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UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms & Light Weapons in All Its Aspects
July 2001

The Need to Act
Small arms and light weapons are an integral part of the spiraling culture of violence in our world. Through war, crime, domestic violence and suicides, more than 10,000 lives are lost each week to armed violence. The easy availability of small arms and light weapons exacerbates and prolongs armed conflicts, disrupts economic and social development, promotes crime and a culture of violence, and produces an extraordinary worldwide burden of cumulative personal tragedies and public crises.

It is a matter of urgent public responsibility that the international community now act to tackle the problems of the proliferation, accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons, and to address their debilitating social, economic, political and humanitarian impacts.

A First Attempt by Governments
From July 9-20, 2001 the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects will take place in New York. This will be the first gathering of the world's governments to address this issue. It will also provide an important opportunity for states and civil society to highlight the humanitarian toll of small arms and light weapons. The conference, however, will only be a step toward developing the international measures, norms and laws needed to reduce the demand for and enhance the control of small arms and light weapons.

The conference will address the three foci of the small arms agenda:

control of the supply and availability of small arms and light weapons;
promotion of social, economic and political conditions to reduce the demand for small arms and light weapons;
effective implementation of and compliance with small arms control and reduction measures.

It is vitally important that the UN conference commit States to measures that will have a real and beneficial impact on the lives of the people who now suffer the devastating consequences of the presence and misuse of small arms in their communities.

The Role of The Churches
The World Council of Churches (WCC) actively encourages Christians and their churches to help end the proliferation of small arms, and contribute to building a culture of peace.

Together with the International Action Network on Small Arms, the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs has been playing an active role in the UN Conference and will be present in July to monitor proceedings and lobby governments as they deliberate over a Programme of Action. The WCC is committed to bring the ecumenical voice to the international arena with stories of hope and pain.

As we embark on a Decade to Overcome Violence (2001-2010), the WCC calls on the churches "to emphasize their readiness to live without the protection of armaments;" (Fifth WCC Assembly, Nairobi 1975) and do those things that make for peace with justice.

We invite you to join the effort to reveal the negative impact of small arms.

Latin Americans Push for International Day of Arms Destruction
WCC participates in inter-national rally at the UN against gun violence
Disappointed at small arms agreement, WCC also sees hope for a stronger platform for common action

Wait for the homework, Mozambican bishop tells NGOs - Press Update

Oral intervention on reduction of demand for small arms and the role of faith communities - CCIA/WCC message at the UN Conference

'We do mind the dying' ... say more than 60 humanitarian aid organizations in a statement urging effective action to control small arms sales - press statement from the newly launched Humanitarian Coalition.


Churches use story, symbol and dance to protest the use of and trade in small arms

More press material...

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