Light-Arms Trade Seen as Threat to Development

Holy See Addresses U.N. Meeting

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NEW YORK, JULY 12, 2005 ( The trade in light weapons is an “obvious” threat to peace and development in the world, the Holy See told a U.N. gathering.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations, delivered that message Monday at a conference on the illegal trade of light weapons and small arms.

“The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons is an obvious threat to peace, development and security,” he said.

“That is why the Holy See adds its voice to the calls for a common approach, not only towards the illicit trade in small arms but also to related activities, such as terrorism, organized crime and the trafficking in persons, to say nothing of the illicit trade in drugs or other lucrative commodities,” the prelate said.

Most victims of war die these days from small arms like machine guns, pistols and rifles, making them the true weapons of mass destruction in the world today, according to a new report prepared by the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies.

Treaty sought

The presentation of that report coincided with the start at the U.N. headquarters of the second meeting to review the implementation of the “Plan of Action” for the prevention, combat and eradication of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.

For this reason, Archbishop Migliore proposed the establishment “of an arms trade treaty, based on the best principles of international law on human rights and humanitarian law.”

“Such an instrument,” he said, “could help contribute to the eradication of the illicit arms trade, while underlining the responsibility of states to reinforce the Plan of Action under discussion.”

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