October 24, 2008
‘Weapons of mass destruction” usually refer to nuclear, chemical and biological arms. Such WMDs have claimed comparatively few lives.
The real WMDs are small arms, particularly in Africa, have resulted in millions of deaths. Europe and China are both huge exporters of small arms. Control and monitoring is ineffective.
People are killed, injured, raped, and forced to flee from their homes as a result of the unregulated global arms trade. The Control Arms campaign, launched in 2003 by Amnesty International, Oxfam and IANSA calls for a global, legally binding agreement – an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), to ease the suffering caused by irresponsible transfers of conventional weapons and munitions.
153 governments voted at the United Nations in December 2006 to start work on developing a global Arms Trade Treaty. Over 100 states submitted responses to the UN Secretary General’s consultation on the proposed Treaty in 2007. Work began in earnest in 2008 on developing an ATT.
There is still a long haul ahead before agreement, signature and ratification. Then comes the biggest problem – enforcement.
By this time there will be hundreds of thousands more deaths. Small arms control must be made a political priority and addressed on every relevant occasion. It should be on the agenda of the EU-China summit in Lyons on 1 December.Author : Stanley Crossick