Post-1991, the Soviet Union’s implosion
unto 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 disputes
plateaued, as the number of racial conflicts escalated, and as the number of
cultural clashes rose; but one recurring theme is the prevalent use of SALWs in
conducting such indiscriminatory violence. Not only are they used by militias,
insurgents and combatants engaging in armed conflict, they are popular
accessories for crime syndicates and terrorists as well. Low intensity conflict
(wrought by SALWs) is estimated to have caused over a million deaths in the
past decade, 90% of which are civilian casualties.

 

The misuse and illicit circulation of small
have led to severe repercussions, chiefly stemming from the enhancement of the
lethality and duration of violence. With the international small arms trade
estimated to be worth at least $6 billion in 2014 (of which illicit arms are
estimated to constitute 20%), a significant portion of direct conflict deaths
between 2010 and 2015 were caused by firearms, and the ate of firearms-related
homicides in post-conflict societies is frequently higher than that of battlefield
deaths. The illicit trade of SALWs has facilitated a diverse spectrum of
reprehensible acts, including killing, rape, enforced disappearances and
torture. Especially in conflict regions, the illicit arms trade is more so
prevalent in neighbourhoods that have had a history of gangs and mobs, where
rebels continuously undermine the foundations of society. It diminishes the effectiveness
of legal and peaceful dispute resolution mechanisms, while aggravating poverty
and inhibiting efforts to improve levels of human development.

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It must be noted that not all trade of
SALWs is considered illegal; although individual countries might be subjected
to certain restrictions when it comes trading conventional weaponry, including
SALWs, the vast majority of the international community is free to openly
engage in the arms trade. According to the Small Arms Survey, at least 1200
companies in over 100 countries worldwide are involved in some aspect of the
production of small arms and ammunition, with the largest exporters of SALWs by
value being the EU and the US. As a preliminary matter, it must be noted that
owing to the lack of full transparency in the international small-arms trade
and the lack of a global consensus on the determination of the legality of
SALWs, it is difficult to identify precisely what constitutes “illicit” (and
“licit”) arms. Furthermore, party to the unique laws of each country, the
different levels of ease in which a country’s civilian is allowed to legally
purchase and own firearms is a major factor which shaping the landscape of the
small arms trade; in lieu of this, the purpose of this committee is not to
address the legitimate trade, possession and usage of small arms, but to limit
the illicit trade of these weapons.