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Over 700 A Day Dying From Small Arms Fire; Main ‘Weapons Of Choice’ For Criminals And Terrorists

Amidst a multitude of global crises and escalating of armed conflicts, small arms and light weapons remain a silent killer, having claimed over 260,000 lives during 2021, amounting to 45 per cent of all violent deaths.

That’s according to Izumi Nakamitsu, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, who briefed the Security Council on Friday, quoting the latest figures available.

“This is more than 700 people a day, or one person dying from small arms every two minutes”, she said.

She added that “small arms and light weapons are the weapons of choice in initiating, sustaining and exacerbating conflict, armed violence, terrorism and other forms of organized crime”.

National, regional action must be taken

Ms. Nakamitsu highlighted the need for complementary approaches to respond to the worsening and complex security threat posed by such weapons.

She urged strengthened national and regional frameworks and “translating” global commitments into “tailored action” at the local level, as well as the setting up of voluntary national and regional targets and measuring progress to that end.

“Good practices and lessons learned from successful regional initiatives demonstrate the importance of robust monitoring and evaluation frameworks to measure progress in implementation and to inform further programming and policy-making,” Ms. Nakamitsu said.

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At the same time, whole-of-government approaches integrating small arms and light weapons control into development, prevention and peacebuilding initiatives are crucial, she added.

Impact on women

Ms. Nakamitsu, who also heads the UN Office on Disarmament Affairs, also underscored the differentiated impact on women, and called for better quality data to be compiled for more accurate analysis.

Doing so would also serve as the basis for the development of evidence-based prevention and protection strategies, as well as gender-responsive policymaking and programming on small arms and light weapons, she said.

“The Security Council is encouraged to mandate UN entities to systematically collect such data, including when recording casualties and monitoring incidents of conflict-related sexual violence,” she urged ambassadors.

Trafficking despite arms embargoes

The senior UN Official also voiced grave concern over illicit flows of arms and ammunition in violation of arms embargoes.

“Illicit arms trafficking and diversion, in violation of Security Council-mandated arms embargoes, continue to be documented,” she said, noting that it demonstrated the ongoing need to improve enforcement of arms embargoes.

“At the same time, panels of experts across many arms embargo regimes continue to face challenges in identifying the origin and supply chain of seized weapons and ammunition,” she added.

Ms. Nakamitsu recalled the report by the Secretary-General on the issue: “In particular, the Council is encouraged to continue to seek reports from Member States on the steps that they have taken to implement arms embargoes and on their efforts to cooperate and share information with the panels of experts,” she urged.

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