The United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons

May 9, 2003

Daniel B. Pickard

The United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects was convened with the laudable goal of addressing the unlawful trade in these weapons, which pose serious international humanitarian and security threats. The Conference, which was concluded in July 2001, resulted in a Program of Action calling for several follow-up measures, including a review conference to be conducted no later than 2006, and suggests a step toward the creation of an international treaty for the regulation of trade in small arms. During the course of the negotiations delegates from several nations attempted to expand the scope of the Conference to include restricting the private ownership of weapons, and to prevent the sales of small arms to non-State actors. The United States supported the Program of Action because the negotiators were able to ensure that its terms did not compromise any U.S. domestic rights.

The United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons