Conventional Weapons

Almost all the armaments used in crimes and conflicts around the world are categorized as ‘conventional weapons’, a term used for arms that are not deemed to have the ‘mass destructive’ capabilities ascribed to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.  Conventional weapons range from tanks, warships, fighter aircraft and remotely-guided drones, to ‘Small Arms and Light Weapons’ (SALW), a UN-recognized category that covers machine guns, rifles, hand guns, portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns, missile launchers, grenade launchers and mortars of less than 100mm calibre.   SALW fuel intrastate conflicts, domestic and transnational crime, human rights viola...

Almost all the armaments used in crimes and conflicts around the world are categorized as ‘conventional weapons’, a term used for arms that are not deemed to have the ‘mass destructive’ capabilities ascribed to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.  Conventional weapons range from tanks, warships, fighter aircraft and remotely-guided drones, to ‘Small Arms and Light Weapons’ (SALW), a UN-recognized category that covers machine guns, rifles, hand guns, portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns, missile launchers, grenade launchers and mortars of less than 100mm calibre.   SALW fuel intrastate conflicts, domestic and transnational crime, human rights violations and violence against civilian non-combatants, including women and children

The Acronym Institute is a member of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) and Dr Rebecca Johnson is part of IANSA’s Women’s Network, which focuses particularly on the gender impact of conventional weapons and the critical role of women in community efforts to reduce armed violence.  As a member of IANSA, the Acronym Institute supports nonviolent initiatives to reduce the numbers and types of weapons in circulation, to disarm and dissuade individuals and groups from keeping and using weapons, and to strengthen international and domestic laws and enforcement.  Our research and publications also address the causes of armed violence, including political and religious conflict and power struggles, lack of respect for human rights, economic insecurity and patriarchal distortions of masculine identity.

Although some efforts were made through the 1980 Inhumane Weapons Convention, for many years small arms and light weapons were mainly addressed by human rights and development organizations that dealt with the human costs of their use.  New opportunities were created after the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty was multilaterally negotiated and brought into force despite opposition by some of the major arms producing and selling countries including the United States, China and Russia. Since then, civil society and a growing number of governments have accelerated efforts to address the inhumane and destabilizing uses of some kinds of conventional weapons and the consequences of transnational arms trading. Despite progress, the production, use and transfer of conventional weapons have not yet been brought under effective control.

An important Programme of Action (PoA) on the illicit trade in SALW was negotiated under UN auspices in 2001 to encourage states to begin to regulate the ways in which such weapons are bought, sold and traded. In 2008, a further coalition of governments and civil society negotiated and brought into force the Cluster Munitions ConventionDr Natalie Goldring represents the Acronym Institute at international meetings to develop, review and strengthen treaties, agreements and programmes dealing with conventional weapons.  In the run-up to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) negotiating conference in July 2012, we worked with governments and other NGOs to develop and negotiate a comprehensive, legally binding and robust treaty to prohibit arms transfers that violate international human rights and humanitarian law. 

Although the July 2012 ATT conference failed to agree on a treaty after the United States and Russia requested more time to consider the draft text, in April 2013 the treaty was agreed by the vast majority of the 193 countries represented at the UN General Assembly (with only Iran, Syria and North Korea voting against). The treaty opened for signature on 3 June 2013 and was immediately signed by several states.

Still, even with global support for an Arms Trade Treaty, it is important to recognize that the ‘illicit’ arms trade is fed by major states such as the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, China, France, Germany and Israel, which are responsible for 75 percent of ‘legal’ arms production and exports.  The ATT can be a useful step if further efforts are undertaken to tackle corrupt practices among the weapons producers and the state and non-state clients who buy – and in many cases retransfer – conventional weapons of all kinds.

16 October 2015

The negative impacts on our society of patriarchy and male privilege are perhaps nowhere more pervasive and pernicious than in the field of weapons, war, and militarism. By consequence, much of the discussion on disarmament perpetuates the highly problematic gender constructions...

8 October 2015

Editorial: Making change
Ray Acheson | Reaching Critical Will of WILPF

Download full edition in PDF

Civilian deaths and injuries from the...

26 September 2014

The Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) urges all states and specifically the 114 countries that have joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions to help ensure that these weapons are not used by the United States and coalition partners in the offensive launched this week against non-state armed...

22 April 2013

The Spring 2013 edition of Proliferation in Parliament offers a review of news, debates and developments in the UK Parliament and Government on issues relating to nuclear weapons, disarmament and proliferation.  It is published in mid-April 2013 as parliamentarians return...

15 January 2013

The Winter 2012-2013 edition of Proliferation in Parliament offers a review of news, debates and developments in the UK Parliament and Government on issues relating to nuclear weapons, disarmament and proliferation.  It is published in January 2013 following the Christmas...

11 September 2012

This is the Summer 2012 edition of the Acronym Institute newsletter Proliferation in Parliament.  It offers a review of news, debates and developments in the UK Parliament and Government on issues relating to nuclear weapons,...

Dr Natalie J. Goldring
25 July 2012

Simple logic suggests that ammunition should be treated in the same manner as all other items covered by the prospective Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). Ammunition is not a separate case; it’s what makes these weapons deadly in the first place. Without ammunition, a weapon can be a club, but its...

Dr Natalie J. Goldring
24 July 2012

Early in my career, I had the good fortune to work with Frank Blackaby, a former director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. He rarely spoke much at the British American Security Information Council (BASIC) board meetings at which we interacted, but his interventions were...

Dr Natalie J. Goldring
2 July 2012

This piece was orginally published by the Inter Press Service news agency (IPS) alongside a news article it published on the first day of the ATT negotiations at the UN in New York, 2...

Dr Rebecca Johnson
4 August 2014

Wars may be started for trivial or mistaken reasons, as happened in 1914, but they are fuelled by arms industries. It’s time to look at the alternative history of efforts to prohibit the weapons that feed wars, causing widespread humanitarian suffering.

...
Dr Natalie J. Goldring
27 March 2013

During the first few days of the “final” ATT conference, diplomats appeared to be making steady progress toward an Arms Trade Treaty that might be worthy of the name. Countries seemed focused on creating the strongest possible treaty, with useful interventions on the scope of the...

Dr Natalie J. Goldring
21 March 2013

Over the last few days, the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) negotiators have made significant progress. More than 100 countries supported a statement on Monday that advocated significant strengthening of the July 26th
working draft. Even countries that had consistently expressed skepticism about an...

25 March 2014

The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (Vince Cable): The UK’s defence industry can make an important contribution to international security, as well as provide economic benefit to the UK. The legitimate international trade in arms enables Governments to protect...

27 February 2014

Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to his international counterparts in support of ratification of the UN Arms Trade Treaty; what discussions he has had with the European Commission on ratification of that...

14 January 2014

Neil Parish: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his Russian counterpart on the supply by Syria of Russian-made Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles to Hezbollah; and what assessment he has made of whether such a supply would place...

Author(s): G8 Foreign Ministers
11 April 2013

The G8 Foreign Ministers have issued a joint statement following their meeting on 10 and 11 April 2013 in London.

Introduction
G8 Foreign Ministers met in London on 10-11 April. The G8 represents a group of nations with a broad range of global interests and with...

Author(s): UN General Assembly official paperwork
2 April 2013

The attached document is a print-out of the voting results for adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty at the General Assembly.  The official UN tally showed 154 votes in favor, three against and 23 abstentions, but diplomats and UN officials said the actual vote was 155-3-22. Apartently...

Author(s): President of the Final UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty
27 March 2013

The attached document is the final draft text presented to delegates for adoption at the Final UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, held 18-28 March 2013 in New York.

Syndicate content