The United Nations reports that every two minutes someone is killed by an illegally traded rifle or other small weapon somewhere in the world.
The deaths purportedly occur not only in conflict-plagued nations, but are tied to organized crime, drug trafficking, suicides and gun accidents. They account for far more deaths than those generated by heavier combat weapons.
From June 26 to July 7, U.N. member nations and nongovernmental organizations will gather to assess progress made in fighting and eliminating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons since a program of action to curb trafficking was adopted in 2001. The plan focused on practical solutions such as collecting and destroying illegal weapons, strengthening import and export controls, raising awareness of the effect of these weapons, improving security at weapons storage facilities and helping countries track down arms brokers and illegal arms transfers.
Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam of Sri Lanka, who will chair the Small Arms Review Conference, told a press conference in New York that the priority of the conference is to eliminate illegal small arms in order to save more lives. He said small arms fuel conflicts and support activities of groups involved in organized crime and trafficking drugs and people.
Kariyawasam noted that since the 2001 conference, more than 50 countries have strengthened national legislation to control trade in small arms and more than 60 countries have collected and destroyed large numbers of illegal small arms. He said progress has been made, but much more needs to be done.