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  • Author: Susan Waltz
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Human Rights Human Welfare (University of Denver)
  • Abstract: From Somalia and Afghanistan to Bosnia, Haiti, Colombia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Congo, small arms and light weapons were a common feature of the human rights calamities of the 1990's. More than a hundred low-intensity conflicts flared across the globe in that final decade of the bloodiest century, and virtually all of them were fought with small arms and light weaponry. Hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenades and bazookas, mortars, machine guns, and shoulder-fired missiles were the common weapons of warfare, along with the ubiquitous AK- 47--as readily slung over the shoulder of a 14 year old boy as a 40 year old man. Human rights and humanitarian organizations pondered the evidence: there was an inescapable linkage between the abuses they sought to curb, and the prevalence of these easy to handle, durable, and imminently portable weapons. In many instances the weapons were used as direct instruments of repression and devastation. In others, armed groups and government-sponsored militia used them to facilitate assaults with cruder weapons, spread fear, and create insecurity that effectively deprived people of their livelihood. Ironically, none of the countries in turmoil produced their own small arms. Behind the plethora of weapons lurked shadowy arms dealers looking for a profit, indifferent to the public's moral outrage and UN-imposed arms embargoes.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Human Rights, Human Welfare, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Bosnia, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Somalia