Conventional Weapons

Conventional Weapons encompass a wide range of equipment not limited to armoured combat vehicles, combat helicopters, combat aircraft, warships, small arms and light weapons, landmines, cluster munitions, ammunition and artillery. Conventional weapons are the most common type of armament globally and historically the most commonly used in conflict. However, there is a significant lacking of global rules or binding measures regulating the trade of conventional arms. The United Nations Secretary-General has repeatedly voiced his concern about the lack of global norms on arms transfers. Several United Nations instruments, including the Register of Conventional Arms, have attempted to build confidence and minimize the risk of conflict by encouraging states to make the quantity and type of arms they transfer more transparent (A/RES/46/36 L). The recently adopted Arms Trade Treaty (A/RES/68/31) seeks to prohibit irresponsible arms transfers and prevent the shipment of arms to conflict zones where they are likely to exacerbate violence and contribute to repressions and human rights abuses. Other international arms control instruments include:

Our age has confronted no greater ethical, political and institutional challenge than ensuring the protection of civilians, as victims of both war and of mass atrocity crimes.
— Gareth Evans, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs (1988–96)

Conventional Weapons in Asia and the Pacific

A view of the Security Council as it adopts by a vote of fourteen in favour, with one abstention (the Russian Federation), resolution 2117 (2013). The text expresses the Council’s grave concern at the “illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons in many regions of the world.”

According to SIPRI, 6 of the top 10 largest importers of arms are in Asia and the Pacific, and the volume of arms transfer to South East Asia in particular has increased threefold between 2002-2006 and 2007-2011 (SIPRI Yearbook 2012). In the period 2006-2010, countries in Asia and the Pacific accounted for 43 percent of the world’s conventional weapons imports. The type and volume of weapons sought by the region reflect concerns related to piracy, illegal resource exploitation and terrorism, as well as increased regional tensions accountable to territorial disputes in the South China Sea. At current, UNRCPD focuses its activities on two thematic areas related to conventional weapons: the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PoA) and the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).