Each year, 12 billion bullets are produced, two bullets per person in the world. Unrestricted access to ammunition fuels conflict and crime across the globe. Often referred to as “the real weapon of mass destruction”, hundreds of thousands of people are killed by small arms every year – especially in poorer countries. Many more are injured, traumatized and forced to flee.

Today, the United Nations in New York Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) is launching a new report making the case for how and why ammunition must be included in the Arms Trade Treaty. The report was commissioned by Control Arms partner Norwegian Forum for Environment and Development and Norwegian Church Aid.

At the United Nations in 2009, after years of discussions, the vast majority of governments agreed a timetable to establish a “strong and robust” Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) with the “highest common standards” to control international transfers of conventional arms, to be negotiated in 2012.

Today, a lunch event is organized about ammunitions in the ATT (CR6). It is co-sponsored by Germany, Trinidad and Tobago, Forum for Environment and Development, Norwegian Church Aid, PRIO and the Control Arms Coalition. To help inform decisions, the Norwegian Forum for Environment and Development and Norwegian Church Aid commissioned a report from PRIO.

This week, a vast number of countries, many affected by the poorly regulated trade in ammunitions, have asked for the inclusion of ammunitions in the ATT. A few countries, mainly large exporters, have claimed it is not possible to include ammunitions for practical and technical reasons. However, the PRIO report shows that the trade in ammunition is already regulated on regional and national levels. In short, the report demonstrates that inclusion of ammunition in an ATT is both necessary and doable.

To close the dangerous loopholes that allow ammunitions to reach unintended users, common international standards are necessary. If the purpose of the treaty is to reduce human suffering and save lives, then all conventional arms whose misuse may cause human suffering should be included, obviously also small arms and ammunition. The reason is simple: People don’t die of gun wounds, they die of bullet wounds.

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