Skip to comments.DISARMAMENT: NGOs Seek Treaty To Hunt Lethal Arms
Posted on 01/25/2005 8:39:07 AM PST by kiriath_jearim
Disarmament:NGOs Seek Treaty to Hunt Lethal Arms
Inter Press Service (Johannesburg)
January 24, 2005 Posted to the web January 24, 2005
A coalition of human rights and peace activists is urging the United Nations to adopt a legally binding "marking and tracing system" to track small arms from the factory to the user.
The coalition, which includes Amnesty International, Oxfam International and the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), says that while weapons and ammunition often carry basic serial numbers, there is no worldwide system to record this information -- thereby rendering it useless as a tool to identify, locate and trace illegal arms shipments.
The resistance by governments to a global system for tracking arms transfers has meant that "it is nearly impossible to prosecute people or hold governments accountable for illegally selling arms and breaking U.N. arms embargoes", says the report, titled "Tracing Lethal Tools" and released Monday.
This is particularly evident in the legal and illegal sales of small arms, including handguns, assault rifles, machine guns, mortars, rocket launchers and anti-personnel landmines -- described as the weapons of choice in today's conflicts.
The United Nations admits that small arms are primarily responsible for most of the deaths in the ongoing conflicts in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean.
But most of the world's major arms manufacturers are resisting attempts to create a legally binding U.N. convention that can track the weapons to their original suppliers.
Those countries selling arms illegally can simply claim ignorance of how the weapons ever ended up in the hands of killers, according to the report prepared jointly by the coalition.
"In order to hold governments, companies, and even individuals responsible when small arms and light weapons are used illegally, it is critical to have weapons biographies," says Natalie Goldring, executive director of the security studies programme at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.
"The international community has the technology to ensure that every transfer of a weapon is recorded. This would allow tracking of weapons used in human rights abuses, as well as weapons used to perpetuate conflict at the local, national, and regional level," Goldring told IPS.
According to figures released by IANSA, there are about 640 million guns in circulation-- one for every 10 people. Small arms are produced by 1,249 companies in more than 90 countries.
In some of these countries, trade controls on arms transfers are almost non-existent. In two of the world's biggest arms producing nations, the United States and Russia, production of military style guns is increasing.
"A piece of lost luggage can be tracked from San Francisco to Sierra Leone within hours, yet deadly weapons disappear without a trace on a daily basis," says Jeremy Hobbs, director of Oxfam International, in a statement released Monday.
In the recent massacre in Gatumba in Burundi in which 150 people were killed, spent cartridges showed that the ammunition used in the attack was manufactured in China, Bulgaria and Serbia, according to the study.
However the lack of any tracing mechanism meant it was impossible to prove how it got there. Had a tracing mechanism existed, those who sold the ammunition to the killers could have been held accountable and future supplies could have been stopped.
"Eight million new weapons are manufactured every year and countless crimes and atrocities are committed against civilians around the world. Yet there is precious little chance of prosecuting the perpetrators of violent crimes with no global system to prove the origin of weapons," says IANSA Director Rebecca Peters.
IANSA also says that only three countries in the world -- Nigeria, Latvia and South Africa -- have a policy of destroying all surplus or confiscated weapons. Most countries re-sell their surplus weapons, which end up in the hands of criminals and rebels.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a spokesman for an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) told IPS that some arms manufacturers were taking "a minimalist approach".
For example, China opposes "alpha numerical" markings and prefers geometrical symbols, which would make universal and timely identification and tracing much more difficult.
Several other countries are opposed to the inclusion of the year of manufacture of the weapon. On the important question of marking ammunition (which is critical to tracing arms used in atrocities, as shells are often left behind in war zones) several countries, including the United States, are opposed to it, he said.
National registration and record keeping -- which is important for states to be able to reply to tracing requests -- is also a controversial area, with the United States opposed to the establishment of universal standards for registration or a multilateral system for tracing.
"The powerful U.S. gun lobby is against anything that might lead to registration of arms, but have no objection in principle to guns being uniquely marked," he added.
