gun is as easy to get as a packet of cigarettes."-
Evan Jean Lolless, 34,
serving life imprisonment for murder in the USA, 1997.
issue is simple. The unregulated supply of weapons makes
it easy for criminals to murder, for soldiers to kill
indiscriminately, and for police to arbitrarily take lives.
Today's weapons are quicker and more powerful than ever
before. And in the wrong hands, faster and more powerful
weapons mean more abuse and more wasted lives.
not just unlawful killings during wartime that is on the
increase. Military and security equipment is being misused
by soldiers, paramilitaries, and police to kill, wound,
and commit terrible atrocities against civilians during
global misuse of arms has reached crisis point. The flow
of arms to those who openly flaunt international human
rights and humanitarian laws is being ignored by many
governments and companies. Guns especially have never
been so easy to obtain. Their increased availability threatens
life and liberty in communities and cities around the
world. Including yours.
lack of control of the arms trade is fuelling conflict,
poverty, and human rights abuses worldwide. Every government
is responsible. It doesn't have to be like this. Oxfam,
Amnesty International, and a group of more than 500 NGOs
in the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA)
are calling for a global Arms Trade Treaty to bring the
trade in weapons under control and for local action to
protect civilians from armed violence.
arms are so prevalent, for example it is estimated that
there is one gun for every 10 people on the planet men,
women, and children. "The excessive accumulation
and illicit trade of small arms is threatening international
peace and security, dashing hopes for social and economic
development, and jeopardising prospects for democracy
and human rights." And it's not just Oxfam, Amnesty
International, and IANSA who believe that. These words
were spoken in 2002 by UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.
arms also fuel poverty and suffering. There are around
639 million small arms and light weapons in the world
today. Eight million more are produced every year. Without
strict control, such weapons will continue to fuel violent
conflict, state repression, crime, and domestic abuse.
Unless governments act to stop the spread of arms, more
lives will be lost, more human rights violations will
take place, and more people will be denied the chance
to escape poverty. For many years, in our work around
the world, Oxfam, Amnesty International, and IANSA have
witnessed the human cost of arms abuses and campaigned
for tougher arms controls. But now the situation is critical.
Urgent measures are needed immediately. Governments need
to take action at every level, from communities to the
international arena, to stop this suffering.
year old Camila Magalhaes Lina from Brazil, lost the use
of her legs in 1998, when she was hit by a stray bullet
in a shoot out between thieves and private security forces
while walking home from school. In the 60 seconds it takes
you to read Camila's story, it's likely that another two
people, just like her, have been seriously injured by
the use of arms. Someone else won't have been so lucky.
They're dead. By 2020, the number of deaths and injuries
from war and violence will overtake the numbers of deaths
caused by killer diseases such as malaria and measles.
strict control of arms exports and measures to protect
people from their misuse, countless others will continue
to suffer the catastrophic consequences of the arms trade.
Readily available weapons will intensify and prolong wars.
More people will be terrorised and forced from their homes.
Families will be prevented from growing food to feed themselves
or earning enough money to send their kids to school.
Human rights abuses will continue. People will be trapped
in poverty. This isn't fiction. Oxfam and Amnesty International
and IANSA members work with people who experience these
atrocities every day. The only way to end this cycle of
poverty and suffering is to control the trade in arms.
The time to act is now; face up to the arms crisis!
IANSA (International action network on small arms.