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Minister's comment on "Small Arms in the Pacific"

Minister's comment on "Small Arms in the Pacific"

"The report is a 'wake-up call' and presents some challenging conclusions that are a valuable contribution to building knowledge on this topic in the international arena and the continuing domestic debate in New Zealand," Aid and Disarmament and Arms Control Minister, Marian Hobbs said.

"One tends to think of Iraq-war type violence when considering the harm groups or states can do to one another but small arms in small communities are just as potent.

"It is alarming that groups in the Pacific bent on conflict have treated state-owned armouries as gun supermarkets

"New Zealand has been working to improve Pacific armoury security. A major focus of the New Zealand Defence Force mutual assistance programme at present is helping Pacific countries’ defence and police forces to improve the security, storage, maintenance and management of their weapons.

"The report concludes that firearms 'leaked' from lawful owners (mostly the army and the police) to unlawful owners are the most common instruments of gun crime and violence in the Pacific.

"The report adds weight to the push towards model firearms legislation for the Pacific and usefully identifies areas where that legislation falls short of meeting the UN Programme of Action.

"To get successful disarmament the whole community must be engaged in the peace process. It is important that communities can trust such process. That is why NZAID is working in the Pacific at many levels on governance issues to achieve stability.

"I will be using this report to measure what we are doing and close off any identified loopholes."

Background: The report was funded by the governments of New Zealand and Australia and was commissioned by the Small Arms Survey and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva.

The study examines the scale and origins of small arms proliferation in 20 nations of the southern Pacific. It investigates the status of existing firearm legislation, the extent of legal stockpiles and illicit trade and the socio-economic impacts of armed conflict on Pacific communities. Case histories examine more closely the disarmament process in Bougainville and the Solomon Islands, along with the widespread disruption wrought with small arms in Fiji and Papua New Guinea. Current initiatives to combat small arm trafficking in the region are also examined.

The authors are Philip Alpers, a senior fellow at the Harvard Injury Control Research Centre, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston and Conor Twyford, a former ministerial secretary to NZ's Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control who is currently based on Tanna Island, Vanuatu.

The report is available on: http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/OccasionalPapers.html

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