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Limiting the Arms Trade

Trade in small arms seems to often be the trigger for civil conflict or at least for a dramatic escalation in the carnage that is caused by civil conflict. This applies both to guns being more readily available to individuals within stable countries and to political groups or bands within less stable countries. In both situations there is a political element and often political hypocrisy.

Arms Trade and Less Stable Countries

On 30 Oct 2009, 153 governments agreed at the United Nations a timetable to establish a “strong and robust” Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) with the “highest common standards” to control international transfers of conventional arms. There is no current global Treaty for the conventional arms trade. A number of countries abstained but the only country to vote against the proposal was Zimbabwe.

This landmark vote follows years of discussion and debate, assisted in part by actions and lobbying by a number of non-government agencies, who argue that the lack of controls on the arms trade is fuelling conflict, poverty and human rights abuses worldwide. For instance the Control Arms Campaign is jointly run by Amnesty International, IANSA and Oxfam International, and achieved a million photos (online signatures) from those supporting their campaign.

According to this group, their campaign "...seeks to build support among governments for an Arms Trade Treaty, a legal instrument that would prohibit arms from being exported to destinations where they are likely to be used to commit grave human rights violations. Such a treaty would require countries to comply with international human rights and humanitarian law standards when authorizing weapons transfers."

Wikipedia provides links to information on small arms proliferation, and on other similar organisations:

Is there a reasonable counterargument to the simple view that more guns lead to more death, poverty and human rights abuse? Can it be argued or demonstrated that the trade in small arms has successfully led to an establishment of a stable moderate government to the benefit of a country's population?

Arms Trade to Individuals in Stable Countries

Guns may or may not cause additional violent incidents but they do seem to cause a greater degree of violence and death and damage than if they are not involved. The major counterarguments to restricting small arms sales seem to be the right of individuals to have the means of defence against criminal elements and the right of citizens to have the means to resist/overthrow a non-representative government.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 May 2012 00:41

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