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Switzerland wants convention against small arms proliferation

The Swiss authorities on Wednesday underlined the urgency of setting up an international convention to stop the proliferation of small arms, saying up to 300,000 people are killed each year by those weapons.

This content was published on November 24, 1999 - 17:39

The Swiss authorities on Wednesday underlined the urgency of setting up an international convention to stop the proliferation of small arms, saying up to 300,000 people are killed each year by those weapons.

Ambassador Raimund Kunz of the Swiss Foreign Ministry said that swift measures must be taken to curb the spread of millions of small arms all over the world.

While small arms do not create conflicts in themselves, they often escalate and prolong armed conflicts, said Kunz, who had chaired a meeting of 35 nations discussing small arms control in Geneva the previous two days.

Delegates were trying to find common language for an international anti-proliferation convention, similar to that banning the production and selling of anti-personnel mines.

The 35 participating nations hope to have a draft document ready in time for a United Nations summit on small arms control in 2001.

The main focus is on the production, marketing and licensing of small arms. Experts agree that control in those areas will be difficult to achieve, but they point out that there are technical possibilities to get a better idea of the spread of small arms.

Switzerland, for instance, has technologies that would allow the marking of each weapon, thus potentially paving the way for worldwide monitoring.

Some experts hope that an annual register may soon be compiled to provide relevant data on small arms production and global sales.

Kunz said that the convention was primarily aimed at mortars, grenade launchers and assault rifles, rather than hunting weapons and small calibre hand guns.

From staff and wire reports.

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