young soldier-in-training in the Free Aceh separatist movement
in Indonesia brandishes an AK-47. (Photo: AFP)
How illegal gun traffic holds the world hostage
The notion of arms control conjures up images of missile silos and
nuclear warheads. Yet conflicts from Colombia to Chechnya thrive on
easy access to small, portable weapons such as machine guns and rocket
launchers. The widespread availability of light but lethal arms allows
rebel groups and liberation armies to recruit children to do the dirty
work of killing. Meanwhile, superpowers and their first- and second-world
brothers in arms-making fight for market share in this lucrative trade.
Small arms are defined as pistols, rifles, machine guns, land mines,
and other weapons that can be carried by one or two people. Though
its difficult to calculate with precision how many small arms
there are in the world today, the United Nations estimates the number
to be at least 500 million.
The proliferation of small arms has been a concern in the international
community since the late 1980s. From July 9-20, the United Nations
Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in
All Its Aspects will seek to develop more concrete, enforceable, preventive
strategies to try to staunch the flow of black-market small arms across
Martin Regg Cohn, of The
Toronto Star (liberal), visits a weapons market in Pakistan.
Hope for Gun Control Rests on Conference
Adele Kirsten, writing for Johannesburg's Business Day, reports
on the upcoming United Nations Conference.
Growing Up as Guerrillas
Children, equiped with light weapons, are on the front lines
of Colombia's bloody civil war. Jan McGirk reports for London's
In a special audio report from WPR partner Common
Ground, Hélène Papper speaks with Randy Rydella
senior official in the UN Department of Disarmament Affairsand
Ismail KhairatEgyptian representative to the upcoming
conferenceabout the small-arms scourge.
the transcript/Listen to the Program...
Leone: A Small-Arms Depot
World Press Review correspondent Foday B. Fofanah reports
on the lethal consequences of small arms in Sierra Leone.
For Patriotism and Profit
In an interview with Robert Fisk, of London's The
Independent (centrist), Mikhail Kalashnikov reflects
on the legacy of his invention.
East-Bloc Connections Fuel War
Oszkar Fuzes, writing for the Budapest daily Népszabadság
(left of center), untangles the international web connecting
the Odessa mafia, various governments, and the combatants in
Gun Smuggling in the Niger Delta
Apart from its acknowledged role in the oil industry, the port
town of Warri in Southern Nigeria also plays a vital unacknowledged
function: It is the hub of the gun trade in the Niger Delta.
In a Worldpress.org online exclusive, Nigeria correspondent
Babafemi Ojudu investigates.