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Research Report

Small Arms and Light Weapons:: Towards Global Public Policy

Keith Krause
Copyright Date: Mar. 1, 2007
Pages: 23

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. None)
  2. (pp. None)
  3. (pp. i-ii)
    Terje Rød-Larsen

    The International Peace Academy (IPA) is pleased to introduce a new series of Working Papers within the program Coping with Crisis, Conflict, and Change:The United Nations and Evolving Capacities for Managing Global Crises, a four-year research and policy-facilitation program designed to generate fresh thinking about global crises and capacities for effective prevention and response.

    In this series of Working Papers, IPA has asked leading experts to undertake a mapping exercise, presenting an assessment of critical challenges to human and international security. A first group of papers provides a horizontal perspective, examining the intersection of multiple challenges in specific regions of...

  4. (pp. 1-2)

    Small arms and light weapons kill at least 300,000 people a year, in both conflict and non-conflict situations, and injure or disable thousands more. Small arms are the weapons of choice of warring parties— government armies, paramilitaries, rebel forces, or even terrorists—and in recent wars they account for between 60 and 90 percent of direct conflict deaths, depending on the nature and intensity of the fighting. In non-war settings small arms represent one of the leading causes of preventable death, and a major cause of mortality for young men—through, for example, armed violence, suicides, murders, and accidents.¹ In...

  5. (pp. 2-4)

    Surprisingly little was known about the scope and nature of the proliferation and misuse of small arms before the mid-1990s. There were no reliable estimates of the number and distribution of weapons, the number (and distribution) of victims, the volume of production and transfers, or the socio-economic costs of armed violence. But a growing concern with human security—with achieving freedom from fear by removing the threat of violence from social, political and economic life—drew attention to these questions, and created a need for a knowledge base. Today, the broad contours of the problem can be summarized under four...

  6. (pp. 4-11)

    Efforts to tackle small arms proliferation and misuse fit uneasily into traditional categories or concepts of formal multilateralism, with its emphasis on state-to-state negotiations of international (and often legally binding) instruments. The effects of small arms proliferation and misuse are felt from the micro (individual) to the macro (inter-state, or even regional) level, and policy measures must operate at all levels of “governance”—from municipal to global—with measures to reduce weapons availability and misuse.

    Simplifying somewhat, one can say that small arms policy and programs can be divided into first and second generation measures. First generation measures are oriented...

  7. (pp. 11-13)

    The distinction between first and second generation small arms measures is also useful when mapping the actors and outcomes that have characterized the issue of small arms proliferation and misuse. The process evolved in three acts: 1) nascent and then stalled multilateral diplomacy within the UN framework; 2) the emergence of multilateralism beyond the UN; and 3) issue diversification within a global public policy framework.

    Together these three overlapping phases of activity signal the emergence of a more sophisticated understanding of the nature of the challenge—and responses—to small arms proliferation and misuse, and an adaptive response to roadblocks....

  8. (pp. 13-15)

    The interaction between multilateral diplomacy and global public policy will determine the range of future action to tackle small arms and light weapons proliferation and misuse. What is more difficult to discern is the emerging scope of the problem, since (as noted above) there is no simple link between increased availability or proliferation of small arms and greater threats of misuse. The level and scope of armed violence is mediated through many socioeconomic and cultural factors, some of which—such as demographic bulges, migration to cities, education levels, and economic opportunities—have little or nothing to do with the availability...

  9. (pp. 16-17)
  10. (pp. 18-18)