Regulation of civilian possession of small arms and light weapons: Biting the Bullet – Briefing 16

This briefing in the Biting the Bullet series reports that one of the more controversial outcomes of the UN Small Arms conference was the failure of states to explicitly commit to more effective regulation of civilian possession and use of small arms and light weapons (SALW).

Despite clear evidence of the opportunities for diversion of SALW from civilian possession to illicit trade and the serious impact of this on human security, opposition from some states to any mention of this issue within the Programme of Action (PoA) prevented the inclusion of language concerning the regulation of privately owned SALW.

Nevertheless, the Programme of Action does contain limited provisions including the criminalisation of illicit possession of SALW and a requirement that states ensure responsibility for SALW issued by them.

This policy briefing elaborates on how these and other international commitments should be interpreted and implemented so as to enhance human security.