Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Representing Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers, Maryknoll Sisters, and Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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UN Conference on Small Arms, Light Weapons

The following article was published in the November-December 2012 NewsNotes.

"My mission can only be successful if the feeling is shared that the illicit trade in small arms forms a huge impediment for growth, development, safety and security." Ambassador Joy Ogwu of Nigeria, President of the Second Review Conference for the Program of Action (UNPoA) on Small Arms and Light Weapons

From August 27-September 7, the UN conducted its Second Review Conference regarding its Program of Action for Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALWs); a framework for activities to counter the illicit trade in such arms. Small arms are weapons of choice for insurgents, armed gang members, pirates, and terrorists, all of whom can multiply their force through the use of unlawfully acquired firepower; small arms are cheap, light, and easy to handle, transport and conceal.

The illicit circulation of small arms, light weapons and their ammunition destabilizes communities, and impacts security and development in all regions of the world. While it is true that a build-up of small arms alone may not create the conflicts in which they are used, their excessive accumulation and wide availability aggravates the tension. The violence becomes more lethal and lasts longer, and a sense of insecurity grows, which in turn lead to a greater demand for weapons.

At the end of the Conference, member states were able to adopt a consensus document that represents a positive reaffirmation of the importance of the UNPoA framework to international peace and security and, more specifically, combating the scourge of illicit trade in SALWs. Among the conference achievements is the creation of an International Tracing Instrument (ITI).

As conference president Ambassador Joy Ogwu of Nigeria stated, "Undoubtedly, the UNPoA remains the only global framework of practical measures for combating illicit trade in SALWs and its dire humanitarian consequences."

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