Global Arms Dangerously Unregulated - New Report: Amnesty International, Oxfam, IANSA Launch Global Control Arms Campaign

Arms proliferation and abuse, have reached a critical point, fuelling human rights violations, poverty, and conflict. Someone is killed every minute by armed violence while many more suffer abuse and serious injury. But arms are a dangerously unregulated global business, according to the new report.

Among the report’s findings:

  • National arms export controls are riddled with loopholes. The easy availability of arms increases the incidence of armed violence, acts as a trigger for conflicts, and prolongs wars once they break out. Civilians are increasingly being targeted.
  • Conflict and armed crime prevent aid reaching those who desperately need it, and often lead to the denial of health care and education.
  • The 11 September 2001 attacks and the resulting ‘war on terror’ have fuelled weapons proliferation, rather than focusing political will on controlling arms. The ‘war on terror’ has led to increasing numbers of arms being exported, particularly by the US and the UK, to new-found allies (such as Pakistan, Indonesia and the Philippines) regardless of human rights or development concerns.

“Each year hundreds of thousands of people are unlawfully killed, tortured, raped and displaced through the misuse of arms. With the ‘war on terror’ dominating the international agenda, there should be renewed interest in arms control. Yet the reverse has occurred. The vicious circle of arms transfers, conflict and abuse can and must be stopped,” said Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

To address these concerns, Amnesty International, Oxfam and the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) have jointly launched the global Control Arms campaign. The campaign will focus on promoting an international treaty covering arms transfers – the Arms Treaty – as well as a number of regional and locally appropriate measures designed to limit arms proliferation and misuse.

“The Arms is out of control. It is a global problem with horrific local consequences – and it is poor people who suffer the most. An Arms Treaty is desperately needed, to stop the flow of arms to abusers and to help make all our societies safer,” said Barbara Stocking, Director of Oxfam.

The report describes how the possession of increasingly lethal weaponry is becoming an integral part of daily life in many parts of the world. Among farmers in northern Uganda, AK47s are replacing spears; in Somalia Children's rights are now named “Uzi” or “AK”; in countries such as Iraq, there is now more than one gun per person.

“Governments, preoccupied with a search for nuclear, biological and chemical weapons in their fight against 'terrorism', have essentially ignored the real ‘weapons of mass destruction’ – small arms. So they continue to proliferate, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives,” said Rebecca Peters, Director of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA).

Alongside the call for an Arms Treaty, the Control Arms campaign is also calling for:

  • Governments to develop and strengthen regional arms-control.
  • Governments to rigorously control national arms exports, brokers and dealers, and do more to prevent law enforcers misusing their weapons and to protect citizens from armed violence.
  • Local authorities and community leaders to help improve safety at a community level by developing projects to reduce the local availability and demand for arms.
  • For more information about the report - Shattered Lives: The Case for Tough International Arms Controls and the Control Arms campaign, visit

    Editors note A draft Arms Treaty has been developed by a group of human rights, development and arms control NGOs including Amnesty International and Oxfam in partnership with international legal experts. It carries the support of 19 Nobel Peace Prize laureates, led by Dr Oscar Arias. The central aim is to provide a set of common minimum standards for the control of arms transfers, based firmly on states existing responsibilities under international law. To see a copy of the draft Arms Treaty, visit /p>

    *taken from Small Arms Survey 2001: Profiling the Problem, Oxford University Press, 2001

    For more information, please contact:

    Amnesty International UK press office:
    Steve Ballinger, Tel: 020 7417 6355
    Lesley Warner, Tel: 020 7814 6255
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