Small Arms & Light Weapons: A challenge to the churches

Ecumenical Consultation on Small Arms in Latin America

Sponsored by the World Council Churches in collaboration with the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI)and in partnership with Viva Rio. Held from 25 to 28 July 2000 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The consultation in a nutshell
The primary aim of the consultation is for churches and ecumenical organizations in Latin America to contribute to the development of a regional plan of action to tackle armed violence and the unlawful use of small arms throughout the region. In addition, it is hoped that the consultation would contribute to the creation of a regional network as part of the Ecumenical Network Against Small Arms in the context of the Decade to Overcome Violence.

More on the consultation
Final statement
Feature article
This is the first in a series of regional consultations aimed at refining ecumenical policy and programmes on microdisarmament. The meetings are in preparation for the UN sponsored Conference on the Illicit Trade of Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects (2001).

The problem of small arms has only been receiving full-fledged attention from the international community in the recent years. The WCC has been addressing the problem since 1997 and believes that churches are well placed to address the relevant social, economic and political measures needed to reduce the demand for, and reliance on small arms by individuals and communities.


  • Share concrete experiences, local strategies, as well as national and regional practical and legislative measures that deal with the tools of armed violence and reduce the negative effects of the proliferation and use of small arms.

  • Discuss and plan concrete strategies; practical and legislative measures and experiences from the Latin American countries that would contribute to the development of a regional plan of action regarding armed violence and the unlawful use of small arms throughout the region.

    Moreover, it would be desirable to envisage as aims to guide the work: first, a comprehensive characterization of the problem specifying the Latin American regional necessities as well as coming up with an agenda for the Latin American region. Second, to create an ecumenical network to tackle armed violence in the context of the WCC's Decade to Overcome Violence.

  • Identify the most relevant issues concerning Latin America related to the proliferation and unrestricted use of small arms and light weapons which are broadly mentioned below.
    • Human Insecurity
    • Reform of the Security Sector
    • Consequences of the use of small arms
    • The need for implementation of legal and practical measures
      (e.g. reform, creation, and strengthening of existent legislation concerning: the trade, trafficking, possession, and use of guns.) Gun Management Programmes: Gun collection/voluntary weapons collection-surrender/destruction/safe storage. Creation of a regional small arms register to control licit and illicit trade.
    • The need for information and networking for the purpose of awareness-building, campaigning and peace education.
Main questions to be addressed
  1. How does armed violence affect your country, city or local community?
  2. Are there any initiatives that attempt to overcome the problem in your local community or church? If yes, what are they?
  3. Are there any governmental initiatives being implemented regarding this issue in your country? If yes, what are they?
  4. What kind of initiative would be applicable/doable for your local community or church?
  5. What is the legislative debate going on in your country?

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