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Arms Trade


rushmore with guns



A legal trade
The arms trade is perhaps the most the most destructive, whilst also being one of the most lucrative, trade for its key players. Unlike its main rival in destroying lives, the illegal drugs trade, countries can buy and sell weapons legally.

Yet many legally traded arms are diverted into corrupt hands, and are then traded on the black market to the highest bidder.

This is particularly the case in small arm and light weapons – terms which include sub-machine guns, portable anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns, and portable missile launchers. These items continue to fuel modern conflicts.

rushmore with guns

Depressing statistics
Within the last decade, over 6 million people have been killed in conflicts around the globe. 90% of those killed are civilians, with 80% being women and children.

Just 1% of annual global military spending could educate every child in the world for the next ten years. Half the world’s governments spend more on the military than on healthcare.

Meanwhile, according to the UN, some 300,000 child soldiers around the world are carrying pistols and machine guns. Many more are used by people living in deprived and dangerous areas where carrying a weapon is a matter of survival.


Removing the need
Ironically, it is the poorest states that invest most disproportionately in armaments, often to ensure internal political stability or as a means of self-defence.

Of course, the arms trade can not be stopped overnight. Instead, a broad based international approach is needed which tackles the problems behind these needs, such as initiatives which alleviate poverty, support inclusive governments, and build social infrastructures.

Also, tighter controls are needed to regulate the sale of arms. It is still very easy for weapons to ‘slip through the net’, by being sold to one country legally then illicitly transferred to another.


Alternative interests?
Perhaps the current fears of a rise in international terrorism will finally make governments take action to reduce the number of arms for sale in the world.

Yet at the same time, some governments have a vested interest in the sale of armaments – they argue that they provide employment as well as bring important revenue into the economy.

These arguments have been countered by evidence showing that by diversifying into other areas of production, jobs and the economy do not suffer, whilst a reduction in arms sales will ultimately improve the life chances of peoples around the globe.