, “the fact that we’ve gotten the Security Council to focus on it is significant.”


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