Crossfire War: Small Arms Trade $2-10 Billion a Year – Increase in Terrorists


Night Watch: KATHMANDU – Every nation is currently facing the crisis of small arms. Administrative mesaures have failed to control illegal arms trade, making illicit small arms a huge global threat.

During the last decade more than 5 million people have been killed by small arms used in conflicts. Because of illegal arms trafficking any nation’s ability to sustain development and maintain security is undermined. Small arms did enormous damage to innocent people beyond death, injury and causing forced displacement.

Terrorists routinely recruit children and youths for combat and often forced to become fighters, human shields, and sex slaves. Many children are abducted and more than half of the armed groups are under 12. Many youths are unemployed, when someone promises them money and gives them a weapon, we cannot prevent these young men from murdering.

Socio-economic development and employment promotion policy would help those jobless youths to resolve their problems and would never join the terrorist force. Thus, political, socio-economic, corruption and ideological factors that must be addressed for the terroism to be finally resolved in any nation.

People who have suffered from direct attacks by small weapons, experience emotional trauma. Terrorist’s violence has a devastating impact on tourism, which, for many of these nations, is the leading source of revenue.

The last decade was seen terrifying abuses of human rights in armed conflicts around the world including Nepal. More factories and more countries throughout the world are legally producing small arms and developing countries are exporting them. There are around half a billion military small arms around the world.

According to the UN report there are at least 639 million firearms in the world today, of which 59% are legally held by civilians. The report further states that one half billion small arms are circulating in the world and these arms are not expensive, easily available and easy to use. UN also said “unlike nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, there are no international treaties or other legal instruments for dealing with these weapons, which States and also individual legal owners rely on for their defense needs.”

The Inter-American Development Bank has estimated the direct and indirect costs of small arms violence at $140 to $170 billion per year in Latin America alone. According to the Independent Small Arms Survey 2002, small arms are implicated in well over 1,000 deaths every single day.

According to the findings of an independent study commissioned by the UNDP and IOM in Congo, an estimated 70,000 small arms and light weapons fell into the hands of terrorists during the conflicts of 1993-1999. Of these, 40,000 are still though to be in circulation, constituting a serious threat to security and sustainable development.

“The five permanent members of the UN Security Council – France, Russia, China, the UK, and the USA – together account for 88% of the world’s conventional arms exports; and these exports contribute regularly to gross abuse of human rights,” as a report from the control arms campaign, Shattered Lives, mentions.

The International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) describes that, in effect, small arms are weapons of mass destruction.

For the first time in the United Nation’s history, the issue of small arms was finally a topic of conversation at a UN Security Council meeting in 1999, where Kofi Annan also noted the efforts of NGOs in this. Even in Oslo, Norway, July 1998, there was a meeting where representatives from a number of countries were present to tackle and control the spread of small arms.

UN must impose, monitor and enforce in situations where civilians are targeted by terrorists, where widespread and systematic violations of humanitarian and human rights law are committed by terrorists, and where children are recurited by terrorists.

The most effective ways to prevent small arms are strict export and import controls, strong laws, and secure stockpiles.

In this critical context, can the UN play an effective role controlling arms especially in South Asia and resolve terrorist violence?

Kamala Sarup in an editor of

The Crossfire War site mentioned on July 7, 2005 similar situations with weapons trafficking in the Balkans and Central Africa. In another article, April 26, 2005, Crossfire War reported that Iran was exporting weapons to 60 countries.

Night Watch Information Service

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Willard Payne is an international affairs analyst who specializes in International Relations. A graduate of Western Illinois University with a concentration in East-West Trade and East-West Industrial Cooperation, he has been providing incisive analysis to NewsBlaze. He is the author of Imagery: The Day Before.