Post-1991, the Soviet Union’s implosionunto itself drew global attention toward the prevalence of localised conflict,now more rampant and apparent without the camouflage of an ideological war.
Intra-state and inter-state conflicts increased as the number of border disputesplateaued, as the number of racial conflicts escalated, and as the number ofcultural clashes rose; but one recurring theme is the prevalent use of SALWs inconducting such indiscriminatory violence. Not only are they used by militias,insurgents and combatants engaging in armed conflict, they are popularaccessories for crime syndicates and terrorists as well. Low intensity conflict(wrought by SALWs) is estimated to have caused over a million deaths in thepast decade, 90% of which are civilian casualties. The misuse and illicit circulation of smallhave led to severe repercussions, chiefly stemming from the enhancement of thelethality and duration of violence.
With the international small arms tradeestimated to be worth at least $6 billion in 2014 (of which illicit arms areestimated to constitute 20%), a significant portion of direct conflict deathsbetween 2010 and 2015 were caused by firearms, and the ate of firearms-relatedhomicides in post-conflict societies is frequently higher than that of battlefielddeaths. The illicit trade of SALWs has facilitated a diverse spectrum ofreprehensible acts, including killing, rape, enforced disappearances andtorture. Especially in conflict regions, the illicit arms trade is more soprevalent in neighbourhoods that have had a history of gangs and mobs, whererebels continuously undermine the foundations of society.
It diminishes the effectivenessof legal and peaceful dispute resolution mechanisms, while aggravating povertyand inhibiting efforts to improve levels of human development. It must be noted that not all trade ofSALWs is considered illegal; although individual countries might be subjectedto certain restrictions when it comes trading conventional weaponry, includingSALWs, the vast majority of the international community is free to openlyengage in the arms trade. According to the Small Arms Survey, at least 1200companies in over 100 countries worldwide are involved in some aspect of theproduction of small arms and ammunition, with the largest exporters of SALWs byvalue being the EU and the US. As a preliminary matter, it must be noted thatowing to the lack of full transparency in the international small-arms tradeand the lack of a global consensus on the determination of the legality ofSALWs, it is difficult to identify precisely what constitutes “illicit” (and”licit”) arms.
Furthermore, party to the unique laws of each country, thedifferent levels of ease in which a country’s civilian is allowed to legallypurchase and own firearms is a major factor which shaping the landscape of thesmall arms trade; in lieu of this, the purpose of this committee is not toaddress the legitimate trade, possession and usage of small arms, but to limitthe illicit trade of these weapons.