Volume 3, Issue 9, June 30, 2012
Thousands of civilians around the globe are slaughtered each year by weapons that are sold, transferred by governments or diverted to unscrupulous regimes, criminals, illegal militias, and terrorist groups.
Edward J. Laurance is a professor of international policy studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. He was a consultant to the UN Register of Conventional Arms (1992-1994), the UN Group of Governmental Experts on Small Arms (1996-1997), and the UN program of action on small arms (2000-2001) and currently serves as an expert for the UN project developing international standards to control small arms. He is author of The International Arms Trade (1992).
Late last month, UN officials confirmed that more than 100 Syrians—the majority women and children—were killed following artillery and tank shelling of civilians near the town of Haoula by the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. Despite the brutality of the Assad regime over the 15-month conflict in which some 10,000 Syrians have been killed, Russia, Iran, and possibly others continue to sell weapons to Damascus.
(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—As part of a growing global campaign to build support for an effective and robust international agreement to regulate international arms deals, more than fifty organizations are urging President Barack Obama to “spare no effort to seize the historic opportunity to negotiate a robust, bullet-proof Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).”
Thomas Countryman took office as assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation on September 27, 2011. He joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1982. While serving in the U.S. mission to the United Nations in the mid-1990s, he was the mission’s liaison with the UN Special Commission investigating Iraq's unconventional weapons programs.
A number of U.S. lawmakers have expressed concern that political instability in Syria threatens the security of the country’s chemical and conventional weapons stockpiles as well as its nuclear material. Administration officials have acknowledged the threat and say they will continue to monitor the situation.
The UN Security Council on Oct. 31 adopted a resolution calling on the Libyan government to take “all necessary steps” to secure its weapons stockpile and to prevent the proliferation of man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS). Resolution 2017, authored by Russia and adopted unanimously by the 15-member council, also tasks the Libya sanctions committee established in February with preparing a report on proposals to contain the proliferation of weapons and their components in North Africa.
In the high-profile criminal case against a man who has become a symbol of the illicit arms trade, a federal jury in New York City on Nov. 3 found arms dealer Viktor Bout guilty on all four charges brought against him.