• Regulation of Civilian Possession of Small Arms and Light Weapons

      Miller, D.; Cukier, W.; Vázquez, H.; Watson, C. (International Alert, Saferworld and University of Bradford, Department of Peace Studies, Centre for International Co-operation and Security., 2002)
      The majority of small arms and light weapons currently in circulation are in civilian possession1. An estimated fifty-nine percent of weapons around the world are in civilian hands and in some regions such as Europe this is closer to eighty per cent.2 While the majority of these arms are used for lawful purposes a significant percentage are not. The misuse of these arms by civilians can cause major damage to people¿s livelihoods, health and security as well as broader repercussion such as hampering economic, social and political development and the provision of health care. One of the more controversial outcomes of the UN Small Arms conference was the failure of states to explicitly commit to more effective regulation of civilian possession and use of small arms and light weapons (SALW). Despite clear evidence of the opportunities for diversion of SALW from civilian possession to illicit trade and the serious impact of this on human security, opposition from some states to any mention of this issue within the Programme of Action (PoA) prevented the inclusion of language concerning the regulation of privately owned SALW. Nevertheless, the Programme of Action does contain limited provisions including the criminalisation of illicit possession of SALW and a requirement that states ensure responsibility for SALW issued by them. This Policy Briefing elaborates on how these and other international commitments should be interpreted and implemented so as to enhance human security.