Finding innovative solutions for the reduction of the transboundary exchange of arms and war technology

Definition of Key terms

Armed conflict

This term describes a dispute either between militaries of different states (international) or between the military, paramilitary groups or rebels in a single state. Such a conflict exists even if there have been no fights or violent interactions. It is sufficient to speak about it if the different parties are in possession of power and are threatening to use their powers.

War

A war can be defined as a form of political violence. It describes a conflict carried out by states and/or non state-actors with extreme violence, destruction and social disruption in order to achieve their interests[1]. The border between an armed conflict and a war is not quite clear.

[1] see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War

Current situation

Currently there are more than 30 armed conflicts occurring all over the world, especially in Asia (Southern Asia and the Orient) and Africa. These are mostly intestine wars, where paramilitary, military groups or rebels are fighting in order to gain power to control the country. These conflicts cause many deaths and injuries mostly for the civil population and are always connected with human rights abuse. Landmines and left-behind ammunition endanger the citizens for an incalculable time period.

A huge contribution to these conflicts comes from the international arms trade. By the exchange, salary and donation of weapons between states these conflicts are somehow supported. An example is the Syrian Arab Republic where a civil war goes on for about two years now. The Russian Federation still delivers air raid defenses and other military engineering to Syria even though the human rights abuse from both sides (government and rebels) continues. Furthermore Russia delivers weapons to Mali where another civil war is going on.

The problem of official weapon deals is that the states often do not (want to) realize that these deals often lead to a worsening of the conflict situation, e.g. further atrocities and human rights abuses. Beside this the money of the states receiving weapons is missing in other parts of the national budget. Indonesia, for example, wanted to buy used Leopard-2 tanks from the Netherlands. Due to public protests the Dutch parliament declined this deal. A year later, 2013, Germany accepted a deal with Indonesia over approximately 150 tanks. Critics say that Indonesia bought these weapons in order to demonstrate their power towards the population while the infrastructure in Indonesia is still bad and cannot be improved due to the lack of money. Besides this the decision of Germany shows the missing unity of international armament politics even in the European Union.

For states abusing human rights it is barely “easy” to get weapons because the supply is big. Old weapons, remains of the Cold War, are still available in a huge amount especially in the USA, the Russian Federation as well as Germany. These three countries are the biggest exporters of weapons worldwide. The political situation of the receiving states is often not deciding for deal. Most important is the profit for the seller.

Despite the irresponsibility of the sellers, the buyers are also to buy blame using the weapons to terrify the population.

Especially small fire arms (rifles and pistols) are a great danger to civil population. Furthermore the usage of non-lethal weapons (e.g. pepper spray) is increasing.

By seeing all these dangerous developments, the international community has to react. The UN made the first step by approving the first global arms treaty in April 2013. Though the treaty is somehow weak because it is not sure if it will be ratified, it is step in the right direction. The international exchange of weapons has to be regulated and controlled in order to make the world a safer place. Therefore international and national laws have to be set.

Finding ways to reduce the worldwide amount of weapons of mass destruction

Introduction

Today as the world is faced with many pressing issues, the dangers posed by weapons of mass destruction have come to occupy central stage in global politics. Firstly, to clarify, the term “weapons of mass destruction” (WMD) refers to a variety of weapons that have the potential to cause large-scale destruction and harm or kill a large mass of human beings. There are three main types of WMD: nuclear weapons, biological weapons and chemical weapons.

Nuclear weapons are explosive devices that derive their destructive force from nuclear reactions. These are especially dangerous as they cause long lasting damage not only to the affected civilians (a detonation of a single atomic bomb can kill more than 100’000 people), but also the environment. There are approximately 30,000 nuclear weapons in national stockpiles of the eight nuclear weapons states: Britain, China, France, India, Israel (assumed), North Korea (claimed), Pakistan, Russia, and the United States. Worldwide there are believed to be an estimated 14’000 nuclear weapons, which could, in total, wipe out a total of 1.4 billion people.

Biological weapons make use of bacteria, toxins, viruses or fungi to kill or incapacitate. They are defined by their unpredictable nature. Once released viruses can affect only a handful of people or entire populations. Several countries maintain active biological weapons programs, though the 1925 Geneva Convention prohibits the use of germ weapons in war. Efforts to assure the enforcement of this ban have been unsuccessful, the most recent attempt in 2002 having failed because the United States refused to allow biological weapons inspections on its soil.

Chemical weapons are devises that use chemicals formulated to inflict harm upon masses of civilizations. The chemicals are usually highly lethal and mostly cause very painful deaths. In 1997 n international agreement to ban chemical weapons was enforced and it is believed that at least 2 million chemical weapons have been destroyed since.

WMDs as we know them today began to firstly develop during the time of World War 1, when chemical weapons were used on the battlefield. Then, an entirely new level was reached at the end of the Cold War, when the U.S. detonated two nuclear bombs on Hiroshima. During this time WMD were also key elements in the game of international politics. As means of defense or attack, which may arguably be the same thing, several nations used WMD as threats to deter other nations.

Due to government secrecy it is hard to attempt to determine the exact global amount of WMD, however the international community today has begun to truly see the vast amount of power and the devastating effects man made weapons can have. It poses itself the question, how in a world that has access to arms with such an immense amount of power, international stability and peace can be maintained. Thus, humanity turns to the future, confronted with the idea of world annihilation- caused by man. 

Innovative solutions

Looking at a variety of approaches as to how to reduce the number of WMD in the global community, the most important aspects are: The development and enforcement of non-proliferation concerning WMD, The establishment and implementation of treaties working towards the goal of worldwide disarmament, More transparency in governments concerning matters of the amount of and the purposes for which WPD are used and The gradual creation of NGOs responsible for monitoring the abiding of the WMD treaties. The most important thing, however, is that action IS taken- and fast. Because as President Dwight D. Eisenhower said: "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.“

UN Involvement

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) 1970

The Chemical Weapons Convention 1997

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (adopted in 1996 however not yet entered into force)

The Assembley’s International Convention for the Suppression of Act of Nuclear Terrorism 2007

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