SALW Proliferation in Areas of Violence and Armed Conflict and Their Impact on Human Rights

Overview of Small Arms and Light Weapons

Widespread proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the world reflects the global inaction towards human rights, as these weapons directly impact the lives of citizens. They are the primary cause of civilian casualties, resulting in a large number of deaths and leaving even more wounded. Additionally, they instill fear and suffering in communities, prolong conflicts and criminal activities, and hinder social and economic development. These weapons are used indiscriminately by civilians, insurgents, terrorists, armed groups, and criminal organizations, enabling human rights violations and abuses of international humanitarian law, including mutilation, rape, sexual violence, enforced disappearances, torture, and the recruitment of child soldiers.

Armed violence refers to the unlawful use of weapons to harm others or destroy property. It can arise from political conflicts, wars, social unrest, ethnic or religious discrimination, or organized criminal activities. It encompasses wars, armed conflicts, and various forms of everyday criminal activities. Armed conflicts represent long-term confrontations between states or between armed groups and states, or even between armed groups themselves. These conflicts are categorized under international humanitarian law as either international conflicts, involving armed force between two or more countries regardless of the cause or severity of the conflict, or non-international armed conflicts, occurring between government armed forces and forces of one or more armed groups, or between such groups within the territory of a state. The armed confrontation must reach a certain level of intensity, and the participating parties must demonstrate a minimum level of organization.


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