Print this article   Email this to a friend


NEW DELHI COUNCIL - Social Democracy in Asia Today

10-11 November 1997


Small arms and light weapons are defined as weapons that can be carried and used by individuals, or small groups. Counted among them are pistols, rifles, machine-guns, specific types of mortars, portable anti-aircraft missiles, and their corresponding amunition.

Small arms and light weapons play a central role in countless civil wars and local altercations. Their availability contributes to the escalation of conflict and the increase of fatalities. These weapons encourage the violent resolution of conflict, rather than the peaceful settlement of differing interests.

While arms control agreements exist for weapons of mass destruction and heavy conventional weapons or, in the case of anti-personnel mines, such agreements are under negotiations, there are no global norms and agreements for the control and reduction of small arms and light weapons.

Therefore, the Council of the Socialist International endorses the following measures:

1. The SI Council welcomes the request of the United Nations General Assembly to the Secretary-General, to prepare an initiative for the reduction of small arms and light weapons.

2. The SI Council requests all SI member parties to support all international endeavours aimed at the effective control of small arms and light weapons. This entails the collection and destruction of these weapons after violent conflicts, as well as the demobilisation of troops and their re-integration into civic life.

3. The negotiators of peace settlements in conflict areas should make the issue of small weapons disarmament an integral part of their activities. They should participate in the elaboration of plans for collections of weapons, such as buy-back programmes, and their consequent disposal and destruction.

4. All such weapons which are not under legal civilian possession and not required for the purposes of national defence and internal security, should be collected and destroyed by states as expeditiously as possible.

5. All states should determine in their national laws and regulations, which arms are permitted for civilian possession and under which conditions they can be used.

6. All states should ensure that they have in place adequate laws, regulations and administrative procedures to exercise effective control over the legal possession of small arms and light weapons and over their transfer in order to prevent illicit trafficking. In addition, states should register their weapons production and make such information readily available to the UN. States should also agree to regional (e.g. EU) and international laws with respect to the production and transfer of weapons.

7. All states should ensure the safeguarding of such weapons against loss through theft or corruption, in particular from storage facilities.

8. The United Nations should urge relevant organisations such as Interpol and the World Customs Organisation, as well as all states and their relevant national agencies, to closely cooperate in identifying the groups and individuals engaged in illicit trafficking activities, including the modes of transfer they use.

9. The United Nations should encourage the adoption and implementation of regional or sub-regional moratoria, on the transfer and manufacture of small arms and light weapons.