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U.N. Summit for Worldwide Gun Control Begins
Robert Villa for NewsMax.com
Monday, July 9, 2001
Bogotá, Colombia – The United Nations this past week has been
disavowing claims by critics that the upcoming U.N. Summit on
Small Arms is the first step in an effort at worldwide registration and
arms control, but news from here in Colombia would seem to
The president of the upcoming U.N. summit is Camilo
Colombia's representative to world organizations in Geneva.
Camilo Reyes brought about this important meeting after more than
one and a half years of intense lobbying effort, during which he
repeatedly brought the case of Colombia's civil conflict to the
attention of U.N. officials, demanding that the world community
reduce the traffic of not only illegal but also legal arms, since
between 40 percent and 60 percent of all arms in the hands of illegal
groups were originally purchased legally.
Official U.N. sources state that the conference will focus on the illicit
trafficking of small arms, which include pistols, assault rifles,
machine guns, grenade launchers, and shoulder-fired anti-tank and
anti-aircraft missiles. The U.N. states the conference will produce a
politically binding declaration that will include a plan of action that
states can take to curb small arms trade at the national, regional
and international levels.
According to the National Rifle Association, the most recent U.N.
resolutions concerning small arms occurred during the Ninth United
Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of
Offenders in Cairo in May 1995.
During that conference, the Japanese delegation passed a
resolution calling for "a common strategy of effective control of
firearms at the global level," based on the idea that "no state is
immune from the lax legislative and administrative controls in other
states" [emphasis added].
The presence of Colombia at the head of the upcoming summit is
particularly troubling, due to the tendency of this and recent
administrations to consider tough gun control legislation and
enforcement to be the solution to Colombian violence, despite all
indications that gun control in all areas where it has had
enforcement, namely Colombia's largest cities, has been an utter
In all of Colombia's large cities, homicide rates have hovered
between 45 and 60 per 100,000 residents, in comparison with the
United States, where rates remain below 10 per 100,000 residents.
These rates have continued despite, or perhaps in part because of,
strict bans on all licit trade in arms of all sizes, including all pistols
since 1991. Even military officers off duty, who are often the target of
assassinations by the country's Marxist guerrillas, are banned from
The only individuals permitted to carry weapons in Colombia are
individuals holding an old license predating the current gun bans,
on-duty officers, and specially licensed private security guards, who
have proliferated exponentially since the gun ban took place.
Despite the patent failure of Colombia's gun ban in curbing the
country's violence, Camilo Reyes appears intent on spreading the
ban on licit arms trade to the global level.
The goal of the summit, according to sources within Colombia's
delegation, is to produce a document with two basic instruments to
curb small arms trade. The first is an international protocol to identify
and restrict the trade of arms through a universal system of
registration and marking. The second is a trade mechanism that will
allow the restriction of legal production and trade of small
Nevertheless, due to the level of tension that has occurred due to the
upcoming summit, U.N. officials have disavowed any such claims.
Jayantha Dhanpala, U.N. Subsecretary for Disarmament, stated that
"there exist misinterpretations regarding this conference. The
objective is not the trade, the manufacture or the legal ownership of
arms, but rather the illicit trade of small arms."
"Colombia has persistently pursued international arms control for
the past several years, despite a simultaeneous reluctance by the
government to confront its neighbor Venezuela about its military's
alleged arms dealings with Colombia's Marxist guerrilla groups.
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