Document 202463

Twisting their Arms: how to regulate the Arms trade?
Welcome Delegates! My name is Keshav Arvind and along with Tom Frazer and Matt Little I will be
chairing the Disarmament II Committee. The Disarmament Committee makes a return to the GWC
conference after a one year absence so we are very keen to see some lively and interesting debate
on this important topic! This is the first conference at which I am chairing so please be nice!
[Keshav is also one of our youngest ever Chairs, so………. please be nice from me, too!: Director]
From personal experience as a delegate I know that it is a lot more fun when you take part and get
The topic I have chosen is “Twisting their arms: how to regulate arms trade? ”.
World Arms Trade: The trade of conventional (non-nuclear) weapons between countries.
5 Facts about the Arms Trade
1) Its estimated revenue is around $1.5 trillion accounting for 2.5% of the world’s GDP. The largest
exporter is the USA while the largest importer is India.
2) 12 billion bullets are thought to be produced every year
3) There is thought to be 875 million guns in the world right now
4) Over 26 million people have fled their homes due to armed conflict
5) Almost ¾ of the weapons produced are supplied to just 6 countries (the P.5 and Germany)
The issue
The trade of arms is no doubt one of the most pressing problems that faces us today. Given this fact
it is even more surprising that no treaty has been made, though a 4-week long UN conference was
held on the topic in July 2012.
As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said “A strong treaty would rid the world of the appalling
human cost of the poorly regulated international arms trade. It would also enhance the ability of the
United Nations to cope with the proliferation of arms.”
It could be argued that the most important role of the United Nations is to promote and maintain
peace across the world.
Yet it still has not made a universal law over the trade of conventional weapons, without which a
war could not be fought.
Oxfam has called for the universal ban of any weapon that is likely to be used to violate international
law. At present it is up to individual member states to decide this. And of course as we all know
member states often have very different perspectives on which side is violating an international law.
Furthermore money and other incentives can all too often influence a member state’s judgment.
George Watson’s College MUN Conference 2013
The case of Syria
Let us look at the very topical case of Syria. Russia has been accused by the West, and does not
deny, that it is arming President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. It could be argued that the
weapons that Russia is providing Syria with are being used to break international law. So under a
treaty similar to the one Oxfam is campaigning for the trade of these weapons would no longer be
allowed. However the key point which this argument stands on is that the Syrian government is
breaking international law. But, by no means has consensus been reached on this.
Big-Nosed West?
Russia accuses the West of hypocrisy as they themselves are supplying weapons, through Turkey, to
the rebels in Syria. Russia argues that in the future these rebels could pose a threat to them. This
argument is not without a base. There have been multiple occasions where the West has armed a
cause, only to find themselves being attacked by their own weapons in the future.
(i) In the 1980s, Iraq, led by Saddam Hussain, was involved in a long and drawn out war with
Iran. Western superpowers provided Saddam Hussain with weapons which he used in the war
against Iran. But during the Gulf War in the early 1990s the same weapons that the West supplied
to Iraq were used against them.
(ii) In the 1980s the Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan. Western superpowers provided Afghan
rebels with weapons to drive the Soviets out. However, many of the rebels went on to hold senior
positions in the Taliban, now deemed to be a terrorist organisation being fought by the West.
(iii) For a period, Western superpowers backed Colonel Gaddafi’s government and openly sold him
weapons even though there were indications that these weapons were being used to violate human
rights. In the recent Libyan revolution these weapons were used against the rebels, whom the
Western powers backed.
(iv) During the recent conflict in Libya Western superpowers provided rebels with arms. These arms
helped the rebels overthrow Gaddafi but who can say what those weapons may be used for in the
Such apparent double standards coming from the West have appeared too many times to be a
coincidence - so Russia does have a strong point. But should any country be allowed to interfere
with a conflict that happens thousands of miles from their shores? Russia maintains that it takes a
neutral stance on Syria but this is a moot point. As it is an open secret that Russia supplies the
Syrian government with arms. Are they really as neutral as they claim?
Holding Africa Back
How much is violence costing the developing countries? While the producers of arms prosper from
conflict, the countries which buy them do not. Africa is thought to spend $18 billion on arms each
year. This equates to the amount it receives in loans annually. If we were to stop the trade of arms
on Oxfam’s terms, Africa would not need to spend nearly as much in their effort to lift themselves
out of poverty.
Why is there still no Treaty?
So, if there are so many arguments in favour of an Arms Trade Treaty, why was a one not created in
July 2012?
George Watson’s College MUN Conference 2013
The USA was criticised in the final few days of negotiations for not pushing through a treaty. A
statement made by the Obama administration’s Secretary of State said that the USA had not
supported the treaty on the grounds that it would infringe their sovereignty and the prevailing rights
of an American to carry a gun.
Many more major weapons exporting countries said that more time was needed to come to an
agreement. Could weapon exporters really be blocking such a treaty, as they would stand to lose as
a result?
Points to Consider
- Is your country a major exporter or importer of weapons?
- What were the views held by your country during the UN conference in July 2012?
- How would an Arms Trade Treaty affect your country?
- Does your country support the supply of weapons to regimes or rebels fighting against a regime? Or
would you argue that your country’s stance is neutral?
- Should weapons sold to unconventional armies or terrorist groups be allowed? If not, how could
the ban be regulated?
Over to You
Please submit a Position Paper to me, expressing your country’s views on this topic by Friday 15th
February at the latest - it is essential that you do this for all 4 topics in our committee if you wish to
be in the running for an award. But don’t
worry, a position paper only needs to be 50 words so it shouldn’t take too much time. Once you
have written your position paper on “Twisting their Arms: How to Regulate the Arms Trade”, please
email it to me at: [email protected]
After you submit your position paper you should write a resolution for at least 2 topics in the
committee. I would appreciate it if you would send me your resolution on “Twisting their Arms: How
to Regulate the Arms Trade” in PDF format.
If you have any problems please feel free to email me and I will try to get back to you ASAP. I look
forward to meeting you in March!
Useful Links
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