17 October 2006


As world leaders struggled to respond to the announcement that North Korea had exploded a "weapon of mass destruction", and as killings continued unabated in places such as Darfur and Bagdhad, the United Nations made a significant step forward in the effort to control the global trade in small arms.

Speaking to the UN in support of a resolution proposed by a group of nations, including Australia, to negotiate a legally binding instrument on the import, export and exchange of conventional weapons, the Vatican Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace pointed out that "the many millions of victims in conflicts over the last 60 years have been caused by conventional, and especially, by light weapons" and that conventional weapons and light arms "constitute one of the most common instruments in most violations of human rights and disrespect for humanitarian law".

The Vatican statement went on to say that the adoption of legally binding measures on trade control of conventional weapons at the global, regional and national level was both essential and urgent.

It is estimated that 640 million conventional weapons exist in the world today and that the small-arms trade is thought to be worth $4 billion annually.

Further information about the campaign to control arms can be found at the Oxfam website.

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