• 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.
    • Strengthening embargoes and enhancing human security.

      Kirkham, E.; Flew, C. (International Alert, Saferworld and University of Bradford, Department of Peace Studies, Centre for International Co-operation and Security., 2003)
      Arms embargoes are one of the principal tools of states in seeking to prevent, limit and bring an end to armed conflict and human rights abuses. Despite the frequency with which arms embargoes have been imposed, there are significant problems with their implementation. Pressure is therefore growing for the international governmental community to act in order to ensure that the political commitment embodied by the imposition of arms embargoes is matched by the commitment to ensure their rigorous enforcement and to achieve enhanced human security on the ground. Increasing the effectiveness of arms embargoes is a specific aim of the United Nations Programme of Action for Preventing and Combating the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects1 which specifically calls upon states "To take appropriate measures, including all legal or administrative means, against any activity that violates a United Nations Security Council arms embargo in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations".2 Accordingly, within the context of the implementation of the UN PoA, the overall aim of this paper is to explore ways in which the international community can act in order to strengthen the impact of arms embargoes and enhance human security. It will begin by examining the purposes, processes and effects relating to arms embargoes, with particular attention to those agreed at international (UN) level, and by highlighting issues of concern in each regard. An overview of the main issues and challenges facing implementation of arms embargoes will include the elaboration of three case-study examples showing the impact of UN arms embargoes on the availability of arms and on human security and a further five that illustrate the dilemmas faced by states in seeking to implement arms embargoes. Priority areas for attention in any international effort to strengthen the effectiveness of arms embargoes will be followed by more extensive proposals for enhancing international embargo regimes within the context of implementing the UN PoA. Whilst it is recognised that the UN PoA contains measures that relate only to the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons (SALW), if implemented fully, many of these would serve to strengthen the international apparatus of control, information exchange and provision of assistance relating to arms proliferation and misuse as a whole. In turn, this would greatly enhance the implementation of UN arms embargoes. Therefore, as well as providing an opportunity for reviewing progress on implementing the PoA, the first Biennial Meeting of States in July 2003 is clearly a major opportunity for states to address a number of the pressing challenges facing states in the implementation of UN embargoes.