Small Arms and Light Weapons fueling unrest across globe

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Small Arms and Light Weapons

Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons have raised a serious debate for over three decades but so far the progress in checking it from falling in to the hands of criminals and non state actors have been minimal which results in deaths of thousands of civilians every year.

Impact of SALW: Small Arms and Light Weapons causes over 500,000 fatalities worldwide every year raising serious questions. There are over billion small arms in the world out of which 857 million are in civilian hands.

Also, the threat posed by proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons makes the peace operations very difficult. According to the data available it is estimated that in 90 percent of the conflicts the SALW have played the biggest role in conflicts since 1990 resulting in 30 and 90 percent of direct civilian fatalities. The proliferation of SALW has been overlooked for decades and their proliferation has gone unchecked.

They play a key role in the civil wars, narco-trade, terrorist operations and committing mass genocide. Whether it is a genocide in Rwanda, or narco-trade in Columbia or insurgent activities in Iraq and Syria the SALW have been used widely.

Also Read:- Are the smaller nations overlooked at UN?

The SALW has been fueling the growth of transnational organized crime and conflicts of all types. They are responsible for collapsed states, human rights abuses and posing serious threat to the security issues. They are easily available to the terrorists, rebels, and criminals.

SALW poses serious threat to the following areas:

  • Conflict prevention and resolution
  • Conflict management and peacebuilding
  • Security sector reform
  • In providing humanitarian assistance
  • Maintaining law and order

What are SALW?

According to the UN Panel of Governmental Experts on Small Arms- Broadly speaking, small arms are those weapons designed for being used by individuals, and light weapons are those designed for use by two or three persons serving as a crew. This comprises of revolvers, pistols, rifles, assault rifles, and various types of machine guns. It also includes some larger weapons such as portable antitank and antiaircraft weapons, and the shoulder fired missiles and rockets. AK-47 to Stinger missiles light weapons remains an area of concern as they have potential for heavy damage when used by terrorists.

These weapons are mostly used by the military forces but its use by the non-state actors- rebel groups, militia, criminals, and some terrorist organizations have called for the need of world attention to check their spread.

SALW role in causing unrest in several parts of world

The African Union has been a long sufferer from the illicit small arms and light weapons trade, a region plagued by dictatorships and civil wars. Most of the weapons that found place in the hands of unauthorized recipients and illegally armed groups within Africa are produced outside the continent.

Similarly the small weapons are spurring criminal activities which are responsible for 70 per cent of homicides in the Caribbean. The Caribbean region did not manufacture small arms and light weapons and ammunition nor import them on a large scale but still it is finding a way into the region.

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