However, they are against a record keeping system that would allow guns to be traced to their owners (i.e. markings would only lead back to the manufacturer, not to the particular owner). Again, this would make tracing arms used in atrocities much more difficult.
Beginning Monday, the United Nations is scheduled to discuss a longstanding proposal for marking and tracing small arms.
"But the test for the U.N. meeting will be whether countries can agree on legally binding measures for marking and tracing weapons. A mere political agreement is insufficient," warns Goldring.
She said that there is undoubtedly a critical need for a global system for marking and tracing weapons. The current mechanisms are woefully inadequate. "The United Ntaions identified this need years ago; now it's time to move forward".
To produce this sort of system, Goldring said, there will have to be agreed international standards, as well a way to track weapons as they cross national borders.
"This will require that weapons transfers be registered in a way that is transparent to global observers. In turn, countries will have to agree to share the information they obtain. While these challenges are significant, they are not insurmountable," she added.
The United Nations can be an effective participant in this process. But this will require countries to commit to real change in how they currently operate, Goldring noted.
Irene Khan, general secretary of Amnesty International, points out that illicit arms trade fuels human rights abuse on a massive scale.
Every year thousands of people are killed, tortured, raped and attacked with guns that cannot be traced. Millions more are deprived of the right to a decent standard of living, health services and education because funds are diverted to buy illegal weapons, she added.
"It is time the world had a way to clearly identify those behind this cynical and deadly trade and bring them to justice," said Khan.
--yeah--small arms are responsible for "most of the deaths", blah,blah,blah--they just march on killing people right and left all by themselves---
Somehow, I doubt the people who are moving weapons from China, Bulgaria, etc. (buyers, sellers, and middlemen) are that concerned about filing the right paperwork with the U.N.
The only people this will hurt are the Western gun manufacturers because those are the only countries that will adhere to standards. Of course, that is the intent.
Red China, N. Korea and the Russian Mafyia will sell arms to anyone with hard cash, gold, diamonds or oil in storage.
Those bad boys won't follow any rule the UN or other agency proposes. The marking and tracking system will only hurt US manufacturers and US legal gun-owners (eventual confiscation).
GET US OUT OF UN
GET UN OUT OF US
OOH, this has worked so well in places like Canada and New Jersey, we need to implement it EVERYWHERE! </sarcasm
In the 20th Century 170,000,000 citizens were murdered by their own governments.
EVERY SINGLE weapon control law ever passed by any society from feudal Europe to Japan to Soviet Russia to 3rd Reich Germany had exemptions for government agents. Need I say more?
Invest in a milling machine, lathe, drill press, etc. and build your own. No serial numbers required.
Let's just dispense with the fiction here: these people want to ban guns and ammo in the hands of civilians on a world-wide scale. Let's aid the process...I propose sending in all of our bullets, via AIRMAIL. My understanding is that Colt, Remington, Winchester, Savage, Springfield Armory, Bushmaster, Ruger and a host of gun companies have a far more efficient delivery system than Fed Ex, UPS and the USPO, so we should all use them, instead.
For your list.
Just buy one or more guns directly from other people - lots cheaper than all of that equipment, even if you overpay. Hell, if you've got a friend who likes one of your guns, and you like one of his, just exchange them (especially if you both have AR-15 lowers - then just exchange them, and keep your uppers with your barrel, sights, etc.). Also recommended is going to gun shows and buy reloading equipment and supplies using cash.
I'm sure they'd especially like to track arms among the Sudanese villagers.
Rebecca Peters (The Aussie Sarah Brady) is on record for a near total ban in the USA. She also worked for George Soros.
For starters they might look into the countries (France, Germany, Russia and others) that supplied Iraqi leaders with weapons while the UN embargo was in place. Just another chapter in the Oil for Food saga.
It's time for the lunatics on the left to wake up and smell the coffee.
Stock up on firearms and ammunition ~ ya can't have too much!
Be Ever Vigilant!
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